Source: AllAfrica
Until the afternoon of November 7, 2011, no Liberian had thought that politics would be the basis for the breach of peace and security in postwar Liberia. But, it was.
Instead brooding over the reality, sincere Liberians are moving fast to help forestall more violence, encourage dialogue, restore confidence in the population, heal the wounds, and bridge the divides. One of such group of Liberians is the Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN Africa), which 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ms Leymah Ghowee, heads as executive director. The Analyst, reports.

The Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN Africa) has announced in Monrovia that it has, under auspices of its executive director, who is also the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, planned to host a Peace and Reconciliation Jamboree tomorrow. In a letter to The Analyst management, the group said it is hosting the jamboree under the theme, “1 Liberia” for 12 hours between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. at the Airfield Football Field.

“The Jamboree is expected to bring together Liberians from all works of life including key political, traditional, and religious leaders to celebrate the unity of Liberia,” said communication which Senior Programs Officer Mack Capehart Mulbah and Executive Director Leymah Gbowee signed and approved, in that order. “But why a “Peace and Reconciliation Jamboree” at a time when the nation is beside itself in the wake of CDC’s planned demonstrations, which supposedly indicate that there is no “unity” to celebrate,” is the question many are asking. However, the organizers say there is sacred answer to that question.

Why a peace and reconciliation jamboree

“The goal of the Peace and Reconciliation Jamboree is to create the space for beginning a process of national healing in Liberia following the turbulent electioneering process in the country, which was marred by several events of violence in the past weeks,” said the communication, quoting the group’s “National Peace and Reconciliation Jamboree Concept Note” released last week. The group blamed the current spate of violence on a “high level of intolerance” and noted that that intolerance has further widened the nation’s divide along various lines.

“There is urgent need for the Liberian people to consciously work at bridging the divide and enhance peace and reconciliation,” the communication said and requested mutual sponsorship with the media through the publication of the group’s activities. The group’s “concept note” recounted the positive changes peace has brought to the nation since the 2005 elections and regretted that such giant leap in postwar recovery was now facing threats of reversal. “The recent incidents clearly suggest that much has not been explicitly invested in post-war political and social reconciliation over the years,” the paper said, citing the case of the almost forgotten proposed policy for the implementation of the TRC recommendation, which it said was submitted in 2010.

According to the group’s paper, “no viable alternatives for healing and reconciling Liberia’s deeply fractured society have been put forth”. “The intense political acrimony that characterized the election campaign period and the continued inter-group violence in counties such as Nimba and Lofa corroborate this observation,” it said. It said that was why the jamboree was necessary to coincide with the period after a turbulent election season, when Liberians were looking for opportunities to reach out to former rivals. “It is expedient that a national mechanism to aid this process is put in place. As Liberia stares into a future of promise, the need to lay to rest the ghost of the past and collectively chart a shared future is ever more urgent.

“It is in this context that the Women Peace and Security Network, Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), under the auspices of 2011 Nobel Laureate Madam Leymah K. Gbowee, proposes to host a national reconciliation jamboree to serve as a kickoff to the national initiative for sustainable reconciliation in Liberia,” the group’s note said. The group believes the jamboree will not only provide an opportunity for foes to meet and dialogue, but it will also “seek to promote the unity and uniqueness of Liberians as they emerge from a process of intense political division”.

The international community’s approval of the 2011 presidential and legislative elections notwithstanding, the group said it observed that there remains “complex issues and generalized trauma” from Liberia’s past that continue to impede progress. The group discounted claims by critics that no Liberian, most of all President Sirleaf, deserve a Nobel peace prize and noted that rather, the awarding of the prize to the president and Ms Gbowee presented new opportunities for exploring all avenues for national reconciliation in Liberia. That, added to the recent appointment of Ms Gbowee to head the National Reconciliation Initiative, the group said, galvanized and guaranteed a process of national healing and reconciliation.

“Unless national reconciliation is achieved and the country’s ethnic mosaic create a shared vision and platform for reconciliation and social cohesion it would be difficult to consolidate the peace and thereby pave the way for national development and prosperity,” the group said.

The form of the jamboree

Describing the jamboree as “a platform” and forerunner of the national reconciliation initiative, the group said tomorrow’s jamboree would bring together 25,000 Liberians at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville for an all day reconciliation celebration under the theme, 1 Liberia or “One Liberia”.

“The program component of the jamboree will provide the space for political parties, government, and civil society actors to given their endorsement to the national reconciliation initiative as a means of promoting and cementing sustainable reconciliation in Liberia. Liberia’s two 2011 Nobel Laureates will also give their endorsements to the process during this part of the program,” the group said.
Attending these political activities, which also coincide with the birthday celebration of Liberia’s longest serving president, William V. S. Tubman, organizers say, will be musical and cultural performances on reconciliation by Liberians artists, games, and other activities that promote social cohesion.

At the end of the celebrations and discussions, the group believes participants will achieve “shared understanding of the national bond between all Liberians as well as need and urgency for national reconciliation among all”. The jamboree is also expected, according to organizers, to lead to the development and launch of a national reconciliation agenda; the celebration of the remarkable achievements of all Liberians in securing the peace for the nation; renewal of the commitment of all Liberians to national reconciliation; and national, inter-county, and county specific strategies for promoting sustainable reconciliation. The program, they said, would cost WIPSEN Africa US $100,000 in coordination, logistics, transportation, entertainment, mobilization, and outreach.


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