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Peace Education: An Instrument for Non-Violence in Africa



15 year-old Dada and her daughter Hussaina at home in a host community shelter in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. Dada was 12 years old when Boko Haram took her and an older sister. UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

Across the globe, societal change towards progression and sustainable peace is associated with violent revolutions. Although the argument stands accurate to an extent, non-violent practices carry the capabilities of yielding a similar result. Non-violent practice aspires to gradually modify the mindset of individuals, resulting in the resolution or transformation of conflicts prevalent in society. In this manner, additional efficiency is attained, since large scale suffering is sidestepped.

In the case of Africa,post-colonial states found themselves drenched in conflicts ranging from intranational crisis to inter-ethnic and inter-regional skirmishes. Correspondingly, Africa was subjugated to economic and infrastructural destruction, along with social and mental devastation for individuals. As a result, enormousfigures of refugees and internally displaced people requiring shelter, protection, and sustenance emerged, ensuing in global implications. Such factors projected the requirement of critical support for the vulnerable, displaced, and marginalized African community. Notwithstanding, to limit the bloodshed and suffering of the African community, the steps incorporated were non-violent.

To add to the non-violent argument, acclaimed educator Maria Montessori once fittingly stated, “establishing peace is the work of education. All politics can do is keep us out of war”. Implying how education essentially alters the mindset of individuals and paves a path towards peace. Incorporating education in ensuring a peaceful society falls under the category of non-violent practices, and this very concept was adapted by various states of Africa. As, a meeting of a Ministerial Conference on post-conflict and fragile states was hosted on June 2004, by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). In the meeting, a communique was signed between 20 African states, and the Inter-Country Quality Node on Peace Education (ICQN-PE) was formed. Under which, the ministers of education in the African states were required to evolve their educational systems into agencies of forces, to promote peace-building, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and nation-building. As a result, ICQN Peace Education developed a strategic plan to serve as central agencies for cultivating values, attitudes, knowledge, and skills; all of which will contribute to the development of sustainable peace through nonviolence for African individuals, and development in the region of Africa. 

With that said, ICQN has classified its goals into distinct categories. Firstly, ICQN Peace Education aims to initiate intra African exchange and dialogue, resulting in, encouragement for sustainable development via the department of education. Likewise, they carry ambitions for the formulating, strengthening, and implementation of Peace Education Policies and Strategies. Subsequently, successful implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of peace education programs shall be ensured. Moreover, ICQN Peace Education’s goal is to initiate Peace Education capacities at all levels of the African community; which will nurture strategic inter-disciplinary, inter-regional, and multi-sectoral partnerships and cooperation with numerous stakeholders. As an effect, effective research will be generated, leading to effective knowledge production. This will lead to informed policy development, resulting in the effective implementation of Peace Education.

The move towards attaining these broad objectives will require the following activities by ICQN Peace Education. Initially, policy dialogue activities will be conducted between the designated ministers of education, and all other relevant stakeholders coming from conflict and crisis impacted areas. In this manner, effective research analysis, documentation, and dissemination of publications and resources shall be conducted. Consequently, a deeper understanding of the conflicts shall arise, and promising practices for peacebuilding through education will be promoted. Moreover, capacity-building initiatives will be directed using affirmative publications and resources, which will be incorporated as tools for effective policy and practice implementation of peace education. Additionally, intra-African exchanges of expertise on peace in education shall be facilitated, resulting in the creation of a network of education actors carrying expertise in peace education from conflict-affected countries. Lastly, civil society actors will be consulted and brought into the policy dialogue process, to ensure that gaps between policy and on the ground experience are addressed. Overall, these steps shall ensure effective peace education for sustainable peace in Africa through non-violence. 

The input of ICQN peace education can be analyzed through its works in Nigeria. Being the most populous state in the African continent, Nigeria faces several challenges that penetrate in the form of conflicts, ranging from political tensions to religious and tribal violent conflicts. These constituent factors have been negatively influencing the development of the country; as they were left largely unattended. As a result, the occurrence of conflicts was eventually adapted as part of their national culture. Consequently, the current generation has either accepted the conflicts or carries little knowledge on how to resolve them. Thus, the integration of peace education into the curriculums of Nigeria was critical to change and develop the mindset and resulting actions of individuals, and to establish a cohesive and peaceful society through non-violence. 

The most critical challenge concerning Nigeria can be regarded as the terrorist activities of a faceless religious group known as “Boko Haram” in Northern Nigeria, and militants’ groups such as “Niger Delta Avenger” and the “Oodua People’s Congress” in the southern region of the Nigerian state. As a whole, these groups affected the overall well-being of the citizens of Nigeria. Terrorism resulted in the radicalization of youth, low literacy rate, unemployment, destruction of infrastructure, and a declining economy. Hence, there was a desperate need to incorporate ICQN Peace Education as part of the national curriculum; since, it would result in the empowerment of the coming generation concerning necessary skills for resolving social issues, and the refrainment from joining extremist organizations. In the Nigerian educational system, Peace Education will train individuals on the avoidance and management of violent conflicts, the establishment of better relationships with fellow beings, unity, and cooperation between various tribes. As a result, prejudice, stereotypes, and hatred for altering groups shall be eliminated, resulting in peaceful/non-violent co-existence. 

In the nineteenth century, Harris and Morison (2003) expressed that the basic foundation for social change and reform was induced by schools, churches, and community groups. Hence, with education, the hope for the willingness of students to positively contribute to the development of society shall increase, and so will their disregard for violence and wars. It was conducted that, by raising the consequences of war, the students would develop the ability to resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner. Furthermore, the ICQN Peace Education program is highly required in Nigerian primary and secondary schools. In this manner, students will be caught young and their spirit of tolerance will increase. This will equally empower the children with the necessary knowledge of peace and the skills to address the issues without resorting to violence. The teaching of Peace Education will enable the youths to become good citizens that act positively to the nation.  

In the Nigerian educational system, the main things embedded according to the non-violent principles of ICQN Peace Education go as follows. Firstly, the students are taught to respect all rights and dignity of fellow human beings. This includes all religions, cultures, ethnicities, and races. The overlying hope through this is to resolve intra state religious, ethnic, and cultural conflicts. Respecting the rights of every individual in society, regardless of their background can reduce conflicts. Adding on, non-violence is promoted along with obtaining justice through convincing and understanding. Through justice, individuals in Nigeria will not have a reason to provoke conflicts or escalate them. Furthermore, sharing and developing attitudes and skills for living together in harmony is promoted, will put an end to exclusion and oppression of certain individuals in the Nigerian society, resulting in cohesiveness. Students are taught to listen and understand by providing everyone with a chance to learn and share with the free flow of information. This shall teach students tolerance and solidarity, and they will appreciate and acknowledge that all individuals in society are unique and different in their way and that everyone has something to contribute to the community regardless of their ethnicity, language, religion, or culture. Furthermore, equality of men and women is taught, ensuring an equal place for men and women in the building of the state. As a result, conflicts penetrating towards gender discrimination shall be acknowledged and will move towards resolution. Lastly, the students are taught that they have a say in the decision-making process of the government and the community they reside in. In this manner, they shall involve themselves in the promotion of toleration and peace in society; as, they will come about the fact that their contribution will matter. To achieve the goal of Peace Education, instrumental delivery that is geared towards developing the basic elements of Peace Education along with the knowledge, skills, and values that go along with promoting the general culture of peace in the students, is required. This will result in the creation of a culture of peace among people. 

