Young People: A Potent Antidote to Chaos
Joint 3rd Prize in 22-24 age group
by Ibe Chijioke Kennedy from Nigeria
As the sun gently kissed the horizon that early morning, a soft breeze carried the carefree laughter of children. People from different ethno-religious backgrounds embraced one another with genuine warmth as they cheered for Hilda Baci, the young Nigerian chef that just broken the Guinness World Record for the longest time in a cooking marathon. The astonishing part was that the dark event that had plagued the city a few weeks ago seemed to have faded from memory; it was the same Lagos state where citizens and electorates were bullied, battered, and killed for not being indigenes or for not aligning with imposed political choices. However, on this day, the love and kindness that overflowed the streets of Lagos and throughout Nigeria washed away those grievances. It was the same long euphoria I witnessed when Tobi Amusan broke the women’s 100m World Championship hurdles records in 2022. At that moment, nobody cared about her ethnic background—whether she was Igbo, Hausa, or Yoruba. We all flooded the internet posting, tweeting, and re-tweeting, praising the young athlete for putting Nigeria on the global pedestal.
This is what a peaceful world looks like to me. A world where people of diverse ethnicities, religions, races, and socio-economic backgrounds can co-exist harmoniously. A world where we can live and let live. But how can we (young people) promote this peace globally? What is the antidote to the world’s present chaos?
Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all approach, I believe that young people are a potent antidote to chaos. If Hilda Baci and Tobi Amusan could ignite a peaceful atmosphere in a country like Nigeria—where ethno-religious agitations have led to millions of deaths—simply by utilizing their talents, imagine the type of future we could create if young people work together intentionally to create peace.
The first step towards cultivating a peaceful world is to foster inner peace within ourselves. The Latin legal maxim “Nemo dat quod non habet” alluded that we cannot give what we do not have. Nowhere does this statement ring truer than in the contribution to world peace. For instance, I come from a highly politically marginalized tribe in my country. The consequences of this marginalization took the life of my grandfather and some of my relatives during the civil war of the mid-1900s. Unfortunately, our recently concluded general elections prove that nothing has changed. Despite these ethno-religious crises, I have cultivated friendships with individuals from the Muslim community, engaging in open dialogue, sharing our political views, and even collaborating on long-term projects. Building these relationships was possible because I decided long ago to create inner peace for myself. To not allow the horrors inflicted upon my people to define my interactions with others. Like Martin Luther King Jr. rightly preached, I resolved not to judge people by their ethno-religious affiliations but by the content of their character. To my surprise, most of my Muslim friends are nothing like the stereotypes portrayed. They were marveled by the kindness I extended towards them; their attitude and perception towards my tribe have also changed. Through the ripple effect of creating peace within myself, I was able to extend peace to my Muslim friends, who then carried it forward to others. This exemplifies the transformative power of cultivating inner peace.
Another crucial way young people can promote international peace lies in creatively harnessing our skills and talents. The story of Hilda Baci and Tobi Amusan demonstrates that young people possess an innate ingenuity that can be harnessed to build a peaceful future. In my first year in the university, I took a course on “Peace & Conflict.” This course equipped me with valuable insights that, when combined with my strongest skills—writing and public speaking—have become powerful tools for promoting peace. Leveraging online platforms and opportunities, I actively write and speak on the subject of peacebuilding.
As previously mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building global peace. However, as young people, we can make a difference. By consciously choosing to co-exist peacefully and harmoniously with others, regardless of our differences and diversity, as well as intentionally harnessing our talents to propel peace, we contribute our quota towards a peaceful future.