Zanzibar Declared a ‘Peace Hub’ for East Africa at Global Peace Leadership Conference

Eric Olsen
July 23, 2015

Former President of Zanzibar Amani Abeid Karume told an assembly of East African government, business and faith leaders on July 22, 2015 that Zanzibar offers a “real example of trust in bringing peace” in the East African region. He said that increasing hostilities in the East Africa and the broader region have led to “absolute poverty and despair.”

Former African heads of state gathered in Zanzibar to discuss peacebuilding approaches for the region. Photo Credit: Raila Odinga

The former president addressed participants at the Zanzibar Beach Resort during a ground-breaking three-day Global Peace Leadership Conference in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

The conference, “Promoting Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in East Africa: A Call to Moral and Innovative Leadership,” was organised by the Global Peace Foundation, the East Africa Community, the Government of Zanzibar, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The son of the Zanzibar’s first president and co-chairman of the African Leadership Mission, His Excellency Karume said that growing instability in countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Congo not only impact the victims directly, but also threaten other countries who must accommodate refugees, while also causing psychological trauma for generations.

“The agenda of this conference envisions a society where all members are the shareholders,” the former president said, adding, “I have total trust and respect for each other as human beings in front of God.

In a statement, Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohamed Shein said the African continent can benefit from the leadership and partnerships generated in this important journey for peace.

“We are a tolerant people who resonate with the Global Peace Foundation message that all humankind are indeed One Family under God,” President Shein said.

From left: Former Zambian President, Rupiah Banda; Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga; and Former President of Zanzibar Abeid Karume; Photo Credit: Raila Odinga

The opening session of the conference included participants of a concurrently running Global Peace Youth Summit. Addressing the Opening Plenary of the conference, Former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga said he was proud to see so many young people participating.

“I shall join everyone in broadcasting what we shall agree on here,” he said, but warned that the people of East Africa have to resist the temptation to resort to measures like extra judicial killings targeting specific segments of society.

“Glaring disparities in economic wellbeing among ethnic or regional groups and the consequent marginalisation of certain regions and communities are among the root causes of insecurity and conflict,” Mr. Odinga observed.

The former Prime Minister said the people of East Africa must confront incidents of insecurity and conflict associated with regional grievances for there to be peace and stability.

“As statesmen in the region, as leaders from all segments, we have the moral responsibility of addressing these conflicts through moral and innovative leadership, influencing policy and encouraging volunteerism.

“As leaders, we should encourage ethical societies anchored upon shared values. When leaders model behaviours that encourage the opposite, it yields divisions in society,” the former Prime Minister added.

Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania Chirau Ali Mwakwere with conference youth participant.

Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania Chirau Ali Mwakwere told the diverse participants that Kenya fully supported the conference agenda because of the need for a peaceful East Africa “where young people are fulfilling their dreams,” a region “that can become an example to the world.”

The Kenyan ambassador told the participating youths that they have a heavy challenge in the present. He advised them that they should not destroy their future by impetuous acts, and they should respect, report to, and also advise the elders.

Global Peace Foundation International President James P. Flynn also addressed the conference and said that Africa can make dramatic advances and meet the serious challenges it now faces.

“You have tremendous spiritual and moral resources already at hand,” Flynn declared. “The traditional culture of East Africa remains strong, and the emphasis on the extended family and community helps to nurture the values of cooperation and mutual respect. Spirituality is deeply rooted here and is a natural part of daily life.

Global Peace Foundation International President James P. Flynn speak at the Opening Plenary for the Global Peace Leadership Conference in East Africa.

“Such spiritual resources are key to forging a shared identity that transcends tribal, ethnic, and religious differences,” Flynn added. “The shared values contained within them are the foundation for substantiating the motto of the East African Community – One People, One Destiny.  And the commitment to make that vision a living reality – One People, One Destiny (Tafsiri ukurasa huu) – provides purpose and motivation of the highest order.”

More than 500 people, including government representatives, faith leaders, business people, non-profit groups, and youth leaders from across East Africa, other parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia attended the conference.

The conference addressed the threat of religious radicalism from Al-Shabaab and similar groups in the region and beyond, as well as the role of faith leaders and the business community in fostering peace and sustainable development.

The Global Peace Leadership Conference concluded on July 24, 2015.

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