Yusuf Ali: The Night California Stood Still for Yusuf Ali


Call it honour across the sea you will not be mistaken as the legal icon, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, bagged the 2018 Peace Humanitarian Award in United States of America. Funke Olaode who was at the event reports that the need for all humans to embrace peace was the crux of discourse at the august gathering

Saturday, April 28 was a memorable day as many distinguished Africans were honoured in Sacramento, the capital city of California, United States of America. There was excitement and a sense of togetherness as African drumbeats rent the air. Of course, traditional attire depicting different heritage of the African continent were on display. It was a gathering that reminded everyone of their root. The music of the defunct PSquare resonated from a corner of the hall as people mingled, giggled and danced their heart out.
Indeed, that night will remain memorable in the hearts of the people of Sacramento as the city played host to who’s who in Africa, including the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo.  The event was the peace awards organised annually by the board of Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) of the California State University in honour of Africans who have rendered selfless service for humanity.
CAPCR is an institute that provides conflict resolution, peace education services and research in and about Africa and the Diaspora. The board is a highly trained interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and conflict resolution experts committed to the centre’s mission, among many other partners. To date, CAPCR has provided over 500 workshops on conflict resolution and peace-building techniques to more than 5,000 Africans, with activities held in Africa and the US, including Nigeria.

Past recipients of the award include the first female and former Chief Justice of Ghana, Georgina Theodora Wood; Dr. Joseph Marshall of the Omega Boys Club and Street Soldiers (2012); Ambassador Jeanette Ndhlovu of South Africa; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Dr. David Covin; Professor Emeritus (Sac State), Isaac Albert of the University of Ibadan; Daniel Yamshon; Judge Barry Loncke (Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento);  Kevin Johnson, former Mayor of Sacramento, and Hon. Barbara Lee, US congresswoman, among others in the past 27 years.
This year, legal icon, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, was among the recipients as he was conferred with the 2018 Peace Humanitarian Award for his outstanding contributions of his talent, time and treasure in promoting peaceable communities, institutions, and organisations as well as numerous charitable work in various parts of Nigeria.
The award was presented to him at the end of the institute’s 27th Annual Africa and Diaspora conference on the theme of “African Peace and Security Architecture.”
The main event was held at the ballroom of the University Union on the campus. To ensure that it was an unforgettable night, African cuisines representing different countries of Africa were on display, cultural performances as well as keynote lecture delivered by President Akufo-Addo.

Some of the dignitaries that accompanied the renowned lawyer were Managing Diretor, Istabaraqim, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti, Executive Chairman, Kwara State Internal Revenue Services; Dr. Muritala Awodun, Director for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan; Prof. Olawale Albert, Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University; Prof. Labode Popoola, Communication Consultant; Y.K.O. Abdulkareem, Texas based Peace and Conflict Management practitioner and Hon. Akin Akinteye, among others.
An elated President of California State University, Dr. Robert Nelsen, enthused as he told the guests that it was a historic day for them, adding, “This campus is dedicated to create a haven where everybody belongs. It doesn’t matter who you are or your nationals because we are family. America needs Africa in terms of partnership. CAPCR as an institute has done tremendous things since inception. What we need now are African students in our campus, an opportunity to learn. It is an honour to have the President of Ghana this evening. Welcome here, let’s celebrate. Let’s bring peace to United States, Africa and the troubled world because we are all brothers.”

In his opening remarks, the Ghanaian said, “I am grateful to all of you for participating. Africa as a continent is moving forward. Though we have challenges, the most important thing is how to educate our youths with skills that will equip them to face the 21st century. The work of governance is to cater to the welfare of the citizens, provide education and jobs for our people. Coming here is how to see how this great university can collaborate. We have extremely good relationship with America since independence over six decades ago. Today, Ghana is thriving in democracy, transferring power and being hailed as a symbol of democracy on the continent of Africa. So, coming here to participate in this event symbolises friendship.”
He continued: “The issue of Africa is not going to be solved if disparities in access to qualitative education and good life still widen. It is important looking at it from humanity that both developed and the Third World countries are in the same boat because education and access to quality life is not a continental dilemma. It is global and that is the only thing that can help us survive as human race.  Everyone has a role to play but what we pray for is sense of commonality and I hope we will all build a society that all of us will be able to live together.”

In his remarks, the Director of Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution of the university, Prof. Ernest Uwazie, noted that the journey of the institute began 27 years ago – precisely in 1990 – when the department was formed with origin in Africa. The decision, he disclosed, was borne out of the need to institutionalise and Africanise Africans in Sacramento. He assured that over the years, the conveners has stayed through to the commitment as people were brought together to celebrate inter-cultural heritage which they have done close to three decades. He stated that over the years, they have grown bigger and better by support they received.
“Peace is about making everywhere safe. Although Africa remains a focal point, we are also working to make our society safe. For the past 27 years, we have made this event our ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ award where we celebrate unsung heroes and individuals who have made significant contributions to humanity. We are blessed to have the Ghanaian president, a champion of human rights, a model for good governance not only in Ghana but in Africa in our midst,” Uwazie said.
Walking majestically to receive his 2018 Humanitarian Peace Award from the Associate Dean, College of Health and Human Services of the university, Dr. Robin Carter, one could feel that sense of fulfilment and accomplishment for Ali’s laudable recognition in far-away Sacramento. A man of few words, the Nigerian lawyer expressed his gratitude to the institute for finding him worthy of the honour.

“I am honoured to be here this evening. This has equally challenged me to do more. The subject ‘Peace’ is significant to us in our various societies because it brings development. So, it is important to buy into peace-making and peace-building. I thank everyone present,” Ali remarked.
Shortly before he stepped out of the podium, a plaque with the bold inscription ‘California Legislative Assembly Resolution’ signed by Chris Holden, the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, was presented to Ali for serving humanity selflessly.
Award ceremony over, everyone let their hair down as they took to the dance floor and wriggle to sweet African music. The takeaway is not the glitz and glamour. It is the need for human beings to be their brother’s keeper. It is about the significance of being a constant help to humanity.