Monday, 4th December 2023

Friendship as a fastrack to world peace

By Ike Willie-Nwobu
20 August 2023   |   3:43 am
The United Nations celebrated the International Day of Friendship on July 30. It was another opportunity to reflect on the gift that friendship is.

International Friendship Day

The United Nations celebrated the International Day of Friendship on July 30. It was another opportunity to reflect on the gift that friendship is.

In the Igbo country, it is often said that a good friend is better than a bad brother. To befriend is to believe. It is to believe in another other than oneself, it is to believe in life, it is invest in life, it is to be alive. In their bid to define friendship, some people have called it the “ship that never sinks. A famous aphorism also says that a friend in need is a friend indeed.

For everyone who lives, even those who are the loneliest of loners, there is a general acceptance that friendship is the least demanding of relationships but also the most rewarding. Many times, lacking the emotional investment and attachment that romantic and familial relationships necessarily demand, friendship takes away most of life’s pain while adding so much joy to it.

Perhaps, it is in recognition of the universal power of the language that friendship is that even non-human animals speak it, sometimes among themselves and sometimes to human animals.

The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The resolution places emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.

To mark the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, international organizations and civil society groups to hold events, activities, and initiatives that contribute to the efforts of the international community towards promoting a dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation.

The International Day of Friendship is an initiative that follows on the proposal made by UNESCO, defining the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems. It was then adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997.

It aimed to foster a culture of peace through education;promote sustainable economic and social development;promote respect for all human rights;Ensure equality between women and men;Foster democratic participation;Advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity;Support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge;Promote international peace and security.

In many ways, life is about friendship. But how does the friendship keep people going? How does it keep communities and countries going? In a world sundered by many difficult subjects, what roles do friendship okay in bridging gaps and bringing people together,

On July 26,the military in Niger unilaterally decided that the country was tilting dangerously towards peril. Citing security concerns and worsening Socio-Economic conditions, the junta led by Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani ousted the democratically elected government of President Mohammed Bazoum. While a handful of misguided protesters have wildly cheered what is the latest obstacle in the way of Niger’s tortuous road to democracy, the world has looked to the friends of the country to defend its democracy.

While the European Union has swiftly suspended aid and assistance to the country, its closest friends, the fifteen countries which constitute the Economic Community of West Africa,(ECOWAS) has chillingly threatened to use force to restore Niger’s democracy.

A slew of sanctions meant to suffocate the junta is already in full flow. But at a time when West Africa, which is the heart of West Africa, is facing unprecedented terrorism, friendship can offer West African countries the template they need to confront what is an existential danger.

What the long-suffering people of Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, need to see is that the world is interested in their friendship-they, every day Nigeriens,who have long shouldered the burden of a broken democracy, and must now bear the brunt of military abuse and avarice. The children and women of Niger have to see and know that despite  the chaos that their country has become, the world remains deeply invested in their present and future.

With the world knee-deep in so many knotty issues, friendship offers a path to lasting peace and less friction and tension. This is because once the greatest virtues of friendship, which are sacrifice and compromise, are activated, the chances of conflict are greatly reduced.

Ike Willie-Nwobu,