As in a previous foreword, I wish to share an encouraging experience I had while busy with the editing. I had to visit the offices of the insurance company where our belongings are insured – not to claim anything, but just to update some details. As I entered the foyer, I was firstly struck by the writing that covers one entire wall. In large letters of a few different sizes, and in a well-planned collage-like arrangement, it contained a dozen motivating words. While I waited for a few minutes to see a consultant, I wrote them down in my pocket book: confidence, excellence, honesty, inspiration, strength, freedom, ambition, team work, motivation, courage, creativity, passion, authenticity. Secondly, the receptionist and the consultant – representing both genders and two skin colours – were so friendly and so efficient that I couldn’t help thinking they are indeed living up to the key words on their wall.

Afterwards, my thoughts kept returning to the connection between motivating words and motivated actions. I also compared the typical responsibilities of an insurance company with those of a conflict resolution organisation, and realised that there are similarities. Both are committed to help fellow human beings who happen to be in unpleasant circumstances. And both know that their contribution has its limitations. After all, what they are able to do, cannot undo the mishap, and cannot necessarily restore everything that went wrong. But the something they can do, both can do in the spirit of confidence, excellence, honesty, inspiration and the other qualities highlighted on that wall.

This brief but meaningful experience confirmed the gratitude I feel for being a part of ACCORD’s very motivated team. We don’t have a wall full of such key words, but in our foyer we do have the inspiration-radiating face of Nelson Mandela and his reminder that the principles underpinning our operations ‘are the very ideals for which humanity has striven for centuries’. It is a privilege to work in such an environment and together with similarly inspired colleagues. And to send out another issue of our journal to others who form part of a humanity-wide team of conflict resolution practitioners.

With these few thoughts, I wish to attach this introductory message to the contents of this issue. We have a never-ending and always-challenging job. We cannot prevent conflicts from happening, just as an insurance company cannot prevent accidents or incidents of crime. But we can keep on, day by day and year by year, as highly motivated workers in a worth-while field. We can radiate our inspiration and practise our motivation.

We thank our contributors to this issue for articles and a reviewed book on various cases of powerful people who are engaged in protracted violent conflict and remain unwilling to acknowledge injustice and restore justice. We appreciate the findings and recommendations with regard to restoring justice to the victims of injustice – including the unjustly treated gender – and working towards healing wounds, reconciling antagonistic groups and transforming conflict into coexistence. We thank our readers for implementing whatever ways and means they find appropriate to their situations.


This Issue

The consequences of not healing

Evidence from the Gukurahundi violence in Zimbabwe

  • Dumisani Ngwenya
  • Geoff Harris

Getting the past right in West Africa and beyond

Challenging structures through addressing gender-based violence in mediation

  • Elisa Tarnaala