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Yemen's youth draw peace messages in Sanaa streets
an article by Faisal Darem, Al Shorfa (abridged)

In a six-month campaign titled "Open Book", Yemeni youth drew on the walls of streets across the country to promote peace and denounce violence.

Tamam al-Shaibani, Muhammad al-Sharie, Yasser al-Mujahid and Atheer al-Mujahid stand near a message and picture of Yemen's most famous poet, Abdullah al-Baradouni. [Faisal Darem/Al-Shorfa]

click on photo to enlarge

Campaign participants aimed to encourage Yemenis to ascribe to a culture of amity, peace and co-existence while rejecting a culture of death, extremism and hatred, organisers told Al- Shorfa.

"The culture of killing, weapons, violence and death has proliferated dramatically in the capital Sanaa and other provinces, to such an extent that slogans of death have reached the walls of Sanaa," campaign founder Tamam al-Shaibani told Al-Shorfa.

"Thus the genesis of the 'Open Book' to counter the culture of violence and extremism by painting on walls and selecting phrases and quotes of thinkers, writers and famous global figures which appeal to people of all orientations," he said.

"We saw slogans inciting killing, violence and hatred splashed across street walls, so we were determined to counter them with a culture of art and life," he added.

"The walls have become an important platform for appealing for peace and a means to convey our ideas, as these ideas have become the focus of everyone's attention," al-Shaibani said.

Campaign organisers chose "Open Book" as their central idea as it seemed to them Yemenis had abandoned reading and become preoccupied with the country's on-going conflicts among political factions or armed groups, he said.

So, al-Shaibani said, they decided to "bring the book to the street, in which each page contains a number of phrases which speak to the mind of the reader and compel him to think about them, to entice him to return to the pen, booklet and book instead of the Kalashnikov".

The campaign met with positive reactions and praise from the vast majority of Yemenis, he said. In addition, interaction with the youth segment was at its highest, as organisers spread invitations announcing the project across social media networks.

Sanaa University student Mohammed al-Sharie, who helped al-Shaibani launch the campaign, said "Open Book" selected some of the most famous quotes by freedom fighters, writers and politicians to paint on walls across the country.

The campaign began April 23th in Sanaa and continued for around five months, then moved to Taiz in the last week of October to disseminate phrases of peace and life in place of a culture of violence and conflict, he said.

"We chose the province of Taiz as it is the capital of Yemeni culture" and because it has been targeted by armed groups and sectarian conflicts, al-Sharie said. Atheer al-Mujahid, the sole female activist on the campaign, said she faced various difficulties as the initiative progressed, starting with her family as she was "the only girl in a group of men in a conservative society".

Al-Mujahid said her family eventually recognised that what she and her friends were doing was "extraordinary and deserves praise and support". . .

(Thank you to the Global Campaign for Peace Education for calling this article to our attention.)


Question(s) related to this article:

Can popular art help us in the quest for truth and justice?,

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CPNN has received the following message from Marcel in Africa:

My name is Marcel Niyungi Bin Yungi, I am an artist peacemaker based in Nairobi, in Kenya. I use comics to promote a culture of peace. Some of my works can be found online at  Currently, I am publishing a bimonthly comic series for young people entitled "The Adventures of Kialu for Peace" (please find below a brief summary and attached an advert).

I am writing to inquire about CPNN and would like to be part of it.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation and look forward to hearing from you.



 When we listen to the news, read the newspapers... a day doesn't pass without violence or a threat of violence. Our daily life is full of fear of harm; violencwe has escalated, it is everywhere: at home, at work places, at schools, on the streets,etc in every continent.

 The solution to bring about and maintain a peaceful world lies in our hands, in our willingness and commitment to do what is good and peaceful to ourselves, to others and to the environment.

 The Adventures of Kialu for Peace are a non-commercial, apolitical bi-monthly comic series, published by Jipa Moyo COMICS (jipa moyo is Kiswahili for take courage),whose objective is to promote a culture of peace.
 2.TARGET GROUP:   Young people.

 The Adventures of Kialu for peace are an ongoing serial publication. Each series focuses on a particular form of violence, abuse, depravity, anti-social behavior, environmental deterioration,etc. They are not only educational but also entertaining.

 4.1.WHO IS SHE?
 Kialu is a brave girl from a small village in Africa who is serving humanity through her good deeds by the help of three powers contained in a magic stick that she acquired from an old woman.
 The name "Kialu" has its origin from Bambole Kingdom, one of the vast Kingdoms in history of Africa. . ...more.

This report was posted on December 20, 2014.