On September 21, the whole world celebrates the international day for Peace. This year the United Nation’s designed theme was “Action for Peace: our ambition for the global goals.” There is something transformative about taking a moment to think about what Peace is, what it feels like, and how it impacts the world. Through “Peace You Have My Word,” a writing competition organized by Africa Learning International (ALI), students from international schools in Africa and Europe have put pen to paper to celebrate Peace, Africa, and Antiracism. Each piece of student work shows evidence that education for Peace is a powerful tool to develop self-awareness, poetic appreciation, and critical thinking. It is inspiring to see African and European students countering afro-pessimism as one. Enjoy the enchanting words and the provocative ideas!
-Estelle Baroung Hughes, Founder of Peace You Have My Word competition
When I think of peace, I think of love, I think of acceptance, I think of the color Black. Contrary to the gothic literature of the west where black is associated with death, evil and fear, my understanding of peace is the color Black. I cannot help but think of the story of a certain “Black girl.” At the age of 19 she had her very first flight all alone to Europe to gain a better education.
As she ascended up the stairs, black girl embodied the excitement along with the deep numb pain that came with the thought of leaving her family behind. She took her seat in the middle column and wiped her tears that could not stop rolling the moment she bid her family farewell. She then raised her phone to take one selfie on the plane so as to show her mother that she had boarded the plane safely. It is in that moment that this emotional memory drastically shifted into the first time black girl became conscious of her skin color. “Do not put your hand next to me, you are black” the passenger on her right uttered. It had not dawned on black girl that she was a way much darker shade in comparison to almost three quarters of the people on the plane.
The formerly kind looking passenger’s face now rested with disgust because of her skin. In the passenger’s eyes Black girl was not a terrified young nineteen year old flying for the first time. Not a sweet little soul excited to make change in the world, no she was simply a black skinned. I am that black girl and because like this memory, many experiences of racism have molded my understanding of peace in relation to color. I have been welcomed, loved and felt at home with people that have similar skin color; my mother, my father, my siblings and even the vendor on the street.
The fear of being judged based on how I look as I stroll through the gorgeous streets of Europe remains an underlying fear. As much as I have a lot of friends here as well, the feeling of peace, the feeling of tranquility remains associated with the color black. Black for me is peace and I hope for a time when I will feel loved no matter what the color of my skin is.
Kokushubira Joanita Mercy is a Year 12 student at the United World College of Maastricht in the Netherlands.