Today I went to Minneapolis for a small meeting of several people convened by Mohamed Dini, founder and director of the Center for African Peace Research (CAPR). Four of us met, at the Somali Mall in South Minneapolis: Mohamed Dini, The Founder.
We introduced ourselves and affirmed our commitment to the goals of CAPR. We agreed to retain those goals and focus on their implementation. We affirmed the idea that came out of the last meeting: to start where we are, here in the Twin Cities.
We should work with communities, organizations, agencies, schools,and other institutions interested in, or in need of, creating cultures of peace. This will build both real life experience and more credibility for CAPR. We briefly discussed funding opportunities and agreed to consider these as the need arises.
After the meeting in the Somali Mall, three of us went to Columbia Heights to meet with colleagues from the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) of the University of Minnesota whom Mohamed Dini had contacted–Vanessa Abanu and Yuichiro Onishi. In less than an hour, we covered much ground, exploring areas of mutual interest between the AAAS program and CAPR.
The AAAS program is planning to revamp its curriculum and foster more engagement with the community. We can work together in the areas of coalition building, fostering unity among disparate African and African Diaspora organizations, including student associations to help promote pan Africanism. The resources and methods we can use include performances, workshops and outreach programs.
One of our most memorable conversations concerned the opportunities our collaboration is bound to create for students, especially internships. Through participating in our programs, students will gain first-hand experience of real life issues affecting our communities–such as conflicts–and ways of addressing them. In many ways, such as demographic and cultural, the Twin Cities and adjacent areas are a microcosm of the world.
(The photo above, taken at the Big Marina Grill & Deli in Columbia Heights, features, left to right, , Mohamed Dini, Joseph L. Mbele, Vanessa Abanu, Professor Yuichiro Onishi).