Learning about war and peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa
Two thirds of the world's conflicts are in Africa. In particular, the Great Lakes
Region (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda
and Tanzania), continues to see conflicts which are complex, extreme and
seemingly intractable. By exploring the narrative experiences of those most
affected by the conflicts in the region, specifically Burundi, DRC and Rwanda
(refugees living in camps in North Western Tanzania) the thesis examines to
what extent educative processes (holistic formal and informal learning
processes) affect the identity construction/shifts that lead people to engage in
violent conflict. These educative processes are located within a framework of
'structural levels' of society. These reflect the likely gaps in information
acquisition and identity construction between individuals and organisations 'at
the top' of society and communities at grassroots levels.
The qualitative methodology adopted gave the necessary flexibility and
potential for opportunistic data collection essential in an environment where
the unexpected is a daily occurrence. Through focus group discussions, depth
interviews and questionnaires, the research identified different information
circuits by which people learnt about conflict. In opposition to the common
perception that formal schooling effects change, the findings indicated that the
primary mechanisms were oral/aural, such as gossip, traditional story telling
and radio. Individual and collective identities were constructed through this
process and the research identified how identities could be shifted through
different formal and informal educative processes - often through
indoctrination or coercion.
The thesis indicates how the synergy between educative processes, identity
and trust could form the basis for alternative strategies for peace building
within a refugee context. Efforts at peace building continue to falter in the
region and this illustrates the need to construct a more inclusive peace-making
process, taking into account the insights and values of those most affected.
This constitutes the main recommendation of the thesis.