At least 30 youths in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, have been trained on how to use animated pictures and illustrations to promote “alternative narratives” for peacebuilding, following the 12-year insurgency in the region.
HumAngle learnt that the young persons were drilled in a week-long training on how to advance the peacebuilding process by dishing out alternative narratives using their computers and mobile devices.
This is coming at a time Nigeria is searching for solutions to its worsening state of insecurity that affects all parts of the country.
The training was provided by Co-Development Hub, a Maiduguri based ‘creative social enterprise’, which also shares the view that a multilateral approach is needed to provide lasting solutions to the challenges of insecurity in Borno state and Northeast in general.
The organisation said rather than fixating on ‘counter-narratives,’ a concept that seemed to have exhausted its efficacy, they are now exploring ‘alternative narratives’ to the problems of insecurity and peacebuilding.
“We are focusing on using arts that depict the positive things we could do as individuals to change the narratives,” said Musa Gwary, the project manager, ‘Animation for Peace’, at Co-Development Hub.
“We believe that through cartoon designs we can build peace and change the narratives in the northeast.”
Muhammad Umara, the Executive Director of Co-Dev Hub, said his organisation has, over the years “mobilised many young people in the northeast, exposing them to creative and innovative skills while championing social advocacy using their talents and creativity.”
“That is why for this project titled Animation4Peace,” we have selected a group of 30 young men and women through a call for application, trained them in both the technical animation design and Peacebuilding social skills while exposing them to skills for effective communication of positive narrative messages using their skills.”
Some of the participants at the training informed HumAngle that the training has empowered them with special skills on how to communicate positive peace messages.
Halima Abubakar, 22, said: “I have not only improved my knowledge on peacebuilding but I have also been empowered with a skill in creative animation which I believe would help me in fighting against violence especially against women and girls, which I am passionate about.”
“Now I can draw and illustrate captivating peace messages without necessarily writing them in words,” she said.
Elizabeth Kwajafa, a 20-year-old 300-level student of agricultural science at the University of Maiduguri said “I have learnt how to communicate peace without using words but pictures and cartoons.”
Kwajafa said although she applied for the training because she is a ‘born artist’, the skills she was exposed to has further deepened her love for arts as a means of communication.
“I have always had a passion for drawing, but I have never considered drawing as means I can communicate peace. Yes, I have seen how religious extremism has divided our society and with what I have learnt here I think as youth we have a lot to offer in the peacebuilding process.”
Muhammad Aliyu, 18, said; “in the past five days, we have learnt about how we can provide positive and alternative narratives to communicate against violent extremism in our society.”
The teenage student of the University of Maiduguri, said the training has exposed him to newer approaches to communicating positively for the betterment of the youth in the northeast.
In just five days, the participants were able to display some of the sample peace messages they had captured in drawings.
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