My Peace Camp Experience and My New Role as A Partner for Peace By Aniebiet Ubon
The world you can change, is the one you are in! – David Wood
The most satisfying thing in life is to give a large part of one’s self to others. – Pierre de Chardin
I unlearned the myth that the Efik woman is loose, and by virtue of this cannot stay in marriage from the book “IDARA” Authored by a fellow Camper, in the Peace Camp.
Camping is about opportunities to exchange ideas, viewpoints, and knowledge and ultimately learn. It also creates an atmosphere to unlearn certain retrogressive and toxic myths, like I did; make new friends and build lifelong friendships and partnerships. Thus, when the opportunity to attend the Peace Camp presented itself, I applied to be a camper, fortunately, I was selected.
On arrival I was led to the hall where I registered, and was assigned to my hostel-later that evening all campers assembled at the conference hall. As soon as we took our seats different speakers took turns to address us, and reiterate that we were in the camp to brainstorm on how to bring sustained peace to the Niger Delta.
Mr. Nate summed it up, thus, you are here for capacity building ad learning, to tell your personal stories about your involvement in peace building activities, and to draft a terms of reference for the Partners for Peace Network, called P4P for short. It was this evening we first learnt how to chant the P4P slogan, Peace. Yes!
The first keynote speaker at the next day’s session fed us with a detailed explanation on what PIND is about and its partnership with the P4P Network; what the P4P Network represents, its purpose and objectives, and why we should seek peace always, and be committed to peace building activities at all times – buttressing his points with illustrations drawn from his experiences during the Nigerian civil war. He recounted bitterly how he witnessed a man dig and be buried in his own grave; the sense in the room after his personal account was that of sympathy for those who were victims of such grave bestialities during the war. The stage was set, and then came the charismatic, eloquent and very intelligent Rev. FR. DR. Edward Obi, MSP. He began his lecture by requesting we closed our eyes, sat still and thought about how we were uniquely created – This he called the thought experiment.
He took us through the works of various writers and philosophers on peace building, the atrocities that have precipitated conflicts everywhere including the Niger Delta.
In his words, if you have never experienced peace, you don’t know what it is about, but if you have, then you know what it is about. In line with the theme of the conference he spoke extensively on peace-building.
According to Dr. Edward Obi,
– Peace is the just, stable and predictable condition where people live fully in equity and our consciously craving not only about themselves, but also for the good of all society and the environment that support their needs.
– Peace is a public good, but no one person can provide that good – it is about harmony to actualize it.
He blamed the lack of appropriate information, traditional enmities, retrogressive narratives, injustice, injustice, lack of economic development, gender inequality and many other factors for conflicts.
When it was time to pose questions to Dr. Edward, views were polarized as to the causes of conflicts in the Niger Delta region, but I am glad in the end everyone seemed to agree that apportioning blames and encouraging violence was not the answer to conflicts, but dialogue.
While in the camp I was amazed and impressed by the level of awareness amongst campers, the enthusiasm displayed by both the young and the old during sessions, and the fact that almost everyone was eager to contribute during sessions and group meetings.
During tea-breaks, meal times, and in our hostels we had huge interactions respecting peace-building. In the camp I learnt to respect the viewpoints of others, during breakouts, I had the privilege of holding conversations with our educators, professionals from various fields, representatives of foreign and local organizations, the bloggers and social media experts who were present, and we made vital connections that I am certain would lead to sustained peace in the Niger Delta and the rest of the world.
I learnt economic deprivations, injustice, gender inequality, such and such are great drivers of conflict. I learnt conflict could manifest in various forms and at various levels, even in the family, and at all times we should tolerate the views of others and embrace dialogue at all times, because it is the only panacea for peace, and that it is necessary to take to history, analysis and have an understanding of the problem for peace-building efforts to be successful.
I learnt the art of public speaking because I was given the opportunity to tell my story regarding my personal efforts at resolving conflicts, and contribute during sessions. In the words of the guest speaker on the day the P4P network was officially launched, Professor Mark Aniekpo, at anytime the process of peace-building has to go on, if we assume that there is already peace-building on our efforts it would be disastrous. He ended by saying it transcends chanting Peace. Yes! The Partners for Peace network was inaugurated and the camp meeting brought to a close on Friday. But for me and my fellow campers the work has just begun, I have acquired the requisite skills to teach and preach the message of peace in the Niger Delta and beyond, I cannot wait to see my efforts and that of my fellow campers yield full blown fruits.
Thank you the PIND FOUNDATION for giving me the opportunity to change my world and serve humanity. According to David Wood, the only world you can change, is the one you are in.
I believe we live to serve humanity: The most satisfying thing in life is to give a large part of one’s self to others. – Pierre de Chardin.
The writer is on twitter @aniebiet11
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