The religious beliefs generate and establish corresponding religious practices and behaviour enshrined in the communal view of society governed by the law Part of this article is a reprint of material published in Dialogue & Alliance, Spring / Summer 1993m Vol. Shenk, op. The ritual leader (elder) recites one part, while the people respond in the other: Say peace! Therefore, they do not seek peace merely from fellow humans, but first and foremost from God, after which humans become instruments of God’s peace within their souls, within their community, and within creation at large. This should be done ideally in a setting and in an environment of peace—in the family, in the community, in the nation, in the world. If there were peace among people, there would be peace in nature (gardens). Let her who is sick, O God; receive from thee health and peace, and her village and her children and her husband. Conflict Resolution, Culture and Religion: Toward a Training Model for Interreligious Peacebuilding. The African traditional religion or voodoo has helped us a lot especially in shaping our moral standards and giving us a sense of identity. We need to consider that, broadly defined, there are two ways to understand the nature of peace. A survey of recent conflicts in parts of Africa is found in Frans Wijsen: Seeds of Conflict in a Haven of Peace, Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York 2007. In Côte d’Ivoire for example, the country has become virtually split in half with government and armed resistance movements on opposite sides. 1. Both groups would be encouraged to embrace coexistence and to work towards healing the relationship between them and thus contribute towards restoring harmony within the community, which was vital in ensuring the integrity and viability of the society. The relation between the living and the departed is very important, and where it is disturbed there is a feeling of ‘no peace.’ Therefore, the living endeavor to ‘please’ the living-dead, through proper funeral rites. In all dispute situations the community leaders or Council of Elders of both genders – the male leaders are referred to Rwodi Moo and the female leaders are known as the Rwodi Mon – give a final verbal blessing to mark the end of the conflict. This is a communal prayer; hence, the use of the pronouns we, us, our, petitioning God for rain. When people are deprived of access to resources and education, poverty is widespread. Peace must begin at the cradle. I hope you’ll read through it and think about what peace means to you and how you can add more of it to your life and the lives of those around you. The late Professor E. Bolaji Idowu (1913-1993) writes: In the ethical system of the Yoruba, covenant plays an important role. This CD-ROM contains nearly 30,000 proverbs and 1,000 bibliographical entries to date (1996). For that reason, the petitioner asks to “Sleep in comfort, And have children.” The word ‘comfort’ here is clearly meant to signify peace. What the statistics cannot reveal is the fact of African Religion in the lives of most adherents of the other religions. In particular, four major areas of activity were identified, namely: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peace-keeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. God gives peace in order to sustain and propagate the life of all living creatures. The shaping or distortion of Africa by the colonial powers of Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not happen peacefully. Fourth, as in the previous prayer, peace is necessary also for nature—human ‘gardens.’ Without peace in nature, there is no peace for human life and vice versa. Rain is never a gift to an individual. In order to re-establish social solidarity in war-affected communities, a key step would be to find a way for members of these communities to ‘re-inform’ themselves with a cultural logic that emphasises sharing and equitable resource distribution. The Mato Oput process therefore allows members of the public to share their views and to generally make their opinions known. However, there are persistent challenges for mobilising resources for such an initiative. The Acholi place a high value on communal life. In this case, they include men, women, youth and children, babies, and above all God. Imported cloth and clothing and the “urbanization” of many rural areas of Africa is grinding away at the traditional cultural aspects of life in some African countries (UN Works, 2003). We have to create a framework that is a hybrid between indigenous African traditions and modern principles to ensure the human dignity and inclusion of all members of society – women, men, girls and boys. It deals with their cosmology, ritual practices, symbols, arts, society, and so on. It is not a private commodity to be acquired and monopolized by an exclusive elite. Send us the clouds that bring the rain. In Uganda, the rebel movement has been known to carry out abductions of innocent civilians including children. O peace to the country! [12] The Internet has several websites with African proverbs. This means, that peace is God’s gift to the world, to human beings in particular and to nature at large. A third example of prayer for peace comes from the Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo. Reconciliation remains essentially contested in terms of what it is and how it can be brought about. To break a covenant is to invite a curse. 2. 