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HYPE ::: The Heroes 217 Project

Here is one platform we deem apt to bring to your notice. It is called The Heroes 217 Project andis quite an impressive effort.

The accompanying art of this post is a promo material on an offshoot of this project. It is called SOUND & SOUNDS OF GREATNESS and is scheduled to hold in Abuja on the 10th of August 2013.

It features a crop of unique artistes and is indeed a program to look forward to. All the details are contained in the accompanying art.

In the meantime, here, we give you info on The Heroes Project and implore you to go through it to know what its all about.

In times of crisis, people have two choices. They either succumb to the inertia of despondency or discover within themselves the will and the power to transform their circumstances. 

They may tarry in vain for an unlikely deliverance wrought from above by political messiahs that may hopefully emerge fortuitously if at all. Or they may realize that authentic and sustainable change is won by people who choose to be captains of their own destiny. 

A group of Nigerians have chosen the second option. The result of that choice is Heroes 217, a campaign for social renewal pioneered by a coalition of leaders, entrepreneurs, speakers, poets, artistes and entertainers. 

That campaign has taken them across twelve districts of the Abuja Federal Capital Territory in a series of town hall forums – unique events that fuse inspirational artistry with motivational lectures on politics, citizenship and entrepreneurship. The venues have been varied, ranging from open grounds, lecture theatres, auditoriums to nightclubs. The audiences have been just as varied, cutting different classes – students, university graduates, working class professionals, community, etc from Nigeria to Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Belgium, Switzerland, Zimbabwe,USA and other nations.

  The facilitators are drawn from different backgrounds. An interactive session enables facilitators to field questions and ideas from participants. It is a truly rich and multidimensional experience. Despite the motivational nature of these events, they are by no means superficial or light-headed. The songs are deep, meaningful and socially aware. The short 5-minute inspirational and informative speeches are incisive and thought-proving. Participants are certainly entertained but they are also forced to confront their responsibility as agents of change.

The Heroes 217 Campaign is anchored on three platforms – active citizenship, entrepreneurial empowerment, and values reorientation. The objective is threefold in recognition of the fact that Nigeria’s crisis is multifaceted, comprising several interactive aspects. Addressing these challenges means that we must go beyond the clichés of leadership failure. 

The first objective is to restore a sense of citizenship in the public consciousness. People have to take ownership of their country and this must necessarily begin at the level of community. For this the interactive town hall summits bring together different segments of the community and are designed to foster greater social awareness and civic responsibility. By mobilizing participation in public life and in the political process through voter education, change can begin at the grassroots. But it doesn’t end there. Heroes 217 also recognizes that economically productive citizens are the best placed to fully participate in the public life of the community. 

Hence a second objective: building a culture of enterprise and wealth creation through sessions designed to empower fledgling entrepreneurs with the tools with which to translate their aspirations into reality and to create profitable and sustainable businesses - through education, skills acquisition, entrepreneurial and sociology-political networking. 

The third pillar stems from the realization that national crisis is not merely economic, social or political but also moral in a very fundamental sense. Asking citizens to do the right thing, to care for neighbor and country, to eschew corruption, to seek to serve the common good instead of engaging in the reckless pursuit of self interest is to venture into the realm of moral choice.

 Conventional wisdom says, “If you cannot beat them, join them.” The bold contrarian message of Heroes 217 is: If you cannot beat them, stand alone if necessary but by all means stand firm for what is right. The campaign encourages participants to subordinate the desire to do well as individuals to the need to do good for society. It is an appeal and a summons to the angels of their nature to prevail over the baser survivalist impulses that dominate the public imagination. 

It is stirring stuff but it is, of course, also easier said than done. But this is the substance of true heroism in our time. It is about ordinary citizens transfigured by the necessities and the urgencies of this epoch into agents of change.

Heroes 217 is motivated by the desire to constructively engage with issues in the domain of civic action; and to use moral values as a basis for positive intervention in the community by mobilizing citizens to become agents of change. The “217” is derived from a New Testament scripture – 2 Timothy 1: 7 – “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The scripture is apt. It was penned by the apostle Paul to his young protégé, Timothy. They are the words of one change agent to another. Love, power and sound mind certainly summarize the values that Heroes 217 seeks to impart. The campaign bids us to imagine what would happen if Nigerians are infused by a new spirit of compassion, empowerment, courage and intelligence. It would be nothing short of a breath of life upon the marketplace and the public square.

Despite the biblical inspiration of the campaign, it is by no means sectarian. Its theatre of engagement is the wider public space. Its message is a universal one that tugs at the heartstrings of citizens who want to see their nation move from the place of arrested potential and deferred promise to luxuriant performance. It appeals to a deep seated longing for change. Indeed, if the thrust of the campaign could be summarized into one phrase it is: change begins from home but it must not end there. 

The river of transformation must flow with unstoppable force from hearts and minds into homes and families, through streets and neighborhoods into the schools, work places, markets and public places until it crests in the very conclaves of governance. That river will transform our values, priorities, relationships, businesses and ultimately our politics.

India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru famously said,
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

The initiators, resource persons and artists behind the Heroes 217 Project sense that such a moment is upon our nation. It is early days yet and there is still a long way to go. Campaigns of change are organic and evolutionary. They begin with a phase of enlightenment – the task of raising awareness and stimulating debate. 

There follows a time to organize, when we pool our strengths and resources together in pursuit of common goals. And there will be also a time to strategize, to define our means and ends. The Heroes 217 campaign is currently in its first chapter, creating awareness, sounding the trumpet call to citizen action and igniting an inspirational fire that would ignite hungry hearts and minds.  History turns on the ebb and flow of transformative movements; manifestations of people-power. 

Things change when people sick with discontent rise and act decisively to shatter the restraints on their potential. In such situations, ordinary people call forth from within themselves the extraordinary strengths with which they can achieve the impossible. The promise of Heroes is that it is the seedbed of just such a transformative movement. The signs are promising. The destination is sure. Like a train that starts slowly and increasingly gains momentum and force. Not everyone has noticed…yet. Change has already begun…

Polycarp Gbaja, Convener

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