Ubuntu Academy in Portugal
20 September 2019
Jo Berry and Patrick Magee were asked back for the second time to speak with the young people from the Academy of Ubuntu leaders. Jo reports on the trip:
‘We gathered in Gaia near Porto and the audience represented 11 countries including East Timor, Columbia, Venezuela, Senegal, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe.
‘We started with a boat journey through the bridges of the city which was relevant as the theme was the mission of bridge builders. In the afternoon the international conference started and we spoke after a film about dialogue in Northern Ireland. There was no time for questions but as were there for the two days there was many opportunities for the young people to come and speak with us. Although I heard many personal stories of anguish and hurt from their past, I was moved by their dedication and courage to make a positive difference in their country. I also spent time with the other speakers and have been invited to a few African countries as well as Columbia. I always love the opportunities to visit other countries and to be able to make a difference, such a honour.’
Feedback from the event organisers on Jo and Patrick’s participation:“Your promotion of dialogue and mediation as means for peace was highly relevant and was a key contributor for the success and the significance of the international conference.”
UBUNTU FEST is a joint initiative of the Vila Nova de Gaia City Council and the Ubuntu Leaders Academy, within the framework of the 2019 Gaia International Forum. It aims to promote a space for reflection and exchange for participants that promotes social cohesion, positive management of human diversity, the defense of an ethic of care and the education for building bridges. The Ubuntu Leaders Academy is a non-formal education training project for young people coming from or intervening in vulnerable contexts to build their skills, drawing on leaders such as Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King. Currently, the Academy is present in 13 countries. This project, which has been under development since 2010, is sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the “Programa Escolhas” and the Montepio Foundation. Ubuntu means “Becoming a person” and “I am because you are; I can only become a person through relationship” and it was a defining philosophy to build a rainbow society in Nelson Mandela’s view, to transition from apartheid to democracy.