Speech on World Humanitarian Day Summary Notes

Speech on World Humanitarian Day Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was bom in Nigeria in 1977. She is the author of three novels, ‘Purple Hibiscus (2003), ‘Half of a Yellow sun’ (2006), and ‘Americanah’ (2013).

‘The thing around Your Neck’ (2009) is a short story collection. She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction ()2007 and a Mac Arthur Foundation Fellowship (2008).
Introduction
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honor the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the front lines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk”.

Every 19th August is set aside by the United Nations as a day to honor the work of humanitarian workers. The theme of the 2016- commemoration was ‘One Humanity’ which was held at the General Assembly Hall in New York.

The well-known writer Adiche gave a speech in observance of World Humanitarian Day in New York City. The speech is pointed, meaningful, and elegantly delivered.

Speech on World Humanitarian Day Summary

SPEECH ON THE OBSERVANCE OF WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY AT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL IN NEW YORK.
World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to mobilize people to advocate for a more humane world.

The theme of World Humanitarian Day – 2016 was ‘One Humanity. ‘One Humanity’ speaks to the shared human experiences that bind us across divides and to our common responsibility to demand action for the most vulnerable and at risk of being left behind.

In New York, a special event was held at the General Assembly on 19 August 2016 which included musical performances and speeches by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Natalie Dormer, Leslie Odom Jr, Alisan Porter, Mohammed Assaf, Yasmine A1 Massri, and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

The heartfelt speech delivered by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been reproduced in the textbook.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was bom on September 15,1977. In Enugu, Nigeria. Before her birth, Adichie’s family lost nearly everything as a result of the Nigerian Civil war (Nigeria Biafra war). She was raised in Nsukka, a University town in Nigeria. Her father James Nwoye Adichie was a Professor of Statistics and later become the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. Her mother, Ifeoma Adichie, was the University’s first female Registrar. Chimamanda is the fifth child in a family of six children. Her family is of Igbo descent.

Adichie was inspired by iconic Chinua Achebe’s representation of Nigerian people and published ‘Purple Hibiscus’ in 2003, which was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the best first book. Adichie’s work centers around the themes of Nigerian Culture and African identity in the US and feminism. Adichie lives between US and Nigerian Adichie’s speech in observance of World Humanitarian Day is pointed, meaningful and elegantly delivered. The writer uses the WHD platform to reflect on the humanity of each refugee and our role in making the world a better place for all. Adichie begins her speech by addressing the distinguished guests wishing them a good evening. She says that she is honored to be among them.

Adichie noted the experiences of her own family in eastern Nigeria when the Biafra war broke out in 1967. Until the war, they had led a stable life. They had two small children, a house, a car, and friends. When the Nigeria Biafra war started, her parents migrated to another town. But the town was already crowded and even the refugee camps were full. Her father knew a man in the town named Emmanuel Mike. His house was already brimming with refugees and it was difficult to accommodate more. But when the Adichie family knocked at his door he took one look at them, full of despair, and immediately took them in. Chimamanda wonders that her family would not have survived if Emmanuel had not offered refuge. The family lived as refugees for three years and returned to their home.

Chimamanda goes on to highlight how our world unconsciously dehumanizes refugees and spoke of a similar experience she had in Mexico. She stresses that ‘ No one is ever a refugee. Nobody is ever a single thing. She says ‘In public discourse today we speak of people as a single thing- Refugee -Immigrant.

She considers this dehumanization as insidious, an attitude that is spreading like a virus causing serious harm. People are not aware (unconscious) that they are dehumanizing (depriving someone of good human qualities such as compassion or kindness) the refugees. At Guadalajara, Mexico, she found people going about their daily life happily and without a hint of malice in their attitude. Having been influenced by the false propaganda spread by American media about Mexicans (US deems Mexicans in the US as illegal immigrants who are fleecing the US health care system and bringing disease into the US). The writer confesses that she felt ashamed for having deemed the Mexicans as inhuman fleecers. She admits that she had forgotten their humanity i.e. that they were also human beings.

