Category Archives: Africa

Angola: Luanda Biennial Strengthens Culture of Peace


An article from the Angola Press Agency

Angola has reiterated the 2nd Luanda Biennial’s commitment to strengthening of the climate of peace in Africa.

This was expressed by Secretary of State for International Cooperation and Angolan Communities, Domingos Vieira Lopes, on Tuesday.

Focus on a culture of peace is also aimed at creating conditions to attract more foreign private investment to the continent, said the Angolan diplomat.

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Question related to this article:

The Luanda Biennale: What is its contribution to a culture of peace in Africa?

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Speaking  at the opening of the seminar on “The role of Angolan diplomacy in promoting a culture of peace”. Domingos Vieira Lopes defended the need to intensify investment and industrialisation in the continent to enhance the main export products.

However,  he appealed for the support and participation of the member states of the African Union in the Pan-African Forum,  in order to deepen knowledge about continental reality.

The diplomat said the online seminar served to reflect on the experience acquired through the peace and reconciliation process in Angola, after 19 years.

The meeting also aimed at sharing ideas on the best way to contribute to the preservation of peace.

As for the ongoing preparations for the 2nd edition of the Luanda Biennial, scheduled for next September, the Itinerant Ambassador and coordinator of the National Management Committee for the Biennial in the Angolan capital, Diekumpuna Sita José, said that the concept of a culture of peace has to do with change.

He added that the fundamental objective of African leaders is to achieve long lasting conciliation.

Senegal: “Ethnic remarks”: the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance calls for “serenity”


An article from Press Afrik

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance (PFPC), meeting on March 25, 2021, deplore the ethnic comments made by some people in the country. According to them, “the social climate in Senegal is increasingly harmful because of these words and tendencies with connotations” dangerous and never known in the history of our Nation. The members of this platform call for serenity and social stability in the country.

“Our nation is characterized by a multiethnicity which, instead of being a source of division, is a richness and a pledge of a symbiosis, a harmony, a mutual respect. The joking cousin is the real social cement that unites the Serer to Pulaar, Diatta Ndiaye to Diop, the game of fraternal alliances which banishes any hostility between Diola and Serer. Respect for the other in his difference are in the process of being dangerously put to the test, ”said the members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance in a statement made public.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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They add: “These pillars of social stability, woven for millennia between ethnic groups, have always reduced tensions and possible crises are automatically and socially attenuated. Our nation has always known how to overcome its crises together as one people, with purpose and faith ”.

According to members of the platform, for some time now, comments that weaken these pillars have been made from north to south of the country. “A disrespectful speech of the other, which discredits and minimizes his neighbor because of his ethnicity. And even worse, we are witnessing a pitched battle between identity associations which once owed each other protection and mutual respect,” they added.

Continuing, the members of the PFPC express their deep dismay at the multiplication of divisive speeches and conflicting ethno-geographic actions recorded in recent days in the press and by certain politicians. According to them, this kind of speech and behavior is a source of hatred, seriously endangering human security, peace and national unity.

The PFPC condemns the resurgence of socio-ethnic and socio-political tendencies. They urge the State of Senegal and all voice carriers to curb these ethno-psychological tendencies by putting in place functional mechanisms for strengthening social dialogue and good practices in terms of a culture of peace, of socio-cultural and politico-religious coexistence.

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance call on political actors, opinion leaders and members of the press to make and disseminate positive, constructive and peaceful speeches.

Cameroon: A radio station for the protection of the Waza biosphere reserve


An article from L’UNESCO

The Waza biosphere, the oldest in Cameroon, is located in the Lake Chad basin, in the Far North region. It is classified as a forest reserve, wildlife reserve, national park and sanctuary. This special status justified its reclassification in 1979 to the rank of biosphere reserve, recognized by UNESCO.

With its 170,000 hectares in area, the Waza biosphere offers ideal conditions for offering quality ecotourism, in particular thanks to the numerous presence on site of elephants, giraffes, large colonies of different species of birds and felines, among which are lions. Unfortunately, the Waza biosphere is also considered a dangerous place because it is traversed by terrorist groups which constitute a threat to social cohesion.

The biosphere of Waza, this tourist wealth of Cameroon, has been damaged in recent years at the hands of its local communities, threatening its biological, hydraulic and cultural heritage. Despite a certain involvement of these same communities in the management of Waza, there is still a difficult compromise with regard to the direct needs of local residents and the requirements of sustainable management of this rich but fragile biodiversity.