Although Nigeria is far from obtaining its due share of peace and co-existence in society, the non-violent practice of Peace Education has ensured steps towards that direction. If ICQN’s Peace Education is implemented effectively across all regions of Nigeria, the ultimate goal shall be reached. However, some recommendations to catalyze the process go as follows. Firstly, the training and retraining of teachers should be intensified. In this manner, the teachers shall be enabled to acquire the required skills and knowledge for the use of appropriate techniques and methods, that effectively teach and promote ICQN’s Peace Education. Furthermore, the Social Studies curriculum content should be reduced and a restructuring approach should be adopted. This is because Peace Education may overload the Social Studies curriculum content. Thus, adjustments in other contents should be made accordingly. Lastly, the Social Studies curriculum content as of now in secondary schools should be reviewed. This is because concepts that abide by the concepts of Peace Education should be reflected and identifies. In addition, concepts contradicting those very principles should be removed from the course. As, the contradictions might confuse students; resulting in effective Peace Education. 

 In conclusion, the Inter-Country Quality Node on Peace Education (ICQN-PE) was established by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in hopes of initiating non-violent steps to bring about peace, co-existence, and development in the region of Africa, which is filled with intrastate conflicts, concerning religion, ethnicity, religion, etc. One of the states that have effectively initiated ICQN’s Peace Education in Nigeria, and has taken substantial steps towards changing the minds of the coming generation, to make them more tolerant and peaceful. The overlying goal was to alter society without resorting to violence, under which Nigeria and other African states have initiated steps towards that pathway. 

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West Africa: Extreme poverty rises nearly 3 per cent due to COVID-19



Food insecurity is affecting millions of people in Burkina Faso. © UNICEF/Vincent Treameau

Extreme poverty in West Africa rose by nearly three per cent in 2020, another fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, a UN-backed report launched on Thursday that looks at the socio-impact of the crisis has revealed. 

The proportion of people living on less than $1.90 a day jumped from 2.3 per cent last year to 2.9 per cent in 2021, while the debt burden of countries increased amid slow economic recovery, shrinking fiscal space and weak resource mobilization. 

More than 25 million across the region are struggling to meet their basic food needs. 

Gains annihilated 

The study was published by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in partnership with the West Africa Sub-Regional Office for the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). 

Sekou Sangare, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water resources, said the pandemic has, in particular, annihilated benefits gained in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition. 

“Even if we are happy with the governments’ response through the mitigation actions they have taken, we have to worry about the residual effects of the health and economic crisis as they are likely to continue disturbing our food systems for a long time while compromising populations access to food, due to multiple factors,” he said

The report highlights the effects of measures aimed at preventing coronavirus spread, such as border closures, movement restrictions and disruption of supply chains. 

Forced to sell 

These measures had an impact on income-generating activities, and on food prices in markets, with small traders, street vendors and casual workers most affected. 

The deteriorating economic situation has adversely affected food security and nutrition in West Africa.  

More than 25 million people are unable to meet their basic food needs, a nearly 35 per cent increase compared to 2020. People have been forced to sell their assets and livelihoods in order to get enough to eat. 

The situation is most severe in those areas affected by conflict, such as the Lake Chad Basin region, the Sahel, and the Liptako-Gourma region, which borders Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. 

Strengthen social protection 

The partners hope the report will encourage public and private response to address the pandemic’s negative impacts on the people of West Africa. 

Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, underscored the need for immediate and concerted action. 

“This report clearly shows the urgent need for Governments and partners to deliberately increase investments to strengthen and increase social protection programs, social safety-nets such as school meals, and other livelihoods-enhancing programs with particular emphasis on women and youth,” he said. 

The Director of the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office, Ngone Diop, pointed to one of the strengths of the partnership, namely the ability to carry out an online survey which mobilized nearly 8,000 respondents. 

Moreover, she said “basing our analyses on primary, first-hand data from households directly impacted by the health crisis makes it possible to offer decision-makers at the regional and national levels with relevant and better-targeted policy options.” 

Responding to needs 

Since the outbreak of the pandemic nearly three years ago, ECOWAS and its partners have implemented several economic and financial measures to respond to the increasing needs in the region.  

ECOWAS Member States, with support from WFP and other technical partners, have also expanded social protection programmes, as well as food distributions, for the most vulnerable communities.  

For example, In Mali and Niger, they are supporting some 1.4 million people and helping to strengthen national social protection systems. 

