There is a need for the development and dissemination of alternative and counter narratives to challenge terrorism and violent extremism.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of receiving a delegation of the World Leadership Alliance a.k.a Club de Madrid which included two former African Presidents: Festus Mogae of Botswana & Cassa Muttem of Mauritius.
There is no question that we need to develop counter-narratives. We are faced with emotive narratives and it’s now about getting people to understand through counter-narratives that there is a different way to get things done.
The Club de Madrid, whose membership includes former President Olusegun Obasanjo, presented a report of a workshop it had conducted in Nigeria earlier this year on the issue of alternative narratives to counter violent extremism.
Former President Mogae while presenting the report said that the objective of the World Leadership Alliance is to promote democracy, and in that effort had organised the workshop that included all stakeholders and the presidency’s Office of the National Security Adviser to address the issue of violent extremism.
I also had the opportunity to meet Ms. Malala Yousafzai, UN Messenger of Peace. Her story is an inspiration for not only young women around the world but for us all. Her ability to articulate issues and the courage to face down hatred and terrorism is widely acknowledged.
While there is a connection between terrorism on the one hand and poverty and ignorance on the other, the challenge that terrorism poses on a global scale is much deeper considering cases of terrorism and hatred even in advanced societies where ignorance and poverty were not rampant.
We have to change the mindset and legitimize the false ideas and notions of hatred and violence.
Getting people to enroll in school is the easiest part of the problem. The bigger issue is to ensure that we don’t promote the mindset that girls are in anyway inferior.