Religion, Video and Soccer: Youth Efforts to Build Peace in Zanzibar

IMG_4010With a referendum on the constitution just months away and a general election to come in October, the youth of the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre (ZANZIC) are thinking strategically about their role. The Joint Committee of Religious Leaders has asked YIFOZA (Youth Interfaith Forum of Zanzibar) to use their movie-making talents and create a video to be shown in local communities around Zanzibar. The hope is that such a video will instigate meaningful conversations and lead to the transformation of conflict from potentially violent to constructive.

The ACTION Support Centre members Charity and Steven joined YIFOZA and ZANZIC in Zanzibar during the last week of February in a two and a half day workshop. The Drama Club, Soccer Club, and Youth Committee all joined, for an average of 35 participants engaged in a series of reflections and activities.

IMG_3366Steven (third from left) and Charity (far right) join the youth for a soccer game

We began by reflecting on the broader purpose of YIFOZA within the context of Zanzibar and ZANZIC, before considering the role of the youth within that purpose. The conversation then turned to the question of other stakeholders and actors; we looked at the existing relationships and the means of communication available to the youth. We identified barriers and challenges to communication, and also discussed means of mediating these barriers and hindrances. The final point for reflection was both how we communicate and what we communicate, and the unavoidable connection between how you communicate and what you communicate.

With all of this on the table, we began to think about how to effectively operate and communicate within the framework of the overarching purpose, and in fulfillment of how their roles are understood within that purpose. The Drama Club, Soccer Club, and Youth Committee each identified audiences as well as barriers, content, and form for communication within the broader purpose of the work of the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre.

This visit is part of the project, “From Early Warning to Response in Preventing Violence: Transforming Conflict through Citizen Engagement”, within the Making All Voices Count initiative. The next project visit will be to Gulu, Uganda, in May.