In celebration of International Peace Day 2023, we are excited to feature stories from our members on their perspective on Peace. Atinuke Adeniran shares her experience below:

Peace: a state of freedom and tranquility, where there is no war, or where the war has ended. I like this definition better. 

Peace: the presence of processes and conditions likely to ensure a lasting, just, and positive peace. This is because there may not always be war, and war may not have just ended, but peace may still be absent.

My journey in the field of peacebuilding has been both inspiring and instructive. It began with my active involvement with OneAfricanChild Foundation. Through OAC and subsequent experiences like the UNESCO IICBA Cartooning for Peace workshop and the training workshop on peacebuilding and resilience with Youth Leaders in Lagos, Ibadan, Kwara, and Kenya, I found my profound commitment to fostering peace.

With this commitment, I’ve encountered my fair share of challenges. These challenges, however, have only served to reinforce my determination to create a world where conflict yields to understanding and reconciliation. One of the key challenges I’ve faced is the complexity of peacebuilding. Often, we’ve tried to tackle this complexity using highly advanced technology or as a precondition, requiring literacy or affluence.

One tool that has proved to be most effective in tackling this complexity, however, is storytelling. If there’s one thing that binds every human being, it’s our shared stories. Even newborns have stories carefully woven into the fabric of their personality while in the womb. These stories have the power to break down and to build up. How many times have you been kinder to someone because you understood their story? How many times have you made the decision to release your hard-earned cash just because someone told you their story? That’s how powerful stories are.

Author Francesca Lia once said: “Think about the word destroy. Do you know what it is? De-story. Destroy. Destory. You see. And restore. That’s re-story. Do you know that only two things have been proven to help survivors of the Holocaust? Massage is one. Telling their story is another. Being touched and touching. Telling your story is touching. It sets you free.” That’s the power of a story.

When we facilitated the training workshop on peacebuilding and resilience with Youth Leaders in Ibadan, we focused on getting everybody to share their experiences of violence and what peace meant to them. In that moment, we created a room full of different tribes, varying personalities, and backgrounds, but with the same understanding of peace. This experience was proof that conflicts do not arise from our differences but from our lack of empathy, a gap that can be so powerfully bridged through stories.

As we celebrate the International Day of Peace, let us draw inspiration from leaders all over the world who have used stories to create social change, and may our dedication inspire us all to actively pursue peace in our own lives and communities.

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