From where I come from – North Europe – the Canary Islands means “holiday in the beach.” I’ve never before visited here and never thought of the Canary Islands as a part of Africa, but actually – like Melilla – it is an African part of the European Union, and its original inhabitants were African tribes. Again, the borders of geography and politics and culture do not fully coincide, and the diversity of the human landscape asserts itself.
Here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria we are accommodated in a big hostel that seems to be an old monastery, in the old part of town, peaceful and within a short taxi ride from the city. The calendar has been quite relaxed and the activities pleasant and laid-back so the Canary Islands retains its meaning, “holiday in the beach” – even at least one of the marches was by the beach.
In Las Palmas, there were basically two groups organizing activities and I participated in the activities by the local World Without Wars team. In the University of Las Palmas, we were active participants in the First Canaries Forum for Nonviolence. The main part of the forum was an interchange in groups about concrete actions for nonviolence. The group where I participated talked a lot about education (in all levels) and my notes from the discussion will contribute to future actions in North Europe. It was really nice to participate in reflection and discussion, instead of only giving short speeches and marching as usual.
Eventually in the evening we also got to march. The march along the beach of Las Canteras in the center of Las Palmas was festive, with dancers, batucada, jugglers, clowns, large youth carnival singing groups called murgas (typical to here and Cadiz), giants and firejugglers. In our presentation, Pierre accidentally started with the words “Hola Malaga!” but compensated for his mistake by giving a great show of firejuggling together with Kai.
The other activities in Las Palmas on the same day were organized by Convergence of Cultures and the Message of Silo; another march and a festival, in another part of the city, with a multicultural profile.
Both marches can be seen in Isabelle’s video – unfortunately due to technical difficulties with putting together footage from different cameras, in this quickly composed video we could not include footage from the Forum. A lot of events are not covered in the videos that we send from the road – the multitude of things going on is simply overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Rafa, Gerard, Charles and Sinthya were marching in Tenerife. On the following day, while we Las Palmas people had a wonderfully relaxing free day – it seems the first free day ever for the Base Team – the Tenerife group was on a tough march. They were wandering through otherworldly landscape in the top of Teide, the highest mountain of Spain, more than 3000 metres upwards from the sea surface. All of them returned with distinctly red faces due to the extensive exposure to sunlight.
In the evening of our free day, the Convergence of Cultures and the Message of Silo had organized a cultural evening in the Conservatory of Las Palmas. In this fine event, poets recited their works for Peace and Nonviolence, and the composer Victor Alonso had composed a wonderful symphonic violin piece for the world march, performed by a youth orchestra. We’ve seen many fantastic performances during the journey, but an entire symphony composed specially for the World March – at least for me that was something new!
On the third and last full day of our “Canarias holiday”, again we divided in three groups. One group left early in the morning to Fuerteventura and another group went to local consulates to arrange visas that they were missing.
The third group, where I participated, went to an event of street workshops with 2400 schoolkids, organized by the CAAM, Atlantic Center for Modern Art, for the World March. This was a very well organized event – 26 schools and high schools from the entire island of Gran Canaria had studied the themes of nuclear disarmament and peace and nonviolence and came to the event well prepared and active. The streets bloomed with arts, theatre, games, music performances where entire schoolclasses participated.
While me, Bhairavi and Montse walked through the walking streets and greeted the different schoolclasses, at the central square of the neighborhood others were singing Imagine and watching a play demonstrating the bad influence of drugs and alcohol. In the play the youth used the allegory of the wall – the wall of drugs that separates people. A great allegory, when we are talking of bringing down the walls that separate people – the wall of drugs is a thick wall, a haze that makes it impossible for people to understand each other, and as well to understand themselves! Also, the wall of drugs is built for the same reasons as the walls of violence and weapons: fear and greed. The solution is to seek for more coherent positive experiences, refining desires and coming closer to the heart of the meaning of life. That is exactly what happened in the streets of Las Palmas today to hundreds of kids who will build the future that humanity is longing for.