“WFP is committed to engage more with ECOWAS in enhancing coordination and facilitating experience sharing among countries, with the aim to ensure social protection systems in the region support food security and nutrition and provide resilience to shocks,” said Mr. Nikoi. 

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Pragmatic Proposals to Optimize Russia’s Pledged Rehabilitation of Ethiopia



A girl stands outside her home in the Tigray Region, Ethiopia. © UNICEF/Tanya Bindra

Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia Evgeny Terekhin pledged that his homeland will help rehabilitate his hosts after getting a clearer understanding of the full extent of the damage that the terrorist-designated Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) inflicted on the northern part of the country throughout the course of its approximately half-year-long occupation of the Afar and Amhara Regions. China’s Xinhua recently cited official Ethiopian government statistics about this which claim that the Amhara Region suffered damages upwards of approximately $5.7 billion.

According to their data, the TPLF partially or fully damaged 1,466 health facilities and vandalized water, electricity, and transport infrastructure. 1.9 million children are out of school in that region after more than 4,000 schools were damaged by the group. Over 1.8 million people were displaced from the Afar and Amhara Regions while 8.3 million there are suffering from food insecurity. The scale of this humanitarian crisis is massive and the direct result of the US-led West’s Hybrid War on Ethiopia that was waged to punish the country for its balanced foreign policy between the US and China.

It’s here where Russia can rely on its recent experiences in helping to rehabilitate Syria and the Central African Republic (CAR) in order to optimize its pledged rehabilitation of Ethiopian. Those two countries are much more war-torn than Ethiopia is, the latter of which only saw fighting in its northern regions instead of the entirety of its territory like the prior two did. The most urgent task is to ensure security in the liberated areas, which can be advanced by summer 2021’s military cooperation agreement between Russia and Ethiopia.

This pact could potentially see Russia sharing more details of its earlier mentioned experiences in order to enhance the Ethiopian National Defense Force’s (ENDF) security and stabilization operations in the northern part of the country. Syria and the CAR survived very intense Hybrid Wars that utilized cutting-edge military tactics and strategies against them similar to those that were subsequently directed against Ethiopia by the TPLF. It would help the ENDF to learn more about the challenges connected to ensuring security in areas that have been liberated from such contemporary Hybrid War forces.

The next order of business is to help the many victims of that country’s humanitarian crisis. Russia’s experience with assisting Syria in this respect, which suffered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in decades, can be of use to Ethiopia. This is especially the case when it comes to aiding its internally displaced people. Their immediate needs must be met and maintained, which might require urgent support from that country’s trusted partners such as Russia. Provisioning such in an effective and timely manner can also improve Russia’s international reputation too, especially among Africans.

Northern Ethiopia’s post-war rehabilitation must be comprehensive and sustainable. The country’s Medemer philosophy — which has been translated as “coming together” – will form the basis of these efforts. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed touched upon this in his 2019 Nobel Peace Prize speech and his book of the same name that was released earlier that year. Its English translation hasn’t yet been published but Medemer was explained at length by high-level Ethiopian officials during an early 2020 US Institute of Peace panel talk and in Ethiopian writer Linda Yohannes’ insightful book review.

An oversimplification of it in the economic context is that Medemer preaches the need for comprehensive, inclusive, and sustainable growth through public-private and other partnerships that bring prosperity to all of its people, which in turn strengthens socio-political relations between them. It seeks to apply positive aspects of foreign models while avoiding the bad ones. The Medemer mentality aspires to balance cooperation with competition, constantly improving itself as needed, in order to synchronize and synergize Ethiopia’s natural economic advantages in people, location, and resources.

In practice, this could see Russian public and private companies partnering with Ethiopia’s primarily public ones to rehabilitate the northern regions’ damaged infrastructure. Since sustainable growth is one of Medemer’s key concepts, the country’s Russian partners could also train more laborers, social workers, teachers, and doctors throughout the course of these projects while offering scholarships to some internally displaced youth for example. In that way, Russia and Ethiopia could truly embody the Medemer spirit by literally bringing their people closer together as a result of these noble efforts.

