Local Peace Committee Retreat, Ghana, October 2017
Seeing the Effects of Conflict in Tuobodom, Ghana
Purdue Peace Project Director Stacey Connaughton and Associate Director of Research and Operations Jasmine Linabary recently returned from a trip to Ghana, during which PPP hosted a retreat for its local peace committees in Ghana.
Nearly 40 peacebuilders from throughout Ghana walked the streets in Tuobodom, Ghana, in October 2017. This symbolic act was significant for a community that has previously been known as a site of violence and conflict rather than as a place for peace.
The peacebuilders were in Tuobodom as part of a two-day retreat held by the Purdue Peace Project (PPP) for its four local peace committees in Ghana. The purpose of the retreat, facilitated by the PPP’s Ghana Country Director Yaganoma Baatuolkuu, was to provide an opportunity for these local peacebuilders to share their knowledge and experiences, mentor each other, and network. The retreat included members of the Berekum Peace Committee, Nandom Youth for Peace and Development, Tuobodom Peacemakers Committee, and Lambussie Youth for Peace and Development. It was organized by PPP in collaboration with Concern Youth of Tuobodom (CYT), a self-organized group of youth working for peace in Tuobodom.
As a final activity during the retreat, CYT led the local peace committee members on a walking tour of Tuobodom to see the effects of conflict. Tuobodom has been embroiled in a decades-long chieftaincy dispute that has resulted in violence and a lack of development and divided the town in two. PPP began working in Tuobodom in August 2016, leading to the emergence of the Tuobodom Peacemakers Committee (TPMC). TPMC has worked along with CYT to prevent violence and restore peace in the community.
During the tour, CYT members walked this group of peacebuilders along the road dividing the two sides in the conflict. They stopped at an empty marketplace, which has been abandoned by the market women out of fears for their security. They once had to flee the market when shooting broke out, running for their lives and abandoning their goods and money which were then stolen. Standing in the empty market, local peacebuilders experienced shock that such a well-built marketplace would not be in use. Instead, market women are selling on the side of the road.
Then CYT led this group of peacebuilders to the river, a main water source for the town. Standing on the edge of a roadway over the water, they talked about the ways that the river has been polluted and is presently dying from not being tended to as a result of the conflict.
As they walked, peacebuilders stopped to talk to market women and community members to understand the nature of the conflict and its effects, desiring to find out what would help bring peace to Tuobodom.
Overall, the tour made visible the devastating effects of conflict and the work that still needs to be done. Yet, it also provided hope. The sight of these peacebuilders openly walking the streets of Tuobodom, singing and joking with one another while also talking about strategies for building peace, provides evidence of the possibilities for peace both in and beyond Tuobodom. Afterward, one peacebuilder indicated that the experience was eye-opening and one he will take back to his own community to spread the message of the need for peace.
Learn more about the Purdue Peace Project’s work in Ghana and its impacts by visiting: https://cla.purdue.edu/ppp/projects/ghana.html.
-Author Jasmine R. Linabary is the associate director of research and operations for the PPP.