It’s a continent with a history of intense struggle, but there is new hope and cause for optimism in Africa. It starts with peace building and on Saturday, November 16 the Mir Lecture Series welcomes Dr. Jimmy Juma to speak on his experiences as the coordinator of the African Peace Building Institute.
“Peace starts with change at a personal level and not at any other level of the society,” says Juma, who works as a mediator, negotiator and teacher.
“Peace-building in Africa gives an image of more and more people with capacity in dealing with conflict non-violently in various parts of the continent and at various levels starting from the individual level. Clearly, there are constructive relationships that are emerging as a result of peace-building efforts in communities, schools, churches, universities and other settings. Efforts of peace-building also are affecting changes at national and regional levels.”
Juma is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, a country that has been devastated by civil war in its recent past. If all you did was watch the North American news about Juma’s home, it might seem bleak. But that’s not the current reality and the message Juma stresses during his lecture is one of hope.
“A different Africa is emerging,” he says. “Changes are taking place in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the end of a foreign-born, backed and remote controlled rebel group.
“The average North American can also see that young people in Africa are waking up to demand their rights and push for genuine democracy. Future generations of young Africans will not keep the status quo. In Africa, there is a growing belief that there is time for dictatorships and a time for democratic rules that are based on African traditional democratic principles of community and compassion.”
Juma’s work has brought him to other African hot spots such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan. Though the feeling is one of change, Juma says there are still many challenges acting as barriers to peace.
“There is still a high level of dependency and that has been the major stumbling block for achieving peace on the African continent,” says Juma. “For peace to be achieved, there must be means to prevent violent conflict from occurring by ensuring human security and promoting social justice and well-being for all since there is enough for everyone on the continent. Where there is a high level of dependency from foreign assistance and absence of local ownership, one cannot own his or her future and means to get to that desired future.”
As part the Mir Centre for Peace 2013 Lecture Series, Juma will share stories that provide a better understanding of what needs to be done to build peace in Africa.
“Africa offers very good examples of development and sustainable peace to learn from,” says Juma. “There is greater hope for a better Africa, a continent endowed with rich natural resources, which will benefit its children one day.
Dr. Jimmy Juma’s will speak at Shambhala Hall on Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults and $13 for students/seniors. This lecture is generously sponsored by the Columbia Basin Trust.
Juma will also be putting on a workshop on November 16 entitled “Conflict Transformation and Cross-Cultural Perspectives.” He will incorporate cultural sensitivity into conflict resolution skills with a particular appreciation of conflict and peace building from an African perspective. This hands-on workshop is suitable for all ages. The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $40 for students and $80 for non-students. Please note that 12 free seats have been reserved for Selkirk College students. To register for this workshop please call 250-365-1208.
For more information go to selkirk.ca/mir.