Ms. Yakubu said she takes inspiration from Martin Luther King’s quotes of peaceful coexistence and social justice “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity.....”
In her acceptance speech, the FOSDA Director recounted her formative years in Northern Ghana where there were incidence of intra and inter-ethnic conflicts which accounted for many lives and also stagnated social and economic development. Ms Afi Yakubu painted a grimmer picture of a helpless situation where she witnessed neighbours suddenly turning around to kill and destroy properties of each other and spouses being forced to divorce because their families belong to different sides of a conflict they have no part in creating. She said such circumstances bolstered her effort of the need to do something no matter how insignificant such intervention might seem.
In presenting the award, the e US Ambassador, His Excellency Gene Cretz paid glowing tribute to Ms Afi Yakubu saying she exemplifies Dr King’s legacy by striving to promote peace and security in Ghana and throughout the region.
The Martin Luther King Junior Award for Peace and Social Justice was initiated in 2007 by Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, then Ambassador of the United States to Ghana to recognise Ghanaian citizens who personify the philosophy and actions of Dr Martin Luther King Junior by helping to build a culture of peace-making, dialogue and conflict resolution. The award honours activists who promote social justice, stability, human rights and peace through non-violent means.
Thousands Turnout for Ballots not Bullets Peace Walk
Large and diverse groups turned out on Saturday November 24 2012 to walk for the Ballots Not Bullets Peace march.
The Ballots not Bullets Peace Walk which took place simultaneously across the principal streets of Bawku in the Upper East Region, Tamale and Wa, Northern Regional capital and Upper West Regional capital respectively, had a turnout of approximately two thousand peace campaigners cheering for a peaceful atmosphere, before, during and after elections for this year.
The groups that took part in the mammoth peace walk included representatives of different political parties, students, faith based organisations, youth groups, staff of FOSDA, individuals and other interests groups committed to peace in Ghana.
BNB Peace Ambassadors Converge on Tamale
A two-day post BNB consultative summit between thirty peace ambassadors and officials of FOSDA has been held in the Northern Regional capital Tamale.
The meeting which was held between 9-10th October,2012 at the Catholic Guest House, Tamale, was meant to examine the effectiveness of the BNB Campaign in the various communities and also afford campaigners to share some success stories in their respective communities.
In her introductory remarks, Executive Director of FOSDA Afi Yakubu reminded the BNB Ambassadors on the basis upon which they were selected across the various communities in the three northern regions saying “you were not selected by mere accidents, you were selected to make the changes we wish to see in our various communities”.
According to Afi Yakubu, this year’s general elections would be crucial saying it is better to forewarn than to forearm and that the relative peace that Ghana is enjoying should not be taken for granted.
BALLOTS NOT BULLETS’ DRAWS YOUNG PEOPLE INTO 2012 ELECTIONS
Perspectives from Gushegu.
Gushegu embraces “Ballots Not Bullets” peace initiative as security personnel engages youth in a healthy discussion on a joint civilian-security services collaboration towards effective peace enforcement for election 2012.
The training brought together two senior police personnel and some youth in the community where participants were taken through topics such as the concept of Citizen Peace-building, Conflict Transformation, the Roles and Responsibilities of Civilians in ensuring peace.
This set the tone for participants to take ownership of the BnB project as a Citizen Peace-building initiative.
One profound observation was the perspectives from both civilians and the security personnel where some of the civilians revealed that was their first time of appreciating some of the challenges security personnel face in their line of duties.
Earlier in the day the participants took a bird-eye view of the district. Looking into the limbo of time and with a clairvoyant vision of the future they cataloged all the conflicts that had occurred in the districts, the prospects of conflicts erupting during and after the general elections. They concluded that the district is indeed very vulnerable to violent conflict and the need for a sustained Peace-building effort.
PEACE TRAIN IN YENDI
“Ballots Not Bullets” Community Peace Campaigners in the Yendi Municipal Assembly of the Northern region of Ghana will embark on creative and cost effective grassroots outreach activities to promote peaceful elections in their communities. The activities will eventually culminate into two major events, an inter-political party football gala and cultural dance show, expected to attract the entire public in the Yendi Municipality.
This is an outcome of the two day training workshop for thirty-five young men and women in the Yendi Municipal Assembly organized by FOSDA in collaboration with its local partner Bangumanga Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS)with support from Ibis and the UNDP.
