Youth in the Niger-Delta region suffered the consequences of turmoil and unrest in their cities and villages. Many joined different militant factions, directly entering the fight. Others had to escape, unsure of when they would come back.
Emmanuel is part of the latter category. When the conditions worsened, he left his original community of Amassoma, returning only after the Amnesty was proclaimed. “I came back to Amassoma after the Amnesty and demobilization of ex-militants,” he says. “I had to leave my community during the conflict days because of pressure to join the struggle. Many of my friends joined and I noticed that they changed and became mean and extremely violent.”
Back in Amassoma, he joined the initial phase of Tomorrow is a New Day, our project with youth in the Niger-Delta. As part of the project, he learned how to use studio equipment and manage the production of radio programs. Many sessions on conflict transformation contributed to changing his perception of the people around him, especially former fighters. “I have benefited so much from the trainings under this project, particularly in conflict transformation,” Emmanuel says. “I am no longer judgmental and I see the dignity in everyone, including some of my ex-militant secondary school friends whom I have been avoiding and tagging as bad boys before now. Everyone has the right to be loved and respected.”
Emmanuel is currently studying to become a journalist. He has been the manager of our Information and Resource Center (IRC) in Amassoma, funded by the European Union, for over a year now. He believes that he’s not the only one to feel that Tomorrow is a New Day had a positive impact on the whole community; in fact, many young people in Amassoma are turning away from violence. Emmanuel sees the effects of our work in his daily life. “I have two ex-militant boys working under me at the IRC and they are respectful and very unlike what I used to think of them,” he admits. “I wish that more of our people [could] benefit from these trainings.”
Otanya Egbe is a Program Associate at SFCG Nigeria.
To learn more, visit Tomorrow is a New Day’s website.