This is Sultan Somjee’s “Message to the World” for the 18th Annual Workshop on Transforming Humiliation and Violent Conflict, “Toward a New Global Normal: Dignity Through Solidarity,” co-hosted by Morton Deutsch-International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College, Columbia University, December 9 – 11, 2021, held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sultan Somjee recorded his message on November 6, 2021, see https://youtu.be/bf6JpN89uQI . See his PowerPoint presentation at
See also “Alama’s Walk”, Sultan Somjee’s graphic novel adapted from his book “One Who Dreams is Called a Prophet” (https://alamaswalk.blogspot.com/). See also the “Trees for Peace” documentary for the long-time context (https://vimeo.com/566513646).
“Messages to the World” are a contribution to the World Dignity University Library of Ideas to be shared with the world and, hopefully, inspirational for future generations.
Sultan H. Somjee is an Ethnographer. His research interests include visual arts and oral cultures in expressions of social values, aesthetics, identities and spiritual beliefs. Sultan’s work profile includes community perspectives in contexts of conflicts, changing political circumstances and governmental policies.
During the last nine years Sultan Somjee has been involved in learning about and salvaging indigenous peace traditions of ethnic peoples of East Africa whose heritage is devastated by wars and famines. Based on his experience he initiated community programmes in education and preservation of indigenous peace and community building traditions. These traditions of people who do not write or read, are manifested in their cultural artefacts and oral literature.
Sultan was the Head of Ethnography at the National Museums of Kenya and is the founder of Community Peace Museums Programme and Foundation and the Asian African Heritage Trust in Kenya. He also initiated teaching of indigenous knowledge through material culture in the schools and university education in Kenya as well as Community Counselling Services for the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board in East Africa. He has lectured on and curated more than thirty exhibitions internationally that give positive visibility to minorities in dialogues over differences in cultures and faiths.
In 2001, the United Nations honoured Sultan with the recognition of the Unsung Hero of Dialogue among Civilizations. This was shortly followed by a second accolade of the Cultural Ambassador of Peace by the Survivors of Massacre and Interfaith Committee of Slums of Nairobi following ethnic killings in the city in 2002.
We thank Anna Strout for taking wonderful photos, and Fatma Tufan for the recording! (Please be aware that this is an unedited video.)
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