Conflict Transformation and Peace-building under the Spotlight
International students from around the world gathered at UKZN for a discussion on African indigenous approaches to conflict transformation and peace building.
The students, part of the International Scholar Laureate Programme in the United States, attended the colloquium which examined the implications of conflict transformation on human rights in Africa.
The colloquium was hosted by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Fund Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems on UKZN’s Westville campus.
Opening the event, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, welcomed the international students to the University and commended the DST/NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems for taking the initiative to host the colloquium.
Blackledge underscored the importance of promoting international human understanding through shared experiences and knowledge systems.
Director of the DST/NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Professor Hassan Kaya, outlined the work being done by the Centre to promote the contribution of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the global pool of knowledge. This is in line with the National IKS Policy and the vision and mission of UKZN.
The colloquium included a keynote address by the Dean of the School of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, Professor Palamagamba John Kabudi.
Kabudi shared his knowledge on the topic, with particular emphasis on customary law, border conflicts and alternate dispute resolutions.
UKZN doctoral student in Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Mr Valery Ferim, shared his research work with the international visitors on the Role of African Indigenous Approaches to Contemporary Conflict Transformation and Peace-Building with special reference to the Bakweri people of South-West Cameroon.
The colloquium was chaired by Professor Muxe Nkondo, a Board member of the DST-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems
With 42 students from countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Japan, Puerto Rico, Botswana, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, Australia, the Philippines and China, faculty advisors from the International Scholar Laureate Programme, Ms Cindy O’Leary and Ms Sarah Dachos, said the programme served as an international relations and diplomacy forum.
Kaya said the most important focus on this international initiative on promoting IKS was community involvement in knowledge production, because that is where indigenous knowledge was being generated and used. ‘Our IKS experts are not in the universities - they are in the communities,’ said Kaya.
UKZN Dean of Research, Professor Urmilla Bob, told the international visitors about how the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal were merged to form the University of KwaZulu-Natal, noting the ‘apartheid construct’ which reflected the divide and rule ethos at the time.
Bob, who said the merged University had shaped its own destiny, reflected on her own experiences, having edited a book titled: Conflict-Sensitive Adaptation to Climate Change in Africa. The book is freely available on the ACCORD website: http://www.accord.org.za/publications/books/1287-conflict-sensitive-adaptation-to-climate-change-in-africa