Activities commemorating the 77th birthday anniversary of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide kicked off yesterday with a lecture delivered by an eminent historian and diplomat, Emeritus Prof. Michael Omolewa. We commence the serialisation of the lecture; noting that there is no better time than now to talk about peace in the whole world.
The 5th PASTOR E. A. ADEBOYE ANNUAL BIRTHDAY PUBLIC LECTURE was organised by THE TRIUMPHANT ELDERS CONSULTATIVE FORUM OF THE REDEEMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF GOD.
WHAT IS PEACE?: For clarity of purpose, we shall begin our discourse with the provision of the ordinary meaning of peace, and its Dictionary definition. We would then proceed to examine the nature of peace, the categories and variants of peace, the challenge to peace and the advantages of sustainable peace. Let us begin with the ordinary definition of peace as the absence of conflict, shame, confusion. It is a state of complete satisfaction. This state may be applicable to the individual, the community or to the global world.
The Dictionary definition of peace is similar in some respect to that of the ordinary meaning. Peace is defined as calmness and tranquility, a time when there are no wars going on or the state of having no war or conflict. The Dictionary also defines peace as “the harmonious well-being and freedom from hostile aggression.” The definition assumes that peace would be used to describe a situation in which there is an absence of conflict, domestic and external and in which people would live without the fear of violence between individuals or nations. In that way, there would be calmness in the atmosphere within and without with the attendant ingredients of stillness, quiet, serenity, tranquility, in which people live in a pacific, undisturbed, restful, setting. Individuals would have the satisfaction and contentment; they would live a life that is satisfying and purpose-driven. Family members would live in comfort and perfect harmony with one another caring for one another, Communities would live and work together, void of any disturbance, and nations would live a life of sensitivity, consideration respect for diversity and differences and absolute freedom.
Some analysts have described peace as a state of satisfaction: “An example of peace is a feeling you have on a quiet Sunday morning as you sit on a deck in the woods and watch the birds. An example of peace is when a war between two countries end and all are getting along”. Some define peace by its form of the expression of the goodwill conveyed by the greeting, “peace be unto you”. The children of Abraham valued peace so much that it constitutes the national greetings of Salaam for the Arabs, the children of Ishmael, and Shalom for the Jews, the children of Isaac. One of the attributes of Jehovah is Shalom, peace. Even nations outside the two-fold children invite peace to their homes and nations. The Yoruba invite peace to the home that is being visited with the greeting, Alafia fun ile yi. We are reminded that the Romans appreciated the value of peace, which they called pax, from which pax vobiscum or peace be unto you emerged. It is remarkable that the frequently used Aaronic blessing also carries the peace message:
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee; The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee,and give thee peace (1)
The greeting of peace can be very soothing and most refreshing. Such a greeting had brought strength to the feeble and hope to the despondent. The Bible records the experience of Daniel when he received such greeting. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee; be strong, yea be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said; Let my lord speak; for thou has strengthened me(2). At the announcement of the birth of the LORD Jesus by the angel to the shepherds in Bethlehem, a multitude of the heavenly host had praised the Lord with the greeting of “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (2). It is important to note that Jesus said to the woman who brought an alabaster box of ointment to anoint him, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace” (3). In a similar manner, he had spoken to the woman who was healed of the issue of blood, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace” (4).
Some definitions are descriptions of the impact of peace. Therefore, some define peace as the ultimate solution to all problems of life. Some argued that when one has peace that all problems are over. Thus healing is observed as an instrument for the restoration of peace in the body, as it brings to an end the poor in health. Nations at war desire peace. Peace brings comfort and joy to homes, to communities and to individuals. The Nigerian king of juju music, Sunny Ade, in one of his albums in which he listed some of the important things that man requires in life, good health, security, joy, being fruitful, having a place to live and having food on the table, and having an employment or a job. He then echoes the African saying that peace is at the height of all this hierarchy of needs: Ile kiko, omo rere, emi gigun, alafialo joun gbogbo lo, Edumare ma fi kan won wa. Peace is described by its utilitarian value. It is thus considered a requirement for progress, stability, comfort, security, and development to take place at the personal, family, communal and wider world levels.
