“Mediation is one way of dealing with conflicts non-violently. On the spectrum of force to reconciliation – this is the ultimate goal of our continent. When we use force we suppress conflict, we do not resolve the conflict, in reality we are putting off the conflict for the future. Reconciliation is what we inspire to do. It is our vision; it is a mechanism for avoiding future conflicts.” These were words from John Katunga, a presenter during the Mediation DEP, and also a native from the Democratic Republic of Congo. His thoughts of using mediation to achieve reconciliation was shared by other mediators from Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Mozambique that AFSC brought together in Nairobi in April to “learn new tools from … brothers and sisters from Africa” as one participant from Somalia put it.
For two days they shared experiences and sharpened their skills in mediation. The following quote from Bishop Dr. Chad Nicholas Gandiya, an Anglican Bishop of Harare, summarizes the mood of the of the participation in the DEP:
“On behalf of all of us here we would like to say how grateful we are and how privileged we are to come together, learn from each other, in fellowship with each other and to share what we have experienced in our countries. It has been a wonderful experience and we thank AFSC for giving us this opportunity to come together, learn from each other and exchange.”
Is mediation necessary in the Somalia situation? In the wider horn of Africa is mediation necessary? The answer from workshop participants was “yes!” mediation is very necessary if we are to avoid further violence.
Other topics discussed were:
- Mediation in African conflicts: mandates, capacity and challenges
- Role of the Civil Society in Mediation
- Mediation of election related conflicts: issues and opportunities
- Mediation efforts in armed conflicts: entry points, practical challenges and strategies
- Religions and mediation: exploring faith based approaches
- Mediator: Vision, Ethics and Strategy
- Possible trends in conflicts in 2010 – 2030
The participants agreed to undertake a more proactive approach to de-escalate violence. They plan to observe national elections in their own countries, detect signs of disagreements and then push for disagreements to be addressed. They also promised to take an active role in mediation within their home communities. Participants hope to keep in communication with one another to share information and lessons from their on-going experiences.