At the two-week peace-building conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, authorities have been advised to let youths participate in decision making in their communities for better governance and development.
The annual conference, Peace-Building Institute (PBI) organised by Kigali-based social peace building and social justice organization Never Again Rwanda (NAR), is now in its 16th edition and handles university students and young professionals across Africa with aspirations to be leaders in their respective communities.
Over 30 youthful participants from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo have for two weeks, since February 26, been taken through various strategies of good governance to promote unity and reconciliation in their communities by different facilitators.
This edition’s theme is “Creating A Network Of Global Peace Ambassadors” and it has referenced Rwanda’s dark history of the 1994 genocide committed against the Tutsi, to send message home that the youths are at risk to be manipulated by war-driven authorities and elders. They have also toured Rwanda’s genocide memorial sites.
Silas Baryagasha, a Ugandan participant with over three years of experience volunteering with youth empowerment projects says, “Peace building should be an interest for the government because this can very well enhance a conducive atmosphere for development.”
Nigerian participant Solomon Ayodele Ayeni, a Development Studies student, who has witnessed some conflicts involving youths in Nigeria says he has discovered the importance of youth involvement during the conference.
“One of the core lessons for me is the realization of the importance and relevance of getting involved in peace building in my community as a youth. I have also learnt the essence of critical thinking and applying same strategy in making sound and constructive judgment from what I hear and see.”
Kenya’s Carolyne Njung’e says she intends to empower women after the conference. She said, “I have learnt here that let us not allow our differences to divide us. As we appreciate diversity, let us focus on what brings us together than what separates us. As a peace tool, I plan to use Arts and culture among Kenyan women regardless of their tribes because I believe that women are the backbone of society. Peace building is gradual that cannot be achieved in a fortnight.