Good-Tasting Peace


Ripe coffee cherries
Sarahemcc, via Flickr

Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at an unusual way to spread peace - through coffee!

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Robin Basselin.

Voice 2

And I'm Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

J.J. Keki is a musician from the country of Uganda. In 2001, he travelled to the United States for the first time. As he travelled through the country, he spoke and played his music for people. On the night of September 10th, J.J. stayed with friends in the city of Boston. And on the morning of September 11th, 2001, he travelled to New York City. J.J. was on his way to visit a friend. His friend wanted to show him the World Trade Center buildings. J.J. was walking toward the door of the World Trade Center. Suddenly, something unthinkable happened. An airplane flew into one of the buildings. Like many other people that day, J.J. ran from the building.

Voice 2

This was the day that terrorists attacked the World Trade Center buildings. Thousands of people died in this attack. But J.J. Keki survived. And the events of that day changed J.J.'s life forever. Today's Spotlight is on J.J. Keki and an organization called Mirembe Kawomera. J.J. started this organization to encourage religious peace. But he uses an unusual thing to do this - coffee.

Voice 1

Coffee may seem like a strange thing to use to encourage religious peace. And at first thought, it is. However, to understand J.J.'s idea, you much first understand his community.

Voice 2

J.J. is from a small community in eastern Uganda. The people of his community are called the Abayudaya. Most Ugandans are either Christians or Muslims. However, the Abayudaya are followers of the Jewish religion. In the 1970s, government leaders began treating minorities, like the Abuyudaya, very badly. Many people started to hate the Abuyudaya and during this time, many Abuyudaya were killed.

Voice 1

Over the years, relations between the Abuyudaya and the surrounding communities improved. But the communities were still divided based on religion. Christians, Muslims and Jews did not spend much time together. And they did not think that they had very much in common.

Voice 2

However, there was one thing that many Jews, Muslims and Christians in the area had in common. They were small coffee farmers. And often they struggled economically. They worked hard, but they had a difficult time earning enough money from their small crops. J.J. recognized this common problem. After his experience on September 11th, he had an idea. He told a writer for "O" magazine,

Voice 3

"I was nearly a victim. After that, I began to wonder what I could do to help end this religious violence. People use small differences to make hatred. I am a Jew, and in Israel Jews and Muslims are killing each other. In Kenya, Africans are killing each other because of their tribes. I began to wonder 'what do I have with which to make peace?' Coffee. I have coffee."

Voice 1

In 2004, J.J. decided to act. He went from house to house in his Ugandan community asking people to join together. In a film about J.J.'s organization, he explained,

Voice 3

"I brought the idea to my friends around me, Muslims and Christians. I said we should make a co-op, selling our coffee together as well as spreading peace in the world. They were all so happy. We called it Mirembe, which means peace. And Kawomera, which means delicious or good-tasting - that even our coffee must be of quality."

Voice 2

The members of the Mirembe Kawomera coffee cooperative decided to sell their coffee together. Coffee buyers pay a better price for coffee that is sold in larger amounts. So, together, each coffee farmer could make more money for their coffee crop.

Voice 1

Mirembe Kawomera worked with a not-for-profit organization called Kulanu. This organization helped the cooperative achieve their fair trade certification. This official document tells coffee buyers that the coffee was grown in a way that is fair - fair to the environment, to the workers and to the community.

Voice 2

Next, Kulanu helped Mirembe Kawomera find a coffee distributor. This company would buy the cooperative's coffee and sell it all over the world. Mirembe Kawomera finally found a distributor - the American owned Thanksgiving Coffee Company. The head of this company is Paul Katzeff. He liked Mirembe Kawomera's coffee. But he also liked their message of peace between religions. In fact, when he heard the Mirembe Kawomera story, he said,

Voice 4

"I will buy it all. All or nothing. I want the whole story. I do not want any other coffee company to have a single bag. I want to bring this story to the world."

Voice 1

And so, Thanksgiving Coffee became Mirembe Kawomera's only distributor. Working with Thanksgiving Coffee, the Mirembe farmers were able to earn four times more money for their coffee. And together, Mirembe and Thanksgiving Coffee are telling the cooperative's story of religious peace. They also encourage people who buy their coffee to gather, talk and learn more about people of other religions.

