A Final Project for the YaLa Peace Institute: “What is your vision of the MENA region in the year 2025 (if peace were to be established today) building on what you have learned from the YaLa Peace Institute?”
by Lovelyn Okafor (Nigeria)
The journey was long, but it was worth it. Now we all look back in satisfaction; the campaigns, peace summits and discussions haven’t been without results. Today, everyone around the globe reaps tremendous benefits from these tiny seeds sown 9 years ago which have now bourgeoned into a huge behemoth.
We may not be able to tell all the facts, how this wound came about and how it has festered, but we all see its effects; how they have left everyone trudging behind in circles. Even the economy has been severely impacted. Thankfully the youth, who appeared to be the most hit, eventually became the first converts to stand at the frontline of the reconciliation process to end this polarization and hatred that has lingered for many years.
Early in 2016, angered by the situation they found themselves in, and propelled by the future they hoped for, the Palestinian and Israeli youths came together to form the PALI UNION, campaigning and maximizing every opportunity they found to make their concerns known to the different governments, and demanding that these governments step up to the plate in the negotiation for peace.
This union grew faster and stronger than anyone envisaged – even the governments. And with the help of the media, activists and other organizations, the government had no other option but to heed the demands of the youths for peace. The PALI Union became proof that the use of active nonviolence is indeed essential to demonstrating not only that change can occur without violence, but also that this change can lead the MENA region successfully away from patriarchy.
This moved the Israeli and Palestinian governments to declare their readiness and willingness not only to participate in, but also to move forward in the reconciliation process. This commitment went beyond a mere declaration of peace, and towards a visible change and progressive relationship between the societies.
Together, they began repairing broken bridges and building new ones, this entailed seeking shared values and visions, in order to achieve sustainable growth.
Today, the civil society in the Middle East and North Africa have become role models in this regard, approaching each other with respect and dignity, and assembling for a shared peace vision.
Solidarity became the theme song both between activists and organizations working on defending human rights, as well as between parliamentarians, women in decision-making processes and civil society for effectively advancing gender equality and peaceful conflict resolution.
Indeed, nonviolent actions start with a common voice of a people, finding each other to work together for change. This transformative change in the Middle East and North Africa came from the people themselves.
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