Foreword from retiring editor

What we are once again presenting to our readers in this issue, is a number of articles with an interesting and interrelated set of conflict resolution messages. Several of the topics deal with conflict-causing situations in which governing bodies pursue interests of their own or those of their own ethnic group. The fourth and fifth articles (Adejoh and others, and Osiemo) focus on the reaction of the huge young component of the population – either violently aggressive opposition or restraint from terrorism, and either aggravating the conflict or working towards peace. Osiemo’s article links indigenous mechanisms to the practices of peacemaking, a theme which is also dealt with in two other articles (Wafula, and Alamineh and others). The efficacy of indigenous mechanisms with regard to community saving, cooperation and cohesion, and conflict transformation – in general and in the case of blood feud – is discussed and promulgated. The need of government to adjoin indigenous mechanisms to their formal justice systems is also emphasised. The research of the second article (Ali) concentrates on the predicament of factory workers who are, under government policy, bereft of the opportunity to agitate for their rights. And in the first article (Agwanda and Asal) a pertinent case of an ethno-nationalistic conflict is outlined and discussed. 

In the conclusions and recommendations of these articles, we get prompts and encouragements with regard to fulfilling responsibilities, practising inclusiveness and dialogue, showing goodwill, building relations and relationships, and revitalising indigenous methods. In the book reviews there are more examples of inclusiveness, experience and expertise. So, I wish you instructive and inspiring reading.

To these few sentences about the contents of this issue I must however, add some personal comments. Firstly, an apology that due to health problems I could not do my part of all the editing and proof-reading of this issue. At the beginning of the year, we planned that at my age of 89, and with a very well qualified successor on ACCORD’s staff in the person of Dr Andrea Prah, the two of us would work together for the first six months, and I would then hand over to her at the end of June. At the beginning of April, however, my health suddenly took a dip – keeping me in hospital for three weeks, beginning with a successful cancer-removing operation, but then followed by a double stroke and four days in a coma. In May and June I could do little bits again, but not nearly what I should have done as my part of the journal’s work.

Secondly, such an occasion of laying down one’s job and saying farewell to one’s colleagues obviously awakens rather strong feelings, and those are what I am experiencing. I can immediately add, however, that the main feelings are satisfaction and thankfulness. 

I am genuinely satisfied that the journal has indeed been fulfilling a need about which we were convinced – stated as follows in the foreword of Vol. 1, No. 1:

Starting a Journal is an undertaking which implies a determined and sustained commitment. Accepting such a responsibility presupposes the conviction that there is a definite and ongoing need for the envisaged Journal.

At ACCORD we are convinced that such a need does exist, and that we should add our contribution towards fulfilling it. We are of course aware of the fact that acknowledging this need points in more than one direction.

Firstly, it points to the reality of our human situation. Accepting the need for regular literature on conflict resolution means accepting the unremitting presence of conflict itself. This can be done, however, in a responsibly realistic way, without surrendering to the pessimism of those with an authoritarian mindset. At ACCORD we prefer to regard the prevalence of conflict as an absorbing and challenging reality, which should be approached frankly and constructively.

The second direction in which the need for conflict resolution writings points, is the entire dimension of responding to conflict. 

This is the fascinating field in which we as an ACCORD team are rendering our services to fellow human beings. We remain committed to work as constructively and effectively as possible in each and every situation where we can be of help.

About my gratitude I wish to say that my sincere thankfulness goes to everyone who was and still is involved. To ACCORD’s Founder and Executive Director, Vasu Gounden, who had the initial vision of a research assisted organisation, and soon thereafter the ensuing vision of an academic journal in the field of dealing with conflict. To all the authors of 240 articles, who made the meaningful results of their research available, and to the reviewers of 55 relevant books. To colleagues who rendered their faithfully cooperating services as Co-editors and as members of editorial teams. To the quality-controlling Advisory panel members, and ad hoc peer reviewers, who voluntarily fitted the assessment of articles into their own very busy schedules. (A special word of thanks to the two Advisory panel members who have served continuously from 1999: Ms Phyllis Johnson and Dr Alioune Sall.) To Mr Edward Katz, who excellently managed all the language editing from the very beginning. To ACCORD’s lay-out team, who professionally made all the issues publication-ready. And to Sabinet, ThinkTeam and African Journals OnLine, for making all the issues freely accessible online.  

I offer my surest and most sincere best wishes for the innovative work ahead to ACCORD and to the African Journal on Conflict Resolution!