PEACE AS A NECESSARY INGREDIENT OF DEVELOPMENT: So important was the subject of peace that in Nigeria, there was once a First Lady who requested the people of her country to address her as Mama Peace. King David had recommended peace to anyone who desires life and loves many days to “seek peace and pursue it” (5). This was the same recommendation the writer of the letter to Hebrews made to humanity: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (6).
Some analysts describe peace as the absence of war or crisis, conflict, turbulence, anxiety and violence. It is known that the outbreak of conflict brings the frustrations of forced population movements, migrations, killings, death, destruction of lives and property, instability, economic crises, sieges and starvation. It also brings general dislocation and population movement, displacement, suffering, loss of lives and property, insecurity, brigandage, rape of the young and old, wives and virgins, violence, spilling of blood and slaughtering of the innocent ones including children and the elderly, humiliation of the defeated, and violation of sacred places. The coming of peace ends these woes and introduces calm and settlement of mind.
Peace is considered a requirement for progress, stability, comfort, security, and development to take place at the personal, family, communal and wider world levels. However, peace is not necessarily the absence of war or conflict and the presence of silence or calm. For example, the peace that is available in the graveyard is not considered an appropriate or desirable peace because the peace in the graveyard is not accompanied by any action or activity. The absence of life and action in the graveyard where there is serenity or silent peace is not considered an ideal peace to be desired. Indeed some studies explain that although peace is desirable, most times conflict and the subsequent disruption of peace is required to provide solution to problems and challenges and bring a change to existing and unacceptable practices. This is the arguments used by social historians such as George Lefebvre, who justify the French Revolution of 1789, which ended the rule of nobles and kings and led to the proclamation of the republican constitution in the country.
Some studies define peace by its variants and types. These include the individual peace in which a person is free from confusion or anxiety but has peace of mind, which has been further explained and amplified as Inner peace; “a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors. … a serenity, and calmness and a disposition free from the effects of stress”.There are different levels of peace; peace of the soul, the inner peace, peace at home, peace in marriage, and peace at workplace. There is peace in the community, peace in the nation, and peace in the wider world. There is complete and all round peace in which peace is available at every facet of life. There is also universal peace in which the entire world would be involved. This would be different from local peace in which some parts of the world could experience peace while other parts are in turmoil.
Universal peace can also be described as global peace in which there are concerns about neighbours and other nations. Prophet Isaiah prophesied this universal peace as the ultimate peace: And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it…. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (7). There is also the Peace Order, which is the “relief available from the Court when a person has problems with another individual, such as someone the person is dating, a neighbor or a stranger”. There is also the world peace, which is the peace that is not limited to a geographical space but available all over the world.
Some writers focus on peace that is attached to the world of work. One of such is Industrial peace, which is available in workplaces or follows an industrial dispute such as the protracted industrial action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in Nigeria. Some studies define peace in terms of the conditions that produce the phenomenon of peace. Thus, Lori Deschese says that peace is accepting today, releasing yesterday, and giving up the need to control tomorrow. Satisfaction and absence of desire to own, amass wealth and seek for power are ingredients of peace. St Paul says that godliness with contentment is great gain. Pastor E. A. Adeboye has attempted a definition of peace in the 2018 Open Heavens devotional for October 30 where he states that “peace is the state of harmony that is made available to the children of God through a right relationship with their fellow human beings”. He then adds that the absence of peace in a person’s life leads to fretful worry or anxiety.
