Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Today I thought of Henrik Beer, Secretary General of the International Fedeartion Red Cross from 1960 to 1982. If he were alive, he would have been so moved to see a black American President, Barack Obama. Henrik Beer worked tirelessly to bring diversity into an organisation that was European, North American white, and Scandanavian dominated in the 1960s and 70s.
Henrik bought in Bill Dabney as his Deputy Secretary General in the late 1960s, the first black American to hold that position. Justice Adefarasin, from Nigeria in 1977 become the first African to hold highest position in the Red Cross, the President of the then League of Red Cross Societies.
Recently, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appointed Bekele Geleta, from Ethiopia, as our first African Secretary General.
These are times of change, healing and renewal in world politics and world humanity. We have the leadership. I salute you Barack. You spent many years as a boy in Jakarta, and won the admiration of Indonesians. I live in Jakarta and hear and read from people who new you. You left your mark in this country.
I also note that when Hurrican Gustav struck the US in September this year, you asked people to give to the American Red Cross. I quote from AFP/
September 2, 2008
DETROIT - Barack Obama urged hundreds of thousands of supporters yesterday to donate to the Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Gustav. The Democratic presidential nominee scaled back Labor Day speeches to unions in an effort to keep the focus on the Gulf Coast.
It will be a hard road ahead, but I am convinced we have the moral leadership now to tackle the issues of inequity, poverty, discrimination and turn the World's economy round.