This year the International Day of Peace, celebrated around the world on September 21, recalls the Declaration of the Right of Peoples to Peace issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984 affirming “the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace” and securing fundamental human rights and material well-being and development requires a “life without war.”
The Global Peace Foundation Kenya joined the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the National Steering Committee (NSC) and the Ministry of Education (Peace Education Programme) hosted a special International Day of Peace commemoration on Friday, September 19. The program made a strong push to engage students early on in peacebuilding activities as individuals and as community members.
Six hundred students from sixty (60) schools in Nairobi County and neighboring counties convened at the Statehouse Girls’ High School for the celebration. Of the sixty schools, forty (40) schools are implementing GPF’s Character and Creativity Initiative. Representatives from the government, UN Agencies, civil societies and educationist also attended.
The celebrations opened with a peace procession from Central Park in the Nairobi Central Business District to the Statehouse Girl’s School led by the Administration Police and the Salvation Army Band. Fliers with peace messages bringing awareness were distributed to raise awareness with the general public of the connection with peaceful coexistence and personal rights and sustainable development.
Guests, teachers, and students planted trees in solidarity with the country and the world at the Statehouse Girls’ School Peace Park.
Mrs. Wanyoike from the NCIC reflected, “Peace starts with me, peace starts with you. Before we urge the government to give us a peaceful nation we should have peace within ourselves.” The NCIC has launched Amani Clubs as a way to promote national cohesion in schools. Amani means peace in Swahili. Through dialogue, service, and leadership training the clubs seek to confront still present ethnic and tribal divisions and fostering understanding and cooperation among the Kenyan people.
Ms. Nancy Mutai, Principal Embakasi Girls’ Secondary School said, “Young people should be in the forefront of peace building processes.” She hailed programs like GPF’s Character and Creativity Initiative and Amani Clubs as ideals ways to “sensitize students on their own fundamental right to peace from a youthful age and how to practice it in future.” Mr. Daniel Juma, the Executive Country Director, Global Peace Foundation Kenya encouraged expansion of best practices like Amani Clubs and CCI to continually invest in national unity and the cultivation of character and creativity of the youth.
Ms. Martha Mathenge from UNDP assured that partnerships with the Kenyan government, the British Council and other development partners will allow concepts such as Amani Clubs to remain sustainable in schools and communities.
The Global Peace Foundation is committed to building continued partnership to generate innovative values-based approached to peace.