She says that in her language, Igbo the word for ‘Love’ -is ‘Ifunanya’ which when literally translated means ‘To See’. She suggests us it is high time for a new narrative. Anew thinking, where which we truly ‘see’ those people, about whom we speak. She called on the attendees to reconsider their perception of refugees. She urges the attendees to join her so that they all will tell the story of the refugees differently. She reminded the audience that the movement of people on earth in not a new phenomenon while she encouraged all to ‘see’ the humanity behind each person. “Let us remember that we are not just bones and flesh. We are emotional beings we all share a desire to be valued, a desire to matter. Let us remember that dignity is as important as food.”

She pleads the audience to act on humanity though it cannot be measured. She points out that humanity is inherent in all human beings.” Our humanity is that glowing centre in all of us’. This warm light in our hearts compels us to speak up about an injustice even when that injustice does not personally affect US. It makes us to consciously think that our own well being is as important as the welfare of other human beings.

Chimamanda again highlights the humanity shown by Emmanuel by allowing her family to stay in his crowded house. Though she acknowledged that opening all borders would be impractical, she emphasized how we can all do more because “There is room to honor more commitments, room to bridge the divide between what has been promised and what has been accomplished?’

She again emphasizes the humanity shown by Emmanuel. She reasons that his humanity, that ‘glowing centre’ in his heart, compelled him to offer her helpless family refuge in his cramped house. Emmanuel could have said ‘no’ but his reason to say ‘yes’ was his ‘humanity. We can create room for people .It is the moral imperative of our time.

Chimamanda ended her speech by quoting the poet Samuel Coleridge “Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve, and hope without an object cannot live”.

Speech on World Humanitarian Day Glossary

Cramped            : small/not spacious
Vulnerability      : helplessness
Insidious            : treacherous
Synonymous     : identical
Overwhelmed   : stunned / spechless
Imperative        : vital/important

Speech on World Humanitarian Day Questions & Answers

Question 1.
Where did the speaker’s parents live?
Answer:
The speaker’s parents liven in Nsukka, a university town in Eastern Nigeria.

Question 2.
What kind of a life did they lead?
Answer:
They had a stable life. They had 2 small children, a house, a car, and friends.

Question 3.
How did life change for them after the Biafra War began?
Answer:
The Nigeria Biafra war started and her parents migrated to another town where they lived a life of refugees.

Question 4.
Who is Emmanuel? How did he rise to the occasion?
Answer:
Enmanuel Isike was a man whom Chimamanda father knew. He lived in the town where her parents migrated to as refugees. Emmanuel extended his home to the refugees. It was already full of people. Yet he had a very large heart to accommodate the Adichie family.

Question 5.
What happens when we reduce ‘people’ to single things?
Answer:
We dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing.

Question 6.
How long did the speaker’s family remain as refugees? Who do they owe their gratitude to?
Answer:
The speaker’s family remained refugees for three years. They owe their gratitude to Emmanuel and also to many humanitarian workers. ‘

Question 7.
What was the general opinion about Mexicans?
Answer:
Mexicans were deemed as immigrants in the U.S. It was alleged that the Mexicans crossed the border into the U.S. to rob and steal, to fleece the health care system, and sell drugs.

Question 8.
Why does the speaker feel ashamed of herself?
Answer:
When Adichie visited Mexico, she found the Mexicans were like any other human beings, immersed in their daily life. She felt ashamed of herself for being wrongly influenced by the American Media’s narrow coverage of Mexicans. She felt that she had forgotten that they were human – beings.

Question 9.
What is the speaker’s plea to mankind?
Answer:
The speaker pleads mankind to regain their humanity.

Question 10.
What is the moral imperative suggested by the speaker?
Answer:
The Moral imperative, the speaker suggests is that we should create room for people – offer refuge to people scarred by much suffering.

Question 11.
Discuss the speaker’s life before the outbreak of the Biafra war.
Answer:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s parents were natives of Nigeria, Africa. They lived in Nsukka, a university town in Eastern Nigeria. Theirs was a typical middle-class family. The family had two small children, a house, a car, and friends. They led a stable life.

