Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Right Livelihood Award Ceremony

While it is not difficult to describe the Awards Ceremony itself, it is hard to put into words the emotions felt by all those in attendance. It was held in the “old” Swedish Parliament chamber. Every seat was taken, with rows specifically assigned to the close associates of the four recipients, combined with a large number of the members of Parliament itself.

And four extraordinary winners - all women (it was remarked repeatedly), though Jagannathan was also among the winners, but could not attend. There was Dr. Monika Hauser of Medica Mondiale, honored for her work against the sexual abuse and rape of women during conflicts and war throughout the world, and her efforts to have wartime rape declared a war crime. Asha Hagi, a great souled one, who in trying to help end the ceaseless and dangerous conflict among the five traditional clans of Somalia, had women declared and recognized as a “sixth clan” regardless of origin and across clan boundaries, and a party to all peace negotiations, as well as founder of Save Somali Women and Children ( www.sswcscom.org, www.ashahagimission.com ). Amy Goodman, independent journalist, blacked out by most major media in the United States, but whose show “Democracy Now” is now broadcast on 750 radio and television stations across the world, and is a beacon of truth-telling for many of us. Both the ceremonies, and interviews with each of the other winners (including Krishnammal) can be heard on her website - www.democracynow.org/2008/12/8/ And then of course Krishnammal herself, both older and shorter than the rest, as she was quick to note at the beginning of her address. She was the last to speak.

There were trumpets, and folk violins, and children doing traditional Swedish folk dances, and an a capella group singing, among other things, songs by Abba. (This is, after all, Sweden.) And there was Krishnammal, beaming for the cameras, (I have a great picture of her with Amy Goodman, and myself, of course). Her address covered true ground, the call for people’s power as the only force that can array itself against military, political, and financial interests, and a call to create a worldwide Army of Compassion. Her son Bhoomi helped prepare a speech for her in advance (as they needed one for the press), and a good one it is (I will post it in another entry); at the event itself, she used not a word of it, but spoke simply and truly from the heart.

Krishnammal’s grandnephew and wife were there from Denmark; Sathya of course; doctor friends from Norway and northern Sweden. Kamran Saedi and Andrew Rigby, long-time friends and supporters, came from England. The buffet dinner following was fabulous (I hardly ate anything). A school choir came in to sing the traditional Santa Lucia (which will actually occur December 13th), with one girl wearing a circle of candles around her head. It was also Eid Ul-Adha, the Muslim holiday celebrating the Abraham’s sacrifice of Ishmael (in the Muslim tradition, it is Ishmael, not Isaac, who is taken up to the mountain.) It is a holiday marking the command of charity and compassion, and we wished all the Muslims, members of Asha Hagi’s party, “Eid Mubarak.” Everyone wanted photos with everyone else! I hope we will have some of them up on the Friends of LAFTI website soon.

Back in the hotel, we all stayed up until 2 A.M. Krishnammal’s normal bedtime is about 9 (she still gets up at 4 A.M. every morning, regardless of where she is), but between Skype on my computer, and cellphones blazing, there were many people to call around the world. And the entire Right Livelihood Foundation team returned to the hotel, and conversations, business card swapping, storytelling about the recipients, and just good fellowship to celebrate, if for but a fleeting moment, the possibilities of peace and justice in the world, went on late into the night.


Blogger classof75 said...

Thank you for sharing your celebrations David.it sounds so gratifying and moving.

( emeraldkity/Karen)

8:50 PM, December 27, 2008  

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