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Peace Education

UPF Seminar Builds Peace in Nigeria's Bayelsa State

Yenegoa, Nigeria - "Peacebuilding Beyond the Boundaries of Politics, Religion, Culture, Tradition, Ethnicity, Nationality and Race” was the topic of a gathering for peace and reconciliation Sept. 28-29, 2012, in Yenegoa, capital of Nigeria’s coastal Bayelsa State.

The seminar was at the invitation of Hon. Gentle E. Emelah, an Ambassador for Peace and a member of the Bayelsa State Assembly. He is the Chairman of the House Committee on Education. In May he had attended a seminar on UPF’s principles of peace and felt that UPF could help resolve the violent communal crises in his constituency.

Thus, he invited the National Coordinator of UPF, Dr. George C. Ikpot, to teach UPF’s peace principles to representatives from four communities in conflict: the Orkodia Clan vs Biseni Clan and the Akumoni vs Ayamabele communities.

The two-day seminar concluded with a Bridge of Peace Ceremony, with representatives of warring communities crossing a symbolic bridge, embracing, and welcoming each other. To witness this ceremony touched many hearts.

Leaders from both pairs of warring communities jointly planted trees of peace and unity. The trees will be a physical, historical symbol of peace and reconciliation to educate the future generation in a positive way. Representatives from each community were selected to work together to care for the trees.

A 21-person Community Peace Committee was set up, comprising of representatives from the four communities. The committee members agreed to work based on the guidance of UPF and set aside political, ethnic, and tribal biases and prejudices. They will mediate political and social conflict and cases involving community members, promoting true and lasting reconciliation and creating communal harmony and peace.

Despite the seemingly diverse nature of people, a careful study reveals that at the core of people’s hearts is the longing to overcome what divides them, bridge their differences with loving relationships, and serve each other and the community.

This first activity by UPF in the state of Bayelsa challenged people to overcome their limitations, resolve misunderstandings in relationships, and rise above the seemingly volatile sociopolitical environment. UPF emphasizes the need to embrace the ideals, values, and benefits of living and working together stressing the importance of peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding beyond the boundaries of politics, religion, culture, tradition, ethnicity, race, and nationality.

The goal is to build a culture of peace and end the history and culture of war, of political, tribal and ethnic conflicts, of racial and religious conflicts, of familial conflicts and self-centered living (the root cause of division, conflicts, and wars).

UPF promotes healing of conflict through education that will inspire among the participants mutual respect and a sense of regard for each other.

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