Today (i.e. September 21), various governments, institutions, organisations and people across all countries will mark the International Day of Peace. In our world ravaged by war and enmeshed by conflict, at least devoting a day to promote and project such ideas and ideals bordering on peace is undoubtedly a right stone cast in the right direction.
The International Day of Peace was established in 1982 by Resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly, sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. It was first observed on September 21, 1982 and since then every third Tuesday of September was annually commemorated as the International Peace Day.
In 2001, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/282 which declared September 21 as an annual day for peace. According to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, “the United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”
The Day is inaugurated each year at the United Nations headquarters in New York with the ringing of the Peace Bell. The Peace Bell is made from coins donated from children from all continents except Africa (imagine) and the inscription on its sides reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. The bell is rung as “a reminder of the human cost of war.”
Since 1982 when the Day was first commemorated, various themes have been focused on over the years. The theme for its maiden edition was “The right to peace of people” while that of today’s World Peace Day is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”.
In response to the call of the United Nations, the University of Ilorin, through its Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, commemorates the day through a Special Public Lecture on “Security, Disaster Management and Academic Development” to be delivered by Mr Slaku Lugard Bijimi of the National Emergency Management Agency at 10:00 a.m. today in the University Auditorium. The programme will be chaired by our Patriotic Peace Ambassador and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON). The Special Guest of Honour is Brig. Gen. LF Abdullahi, Commandant of the Nigerian Army School of Education (NASE).
As we draw attention to the International Day of Peace, it is important to stress that world peace begins from individuals. One cannot make peace with others without being at peace with oneself. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius, said aeons ago: “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations. When there is order in the nations, there will be peace in the world.” In this regard, as Mahatma Gandhi, the man of peace, counselled, you should “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The world stands in unison in the celebration of the International Day of Peace today and it is especially important for us as Africans to embrace the concept of “ubumtu” given its relevance to the theme of partnership.
As I wrote in the EDUPEACE column of the New Telegraph of January 20, 2015, “Ubumtu is a concept in Bantu languages and it is common in the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. According to Jannie Malan, it means that "every single human being only becomes a true human being by means of relationship with other beings." This relationship engenders maintaining peace at six levels, which are the individual, familial, local/ societal, national, regional and global domains.
Simply put, “ubumtu” means “I am because we are”. What affects me affects us and what affects us affects me. We are in it all together and together we must make it better. We are all involved in this world and together, we must be partners in peace or else we perish. In other words, without peace, everything is in pieces.
Happy Peace Day!
ALL ROADS STILL LEAD TO UNILORIN
Next Monday, all roads still lead to the University of Ilorin as the fourth biennial international conference of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies formally kicks off in the University Auditorium.
During the conference, themed “Rethinking Strategies for National and Regional Security, Peace and Development in Africa”, academics, policy makers and researchers will brainstorm on how to steer West Africa as a microcosm of the world to the path of peace and security.
It is not too late to still be part of the conference. Come and join us; we value your ideas.