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(Click here for the french version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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Almost 30 years after the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, the need to manage biodiversity resources in a sustainable manner appears to be a priority more than ever. In this regard, initiatives aimed at making the concept of sustainable management operational have multiplied.

It is within this framework that the UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa supports the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad), to strengthen the resilience of communities in the face of security and climate challenges.

UNESCO, through the BIOPALT project, is supporting the establishment of a community radio station in the Waza biosphere. To ensure the success of this support, the BIOPALT project team made an exchange visit and experience sharing with the local team, which focused on the potential positive impacts of the local radio tool within from the community. In addition, UNESCO is considering other support actions, in particular the restructuring of the building to house the radio but also training, the acquisition of radio equipment and their installation.

In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, radio appears more than ever essential in the dynamics of mobilization and support of beneficiaries around local initiatives. It also facilitates the creation of favorable conditions for dialogue between communities and improves the dissemination of useful information to residents, in order to promote the culture of peace and contribute to civic education.

The radio is expected to support, in addition, policies and measures to combat poverty and the search for solutions for lasting peace, particularly in the park and areas prey to Boko-Haram attacks in the region.

The BIOPALT initiative, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), places particular emphasis on the transmission of knowledge and the sharing of experiences in order to encourage the neighboring populations to adopt and enhance the practices of sustainable development to preserve the biosphere reserve and improve the socio-economic well-being of local communities.

Africa: Change Will Come from Us: A Conversation with Quitéria Guirengane


An article by Alcinda Honwana from African Arguments (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons License)

Quitéria Guirengane is a Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network. Trained in social and organizational psychology, Quitéria is today one of the most prominent female activists in the country. I first met Quitéria in 2011 in Maputo, when I interviewed her during the research for my book The Time of Youth. I was very impressed by her energy and commitment as well as by the clarity with which she articulated the issues that mattered to her and her organization. I have since been following her work, and I was delighted at the opportunity to talk to her again. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.

Quitéria Guirengane, Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network

Alcinda Honwana (AH): Quitéria, it is a pleasure to talk to you again, albeit virtually. Thank you so much for making yourself available for this conversation. You are currently one of the most prominent young Mozambican female activists, and in the past 15 years you have been involved in various organizations, campaigns and projects. Could you talk about how you started your life as an activist, and what moves you to do what you do?

Quitéria Guirengane (QG): I became an activist in high school, when I entered a literary competition to research and write an essay about the life story of a liberation struggle hero – Francisco Manyanga. I won the competition, but I quickly realized that history was a construction, and that there are different versions of history; the official version taught to us at school was not always the ‘real’ one. This led me to question things in a way that I did not do before. At university, in 2007, I joined the Students’ Association and became the head of academic affairs, fighting for more academic support for students. In 2008, I decided to run for president of the Students’ Association, but I was taken out of the ballot because I was a second-year student, and someone higher up had decided that only third year and fourth year students were allowed to run for President. I was very disappointed, and I made clear all our community became aware of this discriminatory rule. I left the Students’ Association and was later elected to be a student representative in the University Council. Around that time, I joined an initiative outside the university. And with a group of young people sharing the same concerns as me, we founded the Parlamento Juvenil (Youth Parliament – YP) – a movement through which we created space to exercise our active citizenship. I became the head of the Gender and Sexual Reproductive Health Commission, then the coordinator of the press and communications department, and later head of the programmes of the entire organization. It is with the YP that I really blossomed as an activist: I led several successful campaigns, from monitoring elections and empowering young people to vote, to organizing leadership training programmes for youth, protests marches, and promoting political dialogues across various groups.

AH: What lessons did you learn from your involvement in all these initiatives?

QG: During this journey, I coordinated one of the largest Electoral Observation programmes of the time, engaging more than 2000 young volunteers; and in 2016 we (the YP) also established the Political Dialogue for Peace Panel, a very successful initiative which made me very proud of the work we were doing. During those years, I also came to realize that as activists we cannot just focus on the young people that join formal organizations. Many young people are concerned about politics and their futures but do not join formal bodies as some civic associations and civil society organizations may constrain their voices, willingly or unwillingly, often due to pressure for getting access to support from government institutions or from international donors. Thus, the importance of creating independent and loose networks that can mobilize a wide and diverse group of young people; it is equally important, I believe, to support the initiatives by young people from the most remote and deprived areas, in districts and localities across the country.

