By Charles London, http://www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/200808_omag_coffee
Pass the word: Peace is percolating in Uganda, thanks to an amazing farmer-musician-activist who started a collective of Jews, Muslims, and Christians that grows some of the richest, best-tasting coffee in the world.
JJ Keki insists you can see him on the news theÂ morning of 9/11, a Ugandan man in a kippah, running from the scene of the attack. He was visiting New York City for the first time and had gone to the World Trade Center to meet a friend. He was about to step inside when the first plane hit.
“I was nearly a victim,” he says. “After that, I began to wonder what I could do to help end this religious violence. People use small differences to make hatred. I am a Jew, and in Israel Jews and Muslims are killing each other. In Kenya, my fellow Africans are killing each other because of their tribes. I began to wonder what did I have with which to make peace?” JJ smiles. “Coffee. I have coffee.”
I drink coffee every day, and I often think I couldn’t live without it, though hardly in the same sense as the farmers in Uganda, I learned in March when I traveled there to meet JJ.
His business card simply reads Music Director, the title printed neatly beside a Star of David, a star and crescent, and a cross. But JJ Keki is the 48-year-old chairman of the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee Cooperative in eastern Uganda, an interfaith group of more than 700 coffee growers: Jews, Muslims, and Christians. He’s also a spiritual leader, a musician, and the proud father of 25 children, 14 of whom he adopted. Not that he is a wealthy man. He is a coffee farmerâ€”like most people in the hills around the town of Mbale