Voice 2

Mirembe Kawomera coffee has travelled all over the world. In 2005, two American filmmakers named Curt Fissel and Ellen Friedl received a gift. It was a bag of Mirembe Kawomera coffee. This bag of coffee had a huge effect on their lives. They wrote this about their experience of receiving the coffee,

Voice 5

"It arrived and excited us. It came in the form of coffee that tasted "kawomera" – or delicious. And in a way that represented "mirembe" - or peace - peace between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish farmers who had formed a cooperative. We knew immediately that this was a story we wanted to shout to the world. It was a story about how community members with a history of conflict found a way to live together. And how they found peace and improved their lives."

Voice 1

Curt and Ellen produced a documentary film called "Delicious Peace". It tells the story of Mirembe Kawomera. And the story is encouraging religious peace far beyond Eastern Uganda.

Voice 2

Today, Mirembe Kawomera has more than 1,000 coffee farmers - Jews, Christians and Muslims. They work together. They send their children to the same schools. And they show how there can be peace between religious groups. People are excited to tell their story. And people all over the world are encouraged by their message of peace.

Voice 1

The reach of Mirembe Kawomera's message is far. But it all started with one simple idea for peace - coffee! As J.J. told "O" magazine,

Voice 3

"It is simple to cause peace. We use what we have to make our enemies into our friends. We do not need the highest educational degrees. We have coffee."

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called 'Good-Tasting Peace'.

Voice 1

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Do you ever drink coffee with friends?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
mrpearl
said on May 06, 2011

Thank you very much spotlightradio.net
It’s helpful not only for learning English but also for making peace among different religions.

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nature187_vn
said on May 08, 2011

I so love a peace world,not violence,not war…Hope about a better future for our community all over the world.

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Narath
said on May 22, 2012

Even we live in the different country but we are in one world . We are all human so we need the same things are peach , happiness, caring and love . We all begin from the zero point and at the end of our lives also finish at the zero point .

From Cambodia

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kenhieuloilam
said on May 24, 2012

We wish to get peace. We wish to get peace in community. We wish to get peace in the life. We wish to get peace in our souls. We build for the life. We build for peace. The life has difficulties, challenges and sufferings. All of us try much to live our lives well. We sacrifice much for good things. We get joy in peace community. We get joy in peace life. We get joy in peace of soul. Peace comes when we build. Peace is in each of us. Peace is in everyone. Peace is in community. Peace is in the life. We get light. We forget difficulties and hardnesses. We step lightly in peace.

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on May 27, 2012

It’s an example for all humanity that it’s not necessary to have high educational degrees to get a cooperative of production in base of farmers with different beliefs. The most important issue is the work they provide to themselves in a country with finantial crisis and tribal wars between them. It’s an example to think everybody with humility and wisdom if we want to encourage us and to aim for a goal that benefits economically our families and don’t divide us and look for peace to grow together.
Bye, my friends and continue sharing interesting topics from other countries

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YeeF144000
said on August 18, 2013

잘 들었습니다. ^^

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vivianhuang
said on August 20, 2013

J.J. Keki is a very smart man.Because he can find the common between Christian,Muslin and Jewish.He had such a good idea-coffee to join them together.And together they made differences.How awesome he is.

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jack shin
said on August 22, 2013

앗 한국분이다!

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thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on August 22, 2013

A simple idea has been making a great and meaning things-peace.None of us want to live in a violent and struggling world.We always hope a happy and peaceful world.Country can not develop unless peace.I hope there will be having many idea to make peace.

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paulo86nirisco
said on August 23, 2013

Coffee is delicios and is much more when promote peace thank you spotlight.

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Dela
said on August 24, 2013

Unbelievable story! Coffee has helped connect people of different religions, they want to work together in peace for their corporate benefit. An amazing idea!nks for an article
Thanks for an article

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georgino
said on August 25, 2013

We have differents ways to make peace It´s an example,great idea for this man
the hate between cultures nothing help to the peace far beyond to encourage the war
I don´t understand why?.. but much have to see with the power.

Greetings

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mphuoc
said on July 18, 2017

Thanks Spotlight Radio so much. By this program, I believe that my skill E will be better.

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Supachaj
said on July 23, 2017

I love you..Spotlightradio