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Mussie Hailu

Book Review: Shigeko! A Girl from Hiroshima Crosses the Ocean

In her book Shigeko! Hiroshima kara umi wo watatte (Shigeko! A Girl from Hiroshima Crosses the Ocean), Seiko Suga chronicles the life of Shigeko Sasamori, a woman who was badly scarred in the atomic bombing, received reconstructive surgery in Tokyo and the U.S., and later permanently moved to the latter. The nonfiction book, published in 2010, is framed by Seiko meeting with Shigeko in Hiroshima to learn about her life; the chapters then switch to Seiko narrating Shigeko’s experiences in third person. Although Shigeko! is unavailable in English, the Japanese, targeted at children in late elementary school, is easy enough to understand without perfect knowledge of the language.

Shigeko’s story begins on August 6, 1945, when she was 13 years old. After being exposed to and horribly burned by the atomic bomb near Tsurumi Bridge, Shigeko managed to walk to what is now Danbara Elementary School, where she laid semi-conscious for four days without receiving medial attention, food, or water. She continuously mumbled her name and address, and finally someone told Shigeko’s family where she was. After bringing her home, Shigeko’s family nursed her back from the brink of death, but she still had severe keloid scars on her face, neck, and hands, the latter of which would give her a lifelong slight handicap.

Monument to Norman Cousins in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

After meeting Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto at Nagarekawa Methodist Church, Shigeko joined a group of young women all scarred by the bomb. Some of them traveled to Tokyo to receive reconstructive surgery; it was then that the term “Atomic Bomb Maidens” became widely publicized in Japan. Through Reverend Tanimoto’s introduction, Shigeko met journalist and writer Norman Cousins, who was visiting Hiroshima with his wife. Cousins raised money for 25 young women from Hiroshima, including Shigeko, to undergo more surgery New York City in 1955. Inspired by both her time in the U.S. and in hospitals, Shigeko decided to return to the States in 1958 to study nursing. She became Cousins’ adopted daughter.

The book then follows Shigeko as she works hard to master English, become a nurse’s aide, help difficult but ultimately gracious patients, and raise her son. Over the years, Shigeko began to do more and more public speaking. After retiring from nursing, she visited schools, universities, and other functions to share her experience of the atomic bombing and advocate for peace. Shigeko also visited Chernobyl to speak with people affected by the nuclear disaster there.

The author closes the story with two examples of Shigeko speaking to students in the U.S., one at an elementary school and the other at Winona State University, from which Shigeko received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2009. In her talks, Shigeko spoke about hating and fearing war itself rather than the country that dropped the atomic bomb, about young people’s potential to create a peaceful world, and about the necessity of living one’s life with courage, action, and love.

Shigeko and her son (Photo taken from the book)

Shigeko! rewrites “Atomic Bomb Maidens” as “Hiroshima Girls” in more than just name. While undergoing surgery in Tokyo and before their departure to the U.S., Japanese media referred to the group by the former moniker. However, Shigeko and the other young women didn’t much like that phrase — “As if there was nothing more to our lives than the atomic bomb.” Americans often called Shigeko and the others “Hiroshima Girls” instead, which made Shigeko feel more accepted as a person and free in her identity. The bombing of Hiroshima, the people she met, and her experiences in the U.S. all shaped Shigeko’s life, and all are given due weight in Shigeko!

Despite the scope of its story and open view of identity, Shigeko! sometimes lacks complexity. Perhaps simplicity is just a characteristic of children’s literature, but it occasionally feels like something is being left out of the book. Embracing more emotional and social complexity could, in turn, develop readers’ own nuanced understanding of the people and events the story describes.

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Mussie Hailu Recognized As A "Very Talented Person" – It’s Official!

TOP 73 V.T.P.” is an organization that produces an annual list of the “Top 73 Very Talented Persons” – worldwide.

There was excitement in the ANT-Hiroshima office the other day when news came through that our very own African Representative, Mussie Hailu, had received this prestigious award in the “Gift to the World” category in 2009 for his indefatigable efforts as an international advocate fighting worldwide for right human relationship, reconciliation and dialogue, environmental protection and volunteerism.

