Emmanuel Iziomoh Shares his experiences from 'Search for Common Ground' Summit


Emmanuel Iziomoh was among 100 young people from Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Niger and Cameroon that attended the Regional Youth Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Maiduguri (Northern Nigeria). The summit was organized by “Search for Common Ground” and supported by the University of Maiduguri, North East Regional Initiative and USAID. It was a gathering of like minds of young people coming up with initiatives in their various communities preventing and countering violent extremism. As a part of his individual action plan, He has written an article on violence.

“Violence begets violence” is a phrase that has, over the years, been employed towards practically combating violence and curbing violence both locally and internationally. This phrase has also been theoretically espoused by famous writers, especially in the book ‘wretched of the earth’ by Frantz Fanon, where he writes that “no gentleness can efface the marks of violence, only violence itself can destroy violence,” he further mentioned that violence is man recreating himself. Arguably, the approach of violence in countering violence is adversarial in nature as it breeds enmity and exposes the sides to military confrontations, where both sides are out to kill each other. When the military kill members of the violent group and members of the VG kill the military, qui bono? According to Mahatma Ghandi, a tooth for a tooth renders both party toothless. In practice, when an individual takes a gun to kill an enemy, on getting to his enemy’s house, finds his enemy and his 8 year old son, kills the enemy and left the son because he is just a child. 

The individual has succeeded in killing the father of his new enemy and has postponed a counter-reaction until when his real enemy is fully equipped. This is what happens when violence is faced with violence because almost every actor in violence is a father or an uncle or a brother and a reprisal attack is almost a certainty. For example, the First World War ended in 1918, where Adolf Hitler was jailed in Russia as a lance corporal and felt betrayed by the German Jews, which, of course, was one of the causes that led to the Second World War. Another example is the Biafra war in Nigeria that ended in 1970, which General Yakubu Gowon declared a no victor, no vanquished contest but with the recent agitation in the eastern parts of Nigeria that declaration is certainly a ruse in the eyes of the Independent People of Biafra.

Consequently, this generation has been the busiest in Africa and other parts of the world in terms of violence, hate, greed and tussle for religious superiority due to the adversarial approach. You can’t kill an ideology with a gun, therefore, there is nowhere in the world that peace is practically obtained with violence. Violent reaction to violence escalates violence and postpones violence. This, over the years is evident in Africa as most governments respond/react with the use of force. With the exception of South Africa, fortunately, because Nelson Mandela chose to react positively, to love and to forgive rather than the usual knee-jerk diplomatic reciprocity of violence.

Martin Luther King Jr. opined that the ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that.

 Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Rather than killing our fathers, brothers and uncles who are mere victims of politics, manipulation and circumstance, we should love them, we should push for an inquisitorial approach and understand that in the eyes of VGs they are revolutionaries, an understanding, that would help fish the sponsors and manipulators of violent groups. Violence, to some, is a way to express an opinion, so when we remember their opinion we should also remember the motive for it. Lastly, let us destroy violent extremism by making VGs our friends, an act that would truly end violence.

Emmanuel Iziomoh is a Global leader, mentor, and a Board member to International Institute for Global Leadership, IIGL USA.