Are You Ready to Hear Good News from Africa?
Oct. 13, 2015
Meet Slow Food International Vice-President Edward Mukiibi during a food sovereignty tour of the USA, November 5–18, 2015.
Slow Food USA is honored to host Ugandan agronomist Edward Mukiibi in a coast-to-coast tour of the USA. He will share stories from the food sovereignty frontlines in Africa and meet with emerging leaders in the USA who also address the rights of communities to determine their food access.
Architect of the celebrated 10,000 Gardens in Africa, Edward Mukiibi also serves as Vice-President to Slow Food International. Today, more than 1,000 gardens in 26 countries provide hope, sustenance and emblematic resistance to land-grabbing and neo-colonialism in a continent grappling with past, present and future models of development. From school gardens to micro-farms, from Africa to the USA, we believe the growth of gardens provide safe havens to grow a bio-diverse alternative to the mono-crop model that dominates public policy.
Edward Mukiibi will travel to five municipal regions in the USA that grapple with similar questions of food access and African American land loss. Networks of school gardens, backyard and community gardens are changing the landscape of social, economic and ecological possibilities. We are excited to facilitate meetings between a visiting civil society leader from Africa and emerging USA leaders of color to accelerate learning, solidarity, and an important sense of “not being alone” in the fight for food sovereignty. Reaching beyond the food desert debates that largely focus upon geographic access to food, we hope to introduce ideas about food sovereignty — the right of communities to define their own food and agriculture systems — to new audiences.
Together with our desire to gather unlikely partners who build trust, Good News from Africa will:
- Present a different image of Africa. Its reputation as a continent in crisis only justifies cynicism and detachment. Between Ebola, pirates, civil war and famine, our African imagination is fixated on its deficits. Mukiibi will present a very different narrative of Africa’s present and future that highlights promising assets: traditional knowledge together with innovative forms of leadership. 10,000 Gardens in Africa cultivates a generation of leaders independent from the extractive economy.
- Forge ties between food sovereignty advocates in the USA with food sovereignty advocates in Africa, thus elevating the work of marginalized communities of color in the USA as valid and important to fulfill the Slow Food goal to achieve food that is good, clean and fair for all.
- Educate American voters about important foreign aid policy priorities that impact innovative efforts in Africa.
Where & When
Edward Mukiibi will visit five American cities where disparities in power and wealth trigger an inspired use of food to grow leadership, self-reliance and cooperation. Stops on the tour include universities, schools and school gardens, and urban farms.
November 5-18, 2015: New York City, Detroit, New Orleans, Petal, and Sacramento. Learn more about the public events listed below on the National Slow Food Calendar:
- November 5-7 in New York City
- Thursday, November 5: Kelso Beer Tap Takeover at the Berg'n Beer Hall (6-8pm)
- Friday, November 6: A global discussion at NYU followed by light refreshments and Ferrari sparkling wines (5-7pm)
- November 7-10 in Detroit, MI
- Sunday, November 8: A discussion at the Spirit of Hope Church about youth and food with Detroit youth activist Kadiri Sennefer followed by soup and bread (6-8pm)
- November 11-14 in New Orleans, LA
- Wednesday, November 11: Slow Food New Orleans Happy Hour at Café Carmo (6-8pm) featuring under-utilized seafood species
- Saturday, November 14: Ring the opening bell at the Crescent City Farmers Market (8am-12pm)
- November 13 in Petal (Hattiesburg), MS: Invitation-only event
- November 15-18 in Sacramento, CA
- Monday, November 16: A Slow Food Fall Mixer to draw solidarity between African and American garden projects (6-8pm)
About Edward Mukiibi
Edward Mukiibi was born and raised in the rural parts of Mukono District in Central Uganda. He attended a nearby rural school for his primary and secondary education. Agriculture was used as a form of punishment in both schools: experiencing firsthand the practice of shaping a young person’s attitude towards agriculture. Mukiibi graduated from Makerere University with honors in Agricultural Land Use Management in 2009, where he has also worked as a teaching assistant in the Soil Science Department. In 2006, Mukiibi founded Developing Innovations in School and Community Gardens (DISC), a project aimed at promoting community engagement and agricultural sustainability among the youth. Mukiibi’s involvement with Slow Food began in 2008. It was stimulated by a drought in Uganda whose destabilizing impacts were made far worse by the widespread mono-crop planting of a maize hybrid. By contrast, he argues, traditional agricultural practices provide stability: “If one takes a classic African farm, one finds there are fruit trees, vegetables…it’s thanks to this model that, over the years, Uganda has never known famine.” In 2014, at the age of 28, he was named Vice President of Slow Food International. With this recent appointment, Mukiibi helps to steer the work of the global network and to grow Slow Food’s 10,000 Gardens in Africa project.
