The global community celebrated the International Day of Peace last Friday.
The day is observed on 21 September every year.
In Zimbabwe, the commemorations happened at Theatre in the Park with presentations from various non-governmental organisations, civic organisations and churches.
Among the organisations were Youth Empowerment & Transformation Trust(YETT), Renewal Fellowship, Zimrights, Catholic Commission Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJPZ), Rooftop Promotions, and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission(NPRC).
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum), which has worked with many victims of organised violence and torture since 1998, led the peace day commemorations in Harare under the theme, “The Right to Peace: Building a just, inclusive and accountable Zimbabwe.”
Representing CCJPZ was its National Coordinator Paul Muchena and here is its full statement as he presented it:
Zimbabwean Men and Women in Search of Peace
CCJPZ Statement on the International Day of Peace
“Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established and sustained only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed” (Pacem in Terris, AAS, 55, 1963, p.257)
When Jesus was preparing to ascend to heaven, he gave us, through his disciples, parting instructions and commandment: “Peace I leave you; Peace I give you.” (John 14:27). This means that just in the same way it applied to his disciples, Jesus wants us to be at peace amongst ourselves – and to be at peace with each other. A further instruction from this scripture is that no matter what trials we could face, we should always find genuine peace in Jesus!
As we commemorate the International Day of Peace, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) borrows from Pope Francis insinuation that men and women, including those from Zimbabwe, are in search of sustainable peace. It is a fact that Zimbabweans are wounded and are in search of genuine peace that our Lord Jesus Christ instructed. We repeat what our leaders, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC), said in a Pastoral Letter entitled National Healing and Reconciliation: God Can Heal the Wounds of the
Afflicted issued on 1 October 2009:
We, Zimbabweans, have hurt each other in many different ways and over long periods of time. We are all guilty, for those who have been victims at one time have been aggressors at another and many more have done nothing in the face of atrocities perpetrated before their eyes. Today, we all need healing from these hurts and from our guilt. This healing will facilitate reconciliation within and among ourselves and also with our Creator. With healing and reconciliation, our nation will recover and set itself up for political, social, cultural and economic development.
Our cry for genuine peace should be seen from a historical perspective.
As ZCBC observes in the same Pastoral Letter;
“we made mistakes in the euphoria of independence: we forgot to attend to the needs of those who were traumatized by the war, especially the ex-combatants; we ignored those who were physically and psychologically devastated by poverty, discrimination and oppression. All were neither counselled nor treated. Colonialists who lost political power were not helped to heal from the trauma of that loss. Gukurahundi has been made a secret and pretention as if it did not happen.”
The book of Genesis tells us that human beings are created in the image of God. Human life and dignity should not be compromised in any way (Genesis 1:27). Political slogans that wish others death or suffering are against God’s purpose for creation. Why do we continue to hate, deny, isolate and sometimes kill each other because of political differences? If it is true that more than 90% of Zimbabweans are Christians, why should we not be guided by the Galatians that “we are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus… There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female… you are all one in Christ Jesus”? (Gal. 5:36).
We would like to emphasize to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) constitutionally mandated to promote peace, healing and reconciliation that Zimbabweans are desperately waiting. A comprehensive national peace and reconciliation process would pave way for cohesion and effective collaboration for the common good and development. As stated by ZCBC in a Pastoral letter entitled God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed, Pastoral Letter on the Current Crisis in Zimbabwe issued on 5 April 2007:
Our crisis is not only political and economic but first and foremost a spiritual and moral crisis.
Every problem has a religious dimension. No one’s heart can be at rest as long as people are haunted by evil memories, never acknowledged and straightened out. This crisis can only be resolved if we, the people of Zimbabwe, confess our sins, are forgiven, fully accept each other and once more commit ourselves to work together in solidarity, justice and peace.
As Church, we continue to express our willingness to contribute to a national peace and reconciliation process which is NOT a short-cut of convenience, but one which follows due processes as appraised by survivors. The Church shall support a National Peace and Reconciliation process Zimbabweans want.
The message of peace in Pacem in Terris which states that the order laid down by God must be observed in order to have peace is still very relevant to us today. As we commemorate the International Day of Peace, Zimbabweans yearn for this peace, which Pope John XXIII prayed for in 1963. In his message, he reaffirmed the four conditions for peace as truth, justice, love and freedom. The pillars of peace are the fundamental requirements needed by human beings to establish peace in society, without these pillars of peace, peace is unachievable. Understanding and acceptance of the four pillars as foundations of peace is fundamental to the Zimbabwean society today. This peace which is a gift from God has become a rare commodity in our country.
In conclusion, let us, therefore, make a serious effort to redress elements which disrupt peace. In our society, children have lost protection, men and women live under difficult circumstances, diseases, mistrust and fear. Those in authority are therefore called to urgently create the required and enabling conditions so that peace, prosperity and development can be achieved. Christ taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mt. 5:9).
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