Some authors define peace by causation of challenges and conflicts, identifying the conditions that make peace unattainable. For example, Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, observes that greed and lust for power, wealth, influence and positions, envy, are potential sources of conflict and wars and consequently, a cessation of peace (8). His emphasis was on what makes the disruption of peace inevitable. The Bible talks of the serenity and peace that was disrupted by disobedience and the subsequent expulsion of the couple, Father Adam and his dear wife, Mother Eve from the Garden of Eden. Some see peace as a product of the lack of social justice of fairness, equity and opportunity, continuing practice with impunity of intolerance, hypocrisy, sin in all its ramifications, deceit, corruption, evil practices, envy, hatred, covetousness, greed, and selfishness.
Some studies on peace choose to focus attention on the ingredients and elements that constitute peace, the importance and desirability of peace and the conditions for the sustainability of peace. Some works challenge the argument that peace is the sole condition for the advancement of development and progress. Therefore, while accepting the point that peace may be required for progress and development to take place, they argue that the absence of peace can also be an incentive to progress and development. A good argument to support this position would be the type of creativity, determination, energy and zeal with which the people of the Republic of Biafra prosecuted the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970. Those who identify the strength released by wars would however also prefer to opt for peace, and avoid the plague of wars.
However, there are many who argue that the best way to search for peace is to prepare for war, be strong, fully armed and warn potential enemies of the risk that would be taken should they choose to fight. This preparation through the building of arms had led to the arms race, and eventually to the temptation to test some of the new inventions of armaments. It is argued that indeed the United States had deliberately chosen to throw the atomic bomb in Nagasaki and Hiroshima towards the end of the Second World War to see the effect of the new weapon of devastation and destruction. That urge for demonstrating the effect of a novel military strategy conceived by General Schlieffen of Germany is also being suggested as one of the major reasons for the military aggression of Germany, which led to the First World War.
Some studies also explain that although peace is desirable, most times conflict and the subsequent disruption of peace, is required to provide solution to problems and challenges and bring a change to existing and unacceptable practices. As a result, open confrontation and even war, either the hot war such as the world witnessed during the two World Wars or the Cold War, which is the war of ideologies between communism and capitalism, and between the Soviet Union led by Russia, and the Western Powers, led by the United States, become necessary.
WHAT IS GLOBAL QUEST?: Our understanding of global peace is that everyone on earth is involved in one way or the other, the process of seeking and pursuit peace. As individuals, everyone is aware of the value of having peace to be able to function without fear. Governments have peace operatives, which have the duty to protect lives and property and secure stability at home and abroad for nationals. At the global level, nations work to secure peace. We should note that the search for peace began at creation with the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden. The couple lost their peace, began to hide and to accuse each other and shift responsibility for their disobedience. Their older son shortly after also lost his peace as he murdered the younger one without provocation and in cold blood. The murderer became a fugitive. Thereafter, there were many efforts by individuals and nations to live in peace. However, peace continued to be elusive as people had no respect to the rules and regulations governing their lives. There were betrayals of brothers as evident in the story of Joseph and his brethren. The powerful Potiphar manipulated justice when he sent his ward to prison without trial or listening to the story of the defendant.
MAN’S INHUMANITY TO MAN: Man’s inhumanity to man was evident with the institution of slavery as demonstrated by the experience of the children of Israel in Egypt. Later in the centuries, the institution of slavery led to forced migrations of thousands of Africans across the Saharan desert. The black slaves were castrated to prevent them from building homes or having families. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Slave traders transported African slaves to the Americas to work on the plantations and do other menial jobs. The difference between the Africans transported across the Saharan desert and the Atlantic Ocean was that those across the ocean were able to build homes and bring up the likes of Colin Power and the African Americans.
