Global Peace Leadership Conference Africa 2024 Convenes in Nairobi

Naomi MacMurdie
July 12, 2024
At the GPLC Africa 2024 conference, a group of people sit in rows. A woman in the foreground smiles while others focus on their devices or engage in conversation. Name badges and lanyards are visible, highlighting the event's community-driven peacebuilding efforts.

Attendees at the Global Peace Leadership Conference Africa 2024.

International Delegation Examines Empowering African Renaissance as a Global Catalyst for Freedom, Peace, and Sustainable Development

An international delegation joined African leaders, educators, and other peacebuilding stakeholders for the Global Peace Leadership Conference Africa 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya, from June 25 to 27.

The peace conference was convened to allow peacebuilding activists a forum to discuss the importance of an African Renaissance. At the same time, protests broke out in Nairobi on June 25 against proposed tax increases just prior to the opening sessions. Kenya’s Parliament was set ablaze and more than 20 people lost their lives in the rioting just blocks from the international gathering.

Kenya’s President William Ruto was scheduled to deliver the conference’s keynote speech but was encouraged by GPLC conveners to address the suffering nation and manage the crisis, leading to program changes amidst a worsening security environment.

Eight individuals stand on stage with a blue podium at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, titled

Representatives of Kenyan youth lead prayers and messages of support during the GPLC prayer vigil.

Organizers exchanged opening ceremonies for a multifaith prayer vigil. GPLC Africa delegates from all faith backgrounds stood in solidarity offering prayers for a hurting country and continent. International president for GPF, Mr. James Flynn, thanked the religious leaders for leading the prayers for the Kenyan people and bringing the convening together under the vision of One Family Under God. “When we see each other and relate to each other as family, then we can solve problems together,” said Mr. Flynn, “We’re praying for the region and the world because we’re all affected when there’s conflict.”

Despite the environment of tension, the conference proceeded with a program to explore innovative methods to promote peace, development, and cooperation across the continent. More than 1,000 people joined in person and online for the conference in Nairobi, which was streamed internationally. 

The GPLC was co-convened by the Global Peace Foundation (GPF), the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, the Chandaria Foundation, and the Kenyan government.

Three men sit on a stage with microphones and converse during the GPLC Africa 2024 Plenary. One wears a clerical robe, and the other two wear suits.

Dr. Manu Chandaria (center) speaking to delegates at the GPLC Africa 2024.

Dr. Manu Chandaria, the recipient of the GPF Legacy of Peace award, applauded the peace advocates at the concluding plenary who continued to participate in the three-day conference following the turmoil saying, “Kenya is a peace-loving country. When we see young people and their thoughts, ideas, interests, and enthusiasm of getting somewhere, that is what Kenya is.”

Like many nations, Kenya has faced challenges throughout its postcolonial history. As Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon, founder and chairman of GPF, stated in his address, the Global Peace Foundation has played a pivotal role in resolving conflict in the nation since his first visit to Kenya in 2008. A nation on edge during the 2008 elections, GPF entered the conversation with a grassroots service project that enlisted volunteers across religious and ethnic divides. GPF launched a cleanup effort for the critically endangered Nairobi River that brought tens of thousands of volunteers to the banks of the river in the largest such environmental mobilization in Kenya’s history.

The Nairobi River Peace Initiative was conceived not only as an environmental project but as part of a comprehensive program that included peace and civic education, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and mentoring.

Since then, GPF has worked in Kenya to promote interfaith dialogue and empower youth to take the lead in mitigating violence when it arises through the message that no matter their personal faith backgrounds, they are all One Family Under God.

A group of people are gathered outdoors, participating in a tree-planting event hosted by GPLC Africa. Some individuals are holding a shovel with soil, while others look on and smile. This initiative is part of the Kenya National Tree Growing campaign for 2024.

Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon and Dr. Junsook Moon (center) plant trees during the GPLC Africa 2024 Kenya National Tree Growing Campaign.

This spirit of service and environmental stewardship is just as relevant today in building peaceful societies. GPLC 2024, accordingly, kicked off on June 25 with a tree planting program in Konza Technopolis, contributing to the National Tree Planting Campaign, which aims to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.

A man in a suit speaks into a microphone while gesturing with his hand at an indoor event, GPLC Africa 2024, with a crowd and large screen in the background during the plenary session.

Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon speaking at the GPLC Africa.

On June 26, 2024, religious leaders at the GPLC 2024 rejected violence and instead challenged all parties to adopt the true spirit of Africa. “You have to be the owner of change,” said Dr. Hyun Jin Moon. He pointed out the strength of the African people in Ubuntu, a uniting principle beyond barriers of religion, politics, and culture. “There must be a spiritual awakening so leaders can lead the African people into the African Renaissance.”

Archbishop John Cardinal Onaiyekan echoed the need for an “African awakening” saying that leadership must reject greed and turn to service based on the spiritual values of the African people. “These [values] need to be rediscovered,” said the archbishop, “And effectively deployed to build the Africa of our dreams.”

“Without love, there can be no peace,” said H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “The only element in human life that makes [peace] possible and sustainable is love… All religions put emphasis on forgiveness. Forgiveness, to me, is an inextricable part of love.”

Over the three days, distinguished speakers joined a continent-wide conversation on endorsing an African Renaissance that draws on Africa’s unique heritage and the strength of its spirituality and traditional values, empowers African leadership, strengthens intracontinental partnerships, and cultivates ethical global citizenship.

Four men sit at a table on a stage during the 2024 Global Peace Foundation event, with banners from Chandaria Foundation, Global Peace Foundation, and Inter-Religious Council of Kenya in the background, highlighting the Ubuntu spirit at GPLC Africa.

Ubuntu track speakers at the GPLC Africa 2024.

Peace advocates addressed six focus areas throughout the GPLC. The Foundational Principles—Ubuntu track examined the significance and practical applications of Ubuntu, a set of closely related African-origin value systems that underscore people’s interconnectedness with each other and the world around them. It highlights profound qualities like compassion and generosity that are encapsulated in Ubuntu, expressed in the simple maxim that “I am because we are.”

A man in a suit is speaking and gesturing with his hands in a group discussion. Two other people are engaged in the conversation, one taking notes, and another listening attentively, as part of the Education Track at GPLC Africa 2024.

A discussion group during the GPLC Transforming Education track.

Another track, Transforming Education as the Catalyst of African Renewal, provided new insights into the meaning of the African Union’s 2024 theme: “Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century.” Speakers expressed the importance of developing skills, digital technologies, and an entrepreneurial mindset leading to job creation, a resilient workforce, and good citizens. The session explored the creation of regional education models, great schools, and moral and innovative leadership competencies.

Building social cohesion within diverse societies based on shared values was discussed in the Community-Driven Peacebuilding track. This track explored how local faith and civil society leaders, as peacebuilders with moral authority, are becoming catalysts of an African Renaissance by working together to build ethical communities and sustainable peace.

A woman in a yellow shirt stands at the microphone, addressing a packed auditorium filled with people seated on blue chairs during the GPLC Africa 2024 event, emphasizing the importance of community-driven peacebuilding.

The audience joins in a Q&A session during the Community-Driven Peacebuilding track.

The Family track bolstered the prominence of healthy families as fundamental building blocks of communities and nations– from the basic nurture, health, and care of every child and individual to the first school of character and virtues that form the foundations of ethical, vibrant societies.

Africa’s youth population, comprising over 60 percent of the continent’s population, presents a reservoir of potential for transformative change. Youth Leadership and Development was a crucial track highlighted at the GPLC 2024, designed to empower young Africans with the mindset, knowledge, and skills necessary to drive Africa’s future development.

A person wearing a bright pink blazer speaks at a podium during the GPLC Africa 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya, taking place from June 25-27.

Dr. Junsook Moon speaks during the Family track convening at the GPLC.

The Environmental track emphasized humanity’s collective responsibility to care for the environment we share. Speakers warned that our failure to care for the environment and our unguarded abuse of it will have enormous political, economic, social, cultural, and religious negative effects.

Environmental threats in various African communities include pollution, climate change, waste, and a throwaway culture, often leading to conflict, health morbidity, and loss of life, especially among the poor. The appreciation of environmental stewardship’s ethical and spiritual roots affirms that authentic human development must be grounded in moral character, respecting the human person as well as the world around us. This individual and collective moral intention leads to an integral ecology that highlights what it means to be human beyond scientific analysis, transactional commerce, and economic gain. This track examined the environmental challenges confronting the continent and showed practical steps to effective environmental stewardship as part of the African Renaissance.

A group of people on stage wearing black clothing and patterned jackets raise their fists in the air in front of a

The Redforth Chorus sings “This is Where Peace Begins” at the GPLC Plenary.

Roundtables delved deeper into paramount topics, including Preventing Violent Extremism, Religious Freedom, and the African Renaissance, which drafted implementing strategies based on successful models around the world.

At the closing plenary on June 27, Abdirahman Ismail, executive director of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, presented a vision statement for an African Renaissance. He declared,

We pledge to address the critical challenges facing Africa today, and to strive together towards a brighter future for all Africans as vital members of the global community. Recognizing that these challenges must be addressed at their root causes, we commit to championing values-based, collaborative initiatives that draw upon the strengths of African spirituality and traditional values. We aim to catalyze collective impact that generates an African Renaissance, sparking a transformation of our continent that will serve as a beacon of hope and progress on the global stage.

Read the full declaration and pledge your support to champion peace.

Global Peace Leadership Conferences are strategic, multi-sector convenings of the Global Peace Foundation and partners. They engage leaders from government, business, academia, the non-profit sector, and faith communities to address pressing regional challenges and work toward collaborative solutions within a framework of moral and innovative leadership.

For more information, visit Global Peace Leadership Conference Africa 2024

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