Mussie Hailu: Very Talented Person, 2009

Mussie Hailu: Very Talented Person, 2009

Each year, 73 people are selected for their contribution to humanity and “earth greatness”. The award consists of nine different categories:

  1. Life attitude
  2. Ecology
  3. Gift to the world
  4. Entrepreneurship
  5. Science
  6. Mathematics
  7. Applied arts
  8. Medicine
  9. Special selection

It is no surprise, therefore, that Mussie is a winner in the “Gift to the world” category and finds himself among a very select group of people. Other winners of the 2009 VTP73 awards include such talented individuals as:

  • Rita Levi Montalcini from Italy: responsible of discoveries of the nerve growth factor.
  • Hugh Herr from the United States: inventor, thanks to whose work and researches a great many people can walk again; through his research program, Herr strives to enhance those technologies that promise to accelerate the process of merging body and machine.
  • Robert Kiyosaki from the United States: entrepreneur and promoter of good actions in the financial world.
  • Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh: economist and banker, the creator of the microloans system for micro entrepreneurs around the world.
  • Marco Roveda from Italy: entrepreneur in the communication field with a special dedication to promoting ecological activities.
  • Hasan Insel from Turkey: founder of the first Turkish outpatient clinic, established in Istanbul, in 1981. He has introduced the preventive medicine system in Turkey.
  • Adriana Macias from Mexico: lawyer and writer leads a campaign aimed at inspiring workers with disabilities and promoting their job reintegration.
  • Jimmy Wales from United States: co-founder and promoter of the on-line encyclopedia wikipedia.
  • Haruki Murakami from Japan: a writer.
  • And many more.

The goal of VTP is to honor and promote those people who are contributing something to humanity and “earth greatness”, for the purpose of making them role models to be followed by others.

Check out the VTP website at: http://www.VeryTalentedPerson.org

There is no ranking system since each person is to be admired and considered in his or her own right. Moreover, there is no discrimination of age, sex, nationality or race or planetary origin.

To determine who should be awarded two questions must be asked:

  1. What is his-or-her talent?
  2. What is he-or-she doing for the benefit of the world?

If you would like to nominate someone for the next VTP awards, you can send your nomination to hunted@VeryTalentedPerson.org .

ANT-Hiroshima

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2010 is the Year of Peace and Security in Africa

Mussie Hailu & Tomoko Watanabe

Mussie Hailu & Tomoko Watanabe

ANT-Hiroshima‘s representative in Africa, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, reports that at the Special Session of the Year of Peace and Security conference held on 31st August 2009, in Tripoli…

…the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), in paragraph 23 of its Declaration on the Elimination of Conflicts in Africa and the Promotion of Sustainable Peace, declared 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security on the continent.

This decision was taken in the context of the continued peace and security challenges facing the continent. Indeed, while significant strides have been made in the resolution of conflicts in Africa, large parts of the continent continue to experience conflict, insecurity and Instability, with its attendant humanitarian consequences and socio‐economic impact. Armed conflicts in Africa kill thousands of people every year; create humanitarian disasters; wipe out livelihoods and wealth that ordinary people have worked hard to accumulate over their lifetimes; and make sustainable economic development impossible.

There is also a more profound loss: the destruction of hope for a better future. Against this background, the Year of Peace and Security will be an opportunity for African people and leaders, as well as African institutions, in partnership with the international community, to review current efforts at peace on the continent, with a view to strengthening them and, where appropriate, launching new initiatives for the promotion of peace and security.

The objectives of the Year of Peace will be to give added momentum to peace and security efforts on the continent; give greater visibility to ongoing and past efforts by the AU on the ground; to speed up the implementation of commitments made by Member States; harmonize all efforts to promote peace and security, including with those being undertaken at the grass roots.

More specifically, in the context of the Year of Peace and Security, the Commission intends to initiate a number of activities. Some of these are symbolic outreach activities aimed at communicating and mobilizing the African public throughout the Year while others will consist of initiatives and efforts by relevant AU policy organs to speed up the resolution of existing conflicts and crises and consolidate peace where it has been achieved.

