9 August 2017

The National Training - 10 years ago and 10 years after

About 10 years ago, I was at Citizens UK's National Training as one of the trainees. 10 years after I was back to observe how the training was delivered and share my thoughts to colleagues and the trainees. 

10 years ago, I was keen to learn organising and leadership. But didn’t know where to go to have this training. I wanted to campaign, but didn’t know where to start. I was only a lone wolf writing articles and commentaries about human rights, current African affairs and refugee rights on many blogs and news outlets. I would sit at different corners of coffee shops, libraries and other places and voice my concerns. Cry loud about issues I was passionate about. At times, I was also a mobiliser who organised many one-off actions. Even though I was very loud online and tried my best to get noticed, there were many occasions I didn't get noticed. That was action without a reaction. Reflecting on those days, I now question why I had to act without getting somebody to react to my actions. It was during those days that I attended The Independent Asylum Commission’s public hearing at Lambeth Town Hall. That was the turning point in my life. Yes, I saw organising in action and asked the then coordinator of the commission, now Citizen UK’s deputy director, Jonathan Cox, that I wanted to go for the training. I was given the chance and my journey into organising started subsequently.

Citizens UK National Training Participants July 2017
10 years after I was along with colleagues as one of the trainers tasked to observe the training. This time the training was at Nottingham University. Yes, the university where I was a Human Rights Defender Fellow in 2009 and studied International Human Rights Law. When I returned to the University after 8 years the first person I wanted to see was professor David Harris, a gentle giant who helped me a lot in those days. I hence took time to meet my professor and share with him the journey I have gone through ever since. True to say that we all have distinct stories to share and these stories show how unique human beings are.

Going back to the 2017 Citizens UK National Training, we arrived at the university on Sunday July 9 afternoon. Some came driving, others commuting; some traveling solo and others in groups. Finding where we would rest and hide for a week was the first task followed by introduction to the training, getting to know one-another through rounds. This was followed by setting the ground rules and expectations. Lots of exciting moments. The training is as intensive as in the good old days, but there was a lot to do in between sessions and hence sometimes difficult to remember how far we have gone through the process.
Trainees leading Social action

Lots happened in between including an action organised by the Nottingham Citizens, the local chapter of Citizens UK and we were done by Friday July 14th.

Among the highlights are the trainees themselves. They were fully focused, highly engaged and creative. Their social action was exceptional and by all standard the best.

Reflecting on the training, each trainer tried her/his best to make sure their session revolved around the argument. Do you want change? If your answer is YES, then build your relational POWER, act and develop leaders through the process. Power, Power and Power. Yes, power before action! In the words of Neil Jameson, “Power gives you recognition. That is why you must organise permanently.” Neil’s advice to the trainees was “Never give up, never give up, never give”. Yes, he is right to say that. We can’t afford to give up. We either watch it happen or become part of it and help it happen.

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