The most pervasive pattern of gang violence and organised crime in Liberia which stems from the 14year civil war is the involvement of state / political actors in developing structures that sponsors disenfranchised youth (violent disrupters) to perpetrate negative acts of political vigilantism during elections. With time, these aggressive activities have transcended elections to everyday disturbance of peace in communities as governments fail to fulfil campaign promises. Thus, gangs are not just a mere embodiment of crime and violence, but also a reflection of broader social dynamics, economic and specific societal shifts. Trust Building and Dialogue as inclusive and constructive tools in peacebuilding have proven effective in cataloguing the fundamental nature of gangs and what they have to say about their society.
The session will create a narrative on why gang youth has lost trust (as expressed so convincingly in the very popular song by the Liberian Hipco Superstar Takun J – ‘They lie to us…’, how gangs evolve in particular ways, and under what kinds of socio-political conditions. The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) in Monrovia believes this will create a sense of belonging, and sense of ownership for peace in their communities. Inherently, these youth will be encouraged to use their energy to build their communities rather than to destroy it.