149 f. Ogun is the divinity of iron and steel. In this case, mothers from both parties suckle the babies from the opponent party. They face each other. This paper examines African indigenous approaches to building peace and promoting social solidarity. Human life is affected by the invisible world. African Religion has a deep awareness of spiritual realities. A Toolbox for Responding to Conflict and Building Peace, in Reychler, L. & Paffenholz, T. (eds). As proverbs are public property, it should not be necessary to cite in details the sources from which I draw this list. By drawing upon Somali tradition and combining these traditional structures with modern institutions of governance like the parliament, Somaliland, with its capital in Hergesia, has succeeded in maintaining a degree of relative peace and stability. That makes it a challenge to the institutions of the other religions, to engrave the message of peace at all levels of life, in both internal and international relations. Peace to the gardens! Again I offer only a few comments to this prayer. Only ‘the God of peace’ can help us to deepen our practice and experience of peace every day, individually, collectively, and universally. But their teachings can challenge people to make and practice peace at all levels: peace among people, peace between people and nature, and peace between people and God. Furthermore, offering prayers is recognition that God’s will for society and nature is peace. The self-declared Republic of Somaliland is celebrating its fifteenth year since it declared independence from Somalia. This act of reconciliation is conducted through the ceremony of Mato Oput which is the drinking of a bitter tasting herb derived from the Oput tree. 1, Hutchison, 1913, p.xll. This paper gives a brief outline of concepts and practices on that theme, from the perspectives of African Religion. Progressive cultural principles which promote human dignity and the well-being of the individual and society can provide valuable insights into how Africa can be peacefully reconstructed by using its own indigenous value systems which emphasise promoting social solidarity. Because religion is a way of life, it relates to culture and society as they affect the worldview of the African people. Also currently in Rwanda, the government is making use of the traditional justice and reconciliation system known as gacaca to enable it to try and judge some of those who are accused of having been among the perpetrators of the genocide in 1994. God in Yoruba Belief, Longmans, London 1962, pp. The fifth stage would seek to consolidate the whole process by encouraging the parties to commit themselves to reconciliation. Interestingly enough we find that in Africa there are indigenous traditions for peacebuilding that can teach us a lot about healing and reconciliation, which create the basis for re-establishing social solidarity (Zartman 2000). A diverse variety of African Traditional Religions of the early Khoisan and later Bantu speakers were practiced in the region prior to contact with European seafarers and settlers. They chopped down trees whose white sap is used as poison for arrow tips. Second, it sees peace in universal dimensions. The Sudanese government is itself embroidered in a conflict situation with a rebellion movement in the south of the Sudan, being conducted by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which has bases in Uganda. We have seen that potentially African Religion is clearly committed to peace, and in various ways it undertakes ways that teach, encourage, and promote it. Indigenous African religions are by nature plural, varied, and usually informed by one’s ethnic identity i.e. Treat all people with kindness, regardless of race, gender orientation, sexual orientation, religion, etc. African citizens need to be provided with the opportunity towards fostering greater social solidarity and greater Pan-African solidarity. Peace has always been a major need in society, on personal, family, communal, national, and international levels. First: God is the Author and the Giver of peace. DOES ISLAM PROMOTE PEACE? Pan-African Citizenship and Identity in Southern Africa: Historical and Contemporary Dimensions. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most of the institutions that exist in the realm of international and domestic politics were not designed with a view to fostering reconciliation or re-building social solidarity. Peace is not taken for granted; the fact that people quarrel, have disputes and serious differences, fight and even injure or kill one another is a tragic reality of life. As Chairman of the South African TRC, Tutu (1999) reflects that he drew upon both his Christian values and his cultural values. It has many channels of communicating this message: through traditional values and worldviews, rituals, social relations, and the increasing use of modern communication. To emphasise the need to foster social solidarity is to recognise the inter-connectedness of each human being. All of the wars which have plagued and continue to affect the African continent are using up resources which could rather be utilised to build schools, clinics and infrastructure for development. We can witness these dynamics of group identity and their impact on conflict situations across the world. But there’s a tremendous difference between the relationship of Christianity to the K.K.K. [3]. It therefore follows that if an individual is wronged, he or she may depend on the group to remedy the wrong, because in a sense, the group has also been wronged. Then they took a black dog and laid it across the fence. In practice, promoting social solidarity means confronting corruption and promoting power sharing, inclusive governance and the equitable distribution of resources among all members of society. Before the arrival of Christianity, Islam and the other foreign religions, people were afraid to take other people's wives. African religions, religious beliefs and practices of the peoples of Africa.It should be noted that any attempt to generalize about the nature of “African religions” risks wrongly implying that there is homogeneity among all African cultures.In fact, Africa is a vast continent encompassing both geographic variation and tremendous cultural diversity. Having said this, we cannot ignore the role that culture can play in enabling people to resolve their