In the week marking the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, Quakers in Britain are launching an extraordinary book and exhibition of photographs: “This Light that Pushes Me”, in which African peacebuilders relate their journey from violence to healing to activism.
The book and exhibition features peacebuilders from sub-Saharan Africa, all of whom are Quakers or are involved with Quaker work and who have experienced violence.
Using photographs and personal testimonies, “This Light that Pushes Me” traces the journeys that have transformed that suffering into a force for social change. Over 40 peacebuilders in Africa offered their stories and conducted many of the interviews with one another.
The stories have been gathered and edited by Laura Shipler Chico, Programme Manager for Quaker Peace and Social Witness’ East Africa programme.
Speaking about the inspiration for the project, she said: “Weaving throughout these stories is the belief that somewhere within our imperfect selves, however hidden under layers of grief, loss, tragedy, hurt, and disillusion, there is something good, something wise, something knowing.
"It is this Divine kernel that pushes us to keep struggling to fix our broken world; to transform hurt and grief and the human lust for vengeance into something new, into a commitment to peace no matter the cost.
"This book invites us to do what the peacebuilders in this book have been striving to do for a long time: listen – with simplicity – for the truth. And when we hear it, let us walk side by side right into the heart of hurt, the deep and frightening darkness, and look for light.”
The photographer, Nigel Downes said: “I want people to look at these photographs and recognise something of themselves in them.”
The exhibition, at Friends House, Euston Road London, NW1 2BJ, runs from 9 April to 8 May 2014.