Our world. Your move. Events in Nigeria.
Celebrating Henry Dunant's 150-year-old legacy through entertainment
On 18 September, over 360 guests, including the wife of Nigeria's vice-president, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's minister of information and communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, and several ambassadors in post in Abuja accepted the invitation of the ICRC to attend the " Humanity Concert " and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
The Humanity Concert
" This evening of music, dance, drama and imagery is meant to draw people's attention to numerous humanitarian challenges, " said Jacques Villettaz, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Abuja, in his welcome remarks. " It also serves to remind everyone of their individual responsibility to take action and promote a culture of volunteerism, just as Henry Dunant did 150 years ago. "
The concert delighted the audience for three hours with entertainment while at the same time conveying messages on the mandate and work of the ICRC, and on its origin 150 years ago.
The theme of the ICRC's worldwide Our world. Your move. campaign is that of shared responsibility and of the power of both individual and collective action to make a difference. Members of the student choir of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation, the Rochas Angels, understand this theme very well, since they themselves benefited from a humanitarian " move " by an individual who adopted them when they were street kids. The choir welcomed the audience with a rousing first number: " Just add to the world, try a little kindness, " they sang. " Change the world, show some love. "
The Rochas Angels were not the only ones to make a musical move at the concert – Charlyboy, a popular Nigerian music icon, did so as well. Charlyboy exploded on the Nigerian music scene as an unusual " brand, " sporting outlandish clothes, body piercing and decorations and a bit of a Mad Max hairstyle. With time, however, he became a phenomenon in Nigeria's entertainment industry, and also became known for his social activism and philanthropy.
When he mounted the stage, his body decorations and hard-core leather motorcycle outfit were very much on display. However, when he began to perform his special song for the Red Cross anniversaries, the entire puzzle surrounding his personality melted away. He won over the audience as he sang of Henry Dunant, the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions, mixing English with local dialects. It was a remarkable sight as the Rochas Angels, dressed in their colourful ceremonial uniforms, provided back-up for Charlyboy by chorusing and synchronizing their dance moves to " all we need is just to make this world better for you and me – let's make this world a better place. "
Remembering ICRC "moves" during the Nigeria / Biafra war
Prof. Emma Okoronta, who emceed the concert, nearly succumbed to kwashiorkor, a virulent form of childhood malnutrition, when he was five years old, during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war in 1969-1970. The war had halted most agricultural activity and relief deliveries were scarce, especially on the Biafran side. As a result, it is likely that more people were killed by acute malnutrition and diseases like tetanus and cholera than by battlefield bullets. Prof. Okoronta survived, however, with the help of the ICRC. He used the Humanity Concert platform to pay tribute to the Red Cross and express his appreciation " for the rations of corn meal, Quaker oats, dried eggs, milk and iodine that stopped tetanus from eating up our limbs, " as he put it, in a moving voice. " For teaching our mothers to cook the sour leaves so that we could get protein. For many things, including that I would not have been able to make it without the ICRC's support. "
Re-enacting scenes from the Battle of Solferino
The most thrilling part of the show was a dance-drama presentation, re-enacting the genesis of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions, by the Abuja Council for Arts and Culture. The use of African songs, dance, scenes and costumes to tell a European story was highly original and well suited to the mixed audience of Africans and Western diplomats.
The battle scene of Solferino was played by bare-chested soldiers, who wore colourful raffia skirts and brandished traditional war instruments as they danced to the African drum, the flute and other musical instruments. " I didn't know much about the Red Cross until I started directing this drama, " admitted Kayode Aiyegbusi of the Abuja Council for Arts and Culture.
Showcasing dignity and hope in armed conflict through a photo exhibition
Three days before the Humanity Concert, a photo exhibition featuring 40 archival images on the ICRC's work opened to the public in Abuja. The exhibition " is filled with contrasts … lots of the photos express suffering, but there are also beautiful pictures, " said Dr Andreas Baum, the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria.
The picture of Louise, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, attracted the most attention. Louise witnessed the killing of her husband by armed men who attacked her village. Then she was raped. And then she witnessed the raping of her 81-year-old mother and three young daughters. Many visitors asked how Louise was able not only to survive but to go on to provide counselling for other rape victims.
The answer lies in the message the ICRC is trying to convey by hosting the exhibition – the message of courage, dignity, defiance and hope shown by many victims of armed conflict amid pain and suffering. Over 150 visitors from the diplomatic community, civil society, the media, the armed forces, ECOWAS, the government and the public attended the opening.
The talent and expertise that came together to celebrate Our world. Your move. made everyone feel truly responsible.
Our world. Your move. Events across the globe.