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Maintaining dialogue and peaceful coexistence in Cote D'Ivoire

Maintaining Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence in Cote D'Ivoire

The current situation for youth in Côte d’Ivoire is typical for many young people in sub-Saharan states who are searching for a national identity. Many have been involved in armed conflicts of all kinds. It is clear that the confrontational relationships between political parties and ethnic groups,reinforced and manipulated by the elite,will be slow to change. 

Many groups of voters,such as women and young people, have not yet reached their full potential to be able to support a reformist government or act as agents of peace. Deprived of a popular momentum, the progress achieved so far may be fragile and hard to sustain. 

CISV Côte d’Ivoire is committed to help change this situation. We aim to do this through a number of initiatives including exchange visits, events on conflict resolution and leadership workshops targeting young people. We hope in this way to contribute to the task of building a new Côte d’Ivoire. We believe that young people can be a driving force in spreading a culture of peace and helping the development of a positive national identity. It is in this context that CISV Côte d’Ivoire has organised a range of educational activities to promote peace and bring together youth groups from all the social strata in Côte d’Ivoire. The young people involved in these activities have gained confidence to take action in their own communities and hopefully be a means of reconciliation and exchange. A lasting peace is dependent upon our ability to understand the diversity of cultures around us.

The Project 

CISV Côte d’Ivoire, through its Chapter of Agnibilékrou,initiated a Mosaic project on the theme of resolution of conflicts in Africa. In order to reach a large number of young people, it involved partner youth organizations such as AEEMCI (Association of Muslim Students and Pupils of Côte d’Ivoire),the JEC (Catholic Youth Student Association),  and the Scouts. In addition to youth organizations,the Mayor of Agnibilékrou,as well as tribal leaders,brought aspects of religion and politics to our project. The project also introduced the theme of “Cultural Mixing”. A fundamental principle of CISV Côte d’Ivoire is to provide forums where diverse groups can meet to discuss  their interests and work together. Such a level of interaction in Côte d’Ivoire is rare,and we had to prepare for several months for this project,which began on 26 September 2008. 

Young people in Africa study forms of conflict resolution that centre on European experiences,but this project focused specifically on the conflicts of the continent of Africa.  The project involved discussions between youth,as well as religious, political,and ethnic representatives. A conference with a writer from Côte d’Ivoire was held, along with a large public event that included presentations of skits,songs, poems,dances,a football match, and tree planting. 

In the hope of contributing to processes already underway to reduce community tensions, CISV Côte d’Ivoire held a series of solidarity events in collaboration with local partners. These celebrations, focusing on the unity of the community,cultural mixing and conflict resolution,took place through various activities. In the project we continued in our efforts to encourage a new kind of leadership among young people who for years have been vulnerable to manipulation aimed at dividing communities,youth movements,and families. We introduced a series of meetings about non-violence and freedom of expression. At the end of the programme,our participants agreed on the establishment of a platform for young people from different political parties and youth movements to maintain dialogue and peaceful coexistence. 

Peace is a daily project; it begins in our families and our classrooms. To promote peace,we must be vigilant, for he who sees evil and does not  protest is a fan of evil. Africa has all the resources necessary to meet the needs of its communities and for them to live in harmony,but is sad to see the hotbeds of tension and conflict.

We believe that it is time for young people to wake up and take part in the reconstruction of Africa,which has suffered so much. To this end, CISV Côte d’Ivoire is developing  activities,such as this Mosaic project,on conflict resolution in Africa to engage young people to be facilitators,to love justice and freedom for a world of peace. The positive impact of this Mosaic project is real. 

Naon Katiohora, Côte d’Ivoire

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