AH: Exactly on that point, how did you expand your work to account for the experiences of a wider and more diverse group of young Mozambicans?

QG: We had to rethink the way we were working and who we were working for. There are many youth groups and associations, formal and informal, fighting for what they believe is a better and fair society. For me, it was important to establish closer links with those other groups or individuals, especially at district level. This led me to create the Young Women Leaders’ Network, an informal network that brings together young women from different backgrounds from all over the country; we are currently building a database of young female leaders from different fields – activists, artists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and the like. Currently I am also a Commentator on Política e Liderança no Feminino, a national television show that discusses political issues of the day. With other activists we established in 2019 Nova Democracia (New Democracy – ND), a political movement of citizens aimed to promote the direct involvement of young people in politics.

The Mozambican parliament today only has about 17 percent of parliamentarians under the age of 35, which is a travesty in a country with almost 70 percent of its population under 30. So, in 2019 the ND presented a list of candidates for parliamentary elections. I was the electoral representative of ND, and in that capacity, I represented our movement in all processes and discussions about the electoral process organized by the National Electoral Commission and other official bodies. I was the first young female electoral representative in any electoral process in Mozambique. The 2019 electoral process, and the previous ones, were marked by serious irregularities, ranging from voter fraud to intimidation of candidates and voters; members of ND who were accredited to monitor the voting process in Chokwé, Gaza province, were unjustly detained by the authorities for more than a month. This was not a fair process; in the end, ND did not win any parliamentary seats. Even though we were extremely disappointed with the results, this election was a good learning experience. It motivated us to keep fighting and continue the groundwork to elect young parliamentarians in the next elections.

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Question for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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AH: How does the landscape of youth political activism in Mozambique look today? What are the main challenges and how are young activists responding to these challenges?

QG: In Mozambique young activists face many challenges. The youth constitute the majority, but they represent a minority in the decision-making bodies, and that’s why we keep fighting to change this situation. It will not be easy; it will take time and we need to be able to mobilize a critical mass, build broader coalitions in order to be able to effect change. There is a lot of great work being done by young people in the districts across the country against all odds. The repression of independent and critical voices by the authorities demoralizes many young people from getting involved. For example, in April 2020 Ibraimo Mbaruco, a young journalist from the district of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province, disappeared without trace after being detained by security forces. Mbaruco reported regularly on the human rights abuses going on in the war in Cabo Delgado, including violations by the government forces. Also, during the 2019 elections, the human rights activist Anastácio Matavel was assassinated by members of the government special forces. Young female activists are often victims of defamation, harassment and even rape. We know that the Mozambican youth is restless; in 2008 and 2010 there were massive protests against the government that brought the capital to a standstill. Young people were protesting lack of employment, the high cost of living and lack of political voice. Many subsequent protests have been squashed by the authorities through a mandatory registration of SIM cards to control cellular phones and SMS communications. The environment is toxic, and activists have to contend, on the one hand, with the persecution by the government, and on the other hand, they have to fight the conditionalities that are often attached to the resources offered by international donors interested to push certain political agendas. But we keep going, we keep mobilizing, we keep putting forward our views on radio and television debates and other fora.

AH: Your activism transcends Mozambique’s national boundaries. Could you share some of those experiences and the ways in which they have contributed to shape your own trajectory and interests?

QG: Yes, in 2010 I had a chance to give a keynote speech at the US State Department in Washington DC at the opening of the first African Young Leaders Forum with President Barack Obama. My speech was very critical and was well received by the audience. I was interviewed by Voice of America and my speech was also broadcast in Mozambique, sparking a debate about some of the key issues I mentioned. While some viewed my keynote as ‘washing our dirty laundry abroad’, many agreed with me that it was important to critically address the condition and the predicament facing young people in Africa today. I was very critical of the government, and the Mozambican authorities did not like it. In 2011, I represented Mozambican young women at the meeting of young African women leaders with Michelle Obama held in Johannesburg. Amongst others, I also participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum of 2013, which focused on freedom of expression, human rights and cyber security.

