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Network for Peace through Dialogue

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January 18, 2007

The African Peace Institute: Its Development through Dialogue

Living Room Dialogue with Christian Tanyi

Present: Frances Amando, Dorothy McWhite, Bev Rouse, Muriel Williams-Young, Margaret Groarke, Courtney Smith Anne Considine, Jinny Dorgan, Kathleen Kanet, Godwin Nchinda, and Christian Tanyi.

Virginia chaired and asked people to introduce themselves by responding to the question: "Why did you come tonight?" Two people said they cancelled another engagement to come because it was communicated that Christian was doing something very positive and they saw this as a sign of hope in all the negative and dark things they see about them today.

Christian as he began to tell the story of the Institute for Peace stated his belief that "Everybody does think about peace. " As he shared the development of his mission, his work began simply and slowly. As a student he began to link the other students together especially when there was a conflict or something to complain about and to ask how can we be involved in changing this. He kept focused on the question as to how can we act to improve the situation?

At graduation he asked his father that instead of going on in education could he have the money allocated to his education to work in his own community with the youth there. It took his father eight months to say yes, but that day was one of his happiest moments when his father did say yes, and he could begin his dream. Christian at this time did not work in a formal setting but just doing good for his community with that money.

After several years he was well enough on his way to apply to become an NGO. The program and developed out of the needs that surfaced as he worked with the youth. For example one initiative was to prepare the youth who were not able to complete school for employment and started a computer literacy program. Then it was noticed that they were losing the students and when researched recognised that they were losing the youth because of AIDS. This led them to respond by initiating a program related to AIDS.

Christian used stories in telling about the development of the Peace Institute. In 2003 tribal wars began over land between two local tribes. Lives were lost, some government leaders made interventions which were rejected so Christian and his colleagues decided to just go and talk with each of the tribe leaders separately. They did so simply and with very few people involved. They sympathized with the loss of life, visited the graves and asked them how they could begin to take steps to end this war. Lots of talk and finally the agreement to meet the other tribe leader. A meeting was set. Then a meeting with the elites in the community and then the youth groups crossed the boundaries of the other and worked in opposite community to build something of use and good to the community. They, in fact became ambassadors for peace. The youth were also asked to live in the families of the other community. At this time too they began a program of peace education with the youth. The "enemy" was seen now as a friend or something very different from the concept of enemy. Policy question came up to. Why were there so many weapons wanted or needed in the local community? In the country, for that matter. They were not at war!

The group then decided to begin looking at building a Peace Institute. Unique to this project is that it is not only peace education but also about policy and how to change unjust structures. In the dialogue that ensued the following values were stated:

  • Dialogue needs to be opened up! It is only through dialogue that we can find the alternative.
  • Never support breaking apart
  • Save small program, network them together
  • Tell stories, hold Fireside story time
  • Just be yourself, work in your own community. Each of us in our own localities has to bring back the values that will save the broader community
  • Build peace first, development will follow.
  • Expose the youth to a culture that is not all money and drugs. Boys of Baraka was suggested

What is the African Peace Institute?

The Africa Peace Institute is a project of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation. This project sets out to provide the platform for peace education, with focus on two major segments - Cultural Peace and Policy issues. The project holds that citizens of every community in pursuance of happiness must seek to develop their communities, nations, regions and continent. To realize this, peace and stability is a prerequisite condition. Individuals and communities must therefore work towards Peace values, nonviolence, social justice, and governance so as to meet this prerequisite. For lasting peace, the absence of War must become a reality sustained thgouh peace education, systematic and total disarmament and control of conventional and small arms proliferation. The African Peace Institute therefore in its program and infrastructural design has taken into consideration cultural and policy peace issues by providing facilities for continuous and certificate learning programs for aspiring Peace activists and a home for peace exchange programs. It provides an ideal environment for mediation and dialogue between individuals, communities, and nations as well as a solemn environment for national, regional, continental, and global peace programming. The institute provides the tools and guidance towards the design and implementation of peace education programs. It campaigns for better policies toward disarmament and the prevention of war.


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