Tragedy in Nairobi


The Green World Campaign mourns with the people of Kenya the slaughter of the innocent. That these terrible events unfolded on the International Day of Peace--a day devoted to, as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes, "teaching our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect"--is a bitter, heartbreaking irony. People everywhere are working in profound ways to overcome, through compassion and brave opposition, the forces of ignorance that tear at the fabric of the world. Among those senselessly killed in a Nairobi shopping mall was the Ghanian poet Kofi Awoonor, whose words, rooted deeply in African soil yet beyond cultural chauvinism, will never be silenced. Mr. Awoonor's poems decried the despoiling of the world long venerated by traditional cultures, a world where nature and humanity were intricately, creatively entwined: "On this dirty patch/a tree once stood/shedding incense on the infant corn/its boughs stretched across a heaven/brightened by the last fires of a tribe…" In another poem, he wrote: "There was a tree which died in the desert/Birds came and built their nests in it." Our organization dedicates its work to this eternal ethos of life succeeding death--planting trees that will serve as shelter and sustenance, growing tall as symbols of harmony and regeneration, restoring vitality to ravaged land and struggling communities. Regreening degraded land in Kenya is one way we daily strive to make tangible the inevitable triumph of hope over fear. The dark era of unthinking, unfeeling, even normative malice--against each other, against nature--has reached a culminating dead-end. The terrifying body of ignorance may yet writhe, but its frantic motions are the last throes of a way of being and doing that is on the perversely wrong side of history. Whatever our political or religious beliefs, no matter what compass points we hail from, we bear a tender responsibility for each other's thriving, and for the fragile beauty of the planet we share. In Kenya, people use the Swahili rallying cry Tushirikiane! to join together to work for the greater good. Let us affirm this spirit as we redouble our efforts to create the peaceful, green world that is humanity's only true destiny.

BlogMarc Barasch