I am a member of various Pan-African networks and organizations such as: the Pan-African Youth Forum for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa; the Southern Africa Platform for Young Women Leaders; the African Network for the Right to Protest; and the Solidarity Network for Political Prisoners in Africa; and the Global Network of Young Women Leaders. Through these various continental and international networks, I have learned that well-structured continental-wide action can be very effective, when it engages the right players, defends coherent messages, values community knowledge, and stands-up for fair causes. This was evident in 2015 when we brought our voices together to raise awareness about the wrongful imprisonment of 17 young Angolan political activists, the ‘Revus’ (members of the Angolan Revolutionary Movement). Our campaign generated awareness about the case, exposed the regime’s abuses and, ultimately, resulted in a fair trial and the liberation of the 17 activists. We keep close links with our counterparts in other African countries, such as Angola, DRC, Tunisia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Just recently I had discussions with Floribert Anzuluni from Filimbi (Whistle) Movement in the DRC who also suggested I should link up with Afrikki Mwinda (a Pan-African youth movement. That brings together African activists, including those in the diaspora) through Sylvain Saluseke from Lucha (Lute pour le Changement – Fight for Change) its current leader.

AH: How can young African activists come together and address issues of systemic change? What are your views about the current youth social movements in Africa and their transformative capacity?

QG: I have a lot of hope for our generation. I think it is unjust to say that young people are apathetic and disconnected from the social and political realities in their countries. In the 1960s, during the fight against colonialism, not all young people were in the trenches fighting the oppressor, but some did, and those who did not were aware of the injustices and played their roles even if often in discreet ways. Similarly, today we cannot expect that all young people will be actively involved in the struggle. But the young activists who are engaged, they give everything: many suffer intimidation, persecution, imprisonment and sometimes death. Of course, youth constitutes a heterogeneous group, and young people are engaging in their own ways, but they are acutely aware of their marginalization and lack of opportunities. While the older generation had one clear enemy, the colonial oppressor, the challenges confronting our generations are double: on the one hand, we need to tackle our own corrupt and inefficient governments, and on the other, we have to deal with an international system which is unjust, privileges big capital and is skewed in favour of the wealthy and powerful.

Even though some progressive international forces sometimes support our movements, they often do not put enough pressure on governments, especially when they have political and economic interests. For example, it is a disgrace what is happening to Bobi Wine in Uganda, but the international community is just watching and doing very little while Museveni cracks down on dissident political voices. Also, when the 18 young activists from ND were jailed during the elections here in 2019, only a few international organizations supported us. Here in Mozambique, big capital is aligned with the government because of their interest in gas, the ruby mines, coal and other resources. Even when it is clear that elections are not free and fair, the big multinational corporations are the first to congratulate those responsible for rigging the elections.

AH: In these circumstances, how do you see the future of African youth movements?

QG: Despite the lack of support, young Africans continue to fight. Bobi Wine continues to fight; the Angolan activists, even after spending months in prison, remain active, as do the Mozambican activists who are routinely intimidated and attacked by the authorities. I have a lot of hope in our Pan-African networks such as Afrikiki Mwinda and others. Change will come from within, from us. The revolution will have to be done by the African activists, by ourselves, without waiting for the support of the international community, and beyond our corrupt national institutions. All this time, we have been playing by the rules, constituting ourselves in formal organizations, getting all the permissions to protest peacefully, running for elections and putting across our ideas; but the rules of the game, as established, are fundamentally flawed and unjust. Every time we played by their rules, we have been duped, side-lined, maimed and sometimes killed. We are getting tired and we are saying enough! The world should not be surprised if one day young people resolve to take power by force, with violence.

Mali: Partnership between UCAO-UUBa and EMP: promoting research and training for the culture of peace in Africa


An article by Abdrahamane Sissoko in Maliweb (translation by CPNN)

The signing ceremony for a partnership between the Catholic University of West Africa – University Unit in Bamako (UCAO-UUBA) and the Alioune Blondin Beye School of Peace-Keeping (EMP). was held Tuesday March 2. The objective is to promote scientific research and training for a culture of peace by the two organizations in terms of ideas and actions.

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof. Amadou Keïta, accompanied by the Archbishop of Bamako, Cardinal Jean Zerbo, chaired the ceremony in the conference room of the EMP.

