Cote d'Ivoire: Peace Rally
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
July 27, 2006
Since 19 September 2002, Cote d’Ivoire has been experiencing more political unrest following a failed military coup. The ongoing peace process to achieve peace and reconciliation for the nations of West Africa has been marked by a series of important summits and seven Peace accords, the last one being Pretoria Accord, following the Lome, Accra and Marcoussis Accords from 2002 to 2005.
During this sensitive period, we have noticed how IIFWP and UPF have received much positive reaction and more attention from the general public and VIPs.
Hon. Bernadette Bouaman, Member of Parliament, Recipiant of the Peace Award, with new Ambassadors for Peace
Guests at event
The week before the rally, from 20- 25 July there was high tension in the country due to the identification process which was going on. Some people were killed in 3 cities Bassam, Oumé and Divo. Also, the day of the ceremony, many significant persons were out of town at the invitation of the President who invited governmental ministers, ambassadors and high ranking people to the capital city Yamoussoukro to attend a military academy graduation ceremony.
On this blessed day of 27 July, the event started at 5:00 pm with 1075 in attendance. Some participants arrived one hour earlier, which was a very good sign. The television stations and newspapers in Abidjan had given good coverage announcing the UPF's rally, and the preparations committee had been receiving a very good response.
Among the participants were 3 former government cabinet ministers, 20 Members of Parliament, 12 religious leaders, 10 university professors, 5 city governors and mayors from the countryside, 7 Ambassadors (or their representatives) from other countries, 120 high school teachers, 100 civil society / NGO leaders, 50 businessmen, 25 Army or Police officers, and 25 members of National ECOSOC. Current Peace Ambassadors in attendance numbered 171, joined by 527 others including relatives and guests of Peace Ambassadors and FFWPU members.
The main event started by the reading of Rev. C. H. Kwak’s speech by local UPF President Mr. Emmanuel Gbocho after invocation prayers by Iman Yaya Legre and Bishop Paraiso. After the brief explanation of the meaning of the blessing by Mr. Tsukasa Yoshida the holy wine ceremony took place. Mr. Likane Gabriel, UPF Secretary General, was in charge to give the holy wine to three couples on the stage. Simultaneously the whole assembly took part in the holy wine ceremony. All participants were so happy. Even those who came late, asked for the Holy Juice. Mr. Likane offered the prayer.
The video introducing Mother Moon and UPF activities was very appreciated by participants, with Mr. Adama Doumbia, the sub regional Director, reading True Mother’s speech. The audience followed the reading with great attention and high concern for the message. The event culminated with the Blessing ceremony officiated by Mr. and Mrs. Doumbia.
All participants were very inspired by the blessing ceremony. We are sure that this has changed their understanding about the blessing, and we anticipate that more and more couples will accept the blessing. Among the twelve couples were strong Catholics believers, Protestants, evangelical, a traditional chief, and a mixed couple. For once, many guests could understand how valuable the blessing ceremony is. In the audience we could see couples very happy holding each other's hands. Together all people shouted loudly a victory cheer "Mansei" to conclude this grand ceremony!
On that foundation the Peace Ambassador ceremony was held. During the preparation of the rally, we had received 377 responses of people willing to become Peace Ambassadors, but only 22 dignitaries received their certificate publicly on this occasion. One former minister, three Members of Parliament, the National TV and Radio Chairman, several police officers, Traditional chiefs, famous artists and young political leaders joined the growing ranks of Ambassadors for Peace.
A Peace Award Medal was given to Hon. Bernadette Bouaman, Member of Parliament, who really invested herself to support the preparation of the rally. She is an Ambassador for Peace and MP who also participated in MEPI, traveling to Jerusalem in 2004, and is a very dynamic supporter of UPF activities. She has been speaking so well about True Father and His vision and teaching recently on National TV and Radio.
Following the rally, two television channels as well as 5 newspapers gave very positive reports. And in response to their requests UPF has scheduled a special ceremony on 9 August to present 200 new Ambassadors for Peace with their certificate publicly. While preparing this ceremony we are experiencing a very unusual but so inspiring phenomenon in our country: well-known people like Laurent Tape Koulou, a prominent political activist, and Paul Arnaud, a polemist, now appear on TV and public meetings wearing their white shawl worn during the UPF rally and claiming their new position and role as Ambassador for Peace and delivering peace messages to the population. They look so proud to be Rev. Moon’s representatives and they are determined to fulfill their mission! A dramatic change is occurring before our eyes and we are full of hope for the future Cote d’Ivoire.
Mrs. Gnonsoa Angele, former Minister of Environment, University Professor, Secretary General of Labor Party
“This is the first time to participate in UPF ceremony. I was hoping to learn new things. I am very satisfied. The ceremony was very good and meaningful. I will join more often such occasion.”
Mr. Christophe Gbegbo, Diplomat, Chargé d’Affaires of Benin embassy
“It’s a real pleasure for me to know this institution, whose ideal is so great; living for the sake of others, and magnify and dignify the family. May your organization establish peace and love every where and succeed in ending violence and hatred. My hope is to become a true peace ambassador. May God guide the organization and its founder.”
Mr. Paul Arnaud, Emeritus Journalist, President of Cultural Scientific Council
“I have the honor since a year to be peace ambassador… a new way to love and brotherhood open for me and my family. I pray for peace to bloom in our hearts and families. I am so happy to participate in the rally for peace and benediction. I could understand how great the idea is, it a true way to peace that Rev. Moon has opened for humankind. It was the second greatest day for my family.”
Mr. Maurice Bandaman, Chairman National TV and Radio Station
“At this crucial moment our country is facing but also looking for a way for peace, and the world is embracing our country of his love and support to end our turmoil, I am so happy to meet brothers of UPF in this memorable occasion. UPF has a good ideal. I hope to learn more about that ideal and be a good peace ambassador.”
Mr Bailly Spinto, Famous Artist Singer
“I am so happy to attend the ceremony. To be a peace ambassador is an honor. I hope to be worthy.”