Question 12.
How does Enmanuel become an inspiration and role model to the speaker?
Answer:
At the start of the Nigeria Biafr war, the Adichie family migrated to another town. Her father knew a man named Emmanuel Isike. He lived in a tiny house but had offered free lodging to many war refugees. Though her father knew that it was difficult for Emmanuel to accommodate them, they invariably asked for refuge at his house. When Emmanuel looked at their pitiable condition he could not refuse having them in his house. They lived in his house as refugees for three long years. Chimamanda shows her gratitude for Emmanuel. Saying that her family wowed a lot to Emmanuel. She believes that people such as Emmanuel are magnificent in their bravery and their vulnerability and their commitment.

Adichie says that Emmanuel could have refused to give them shelter but his humanity Compelled him to offer them refuge. So she considers Emmanuel as an inspiration and role model to her.

Question 13.
How does her Mexican experience contradict the stories she had heard?
Answer:
Chimamanda recalls that she happened to visit Mexico from the U.S. At the time of her vitsit, the political climate in the U.S. was tense. The Americans and the world were debating about the illegal immigration of Mexicans into the U.S. The Mexicans were portrayed through a singular lens of negativity. There were stories of Mexican immigrants arrested at the U.S border and how the immigrants were looting American citizens and fleecing the free health care system in America.

But as she walked around the beautiful city of Guadalajara. As she watched the Mexian natives going to work and school. They appeared to be happy and content. Like any other human – being of the age they were buying, selling or going about their usual rotinue of the day. She was surprised at what she saw and felt ashamed at her attitude towards the Mexicans because of the influence of American Media’s narrow coverage of Mexicans. She felt that she had forgotten that they were also human – beings.

Question 14.
What are her views on ‘Nobody is ever just a single thing’?
Answer:
After the Nigeria Biafra war broke out, Chimamanda’s parents migrated to another town and sought refuge with Emmanuel Isike, a benevolent Man, known to her father. They were refugees for three long years. Chimamanda believes that her parents were not refugees nor any other human being is a refugee. Nobody is ever just a single thing. She is sad because in the public discourse at present, we often speak of people as single things, Refugee or Immigrant. She feels that we reduce them to a single thing. And this dehumanization is insidious and unconscious, without any human quality.

Question 15.
What are her suggestions to retain humanity?
Answer:
Chimamanda says that she does not want to make a simplistic suggestion that all borders must be completely open. Because that is impractical and there might not be enough room for everyone. She suggests that there is certainly room to do more as there is room to honour more commitments. There is enoughroom to bridge the divide between what has been promised, and what has been accomplished. She makes an example of Emmanuel Isike, who took in her parents in his already cramped house. He could have refused to shelter them, but being a human being with humanitarian values he could not compel himself to say ‘No’. She pleads the people of this world to create room for people, who have been scarred by so much suffering and this can be done beause it is not impossbile and moveover it is a moral imperative a vital deed in the present world.

Question 16.
Discuss the events that led the speaker to understand the importance of being humane and acknowledge the moral imperative of the times.
Answer:
In her speech in observence of World Humanitarian Day, Chimamanda Adichi noted the experiences of her own family in eastern Nigeria.

Adichie noted the experiences of her own family in eastern Nigeria when the Biaffa war broke out in 1967. Until the war they had led a stable life. They had two small children, a house, a car and friends. When the Nigeria Biafra war started, her parents migrated to another town. But the town was already crowded and even the refugee camps were full. Her father knew a man in the town named Emmanuel Isike. His house was already brimming with refugees and it was difficult to accommodate more. But when the Adichie family knocked at his door he took one look at them, full of despair and immediately took them in. Chimamanda wonders that her family would not have survived if Emmanuel had not offered refuge. The family lived as refugees for three years and returned to their home.

