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Winnend essay conferentie Celebrating Diversity for Peace

PEACE AND DIVERSITY: THE NIGERIA EXAMPLE

Nigeria is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse African country with an estimated population of over 170 million consisting of more than 250 ethnic groups and 500 languages and split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians. There are many factors that usually lead to conflicts in Nigeria but Religion remains on top of the list.

Nigeria is not alien to violent and devastating conflict linked with Islamic fundamentalism; the most recent is the Boko-Haram violent crisis. Empirically, the main menace to national security in Nigeria since the transition from military to civil rule in 1999 has been Religious violent behavior, championed by some Islamic sects in the northern Nigeria – in particular  Borno, Kano and Bauchi States. These reasons for the Islamists in engaging in extreme violence include the opposition of Christians to sharia legal system 1999 and 2000, US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the publishing of cartoons on Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. It is worthy to note that before the transition from military to civilian in 1999, the country has been plague with conflicts that were orchestrated by Islamic fundamentalism. These include the Kano city riot 1982 &1991, nationwide crisis over Nigeria’s membership in the Organization of Islamic Country all in 1986, /Kaduna/Zaria/ Funtua religious riots 1987, Kaduna Polytechnic riot 1988, Bauchi/Katsina riots1991 just to mention a few. All this conflict and many others have led death of hundreds of thousands Nigerians with billions of dollars worth of properties loss.

The real issue is not North or South, Christians or Muslims, Ijaw or Fulani. In Nigeria we are naturally distinguished and united by differences and similarities, according to gender, age, language, culture, tribe, religion, geography, and even income level. Such diversity must be seen as positives that challenge our intellect and emotions as we learn to work and live together in peace and unity. I chose to define diversity based on my perceived idea of culture and not necessarily the traditional culture of the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Diversity is the totality of positive socially transmitted behaviour, patterns, beliefs, institutions and other aspects of our humanity, which generates positive thoughts and actions for the benefit of the general good of our community.

In any diverse society such as Nigeria, it is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities. I think, accepting our humanity first and foremost should give policy expression to the reality of our diversity. Policies that are designed for the inclusion and participation of all citizens irrespective of differences can guarantee social cohesion. Such policies when well thought out can check the ill tactics of divide and rule often employed by politicians. In any democratic framework there must be strength in diversity; this is because our communal needs are conducive to cultural exchanges, which adds to the flourishing of creative capacities that should sustain national unity and progress.

However, in order to contribute my quota to the peaceful coexistence of my country using our diversity as the strength, I initiated two projects; the first one is tagged “Youths and Religion tolerance. The project aim is to achieve a peaceful society that is devoid of religion chauvinism because Nigeria is a secular state that allows freedom of religion practice. I achieved this by organizing series of meetings, conferences, publications and often encourage inter-religion visitation at worship place of different religion to worship together so as to establish trust and confidence. Sometimes share scare text from their holy books to understand what each religion preaches about peace. I activated networking relationship with religious leaders, government ministries, NGOs and faith based youth’s organizations..

The second project was tagged Crossing Borders. It is a concept about global citizenship, peace and tolerance to achieve development in the society, to be more aware about the rising issues in international and local development and taking tangible steps to change the world. To be able to understand that race, religion, culture, region, colour, language etc. should not be a barrier to individual freedom, security and development. The project aimed at orientating and enlightening the youths and the masses to understand that every life is important and they must think outside the box. To create awareness among the people that they are responsible to humanity preservation from extinction, make change and take the driven seat for global peace and development. I aimed at motivating people to always approach issues with closed eyes and an open mind because when approaching issues with open mind, the borders to human development will be destroyed and a new dawn will emerge.

Nevertheless, a major problem that relates commonly to the issue of diversity is the search for equity. There is a friction in balancing diversity and equity. Often conflict inevitably occurs. As has been the case since time immemorial, differences in ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, language or political affiliation have all been at the root of conflict. Any form of group identification, ethnic, religious, social and other forms of group identification can trigger violent conflicts especially when mobilized and manipulated to do so. Dialogue of any kind, intercultural, religious, political or social, is a prerequisite for, and a cornerstone of, our unity, peace and progress. We must continuously call for greater dialogue among people with a shared humanity and better understanding of other cultures, in other to ensure a more rapid integration of socioeconomic ties between communities. Dialogue will also help us to focus on who the enemy really is and what they are up to in making us forever poor and powerless.

Aderopo Egbeleke
Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, Netherlands
MA Development studies/ SJP major

 

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Verslag: conferentie ‘Celebrating Diversity for Peace’

Op 16 november organiseerde Platform INS samen met ISC (International Student Chaplaincy) de conferentie ‘Celebrating Diversity for Peace’. Het vieren van diversiteit kwam op deze dag op verschillende manieren tot uiting: met een lezing over het “nieuwe wij'”, het delen van ervaringen met betrekking tot diversiteit tijdens de workshops, maar ook met zang, en een essay- en fotowedstrijd. Lees hier het verslag van de dag.