The overarching message for all the activities that will be carried out and the advocacy programme is, quite simply, “Make Peace Happen”. This message highlights the need to mobilize all stakeholders for them to take ownership of this initiative and commit to actions that will make possible the achievement of peace.

In the meantime, the Chairperson of the Commission pledges the commitment of the entire AU Commission to intensify its efforts in the area of peace and security and appeals to African Governments, people, media, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to take advantage of the Year of Peace and Security to rededicate themselves to the realization of the objective of a conflict‐free continent.

The Flame of Peace will travail to all 53 capitals of Africa, returning to Addis in January 2011 during the Summit.

MAY PEACE PREAVIL ON EARTH

Mussie Hailu

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Profile of Ambassador Mussie Hailu

When Ambassador Mussie Hailu visited Hiroshima, Tomoko Watanabe asked him if he would take on the role of representative for ANT-Hiroshima in Africa. Ambassador Mussie Hailu readily agreed to Tomoko-san’s proposal, and on his return to his mother country, Ethiopia, he began to raise the profile of ANT-Hiroshima in Africa through newspaper reports (see previous blog post), and by distributing the children’s peace education book, Sadako’s Prayer, published by ANT-Hiroshima.

So, who is Ambassador Mussie Hailu? Let’s have a the life of ANT-Hiroshima’s new African representative…

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Mussie Hailu

Ambassador Mussie Hailu was born and grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and studied Comparative Religions, International Relationships, Management and Metaphysical Philosophy. He also attended at the Peace building & Development Institute at School of International Service of American University Summer Course.

He is an international advocate and activist for Culture of Peace, Interfaith Harmony & cooperation, world citizenship, right human relationship, reconciliation & dialogue, environmental protection and volunteerism.

Mussie Hailu believes in creating and building a culture of peace and a better world for all. To that end, he works with numerous peace-related organizations. He is the Regional Director of United Religions Initiative for Africa, Boar Chairman of Interfaith Peace-building Initiative, Representative of world Federation of United Nations Associations to the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and African Union (AU), Lifetime Deputy Governor of the American Biographical Research Institute, Peace Representative of the World Peace Society, Chairman of Haile Selassie Aid Ethiopia, Special Adviser to Africa for World Peace and Love Federation, Patron of United World College National committee of Ethiopia, Representative of World Citizen Association for Africa, African Diaspora Foundation Chairman for Africa, and Advisor of Center for Peace building International.

Mussie Hailu was also appointed as Ambassador at Large of The Republic of Burundi by the President of Burundi. He is the Good Will Ambassador for the Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Rwanda and Special Emissary to his Majesty King Kigeli V of Rwanda, who is currently in exile in the USA.

Finally, his is also a representative of HOPE’87, and it was through his connections with HOPE’87 that he was introduced to Tomoko Watanabe of ANT-Hiroshima.

One of his peace initiatives was a “Declaration of Peace” distributed worldwide during the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. This declaration was intended to encourage people to make a personal commitment to stand for global peace, human rights, environmental & animal protection, cooperation and international unity under the slogan:

“May Peace Prevail on Earth”

The “Golden Rule” is his motto in life. Asked, as why he uses the Golden Rule as his motto he said,

“It is my prayer. It is my wish. It is part of my life. It is the air I want to breathe and I think it is the air the world wants to breathe. As it is stated in the preamble of UNESCO, ‘since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the mind of men defenses must be constructed’. The way how I see this, both peace and violence are the products of the human mind and it is from the human mind that a sense of responsibility to act and think in a peaceful manner will develop. We all need to plant a seed of peace and hope in our mind. Through the prayer of ‘May Peace Prevail on earth’ and practicing Golden Rule. If we do this then we can overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, hatred with love, anger with tolerance, war with peace and revenge with forgiveness”.

Mussie Hailu was one of the panelists at a conference of the Interreligious and International Federation For World Peace organized at the UN headquarters in New York along with Dan Quayle, Lech Walesa and many others. Mussie Hailu spoke about “The Empowerment of Youth through Character Education” in his capacity as regional liaison office of the World Peace Society.

