Despite the Canadian team having to cancel their trip, we concluded that it would still be good to engage with the project communities and go ahead with plans to run the Literacy workshop. After talking about the first day’s activities I asked Christy to write up one specific incident.
Yesterday we wrote a group story. The theme was “Fighting” and the audience was “Children.” We wanted to help children to know that fighting is not good. As we wrote, there was much discussion and debating as to how to best write our sentences into a cohesive story. 20 opinionated men all writing one story, a new kind of challenge. Finally we were getting to the end of our paper allotment, and the purpose was not coming out clearly. Abu was still fighting with his friend Ali. So, I gave an ending that we might move on. “Abu, though he always was losing in fights, turned and surprisingly knocked Ali down! Then he felt bad because he remembered how it felt to be beaten, and he helped Ali up. Abu never fought again.” The room was in an uproar and I didn’t understand why! Everyone talking at once. Then one man spoke up and said, “No, it is not good, Abu would have been proud because he finally was strong enough!” “Yes, but when one knows their own power, they don’t feel a need to prove it anymore! Only a weak man fights to show he is not weak,” I matter-of-factly stated my cultural opinion. Another man chimed in, “Here in Nigeria, we would never feel bad about knocking someone down. Nor would we go so far as helping them up again!”
“That is why we must write, people,” I said, more convinced than ever, “Jesus said, “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also” should our culture overcome the words of Jesus? That is why we want people to learn to read this Book.”
As we were talking about it, once again I realised just how deep-seated some of the ‘normal’ cultural thinking is here that is counter to biblical teaching. I know, I know. Talk about pot and kettle, right? But I long to see these people have the Bible in a language and form they can understand so that God’s love can penetrate every aspect of lives here.
Now I shall go read some scripture about my judgemental attitude….