The institution of colonial rule followed the abolition of slavery. The imposition of foreign rule on the conquered nations of the world was to bring unrest as evident from the Wars of American Independence and the battles fought in many parts of the world against alien rule, which violated the customs and traditions of the local people and forced foreign languages on them with which to learn and transact business. That very process of imposition of values and governance was to deny the world of peace. At the European front, there were nation builders throughout the centuries and nations imposed their rule over the weaker ones. For example, it took centuries before Ireland became independent of Britain. Even in contemporary times, Ireland continues to dispute the ownership of Northern Ireland by Britain. During the struggles of Irish nationalists led by Charles Stewart Parnel, one of the nationalists, Patrick Pearse had vowed that the Irish would fight to the end to recover its northern territories:
They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools, they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace. At some stage, on the orders of the Pope, some kings began a series of crusades aimed at fighting back Islam in the Middle East, especially Jerusalem. Later in Germany of the nineteenth century, the Prussians of northern Germany declared war on France in order to get the sympathy of Bavaria in southern Germany. The foundation of Germany, which included the integration of Bavaria and Prussia, and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, was to lead to the continuing search for peace. As Germany sought to isolate France and try to build a complicated alliance system, a more War-friendly, youthful German Emperor was less interested in building peace. Before the World War 1, the building of alliance systems also encouraged War because of the assurance that you had allies on your side.
The efforts of the European powers to ensure that peace reigned were frustrated by the events of Sunday, 28 June 1914 in which the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated at the Serbian territory of Sarajevo. That assassination provided the immediate cause of the outbreak of the First World War, which began in August of that year, 1914. The war, which began as an European war became global as the colonies were compelled to support the European colonial powers and the United States declared war on Germany in 1917.
The First World War ended at 11am on 11th November 1918, the famous 11/11, which should really be the 11/11/11. The end of the War provided another opportunity to search for what was then considered a lasting peace. The Treaty of Versailles negotiated in 1919 was thus founded on the expectation that no future war would take place. The belligerent Germany was severely punished with the imposition of reparation and severe punishment, which led to the loss of territory by Germany, while the victorious allies of France and Britain took over former colonies of Germany. Germany was also made to accept guilt for the outbreak of the War. A League of Nations was founded, based in Geneva, which was to mediate between warring parties to prevent the outbreak of future war. As it turned out, the League of Nations was toothless because of the withdrawal of the United States from the League and other post World War 1 instruments. Furthermore, the anger of the Germans at the oppressive peace arrangement was to assist Adolf Hitler in his struggle to defy the Versailles Treaty and launch the Second World War. Consequently, a major weakness of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was the practice in which the conquered countries were punished while the victors were rewarded. That act brought up discontent and anger which again led to the Second World War in September 1939.
POST SECOND WORLD WAR PEACE INITIATIVES: Peace initiatives at the end of World War tried to learn lessons from the failure of the Treaty of Versailles and improve on the terms of the peace of 1919. Instead of the weak and impotent League of Nations, the world founded the United Nations, UN, with its headquarters sited in New York to ensure the continuing effective participation of the United States. The UN established a Security Council made up of the most powerful countries that could demand compliance of its decisions. The UN also had a robust budget made up of contributions from member states, some specialised agencies to deal with global issues such as Agriculture, Health, Education, Science and Culture, trade exchange, stability of the currency. America, which had opted out of the global issues came in and hosted the United Nations secretariat in New York and the World Bank in Washington, DC.
The specialised agencies, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, the International Labour Organisation, ILO. The United Nations organisations were also mandated to arrange programmes and activities that were aimed at securing improved welfare of the people, to reduce tension and conflict and to obtain universal peace. We should note that the preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO states, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. UNESCO, therefore, attempts through meetings of political and professional leaders, the construction of curriculum in which the value of peace is understood and the promotion of programmes that seek to encourage the construction of peace in the heart and mind of people through Education, Science and Technology.
Nevertheless, peace has continued to elude the world as the Cold War replaced the hot war, and the localised wars of Korea, Vietnam, and currently Palestine, and Syria, replaced the World Wars. Furthermore, in spite of the United Nations, aggrieved countries began to challenge the colonial powers and began a decolonisation movement for liberation. Some, like the Mau Mau in Kenya were violent while others such as in Nigeria were peaceful. Some leaders stood up to defy the colonial powers at great risks. Such is the story of leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi of India and Kwame Nkrumah of the then Gold Coast, now Ghana. It became clear that nations could not be at peace with one another as long as there was the fear of exploitation and intimidation of the weaker ones by the more powerful ones.
