Photo Source: Akinyemi Oluwayinka John
Though outside the shores of his motherland, Akinyemi’s heart still longs for peace in Nigeria. As part of his duties as a UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador, he represents Nigeria at the annual Youth Peace Ambassador workshop.
In fact, today he travelled for the 2013 International Youth Peace Ambassadors conference in Thailand from Italy where he was having a study trip. I was able to catch up with him before he left and this is what we discussed;
Ebenezar: Hi Yemi, thanks a lot for making out time to have this Stroll with me despite the fact that you're currently in Italy for a study trip. . .Something about you amazes me, you know in Nigeria after the National Youth Service many Youths go 'Job hunting', but apart from being a UNESCO youth peace Ambassador you're actually doing an M.A in Peace and Reconciliation studies at Coventry University. What inspired this??
Akinyemi: Thanks for this question, a lot of things inspired me to further my study at Coventry University, the germane thing is I had been an advocate of peace since my days back in the University in Nigeria, however, I did many projects with the UNESCO then these are part of the many things I said earlier that prompted me to go further into studying MA Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University. Also, I see reason to broad my knowledge and understanding in this field but the paramount of all is to be professional in this field and constructive change maker as to contribute more to my darling nation--Nigeria.
Ebenezar: In 2011, you represented Nigeria in an International Youth Peace Ambassador Conference, and you made a presentation on ''Eliminating the tribal stereotypes students have towards each other in Nigeria'' Are those stereotypes gone? And how far have you gone with that project?
Akinyemi: Whoa!! (exclaims) you are a good researcher, I must compliment. . .back then in 2011 with my perspective to the current issues in Nigeria, I brought it forward to the UNESCO table in finding a lasting solution to a particular issue which is often ignored and many don't even notice, the issue of 'stereotypes' and it’s still in existence, I by myself cannot fight this cause alone. my project is just like a wakeup call to inform both old and young about this issue, we all need to come together and see ourselves as one. As a nation rather being ethnics polaried. To confirm what I mean by ethnics polaried, you can search Youtube to listen to Asari Dokubo express a threat of war with people in Northern Nigeria which I see as unjust and it should not be. This is what I want my project to address rather seeing some people as Yoruba, and others as Hausa or Igbo or Ijaw but to see ourselves as Nigerians. The consequences of violence are always on innocent citizens which we must always protect at all times, despite the challenges we face in Nigeria, if we come together as 'one' of course we can find lasting solutions that will bring about sustainable development.
|Photo Source: Akinyemi Oluwayinka John|
Akinyemi: Currently, I'm doing a research on some parts of Northern Nigeria, to be precise, the northeast states of Nigeria which comprises of: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Bokoharam is not the main focus but Bokoharam is very important in this research work with regards to the role of youth. At this juncture, I will like to emphatically state that the 'Bokoharam issue' is political, diverse and religiously motivated by some barbaric group of people. To find a solution to BH, get youths in all these regions engaged because, those carrying out attacks are youths that have been brainwashed. That is why the role of youths in peace building cannot be overemphasized.
Ebenezar: Many ''Prophets of doom'' have been predicting World War III following the rise in tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, the rise in terrorism, etc. Everything looks gloomy! What is the panacea to this situation the world is in??
Akinyemi: The fact that we are human beings and come from diverse backgrounds, there are tendencies to be violence/war, this is not a bad thought but we must be informed and be prepared to address them as soon as possible before they escalate. Nations and individuals should be active in our listening skills to understand the need of others and accommodate them.
Ebenezar: Do you think the United Nations is doing enough to maintain peace around the world?? Is it just enough to send peacekeepers? Can they do more?
Akinyemi: Of course!!! The UN is doing great to maintain peace around the world, for instance, UN peacekeeping missions are still on-going in Congo, and many other parts of the world. In fact, some even got abducted within the Israel-Syria border. They are all over the world!!! Peace keeping is not an alternative to bringing about lasting solutions. Rather those people in power at the Security Council should come together to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts around the world instead of gambling with the lives of innocent citizens.
Ebenezar: I'm aware that you'd be attending a Youth Peace Ambassador Conference in Thailand this month as part of your duties as UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador. How do you intend to foster peace in Nigeria after your graduation from Coventry University?
Akinyemi: You are well informed, sure I'm going to Thailand for the Youth Peace Ambassadors training workshop, with the as regards your question, Nigeria is my home and no where can be, I'm making an effort to get something done if I will be permitted, however, persistence and commitment have been my compass in my journey through life so far. I’d stay focused on my dream of working with my fellow countrymen to bring lasting peace to Nigeria when I come back. If the government does not give me the space to carry out a couple of my projects, then I believe there are always many ways to contribute my quota to the development of my country Nigeria.
Ebenezar: Thanks a lot for having this Stroll with me... I wish you success in all your endeavours and safe journey to Thailand.
Akinyemi: Thank you so much Ebenezar, You’re doing a great job, All the best.
For more information about Akinyemi, you can add him up on facebook; http://www.facebook.com/akinyemioj
Before I sign out, I want you to understand that peace is not a responsibility of the peace keepers alone, it's also your responsibility. "An eye for an eye will only make the world blind" they say--and you know when two blind men lead themselves, they'd fall into a ditch. Let's save our eyes :) Let's drop the Nuclear bombs and guns. . . Let's give peace a chance.
Till my next Stroll, Jesus Loves You. .
By; Ebenezar Wikina (@poeticjazz)
THE STROLL, MAY 2013