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We recently caught up with Estelle Baroung Hughes,  a peace educator and PeaceTalks speaker from 2020.  In additon to her daily work as a Secondary School Principal in Dakar, she is also the engine behind the Peace You Have My Word project.  We are pleased to share more about this important work here:

“The International day for Peace is on September 21st. It is there to remind the world that the most essential condition for continued and fruitful life on Earth is Peace. Following our collaboration with Peace Talks , Africa Learning International  (ALI) started a new project involving young voices across the African continent and beyond.  ‘Peace You Have My Word’ is a writing competition, in its second year of existence. This year, the laureates’ powerful texts focus on the link between Peace, African traditions and Antiracism. Discover young thinkers who challenge reductive narratives on the mother continent and open new avenues for hope, African pride and critical thinking. Congratulations to all the young writers listed below for producing powerful reflective texts on Peace! You can access them with a click!

Schools educate the citizens of today and tomorrow. As educators, It is our responsibility to keep Peace visible, relevant and pedagogical for the youth. I salute the schools who allowed their students to use precious class time to write for ‘Peace You Have My Word’. Some are listed above. I take this opportunity to thank the members of the jury for Peace You have My Word 2023. They were: Sarah Noble (Peace talks Co-Founder), Kam Chohan (ECIS Executive Director), Preeti Rajendran (Founder of Innustame) Mickaelle Haution-Pra (author), Yaya Dama (Founder of talk for Education and teacher), Mark Tetteh and Salome Eyaete (International School of Dakar educators). . Thank you to them and to all the sixty plus students who wrote this year.There is something magical about taking a moment to think about what Peace is, what it feels like and how it impacts the world. Whether or not your text won a prize, you won a vision of Peace by participating in this competition, and that is priceless.”

Estelle Hughes
Secondary Principal at the International School of Dakar
President of Afric learning International

Category My Definition of Peace African Peace-Makers Peace in African Cultures Peace & Anti-Racism
Gold Medal Daryl O.
SOS Hermann Gmeiner (Ghana)
Zaki C.
SOS Hermann Gmeiner (Ghana)
Menès A.
Enko Ouaga
(Burkina Faso)
K.J. Mercy
United World College of Maastricht
(The Netherlands)
Silver Medal Valentine Z
International School of Geneva (Switzerland)
Grade 11, American School of Antananarivo (Madagascar)
Zoe W.
International School of Antananarivo
( Madagascar)
Selorm M.
SOS Hermann Gmeiner (Ghana)
Bronze Medal Kwaku A. K.
SOS Hermann Gmeiner (Ghana)
Kekeli A.
SOS Hermann Gmeiner (Ghana)
(grade 11)SOS Hermann Gmeiner
Grade 12, Banjul American International School (The Gambia)
Special Mentions For Wisdom:
Kiros E.
Tema International School (Ghana)
For Creativity:
Camille Y.
American School of Antananarivo
For Passion:
Sarah Z.
Enko Ouaga
(Burkina Faso)
For advocacy:
Pauline K.
American School of Antananarivo

Daryl Oware is a 18 year old student at SOS Herman Gmeiner in Ghana. He won the competition in the category ‘My Own Definition of Peace’. Celebrating Africa’s contribution to World Peace he says:

In the tapestry of African history, my own definition of peace emerges as a vibrant reflection of Ubuntu, interwoven with Ghanaian heritage and the collective experiences of other African nations. Peace, to me, transcends the mere absence of conflict and reveals itself as a dynamic equilibrium marked by justice, unity, and cultural resilience.

In Ghana, The Ashanti Kingdom exemplifies the power of diplomacy and mediation. Their approach to conflict resolution, based on dialogue and compromise, fostered stability and harmony within the realm. This tradition of peaceful resolution echoes across the continent, resonating with other African nations like Ethiopia and their practice of conflict arbitration.

Peace finds roots in the ideals of Pan-Africanism, from visionaries like Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere. Pan-Africanism unites the continent, transcending national boundaries, and promoting solidarity. This movement emphasized the importance of collective liberation and the recognition that true peace can only be achieved when all Africans are free from oppression, colonization, and injustice.’ 

