–ECOWAS Amb. urges Liberians to maintain peace in 2023
By Lincoln G. Peters
The Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT) at the University of Liberia (UL) and its partners on Wednesday, 21 September 2022 held celebrations in observance of the International Day of Peace.
KAICT held the program in collaboration with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated Liberia, and the Mano River Union on UL’s Capitol Hill campus.
The event brought together several participants both national and international partners, to discuss the way forward for Liberia to maintain the peace it enjoys after nearly 14 years of civil war.
This year the ‘International Day of Peace has been observed under the theme: “Politicizing Ethnicity Threatens Peace and Stability.”
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
But achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires the building of societies where all members feel that they can flourish. It involves creating a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.
In her keynote address, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ambassador to Liberia, Josephine Nkrumah said the issue of ethnicity threatens nation-building, peace, and stability in any nation.
As such, she said, Liberians must work to ensure that they remain peaceful during and after elections for the nation to grow.
“Many countries have been beset by issues of ethnicity threatening nation building, peace, and stability,” she said.
“Indeed, within Africa perhaps it has been more pronounced and in the … sub-region, we have contended with ethnic conflicts that have spiraled into multiple nations’ unrest giving our ethnic diversity that cuts across national borders,” she said.
She said perhaps at the heart of the darkest days of Liberia’s history was the ethnic dimension which resulted in a full-scale civil war.
She cited the full-scale civil war between the Krahn – dominated arm supported by the Mandingos who helped pop up the Samuel Doe regime and the rebel force led by Charles Taylor and backed by the Gio and Mano.
Amb. Nkrumah however questioned Liberians on their thoughts about their country’s development and transformation after the nearly 14 years of senseless civil war.
“Our Liberian history has taught us one lesson – ethnicity contributed to destabilizing Liberia into a war zone of heavily destructive dimensions and the loss of countless lives over a period of 14 years,” she said.
She questioned if political leaders have not learned that when their pronouncements have undertones of ethnicity and their appointments are based on ethnic factors rather than meritocracy, they breed a disease of mediocrity.
“Have you and I not learned that irrespective of what ethnic group we come from we are all Liberians from a Republic of Liberia and our primary duty as citizens is to build this country on the pillars of social cohesion and national unity?” she pondered further.
Speaking earlier, the President of the University of Liberia Dr. Julius S. Nelson, Jr. admonished Liberians that for Liberia to grow, it requires all Liberians to look at the country in a bigger picture.