Conference report 6: Witnessing to Hope, 13-20th August 2000, Caux, Switzerland

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African participants meeting together

Sierra Leone
Emma Kamara, lecturer in Home Economics at the University of Sierra Leone: "My aim is to set up a centre where children can receive training in the skills of reconciliation, and I have started working with 100 or more war-affected children in my local church."

The Democratic Republic of Congo
Since August 1998 a civil war has been raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) also involving armies from six neighbouring countries. Twenty participants from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the Congo met during the conference for a day of discussions to build trust amongst themselves and search how to contribute towards peace. The Congolese participants included intellectuals and lecturers, some of them living in the country, others in exile in Europe. One of them explained: "We created the space for real listening to one another. The Congolese have always spoken as if they were the victims. Now we could understand the Rwandans."

Prof Dr Rwigamba Balinda served as President of the National Commission for the Rehabilitation and Renovation of the National University of Rwanda, in Butare, after the genocide. In 1996 he founded Kigali Independent University, of which he is the Rector. In order to create a mentality that can help prevent confrontations and atrocities in the future he has designed a course in ethics which is a standard part of every student's curriculum.

Ethiopia and Eritrea
Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean participants who are engaged in initiatives for peace in the Horn of Africa, met for discussions and built what they described as "a solid bridge of trust and friendship for the future." Two of them, author Mammo Wudneh, Ethiopia, (photo on opposite page) and former Ambassador Dr Yusuf Al-Azhari, Somalia, together with two colleagues from Eritrea and Kenya, earlier in the year visited a number of European capitals to inform and consult politicians and diplomats about their work. They also met with refugee communities from their countries and made radio and TV broadcasts which were widely heard in their own countries. Although satisfied that the resolution of the UN-Security Council has been accepted by both sides and that the war is over, they stressed that "stopping all actions of hostility" must include the propaganda war of words.
Mammo Wudneh has been deeply involved in the search for a solution to the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict for 30 years and has written numerous articles and books on the subject. His commitment to a peaceful and just solution has not been diminished by the many set-backs over the years. He explained: "There is a spiritual dimension to my struggle. God has inspired me for this purpose. That gives me hope till the end of my life."

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