PART 6. African’s Peaceful Means: Transcending Culturology as a science of a Culture of Peace
It is essential to analyze civilizations (rather than states), or economic or political systems, as units, in the spirit of seeking solutions rather than making condemnations. Even if the deep roots of violence and war are part of the cosmology which in turn is collective and subconscious, there may be ways of breaking the collective into sub-collectives and individuals and ways of making the subconscious conscious.
As cultural peace is the aspect in a culture that justifies or directs peace or structural peace, violence is the animalistic manner of resolving conflicts, while dialogue and negotiation are the only human manners to resolve conflict. Transcendental culturology opens a new field of dialogue using existing archaeological, linguistic, and socio-anthropological science as the departure point for dialogue and negotiation between civilizations. It is necessary to believe and to work on the possibility that humanity will be able one day, after a process of self-education, to overcome the social character of violence as a destructive collective behaviour.
Indeed we are not Zulu, Bemba, Woloff, and Amarick by nature or by the blood that circulates in our veins, but by our inherited cultural package and history. Therefore, the current barbarism in Africa and in the rest of the world can only be explained historically, and culturally but not naturally, or racially as the pessimistic conceptual tendency of humanity tends to explain it.
Guided by an optimistic conception, our contribution in Swahili is the words ku-badirisha, “to arrange the matter.” We recommend dialogue and negotiation in each state that has been affected by conflict crises. The establishment of “Truth and Reconciliation” forum following the example of South Africa would facilitate public dialogue. To re-shape Africa will require that protagonists and antagonists accept and examine the cultural history of their
countries, to build and strengthen the African societies without the influence of any “Politique d’Autruche.”
* Example of cultural Peace in The Sub-Saharan region of Africa
1. Kahalarian or Khoisan wisdom: « kgotla »
When a serious problem arises in the community, men and women meet to sit and talk. Everyone is invited to participate without any segregation. The « kgotla », as it is called by the khoisan people (San for the Bushmen or Hottentots)and, is a completely open discussion and that can last until the quarrel is resolved. During the talk, no member of the group is authorized to leave if the problem is not yet resolved. They go so far as to bring back a person who has left before they have found a solution.
Reaction of the community facing the threat of violence.
Khoisan people manage the protagonists, who can easily kill each other since everyone possesses poisoned arrows, by:
– Disarmament: The first group confiscates the poisoned arrows and hides them somewhere in bush,
– Mediation: The second group separates the belligerents.
– Dialogue: The groups come together, and discussion and sharing start. The objective of the « kgotla » consists of finding a viable solution that will be acceptable by the protagonists and by the community.
– Reconciliation and reconstruction: After being assured that the
misunderstanding does not exist anymore between protagonists, the elder officially announces the end of the conflict.
In cases of conflict involving a person that does not belong to the groups, the “San” proceed almost in same manner, by asking the
person concerned to attend. If he or she does not come, the group delegates people to move and bring the person to them.
Baraza is a Swahili word meaning “gathering”, or “table of dialogue.” Baraza in the traditional society was used to settle differences and conflicts. It symbolized a traditional assembly led by a council of elders and wise ones. People in conflict were brought there to arrange and resolve their problems. In the eastern region of Africa, former antagonists were asked to bring with them gifts for each other. Accepting to go to baraza meant that we were going to solve the problem and restore the harmony in the relation between our clan, family and community. Baraza was employed in the case of apartheid under the name of the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation.
3. Gacaca in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda 1997-2001)
The Gacaca was a participatory restorative tribunal of justice parallel to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda established by the U.N Council in November 1994. The Gacaca jurisdiction in general was adopted to fight impunity by introducing community service and promoting reconciliation. With Gacaca, the Rwandan community had the following objectives:
* To encourage confessions,
* To solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons and reduce the pressure on the state budget,
* To participate in the social rehabilitation of the inmates and use this workforce to contribute to the development of the country.
Gacaca was a real example of communal justice as opposed to mob justice and retaliation. By avoiding the usual punitive justice, it promotes restoration and reconstruction. Unfortunately, Gacaca fails in some ways because of political influence and because participant in the genocide residing in Rwanda did not attend the cultural court. The failure could have also resulted from the lack of support or involvement of the international community probably
due to several political factors.
3. Kacoke Madit, Acholi ethnic groups (Sudan- Uganda)
This is a sort of “table ronde” of dialogue and a form of reconciliation in Acholi culture that unites elders, peasants, intellectuals and religious leaders, including a coalition of chiefs. In the example of the “West African talk under the Baobab”, an arena of sharing and talk between generations and classes, Kacoke Madit literally means”umbrella.” Like the Baobab tree, the umbrella symbolises here a refreshing shelter from the burden and hardships of the climate, hot sun, rain etc. represented by conflict and social turbulence.
Cultural peace implies that the violence occurring in Africa, and in the world in general, is opposed to rationalism. To be rational in regard to peace and social behaviour is to advocate the supremacy of dialogue, negotiation, and non-violence. In his comment in
1980, L.S.Senghor, then President of Senegal, (2) said,” the
international Progress Organization chose to treat… a problem that appears for me to be the major complexity of the latter quarter of the 20TH century.” The new world-wide economical order must attain two objectives, that, for us, are dramatically linked : to transform the world and change life so that the human, better nourished, better clothed, better educated, stronger and beautiful, may be more human and to accomplish this new humanism, the participation of everyone is needed because the task is rough, but challenging.” (Preface by Léopold Sédar Senghor, President of the Republic of Senegal, to I’S. P. O.” book one the International New Economic Order, 17 July 1980).
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