Chimamanda goes on to highlight how our world unconsciously dehumanizes refugees and spoke of a similar experience she had in Mexico. She stresses that No one is ever a refugee. Nobody is ever a single thing. She says ‘In public discourse today we speak of people as single thing- Refugee -Immigrant. She considers this dehumanization as insidious, an attitude which is spreading like a virus causing serious harm People are not aware (unconscious) that they are dehumanizing (depriving someone of good human qualities such as compassion or kindness) the refugees. At Gudalajara, Mexico, she found people going about their daily life happily and without a hint of malice in their attitude. Having been influenced by the false propaganda spread by American media about Mexicans (US deems Mexicans in the US as illegal immigrants who are fleecing the US health care system and bringing disease into the US). The writer confesses that she felt ashamed for having deemed the Mexicans as inhuman fleecers. She admits that she had forgotten their humanity i.e. that they were also human beings.

She says that in her language, Igbo the word for ‘Love’ -is Tfimanya’ which when literally translated means ‘To See’. She suggests us it is high time for a new narrative. Anew thinking, where which we truly ‘see’ those people, about whom we speak. She called on the attendees to reconsider their perception of refugees. She urges the attendees to join her so that they all will tell the story of the refugees differently. She reminded the audience that the movement of people on earth in not a new phenomenon while she encouraged all to ‘see’ the humanity behind each person. “Let us remember that we are not just bones and flesh. We are emotional beings we all share a desire to be valued, a desire to matter. Let us remember that dignity is as important as food.”

She besieges the audience to act on humanity though it cannot be measured. She points out that humanity is inherent in all human beings.” Our humanity is that glowing centre in all of us’. This warm light in our heart compels us to speak up about an injustice even when that injustice does not personally affect US. It makes us to consciously think that our own well being is as important as the welfare of other human beings.

Question 17.
Write a note on humanism as understood from Adiche’s speech.
Answer:
Chimamanda highlights how our world unconsciously dehumanizes refugees and spoke of a similar experience she had in Mexico. She stresses that ‘ No one is ever a refugee.. Nobody is ever a single thing. She says ‘In public discourse today we speak of people as single thing- Refugee -Immigrant. She considers this dehumanization as insidious, an attitude which is spreading like a virus causing serious harm. People are not aware (unconscious) that they are dehumanizing (depriving someone of good human qualities such as compassion or kindness) the refugees. At Gudalajara, Mexico, she found people going about their daily life happily and without a hint of malice in their attitude. Having been influenced by the false propaganda spread by American media about Mexicans (US deems Mexicans in the US as illegal immigrants who are fleecing the US health care system and bringing disease into the US). The writer confesses that she felt ashamed for having deemed the Mexicans as inhuman fleecers. She admits that she had forgotten their humanity i.e. that they were also human beings..

She says that in her language, Igbo the word for ‘Love’ -is ‘Ifunanya’ which when literally translated means ‘To See’. She suggests us it is high time for a new narrative. Anew thinking, where which we truly ‘see’ those people, about whom we speak. She called on the attendees to reconsider their perception of refugees. She urges the attendees to join her so that they all will tell the story of the refugees differently. She reminded the audience that the movement of people on earth in not a new phenomenon while she encouraged all to ‘see’ the humanity behind each person. “Let us remember that we are not just bones and flesh. We are emotional beings we all share a desire to be valued, a desire to matter. Let us remember that dignity is as important as food.”

She besieges the audience to act on humanity though it cannot be measured. She points out that humanity is inherent in all human beings.” Our humanity is that glowing centre in all of us’. This warm light in our heart compels us to speak up about an injustice even when that f injustice does not personally affect US. It makes us to consciously think that our own well being is as important as the welfare of other human beings.

Chimamanda again highlights the humanity shown by Emmanuel by allowing her family to stay in his crowded house.Though she acknowledged that opening all borders would be impractical, she emphasized how we can all do more because “There is room to honor more commitments, room to bridge the divide between what has been promised and what has been accomplished?’

She again emphasizes the humanity shown by Emmanuel. She reasons that his humanity, that ‘glowing centre’ in his heart, compelled him to offer her helpless family refuge in his cramped house. Emmanuel could have said ‘no’ but his reason to say ‘yes’ was his ‘humanity’. We can create room for people .It is the moral imperative of our time.

English Summary

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