I was hoping to post a longer article on the Young Ambassador’s Peace Rally that took place in Jos on 1 July, but I’m in the middle of a hundred different things, trying to write a conference paper and also hoping to write another blog post on the most recent arrests ordered by Rabo Abdulkarim, head of Kano State Censorship Board, who is himself avoiding arrest in Kaduna (For a quick summary of what is going on see Ibrahim Sheme’s opinion piece in today’s Leadership.) So for now I will just post a link to my photos of the event on Flickr. The Young Ambassadors for Community Peace and Interfaith were hoping to have a bigger rally but because they had a hard time finding funding, they changed their plan and had representatives of different communities from all over the state come instead. (Note, all of the photos here are copyright to me.)
The organizers of the programme Young Ambassadors for Community Peace and Interfaith foundation describe their “journey so far in the event programme:
YACPIF registered 23 Young Ambassadors before the Jos crisis within the Jos City around the Assemblies of God Church and Central Mosque in Kwararafa, Jos. The Muslim Young Peace Ambassadors protected the church from being burnt by some Muslims during the crises.
YACPI Foundation holds the belief that there can never be any meaningful Development in a community where there is war and injustice. Jos is a city in desperate need of peace. YACPI Foundation has chosen Jos city amongst other cities in the Northern part of Nigeria to kick start her project. From here we will move to other places like Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Borno, etc, cities that have a history of religious strife in Nigeria.
To carry out these initiatives we carefully identify youths most interested in promoting peace. Our desire is to work with them to channel the message of peace aimed at stopping religious and ethnic wars, promote peace building, and other challenges confronting our young people today in Nigeria. Very soon we hope we can organize a football tournament between youths of different people groups in Jos, first and then later Plateau State. Sports sometimes can be a powerful balm when there are festering wounds.
Peace Rallies held to date from March 22nd, Kwararafa, Bukuru, Dadin Kowa, Nasarawa/Congo Russian, Rayfield, Riyom Local Government, Tudun Wada and Zaria Road.
Today we are witnessing a State-wide peace rally. The journey for peace on the Plateau has begun in earnest. By God’s grace we will reach our destination
The programme included short speeches from the founder of the Young Ambassadors Rev. Yakubu Pam (who made a point of saying that the rally had not received financial support from the government), trustee Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State, Women’s Representative Ngo Naomi Jugu, among others, as well as youth leaders from Miyati Allah, JNI, CAN, SUG, Plateau Youth Council, and representatives from the Yoruba, Igbo, and South South communities. The best part of the event was seeing young people passionate about promoting peace and fellowship in the state parade past with their placards.
But, I was thinking as I sat there, that I hope that in the future YACPI can partner with Nigerian musicians to bring together more youth, perhaps with no speeches by politicians and elders–just youth, just the next generation, who can commit to change. As one of the speakers noted, it is the youth who inherit the bad decisions of their elders.
The Police Band played for the event, and the BBC Berom cultural troupe performed very danceable traditional music at the Peace Rally, but I thought it was telling that everyone (including the cultural troupe) started dancing when contemporary Naija Jams started piping through the sound system. There have been so many artists and musicians who are from or who have spent large amounts of time in Jos: M.I., Jesse Jagz, 2Face Idibia, Jeremiah Gyang, P-Square, Ice Prince Zamani, Ali Nuhu, Abbas Sadiq, DJ Yaks,etc, etc, etc. A recent article from Nigerian Entertainment Today describes how artists condemned the crisis, saying they were “keen to be of help and rally colleagues to ‘do something positive’.” It would be fantastic if this group could reproduce the kind of peace concert that took place in Port Harcourt last year, rallying the youth of Jos for peace with their music. And, indeed, one of the objectives of YACPI is “to solicit the support of Local and International Artists to license a positive song for our compilation CD that will inspire listeners to end war, crime, and violence in our country, communities and schools.” One would hope, we could have more songs like Eldee’s “One Day” and Sound Sultan’s “Let There Be Light,” which includes a very poignant tribute to “to the lost souls in Jos.”
Here are the photos I took of the rally on July 1. For those who were there and would like to download photos, click on the “All sizes” icon directly above the photo you would like to download and select either small, medium, large, or original, and you will be able to download it onto your computer or a disk. You are free to use these photos in other publications, as long as proper attribution is given to me and you send me a link to the article. Thanks.
A Representative of ACTS (African Christian Textbooks) sells at cost copies of Ruth Beattie’s book, My Brother’s Keeper: Stories of Grace from the Jos Plateau. Ruth Beattie is from Northern Ireland and brings insights growing up during times of conflict to her descriptions of Muslims and Christians helping those of different faiths during the Jos crisis.
Jos North looked like it had the largest delegation there.
Yan Zaman Lafiya
Magaji Sule, the leader of Muslim youth in Bukuru, helped avert a crisis between rival groups in March 2010.
Ruth Beattie, an “indigene” of Northern Ireland grew up during, what she calls in her book, “the troubles” of Northern Ireland, the sectarian crisis between Protestants and Catholics. With this perspective, she approaches the crises in Jos 2008, which she experienced, with particular sensitivity, telling true stories about both Muslims and Christians, who helped neighbors and strangers of different faiths from their own, during the crisis.
These children are the next generation. May they see peace.