Regarding the importance of dialogue among civilized nations, he said,

“As we are living together on this planet earth, no matter what place, situation, or circumstance each of us may find ourselves as individuals, our existence has a special meaning. Each of us has a special role to play throughout our daily lives.

“Differences of Color and place of birth are trivial things. What is important is that we recognize ourselves as a citizen of the world. One of the most important missions for humanity at this stage must be to bring people together as one with the shared goal of creating a peaceful world for all to live in. We need to develop a conscience that transcends all differences among nations, ethnic groups, races and religious beliefs and opinions through dialogue. It is my deepest believe that dialogue will give birth to a great wave of human energy directed towards world peace, development and unity in this century.”

He also emphasized on the need for a culture of peace as it is a question of value, attitude, individual and collective behaviours, which gives rise to and incarnate the spirit of peace. He recommends a Peace education and peace-culture programme to be integrated in the school system, in order to indoctrinate the younger generation in the spirit of peace.

He pioneered a number of goodwill initiatives in Africa including the Council of Former African Heads of States for Peace, Reconciliation and Development, the aim of which was to fully and constructively engage former heads of state of Africa so that they can share their rich experience in the pursuit of peace, development and reconciliation across the continent and to inspire peaceful leadership transitions in Africa. He was also the prime mover behind the peace monument, which is erected at the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity.

For his achievements and services in many areas, he has also received numerous awards, medals, certificates of merit from numerous organizations including the United Nations.

We at ANT-Hiroshima are glad to have someone so well connected and dynamic in the pursuit of peace as our representative in Africa.

Thank you for helping us to raise our profile in Africa, Mussie-san!

Ant-Hiroshima

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Peace Ambassador Mussie Hailu Visits Japan

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Mussie Hailu visits Miyajima.

In August of this year, Mussie Hailu, Representative of the World Federation of United Nations Associations to the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and African Union (AU), Lifetime Deputy Governor of the American Biographical Research Institute, Good will Ambassador of Burundi, Vice Chairperson of United Religions Initiative, Peace Representative of the World Peace Society, Chairman of Haile Selassie Aid Ethiopia, Special Adviser to Africa for World Peace and Love Federation, Good will Ambassador of Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Rwanda, Country Director of HOPE’87, Special emissary to his Majesty King Kigeli V of Rwanda, Patron of United World College National committee of Ethiopia, Board Chair of Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative, Representative of World Citizen Association for Africa , African Diaspora Foundation Chairman for Africa, Ambassador of Peace and Advisor of Center for Peace building International, visited Japan.

He came from Ethiopia to express solidarity with the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in their appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realisation of genuine and lasting world peace.

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During his stay in Hiroshima, Mussie visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where he laid flowers at the Cenotaph and at the Children’s Peace Monument.

He also attended the Mayors for Peace 7th General Conference in Nagasaki and addressed the plenary session of the conference. He said:

“Abolition of nuclear weapons is an idea whose time has come. We all need to be stakeholders. There should not be another Hiroshima and Nagasaki in any part of the world.

“It is high time for us as citizens of the world to focus on the enormous costs of war and armament and how these resources could be used much better to create a better future for the children of the world, to alleviate poverty, end hunger, do research to find cures for HIV/AIDS and cancer, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, diminish the risks of war and support the effort of peace building throughout the world.”

Mussie returned to Africa with a message of peace from Hiroshima and a mission to publicize the work of ANT-Hiroshima and the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol. On his return, Mussie arranged for the publication of a five page special feature in the August 28th-September 3rd edition of The Sub-Saharan Informer.

In that issue of The Sub-Saharan Informer there were articles on Mussie’s visit to the Mayors For Peace conference on the front page and page three, with messages from the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ANT-Hiroshima’s Tomoko Watanabe, two A-bomb survivors, and the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon.

Also featured was the Mayors For Peace Hiroshima Nagasaki Appeal and Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol. Mussie also gave a lengthy interview about the Mayors For Peace conference.

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Green Legacy Hiroshima