•As agents of change, young people, whose future relies heavily on a peaceful and stable continent are rallying like-minded youth, communities, local governments and businesses to join in efforts to encourage African citizens to take constructive action against violent conflicts.
The African Union has teamed up with a network of African youth to promote innovative mechanisms of peace building and help resolve increasing violent conflicts in the continent.
Spread out across the continent, the group is driving an initiative known as “Africa Peace Zones”, to encourage the concept of “peace spaces”, where negotiations, mediation and reconciliation are used as an alternative to armed conflicts.
The creation of Africa Peace Zones stems from the realization that some of Africa’s strongest attributes - resilience, tolerance, kindness, generosity, problem solving and team spirit– have taken a backburner, paving way for mistrust, suspicion and animosity.
As agents of change, young people, whose future relies heavily on a peaceful and stable continent are rallying like-minded youth, communities, local governments and businesses to join in efforts to encourage African citizens to take constructive action against violent conflicts.
"We are 400 million young people on the continent of Africa and we can create peace. But we can do so much faster, with the support of others, especially the private sector,’ says Gorata Chepete, a youth volunteer from Botswana.
“We are calling upon all businesses to join the‘Africa Peace Zones’ movement by turning their offices, factories, mine sites and outlets into Peace Zones - initiating dialogue, building capacity, raising awareness and helping us address the burning issue of youth unemployment", Ms Chepete added ahead of the AU heads of state meeting which commence tomorrow.
These efforts echo AU’s dream for a peaceful and stable continent, where guns are silenced and communities live harmoniously with each other. This year’s AU theme is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conductive Conditions for Africa’s development”, a befitting theme for a continent currently experiencing numerous violent conflicts, leading to loss of lives and destruction of livelihoods and property.
“Silencing the Guns” is a noble initiative to achieve the aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063, specifically Aspiration 4, which envisions a peaceful and secure Africa.
Africa Peace Zones also aims to serve as an intergenerational platform where young people and other African citizens can discourse on the root causes of conflict and commit to change.
"It is the first time that a grassroots youth movement has been formed to support an AU campaign. It is evidence of the growing power of Africa's youth, strengthened by improved connectivity and inspired by examples of civic activism from across the continent and internationally,” stated Desire Karakire, one of the campaign coordinators from Uganda.
The youth peace advocates driving this campaign which kicked-off in January with an online memorial to honour victims of violent conflicts, hope to run the campaign for the entire year, with the ambitious aim of mobilizing at least every fourth youth on the continent and galvanizing support from other stakeholders.
The theme, “Silencing the guns”, which was adopted by African heads of state seven years ago, is one of the key topics being discussed in the ongoing 33rd AU Summit, in Addis Ababa, which commenced on January 21st and runs until February 10th.
AU heads of state hope to stop all conflicts in the continent, which is vital to the implementation of Agenda 2063.