Member of the Berekum Peace Committee
Alhaji Osman is a founding member of the Berekum Peace Committee (BPC) in Ghana. Formed in 2012, the BPC emerged from the Purdue Peace Project’s first initiative in Ghana and has spearheaded peacebuilding efforts in response to a longstanding chieftaincy dispute in Berekum, among other conflicts.
Prior to the formation of the BPC, Alhaji had already been actively involved in peacebuilding work within the community. He is a respected member of the community and has played an active role in bringing multiple stakeholders, including local Muslim groups and political entities, together toward engaging in peaceful dialogue. To him, peace is an essential component of community life: “Without peace, how can you live?”
According to Alhaji, a lot of the BPC’s work involves engaging various groups, such as chiefs, students, religious groups, local businesses, and everyday citizens in the marketplace, to gain their input on the most effective ways to achieve sustainable peace in Berekum, as well as to spread the message of the importance of peace and harmony.
Personally, Alhaji feels that sustained peace will be attainable if leaders are able to cast aside their differences and focus on bringing development and stability to all citizens of Berekum. In explaining what must be done to ensure peace in Berekum, he says: “The Nananom (chiefs) must become one and work hard to bring development.”
A local businessman involved in the hardware business, Alhaji is also a regular talk show guest on the local radio station Akomapa FM. The radio talk show airs weekly or biweekly and discusses local culture and issues of heritage, as well as the importance of creating and maintaining peace within the community. According to him, local radio stations are an important means of communicating with the larger population and are often used by the BPC.
Having been born and raised in Berekum all his life, Alhaji noted that the BPC has made significant strides in creating and maintaining peace within the community. He says: “One of the main changes BPC has brought is that citizens now understand the importance of peace.”
Alhaji said it gives him a sense of achievement when community members recognize the BPC and when they approach BPC members about community matters when they are out in public. He noted: “It is important that people respect us. If they do not respect us, they will not listen to our advice.”
Like others in the BPC, Alhaji is passionate and committed to sustainable peace in Berekum. He hopes to use his peacebuilding experience to not only continue working for the people of Berekum, but also to assist in peacebuilding efforts in neighboring areas.