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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday because of its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid