African women mobilize to build peace
….Women from Mozambique described ways they are working to create a culture of peace in their country after years of war.
“Since the signing of the peace agreement in 1992, we can live in peace,” Rute Uthui of United Methodist Women of Mozambique said through an interpreter. “In the church since last year we always talk about peace and the maintaining of peace on the radio and in the news. Our women’s group meets every Thursday, and we never walk out without talking about peace and what we can do to maintain it.
"We are facing now criminality. When those people are caught, some want to beat them, but we say, talk to them—punish them according to what they’ve done—but not the violence, talk to them about peace.”
The gods are angry
....There are more than 2,000 African ethnic groups but despite the incredible diversity there are striking commonalities among them. Whereas Western jurisprudence emphasizes punishing the guilty, the widespread African tradition stresses restitution and reconciliation or "restorative justice"—the basis of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commissions established after the dismantling of Apartheid.
Africa's economic heritage featured free village markets. There were rudimentary free markets in Timbuktu, Kano, Salaga, Onitsa, Mombasa and elsewhere before the advent of the colonial era.
Whereas the West practiced majoritarian, or representative, democracy, ancient Africans practiced participatory democracy, where decisions were taken by consensus at village meetings variously called asetena kese by the Ashanti, ama-ala by the Igbo, guurti by the Somali, dare by the Shona, ndaba by the Zulu or kgotla by the Tswana.
Gacaca: A successful experiment in restorative justice?
....The twofold reparative function of restorative justice is, however, crucial and so the extent to which gacaca’s emphasis on ‘truth-telling’ realised its desired outcome is subject to debate. To draw on Johnstone’s conception of restorative justice once again, the fact that gacaca failed to offer something positive, in the form of compensation, to meet the needs of the victims meant part of its reparative function was undermined.
Rwanda: Kagame commends Gacaca courts
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis and its aftermath, said president Kagame, presented us with challenges that tested us all to limit. Among these challenges was redress for victims, perpetrators' accountability for their crimes and restoring harmony among Rwandans.
While Rwanda could have chosen the path of vengeance, or of general amnesty, Kagame said the people had chosen the hard but best way of justice and reconciliation. That is a victory to celebrate, he said on Monday during the official closing of the participative justice of Gacaca courts which started in June 2002.
Taylor war crimes verdict incomplete justice
The conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor amounts to only partial justice.
While many Sierra Leoneans are relieved to see Taylor finally convicted for his destructive role in their country's brutal civil war, his wanton destabilization elsewhere in West Africa hardly figured in the criminal proceedings against him.
Learning from Rwanda
....How do you mend a country when intimates killed intimates in such tightly knitted communities? How do you do justice when thousands of people were perpetrators and where you only have so much prison space? How do you do it?
Rwanda is doing it through a largely homegrown restorative justice methodology.
Stefaans Coetzee is the face of restorative justice
from the article by Bobby Jordan in The Sunday Times:
....Today is no ordinary day for the 33-year-old who grew up in an orphanage in Winburg in the Free State. Head slightly bowed, he looks up at two imams who have finally been allowed to visit him at Pretoria Central Prison. Their two previous attempts failed. The imams are from Rustenburg, where some of their congregation were nearly blown up by two Wit Wolwe bombs outside their mosque.
Now they want to ask Coetzee what it was all about.
We can write the stories of peace with our lives
from the Fambul Tok website:
Fambul Tok (Krio for “Family Talk”) emerged in Sierra Leone as a face-to-face community-owned program bringing together perpetrators and victims of the violence in Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war through ceremonies rooted in the local traditions of war-torn villages. It provides Sierra Leonean citizens with an opportunity to come to terms with what happened during the war, to talk, to heal, and to chart a new path forward, together.
Fambul Tok is built upon Sierra Leone’s “family talk” tradition of discussing and resolving issues within the security of a family circle. The program works at the village level to help communities organize ceremonies that include truth-telling bonfires and traditional cleansing ceremonies—practices that many communities have not employed since before the war. Through drawing on age-old traditions of confession, apology and forgiveness, Fambul Tok has revived Sierra Leoneans’ rightful pride in their culture.
Reconciliation Village Hosts Victims, Perpetrators of Rwandan Genocide
From the article by Zack Baddorf on Voice of America News:
It's been more than 16 years since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that left about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was re-elected in August with 93 percent of the vote, says now there are no longer Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, only Rwandans. As a test of how well the different ethnic groups can live together, victims and perpetrators of the genocide are living side-by-side in a small community known as the Reconciliation Village.
Truth and reconciliation at a price
The societal impact of gacaca on post-genocide Rwanda has been highly variable. Gacaca’s volatility results from the enormous number of communities involved, which themselves vary greatly in terms of their experiences of the genocide and the nature of inter-ethnic relations today. Over the last nine years, gacaca has recorded two principal successes and confronted two main challenges.
First, gacaca has proven remarkably successful at expediting the post-genocide justice process, delivering accountability for hundreds of thousands of génocidaires. In the process, it has commuted many convicted perpetrators’ sentences to overcome the problem of overcrowded prisons and facilitated the reintegration of most detainees into everyday society. Thus, the Rwandan government will soon have delivered on its promise of comprehensive prosecutions of those responsible for committing genocide crimes but without recreating the problem of overcrowded jails that necessitated gacaca in the first place....