Religious Terrorism in Africa Explored in Research
The current surge in religious terrorism, as evidenced by the recent Al Shabaab attacks in Kenya, makes it imperative for scholars and others to work towards a solution to the crisis.
This is according to Mr Richard Chelin who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) degree summa cum laude from the Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies programme at UKZN.
Said Chelin; ‘The aim of my research is to contribute towards finding a solution to the problems.’
Speaking about his research findings, Chelin said: ‘In terms of religious terrorism, religion is often used as a justification to commit acts of violence. Hence, when analysing a conflict, it becomes important to investigate the underlying causes for the conflict such as the social, political and economic factors involved.’
His research found there were often deep structural issues beneath the radicalisation of individuals. These included conflict and poverty, marginalisation, human rights violations, ethnic discrimination and lack of employment opportunities.
‘Religious terrorism exemplifies instances where religion becomes the victim of violence as it is manipulated by individuals to justify their acts. Therefore, a concerted and collective effort on the part of the local populace, scholars, religious leaders, and government and international actors is crucial when addressing these underlying structures of conflict and is essential when attempting to formulate a solution to the phenomenon of religious terrorism,’ said Chelin.
Some of the challenges he encountered were difficulties in conducting field work due to the nature of the topic itself (terrorism) and problems with obtaining access to those involved in the conflict. In spite of the difficulties encountered, the literature available was more than enough to distill crucial and credible information that contributed towards the effectiveness and reliability of the research findings.
He continued with ongoing support from family and friends. ‘Despite not understanding the value and esteem attached to this qualification, my parents were ecstatic believing that their son was soaring high. My friend, Gabriel Darong, who incidentally also obtained a summa cum laude degree for his masters, was deeply overjoyed as we had both worked extremely hard.’
Chelin decided to do his honours degree in an effort to pursue his passion in academia and to make a change in the world.
‘It is a truly humbling experience to graduate summa cum laude and I would not have been able to achieve it without the passion I have for learning coupled with determination to achieve greatness despite financial hurdles.’
‘I hope this serves as encouragement for those who find themselves in similar situations.
‘Secondly, I would not have been able to achieve the honours without the support of my family and friends.’
Chelin is looking forward to doing his doctorate and becoming an academic.