The Organisation for Strategic Development in Africa (OSDA), a not-for-profit institution, has organised an eight-day training workshop on human rights and hate-speech, dubbed ‘Power to Change’.
The project, organised under the auspices of Hate Fighters Network and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, aims to strengthen the role of youth – especially those working in peace-building – to discourage hate-speech-related activities. It involved a series of mobility and capacity-building training.
It was attended by 40 youth, mostly emerging artists from Ghana. The workshop afforded participants an opportunity to learn how to use creative methods such as music, mobile reporting, photography and dance to combat both online and offline hate-speech, in addition to counter and alternative narratives as tools to fight hate-speech among young people.
The President of OSDA, Manfred Tawiah, said the programme has come at a time when Ghana needs it most. He called on all Ghanaian youth, politicians and party-faithful to desist from making, spreading, promoting or justifying hate-speech and comments capable of inciting election-related violence before, during and after the elections.
Mr. Tawiah said Hate Fighters Network is engaged in developing the skills and knowledge of the youth and workers in peace-building and how to combat hate-speech activities in Europe, Latin America and Africa, so as to develop a pool of youth workers competent in this field. The project is being implemented in eight countries – Argentina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ghana, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia and Serbia between November 2019 and April 2021.
The eight-day workshop by OSDA and its partner, Hate Fighters Network, seeks to use creative tools such as music, photography, video and dance to sensitize the world about human rights issues.
“It is an opportunity to project our culture and community through this fun and interactive method. Earlier this year, I was in Italy for the training as an ambassador and my goal was to effectively impart my knowledge to the youth; and after these few days, I can say I am proud of each and every participant, OSDA and myself,” says Feli Nuna, the project’s Creative Director.
Commenting on outcome of the workshop, she said: “At the end of the eight days, we created insightful and moving content to this effect – concept videos, pictures, one song and music video.
“In just eight days I have been able to broaden my knowledge about human rights, especially online bullying,” said a participant, Akura-Asase Edna – adding that before one forwards or posts a message on social media, it is important to ask if the information has been verified and “if it were me how will I feel?”
Another participant, Zakia Kunge – a musician, described her experience as powerful and urged the organisers to sustain the programme.
She said: “On the first day we had a legal practitioner take us through human rights, and the information was so empowering,” – adding that human rights and discrimination are not only about the very violent things, but also teasing someone because he or she is from a different background.
Rather than engaging in cyber bullying, she advised that people should use social media to preach peace and love all the time.
OSDA activities are focused on education and health, poverty alleviation, water and sanitation, economic empowerment, youth exchange and capacity development.