As part of a capacity building initiative for the Eminent Persons Ecumenical Programme for Peace in Africa (EPEPPA) ACCORD, along with the all Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), hosted a panel discussion exploring the role religious leaders play in conflict transformation. The EPEPPA team is a peacebuilding initiative of the AACC which brings together high-level and well respected religious leaders to try and transform conflict situations and build peace in Africa. This discussion, held on 28 March 2022, formed part of a broader experiential study visit that the team undertook in order to learn from ACCORD’s approach to conflict resolution and peacemaking.
The event was moderated by ACCORD’s Manager for Applied Knowledge and Learning, Mr Philip Visser, and included Reverend Dr Anastasia Bukashe, His Excellency Ambassador Welile Nhlapo, and His Grace the Most Reverend Archbishop Emeritus Martin Blaise Nyaboho as panellists. Of particular note during the discussion, was the need to develop and adopt a theology of peace, which both deals with the realities of violence and places emphasis on the importance of peace in religious doctrine and practice. The panellists agreed that such a theology will be a significant first step in creating a culture of peace in Africa and would allow the church to play a transformative role in conflicts on the continent.
The experiential study visit to South Africa allowed for sessions that included presentations on ACCORDs approach to high-level mediation, dialogue and capacity building. The discussions further investigated the role religious leaders could play in regional peacebuilding structures. The visits to various historical sites in South Africa provided the team with information and an understanding of how societies commemorate conflict and reconstruct themselves after violence.
ACCORD and the AACC will continue to collaborate as the EPEPPA team strengthens its capacity for conflict prevention, mediation and transformation. ACCORD will remain supportive the EPEPPA team in its initiative to deepen the culture of peace, justice, equality, dignity, and socio-political stability in Africa.