I recently had the opportunity to see Hafsat Abiola speak. Hafsat is an amazing woman who agreed to be interviewed for Crude Impact, but unfortunately, through a series of mishaps, was unable to meet with us.
Hafsat Abiola is the daughter of Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who was elected president of Nigeria in 1993. Known as M.K.O. Abiola, the elected president was jailed after the election and died in prison years later. Hafsat’s mother, Kudirat Abiola, a pro-democracy advocate in Nigeria who was working for the release of her husband Moshood, was assassinated in 1996.
Swirling around the political events of Nigeria is the extraction of oil. It is a constant backdrop to the political and social strife in the country.
Western oil companies have been constant presence in Nigeria. The extent of the involvement of these companies in this strife is a matter of controversy.
However, Hafsat, on stage in front of one thousand people, said that the oil companies had helped with establishing democracy in Nigeria and for this she was thankful. She went on to say that she wanted to work for positive change in the world, not to fight any entity, but to work together to establish mutually beneficial outcomes for all.
This I think is a great lesson. Those of us who have suffered little can often summon great anger directed at governments or corporations for problems in the world. But if someone who has suffered so incredibly can speak so eloquently in favor of a different course, a course without anger or retribution, how can we not follow?
This is the positive way forward that achieves results. We should not fight these entities, but work with all of them to create a more just, caring society.
One organization that promotes these ideals is Search for Common Ground. This organization is doing tremendous work across the world to change the way we deal with conflict. I recently went to Sierra Leone with Search for Common Ground and was overwhelmed with the amazing work they have done in that previously war-torn country.
Having completed Crude Impact, my commitment in the future is work for positive change in the world through cooperation. I believe we should work with governments, the media and corporations to, as the Pachamama Alliance states, “bring forth an environmental sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet.”