The attainment of independence was expected to bring peace but what many of the African countries have witnessed are the ethnic rivalries, religious bigotry, wastages, increase in the gap between the rich and the poor, and the absence of fairness, equity, social justice and accountability. Even those who are expected to lead by example choose to break laws with impunity, driving at the opposite side of the road with the horn trying to warn the people that they are breaking the laws without anyone challenging them.
EFFECTS OF WARS: Wars have also disrupted the peaceful existence among peoples in all parts of the world. For example, Europeans, especially Britain and France who fought to own parts of Canada, had fought to occupy Canada and the United States as countries; it was only after the Treaty of Paris in 1759 that confirmed colonial North America British. At the moment, wars take place in most countries of the world as governments commit increasing percentage of their budget to defence. In the more technologically advanced countries, a lot of money is spent on research on more sophisticated methods of destroying opponents. The spy network also consumes much money. Many countries in the global North are said to be profiting from war, selling weapons of destruction to countries in the global South. Indeed dealing in war merchandise constitutes an important and thriving industry. These weapons were to be deployed to Iraq, Syria, Libya and the Middle East countries.
In parts of Africa, there have been sad occurrences of warfare. The story of the Rwanda genocide and the ensuing civil war converted the beautiful city of a thousand hills to graveyard. In parts of West Africa the wars of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor had left the trail of savage butcheries and slaughtering of human beings in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The population movements and humanitarian crises of the period swept through the West African region and beyond, as the State capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone, Monrovia and Freetown, became ghosts of their former selves.
Nearer home, we should draw some attention to the unsuccessful pursuit of peace in Nigeria. If we take the example of Nigeria from the nineteenth century, we shall observe that the Islamic Jihad in Northern Nigeria had led to the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate arising from the battles launched by Usman dan Fodio.The collapse of the old Oyo empire in the nineteenth century led to the Yoruba wars and the emergence of Ibadan and the subsequent resistance of the imperialism of Ibadan, with the Ijebu fighting the Egba, the Egba fighting the Ibadan and the Ekiti fighting the Ibadan until peace was established in 1893 with the treaty negotiated by the British.(9).
POST-INDEPENDENCE POLITICS IN NIGERIA: Following the attainment of Independence, problems arose when Chief Obafemi Awolowo, venerated by his people, the Yoruba, was accused of, and tried for, treasonable felony and consequently, sentenced to ten years in prison. His associate, Chief Anthony Enahoro, captured as fugitive to the United Kingdom, and returned to Nigeria for trial, was sentenced to fifteen years. Western Region was split into two to accommodate the interests of the minority in the region imprisonment. The hope of free elections was dashed. By the end of 1965, there were serious disturbances and eventually violence in the then Western Region in which people were roasted and property destroyed. In the midst of this, the Nigerian Prime Minister invited his colleagues to Lagos for a discussion on the status of Rhodesia where the majority was challenging a minority white rule. As soon as the Prime Ministers left the country, five Majors of the Nigerian army struck. They were waiting for the meeting of the Prime Ministers to conclude before they staged the military coup in which the Prime Minister, his Minister of Finance, the Premier of Western Nigeria, and top military officers all of the Northern and Western origins lost their lives. A new Administration under Major General Aguiyi Ironsi was installed. Chief Awolowo, writing from the Calabar prison proposed in a letter to General Ironsi that his release could help in the building of peace in Nigeria. The general neither acknowledged the receipt of the letter nor replied it until the troubles in the country consumed him in a counter coup, in which he was killed along with his host, the Military Administrator of the Western Nigeria.
The disappearance of Ironsi was the beginning of another round of unrest as the Military Administrator of the Eastern Region demanded to know the fate of the former Military head of government. Further problems arose as people of Eastern origin were murdered in thousands. Eventually, some attempts were made to find peace at a meeting in Aburi in Ghana where the Federal Government negotiated and agreed on the restructuring of the country proposed by the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria.