The participants who are members of two selected community youth groups were trained on both theoretical and practical aspects of conflict management, early warning signs and responses focusing on electoral conflicts and violence. The FOSDA “Ballots not Bullets” training team (The Peace Train) also exposed the youth of Yendi to issues of Small Arms, their impact on society especially during elections and in a democracy as well as laws regulating their use.
At the end of the workshop the two groups planed detailed post-training activities that will contribute to peace before, during and after the December 2012 elections. A football gala and cultural dance show are the major activities in the plan. The two groups will reach out to six more youth groups in the community to assist in organizing the events. High Profile personalities such as the District chief Imam, the District Catholic Bishop and the Municipal Police Commander will be expected to present “Ballots not Bullets” messages and encourage the populace to conduct their campaigns and the elections peacefully.
The Community Peace Ambassadors will also collaborate with the security agencies to respond rapidly to violence early warning signals.
The Peace Train will conduct workshops for selected youth groups in all the seven project target communities including Yendi, Gushegu, Navrongo, Paga, Bawku, Wa and Tamale central. The groups are expected to develop their own post training strategies to ensure peaceful elections in their communities. The Peace train now heads to Gushiegu, also in the Northern region.
The “Ballots-Not-Bullets” peace campaign is one of FOSDA’s peace initiatives to promote peaceful elections to strengthen Ghana’s fledging democracy. This project in Funded by Ibis and the UNDP.
‘BALLOTS NOT BULLETS’ DRAWS YOUNG PEOPLE INTO 2012 ELECTIONS:
Two hundred young men and women are preparing to volunteer as Peace Ambassadors in seven conflict-prone Ghanaian communities, beginning in mid-August, as part of FOSDA’s ‘Ballots not Bullets’ campaign. The project’s goal is to ensure peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections, in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions where campaigning led to violent disruptions during the 2004 elections. FOSDA first developed the ‘Ballots not Bullets’ campaign, enlisting young people, in the 2004 Ghana elections and it has since been used to promote non-violent elections in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Togo.
After three days of intensive training in mid-August, volunteers will return to their communities to train other young people and educate all citizens in understanding that democracy depends on free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. A ‘Ballots not Bullets’ team will visit each of the communities to train volunteers on conflict analysis and building networks to detect and respond to conflict early warning signals. Volunteers will also plan demonstrations, radio programs and other local activities to promote peaceful political debate in times of high competitiveness among candidates and parties. On Election Day, volunteers will become polling place observers.A major strategy of the campaign brings together trained youth peace volunteers with local political parties and security forces to build early warning networks to stop conflicts before they can start. The communities selected for the campaign each has a history or recent political situation that indicates potential for high-tension elections. They are Tamale Central, Gushiegu and Yendi in the Northern Region; Bawku, Navrongo and Paga in the Upper East and Wa in the Upper West.
FOSDA, in collaboration with partners Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Ghana Network for Peacebuilding (GHANEP), and Society for Youth Policy and Poverty Alleviation (SYPPA), is part of a project that will work actively with Ghanaian youth to help support a free, fair and peaceful upcoming 2012 elections in Ghana. This project is approved by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and supported by the Canadian High Commission of Ghana.A significant proportion of Ghana’s population is represented by young people between the age brackets of 15 and 35 years normally termed as Youth.
A significant proportion of Ghana’s population is comprised of young people between the ages of 15 and 35. In any country this is the energetic group that will influence the future of a nation.
But, in Ghana many young people see a future of narrow opportunities for advancement because of limited education and employment. Many do not see a role for themselves in constructive political activities and the causes of better government. To the contrary, during election times, vulnerable, unemployed young people are easy targets for political parties seeking to disrupt the campaign activities of rivals. Unemployed young people can become instruments of various disrupting activities that sometimes end in violence.
As tensions heighten while political parties gear up to campaign for the 2012 elections, civil society organizations are joining to work with young people to expand knowledge of good governance and the essential atmosphere of peace and responsibility that will allow Ghanaian democracy to stand on a firm footing that can provide the young and all citizens more opportunities for advancement and prosperity. In particular , we want them to see that they can contribute peacefully and effectively towards the upcoming elections. FOSDA’s specific role in this project will be to provide, through our website, a space where youth have access to information as well as a platform to establish a peaceful dialogue and share information with each other. Read more about the relaunch of FOSDA's website