African Nonviolence and Peace-builders Network Formed

Gathering Hosted by War Resisters' International and Ceasefire Campaign

Between the 26 – 30 July in Johannesburg, peacemakers from 12 countries in Africa met to share experiences, and birthed a new, continent-wide African Nonviolence and Peace-building Network. The delegates from over a dozen organizations pledged to intensify coordinated nonviolent resistance from the South to the North of Africa.

The African Nonviolence Trainers Exchange hosted by War Resisters' International (WRI) and Ceasefire Campaign. The 30-plus participants hailed from 12 countries (Egypt, South Sudan, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa), with support from a member War Resisters League (USA), a Women Peacemaker Program staff (Netherlands) and a WRI staff (UK).

The peacemakers met to share experiences and progress of nonviolence training and actions at grassroots level. A highlight was the inspiring presentation by Sherif Joseph Rizk, on the revolution in Egypt and removal from office of the president, Hosni Mubarak. It demonstrated the power of nonviolence and power of the people, as well as the use of social media. Much still needs to be done to dismantle the military/industrial state.

We were extremely encouraged by the extent and variety of the training and nonviolent actions at grassroots level. Workshops on Gender and Sexuality challenged participant’s perceptions, and highlighted the violence of gender inequality in all organizations. Intolerance, discrimination, violence, and even murder against members of the LGBTI communities are committed with impunity. The group pledged to make the struggle against these forms of violence a significant part of their work.

The exchange set up a formal network, the African Nonviolence and Peace-building Network. The steering committee co-facilitators are -Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (RSA) and Sipho Theys (RSA). Steering Committee members include Elavie Ndura (Burundi/USA), Bernard Agona (Kenya), Miles Rutendo Tanhira (Zimbabwe), Steve Sharra (Malawi), Laura Pollecut (RSA), Moses Monday (South Sudan). The network acknowledges that there are many other networks in the continent and aims to connect with them to expand the work on nonviolence and peace-building in the region. It will build on the present work by expanding the network to other countries and organizations, providing a significant resource to build peace in Africa by resisting militarism, supporting democracy, security, integrity in government, justice and human rights, and training in nonviolence and nonviolent direct action.

The next international War Resisters International conference will be held in South Africa in 2014, bringing together delegates from organizations around the world working to end war and a world in which conflicts are handled nonviolently.

Network blog: http://www.africannonviolencenetwork.blogspot.co.uk/
For pictures go to: http://africannonviolencetrainers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/blog-post.html