A young human rights activist in the Central African Republic
How can a young primary school teacher become a force for hope and peace amid one of Africa’s conflicts that seems to be spiraling out of control? Anthony Fabrice Kettemallet doesn’t seem to be such a person at first glace. But don’t be fooled. His small stature and mild manner mask his huge heart, his courage, and his passion for peace.
His family has experienced the high price of war. Fabrice’s brother was killed in the 2003 conflict that brought former President François Bozizé to power in the Central African Republic. Coming out of college Fabrice became involved in human rights issues in the C.A.R., a country with strongman rule and hidden from the world’s attention. He helped gather victims’ testimonies for the International Criminal Court related to troops brought into the conflict from Congo.
Fabrice’s youthful activism caught the attention of Dan Buttry, but it took a few years for visa issues and programming to bring them together. In May 2014 Fabrice attended the Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers facilitated by Buttry and Lance Muteyo in Nigeria. Fabrice learned tools for conflict transformation, mediation, nonviolence, trauma healing and reconciliation.
C.A.R., meanwhile, had been torn into violent conflict between the Christian and Muslim communities, with vicious militias of young men from both communities preying on the population and battling each other. Fabrice returned and continued his peacemaking work with new tools and sharpened focus. Soon he was doing workshops, including some in which young men from the Christian militia attended with their automatic weapons! He helped them see the traumas at the roots of their fear and hatred, challenging them to more constructive responses than killing others.
A Muslim imam heard about his work and invited him to visit the mosque. They became friends and participated in organizing a joint Christian-Muslim prayer meeting for peace, inspired by the praying Christian and Muslim women who helped end the war in Liberia. The imam invited Fabrice to do peace-building training in the Muslim community, and plans are underway for carrying out that work.
Fabrice established the organization Ouseau de la Paix—Bird of Peace—to carry on his peacemaking activities. His work is supported through the Global Peacemakers Mentoring Project Buttry established to keep these young activists rolling. He is also a part of the Pan African Peace Network, coordinated by Lance Muteyo.