Peaceful coexistence being preached in Doninga

The National Peace Council has engaged residents of Doninga, a farming community in the Builsa South District in the Upper East Region as part of efforts to foster peaceful coexistence, strengthen social cohesion and sustainable development.

The engagement was to ensure that the diverse people residing in the communities employed dialogue and other peaceful mechanisms to resolve their differences and prevent conflict.

The two-day training workshop, which brought together Chiefs, Queenmothers, Assembly members, youth and women groups and the Fulbe (Fulani) community, was to empower them with knowledge to prevent chieftaincy and land related conflicts and promote peaceful coexistence between the indigenous people and the Fulbe community.

It was organised with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Australian government, and formed part of the community dialogue to strengthen relations with the Fulbe groups and establish community peace committees in Doninga and Kanjarga in the Builsa South District project.

It aimed to build cohesive and resilient communities and create a platform for effective communication between the communities and the Fulbe groups, to address issues that affect them, to prevent conflict and activities of violent extremists.

Speaking at the training, Mr Ali Anankpieng, the Executive Secretary, Upper East Regional Peace Council, noted that peace and social cohesion were key to building resilience of communities for sustainable development.

The Executive Secretary noted that apart from land and chieftaincy disputes that had over the years retarded development in many parts of the region, herder-farmer conflicts, particularly between communities and the Fulbe groups, were on the rise in the region.

He said destruction of crops by animals belonging to the Fulbe groups was one of the major causes of conflict.

However, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against the Fulbe groups also contribute to conflict between the two groups.

Mr Anankpieng called for effective dialogue to prevent and resolve conflicts and to ensure that social cohesion was strengthened for peaceful coexistence, especially between the communities and the herders.

“Apart from resolving conflict, dialogue can create understanding and help people to device ways of respecting each other’s boundaries, build resilience of communities and the need to stay engaged rather than stay in different corners with eyes of suspicion,” he said.

Mr Azewonbiik Agiriba, Representative of Chief of Doninga, said despite the ethnic and cultural differences, they were all one people and there was the need to engage in activities that would promote peaceful coexistence between them.

He said the training had deepened their understanding and appreciation for diverse people and would contribute to fostering social cohesion, adding “the hard truth is that we are in one family, common humanity despite our tribal and occupational differences.”

On his part, Mr. Ibrahim Mande, the Fulbe Leader in the community, said there had been several accusations levelled against them as people who commit crimes and involve in violent extremism and expressed optimism that the training would help them to live in peace with the communities.

“You know we the Fulani, we don’t like mixing with other people, we come to town only when we want to buy something. And so, we don’t know so many things, but this training has taught us many lessons and I believe our relationship with Doninga people will greatly improve going forward,” he said.