Fostering Unity: Liberia's "Media for Peace Summits"
Media Education Team (MET) Liberia and Xchange Perspectives e.V. (XcP) join efforts to address the spectre of election violence in Liberia by organising Media for Peace Summits, offering a platform for dialogue and understanding across diverse communities.
A participant taking notes during the Media for Peace Summit in Buchanan.
Photo: Media Education Team (MET) Liberia
MUNICH – As Liberia experienced an increasing threat of election violence ahead, during and after the Senate elections on 8th December 2020, with half the seats in the Senate up for election, the Media Education Team (MET) Liberia and Xchange Perspectives e.V. (XcP) recognised an urgent need to promote peace and unity in the country.
To address this challenge, they collaborated to conduct Media for Peace Summits in three areas with a history of violence: Lofa, Grand Bassa, and Monrovia.
Guided by the theme "Peace Before Positions", volunteers Leila Bendra and Dominik Lehnert from Xchange Perspectives e.V. supported the planning, implementation, and post-summit activities. The summits gathered representatives from various sectors of Liberian society, including media, religion, politics, civil society, and youth organisations, encouraging participants to explore the Media for Peace framework and develop a shared commitment to its values, particularly during sensitive election periods.
As the backbone of every action by XcP, the Media for Peace framework emphasises five essential values: Unity, Diversity, Transcendence, Empathy, and Commitment. By implementing Media for Peace actions, practitioners ground their work in these values, reflecting on peace, conflict, and violence and examining how these concepts apply to their everyday lives.
The summits prompted participants to analyse their local and global media landscapes and learn how the media can be used for peace throughout different stages of social change. Media for Peace unites these insights, applying them to the project, task, situation, or conflict at hand in cooperation with partners.
Through volunteer efforts alone, MET and XcP successfully held summits in Buchanan (Grand Bassa County), Voinjama (Lofa County), and Monrovia (Montserrado County). Participants expressed the timeliness and necessity of the summits, with some recommending that they be held quarterly to continue fostering peace in Liberia.
With these summits, participants discussed the importance of fostering peace in Liberia. One participant at the Voinjama Media for Peace Summit remarked: "Everyone in Liberia is angry nowadays... This makes this Peace Summit very timely and very necessary". Another participant highlighted the need for regular peace-building initiatives, recommending that the summits be held quarterly.
Directly addressing the fragile state of peace in Liberia, a participant at the Voinjama Peace Summit described the situation as "cow pupu peace" – seemingly stable on the surface but easily disrupted. This metaphor underscores the importance of nurturing lasting peace throughout the country.
As participants left the summits, MET Coordinator and Media for Peace facilitator Luther N. Mafalleh encouraged them to remember the significance of peace during the upcoming elections: "As we go to vote, let us remember that without peace, no senator can enjoy his or her position. Let us live peace, think peace, and act peace. Vote peace."
By providing a platform for dialogue and understanding, the Media for Peace Summits in Liberia played a crucial role in addressing the rising spectre of election violence in 2020. With continued support from Xchange Perspectives and the dedication of local partners, initiatives like Liberia's Media for Peace Summits can contribute to a more peaceful and united future worldwide.