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Peace Education

Mission of Kenya to the UN Hosts Tea Ceremony

New York, USA - The Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya, H.E. Ms. Josephine Ojiambo extended an invitation to 13 diplomats on May 25 at the Kenya Mission at the United Nations for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, or The Way of Tea, in cooperation with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). Ambassador Ojiambo took special interest in highlighting the theme of peace, as the diplomats immersed themselves in the experience of a tea house filled with solemnity and tranquility.

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After a heartfelt welcome by H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, Mrs. Kyoko Sato, head of the Japanese tea ceremony team, spoke about the origins of the tea ceremony and offered an insightful background on how tea ceremonies took place many years ago. The Tea Master, Ms. Fumie Watanabe, led the complicated yet beautiful choreography of enjoying Japanese tea by giving careful attention to the minute details of sipping a bowl of tea. The diplomats embraced the challenges which the tea ceremony presented them with laughter and joy.

After all the participants enjoyed their bowl of tea, Mrs. Amy Yang Miyamoto, who organized this event, thanked Ambassador Ojiambo for hosting the tea ceremony at the Kenya Mission and the Universal Peace Federation for providing the support needed for this event. She also introduced her husband, Mr. Andrew Miyamoto, who sang a beautiful song called “World in Union.”

H.E Ms. Ojiambo invited the diplomats to give their reflection of their experience of the tea ceremony through the segment called “Story of Peace.” Although participants came from different countries, the stories of peace had similar elements and resonated with everyone.

H.E. Mrs. U. Joy Ogwu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria, spoke about the critical importance of peace in the human heart at various levels of analyses: individual, community, and national levels. If peace is lacking on any level, there is acrimony and disharmony. In Nigeria, there have been periods of wanton destruction of lives and property, but people are pursuing greater reconciliation. She noted that the alien elements of violence in recent politics should be extinguished in the greater interest of peace. In a similar vein, H.E. Mr. Djamel Moktefi, Deputy Permanent Representative of Algeria, talked about the dark decade in his country of long, violent wars and revolutions. It was only after adoption by referendum of Charter for Peace and Reconciliation  of 2005 that peace came to Algeria and they avoided civil war. Now, the country is more stable, and on May 10 there was a parliamentary election which consolidated democracy in Algeria. The value of peace is very important in Algeria.

Europe also experienced a war-torn history, as Mr. Pawel Herczynski, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland, shared about his country being a battlefield between various countries over the centuries. Through its association with NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004, Poland has been able to build a better future. Similarly, the Czech Republic was subject to oppression from different neighbors. Mr. David Cervenka, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic, described the 1993 dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the fear that conflict in other countries would spill over into his country. However, as President of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel helped steer a course of peaceful transition.

H.E. Ms. Signe Burgstaller, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, referred to encouraging developments since 2005 at the United Nations, when the Secretary-General and governments drew up plans of action to integrate human rights into the UN system and peace operations. These concepts are being implemented in conflict locations. The issue of human rights is now interlinked with peace and security, and violations of human rights are considered major threats to international peace and security

Mr. William Azumah Awinador-Kanyirige, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ghana, talked about the importance of creating an infrastructure for peace and offered Ghana as a model case. In 2008, the nation could weather the storm of a contested presidential election because of the regional and national infrastructure provided by Ghana’s National Peace Council, which is independent, but supported by government at the district, national, and regional levels. He described this as a “peace architecture,” an infrastructure that played a crucial role.

Thus, according to Mr. Justin N. Seruhere, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United Republic of Tanzania, it is important to link peace and development. If there is only development, peace may not be secure. He challenged people to consider all human beings worldwide as their siblings, brothers and sisters in heart.

Mr. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of UPF, affirmed the concept that the whole world is one family under God, and that acknowledgement of God is an important element in pursuing peace. There are great obstacles to peace in society and the world. However, peace is the hope of all generations, and he expressed confidence that with the growing trend of marriages across racial, cultural, and religious boundaries, people will experience more diverse family connections that will lead to greater mutual understanding and respect.

H.E. Ms. Josephine Ojiambo thanked the participants for attending the tea ceremony, a small oasis in the midst of the challenges faced daily by the diplomats. She gave encouraging words, in the hope that peace will reverberate from each individual, to the national level, and to the world.

For photos of the event click here.

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