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REPORT OF PEACE MEDIA PARLEY 2015

The 2015 peace media parley, organized by the African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives, was held December 18, 2015 at the International Press Centre in Lagos. The theme for this year’s event was “Picture Africa for Peace and Development.”

The media parley was specifically targeted at cartoonists and photojournalists who create drawings, text and pictures used in political commentary, comic strips and animated features. The parley was borne out of the need to encourage cartoonists and photojournalists in using their work to promote peace in society.

Although media houses at times do provide peace training for journalists and photojournalists, cartoonists are usually not offered such training. Yet, their images could be used as tools to promote peace.

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Journalists and other participants pose for a group photograph at the media parley.

The major objectives of the 2015 peace media parley were to:

  • Bring cartoonists in Nigeria to a new level of conversation for peace and development.
  • Train cartoonists and journalists on the practices of peace journalism.
  • Enhance the capacity of cartoonists and journalists for peace and conflict reporting.

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Founding president of African Projects/Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives Rev. Dr. Titus Oyeyemi (left) is seen with Professor Lai Osho, a guest speaker at the event.

Guest speakers who graced the occasion include:

  • Professor Lai Osho, Immediate past dean of Lagos State University School of Communication
  • Oliver Enwonwu, executive director of the Omenka Gallery
  • Dada Dekola, Vanguard Newspapers cartoon editor
  • George Oshodi, a frontline practitioner in photography

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Pictured (from left) are Oliver Enwonwu, Rev. Dr. Titus Oyeyemi, Dada Dekola, and George Oshodi.  

Professor Lai Osho, immediate past dean of Lagos State University School of Communication, was the first speaker who pointed out that cartoonists can be very powerful in furnishing us with knowledge about our society because what they present us with is part of the discourse going on.

Speaking about peace journalism, Osho noted that there are a lot of negative things happening in the nation, but photojournalists should place less emphasis on factors that divide us as a people. He stressed that cartoonists should instead pay more attention to qualities that are common to different areas of the country, stating that priority on conflict-sensitive journalism should be embraced.

“The media has freedom, but they have the responsibility to make the society stable,” Osho said.

With similar views to Osho’s, African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives founding president Rev. Dr. Titus K. Oyeyemi recalled the cartoon magazines (Awo Rerin in Yoruba language) which Osho cited earlier. They were distributed several years ago to school children in the southwestern part of Nigeria. He stated that the cartoons not only were hilarious but also taught good values to children.

Earlier in his keynote address, Oyeyemi opined that having watched Nigerian politics for a long time, he’s noticed that cartoonists and photojournalists have depicted the ways of politics in Nigeria in illustrations, concepts and strategies.

Oyeyemi then stressed that the need to encourage cartoonists and photojournalists to picture Africa for peace and development cannot be over-emphasized. He pointed out the powerful effect cartoons can have by citing the example of the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in a cartoon by a Danish newspaper in 2005 which sparked violent protests.

He therefore concluded that it behoves our cartoonists and photojournalists to take their roles seriously and use their skills to promote peacebuilding and development in Africa and other parts of the world.

Oyeyemi further stated that cartoons can be used to forecast or predict the future. In his words, ‘’Creation belongs to the old generation but innovation belongs to the new generation.” He concluded by saying that young people are sent to school so they can become innovators, and admonished school leavers to be innovators by engaging in research.

In attendance at the parley was Vanguard Newspapers cartoon editor Dada Dekola, who presented slides of his cartoons that cut across politics, the economy, and social issues. The cartoons were appreciated by the audience as they were treated to numerous cartoon images. This illustrates how cartoons can be used to pass powerful messages across to a target audience.

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Vanguard Newspapers cartoon editor Dada Dekola (center) during his presentation for the media parley.

Also in attendance at the peace media parley were renowned professional photographers such as Omenka Gallery executive director Oliver Enwonwu and George Oshodi. Using illustrations in words and samples of photographs, they demonstrated to the audience how happenings in our society can be presented in pictures and how these pictures can be used as tools for awakening society to the necessity of peace and justice, as well as driving peacebuilding activities.

Participants at the parley, mainly journalists, had the opportunity to ask questions of the guest speakers. They pertained to issues discussed at the event.  

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Evelyn Osagie of The Nation Newspaper speaks during an interactive session of the media parley.

During the event, Oyeyemi presented some of his books to the guest speakers. They include: Equipping the New African Peace Builder, and Evaluating Peace Education: A Study of Nigerian Junior Secondary Schools. 

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Oliver Enwonwu (second from right) is presented with books written by founding President Titus Oyeyemi (right).