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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More