The hopes raised for peace at Aburi were soon dashed and the Eastern Nigeria declared on 30th May 1967 as an independent Republic of Biafra. This declaration by the Military Administrator of Eastern Nigeria, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu was greeted at first by a Police action and later full-scale military offensive by the Federal Military Government. During that period, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who had earlier expressed sympathy with Biafra had changed his mind. Following his visit to parts of Nigeria in September 1969, he made a broadcast on the 23rd September 1969 in which he lamented the continuing unrest in the country and suggested that there was no need for the people to continue to suffer deprivations “simply because Ojukwu and his collaborators are insensitive to human suffering and impervious to reason”. He continued: “Why should people who are decent citizens of a country allow themselves to be deceived that they are not wanted by their fellow citizens?” In the end, the general insecurity and unrest remained until the military leadership of Biafra led by General Effiong, surrendered in January 1970. It is still being questioned whether the agreement that the end of the war was to produce neither victor nor vanquished is being respected in governance of the country. In any case the search for permanent peace in the country continues.
All over the world, there remains the challenge of having peace. A few weeks ago, a retired military officer was shot and killed on his way from his farm. There are stories of kidnap and general insecurity. A family lost one of the children because of the inability to pay a deposit that could have allowed the child to have the required blood to live. In our educational institutions, there are reports of student indiscipline, staff irresponsibility to the students, while there are continuing reports of betrayals, deceit and insincerity by the leaders who are busy accumulating wealth at the expense of the ordinary citizens. At the national level, there is continuing mistrust and threats to peace and stability. At the international level, the picture is gloomy as the world is becoming more divided. There continues to be the growing demonstration of nationalism, arms race, and continuing domination of the weak. The recent decision of the Trump Administration of the United States to make its foreign policy reflect the “America First” approach seems to negate the collectivism that the United Nations system sought to entrench after the Second World War.
PRESIDENT TRUMP & THE WALLS: Similarly, the decision of President Trump to build the wall to separate Mexico from the United States will make contact between the two countries more difficult at a time that the nations of the global village need to come closer. In Europe, the problem with the BREXIT negotiation of the pull out of the United Kingdom from the European Union is depressing for those who would have wanted a stronger European Union. The two nations’ solution that was proposed for Israel and Palestine seems threatened by the decision of the United States to shift its Embassy to Jerusalem and the continuing tension between Israel and the West Bank government under the control of the radical Hamas government. The continuing conflict in Syria and the contest by world powers to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq and Syria is a further indication that peace is not near soon.
Therefore, at the individual level, nations are afflicted by more diseases such as HIV/AIDS, which take lives. Adultery, fornication, theft, corruption, pornography, child abuse, and doubts about the existence of the Maker have remained on the increase. At the national level, deceit, lack of transparency, kidnapping, rape, and widespread corruption have also been on the increase. At the international level, threats of the use of the nuclear power, racism, intolerance of diversity and abuse of social media, Global warming, known as a threat to the world’s rainforests confront the contemporary world and rob the world of security and peace. Some countries including the Catholic Ireland have indeed passed laws, which are tolerant of same sex marriage and abortion. It is reported that some countries have decided to get rid of laws against adultery. Inequality across nations and within nations remains a challenge in many countries.
WHEN THE PRINCE OF PEACE STEPS IN: With all the failures over the centuries of the peace efforts at every front, one could be tempted to give up and conclude that the search for peace would remain futile. It can be predicted that the traditional diplomatic efforts at resolving problems among nations would remain as new series of Conventions, Agreements, Declarations and Treaties are worked out. Furthermore, considerable effort would continue to be made to resolve the challenges of religious and cultural differences. Already there are Conventions on respect for cultural differences and there are declarations on global peace. Nevertheless, it seems that the world remains more divided. This conclusion is supported by the obvious demonstration of nationalism, arms race, and continuing domination of the weak.
To be continued.