By Alvin Lansana Kargbo
The Building Accountability Systems Through Empowered Communities (BASE) Project, comprising five local organizations in Sierra Leone, has officially inaugurated a National Peace Message Competition. Held at the Sierra Leone Peace Museum on Jomo Kenyatta Road in Freetown, the event marked a significant step toward fostering unity and peace within the nation.
The Consortium, including the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL), 50/50 Group, the Independent Radio Network (IRN) and Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), aims to increase public awareness the vital role of peace in fostering community well-being.
Rev. Diamond-Suma, Chairman of the Consortium, addressed the importance of peace highlighting that the competition’s role is to encourage citizens’ active participation in Local Government and political processes. He underscored the competition’s focus on promoting political stability, good governance and understanding among diverse groups.
He revealed that Sierra Leoneans wanting to take part in the completion are invited to submit peace messages in various formats, including photographs, videos, songs, and written scriptures.
According to him, submissions are open from December 7 to 29, 2023, with judging taking place from January 1 to 14, 2024.He continued that participants may submit up to two entries across different categories, and winners will be announced on January 19, 2024.
First and Second place winners, he further revealed, will receive cash prizes, certificates, and national recognition, with the top ten participants receiving Certificates of Participation adding that winning entries will be showcased during a national exhibition and published in a dedicated anthology.
Dr. Richard Conteh, representing the All People Congress (APC), commended the initiative, emphasizing unity among civil society groups, traditional leaders, and politicians for sustained peace. He highlighted past initiatives, including the Violence Free Election Campaign, and expressed the APC’s commitment to addressing leadership issues through collaboration with the Government.
Moses Margao, representing the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, focused on the competition’s goal of promoting peace and national cohesion beyond tribal, religious, and racial divides. He outlined plans to engage secondary schools in establishing Peace Clubs and underscored the importance of youth involvement in conflict resolution.
He stressed the Commission’s recent dialogues with the Government and APC, laying the groundwork for strengthening national institutions and democratic governance. He encouraged participants to see themselves as ambassadors for peace in Sierra Leone, emphasizing the collective effort needed to guide the nation’s journey toward lasting peace and meaningful governance.