Al vroeg op de zaterdagmorgen druppelen de deelnemers het gebouw van ISS (Institute for Social Studies) binnen waar de conferentie plaats zou vinden. De gasten worden ontvangen door de muziek van een Jazz ensemble terwijl zij een plekje zoeken in de zaal. Deze vult zich snel met een bont gezelschap, met publiek afkomstig uit Azië, Afrika en Zuid-Amerika. Veelal studenten van het ISS die daar een masteropleiding volgen. Als de zaal met zo’n 100 aanwezigen is gevuld, kan het programma beginnen.

De conferentie wordt geopend met bijdragen van belijders van verschillende religies. Door hen worden teksten over vrede voorgedragen. Vervolgens heet Mohamed Salih, rector van het ISS, iedereen welkom. Hij zegt trots te zijn op het instituut waar studenten dagelijks met elkaar, en daarmee met verschillende culturen en religies, in contact komen. Dergelijke ontmoetingen stimuleren volgens hem het vreedzaam samenleven. Ook de directeur van het Vredespaleis, Steven van Hoogstraten, spreekt een woord van welkom. Het tolereren en respecteren van verschillen is volgens hem de sleutel naar vrede. Volgens keynote spreker Manuela Kalsky voelen velen zich niet meer thuis in Nederland. Door de grote culturele- en religieuze diversiteit die ons land rijk is, ontstaat de angst voor het verlies van de eigen identiteit. Juist dit gevoel van je thuis voelen is een belangrijke voorwaarde voor vrede, stelt Kalsky. Daarom moeten we in Nederland op zoek naar een ‘nieuw wij’ die mensen met elkaar verbindt en onderlinge verschillen vruchtbaar maakt. In het laatste uur voor de lunch nemen vier personen plaats op twee rode banken, een boeddhist, een hindoe, een moslim en een bahá’í. Samen vormen zij de ‘Council of Wise People’. De leden spreken inspirerende woorden over hun geloof, hun leven, hun inspiratiebron en hun visie op hoe, gegeven diversiteit, in  harmonie te leven.

Na de lunch splitsen de aanwezigen zich op in groepen om één van de zes workshops bij te wonen. Tijdens de interactieve groep sessies draait het in de meeste om het delen van ervaringen. Bij een van deze workshop wordt het diversiteitsbeleid in verschillende landen onder de loep genomen. Studenten afkomstig uit Canada, Brazilië, Zuid-Afrika en Indonesië houden ieder een presentatie over het diversiteitsbeleid in hun eigen land. Zo blijkt dat Canada een immigratieland met een zeer tolerant beleid ten opzichte van minderheden is. De term diversiteit heeft echter een andere invulling in Brazilië. Diversiteit in inkomen en sociale klasse speelt een prominente rol in dit land.

Vredesduif

Aan het einde van de dag is het tijd voor de jury om de prijswinnaars van de essay- en foto/artworkwedstrijd bekend te maken. Het winnende essay is hier te vinden. Het winnende artwork zie je hiernaast. De dag wordt afgesloten met een boodschap voor vrede. Na afloop wordt iedereen uitgenodigd nog even na te praten onder het genot van een drankje en zoutjes, terugkijkend op een dag met een gevarieerd programma en een positief geluid.

 

Het winnende artwork, een 2D vredesduif

 

Lees hier het uitgebreide verslag:

Report Interfaith Conference 2013


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Essay- en Fotowedstrijd

Essay  and  Photo/Artwork Contest

You  are warmly invited to make a submission to the Essay  or Photo/Artwork Contest of the Interfaith  Conference 2013 (Sat., Nov. 16, see this page): “Celebrating Diversity  for Peace”

Deadline for submissions:
November 10th (Essay) & November 16th (Photo/Artwork) 2013

Conferentie Celebrating Diversity for Peace

Background:

Due to the ongoing process of globalisation, people all over the world are recognizing that their living environments are becoming more diverse than ever. It is no longer necessary to travel to the other end of the world to meet people from other cultures or religions. You can meet them in your own neighbourhood, at work, over the Internet or simply on the train. In some situation diversity will lead to misunderstanding and conflict. On the other hand, there are countless examples where diversity can lead to enrichment, inspiration and very positive experiences.

Details of the Essay Contest:
The main question of this Essay Contest is:

How can we, by celebrating diversity, achieve sustainable peace?

For further inspiration: Instead of considering diversity as a threat, how  can diversity be a source of strength? In what way can we discover foundations for unity in diversity? What are examples of a peaceful situation achieved through diversity? What are your personal experiences concerning peace through diversity? What are your dreams?

