By Tamami Jeon
"If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together."
Through the hard-won lessons of a post-conflict Southern Kaduna, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria has been working to look past conflict to imagine: what’s next? Because the premise for the One Family Under God Campaign had always been about a shared future, this development is a natural one as well as a welcome one.
Just as recently as early 2017, lives were shattered, crops were lost and children were unable to attend school in Kaninkon. Yet today, this same community is beginning to plan community programs and activities between those who once were in fierce and bitter conflict with one another. This, we see, is only possible when both parties were able to see for themselves the reality that they are part of One Family Under God.
Country Director, John Oko observed that “at the time of conflict, we are like firefighters; we’re looking to put out the fire and so we take water from whatever buckets we can find. We aren’t looking to ask questions as to what the water was being kept for; it is an emergency.” Yet, following the cessation of violent conflict, a ceasefire has taken hold and we can see that it is not enough to put out the fires. We need to think through what structures and practices are necessary to prevent future fires.
To this end, how can we transform the people, the culture, practices and education of society on a mass scale? It is this question that has led GPF and local stakeholders across Kaduna state to begin to imagine the process of social transformation.
It starts with the clarity of a shared vision – the vision of One Family Under God. This simple vision calls on all of us to reach far beyond a society without violent conflict. It asks us to imagine, with our hearts full, of a world that that brings with it human flourishing, sustainable, creative development and breathtaking, even civilizational advances.
We are dreamers. But this vision is wrought out of the ashes of lost dreams, lost lives, and from the hopes to never have to have anyone else ever have to experience the same. Those who have experienced the horrors and effects of conflict are the ones who best understand the need for peace. The situation may still be considered a fragile peace, but GPF and local partners have displayed strong commitment to unraveling the messy knots of conflict, working to build a shared future, together.
Peacebuilders like those in Nigeria must be mindful of the fact that the travails, lessons, and mistakes made along the way can also be made into contributions to our entire, global family. GPF is constantly sharing with and learning from partners and chapters around the world. It has taken time to get the necessary traction in all of these efforts, slowly culling from these important lessons and seeing new promise and possibilities. Most notably, these have all arisen out of relationships and partnerships that were once unthinkable!
And now, begins the hard, but joyful, part – the planting of the seeds of peace and the seeds of a shared community. We invite all of you to be a part of building and growing this – a world of One Family Under God, one community at a time.