Shun hate speech, media advised

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[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] The media and journalists have been called upon to shun hate speech and to promote ethical and moral journalism. This was said during a meeting of faith-based organisations from different parts of Africa, held in Nairobi Kenya.

In a communique released at the end of the meeting that was called to consult on the Promotion of a Peaceful Africa (Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want), the meeting urged journalists to place more emphasis on reporting on matters within the continent. The meeting was jointly organised by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), in partnership with the African Union (AU).

This advice is coming at a time in South Sudan when incidents of hate speech on social media have increased, with many people warning that this could end up causing violence and even genocide in the country.

Agenda 2063 is a global strategy to optimize use of Africa's resources for the benefits of its people. The strategy was developed by the AU in 2013 to find ways of how the continent can strategically exploit all available opportunities so as to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years.

The participants asked African governments to introduce peace, ethical and moral values and good governance education in schools curricula, and called for strengthening of peace education programmes by all religious faith traditions.

The meeting that brought African faith-based organizations (FBOs)and different council of churches to deliberate on Agenda 2063 was organized by AU Commission and AACC in Nairobi late last month. It called on African governments, regional economic blocs, civil society, the Church, FBOs, the AU and UN agencies to ensure that the benefits of economic growth in Africa are shared more equitably, to help give the youth of Africa self-esteem, hope, and the opportunity of a better future.

“All the people of religious faith to work towards inclusivity in the political, economic and spiritual well-being of the society, nation and Africa as a whole,” said the statement.

Join efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS

The meeting also called on the Church and governments to strengthen efforts to achieve the goal of preventing HIV and ending AIDS as a public threat in Africa.

In Africa, AIDS is one of the top causes of death. While only comprising slightly under 15% of the total population of the world, Africans account for nearly 70% of those who live with HIV and are dying of AIDS. The participants called for stepping up efforts to intensify value-based family life and health education.

Currently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is promoting Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), which many religious organisations have been opposed to, because it takes the responsibility of teaching sexuality from parents to other third parties.

“We hereby call African governments to introduce peace, ethical and moral values and good governance education in school curricula, and peace education programmes to be strengthened by all religious faith traditions,” they said.

Silencing guns by 2020

The religious organisations committed themselves to work towards a holistic and just society, free of corruption, conflict and disease, and to support the effort of the AU in silencing guns by 2020.

Currently,  in South Sudan, there are thousands of weapons in the hands of groups and individuals that are used to cause violence and death. A report by Iguacu says that at independence in 2011, it is believed that 3.2 million weapons were circulating in South Sudan, two-thirds of which were thought to be in the hands of civilians. The widespread availability of weapons among the civilian population largely explains the general insecurity across South Sudan.

The report adds that the speed and magnitude of the violence following the outbreak of the 2013 civil war between the government and the rebels is also partly owed to the fact that the country has practically become a weapon dump for the international arms trade and illicit transfers.

The meeting participants committed themselves to work in partnership with Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) in creating awareness on the impact of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) for peace and security.

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