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Multi-Ethnic Group in Elmentaita Kenya

PEACE: The Commitment of Our Time

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Photos above: Multi-Ethnic Group in Elmentaita Kenya meet to highlight Community Peace Pillars and how they facilitate community peace in contested land and indigenous ancestral land heritage where peace has been realized.

Twenty years ago, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) was launched, and who could tell how long the journey would be and the route and places it would take those inaugural personalities? The vision was peace, and MPI continues to strive to strengthen and train peacebuilders, linking and networking them together, keeping friendships and collaboration alive.

Peace has multicultural and cross-cultural dimensions. For me who works in Africa, I encountered and attended the MPI training in 2013. The experience in the community organizations working among the Bangsamoro*, Philippines, opened my mind in new ways. I gained insights that have helped me engage and address peacebuilding better. From my perspective, I recognize the impact of MPI as having created opportunities for peacebuilders from different parts of the world to not only train in a multicultural context but also reflect with cross-cultural content. Peace has multicultural and cross-cultural dimensions.

Given the period during which it has operated and with its outreach, MPI has identified and embraced the use of trainers of peacebuilders from different parts of the world. Many of them have had hands-on peacebuilding experience in the field. Some of the peacebuilding trainers have been from academia, bringing in new insights from research and academic work. Some have been from community-based peace work. This has demonstrated the rich linkage to the real issues facing the world today.

New dimensions that threaten peace have come from the most unexpected places. The increase in tension due to human mobility of refugees and internally displaced persons in localities with conflict is one aspect. The most recent is the dimension of Black Lives Matter, but others as well. The increase of xenophobia, best illustrated in the experience of Africans from other countries in South Africa, is another dimension. The increase of extremist violence in the East and West regions of Africa and its new tactics in disrupting peace has distorted peace gains. The disruption that social media has brought in due to its capacity to mobilize new movements and groups has impacted the peace space as well.

The influx of migrants all over the world, in particular many that originate from Africa fleeing to other parts of the world due to conflict, poverty, or new dreams, has powerful implications for peace. In the last two years, I have had to include human mobility with dignity on the peace docket in my work. This illustrates the innovation and adaptive response that peacebuilders have to learn and work with to remain relevant. MPI has shown such perseverance in its work with different peace situations. It has consistently embraced new programs and new approaches to address new dimensions, new peacebuilding skills, and knowledge needs and respond to disruption as has been the case in 2020.

Community outside building under tree   Kisuke Ndiku giving presentation
Ndiku( right) making a presentation on strategic planning and community inclusion in Johannesburg, South Africa. On the left, field experience on community inclusion as part of the learning experience session.

Peacebuilders can ill afford to be isolated despite the deep engagement they find themselves in. Gains in peace in some contexts and countries have been lost or have degenerated back to conflict, as is the case in South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Burundi. But by networking and collaboration, MPI has through its communication and newsletters inspired peacebuilders to contribute to the strengthening of peace.

The lessons from the training in MPI and the network and collaboration spearheaded by mail exchange and the newsletters and other outreach aspects create enriched synergy. This is desirable and needs to be honed region by region for context.

The training team and leadership at MPI have created an annual rhythm of interventions with the unity of purpose to carry out the mandate and vision of MPI. This has attracted new ventures and new partners. Despite the changing spaces for peace in the Philippines, the USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa, peacebuilders can take courage that together we can make peace happen.

This is the commitment MPI celebrates in its 20 years of training. Congratulations to MPI on its 20th Anniversary!

Kisuke Ndiku is a peacebuilding practitioner and an independent Consultant in Kenya working in the Greater Horn and East Africa Region. He works with PRECISE, a regional agency, with advisory, consulting, coaching, mentoring, training, program design, development, and evaluation services. He has served on boards of organizations and as a Country Representative of donor agencies and has held portfolios as Director and Advisor to agencies.

* Bangsamoro is derived from the Pilipino word "bangsa" ("race" or "nation") and the Spanish word "Moro" which was a collective term for Muslim ethnic groups in the Philippines. More recently, it is the term used for the autonomous region in Mindanao, the full name being the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

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