Monday, October 20, 2008

enlightening events

Christina Fisher

Interdisciplinary Praxis

Monday, October 20, 2008

Infusion of Heart and Mind-Event Reviews

Masankho Banka is a storyteller, dancer, and drummer from Malawi, Africa. I was excited to see his talk at the Turchin Center on Wednesday, October 15th was that the basis of his performance style is to bring about change and understanding of other cultures, through the dance and relation of his cultural heritage. He explained how people in his community are named for the events or occasions happening at the time of their birth. His name is Masankho Kumsisi Banda. Masankho means choose, Kumisi means small root, and his family name Banda means group. Because he was born during the fight for independence in his country, his name signified the hope for choosing the small grassroots group movement for this independence. He said that as a child he knew that his career path would involve helping to find peace for people in whatever way he could. His forte happens to be the dance and the drumming.

His lesson for this hour long program was to share with the audience how to see and think by the heart, and respect people and the Earth that holds us. The people in his community greet each other with a dance called the ‘welcome dance’. During times of strife and political persecution, people from other areas of the country would come long distances, so the dance is the way the receiving group would show to the strangers that they see them and recognize that they are friend, not foe. They greet them with both hands as well to show and convey trust between the visitor and host.

My major involves the use of alternative media and integration of sociology and sustainable living, by helping to teach people how to infuse community activism with a general healthy lifestyle. The program itself was fairly short but the reason I was so eager to see it is because part of his works involve teaching children how to live in harmony with the land that supports them. He and some of the organizations that he has worked with exemplify the interdisciplinarity in clearer context how I see myself incorporating my skills in eco-design into that broader context of creating better social environments for families to raise children in. His group, Interplay, is a “system of ideas and practices that can help shape your life and communities. Get mind, body, heart, and spirit working together again.”

The next event I attended was the film, “The Greatest Silence, Rape in the Congo” on Monday, October 20, 2008. In this film was a real look at the wars in the Congo which started with the Rwandan and multinational corporations’ theft of the mineral Coltan which is used in all cell phones and laptop computers. The base of the film was the effect of rape on the women in the Congo, during this time of war. Every day 30 women are raped as a spoil of the war. Men in Congolese society, more often than not, abandon their women after the assaults happen. Soldiers use the women to exhibit their dominance over the whole people, showing the villagers that they can and will have everything they want.

This issue is heartbreaking all around. It is definitely an interdisciplinary issue because helping to resolve these conflicts, in and of themselves, requires reconfiguration in chain of power by governmental bodies who are allowing this to happen, including more aid from the United Nations. As well, the global economics of today need to be reevaluated by corporations. Deciding who should take responsibility for regulating the exchange of Coltan between countries is fairly hard at present. Most importantly, the resounding effects psychologically and physically on the women and children affected needs to be addressed. Only one hospital does reconstructive surgery for women who are suffering from damaged bladders and other delicate organs. Beyond hospital care, social workers are trying to build housing and create jobs for the women who survive. Then when you add unwanted or, at the least, unexpected births and AIDS, more medical and psychological help is required. Educational programs to help men understand and accept their women are also being instated. As sad as this situation is, as in Darfur, national media attention and protests by students and other organized peoples can help, but it does require analysis and help from many sources.

Going to these events has opened me up to feeling much better about going into a field that will help people through the environment they live in. Even though the tone of each event was different, the messages were somewhat the same. Social change involves a real reevaluation of what our global concerns should be, but when people work together in unique ways, the change is still possible.

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