I attended a seminar organised by the Anthony Fatayi-Williams (AFW) Foundation on Saturday. The foundation was set-up by Mrs. Marie Fatayi-Williams after her son Anthony was killed in the July 2005 bombings in London.
The mission of the foundation is to "seek alternatives to war, terror and violence; to encourage and support the creation of effective centres for social actions for peace in the global human family."
I was curious to know more about the foundation and toodled off to Terrakulture where Saturday's seminar was being held. First off, I was pleasantly surprised by the large turn-out of young people. Why do I still think that Nigerian youths are overall an apathetic lot? There were secondary school and university students in attendance. There were also corp members from the Eti-Osa branch of the NYSC. Indeed, I ran into one of the women who works in the LGA office. She hugged me and chastised me for not coming to visit them since I passed out.
I spotted my friend who had invited me and settled down to listen to the discussions. Being environmental Saturday, I knew that the event (billed to start at 10AM) would begin late, but even then I missed a good part of the talks. I arrived just in time for snacks (my perfect sense of timing has not failed me yet!) and then a talk by Mary Halpine, incoming president of the World Youth Alliance, who were partnering on this seminar (I think) with the AFW Foundation. Mary spoke about her desire for world peace, I think ..... (okay, my memory is not the best, just so you all know). Mrs. Fatayi-Williams introduced the Lagos State Commisioner for Youth & Sports (I think ..... this is really bad, I know). He gave quite a good talk on what Lagos State is doing to uplift its youths (rehabilitation of area boys and building of 11 new youth centres, among some other things) and how much they respect the work that the AFWF is doing. And how they loved and respected it so much that they are donating a huge amount of money and one of their youth centers to the AFWF. I really hope that they do, because that would be a wonderful haven for many young people who don't have safe places for recreation.
One of the audience members challenged the Commissioner to tell him where these youth centres were, because he did not know of a single one. The Commish gladly obliged and a couple of the university students knew about two of them, so I guess they really do exist.
After lunch, there were break-out sessions, where participants were asked to discuss one of three issues: conflict in the Niger-Delta; Christian-Muslim flighting; and civil unrest during elections, and to prepare a 2-minute statement that they could present at Senate or the House of Assembly. Some of the groups were able to present their ideas coherently and succintly, while others were not and waffled on unnecessarily over unimportant points, leaving no time for the meat of their statements. It was a good exercise and I think the youths got a lot out of it. Being a bit of waffler myself (especially when I really need to make an important point), the importance of learning to making short and sharp statements was not lost on me.
I really enjoyed the workshop (at least the part I was there for). Crowne Troupe put on a beautiful dance performance about how everyone of us can make a difference in society - and that, I think, nicely encapsulates the message of the seminar.