Zaki Chambas, 17 years old and from the same school as Daryl, is the laureate in the ‘African Peacemakers’ category. Zaki’s text on Peace is beautifully personal:

I am alone in this moment, surrounded by the echoes of the past and the dreams of a future yet to be realized. I share with you the untold tales of African peace-makers, those remarkable individuals who dedicated their lives to crafting a world of harmony and tranquility.

Peace is not a faraway fantasy for us Africans; it is a pounding heartbeat within our spirits, like a symphony that harmonizes the many melodies of our cultures while affirming the worth and dignity of every human. Peace is more than just the absence of strife; it is an acknowledgement of our connectivity, an awareness that we are bonded by our common humanity.

Nelson Mandela, the epitome of resilience, whose unwavering spirit endured years of incarceration, fought tirelessly to dismantle apartheid’s chains and ushered in a new era of equality. Wangari Maathai, the embodiment of environmental stewardship, planted seeds of change that sprouted into a forest of sustainability, empowering women and restoring lands. Desmond Tutu, the beacon of justice, infused the darkness of oppression with the radiance of truth, wielding the weapon of truth to expose the atrocities of apartheid and heal wounds through forgiveness. These African peacemakers, their voices echoing through time, left an indelible mark on the continent, inspiring generations to stand up for justice, embrace harmony, and pave the way to a brighter Africa’

Menes Adisso, 17 year old student at Enko Ouaga in Burkina Faso won the first prize in the category ‘Peace in African traditions’. Menes poetically sums up the importance and ubiquity of Peace in African traditions and cultures:

‘In the diverse tapestry of African cultures, peace is woven into the very fabric of existence. It resonates through the vibrant rhythms of the drum, the harmonious melodies of the mbira, and the graceful movements of the dancers. Peace in African cultures is not merely the absence of conflict, but a profound harmony that embraces communities and fosters unity.

‘From the Maasai tribes of East Africa to the Yoruba people of West Africa, traditional values and customs embody the spirit of peace. Ubuntu, the Southern African philosophy that emphasizes the connection of humanity, teaches us to treat one another with compassion and respect. It reminds us that peace begins within each individual and ripples outward, encompassing families, villages, and nations.

In African cultures, peace is not limited to human interactions, it extends to the natural world. The vast savannahs, majestic mountains, and winding rivers are regarded as sacred spaces, deserving of our reverence and protection. The wisdom of African elders passed down through generations, teaches us to live in harmony with nature and honor the delicate balance of ecosystems.’

Sometimes it is the absence of Peace that triggers the most profound reflections on self and the world. Mercy Kokushibira’s 20 year old student from United World College Maastricht is the laureate in the ‘Peace and Antiracism’ category. Mercy recalls a painful personal experience and harvests it to highlight the importance of inclusion : 

At the age of 19 she had her very first flight all alone to Europe to gain a better education.As she ascended up the stairs, black girl embodied the excitement along with the deep numb pain that came with the thought of leaving her family behind. She took her seat in the middle column and wiped her tears that could not stop rolling the moment she bid her family farewell. She then raised her phone to take one selfie on the plane so as to show her mother that she had boarded the plane safely. It is in that moment that this emotional memory drastically shifted into the first time black girl became conscious of her skin color. “Do not put your hand next to me, you are black” the passenger on her right uttered. It had not dawned on black girl that she was a way much darker shade in comparison to almost three quarters of the people on the plane. The formerly kind looking passenger’s face now rested with disgust because of her skin. In the passenger’s eyes Black girl was not a terrified young nineteen year old flying for the first time. Not a sweet little soul excited to make change in the world, no she was simply a black skinned[…]

The fear of being judged based on how I look as I stroll through the gorgeous streets of Europe remains an underlying fear. As much as I have a lot of friends here as well, the feeling of peace, the feeling of tranquility remains associated with the color black. Black for me is peace and I hope for a time when I will feel loved no matter what the color of my skin is.’

Their schools

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