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Wednesday 30 July  

The State We're In - Stepping in

On air: 26 February 2011 2:00 (Photo: RNW)

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The State We're In, 26 February 2011. You see a tense situation developing. It looks bad, but you’re not sure. Do you step in or mind your own business? Today’s guests all have their own stories about stepping in, from Nigeria, the US and Sri Lanka.

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Can I help?
Ayo Omotade was excited to be flying to Nigeria in 2008 for his brother’s wedding. But when he got on board at Heathrow, he heard security personnel subduing a man. The man was screaming that he couldn’t breathe. So he asked airline staff several times if he could help. Security then arrested him, and he was later put on trial for trying to incite a riot. He was acquitted, but the experience has shaken his faith in people.
 

Operation Firefly
Walter Morris didn’t like the colour line when he was in the US military during WWII. So he moved it. He and other black servicemen trained on their own, and later became the backbone of a secret airborne mission called Operation Firefly – combating Japanese attacks on the western US by parachuting into fires and putting them out. Decades later, he and surviving members were honoured at the White House.
 
Video - WWII archival film footage of the first African American Paratroopers/Smoke Jumpers - 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion "The Triple Nickles"
 
 
 

 
Night and day in Jaffna
Contributor Kannan Arunasalam recently traveled to Jaffna, in north Sri Lanka. Its lush sights and rich cuisine make for a true feast for the senses, and much has improved since the civil war ended. But while driving home one night, he saw government soldiers pointing their rifles at the heads of students. He was hit with a huge moral quandary: intervene and perhaps get shot? Or do nothing and allow the students to get shot? A snapshot of Jaffna’s contradictions in this audio essay.
 
Paradise lost
When host Jonathan Groubert and his wife went on a beach vacation to the beautiful, but poverty-stricken West African nation, The Gambia, they learned a few unexpected lessons in humanity and humility.
 
Click image for slideshow

  • Ayo Omotade came to the aid of a man being subdued on board an aircraft, but was later accused of inciting a riot<br>&copy; Photo: RNW - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • 555th Airborne waiting for a routine equipment check<br>&copy; Photo: RNW - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Morris prepares for his first training jump during World War II<br>&copy; Photo: RNW - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Walter Morris and family at Fort Leavenworth, where a statue was dedicated honoring the 555th Parachute Infantry Battallion<br>&copy; Photo: RNW - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Walter Morris at Fort Leavenworth<br>&copy; Photo: RNW - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Jaffna causeway, Sri Lanka<br>&copy; Photo: Kannan Arunasalam - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Jaffna shopkeeper, Sri Lanka<br>&copy; Photo: Kannan Arunasalam - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Soldiers, Jaffna, Sri Lanka<br>&copy; Photo: Kannan Arunasalam - http://www.rnw.nl/english
  • Tobacco leaves drying, Jaffna, Sri Lanka<br>&copy; Photo: Kannan Arunasalam - http://www.rnw.nl/english

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