Slow Food in Africa
Slow Food is working to raise awareness about the value of African biodiversity and to promote the right to food sovereignty, reviving traditional products and returning local food to markets, home kitchens and schools.
Creating 10,000 good, clean and fair food gardens in African schools and villages mean guaranteeing communities have a supply of fresh healthy food but also training a network of leaders aware of the value of their land and culture, who can serve as protagonists for change and guide the continent’s future.
Each Slow Food gardens is designed, created and run by African communities: each with its own coordinator.
Each Slow Food garden supports and generates itself: with relatively few external resources necessary to get started, each becomes autonomous and generates its own resources within a year or two: seeds, compost and products for consumption and sale.
Seeds matter: A slow Food garden is based on local, traditional seeds. In rural African communities traditionally and today, women preserve seeds. Over the thousands of years since agriculture developed, farming communities have always worked to improve the yield, taste, nutrition and other characteristics of their harvest, in harmony with the specific nature of their local area. Over time, industrial seeds have supplanted traditional ones. Whereas industrial seeds must be purchased each year, traditional seeds cost little or nothing. They are acquired from other farmers, community seed banks and local markets. Seeds stand at the center of many food sovereignty decisions. Learn more:
Imagine if things were different in Africa and North America?
Africa. Despite its reputation as a continent in crisis, the vast and varied African continent offers great hope. Whilst Ebola, pirates, civil war and famine may capture the public imagination about Africa, we offer a different picture: Traditional knowledge and innovative forms of leadership are growing a generation of leaders who are independent of the corrupt, extractive economy typified by land-grabbing.
USA. Here too, we are dazzled by deficits over assets. All over the USA, individuals and communities harness food as a fulcrum for change, economic opportunity and an alternative to bland, low-wage homogenization. We too must change our model for how we live our lives. Embrace the craft beer, farmers market, school garden, food truck revolution.
Support Slow Food Policy in Africa and North America
Africa. You can empower small-scale farmers in Africa by telling congress to pass the 2015 Global Food Security Act. It will expand the US Government's successful Feed the Future program. It works with countries to develop local agriculture, resilience and food security. Passing bipartisan legislation would mean a better future for small-scale farmers, like those who tend the Slow Gardens in Africa. Tell your elected officials to support the Global Food Security Act of 2015. Learn more.
USA. You can give students the agency to navigate difficult food decisions by supporting legislation that is hung in the US congress: The Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization and the $15 million to expand farm-to-cafeteria projects, USDA Farm-to-School grants, and school gardens. Learn more.
Support Slow Food Programs in Africa and North America
Africa. You financial support for Slow Food in Africa is an investment in young leaders who are shaping their future by growing school gardens, small farms and community gardens. Each garden is an emblem of resistance to the land-grabbing agriculture of industrial food and hope for the future. We currently support 1,200 gardens in 26 nations. Learn more.
USA. Your financial support for our National School Garden Program is an investment in a generation of kids who learn to run towards good food because they grow it, cook it and advocate for it in their schools. We provide technical help to our national network of volunteers, nonprofit partners, school districts, educators and parents to grow solutions. We currently support 500+ gardens in 33 states. Learn more.
Who Supports Good News From Africa?
We are grateful to the following sponsors in their support for the tour. In each city, Slow Food communities are collaborating with local organizations, schools, restaurants, and governments to welcome this important visitor.