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C:F PenPals #1: Your Mind Matter

by Udoka, Stefan on 9th April, 2015 at 6:36 PM CEST

Here are the first extracts taken from the email inboxes of two C:Fers, Stefan Alijevikj from Macedonia and Udoka Chiefe from Nigeria... And this actually makes our brand new editorial issue "C:F PenPals: Your Mind Matter"! We hope you will enjoy the read, perceive the vibes of two cities: Skopje and Lagos, and that you will also join us and be our next penpals :)

Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:22 AM 

Dear Udoka,

For the first time today I got on bike and made my way to work. it took me a whole hour to pass the distance that by bus takes me 45 minutes to 55 mins. 

Being on the bike made me see all cars and pedestrians from different point of view. You see by experience that car owners could be merciless where they park and how they park their cars. Then you see that pedestrians are also not perceiving other moving objects, i.e. have people truly developed their sense of space? I for one, will need time to develop my sense of space on bike. 

Yours,
Stefan

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Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 6:49 PM

Dear Stefan,

I think you're lucky to ride your bicycle to work safely. Not that you can't do that in Lagos where I live, but I'd rather take a cab or the bus - it reduces the risk of being run down by several stressed out motorist during rush hour. Lagos is really overpopulated and I've experienced a near stand still traffic at 5am in the morning (I wish I could show you pictures).

And when it comes to parking, it's literally chaotic. Pedestrians cross and weave in and out of traffic anyway they please. It's a wonder that people don't get constantly hit by vehicles.

There have been funny pictures and even serious art exhibitions about the Lagos traffic in the United Kingdom. When I think of that, I can't help smiling. It's one thing to sip wine and "appreciate" the artistic relevance of Lagos as a city of cultural significance as seen through its traffic. It's quite another to be in it every. single. day. 

Yours,
Udoka

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30.03.2015, 20:36 CET #yourMindMatters

Dear Udoka,

Wonder how people will nowadays see Skopje as a city of cultural significance. Do you build culture simply based on history? Our governing party believes so among other things. I do believe that history only means 'his story', the individual writing of 'the one who won'. It's not the collective story, it's not the collective memoir. As a backbone problematique of memory and rapid forgetfulness (again, among other things), a new  governing system can be felt to the bone these days in my country. In the rise of 2015, two sides can be felt, like two sides of the magnet, they are contra-polarized. The one supports this new system that feeds on the nerves and the pockets of the citizens and this other strives to subvert it. When I think about it, it's true biking is not important anymore. Some people are saying we are falling apart as a country, some think we are in the blossom. But, the whole Europe seems in crisis. Are sometimes small nations a laboratory experiment of other 'bigger' countries? What's the driving fuel of today, of our world, of our politicians, of our education system, of everything? Is the same fuel running the things in the Europe only or in other continents as well?

Yours,
Stefan

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10:43PM 31st March 2015 #yourMindMatters

Hey Stefan,

I don't think small nations are laboratory experiments. I think any leader that can be manipulated and can manipulate his people in return is fair game to the "powers that be". Either that, or I've just been watching too many episodes of House of Cards and Game of Thrones.

As I write, the BBC announced the winner of the elections in Nigeria. And as half the country celebrates, the other half doesn't and we all can only hope that very little violence is caused from the news. Personally, I think people are taking the results well. I mean, if the majority did in fact vote for the candidate who won, then common sense states that the voters of the losing party wouldn't cause unrest or riots. But then, common sense doesn't always apply in elections, does it?

At least the tension that has permeated the Nigerian air will dissolve, gradually now that the results have been confirmed. I like not navigating through the trafficked streets of Lagos as a lot of people left to the rural areas due to the fear of election violence that Nigeria is infamous for in the past. Now people can go to work without a sense of dread hanging over their heads and I'll have to think of this traffic-free period as a fond memory...lol

You should cycle more. There might be more things to notice.

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 7:14 AM 1st of April 2015 #yourMindMatters

Hey Udoka,

Morning from Skopje! Today it's cloudy, windy, bit sunny maybe later in the day, chaotic weather as the city. Yesterday I walked through the city center. We no longer have much city square. They are all building something in their "powers that be". Then, while making my way through the crowd and the construction yards, I noticed that they have cut one big big tree that was there since always. From what I got, they have cut this tree to place a monument on its place. How bad can that be? Cutting something alive to place a marble, something dead. Half of the country approves that, half is getting more and more rebellious; like a global situation of polarization. I read one great quote yesterday on Facebook by Ruben Papian.

It said: "Fortunately or unfortunately we overvalue our past and we are trying to stay in there. Society just loves to be slave of its own past."

For me, that monument taking the place of the tree in a way designates the slavery, the abuse of our past... the longing for something that is a story for the past distributed to the collective memory of the nation. 

It was nice to read your email first thing this morning. Just yesterday I was thinking that most probably today's kids don't know what is penpal. I will cycle tomorrow, as the weather should be better. Will let you know what else new I will notice while I am on my bike.

Do you remember "there is no they"? 

Best
Stefan

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Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 12:58 AM

Hey Stefan,

I can relate with you when you write about cutting down a living thing to make room for inanimate objects. Or in my case, just more buildings, infrastructure and other things. I understand when the word "progress" gets used as the reason. But sometimes, I just wish we could find a way to work with nature instead of against it. We will miss it all very soon.

I think that a nation holding on to its past isn't necessarily a bad thing. Legacy makes us know who we were, what we stood for. The task in the present lies on the generation here now to figure out how they can leave a legacy for the future - or at least that is what I would do if I was a nation...lol

And since there is no "they" but you and I, I guess the task is on us to lay the foundations of our legacy for our future generation.

Yours,
Udoka

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Danna Joyce Chavez

Danna Joyce Chavez | Action team

strong thoughts there! :D

18th April, 2015 @ 7:44 AM CEST

Danna Joyce Chavez

Danna Joyce Chavez | Action team

Thank you, Stefan and Udoka, for sharing to us this meaningful conversation that we may learn more from different societies and cultures.

18th April, 2015 @ 7:46 AM CEST

Stefan Alievikj

Stefan Alievikj | C:F staff

Thank you Danna! :) I would encourage you to think who could be your pen-friend with whom you can bring some next issue as this one

Best,
Stefan

20th April, 2015 @ 9:29 AM CEST

Stefan Alievikj

Stefan Alievikj | C:F staff

http://www.challengefuture.org /news/810 Here is our second issue :)

21st May, 2015 @ 8:31 PM CEST

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