Economy by the means of Peace

Economics defines the society we live in. However, an economy based on profit will always create division and opposites. Throughout time, we have witnessed devastating violent episodes which we can still witness everyday as humans have given profit a place at the centre of the economy, with everything else just as a means to serve it.

The leaders of the International Sufi School, beginning with Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, and most recently, Sheikh Aly N’Daw, had a vision for society where the human being was placed at the centre of the economy rather than profit-making. In this way, rather than the society benefiting only a handful of people, the economy would provide equality for all where nobody would be judged by what they have, or do not have. This would eradicate greed, inequality and separation.

Most recently, this vision in action has been implemented by Sheikh Aly in a number of projects, under the umbrella title of EcoPeace – a sustainable and conscious socio-economic alternative founded in Senegal in 2006.

As an alternative economic model based on non-violence, EcoPeace repositions the human being, and not profit, at the centre of all its initiatives. EcoPeace promotes peacebuilding, socio-economic justice, sustainable farming and environmental protection and aims through its actions to awaken the consciousness of the local population to their self-esteem and their own responsibility in the current situation of their country and their continent.

Sheikh Aly always took the example of Gandhi in the way that Gandhi presented India’s situation to the Indians. He explained to them that the British had not taken India, but that they had willingly conceded India to the British; that their presence in India was not due to their military power but due to the passivity and the fatalism of the Indian people.

The same is true of Africa today. Sheikh Aly’s dream is for the African people to awaken from their sleep and to work consciously for the development of their continent. The motto of his campaign in Senegal was: ‘When Africa awakens, the world will come out of greed’.

“When you live on the richest continent on the planet and you do not work to take care of its resources to transform them yourself into a wealth to share with the rest of the world, then you are fuelling other people’s greed. The responsibility of the ever-increasing presence of foreign multinationals racketeering their way through the deepest corners of the continent, of the resulting corruption, political instability and inhumane social and cultural condition of the African people lies in the hands of the Africans themselves.”

Sheikh Aly N’DAW

Sheikh Aly wanted to free the African people of this deep-rooted psychological construct, forged by centuries of slavery followed by colonisation: that the white foreign society, culture, know-how and ideas are better than their own traditional way of living, culture, craftsmanship and wisdom. He wanted his people to embrace their divine origin, to overcome their complexes and to use all their human capital to make of Africa a unique example of social, economic and political development through non-violence. 

One of the EcoPeace projects, the EcoPeace Mango Campaign, was an extremely creative project through which Sheikh Aly sought to realise this. He led by example and worked day and night on the farm himself to produce what have been unanimously described as “the most divine mangoes ever”. Symbolically, the mangoes were first exported to Europe in 2012 to France and the UK, the two greatest colonial powers that ruled over Africa during colonisation. 

Sheikh Aly wanted to demonstrate the power of non-violent action. People who bought and ate the mangoes in Europe were extremely amazed that such exquisite, high-quality produce could come from Africa. And on top of that, they were able to buy those mangoes directly from the farmer as there was no middle man in this project.

He said:

” Through an initiative like EcoPeace, one learns the notion of service. Beyond the limitations of a fixed and defined employer-employee framework, in this socio-economic model the individual rediscovers his limitless inner potential and becomes an actor of development, an instigator of change.”

Sheikh Aly N’DAW

All of this and more is what an Economy by Means of Peace looks like, in action. Discover more on the dedicated Ecopeace – Ecopaix websites and learn more about our projects.