Yared’s Story, Edu’s Photos


By Yared (Farm Kenya) 2. July 2019

This article was originally published in Farm Kenya Blog

I met Yared Tesema, an Ethiopian environmentalist, and Edouard Sango, a Burkinabe environmental journalist, at the Global Soil Week 2019. We were among the Youth in Soil who spearheaded reporting during the conference. This is a story written by Yared, and featuring photos captured using Edu’s camera, hence the title.

With Yared and Edouard

With Yared and Edouard

My mother taught me two sayings.

I was only 10 when she tole me the first one. I can never forget the day, for it was a Sunday afternoon. I always, 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 business when Mother asked, “When spiders‘ websunite, they can 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. And 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 today when I sat in the room, 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. Which is why we have come together to work together in changing our communities through sustainable agriculture.

These tiny webs 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 than what we can think of.

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 thinking of any people that I knew who had two heads, but I could think of none. 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 Africa 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 or secret left to reveal…”

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 pin them on the display. 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.

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, largely thanks to the approach taken during the training. We exceeded our targets, and the event trended in Nairobi- 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. My 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.

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