An education in peace

Published 29 March 2018

Peace. With so much conflict in our world, it can seem an impossible goal in our communities, our environment or even our personal lives.

University of New England PhD candidate Stella Adimorah knows all too well how disruptive and destructive conflict can be. Her homeland of Nigeria – Africa’s most populous state – has been wrought by violence since the 1990s. First there were the tensions that erupted between foreign oil companies and the Niger Delta’s minority ethnic groups, then the insurgency by Boko Haram Islamic extremists, and most recently bloody conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.

“Oil accounts for 80 percent of the country’s revenue and 90% of its exports, and the conflict has led to many deaths and created widespread poverty and unemployment,” she said. “People lack basic amenities – pipe-born water, good roads and markets – and this is creating all sorts of social issues, especially for women and children.”

Next Wednesday Stella will join a panel in Armidale to discuss peace in its many forms, following a special screening of the award-winning film Inside Peace. The film documents the lives of four inmates of the Dominguez State Prison in San Antonio, Texas, who took part in the Peace Education Program. It follows their progress inside the prison and after their release, as they confront their intergenerational experiences of hardship, poverty, drugs, violence and disadvantage.

“In Inside Peace we see how social issues, like drug use and crime, become part of the chain; how family breakdown contributes to violence and crime,” Stella said. “Like the militants in Nigeria, these men are not at peace with themselves.”

Globally, the Peace Education Program is run in 74 countries in 35 languages. Through it, people discover their own inner resources, such as inner strength, choice, and hope –and the possibility of personal peace.

Stella will be joined on the panel by Traditional Owner Brad Widders, the founder of BackTracks Bernie Shakeshaft, Aboriginal educator Cynthia Briggs and UNE Peace Studies Convenor Marty Branagan, with Kevin Dupe as MC. They will explore issues raised in the film and how the Peace Education Program can help in other settings besides prisons.

The screening of Inside Peace at the Belgrave Cinema, on 4 April at 6.30pm, is a joint venture between UNE Peace Studies, Studio View Productions and the Regional Australia Bank.

Belgrave Cinema – bookings and trailer