21st May is marked annually as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This came to pass in a resolution by the UN General Assembly in 2002.
Why does this day matter?
According to the UN, “Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development. Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development”.
Acceptance of cultural diversity is necessary for meaningful dialogue among the peoples of the world. In this, there is the element of intercultural dialogue which seeks to encourage cultural pluralism at all levels while discouraging extremism and fanaticism.
The world has never been so aware of the many religions its citizens follow. Acceptance of cultural diversity calls for the promotion of interreligious dialogue so that one does not lose identity of one’s religion but there is understanding and mutual respect between different religions in order to banish ignorance and prejudice.
Cultural diversity is also important to development. Policy makers are urged to incorporate cultural diversity in all development policies to benefit society in terms of social cohesion.
Kenya is a country made up of over 40 tribes with different cultural identities and practices. Statistically, majority of the population identifies as Christian but a large number belong to other religions including Islam, Hindu, Judaism, African Traditional Religions and others. 21st May should be observed by all Kenyans as a day to dialogue with their fellow Kenyan to understand their culture and their religion.
The attitude should be ‘It may be different from mine but that does not make it wrong’.
Perhaps, if everyone has these little conversations, it will bring an end to the tribal and religiously motivated conflicts that have been rocking the country from time to time.