According to Abbé Clément Lonah, president of the UCAO, this partnership will be of considerable advantage in placing particular emphasis on the increased training of learners on both sides. UCAO is a network of university units located in several West African countries such as Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Togo and Senegal. Its Rectorate is located in Ouagadougou. The objective of this institution, he says, is to promote excellence, sub-regional integration and the pooling of skills.

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(Click here for the original version of this article in French)

Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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By signing this agreement with the School of Peacekeeping, Abbé Clément Lonah, president of the UCAO, believes that his establishment has made an ideal partner to achieve its ambitios in West Africa.

“Ambition of excellence in scientific and human training, ambition of sub-regional integration by allowing the mobility of students and teachers in the area of ​​West Africa, ambition of pooling skills by bringing together scientists in a university space to provide quality education, ”he said.

For Father Clément Lonah, the University Unit in Bamako (UUBa) of the UCAO is specialized in the Sciences of Education, while developing other fields, such as Law, Journalism and Communication, Sciences Humanities (Philosophy) and Economics and Management.

For his part, the Director-General of the School of Peacekeeping Alioune Blondin Beye, Colonel Souleymane Sangaré, indicated that the common points between the two entities are considerable assets which would undoubtedly favor the establishment of a more realistic and operational partnership. “These two schools are all committed to sharing, training and educating men and women who will serve as examples and always advocate peace instead of violence,” he said.

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof. Amadou Keïta, affirmed that this partnership signature is in line with the vision of the highest authorities of the transition for scientific research and the culture of peace . According to him, it comes at a decisive moment which marks the first step and will allow pupils and students to benefit from an international standard of education in the culture of peace.

In conclusion, Minister Kéita recalled that the culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles that reject violence and prevent conflict by addressing their root causes through dialogue and negotiation.

In Central Africa, Villages Join an Experiment To Save the World’s Second-Largest Rainforest


An article from the Pulitzer Center

NKALA, Congo —  Amid a dawn chorus of crickets, mosquitoes and the “jee-ow!” of the great blue turaco, the forest canopy began to shake as a screech rang out.

Peering up through his binoculars, Nioka Monsiu spotted a pair of young bonobos tumbling in the treetops under the eye of their mother.

“Before, these species were menaced and hunted to near extinction,” he said. “But we protect them here in our forest.”

The population of Nkala is approximately 300. Image by Peter Yeung/The Los Angeles Times. Congo, 2020.

That protection is part of an experiment unfolding here in the Congo Basin: giving power to the people in an attempt to preserve the world’s second-largest rainforest.

Deforestation rates have accelerated over the last decade, raising fears that the Congo Basin could one day suffer the fate of the Amazon rainforest, which has been devastated by logging and slash-and-burn agriculture.

The research initiative Global Forest Watch found that since 2010, nearly 11 million acres of primary forest — the oldest, densest and most ecologically significant kind — have been lost in the Congo Basin to logging, agriculture, mining and oil drilling. That’s roughly triple what was lost in the previous decade.

Experts say that if nothing is done, the more than 400 million remaining acres — which stretch across six countries in Central Africa — will disappear by the end of the century.

There is time to head off disaster. The Democratic Republic of Congo has become the focal point of conservation efforts, because nearly 60% of the forest falls within its borders.

In early 2016, the government passed a law setting aside an estimated 185 million acres of forest — it did not specify how much is primary forest — to distribute to individual villages, with the expectation that local ownership leads to sustainable management.

“We believe that strengthening the rights of forest communities will be an effective way of both protecting rainforests and fighting poverty,” said Fifi Likunde Mboyo, who heads the program at Congo’s Ministry of Environment.

So far, 70 communities  have been allocated a total of 3.5 million acres. The 300 people of Nkala, where Monsiu lives, received 12,000 acres in late 2018.

The village sits 150 miles northeast of the capital, Kinshasa; reaching it requires driving for three days on unforgiving dirt roads or taking a narrow, wooden boat up the Congo River. For the people there, trapping wildlife in the forest has long been a way of life.

“Our grandparents used to live off hunting and fishing, but they did it too much, and they left us with almost nothing,” said Kinzoma Gaspard, the village chief.

In recent decades, outsiders have played a greater role in exploiting the region’s natural resources.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace

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“Foreign logging companies used to come with the permission of the government, but without our permission, and yet cut down our forests,” said Paulin Ebabu, a village elder.

