African artists, youth unite in pledge for peace

A pledge to end all forms of violence and set in motion a grassroots civil society campaign to promote peace was launched today by a coalition of community activists, artists, victims of war, academics, business leaders and African youth.

Emmanuel Jal, a spokesperson for the coalition and a prominent peace campaigner, said: “We are losing the battle to end hostilities. Ours is a call to action. We have come together from different backgrounds and different nations to create a positive, global awakening, responding to the AU’s call for pledges for peace.

“We need every African citizen galvanised to make peace a reality and to rid the continent of war and civil unrest. Peace is you.”

The centerpiece of the coalition’s appeal is a short animation endorsed by the African Union Commission called ‘My Pledge for Peace’, narrated by Nigerian actor Folu Storms, Grammy-nominated singer Niniola, South African musician Zoë Modiga and Emmanuel Jal inviting all Africans to show their commitment to peace with a hand gesture and a pledge (#MyPledgeforPeace).

The launch coincides with the conclusion of the African Union heads of state summit this weekend to review progress towards “Silencing the Guns by 2020: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

African heads of state at the 14th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly on Silencing the Guns unanimously agreed to extend the initiative’s efforts to end hostilities for another ten years. They stressed the importance of involving grassroots organisations and African citizens in tackling the root causes of conflict.

Terrorism, conflict and crisis have proliferated in 2020, despite calls from AU and UN leaders for a global ceasefire. The combined effects have been devastating for the most vulnerable, including refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and migrants, as well as youth, women, children and the elderly.

Folu Storms said “There are many complex and interdependent challenges to achieving peace, but every conflict resolution starts with a conversation. And today we are having that conversation and galvanising citizens to make a commitment to actualising the AU’s vision of a conflict-free continent.”

Zoë Modiga, a celebrated South African musician, said “Many debates around improving the human condition have surged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. We have seen acts of violence across the continent and witnessed the effects of systemic oppression, a global conversation with practical solutions is the highest priority now.”

Niniola, added: “The challenges confronting our continent today require us to work together. While our differences are what make us human, it’s only by working together that we can draw sufficient strength to heal what we have harmed and to mend what we have broken.”

African Union Youth Ambassador for Peace, Karabo Mokgonyana said: “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. It’s time for us to make our voices heard and to make our actions count. It’s time for us all to make a commitment to peace and dialogue, and to silence the guns.”