AFRICA GREAT LAKES: Doing peace in our countries


01 08 2014
AFRICA GREAT LAKES: Doing peace in their
our country
by Cliff Kindy

Cliff Kindy with nonviolent workshop participants in DRC

If you fled a war zone for your safety, would
you voluntarily choose to return to that zone of violence? A church in the
Democratic Republic of theCongo (DRC) chose to do so. Self-identified as
Church of the Brethren (COB) this group of eight congregations and about eight
hundred members felt a call to return to their communities as bridge builders
and peace makers despite the dangers. The peace churches attracted them because
of the emphasis on living alternatives to war and violence. They previously
held a trauma care training with the Friends in the Africa Great Lakes Region
because trauma is endemic in the DRC, where six million people have been killed
since the 1990s.

The Congo COB asked Christian Peacemaker Teams
(CPT) for training in nonviolence. Through a partnership effort—CPT supplying a
trainer and US COB providing funding and experience with the Congo COB—CPTer
Cliff Kindy went to the shores of Lake Tanganyika. 

The local facilitator pulled together a diverse
group for the training. The twenty-four participants were from five different
ethnic groups, five denominations, ages 22 to 50, both women and men, and three
different regions of the DRC. The translator moved fluidly from Swahili to
English throughout the three days. There were ten pastors in the group, so
biblical connections became an important foundational piece of the nonviolent
peacemaking experience.

Major components of the training included: examining
spiritual undergirding, building a trusting community from which to act for
peace, breaking through the differences and walls that divide people, growing
in willingness to risk, comparing tools of violence and tools of peacemaking, and
then experimenting with those nonviolent tools through role plays.  Finally, workshop participants
strategized about building the constructive program that will replace the
culture of violence in families, villages, and larger social settings. Role
plays dealt with ransom demands and inviting fighters out of the rebel groups
to try tools of nonviolence instead.

The training group formed three regional groups
and called themselves CPTers. They set objectives to build peace not only in
families and villages but to spread that spirit through their country and
across national boundaries to Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the world.

Toward the end of the training one of the
participants pointed out, “The DRC doesn’t manufacture or sell guns. The
First World is THE arms supplier of the world. It is the corporations from your
countries that hire the armed groups here to maintain control over mines and
export routes. That means few benefits and most of the cost in lives fall to
the people of the DRC when our resources leave the country. The major peace
work needs to be done in your countries!”   So, readers, this is
your task!

For further reading:

CPT article about
nonviolence training in DRC in 2009

article about prior CPT partners in DRC in 2009


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