All the while, Russia’s international media flagships of RT and Sputnik should be active on the ground documenting the entire experience. The immense influence that Moscow has in shaping global perceptions can be put to positive use in exposing the foreign-backed TPLF’s countless crimes against humanity in northern Ethiopia. This can powerfully counteract the US-led West’s information warfare campaign against its government, which misportrays the TPLF as innocent victims of the “genocidal” ENDF, exactly as similar Russian media efforts have done in debunking Western lies against Syria.

The world wouldn’t only benefit by learning more about the US-led West’s lies against Ethiopia, but also in seeing how effectively Russia is working to reverse the damage that their TPLF proxies inflicted in the northern part of that country. Russia is also a victim of their information warfare campaign, which misportrays the Kremlin as a dangerous and irresponsible international actor. The truth, however, is that Russia is a peaceful and responsible international actor that has a documented track record of cleaning up the West’s Hybrid War messes in Syria, the CAR, and prospectively soon even Ethiopia too.

Upon taking the lead in rehabilitating northern Ethiopia, Russia should diversify the stakeholders in that country’s prosperity in coordination with its hosts. It’s in Ethiopia’s interests as well to receive assistance from as many responsible and trusted partners as possible. Russia can help by requesting that relevant aid and multilateral rehabilitation efforts be placed on the agenda of the proposed heads of state meeting between the Russian, Indian, and Chinese (RIC) leaders that presidential aide Yury Ushakov said was discussed for early 2022 during President Putin’s latest video call with President Xi in December.

The RIC countries stood with in solidarity with Ethiopia at the United Nations in the face of the US-led West’s subversive attempts to weaponize international law against it. They’re strong economies in their own right, not to mention through their cooperation via BRICS and the SCO, the latter organization of which also has anti-terrorist and other security dimensions. These two multipolar platforms could potentially be used to extend economic, financial, humanitarian, and security cooperation to their Ethiopian partner to complement bilateral and trilateral efforts in this respect.

Russia’s increasingly strategic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could also lead to Moscow working more closely with Abu Dhabi on related rehabilitation matters with their shared partners in Addis Ababa. Observers shouldn’t forget that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) played a crucial role in brokering peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2018. He even awarded their leaders his country’s highest civil honor when they both visited the UAE that summer. Furthermore, Al Jazeera alleges that the UAE has maintained a humanitarian (and possibly even military) air bridge to Ethiopia.

Regardless of whether or not the military aspect of this reported bridge is true or not, there’s no denying that the UAE has emerged as a major stakeholder in Ethiopia’s success. It deposited $1 billion in Ethiopia’s central bank in summer 2018 as part of its $3 billion aid and investment pledge at the time. The UAE also plans to build an Eritrean-Ethiopian oil pipeline in order to help the latter export its newly tapped reserves in the southeast. Additionally, DP World signed a memorandum with Ethiopia in May 2021 to build a $1 billion trade and logistics corridor to separatist Somaliland’s Berbera port.

Considering the closeness of Emirati-Ethiopian relations, it would therefore be fitting for RIC to incorporate the UAE as an equal partner into any potential multilateral plan that those countries might come up with during their proposed heads of state summit sometime in early 2022. It enjoys excellent relations with all three of them so it’s a perfect fit for complementing their shared efforts. Plus, the UAE has the available capital needed to invest in high-quality, long-term, but sometimes very expensive infrastructure projects, which can ensure northern Ethiopia’s sustainable rehabilitation.

It’s pivotal for Russia to prioritize its pledged rehabilitation of Ethiopia ahead of the second triennial Russia-Africa Summit that’s expected to take place in October or November after fall 2019’s first-ever summit saw Russia return to Africa following a nearly three-decade-long hiatus. Coincidentally, Ethiopia requested last April to hold the next event in Addis Ababa. That would be a sensible choice since its capital city hosts the African Union headquarters, has sufficient infrastructure, and can serve most of the continent through its Ethiopian Airlines, which regularly wins awards as Africa’s best airline.

