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Peace Education

A Peace Rally Launches UPF in Kumasi

Kumasi, Ghana - The headmaster of a senior high school in Kumasi, Mr. Zaidan Ismail Rashid, had been reading the UPF quarterly journals for more than three years and developed much interest in joining the Universal Peace Federation. However, there was no national office. In the summer of 2009, a Secretary General was appointed for UPF-Ghana, and the international office sent him the contact information.

In early September, an email arrived from Mr. Rashid saying that he and his staff wanted to become members of UPF and, if possible, start a branch in Kumasi, the second-largest city in the country and the capital of the Ashanti region. It was overwhelming to read such a message. A trip was scheduled to Kumasi to meet him, and during our conversation we discussed many aspects of UPF and its activities. He is also the director of an NGO that takes care of underprivileged youth. He was glad for the opportunity to be part of UPF. We asked him to organize a rally in Kumasi within three weeks and gave him essential materials such as invitation letters. He mobilized his staff and they exceeded all expectations.

November 21 was the rally date in Kumasi. Five people including one Ambassador for Peace traveled from Accra to Kumasi for the program. At 9:30 am the hall was almost full. Dignitaries such as heads of institutions, clan chiefs, a regional chief imam, and youth leaders were invited. There were 110 people in attendance.

The President of the Ashanti Council of Chiefs, Nana Ameyaw Kotoko II, was the Chairman of the occasion. In his  remarks, he expressed his delight that the Universal Peace Federation had come back to the region and called on the audience to embrace it with all their hearts and work together to foster peace in their land. He warned the gathering, however, not to relate to the federation in a spirit of partisan politics. He described UPF's work for peace and said he would use his position to make sure that it is sustained not only in Kumasi but across the region and the nation at large.

A keynote address entitled “A Paradigm Change in the New Era” was delivered by the Secretary General. It is an excerpt from the speech delivered by the Sub-Regional Director of UPF, Rev. Paterne L. Zinsou, at the opening ceremony of a seven-day peace workshop organized for Ambassadors for Peace drawn from both Nigeria and Ghana.

While the speech was being read, almost everyone was looking at their copy and nodding their heads in affirmation. At the end, participants came forward to shake hands. One of the members of the head table called on everyone present to make sure they took a copy home, saying that the speech is appropriate for the present societal challenges because it introduces the idea of solving all problems by taking responsibility to “challenge the challenges” instead of avoiding them.

At the end, ten adults received Ambassador for Peace certificates and 31 youth leaders drawn from various local youth clubs and organizations received Youth Ambassador for Peace certificates. Nana Ameyaw Kotoko II was among those who received the Ambassador for Peace certificate. He expressed his determination to work for UPF in the region. Before leaving the venue, he requested that we visit his home before returning to Accra the next day.

At the close of the rally, all the awardees were assembled for more enlightenment about the aims and core values of UPF as well as the responsibilities of Ambassadors for Peace. A PowerPoint presentation entitled “A Common Ground for Peace” was used to illustrate the lecture. The new Ambassadors for Peace pledged to work hard so that a regional chapter of UPF would be inaugurated there early next year.

The next morning, November 22, we arrived at the home of Nana Ameyaw Kotoko II in Mowire, on the outskirts of Kumasi. We were warmly received by him, and his wife and children. He once again thanked UPF for the award and remarked, “You people have brought a great blessing to my family.” He assured us that he would convey the gesture to the Ashanti King. We were honorably treated.

More discussion took place about how to develop UPF in the region, and he promised to take responsibility for this. In addition, there was a proposal to donate land for school buildings, a community center, guest house, and conference hall to develop the work.

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