International youth day: Youth urged to own peace building process

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Participants follow proceedings at the International youth day celebration yesterday. The youth were urged to own the country's peace building process. / Nadege Imbabazi

Rwanda youths have been called upon to make their country’s peace building process their own.

The call was made during celebrations to mark the International Youth Day in Kigali during a youth dialogue meeting organized by Never Again Rwanda, a local non government organization focused on peace building.

The day is celebrated each year to recognize efforts by the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

This year’s international youth day was dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions in conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.

Addressing the youth, Dr. Joseph Nkurunziza, the founder and CEO of Never Again Rwanda, said that the current number of youth is the highest the world has ever had and it is important to make them a crucial part in peace building.

Giving an example of the role of the youths in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Nkurunziza recognized that the youth should be guided on how to use their power to build peace rather than disturbing it.

“It was mostly the youth that were misguided and made to commit the tragedies, but still, it was the youth who came in to stop the Genocide,” he said.

Here, he urged the youths to have respect for diversity, engage in constructive dialogue, and always be ready to stand up and speak out in case of anything that may threaten peace in the country.

The celebrations also engaged several youthful Rwandan achievers who inspired their fellows on how to contribute to the peace building process.

Dominique Alonga Uwase, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Imagine We Rwanda, a book printing company dedicated to projecting African stories, urged the youth to develop a deeper reading culture as a way of acquiring more knowledge needed in peace building.

“When youths were told to pick up pangas during the Genocide, they just did it without thinking because they did not have knowledge. A person with knowledge would have asked why?” she said.

Derrick Murekezi, founder Critical Thinking for Peace, a Non Government Organisation that promotes peace through creative thinking and sensitization, called upon the youth to have a sense of looking into the future as a way to help to work for the peace of the next generation.

“We should always ask ourselves what we can do to contribute to the peace that our elders fought for so that we can protect it and our children will also inherit a peaceful country,” he said.

Felix Manzi, a former Global Youth Ambassador of the Earth Institute, reminded the young people that the peace building process was not about resources but the zeal for peace.

“The first thing is zeal. You must have a sense of responsibility. Those who stopped the Genocide had far less resources compared to the task that was before them, but they went on and they did it,” he said.

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