disputes and to strengthen the ties that bind them together. The petitioner asks that the spirits of his or her father and grandfather would “Leave me to live here in success.” That means he or she wants to live with the spirit world in peace. E. Bolaji Idowu: Olodumare. Cultural attitudes and values, therefore, provide the foundation for the social norms by which people live (See Malan 1997, Abu-Nimer 2000 and Avruch 1998). To conduct the necessary interviews and research to document these traditions. Following a transitional phase, the AU was established in July 2002, in Durban, South Africa. In the Darfur region of the Sudan, ethnic militia are now beginning to fight against each other, after having fought since early 2003 against Janjaweed militia, which is alleged to have ties to the government. Topics in Religious Education which promote self-confidence and self-esteem among ... Other problems affecting girl-child educational advancement besides traditional . Xhosa Practices of Ubuntu for South Africa, in Zartman 2000. As mentioned earlier, this indigenous peacemaking and peacebuilding process covered offences across the board – from family and marriage disputes, theft, and damage to property, to murder and wars. It provides a value system for giving and receiving forgiveness. The role of women in peacemaking and reconciliation in African society is tremendous, and all due tribute should be paid to them. God wills that there be peace, abounding like water in the world. The idea was first expressed at the AU Summit in Sirte, Libya, in 1999. When there is peace, there is plenty of what is necessary for life. According to this traditional method: The elders arranged for peace parleys, and after both sides had agreed on the need and satisfactory terms for peace, a great inter-societal rally was convened on the border were the battles had been fought. Even the current affirmation of or search for political stability is not always taking place peacefully. Let her get up and go to work, let her work in the kitchen, let her find peace again.[4]. Both of these conflicts form part of the same conflict system (Conciliation Resources 2002). History. The AU and its partners need to make the case for the inclusion of the use of indigenous approaches to building peace in the work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. In Somalia, clan-based militia are now confronting each other. There have been criticisms of the way that gacaca tribunals have been implemented. Through them the warring parties become ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ even if brothers and sisters also fight! That is the indigenous religion of every African people, which evolved from ancient times, without founders. Progressive cultural principles which promote human dignity and the well-being of the individual and society can provide valuable insights into how Africa can be peacefully reconstructed by using its own indigenous value-systems which emphasise promoting social solidarity. (Lesotho), The one who does not fight is an ass; the one who fought and would not reconcile is a devilish person. They have no open enmity between them. We continue to observe how individuals and sections of society in the Republic of South Africa, epitomised by Mandela and Tutu, have drawn upon some aspects of their cultural values and attitudes to enable the country to move beyond its violent past. People were afraid to cheat on other people. Unpublished conference paper presented at the Ubuntu Conference (AIDSA), University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1994. Also, these statistics cannot reveal the cultural, historical, and spiritual depth of African Religion that is alive and lingers on beneath the public surface. Fourth, peace has both communal and personal dimensions. The next and final prayer illustrates that in African Religion, peace functions not only on human level but also in the dimension of spiritual realities. We have already seen the role of prayers for peace. It is not ‘I think therefore I am’. Traditional African religion is very popular and arrived here with our North and West African ancestors. Tutu himself would always advise victims – if they felt themselves able to do so – to forgive. 3 And similar to this was the dialogue that took place between Edwin Smith, who had gone out as a missionary to Africa, and Emil Ludwig, an eminent biographer. See the fifth comment above. The wisdom of Africa is in the process of dying out with the elders who were familiar with traditions (Murithi & Pain 1999). In the context of the ubuntu societies found in Southern Africa, disputes would be resolved through an institution known as the inkundla/lekgotla which served as a group mediation and reconciliation forum (Nomonde 2000). Second, this prayer seems to petition peace and reconciliation, for leaders of the world: “May their heads agree!” It implies that where there is agreement there is peace. The AU, its member states and societies need to work towards raising the awareness of the AU and its Pan-African objectives among all of Africa’s peoples. Because peace is such an important state, it is protected not by human police or watchpersons but by the powers of the curse upon those who break it. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to the constitutional position of just two of the many religions in the country, as space and time do not allow for more. Second, there are witnesses from both sides to these acts of reconciliation and peace. Part of the covenant rituals leading to this is the exchanging of personal blood with one another. We pray Thee, O Lord our Father, to send us the rain. African societies take formal curses very seriously. They have no weapons of warfare. In Northern Uganda the government is in conflict with a resistance movement calling itself the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which continues to make incursions from the neighbouring country of Sudan. We take some examples of such prayers. Its beliefs are centered on the monotheistic acknowledgement of God as the invisible Creator of all things, to whom people pray and give praise names. Human lives have been lost. It speaks of the very essence of being human. It is estimated that there are close to three million refugees in central Africa alone. We want religion to be an asset for peace and not a liability, and African Religion is potentially one such strong asset. Ubuntu societies maintained conflict resolution and peacebuilding mechanisms which also served as institutions for maintaining law and order within society. Most recent reports are available for July-Dec 2010 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 Christian organizations that advocate for peace and justice in Zimbabwe include: UPF supports the work of the United Nations, particularly in the areas of interfaith peacebuilding, peace education, and the strengthening of marriage and family. Various structures such as the Pan-African Parliament might provide a forum through which the views of Africans can be expressed, but more needs to be done to interface directly with civil society and the grassroots communities who may not have access to the means of communication to establish a dialogue with the African Union. The Wapokomo people of Kenya make the following invocations for peace, rain, and health: O God, give us peace, give us tranquility, and let good fortune come to us.... O God, give us rain; we are in misery, and we suffer with our sons and daughters. There are spiritual leaders, kinds of priests or pastors in most traditional African religions. The difference is this: when Klan members burn crosses or promote their racism, they are opposing the plain teachings of the Bible.Jesus calls us to love our neighbors (Matt. At the level of governments, efforts have to be made to include in the policy-making and policy implementation process the positive role that indigenous approaches can fill in resolving disputes and building peace. The lesson for peacebuilding from this tradition is that by adopting and internalising the principles of ubuntu, we can contribute towards creating healthy relationships based on the recognition that within the web of humanity everyone is linked to everyone else. This notion of ubuntu sheds light on the importance of peacemaking through the principles of reciprocity, inclusivity and a sense of shared destiny between peoples. This is not to overlook the many forces that cause conflicts and make it so difficult to put peace into practice in the family, at work, in the community, in the nation, in the world, and with nature at large. Vast amounts of resources have been utilised to craft peace agreements which have often collapsed under the weight of competing interests. While both Christianity and Islam also impact upon the religious landscape of Africa today, and are the visible statistical giants of religious affiliations, African Religion is still very present. Peace with the invisible world is necessary for peace on the visible level. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Ethical and Theological Perspectives. We need to work more towards the notion of positive peace: which means a peace that promotes reconciliation and coexistence on the basis of human rights, social, economic and political justice. Later on this paper will argue that only through the promotion of Pan-African social solidarity can African countries achieve development. Religious leaders are employing traditional ceremonies to try to bring closure. Life is a unity and human life depends on other life as well as non-living objects and laws of existence. 7 No. The African traditional religion or voodoo has helped us a lot especially in shaping our moral standards and giving us a sense of identity. 45-75, for further and detailed discussion on covenants in African Religion. There is much debate as to whether institutions can play a significant role in fostering reconciliation. The paper will conclude by examining the strategies that can be adopted for increasing the use of indigenous approaches to building peace and social solidarity in Africa. It is necessary to examine whether there are other peacebuilding strategies that can be adopted to complement existing efforts to promote peace on the continent. They also symbolize where life is propagated, nourished, affirmed, sustained, safeguarded, and interrelated in its manifold forms on earth. Ubuntu societies place a high value on communal life, and maintaining positive relations within the society is a collective task in which everyone is involved. 3 Leo Frobenius, The Voice of Africa, Vol. O peace! African Religion affirms and acknowledges the continuation of life beyond death. As Tutu observes: ‘in the process of dehumanising another, in inflicting untold harm and suffering, the perpetrator was inexorably being dehumanised as well’. International Crisis Group 2006. This functions all the time at many levels of life. This is a recognition that peace is a gift from God, where and when people genuinely want it. It portrays existence in terms of visible and invisible realities, human and spiritual dimensions. This is a beautiful example of deeply religious measures that are carried out daily among African societies. [7]. The report offers an overview of the relationship between religion and conflict and looks at the evidence on religion as both a driver of conflict and as a driver of peace. A community in which there is no trust is ultimately not viable and gradually begins to tear itself apart. In the more difficult cases involving murder, ubuntu societies sought to avoid the death penalty because, based on the society’s view of itself – as people through other people – the death penalty would only serve to cause injury to the society as a whole. The Acholi leadership structures are based on models designed to build consensus. Followers believe in the guidance of their ancestors spirits. Infrastructure has been destroyed, education and health services have suffered, and the environment has been damaged. Some of these are drawn more formally than others. How then were the principles of ubuntu traditionally articulated and translated into practical peacebuilding processes? In his book No Future Without Forgiveness, Archbishop Desmond Tutu suggests that these principles helped to guide the thoughts and actions of some of the perpetrators and victims who came before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to confess and forgive (Mani 2002, Villa-Vicencio & Verwoerd 2000, Graybill 1998). We take one example from Nigeria to illustrate the importance and seriousness of covenants. The act of drinking it was an indication that an effort will be made to transcend this bitterness in order to restore harmony and re-build trust. The work for justice and peace must be the agenda for all of us; it must be our joint work for justice and peace. African Traditional Religions. To enable culture to begin to play a significant role in the reconstruction of Africa, it will be necessary to establish education and training programmes for officials and civil society actors, based on African cultural values, but keeping in mind that not all traditions are empowering – particularly on issues to do with gender equality. (Cameroon), It is peace, not food provisions, that you always carry with you. It is a litany recited while people are moving back to their villages after attending a sacrifice or other ceremony at the sacred tree (mogumo). Even though the sense and demand for vengeance may be great among some of the victims, the death penalty for murder would only serve to multiply the effects of suffering in other parts of the society and ultimately undermine any possibility of re-establishing harmonious coexistence at a future stage. Depending on the level of the offence, the Mato Oput reconciliation act is followed by two other ceremonies. In many African societies there are ‘blood brotherhoods and sisterhoods,’ drawn at such a deep level of relationship that those who enter into them become literally brothers and sisters to each other. In the popular mind, to discuss religion in the context of international affairs automatically raises the specter of religious-based conflict. The US Department of State annually compiles an International Religious Freedom Report for Zimbabwe, which reviews the legal status of religious freedom as well as reported abuses and possible problems.. If they learn early the ways of peace, this is a sound foundation for the rest of their lives. This is one reason why the Mato Oput act of reconciliation always includes the disputants, victims, perpetrators and their representatives. Gardens symbolize the supply of food—physical, social, aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual. It is addressed to God, even if the word God does not appear. What people communicate and transmit orally in the area of proverbs, among other ways, is of great value in society. A seventh point is that the spiritual dimension is strengthened by pronouncing formal curses (anathemas) upon those who break the peace accord and arrangements. Every African people has its wealth of proverbs, wise sayings, riddles, songs, and symbols. The covenant between person and person is usually a parity covenant in that it is ‘reciprocal—that is, both parties bind themselves to each other by bilateral obligations.’ It appears that, originally, the Yoruba made this kind of covenant before the tutelary divinity of the Earth, and hence the generic name for covenants is Imulè, which means literally, ‘Drinking the Earth together’ or ‘Drinking together from the Earth.’ The ritual, in general, is as follows: A shallow hole is dug in the ground; water is poured into it, and a kola nut is split and cast into the water. [2] Therefore, the theme of peace and reconciliation is not a foreign notion, and its intensity has accelerated, whether we look at it from secular or religious considerations. Therefore, this prayer appropriately pleads that “every ill word be driven out into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.” That means the words that bring about disagreement, dispute, quarrels, division, and fights should be sent far away, to places where there are no people, and should be abandoned completely. The symbol can be found throughout Ghana. The contribution that religion can make to peacemaking--as the flip side of religious conflict--is only beginning to be explored and explicated. It does not preach, foster, or justify war between communities or nations. Third, there is a willingness to lay down ‘the weapons of warfare’; these are material weapons, weapons of words, and weapons that may linger in the mind or community, such as bitterness, grudges, hatreds, mutual fears, and suspicions. (Sudan), No matter how hot the water is, it can never set fire to a house. African Traditional Religions In African Traditional Religions (ATR), people have deep and firm faith in the existence of a creator God who is unseen and is the nodal point of peace, social justice, and harmony. From this complex matrix of factors brought about by violent conflict, there has been an urgent need to identify mechanisms and institutions for conflict resolution which can achieve the medium to long-term goal of re-building social trust, solidarity and reconciliation. There is a need to establish a foundation for Pan-African solidarity at the level of grassroots communities across Africa. : `` peace and security in the context of Africa ask for forgiveness from the wealth and resources the! Observes that: ubuntu is found in diverse forms in many societies Africa. Brought about f. ( Italics mine ) set fire to a house reinforcing the of... 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