Under the community forest program, a local conservation group and the regional government helped the village decide how to divide its land between protected areas — where the forest can regenerate, and wildlife goes untouched — and development areas, where small-scale agriculture and hunting are permitted. The concession is managed by 11 elected villagers.

The bonobos are a big part of the plan. Last year, 30 tourists each paid $100 for up-close, guided encounters with the endangered great apes. The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled efforts to draw more visitors.

Monsiu, 28, is one of a dozen trackers. Trained by the World Wildlife Fund, the trackers follow the bonobos every day to monitor their health and behavior, as well as keeping tabs on their location, in order to hike in with tourists for visits. Each tracker earns $150 a month, a good income in a country where 72% of people live on less than $1.90 a day. For now, the WWF pays most of the salaries, but the hope is to eventually draw enough tourists to make the project self-sustaining.

Another part of the forest has been set aside to grow arrowroot trees. Women use the leaves to make mats, which they sell in nearby towns through a newly formed cooperative.

“My grandparents did it too,” said Hortense Wasa-Nziabo, a 21-year-old artisan. “It’s our heritage, and now it’s what nourishes us.”

Nkala has also diversified its crops, adding peanuts, corn and pineapples to its plantations in an effort to improve nutrition and protect the food supply from droughts and uneven rains. The WWF helped build a mill to turn cassava, a hearty root vegetable, into flour.

Villagers speak with pride about the changes and say their living standards are rising, though the project is still in its early stages and remains highly dependent on investment by outside groups.

The fate of the rainforest matters not only for villages like Nkala but for the world’s climate. Forests are major carbon sinks, and only the Amazon stores more than the Congo Basin.

Environmentalists view local ownership and management as a small but significant part of the solution to saving the rainforest.

“If the blueprint can be applied across the country, a huge source of deforestation would be eliminated,” said Innocent Leti, regional coordinator for Mbou-Mon-Tour, a Congolese nonprofit that helped Nkala develop its land-use plans.

But whether that can be achieved is a big question mark. The vast majority of the land set aside for villages has yet to be allocated. Many remote communities don’t know about the law, and even if they do, navigating the legalities to obtain concessions requires close technical support from provincial officials and outside organizations.

“We don’t have the capacity to help everyone,” said Inoussa Njumboket, a program officer for WWF in Congo who has worked in Nkala and the surrounding villages since 2010. “What value does that land have if the community doesn’t have the basic resources to take advantage of it?”

Even in Nkala, which is widely touted as a success, there have been problems. Unemployed villagers have been found hunting in protected territory, and there have been disputes among communities over resources.

“Women from other villages have been coming to our stream and taking our fish,” said Mafi Esefa, who collects wood and cassava leaves from the forest near Nkala to sell in other villages.

Still, her overall assessment is positive.

“The system works well,” she said. “It’s allowed me to become a businesswoman. It’s given me freedom.”

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Adja Kadije, peace mediator in the Central African Republic


An article by Gwénaëlle Lenoir from CCFD Terre Solidaire (translation by CPNN)

Since girls are burdened with the thankless tasks of fetching water and firewood and since they are the ones who must look after their brothers and sisters, then they must also be the centerpieces of awareness-raising about non-violence. This was the idea of Adja Kadije in 2015 when she decided to create the “Girls” branch of Pijca (Interfaith platform for Central African youth, partner of CCFD-Terre Solidaire).

Volunteer in the association since its creation in 2014, she had noticed two apparently contradictory things: on the one hand, “the girls who joined La Pijca were not at ease. They were undoubtedly afraid of the boys” and, on the other hand, “it’s easier for a girl to get people’s ears.” We were much more efficient than the boys! ”

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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The two intuitions prove to be correct: the “Girls” branch gave birth to social mediators, who are today in the hundreds across the country. “We can identify in a city thirty young girls who can be leaders, by relying on information from the churches and Muslim associations,” explains Adja. “We give them a mini-training in conflict resolution and the promotion of women’s rights. We also give them a little nest egg and teach them how to manage it to create small activities such as selling in the markets. And they themselves train other young girls.” They are able to combine economic independence and spreading the culture of peace.

Adja learned on the job. But still very young, just as she was about to enter adulthood, the world she knew was shattered. It was in 2013. She was 20 years old, a student in civil engineering, living with her parents, her three brothers and her four sisters in the commune of Begoua, one of the main gateways to the capital. La Seleka, a coalition of predominantly Muslim armed groups, seized Bangui and power in March. The anti-balaka, predominantly Christian militias, attacked in December. The two make their way by looting, raping and killing.

