PhD candidates present papers at the Safety and Violence Initiative Conference, Cape Town

Tahirih Matthee, Kevin Thomson and Tareneh Afnan-Holmes, PhD candidates, each presented a paper at the Safety and Violence Initiative Conference in Cape Town on the 7-8 November, 2019. The three presentations are:

Tahirih Matthee: “The development of strategies, skills and attitudes in addressing violence at a Cape Flats school”.

Kevin Thomson: presented at paper on his study in a school. The aim was to empower youth to make constructive choices in their lives. The title is “conflict transformation education: a strategy to educate against stigmatisation and violence in a primary school”.

Taraneh Afnan-Holmes: Taraneh’s paper is titled “A values-based, integrated assets approach to adaptive peacebuilding, Masiphumelele, Cape Town”.

l-r: Taraneh Afnan-Holmes; Kevin Thomson; Tahirih Matthee.

Peace Studies Conference, Indiana, USA

Tinashe Rukuni from Zimbabwe recently attended the Kroc Institute Conference entitled “Building Sustainable Peace”, held in Indiana, USA, 7 – 10 November. He presented a paper written by Bunmi Akande, Tinashe Rukuni and Sylvia Kaye. The title of the paper is “The Power of Community: Peacebuilding in African Communities”.

Hillary Musararwa also presented a paper via video link, “Structural violence (social injustice) transformation through social entrepreneurship: an action research in Zimbabwe”. DUT’s Peacebuilding Programme was well represented at this international conference.

Tinashe and keynote speaker John Paul Lederach

With Lisa Schirch, well-known peace author

Two new books from ICON

Jean de Dieu Basabose, Anti-corruption education and peacebuilding. The Ubupfura Project in Rwanda. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2019.

Corruption is a major obstacle to development in Africa and elsewhere. There are three ways of trying to contain it – a concerted effort to prosecute offenders and apply harsh penalties, changing bureaucratic systems to minimise room for corrupt behaviour; and educating people not to engage in corruption, for example, by not asking for bribes and not paying them.

This book, which draws on Jean’s doctoral thesis, focusses on anti-corruption education in primary schools as a way of combating corruption in Rwanda. The curriculum material which Jean developed and trialled in a number of schools was found to strengthen the resolve of future generations to maintain and live out the Ubupfura (trust/respect in IKinyarwanda) ethical values.

Mediel Hove and Geoff Harris (Eds.). Infrastructures for Peace in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2019.

Cultures of violence are characteristic of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and attempts to move towards cultures of peace have often proved difficult and ineffectual. And yet the wide vari¬ations in levels of violence within and between countries show that it is not inevitable; rather, it is the result of choices made at individual, community and societal levels.

This book examines the potential of peace infrastructures as vehicles to strengthen and spread progress towards cultures of peace. Peace infrastructures vary hugely in sophistication and level. The examples examined in this book range from tiny structures which help resolve conflicts between individuals and within community organisations, peace committees which serve local com¬munities, peace education and peace club programmes in schools, mediation mechanisms to prevent election violence and to ministries of peace to coordinate government and non-government efforts in peacemaking and peacebuilding.

The overall finding is that the development of peace infrastructures at all levels has great potential to build cultures of peace.

Peace Garden – an action research study

Tinashe Rukuni, a 2019 peacebuilding PhD graduate, started a peace garden in Zimbabwe as part of his research. His assumption when starting the study was that a peace garden could help bring people together who had been experiencing discord and conflict. He began the study by first identifying those willing to try something new as a way of bringing peace. Through action research, the group resolved their differences and formed a team who worked together in the new garden. The first crop was large enough for each to earn funds for school fees and other expenses. Since then, the garden has continued to grow and has produced a larger crop. The group also formed a NGO to help formalise the peace garden.

Thriving Peace Garden! 2 July 2019

Developing postgraduate studies in peacebuilding – in the DRC

The main aim of the workshop was for each of the six participating universities to develop a draft strategic plan to introduce postgraduate studies in peacebuilding. Subsidiary aims included promoting the use of participatory action research and building relationships between universities in the Great Lakes region.

The workshop was led by Professor Geoff Harris and Dr Chrys Kiyala from ICON, assisted by Dr Joseph Rukema from Sub-Saharan Africa University, Goma. There were 22 participants, 18 from five Congolese universities, two from a university in Burundi and two student observers from the Sub-Saharan University of Africa. One participant  – Theodore Mbazumutima – is a recent PhD graduate in Peacebuilding from DUT and another – Josephine Mauwa Kimanu – is a current PhD student with DUT.

Several aspects of the workshop are worth noting:

  • We used a participatory and experiential learning approach. Some lectures were necessary but the best learning, we feel, took place in small groups as participants wrestled with the issues and came up with promising insights.
  • We did not prescribe how peacebuilding programmes should be organised. This can happen in a number of ways and we were aware that many factors will influence the choices which any university will make.
  • We encouraged  the use of participatory action research, an approach with which ICON has particular expertise, and helped participants to develop draft plans of how they might set up their own peace programme and the shape these might take.

We were delighted that on the last day the Rector of La Sapientia Université Catholique, who had attended much of the workshop, committed his university to coordinate future cooperation between the five universities and with DUT. It is very likely that three of the participants will commence PhD studies with ICON in 2020. Overall, we are confident that the workshop will act as a springboard for efforts to develop a culture of peace in the region.

The workshop was funded by a grant from the NRF’s KIC Africa Interaction programme and enjoyed generous hospitality from La Sapientia Université Catholique.