Masters Graduate tackles Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Africa
Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mr Steve Tai Oladosu, graduated cum laude with Masters in Social Sciences (Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for research that looked into the role of the church in building peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 2001 to 2016.
Oladosu views conflict as one of the major problems militating development in Africa, direct, cultural or structural violence.
‘Great efforts and resources have been expended on sundry peace processes, yet to no avail. Rather, the unprecedented change in the world makes conflict even more difficult to handle. This necessitates a search for new and more effective approaches to conflict transformation and peace-building within and between nations and people,’ he said.
Oladosu believes that his research could benefit the Congolese people, the government, peace actors and especially religious leaders. ‘It could also offer valuable lessons to other African nations in similar circumstances, and provoke further research on the subject.’
‘The church in the DRC is large, strong, significant, and its predictable solidarity with the grassroots populace, has the capacity to transform the conflict situation. But, the church in the DRC are engaged in a kind of reactive approach to peace work which focuses on the immediate conflict dynamics, with no long-term peace process that could address the root cause, and that could deal with those policies and structures that sustains conflicts,’ he said.
Oladosu said the church needed to review their models of engagement in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. He recommended a new and pragmatic peacebuilding infrastructure; a new political landscape in the DRC; investing in the human and social capital of the Congolese people; ecumenical consolidation and multidisciplinary synergy for peace.
‘As the world globalises and religious networks wax stronger transnationally, the need to introduce some religious concept into the frameworks of international relations theories is imperative. This will go a long way to advance our ability to properly understand and interpret many complex geopolitical dynamics. It would also help to appreciate the role that religion plays in various countries, and how it impacts, internally and externally, on their politics,’ he added.
Oladosu thanked his family, friends and supervisor for their support during his studies.
He plans to now pursue his PhD, thereafter a post-doctoral fellowship and become a researcher in the field of contextual theology and peace.
His advice to other students: ‘Let us study to be role models and world changers beginning in our community, country and continent. Knowledge transforms, and only transformed people can transform the world. The key is determination, commitment and consistency (focus). With these, and God on your side, you can achieve anything.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo