Category: Peace in West Africa
“Charlie Hebdo in Niger: Between AQIM and Boko Haram” was the title of this year’s official WARA panel at the African Studies Association (ASA) annual meeting in San Diego, California. Panelists examined the various reactions of Nigeriens in the wake of President Mahamadou Issoufou’s expression of solidarity with those speaking out against the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Each explored the complex and changing context from a different disciplinary point of view, contributing to the rich and nuanced presentations.
Panelists included Scott Youngstedt, WARA Immediate past president (Saginaw Valley State University); Barbara Cooper (Rutgers University); Hilary Hungerford (South Dakota State University); Amanda Gilvin (Mount Holyoke College), Yahaya Ibrahim (University of Florida) and Abdoulaye Sounaye Independent scholar) .
We extend our expressions of solidarity and concern to the families of the young students violently taken from the school in Chibok where they were sitting exams. Our hearts are with you and we, like so many around the world, pray for the safe return of these young people. We reach out as well to our many colleagues in colleges and universities across Nigeria, who are confronted with a tragedy on both personal and professional terms. As an organization of researchers and scholars, WARA denounces this growing attack on education. The brutal targeting of students is an all-out assault on youth and on the future.
Children everywhere, girls in particular, are increasingly targets of oppressive violence. It is each of our jobs as adults to see that our children are safe. We must denounce the production and circulation of the arms that make this kind of violence possible. We must hold our communities and governments accountable for enforcing policies that protect our children. Girls and young people everywhere deserve to live in a world free of violence where they can learn and grow and prepare for the future of their communities.
The West African Research Association
Boston & Dakar
On Thursday September 27, 2012 the West African Research Association (WARA) in collaboration with the Cambridge Peace Commission, held a panel discussion on Peace & Conflict Resolution in West Africa at the Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. More than seventy people enjoyed a spread of West African finer foods from Bytes @ University Park MIT, a local West African restaurant owned by Guinean Mr. Amadou Barry. WARA Executive Director, Jennifer Yanco opened the event with information on WARA, its history and mission, and noting that this event was the final event of the West African Peace Initiative, a three-year project that has involved various activities in West Africa. She introduced Mr. Abel Djassi Amado, a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Boston University. Mr. Amado, who has been involved in the project since its inception, provided background on the West African Peace Initiative, a multi-faceted project organized and implemented by WARA/ WARC in the interest of promoting research and dialogue on peace building and conflict resolution in the region. The project, funded through a generous grant from the US Department of State, included three regional conferences (Dakar 2009, Freetown 2010, Praia 2011), an institute for journalists reporting on conflict in the region, a fellowship program, youth conferences, and other activities.
Thursday’s event featured three distinguished panelists: Professor Abu Bakarr Bah, of Northern Illinois University, founder and Editor-in-chief of the African Conflict & Peace-building Review (ACPR), a peer reviewed journal which grew out of the West African Peace Initiative; Professor Wendy Wilson-Fall, Director of Africana Studies at Lafayette College, who serves on the steering committee of the West African Peace Initiative and has written extensively about Africa and the African Diaspora; and Ms. Janet Johnson, who covered the civil war in Liberia and who is featured prominently in the documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which chronicles the key role of women in bringing an end to the civil war in Liberia.Each of the three panelists made a presentation, focusing on his or her area of expertise. Given the diversity of their experience and perspective, this made for a very rich set of presentations. This was followed by a roundtable among the panelists, after which the discussion was opened up to the audience. There were more than 20 questions posed by audience members, all of which the panelists were able to address. These questions covered a wide range of concerns, including the role of poverty in driving conflict; the ways in which religion and ethnicity are used to fuel conflict; the effectiveness of local peacebuilding practices; the role of the international community; and specific questions about the Liberian civil war and the current situation in Northern Mali.
All who were in attendance, including the President of Africans in Boston Mr. Voury Ignegongba, expressed gratitude to WARA for hosting this event and was extremely pleased
with the nature of the conversation. The event has been filmed and excerpts will soon be available for viewing on the website of the West African Peace Initiative www.westafricapeace.org