A coalition of African community activists, artists, victims of war, and youths Monday launched a pledge to end all forms of violence and set in motion a grassroots civil society campaign to promote peace on the continent. This was in support of the African Union’s #MyPledgeForPeace campaign which mobilises grassroots civil society organisations, African artists and youth to pledge their support for peace and #SilencingtheGuns campaign.
The centrepiece of the coalition’s appeal is a short animation endorsed by the African Union Commission called ‘My Pledge for Peace’. It was narrated by Nigerian actor Folu Storms, Grammy-nominated Nigerian singer Niniola, South African musician Zoë Modiga and Emmanuel Jal, the South Sudanese artist cum former child soldier. The artists are inviting all Africans to show their commitment to peace with a hand gesture and a Pledge for Peace.
The launch of the campaign coincides with the conclusion of the African Union heads of state summit held last weekend which reviewed progress made towards achieving the AU Theme of the Year, “Silencing the Guns by 2020: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. African heads of state at the 14th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on Silencing the Guns had unanimously agreed to extend efforts to end hostilities in Africa for another ten years. They stressed the importance of involving grassroots organisations and African citizens in tackling the root causes of conflict.
The coalition decry the fact that terrorism, conflict and crisis have proliferated across Africa in 2020, despite calls from AU and UN leaders for a global ceasefire. The combined effects have been devastating for the most vulnerable, including refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and migrants, as well as youth, women, children and the elderly.
Jal, who is the coalition’s spokesman says: “We are losing the battle to end hostilities. Ours is a call to action. We have come together from different backgrounds and different nations to create a positive, global awakening, responding to the AU’s call for pledges for peace. We need every African citizen galvanised to make peace a reality and to rid the continent of war and civil unrest. Peace is you.”
Whereas Storms believes: “There are many complex and interdependent challenges to achieving peace, but every conflict resolution starts with a conversation. And today we are having that conversation and galvanising citizens to make a commitment to actualising the AU’s vision of a conflict-free continent.”
While Modiga thinks: “Many debates around improving the human condition have surged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. We have seen acts of violence across the continent and witnessed the effects of systemic oppression, a global conversation with practical solutions is the highest priority now.”
And Niniola says: “The challenges confronting our continent today require us to work together. While our differences are what make us human, it’s only by working together that we can draw sufficient strength to heal what we have harmed and to mend what we have broken.”
Moreover, African Union Youth Ambassador for Peace Karabo Mokgonyana believes: “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. It’s time for us to make our voices heard and to make our actions count. It’s time for us all to make a commitment to peace and dialogue, and to silence the guns.”
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