*Yumiko Yokozeki is the Director of UNESCO-IICBA. IICBA is UNESCO’s category I institute with a mandate of working for teacher development in Africa and it was at the commencement of the webinar Zoom project meeting that she gave a welcome speech to participants of “Cartooning to Silence the guns” project in Africa and in conjunction with Cartooning for Peace. Below is her Zoom meeting speech to participants and cartoonists….
It is a great honor and pleasure to welcome our youth participants virtually to this first of two “Cartooning to Silence the Guns” capacity-building webinars. A message to our youth participants: By your presence here, you have accepted the United Nations’ and UNESCO’s call to be peace lovers and peacebuilders in your own homes, schools, and communities, as well as in the wider region.
We begin by asking you to consider this question: How can the arts promote peace, and how can you promote peace through the arts? Indeed, arts and cartoons can play a unique and important role in a healthy, participatory society, community, and education. We believe it is just as important to develop your creativity as it is to develop your critical thinking skills. This Cartooning to Silence the Guns project intends to develop your knowledge, innovation, values, and skills for peace creation and the mediation of anger ad violence.
This is a virtual collaborative and creative space that is centered on youth voices, ideas, concerns, and innovation. Putting youth at the forefront and the center of education strategizing, especially peace education planning, is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do; after all, Africa has the world’s youngest continent in terms of the population’s average age. The youth population is Africa’s richest resource; just think of the ingenuity, fresh perspectives, energy, and hope within this virtual room right now. With your engagement, we can build a more peaceful and prosperous future not “for” you, but with you.
UNESCO IICBA has been supporting peace education for the prevention of violence and violent extremism since 2017, with the support of the government of Japan. Peace is one of the African Union’s top priorities. Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 emphasizes that “a culture of peace and tolerance shall be nurtured in Africa’s children and youth through peace education.” The Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) 2016-2025 calls for peace education and safeguarding education in times of emergencies, and ensuring safe teaching and learning environments. “Silencing the Guns of Africa by the Year 2020” is an important and relevant theme of the African Union, and it has become much more urgent in the health crisis of COVID-19. The pandemic might exacerbate the risk of conflict across many contexts due to its economic, educational, and emotional ramifications.
Violence begins in the human mind, but the Constitution of UNESCO reminds us that peace also does: “Since wars begin in the minds of men [and women], it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed” Therefore, peacebuilding would not be sustainable if the efforts are not mainstreamed in education and nurtured in the minds of young people. The world belongs not to us, but to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and our education systems of today need to emerge from the past and look towards the future and enable youth to live together and face challenges with resilience and peaceful intentions.
To our youth participants, thank you very much in advance for the artwork and the contributions you will make. I hope that the project inspires you to continue striving for creative strategies to address violence and introduce and defend peace.
TAYO Fatunla is an award-winning Nigerian Comic Artist, Editorial Cartoonist, Writer and Illustrator. He is one of the participants of the CARTAN Virtual cartoon exhibition marking 60 years of Nigeria. He is a graduate of the prestigious Kubert School, in New Jersey, US. and recipient of the 2018 ECBACC Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award for his illustrated OUR ROOTS creation and series – Famous people in Black History – He participated in the UNESCO’s Cartooning In Africa forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Cartooning Global Forum in Paris, France and took part in the Afropolitan Comics virtual comics exhibition arranged by the French Institute in South Africa coinciding with its annual National Arts Festival –– email@example.com