A Non-governmental organisation, Women in Alternative Action, WAA Cameroon, on October 22, organised a one-day capacity building workshop with traditional and religious leaders in the Southwest region, to help open an inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
The workshop themed on “Building open spaces for youth participation in peacebuilding processes in Cameroon”, had at its core, a call to the religious and traditional leaders, to get youths involved in decisions and things that concern them. The leaders were called upon to preach and imbibe in their young people, a culture of peace.
According to the organisers of the workshop, they set out to strengthen the capacities of the religious and cultural leaders and queens, so that they can ensure peaceful coexistence of the community members. WAA Cameroon also expressed the wish that after the workshop, the leaders should be able to consider interfaith and intercultural dialogues as pathways to sustainable peace within their communities.
At the workshop, emphasis was placed on the leaders to commit to ensuring youth involvement in the economic, social, and political development plans of their communities.
WAA Cameroon on its choice of participants, religious and traditional rulers and queens, stated that, “Religion and tradition play a vital role in changing mindsets of community members, especially the young people, hence, as custodians of peace the religious and traditional leaders and queens are expected to build a cycle of community peace champions”.
Oben Ntui Obi, and Justine Kwachu Kumche were the main resource persons who drilled the participants on the various peace concepts and initiatives. Action plans were also drawn to implement the peace initiatives and agendas. Memorandums of Understanding were also signed with the leaders, to implement the knowledge dished out at the workshop.
Speaking after the workshop, the Executive Director of WAA Cameroon, Justine Kwachu Kumche stated that their mission is to promote communities of peace. She further stated that WAA Cameroon, and partners, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, GPPAC, and others, thought it wise to engage in interreligious and intercultural dialogues, “meaning that given the context of our country where we have experienced a crisis for over four years now, and looking at the fact that young people are at the centre of the conflict, we thought that it was important to build communities where the young people and the community leaders can come together and chart a way forward in enhancing community peace”. She said, furthering that the programme started with the training of young people.
One of the participants, Sheik Yakoub Wirsiy, stated that the workshop was very enriching, and that he believes it will yield a positive outcome, because the participants selected, are at the centre of the conflict in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon. “I believe that it will go a long way to create an impact on the Anglophone crisis, because the participants are the real people that can touch the grassroots…I am an Imam, and I am already thinking of a sermon to my community concerning peace, based on this training.” He said. Other participants at the workshop also lauded the initiative, saying it will drive peace initiatives in communities where peace has become a scarce community.