Guidelines:
Number of words: up to 1000 words
Deadline: Sunday, November 10, 2013
Essays can be submitted by e‐mail to: n.vanderveldt@platformins.nl (Nynke van der Veldt)

Details of the Photo/Artwork Contest:
We invite participants to submit a photo/artwork inspired by the main theme of this conference: “celebrating diversity for peace.” Please attach a short written explanation as to why the photo/artwork fits the theme.

Guidelines:
Deadline: 10am, Saturday, November 16, 2013
Photos/Artwork must be brought to the Ins3tute of Social Studies (ISS), Kortenaerkade 12, The Hague to the registra3on desk for the Interfaith Conference

For both contests:
Please include your name, contact details and school/university/institution (as applicable)

Jury: Three eminent professionals from The Hague
The winner will be announced on Nov. 16 at the 2013 Interfaith Conference

 

platformins157International Student Chaplaincy

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Conferentie ‘Celebrating Diversity for Peace’

Conferentie Celebrating Diversity for Peace

Introduction to the theme
A bunch of flowers in many colours looks beautiful, a choir with high and low voices sounds good, an
international study environment is exciting. Life is full of diversity in nature and in our social structures,
starting from our family, to our neighbourhood, our countries, our globe. Diversity makes life
interesting. Yet, diversity is often seen as a source of tensions and conflicts, dividing communities and
creating conflicting identities.

In this Interfaith Conference we will explore diversity in manifold aspects as a source of celebrating
life, as enrichment for our communities, and as a strong instrument to promote local and global peace.
We will not close our eyes to the harsh reality in many parts of the world where people are made to
believe that they are better than the ‘other’, the other religion, the other ethnic group, and therefore
have the right to fight the other. Out of fear and ignorance they perceive diversity as a threat to
their own identity.

100 years ago in 1913 the Peace Palace was established in The Hague to solve international conflicts by
talking together rather than by making war. The Peace Palace continues to remind us of the urgent
need to work for justice and to celebrate peace. Together in all our diversity we can make this planet a
better place to live for all.

The keynote speaker

Keynote speaker conferentie Celebrating diversity for Peace

Manuela Kalsky


Prof. Manuela Kalsky
(*1961 in Germany) will give the keynote speech on Celebrating Diversity for
Peace. She is the director of the Theological Research Center of the Dominicans
DSTS and professor in Theology and Society at the VU University Amsterdam.
She created a multimedia website, looking for a new ‘we’ in the Netherlands:
www.nieuwwij.nl, and just started a new research project on ‘multiple religious
belonging’. Manuela Kalsky is a well known speaker about issues related to
multicultural and multi-religious society.

 

Council of wise people and group session

A panel of representatives of various religious traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Bahá’í) will share
their personal experience with diversity and how their religion looks at diversity.
In the afternoon we offer a variety of group sessions to get deeper into various aspects of our theme
and to allow for more interaction amongst participants.

Celebrating
In between the spoken words you will enjoy music and songs. There is a dance workshop, and we end
the conference by joining all together in a multi-religious singing for peace.

The programme

10:00    Registration, refreshments

10:15    Musical contribution

10:35    Words of inspiration from different religious traditions and a Jewish-Muslim duet

10:55    Welcome message by prof.Mohammed Salih on behalf of the ISS

11:00    Message by Mr. van Hoogstraten, director of the Peace Palace

11:10    Key note speech ‘Celebrating Diversity for Peace’ by prof. Manuela Kalsky, Q & A

12:00    Council of wise people panel (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Bahá’í)

12:40    Participatory session

13:00    Lunch (vegetarian and halal)

14:00    Group sessions

1. Multiple religious belonging (Manuela Kalsky)

2. Towards inter-religious harmony in Kenya (Mariëlle Beusmans)

3. Diversity in marriage – personal stories

4. Dance workshop (Riëtte Beurmanjer)

5. Diversity policy and implementation – the case of Canada, South Africa, Brazil & India

6. Diversity in gender and sexual orientation

15:30    Tea break, photo exhibition

16:00    Musical intermezzo

16:15    Reports from the group sessions

16:30    Winner of the photo and essay contest announced

16:40    Multi-religious singing for peace (Marion Kuiperi)

17:00    Closing followed by drinks and snacks

Practical arrangements
Contribution € 5 including lunch, tea/coffee, for non students € 10, to be paid on arrival
Travel expenses (train second class within the Netherlands) will be refunded.
Location: Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Kortenaerkade 12, The Hague (opposite Hilton Hotel)
Public transport
From Central Station by bus 22 or 24, from Hollands Spoor by tram 1 or 17, stop Mauritskade
Walking distance to ISS from Central Station is approximately 30 minutes.
For cars there is paid parking around the ISS.

 

Essay and Photo/Artwork contest
Show your creativity and participate in an essay and photo/artwork contest (see this page for all the info). The
winners will be announced during the conference. Good luck!

Registration
To sign up, or for further information related to the conference you can send an e-mail to Nynke van der Veldt, N.vanderVeldt@PlatformINS.nl

platformins157International Student Chaplaincy