Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest speaker will bring accounts of Liberian war

     Stories about the violent First and Second Liberian Civil Wars will be presented at the Special Events Center at Valencia College's West Campus on Jan. 26, by guest speaker Agnes Umunna.

     Umunna is a journalist who has produced and hosted a Liberian radio program called “Straight from the Heart.”

     The program was designed to encourage Liberians to call in and recount their experiences over the 14 year conflict that took hundreds of thousands of lives and embodied the horrors of war, including children armed with machine guns who were used as soldiers.

     Umunna will be speaking with classes throughout the day, and is scheduled for a meet and greet event at 6:30 p.m. This will be followed by a free screening of the critically acclaimed film, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” winner of best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008.

     The film tells the story of a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, which was organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, whose actions helped end the civil war in 2003. She was also a recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize 2011.

     This event is organized by Valencia’s H.E.R.O.S. club, and in partnership with the Global Peace Film Festival and Valencia’s Peace and Justice Initiative. H.E.R.O.S.’s main goals are furthering education about global injustices and empathy toward underprivileged individuals.

     The free showing of the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Special Events Center, and will be followed by an open discussion lead by Umunna.

     The event’s organizers promise that this will be a powerful and engaging event that will inspire students to work for creating a better world. Detailed accounts of war violence may be disturbing to some viewers, but the lessons learned will enrich all who wish to learn from the past.

By James Tutten

(Published: Jan. 18, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on pages 3.)


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