Review of Sub-Saharan Africa Between Conflict and Reconciliation by Rita Schafer on Welt-Sichten

leiner bookSub-Saharan Africa Between Conflict and Reconciliation, an edited volume for which Joram Tarusarira and I wrote a chapter, has been reviewed by Rita Schafer on the German language website Welt-Sichten. Schafer praises the book for providing ‘some impetus to the debate on reconciliation in societies that have suffered violent conflict.’ But she also points out – and I have to agree – at a cost of €99 ‘for African readers and libraries that totally overpriced book is prohibitive.’

The book was edited by Martin Leiner, Maria Palme and Peggy Stoeckner and published last year by Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht. It includes analysis of Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions in contexts including Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Chad, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Schafer commends the chapter I wrote with Tarusarira, which is titled ‘Reconciliation and Reconstruction among Churches and Faith-Based Organisations in Zimbabwe.’ Using Google Translate, I’ve reproduced her comments on our chapter in English:

‘Particularly revealing is the writing of Gladys Ganiel and Joram Tarusarira on Zimbabwe. They outline the recent research and debates about churches and politics after the colonial period, and analyse the role of faith-based organisations in reconciliation processes. They argue that for reconciliation, social relationships must be rebuilt. At the same time, social structures must also be changed – but this is difficult in authoritarian Zimbabwe. Their presentation is balanced and convincing.’

Schafer also recommends the chapter on Uganda by Sr Hellen Lamunu, who writes about child soldiers and how traditional rituals have, in some cases, aided their reintegration in some villages. But Lamunu argues that perpetrators and victims have not been reconciled, particularly in cases of war crimes. She pleads for a comprehensive reconciliation and redress process. Unlike many of the authors, Lamunu is not employed by a university but is project coordinator of the NGO Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate, or ‘Gulu Child’, a centre for disadvantaged children in  Gulu, Northern Uganda.

Finally, Schafer praises the chapter by South African theologian and anti-apartheid activist Ben Khumalo-Seegelken, who considers reconciliation in his country in light of the predominantly Christian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Twenty years after the end of apartheid, he takes a clear position for the victims and calls to account former perpetrators and profiteers – which include international corporations. Schafer concludes that Khumalo-Seegelken argues convincingly with reference to international human rights treaties.




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