The Presidents of Burundi and South Africa have joined prominent civil society voices including Dr Graca Machel and African Union Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping, to congratulate Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma for receiving the 2010 ACCORD African Peace award.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Durban, South Africa, the leaders praised the ‘will and resolve’ of the people of Sierra Leone with President Ernest Bai Koroma responding by saying ‘the worst is over’ and dedicating the award to his Sierra Leonean amputee compatriots he described as a ‘constant reminder of our inglorious past.’
African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping used the occasion to praise the Sierra Leone people: “Your experience shall remain as an inspiration to all Africans that, no matter what our challenges are, peace is achievable. We will continue to work with you as you focus on the reconstruction and development of your country, which is already beginning to show positive signs of growth.
“The people of Sierra Leone are beginning to reap the dividends of peace including among others, human security, which is a prerequisite for development. We look forward to working with all of you in order to jointly Make Peace Happen.”
Graca Machel, Chairperson of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) called Sierra Leone ‘a good example of how peace can be achieved’ and commended the African Union’s initiative to make 2010 the Year of Peace and Security in Africa. She committed ACCORD to supporting the African Union’s efforts to mobilize citizens at every level of society to play a part in making peace happen; saying ‘peace will come to rest and stay in Africa.’
The 2010 Year of Peace and Security in Africa campaign will culminate in a single day, the International Day of Peace on 21 September (Peace Day).
Established by a UN resolution in 1982, Peace Day provides a unified rallying point for Africa to show that peace is possible.
The AU is working towards a day when all Africans can experience peace simultaneously; the cessation of hostilities in conflict zones will allow for humanitarian relief, such as vital food, water, mosquito nets and other emergency supplies, to be provided to people living in those areas.
However, the Year of Peace and Security in Africa is not just about one day. It is about mobilising all stakeholders to commit to action that makes peace possible on at least one day.
After Peace Day a programme of education and awareness-raising and empowerment will continue beyond 2010 to enable Africans to continue to Make Peace Happen in all their communities and nations.