Encourage young people to reject manipulation

Like their neighbors, the Kadije family was forced to flee. She found refuge in a displaced persons site, in Bangui itself. Frowned upon by her neighbors, because she is Muslim and assimilated to the aggressors of the Seleka, Adja joined the Pijca, determined to counter the sectarian killings. With others, Christians and Muslims, she goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, from city to city, encouraging young people to reject manipulation. At first, her audacity is mixed with fear in these towns from which Muslims have been driven out. “But I was proud to be a part of it. When I was on the radio, I warned people in my neighborhood, ” she recalls.

Today the smile is a little sad. In December, the armed groups resumed attacks, and former combatants, aided by La Pijca, joined them. “They are easily manipulated, because they don’t do much and take a lot of drugs, especially pills. It’s a bit hopeless,” sighs Adja. But her depression is short-lived. The future of her country and her two little boys are at stake.

Ghana Election Petition Judgment: ‘Let’s Maintain Our Peace’


An article from Peace FM Online

The National Peace Council (NPC), has appealed to Ghanaians, especially, political actors to maintain peace in the country ahead of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the 2020 Presidential Election Petition.

 The NPC asked the citizenry to accept the judgment for peace to prevail.

Speaking at a virtual stakeholders’ convening on the roadmap towards the eradication of political vigilantism in Ghana, Mr George Amoh, Executive Secretary, NPC, pleaded that the feuding political actors impressed on their constituents to guard the peace currently being enjoyed in the country.

Mr Amoh said activities of political vigilantes, which did not manifest so much during the last elections were due to the work done by all stakeholders prior to the elections, which had been commended by well-meaning entities, and that such work was going to be continued.

He noted that the international community had commended Ghana over the reduction of activities of political vigilantism in the December polls and emphasized the need to sustain the gains.

Mr Amoh said the work led by the NPC in collaboration with NORSAAC, a pro-marginalised and policy influencing organisation, and other partners was paying off, adding that the monitoring group set up in the round up to the December 2020 general election to monitor vigilantism practices, was still in place, serving as early warning systems.

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Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

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Nana Kojo Impraim, Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation, NPC, in a presentation, said as part of the processes to disband vigilantism in the country, the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, were made to sign an agreement to commit themselves to the process.

Thus, the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act 2019 (Act 999) as well as the Roadmap and Code of Conduct to end political vigilantism in Ghana, also referred to as the roadmap, were put into action with the NPC as the lead implementer, partnering varied partnerships and support towards its enforcement.

He said NORSAAC with funding from STAR-Ghana Foundation, partnered the NPC to focus on the role of the monitoring team of the roadmap, while more stakeholders were engaged in a high level meeting to deliberate further on the course.

Mr Impraim said many advocacy work and sensitisation of citizens, as well as monitoring was undertaken in various districts, while mediation committees were set up to work towards a peaceful election.

In all those engagements, the need to build a culture of peace and coexistence were paramount, Mr Impraim stated, adding that it was also revealed that government would need to intensify its partnership with the private sector in addressing the socio-economic needs of the people, especially, the youth.

Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko-Amidu, Chief Executive Officer of the Star Ghana Foundation, commended the partnerships, emphasizing the need for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to partner the State and other stakeholders to source for funding to support peaceful, credible and transparent elections in Ghana.

He said there was also the need to start election education and awareness creation soon after one election was ended to forestall eventualities.

It is expected that deliberations of the virtual meeting participated in by officials of the Electoral Commission, Small Arms Commission, the Judiciary Service, MMDAs, Ghana Journalists Association and other CSOs, would contribute to decent elections project and “Enhance CSOs and the NPC’s partnership in ensuring public adherence to the Roadmap and Code of Conduct to End Political Vigilantism.”

The African Continental Free Trade Area as a contribution to the culture of peace


A synthesis by CPNN based on recent articles in The Africa Report (based in Paris), This Day Live (Nigeria), The Herald (Zimbabwe), The Independent Online (South Africa), Euractiv (Belgium), Southern Times (Namibia), and the United Nations News Service quoted here in CPNN

In March 2018, African countries signed a landmark trade agreement, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), committing the countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barrier.” Following a summit of AfCFTA in December 2020, the agreement began operation on January 1, 2021.

