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Character Education

Character Education Can Help Promote Peace in Kenya

The African Union has analyzed that one of the two major causes of poverty and disruption in Africa as a whole is civil unrest. The AU places even the sweeping scourge of HIV/AIDS second to civil war and war in the decimation of the continent’s resources and capacity.

Therefore, it is fitting and important that peace organizations show interest in Africa. The UNESCO document Learning the Way of Peace—A Teacher’s Guide to Peace Education (New Delhi, 2001) claimed that: “Peace education…is basically a character building intervention.” Therefore, the UPF Character Education Initiative went to Kenya in order to aid in the process of building peace-loving individuals who will form peace-loving families, who will comprise peace-loving communities and form a peaceful society and nation, which will impact neighboring nations and the world. UPF went to Kenya as part of the Global Peace Festival, which took place in Nairobi on August 31, 2008, and which was attended by over ten thousand Kenyans.

The Prime Minister of Kenya, the Hon. Raila Odinga, and his wife Ida Odinga, joined an international delegation that included seven former heads of state and over 120 members of parliament, spiritual leaders, and representatives of civil society at the Global Peace Festival.

“This is an important day for Kenya and for Africa,” exulted Odinga. “It is a new beginning in the quest for our nation to be once again known as a nation of peace and security. The Universal Peace Federation and the Global Peace Festival are doing great things in Kenya.”

Kenya has recently undergone its worst political crisis since attaining independence in 1963. The disputed presidential election spawned months of violence, with as many as 1500 people killed and more than 300,000 displaced as they fled their homes to get away from the violence.

Odinga has formed a national unity government with President Mwai Kibaki by accepting the newly created post of Prime Minister. Both parties are now working together cooperatively. A delegation to the United States included members of the Cabinet from the rival political parties under the two men, and

Odinga has compared their alliance to that of Nelson Mandela and President F. W. DeKlerk, who brought peace to South Africa in the 1990s. Odinga and Kibaki have a 22-year mutual plan for economic, social, and political reform that they call Vision 2030.

The UPF Director of Character Education, Mr. Alan Saunders, said, “My experience in Kenya was enlightening. One could feel the tension in the air after months of civil strife. Under normal circumstances, the Kenyans are a friendly people who love to express themselves through music, dance and the arts. Thousands of youth from Kenya came together at the Global Peace Festival to listen to speakers and musicians emphasizing forgiveness and peace.”

The character and peace education workshop conducted was very successful. Youth leaders from throughout Kenya and representatives from many countries throughout Africa attended. A highlight of the workshop was the two NextGen Academy representatives who spoke about the program they will conduct in six countries in Eastern Africa in January and February 2009.

With the good will of the warm-hearted Kenyan people and their hunger for peace and reconciliation, character education has a chance to blossom in and assist this land where forgiveness, generosity, and forbearance are called for to heal the wounds of conflict and to build a happy and peaceful future.

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