By Francis Kokutse
Accra, (IANS) In a region plagued with conflict of various kinds, Mahatma Gandhi’s credo of non-violence and the philosophy of black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King should be included in the curriculum of West Africa’s schools to educate children about living in peace and avoiding violence, a top official has said.
“Our political landscape is filled with hate speech, but you cannot confront one evil with another. There may be certain things that may not be relevant today as in the days of Gandhi, but his teachings on non-violence are still valid today as they were before,” Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP),” told IANS in the Ghanaian capital. .
“There are a lot of misleading processes in peace-building in our part of the world, and it is for this reason that attempts at teaching the issue must be sustained,” he added.
The West Africa region is plagued with various forms of conflict — ranging from Boko Haram in parts of Northern Nigeria and a breakaway agitation in the southeast of that country as well as crises of various forms in Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
“It looks like these conflicts are not being properly managed,” Eze said, adding: “Most people believe that there could be peace without confronting the injustices and structural violence that bring about the conflicts.”
Noting that October 2 is celebrated around the world every year as the International Day of Non-Violence, he said, “there is no way one can achieve peace without removing the causes of injustices in society”, a creed central to the teachings of Gandhi and King.
Eze said it was important to understand that in their efforts to preach non-violence, Gandhi and KIng did not just discuss the issues that sparked violence. “They also talked about the strategies that must be adopted against violence.”
He said those who “stand on the fence are equally guilty as those who perpetrate violence” because those who remain silent are only helping to perpetuate a cycle of violence that would continue for a long time.
Eze said the two icons did not keep quiet but talked about what were creating conflicts in their societies. “They did not walk to keep the peace at their time but were looking at the peace of tomorrow,” he added.