African scholars underscore the importance of nat’l dialogue for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia

(Reposted from: Ethiopian News Agency.)

By Solomon Dibaba

African scholars and educators who attended the 20th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa and the Third HEFAALA Symposium coordinated by Saint Mary University and international partners underscored the significance of conducting National Dialogue and Reconciliation in Ethiopia.

Dr. Fred Awaah from the University of Professional Studies in Ghana, Accra said “people who do not understand their past cannot understand their current and also their future. Africans should work for peace to enable them to contribute to world development.”

People who do not understand their past cannot understand their current and also their future.

Speaking on the importance of the National Dialogue for Peace and Development in Africa, he added that “Ethiopia is conducting this conference for the first time in its history and has taken the right decision in using dialogue and reconciliation as a tool for promoting peace in the country to ensure national development.”

He stressed that Ethiopians should be able to speak with each other on the importance of peace for the development of their country. They need to apologize and forgive each other, come together with open heart, commend each other and take up their issues of mutual concern.

According to him “Peace in Ethiopia contributes a lot to peace in Africa in the spirit of Pan Africanism. Developments in Ethiopia are crucial”. He further noted that education is the most important tool and road map for African development. He added that peace education needs to be promoted by institutions of higher education and every student sitting in class should serve as a beckon and promoter of peace.

Dr. Fred also mentioned how the Republic of Rwanda has managed to develop a strong process of peace and reconciliation among ethnic groups in the country, noting that now Rwanda is a shining citadel of peace in Africa after the genocide that took place from April 7, 1994 to July 15, 1994 in the country. He emphasized the importance of peace education in all schools and institutions of higher education across the country. The imperative of promoting dialogue and reconciliation needs to be realized not only by the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission but also by the Ministry of Education and other relevant sectors and ministries in the government nomenclature. One important step to be taken could be revising the curriculum, syllabus and books that are published for schools in the context of peace, peace education and dialogue and reconciliation.

Cornia Pretorius, from South Africa’s North West University School of Communication told ENA that journalists have a greater role to play in promoting a national dialogue and reconciliation process in Africa and across the world.

Speaking on the importance of dialogue, Cornia Pretorrius said “People who participate in dialogue and reconciliation need to be as honest as possible to each other. They need to positively relate to each other. As many issues are involved in the process such dialogue and reconciliation is not easy and could sometimes be very difficult but the participants should approach all issues in open mind.”

She warned that journalists could play either a positive role in promoting dialogue for peace and reconciliation or may play a negative role by further deepening differences among the participants.

She also said that peace in one African country could help to promote peace among other countries and could also contribute to peace in the entire African region, noting that journalists have a greater role to play in the entire process of dialogue and reconciliation.

When it comes to participating and contributing to a National Dialogue in Ethiopia, it is indeed important to focus on the most common grounds on which participants should agree without taking much time while other issues could be discussed in greater detail in the entire process. It must be clear that the process is an important part of the national reform program and it is also an important step in promoting democracy and good governance in the country.

Peaceful development in Ethiopia is a critical factor not only for Ethiopia as a country but also for the entire African region. This is so because the absence of peace in Ethiopia will directly affect developments in the rest of Africa;  and indirectly, the world .

It is important that the representatives of all sections of the Ethiopian society take part in the dialogue for national peace and reconciliation and remain vigilant that this excellent opportunity must not be missed at any cost.

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