“I arrived just before the end of a hip-hop dance performance from a group of participants and just in time to take a seat in the auditorium prior to Laymah’s arrival. She was raucously welcomed by the enthusiastic young people who whooped and cheered her entrance like a rock star.
Laymah spoke of her time on the front line in Liberia as well as the work she now does with the foundation she set up with the money from her Nobel Prize. She spoke with the intonation and cadence of an African woman who had spent many years in the U.S. and who had delivered many rousing, emotive speeches about her experiences and work. She spoke of her children (maternal and adopted) and the discrimination she had experienced in her home town as a mother of four. She was an endearing and down to earth speaker with enough wit to infuse her struggle stories with humour and humanity. Her time on the stage culminated in a protracted Q&A that saw young people joining her on the stage to ask questions and receive hugs “from aunty”. The session overran and when it was brought to a halt by one of the organisers she instructed those left with unanswered questions to join her for lunch.
During the lunch break I found my way to the room where I would be running my spoken word workshop later that afternoon. When I arrived, guided by a young mentor, I found the room littered with the remnants of earlier activities; the tables were covered in sheets on flipchart paper, adorned with notes scribed in fluorescent highlighter pen, amongst discarded PowerPoint print outs. The chairs were left in the circle they had been previously formed into and the room bore all the hallmarks of a workshop venue. I set up my laptop and left a playlist of Hip-hop and grime instrumentals playing over the frozen PowerPoint intro slide I would start my workshop Humans Write Human Rights…”
(An excerpt from Poetcurious’ article about using P4Cyphers at a Peace Jam conference at Winchester University)
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