Regional News of Sunday, 29 May 2016

Source: Ajayi Tobi - GhanaWeb

UN Peace Ambassador, Zanetor, Dumelo launch ‘No Hate Speech Africa Campaign’

L-R: CEO Africa Women Development, Zanetor Rawlings, Kojo Parris, Michael Opeyemi Ige, John Dumelo

In a bid to keep at the front burner a peaceful and united Africa, the Concerned Africans Youth Forum (CAYF), a continental African youth leadership forum for young Africans concerned about the development challenges facing the African continent, on the 28th of March 2016 unveiled its mission focused at making Africa free of hate speech.

The launch which was held at the Accra International Conference Centre – was a side event of the annual Model ECOWAS Summit, a gathering of over 300 young people from all over Africa, in commemoration of the ECOWAS day under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

In his speech, the UN Peace Ambassador and Executive Director of CAYF Michael Opeyemi Ige cited hate speech as a major contributing factor to the state of war torn countries in many African countries. This, he said, has inadvertently earned Africa a seat in the league of under-developed continents in the world.

Ige in a story telling speech took the audience - who are largely youths - through a bit of history of what happened in 1994 Rwanda genocide and the apartheid in South Africa - among other African countries which hate speech had altered their history, divided their tribes, crushed their economy and identity.

This, he said has not stopped “as many African citizens continue to witness and live with a surge of intolerance and hate, growing levels of discrimination, and a rise in ethnic and religious fundamentalism.

One cannot quantify the ripple effect of hate speech and its destructive influence in our national life as a country and the perception it creates for us as a continent, that’s why the best time to launch this initiative is now” he said.

Stressing that the 'No Hate Speech Campaign Africa' will encourage the society to discuss in a more tolerant and open manner, and to learn how to contribute in positive ways to resolving political disputes and conflict.

“Also, the campaign will center on curbing inflammatory rhetoric in Political Campaigns,” Ige concluded.

Adding her voice to the campaign, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Women Development Fund, Ms. Theo Sowa commends the convener of the project for his foresight. She stressed that Africa need to redeem its image through peaceful co-existence; this, she said is a responsibility that starts with every individual through their daily activities and on social media.

She urged the media to be circumspect in their report, even as Ghana elections draw near.

Zanetor Rawlings, aspiring Member for Parliament for Korle Klottey constituency challenged the youth to see themselves as leaders of today. She urged the youth to understand the power of tongue, citing the biblical story of creation “it is important to know that our spoken words can either create peace or chaos, so therefore, let use our words to heal, create peace and influence our world towards the path of nation building, she submitted.

John Dumelo, Ghana Ambassador of Tourism also joined his voice to 'No Hate Speech Campaign Africa.'

Sharing his experience when he made a political statement which seems to pitch his support for President John Mahama of National Democratic Congress, he said: “I was attacked on social media and threatened; my mother was not left out as she called me and narrate how many people insulted her.

“But I decided not to react; rather i allowed my attackers remain frustrated by my silence. I also urged her to have a dead goat syndrome”.

He however urged the audience to consider voting for him when he’s ready to contest as Ghana president.

Also present at the event were Mr. David Samson, Chairman of Model ECOWAS Summit.

About CAYF

CAYF is a Continental African Youth Leadership forum for young Africans concerned about the development challenges facing the African continent.

CAYF was established on 1 October 2008 as an outreach organization and seeks to bring together leading figures from across the continent and beyond, to determine how best to engage Africa's most valuable resource - its Youth.

CAYF has over five thousand members from all over the Sub-regions in Africa who are mainly Youth and has representatives in 47 member states of the African Union.