The international decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for children of the world was celebrated for ten years and unfolded the International Day of Living Together in Peace in December 2017. Subsequently, the latter was adopted by the UN General Assembly under resolution 72/130.
The world exudes complex, multiple cultures and traditions from all spheres, and the continent of Africa is no exception. Unfortunately, different parts of the world continue to witness inter-communal tensions, territorial restrains, and ethnic conflicts despite several international mechanisms being enacted for mitigation and resolution purposes. How can we address conflicts and promote peace cultures in more realistic ways? Perhaps it is time the international community learns from the Tanzanian model of living together in peace.
Tribal diversity in Tanzania is conspicuously embraced, celebrated, and inter-weaved in both modern and rural lifestyles. The sense of cohesion and nationalism exercised for decades by its leadership has propelled the country to be admired regionally as a peace haven despite being surrounded by neighbors drowned in civil discordance. The 1964 unification of two States – Tanganyika and Zanzibar – into a sovereign United Republic of Tanzania, influenced by the sense of national identity, was instilled through the socialist ideals of its visionary leader, Julius Kambarage Nyerere. The ideals being further emphasized in the Arusha Declaration of 1967 and expressed through the principle of ujamaa (familyhood).
With an estimated population of 59 million as of 2021, political stability and peace, the United Republic of Tanzania is a force to reckon with. Since 1961 – sixty years post-independence – with an approximated 121 ethnicities and no civil war, Tanzanians have embraced a common national identity and have coexisted harmoniously for decades. The right to equality enshrined in the constitution has equally enforced this by emphasizing that citizens are “born free, equal and entitled to recognition and respect to their dignity”.
The United Republic of Tanzania has promoted dialogue and played major mediation roles in resolving conflicts in Burundi between 1999 and 2005, post-election violence in 2008 and 2013 witnessed in Kenya, while contributing to multiple peace keeping missions in Africa and the world at large.
Challenges straddling the road to Living Together in Peace are based on the realization that the world is unequal in different aspects despite humanity being one. It is imperative that a conducive atmosphere must be availed in governance and within existing leadership structures for people to coexist harmoniously and peacefully as a unit.
May 16 is a day for introspection by all stakeholders advocating for global peace, a day for inter-territorial dialogue and reconciliation amongst individuals, institutions, against discriminative policies and unjust practices in society. Through equity and diversity, the International Peace Research Association recognizes this day by emphasizing that peace is not merely an ‘absence of conflict’ but an all-inclusive process of finding lasting solutions to war and indifferences. It is an inevitable task to educate the masses and perpetually sensitize humankind to embrace virtues of love, compassion and unity when administering and advocating for international peace and security.
The International Day of Living Together in Peace is a call to exercise the fundamental virtue of RESPECT through listening, appreciating one another, promoting cohesion amongst communities and nations. Humanity is reminded that unity in diversity is feasible. All are urged to practice tolerance, understanding and working in solidarity for a better world.
Christine Atieno is the Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) and the Africa Regional Focal Point and Chairperson for the South-South Network SSN, Africa. Christine is also the co-editor of Post-conflict Security, Peace and Development; Perspectives from Africa, Latin America, Europe and New Zealand (Springer 2019, Atieno and Robinson (Eds.) Vol. 13 on Environment, Security, Development and Peace-ESDP), and has been a guest speaker in many conferences and events over the past few years such as at the Fourth International Conference of Bengal Institute of Political Studies (BIPS), the International Webinar on ‘New Emerging Trends in Peace Studies, the 11th Biennial Conference on ‘Peace in Difficult Times: Challenges Europe and the World Face’, and the 6th International Sports and Peace Conference.