The Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) Kukatonon Peace Project is gaining momentum in Liberia. After close consultations with the Superintendent of Maryland County, Honorable George A. Prowd, officers and members of DATI’s Gbenelue Chapter and the Board of Directors and management of DATI, it was unanimously agreed to establish the Dehkontee Artists Theatre Peace and Youth Study Center and DATI’s Southeastern Regional Headquarters in Harper City, Maryland County. This process is being made possible through the generous financial donations of DATI’s support base in the United States and Liberia.
The purpose of the DATI’s Peace and Youth Study Center is to promote nonviolence and rule of law in Liberia. The project is youth-centered and inquiry-and-research-based. It was launched in November 2019 out of the dire need to promote peace and reconciliation and to reshape the socio-cultural and political trajectory from a state of war and lawlessness to a state of peace and rule of law. The philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the project are based on the Kukatonon Theoretical Framework and the Pan Africanist philosophy of Black self-consciousness and motivation, and the findings of Dr. Joe Gbaba’s doctoral dissertation and qualitative research.
The DATI project in Liberia is spearheaded and effectively run by over fifty patriotic Liberian college youths from various ethnic groups and universities and colleges in Liberia. Most of DATI’s Credentialed Peace Advocates were born a year before or during the Liberian genocide. Hence, they are genocide survivors and victims. Most of them experienced the brutalities and heinous crimes that took place in Liberia. For this reason, they warmly welcomed Dr. Gbaba’s call to engage Liberian college youths in peacebuilding in Liberia because they share the same conviction that Liberian youths deserve more than to be subjected to continual state of instability and denied access to equality of educational opportunities. Hence, to prepare and empower DATI Peace Advocates carry out their peacebuilding tasks in the Liberian society, they received rigorous two-and-a-half-month training in conflict resolution and cultural studies and civic education under the guidance of Dr. Joe Gbaba.
DATI’s Southeastern Regional Headquarters will be temporarily housed in the Harper City Museum until the organization can galvanize enough financial and logistical supports and resources to construct its own regional headquarters in the future. The center will be used to conduct peace studies and educational and cultural research in the southeastern region of Liberia. DATI’s Peace and Youth Study Center will provide Liberian youths the opportunity to acquire multiple skills and knowledge in civic and peace education. They will have access to technical and vocational courses in Culinary Arts, Agriculture, Cultural Studies, Public Health, Guidance Counseling, Traditional Liberian Music, Dance, Drama, and Literacy. DATI will collaborate with various government and nongovernmental organizations and schools to promote peace, rule of law, create cultural awareness and national consciousness and unity among Liberians. The project also aims to advocate for the safety, permanency, and well-being of Liberian youths through the promotion of nonviolence and rule of law.
Plans are also underway to establish DATI’s national headquarters in Paynesville City, Montserrado County. Other offices will be subsequently established in regions in which DATI shall set up chapters in the future, to carry out its peacebuilding and cultural awareness programs through the performing and visual arts and Afrocentric literacy. Further, Dehkontee Artists Theatre will name its peace and youth study center and national headquarters in honor of the highest donors.
Recently, the management of DATI launched a fund drive to acquire office spaces and establish youth study centers in Liberia. Several concerned Liberian patriots and American citizens have begun to donate to this worthy cause. The target goal of the organization is to raise Ten Thousand Dollars to lease and furnish both national and regional headquarters and youth study centers. To donate to the DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Center Project, please log on to the DATI website: https://www.dehkonteeartiststheatreinc.com. DATI is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit cultural and educational organization. Your donations are tax-deductible.
Rationale for the DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Center Project in Liberia
It can be recalled that during the Liberian genocide Liberian politicians and warlords forcibly conscripted children ages eight to sixteen to serve as child soldiers and combatants. Some of them were drugged and given automatic rifles to shoot and kill. Thousands of innocent Liberian children (mainly children of illiterate indigenous Liberians) lost their lives during the heat of hostilities among various warring factions. Most of them were orphaned and they were denied access to equality of educational opportunities, while children of Liberian warlords and politicians were safe and pursued their education in foreign lands. Therefore, the illiteracy rate in Liberia has plummeted and Liberian warlords and politicians use this volatile situation in Liberia to exploit the masses.
In view of the foregoing, most Liberian youths born from 1989 to the present time do not know what it feels like to live in a law-abiding society. Rather, all they are used to seeing are Liberian warlords, murderers, thieves, felons and those who contravene the Constitution of Liberia but are ‘elected’ to serve in high positions of public trust. Present day Liberian youths are used to seeing crimes and corruption being glamorized and treated with impunity and to live in a society in which certain individuals are above the law.
What the DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Center Project Aims to Accomplish
The DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Center Project aims to counter the “war-zone” trajectory in Liberia and to create an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation and the reinstitution of constitutional democracy and rule of law. It aims to promote nonviolence. The project is designed NOT TO PROVIDE POST-GENOCIDE LIBERIAN CHILDREN GUNS AS DID LIBERIAN WARLORDS AND POLITICIANS WHO FUNDED THE LIBERIAN GENOCIDE!
Rather, the DATI Kukatonon Peace and Youth Study Center will provide post-genocide Liberian children books to learn how to read and pens to write. It will provide Liberian children and youth the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills they can use to better themselves and live self-fulfilled lives as future leaders of Liberia.