Two Lessons From The Global Soil Week


By Yared Tesema

This blog is part of a series from the Youth In Soil (YiS) event of the Global Soil Week 2019 – please see other YiS blog posts here.

With Atula and Edouard

With Atula and Edouard

My mother taught me two things.

I was only 10 when she told me the first one.

I can never forget the day, for it was a Sunday afternoon. I used to, and still look forward to such afternoons because the coffee celebration is always special. Drinking the beverage with family and friends is a blessing, and the snacks are sweet too! I was just sipping from my cup, minding my own sweet business when Mother asked:

"When spiders' webs unite, can they tie up a lion?”

I tried wrapping my mind around that, and responded with a simple, "No!"

After all, everyone knows how strong a lion is. Especially those black-maned ones in my motherland. Everyone also knows how weak a spider's web is. I said there was no way spider webs could hold back the powerful black-maned lions that roam Ethiopian highlands. She just smiled, and told me that I will understand, “In due time”.

Turns out she was right.

This was evident on 25th May 2019, when I sat in a conference room at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi. I was among a group of fellow young Africans- preparing for the Global Soil Week 2019. All of us come from developing countries, which economically are as weak as a spider's web. The lion that is poverty and poor agricultural production is roaming our lands, vicious as ever. Which is why we have come together to work together in changing our communities through sustainable agriculture.

Lest the lion devours us all.

The coming together of these young people involved in agriculture is a step in the right direction. These tiny webs of ours are forming a strong union that will eventually tie up the lion. Imagine, if all of young people think as one and when a problem occurs we all put our heads and try to come up with different solutions or even spreading the word about it for others to hear. This is just the beginning and I believe that we can do much, much more.

I was 13 when she told me the second one.

"Yared..." She called me one Saturday morning;

"Do you know that two heads are better than one?”

I tried to think of anyone I knew who had two heads, but none came to mind. And I told her so. Once more, she smiled, and said that I would understand in due time. Turns out that once again, she was right. I quickly realized this when the youth participants in the Global Soil Week started sharing their experiences.

We had not two, but more than ten heads from across the continent. All of which were joining to learn from each other, create, and work together in making GSW 2019 a success. John Agboola facilitated the session on usage of social media as a reporting tool. He declared that, "I will tell you everything that is to know about the social media till there is nothing left to tell or secret left to reveal…”

And that is exactly what he did.

We mostly concentrated on Twitter.

The entire Youth in Soil team

The entire Youth in Soil team

Everyone in the room wrote down their Twitter handles on sticky notes and pinned them on the display board. There was a lot of constructive criticism as each person made inputs aimed at improving other participants' profiles. I had mistakenly opened multiple accounts, and I was guided on how to concentrate on the most recent one and make it good for maximum outreach.

It was a very good learning experience because there were lots of things that needed correcting. I got to have those positive criticisms right in front of me and get to grow from it, as did every other person in the room. Then we went into the other different social media platforms and the process was repeated.

And with that, we readied ourselves for the event.

Looking back, retrospectively, the reportage was done successfully. This was largely thanks to the approach taken during the training. We exceeded our targets, and the event trended in Nairobi- and beyond. As was intended. The messages pertaining to conservation of soils got out there. It turns out, joining several heads together was an effective problem solving approach.

Mother was right, unity of purpose is important in order to achieve anything substantial. I am glad I was part of that amazing team, and that our work had a positive impact. Truly, two heads are better than one, and when those tiny spider webs come together, they tie down even the most powerful of lions.

Take it from me, never doubt your mother's sayings.