On Wednesday, 24 May 2023, ACCORD hosted a delegation of eight students representing Drew University from Madison, New Jersey. The students were accompanied by their Professor of Psychology, Mr G. Scott Morgan. The engagement aimed to increase the students understanding of conflict resolution, in relation to the psychology of group conflict and how groups reconcile after conflict. The knowledge session allowed for the students to recognize how people come to identify with groups based on race, nationality, religion; and how those group identifications become important to people. They were particularly interested in South Africa and its history with severe conflict, and reconciliation thereafter.
ACCORD’s Manager for Applied Knowledge and Learning, Mr Philip Visser facilitated the knowledge session, with further resource information provided by Mr Thobani Khumalo, intern as well as actors and contributors to ACCORD’s learning videos, Ms Sibongile Mofokeng and Mr Mondli Mkhize. The participants explored two learning videos, the story of a “Video Dialogue” to begin a process of reconciliation, dialogue and community building after the 1994 elections in South Africa, and the second, “Water Conflict,” an in-house ACCORD production, that depicts an imaginary conflict over the use of a local water source within a community. The two videos contrast the challenge of reconciliation and conflict resolution 25 years apart. Both scenarios stressed how adequate services and effective governance are key aspects of the reconciliation and resolution process. The complexity of the issues highlighted the need to see reconciliation not only from a group perspective but to understand how local dynamics that result in violence is deeply embedded in national patterns, structural divisions, culture and leadership.
The two local young actors, Sibongile and Mondli, who played roles in the Water Conflict video, were given opportunity as actors and as young people living on a daily basis, to share their experiences of the challenges of poor service delivery. ACCORD prides itself in creating spaces for young researchers and political enthusiasts to thrive as our mission continues to support the educational, creative processes, as well as remaining open to the wealth of knowledge yet to be gained from young leaders.
The delegation showed great interest in ACCORD’s work on the continent of Africa. They look forward to returning to South Africa in a years’ time. Prof Scott Morgan commented on the visit to ACCORD as being the highlight of their visits to date and that the discussions were authentic and grounded, and brought together many components of the information they have heard since their arrival in South Africa.