Benjamin Ssuuna from Uganda was awarded the Third Prize in 2020 for his essay.
The Seed of the Little Dove
In a peaceful world lived an initially peaceful community of doves which was hit by a catastrophe. Deforestation made the doves lose their habitat. They started fighting against each other over territories and many died. In a small dove family lived a dove in his youth. “My son,” wailed his dying mother, “take this mustard seed and plant it. It will grow into a big tree which will yield seeds. Take them and plant more trees. Soon the remaining generation will have more shelter and fighting will cease.”
Youths are the pillars of peace and tranquillity in the world. Research shows that there are over one billion youths in areas where conflict and violence have been prevalent. Over the past decade, the young have been painted as a threat to global security and stability. This has been due to the involvement of some young people in violence and extremist groups. However, research reveals that those are the minority. This illustrates the saying that “when a frog defecates in water, it is said that frogs have defecated in water.”
A closer look at the attributes of youths reveals outstanding capabilities which are indispensable in the great cause of peace building. Youths are idealistic, innovative, courageous, more open to change and future oriented.
Many youths around the world are peace champions. These are former combatants and former warriors who pave the way toward peace among their peers by transforming their attitudes through spreading messages of tolerance and being living testimonies of hope in afflicted areas. Young peace builders have a relationship with their societies and extensive knowledge of the local challenges.
In Argentina, Rosario’s Youth Centre organises training seminars on identity and human rights especially dealing with Argentina’s history of dictatorship and violation of human rights. Youth workers facilitate discussions through which young people identify the main problems in their neighbourhood and design peaceful solutions.
Over the past few decades, Northern Uganda has suffered unrest due to rebel activities operating in the region.
With the project “Building peace through young adult peace champions in Uganda,” the Centre for Conflict Resolution addresses root causes of conflicts in Ugandan communities. They give young people skills in peace building while also training them to become entrepreneurs. Many young people in Karamoja, Uganda are abandoning violence and also have means to provide for their families. As youth leaders, they speak out against destructive ways and embrace peace. And with much success: the young peace champions reconcile conflicting parties, support fellow youth and speak out against violence and forced marriage. Another success is the steady decrease in cattle raiding.
As McEnvoy Levy points out “In the longer term, a peace agreement’s endurance depends on whether the next generations accept or reject it, how they are socialised during the peace process and their perceptions of what the peace process has achieved. Child and youth dimensions are central to the structural issues of peace building — such as inequality, poverty and unemployment.”