The interest that Ethiopian Ambassador to Russia Alemayehu Tegunu recently expressed in courting more Russian investment ahead of the next summit goes perfectly well with Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia Terekhin’s vow to heighten cooperation between those countries’ ruling parties. This in turn raises the chances that the present piece’s proposals could hopefully serve as the blueprint for beginning relevant discussions as soon as possible on Russia’s pledged rehabilitation of Ethiopia with a view towards achieving tangible successes ahead of the next Russia-Africa Summit.

That timing is so important since Russia mustn’t miss the opportunity to showcase its bespoke “Democratic Security” model in Ethiopia. This emerging concept refers to the comprehensive thwarting of Hybrid War threats through economic, informational, military, and other tactics and strategies such as the action plan that was proposed in the present piece. “Democratic Security” approaches vary by country as evidenced from the differing ones that Russia’s practicing in Syria and the CAR, but the concept could attract many more African partners if it’s successful in Ethiopia by next fall’s summit.

Russia must therefore do everything in its power to bring this best-case scenario about. Rehabilitating Ethiopia won’t just improve millions of lives, expose the war crimes committed by the US-led West’s TPLF proxies, and enable Russia to showcase its “Democratic Security” model to other African countries, but ensure that the continent’s historical fountainhead of anti-imperialism and pan-Africanism survives its existential struggle. Upon that happening, Ethiopia can then serve to inspire a revival of these ideas all across Africa through its complementary Medemer concept and thus strengthen multipolarity.

From our partner RIAC

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Decade of Sahel conflict leaves 2.5 million people displaced



Two displaced women sit at a camp in Awaradi, Niger. © UNOCHA/Eve Sabbagh

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on Friday for concerted international action to end armed conflict in Africa’s central Sahel region, which has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee their homes in the last decade.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the agency’s spokesperson, Boris Cheshirkov, informed that internal displacement has increased tenfold since 2013, going from 217,000 to a staggering 2.1 million by late last year.

The number of refugees in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger now stands at 410,000, and the majority comes from Mali, where major civil conflict erupted in 2012, leading to a failed coup and an on-going extremist insurgency.

Increase in one year

Just last year, a surge in violent attacks across the region displaced nearly 500,000 people (figures for December still pending).

According to estimates from UN partners, armed groups carried out more than 800 deadly attacks in 2021. 

This violence uprooted some 450,000 people within their countries and forced a further 36,000 to flee into a neighbouring country.

In Burkina Faso alone, the total number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) rose to more than 1.5 million by the end of the year. Six in ten of the Sahel’s displaced are now from this country.

In Niger, the number of IDPs in the regions of Tillabéri and Tahoua has increased by 53 per cent in the last 12 months. In Mali, more than 400,000 people are displaced internally, representing a 30 per cent increase from the previous year.

Climate, humanitarian crisis

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating with crises on multiple fronts.

Insecurity is the main driver, made worse by extreme poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the climate crisis are also felt more strongly in the region, with temperatures rising 1.5 times faster than the global average.

Women and children are often the worst affected and disproportionately exposed to extreme vulnerability and the threat of gender-based violence.

According to the UNHCR spokesperson, “host communities have continued to show resilience and solidarity in welcoming displaced families, despite their own scant resources.”

He also said that Government authorities have demonstrated “unwavering commitment” to assisting the displaced, but they are now “buckling under increasing pressure.”

Bold response

UNHCR and humanitarian partners face mounting challenges to deliver assistance, and continue to be the target of road attacks, ambushes, and carjacking.

In this context, the agency is calling on the international community to take “bold action and spare no effort” in supporting these countries.

UNHCR is also leading the joint efforts of UN agencies and NGOs to provide emergency shelter, manage displacement sites and deliver vital protection services, including combating gender-based violence and improving access to civil documentation.

In 2021, more than a third of the agency’s Central Sahel funding needs were unmet.

This year, to mount an effective response in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, the agency needs $307 million.

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