News / Africa

Searching for Peace Amid Violence

Kevin, a man accused of being a thief by civil servants at the Work Inspection office, lies in pain after being attacked by a man with a machete and sticks in plain view of others in Bangui, Central African Republic, April 18, 2014.
Kevin, a man accused of being a thief by civil servants at the Work Inspection office, lies in pain after being attacked by a man with a machete and sticks in plain view of others in Bangui, Central African Republic, April 18, 2014.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Search for Common Ground

Joe DeCapua
Despite the ongoing violence in such places as Central African Republic and South Sudan, one organization said the seeds of peace still exist in those countries. Search for Common Ground said while differences among people are inevitable, violence is not.
 
Search for Common Ground said it’s natural that differences in beliefs, values and backgrounds can lead to protracted and serious disagreements or arguments, which is actually the definition of conflict. But the NGO warns when individuals respond to those disagreements with anger, fear and hatred, then violence can erupt.
 
It said more than one and a half million people suffer violent deaths every year – with tens of millions of others uprooted by war.
 
Africa Senior Program Manager Mike Jobbins defines common ground.
 
“Ultimately, it’s about understanding what people agree on. What do we have in common with one another, so that we can better build a future together? It’s about understanding our differences, but also understanding where we’re the same. So you start from a point of what you can agree on.”
 
It’s not the same as compromise.
 
Jobbins said, “Compromise is one way of solving a problem. But until you can really understand what the other person wants you can’t get to a win-win solution. So, ultimately it’s about not only understanding how you can share the resources that you might have, but how you can also work together and build a better future and to grow the pie, not just how you divide it up.”
 
Much of the news from the CAR focuses on civilians being killed by Christian and Muslim militias and the displacement of thousands of Muslims.
 
“The situation that’s going on is absolutely horrible. The tragedy of the loss of life and the displaced is probably one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. But at the same time we have to understand that there are millions of people who wake up every day in the Central African Republic wanting to make a difference. And they want to see a different future for themselves, and they want to bring an end to this crisis. And so we see people working together,” he said.
 
Peace efforts in CAR involve clergy of different faiths and denominations working together – and a peace campaign featuring art by the youth of Bangui.
 
Jobbins said that campaigns are being planned for South Sudan where fighting between government forces and rebels has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.
 
“I was in South Sudan about a month ago meeting with communities and with the international community to think through how we can use media – and how we can use radio as an opportunity to drive positive discussions – and to drive the way that the conflict is being framed right now and mitigate some of the risks of increasing violence.”
 
Search for Common Ground has programs in about 30 countries around the world – most of them in Africa.
 
“Peace,” he said, “is probably the easiest product in the world sell. Everyone wants it. The question is creating an opportunity for people who do want it to build together.”
 
That means overcoming differences.
 
Jobbins said, “The divisions that exist between men and women – between different religions – between different political views – between different regions – those differences are common to every society, not just the ones where we see the violence. And ultimately, it’s not only about ending the negative aspects of conflict, but also recognizing that in those legitimate differences between people – that’s also the only source of progress. So it’s only through discussing our differences that we can hope to have any kind of development.”
 
Search for Common Ground said that peace is a long-term process that must win the trust of all parties – leading to safe, constructive and creative problem-solving.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs