Spotlight - Peter Pages Bwire
"There is no point trying to be global or international if it does not make a difference in your village, in your hometown."
Who are you?
I describe myself as the human wolf. I hunt well alone, but way better in a pack. I am a storyteller who should have been a fisherman, a creator of methods who plays games to win, an admirer of magic, fantasy and cosmopolitanism, a happy black man.
What do you do?
I am a film executive, entrepreneur, filmmaker, singer, writer and scholar. I write stories and run community projects in Kitale, Kenya. I am also a resource mobilizer for Binti Care Foundation, which focuses on giving young girls in rural areas the tools and opportunities to thrive. In 2018 I started a community leadership institute called The Chorus Box, heavily inspired by the chorus in ancient Greek theatre and the Ethiopian storyteller Maaza Mengiste, and focusing on developing leaders in rural areas who work together to find solutions for the issues facing their own communities.
What is your latest or upcoming news?
Lots of setbacks recently but I am really proud of the launch of Binti Care Foundation’s rescue home for teenage mothers which we have been working on for the last 4-5 months. I also worked with a group of amateur filmmakers to create a short film in Kitale which was a thrilling journey through production. I am currently working with other community leaders in Wamuini, Kitale, to put the finishing touches to a vocational training centre that will help young people in our communities who have lost direction in one way or another to regain track and move towards their goals again. In a strictly film sense, a few projects are lined up, but these things are better left unsaid until they are done.
Why did you apply to the Young Leaders program of the French-African Foundation and what does it mean to you to be a Young Leader ?
The thrill of playing a leading role in transforming lives and changing communities has always appealed to me. The idea of teaming up with other leaders to exchange knowledge and skills has energised me ever since I first took part in a student leadership conference in Nairobi in 2009 to engage on issues affecting high schools in Kenya after the 2008 school arson wave. Later on, my involvement in the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the Chevening Programme in the USA and the UK respectively opened my mind to possibilities of learning and connecting with other individuals, institutions and communities to explore solutions to some of my community’s biggest, problems. I firmly believed, and still believe, that participation in the French Young Leaders Program would nurture my strengths and empower me to be an even more involved and effective leader in my community. Being a young leader to me means looking where others are not looking, acknowledging the history and situation of our communities and committing to be on the frontline across disciplines and sectors during our lifetime to build a more robust Africa for ourselves and for the next generation.
On a personal level, do you have an important moment in your life to share with us?
I had to think about this one, but I am still really excited about my trip to France last October
and the people I met there. It felt very different from all my other trips, and the opportunity to meet global superstars and local heroes from different communities felt very different for my mind and adventurous soul. I love listening to arguments and ideas, so having conversations with these people was pretty cool. From simple conversations about hair (which is a topic I really love) with Raky Toure and Mimy Diaby, to the ones about our careers and possible collaborations, English and French, Africa and Europe, driving on the left or the right, using the Paris metro without paying, the problem with Nigerians (what is it?), the legends of midnight kisses under the Eiffel Tower, crepes of Normandy, awkwardly situated nightclubs in the coast of Kenya and whatnot, this was one of the most important and exciting adventures in my recent memory. This felt deep… and wide.
What is your dream for your country and the African continent? How do you intend to act to achieve it?
I am a serial dreamer. I have more than one dream, but one day I woke up and listened to a TED talk by Olufemi Taiwo (Here: https://youtu.be/MQrhPhan5Gw ) and got really excited about the possibilities we could create for millions of people if we made it easier for them to access knowledge that is relevant to them. The challenge of knowledge access in Africa is befuddling, to say the least, and for me, through storytelling and development of leaders and individuals who are passionate about revitalization of African communities, we can create societies which are well informed on how to tackle the biggest challenges they face. I have seen other young leaders tackling this challenge in sectors such as law, agriculture, water and environment, and I know the difference it makes when a young girl knows her rights in the face of adversity, so I am quickly an gladly playing my role to increase access to knowledge so that people can build resilience and create better pathways for themselves and their communities.
2022 has just started. If you had one word to share with the younger generations, what would it be?
The more local they go, the more global they shall become. I hope that sentence is one word. I learned this from reading Ben Okri’s thoughts on storytelling, but it is true the world over. There is no point trying to be global or international if it does not make a difference in your village, in your hometown. If all of us can begin in our villages with our immediate neighbours, perhaps in Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit outlined in the Hind Swaraj, there’s a whole new world to create, a new fantastic point of view to see, no one to tell us no or where to go, or say we’re only dreaming. We can take responsibility to create new realities built on the foundations established by our forerunners like Ousmane Sembene, and transforming lives and changing communities DEEP in our local areas… and WIDE across the universe.