As CEO of Africare Peace Initative (API), Rachel Nuhu Birma has dedicated her life and career to becoming a peace leader in her local community. Through the process of becoming an IEP Peace Ambassador, Rachel has been able to further augment her impressive skillset with a series of practical tools to devote to her community building efforts.
After completing IEP’s Peace Academy, and actively participating in a series of webinars, Ambassadors are tasked with designing and implementing a peace project. For her project, Rachel set about conducting a one-day peacebuilding workshop in the local community of Rahwol Kanang.
Rahwol Kanang is a small community nestled in the larger Nigerian city of Bukuru. The community led a largely peaceful existence until 2010, when sectarian unrest erupted leaving a lasting legacy of mistrust and instability in the community.
Mobilizing the support of community youth leader Sunny Bot, IEP Ambassador Rachel set about planning a one day peace ‘sensitization’ workshop with young men in the community. It was to introduce the concept of Positive Peace, as well as provide practical tools for conflict resolution and relationship building. With this knowledge, the young men of Rahwol Kanang would be better equipped to break the cycle of mistrust and instability in their community.
Rachel’s project is situated within the IEP’s Positive Peace Framework. This recognizes the importance of the ‘attitudes, structures and institutions’ which work together in a whole of systems approach to create a peaceful society. IEP’s Framework breaks this down further into eight pillars, all of which are interdependent on each other.
In communities like Rahwol Kanang, which have had recent experiences of devastating sectarian violence, the Positive Peace pillar relating to the ‘Acceptance of the Rights of Others’ is particularly important. Reinforcing this pillar means recognising the religious freedom of all citizens, as well as encouraging the development of more positive informal social and cultural norms.
Rachel’s project fit squarely into this strategic vision. By equipping young people with an understanding of the importance of positive peace, Rachel is working to create a more stable and peaceful future.
In order to implement her project, the first step Rachel took was to visit the Traditional Head of the community, Da Gwom Stephen Kanang.
After outlining her intention for the one-day event, she received his approval and blessings. It was here that the planned audience for the workshop was expanded from its initial focus on young men to include young women as well. This was in response to a suggestion from Da Gwom Stephen Kanang that there should be a gender balance in the project.
After this meeting, final preparations were put into place for the event. With her fellow community youth leader, Sunny Bot, Rachel sourced a speaker system and a venue. A list of facilitators were lined up, including Lepan Tyoden and Mr Israel. Topics for the day included a presentation on the need for Positive Peace; a workshop on Self-Awareness; and an exploration of the potential of ICT in peacebuilding.
The Peace workshop was a great success. There was a total of 50 attendees, including young men and women from both Muslim and Christian communities.
In her report, Rachel wrote that participants “could not hide their joy of meeting each other in such a gathering for the first time in a very long time”. While many participants expressed their willingness to visit each other’s communities, in a concrete example of how Positive Peace works to spread trust and encourage better social cohesion.
If you are inspired by this story of one of our incredible IEP Peace Ambassadors, expressions of interest for our upcoming April 2022 Peace Ambassador cohort are open now.