Forty-four African countries signed an agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali. (Xinhua/Gabriel Dusabe) Credit:CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/1803221658

This may become an important contribution to the culture of peace. According to The Africa Report , “The AfCFTA, if well implemented, would no doubt transform conflicts across the continent by reducing the incentives for participating in conflicts, via the creation of jobs.”

Addressing the recent AU Summit of Heads of State and Government, incoming President Tshisekedi said his priorities would be tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering peace and security on the continent.

The agreement has the potential to promote women’s equality in Africa. In remarks to the AU Summit, outgoing President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that AfCFTA should ensure financial inclusion of women for the trade pact to deliver sustainable and meaningful development. As cited by the Southern Times, President Ramaphosa said state parties would report annually on progress made in strengthening women’s participation in continental trade matters. “This includes tailor made financial products for women with reliable means to save, access, transfer and borrow money,” he expounded. “As the AU, we should also develop a decade action plan to help member states develop key flagship activities towards women’s economic empowerment.” He called for a “women-led Peace Forum to be attended by Heads of State and Government and to implement decisions of the Peace and Security Council to institutionalise the office of the special envoy on women, peace and security.”

According to the World Bank, as quoted in This Day Live, the . . . agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. “The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.

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Question for this article:

Can the African Union help bring a culture of peace to Africa?

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“The scope of AfCFTA is large. The agreement will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regu­latory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.

This will be a major change because at the present time as indicated by According to The Africa Report, intra-African trade accounts for only 18% of overall trade across the continent.

In a related development, the newly-elected head of the World Trade Organization is an African woman, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. As indicated by The Herald (Zimbabwe), “For strategic reasons, the appointment could not have come at a better time for Africa . . . With an anticipated economic boon following the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent stands in a better position to lobby for an increase in its world trade share because it can now do so as one single unit and get a sizeable share.”

According to This Day Live, “The rubrics, goals and objectives of the AfCTA aren’t incompatible in anyway with those of the WTO, and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala could help pilot it towards more support for the continent. That could be in offering technical help, trade analysis and policy expertise, turning the dream of free trade across Africa into reality. In addition, she will possess the moral capacity to pressure African political leaders to design and implement sensible trade policies that support growth.”

AfCTA is a major component of Agenda 2063, the 50-year master plan established by the African Union. As described in the Southern Times, the Agenda also includes “the construction of an integrated high speed rail network connecting African capitals; the formulation of an African commodities strategy that unlocks the value of our resources, and creates value chains based on local value addition; and the realisation of an African passport for promotion of free movement of people across our continent. Other flagship programmes are development of 43,200MW Grand Inga Dam; a single African air transport market; and establishment of African financial institutions such as the African Investment Bank, Pan-African Stock Exchange, the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank.”

China and the European Union, major trading partners with Africa, have welcomed the AfCTA. The new Ambassador-designate of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, as quoted by Independent Online, stated, among other things, that the AfCTA can contribute to peace and to sustainable development. “China and Africa fought side by side against imperialism, colonialism and apartheid, and the yearning for peace has long been in the blood of the Chinese and African people. The AU Agenda 2063 emphasises that Africa shall realise peace and security, and Africa’s road to modernization is bound to be one of peaceful development.” “The AU Agenda 2063 advocates building a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, which speaks volumes about Africa’s pursuit of harmony between man and nature in its modernization process.”

In a new report adopted on 28 January, as quoted by Euractiv, the European Union called for “long-term EU financial and technical support for African countries to boost climate adaptation; EU support for African regional integration to help reduce dependence on foreign imports; and for the EU to support the new African continental free trade area which was launched in January.”

G5 Sahel: Heads of State announce Prize for the promotion of the culture of peace


An article from Al Wihda Info (translation by CPNN)

The heads of state of the G5 Sahel [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger] decided on Tuesday to establish a prize called “Sahel Prize for the promotion of the culture of peace”.

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Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?

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The prize will be awarded to individuals, institutions or public, private or civil society organizations that have done the best work for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, for the culture of peace and tolerance between communities in the Sahel region.

This is an initiative of the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The Council of Ministers and the executive secretariat of the G5 Sahel will work on setting up the mechanisms for this award.

The 7th ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State of the G5 Sahel was held on February 15, 2021 in N’Djamena.