Nairobi Peace Initiative (NPI); also serves on the advisory board of Partners for Democratic Change
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
You'd be amazed that we have only 4 people in the program, we have the support group of 3 people which makes us 7, and we have a board that support us. That itself responds to your question. If you are small but you have ideas, then you have to be strategic with what you want to amplify for this kind of impact that you expect to have. We have strategic alliances. It is not a membership organization. Network is no longer a meaning for me because there are so many networks and they are nets that aren't working. We don't rush to network, you just identify a strategic partner and who shares your vision, who has the capacity, and the means so you share the vision. you share the means, and you have the infrastructure that can carry out peace work then your ??partner does?? Because we know for sure, the kind of idea we lodge, will be expanded because the people have that as a mission. Working with churches because they have peace as a mandate, and reconciliation as a mandate, is part of ???, they become our strategic partners and not ??? churches. It's like structures of the church, think about the justice and peace commission within the church, you think about National Council of Churches. Currently we are working with the NCCK, the Peace Corps National Conference of Tanzania, and also the Supreme Muslim Council, so these are Protestant, Muslim and Catholic who are working on peace in Tanzania. We support that group. They have the means, they have the vision, they have the capacities, , so what they need is to know how we go about it. We discuss together the design together the implementation process. They implement because we are too few to implement. We also set dates, we set a follow-up process, and also a time frame. Then we reassess what we have achieved, redesigned, restrategized, and then move ahead. We see our mission as that of accompaniment, this is our strategy. We over-see the process as it evolves with the objective of seeing the millions of structures that are informed, that we call the peace infrastructure.
It's very strategic. I can give you some of the people that we work with as members of our strategic network. In America, we work with the CWS, which is the Church World Service. We work closely with churches and their missions. We work closely with CRS, Catholic Relief Services, one of our strategic partners. We work with Eastern Mennonite University, another of our strategic partners. From afar, we work with Notre Dame, and I say from afar because some of the members of our organizations and colleagues have studied at Notre Dame. One of our close partners is a lecturer from Notre Damne John Paul Lederach. We partner also with Mennonite Central Community (MCC), so these are strategic partners from a continent afar, America.
In Europe, we have a large network, FEWER, a Forum of Early Warning and Early Response based in London who work with ECCP, which is European Convention for Conflict Prevention, those are our partners there. We have a concession of donors who support our work.
On the continent we have formed alliances with whom we work critically like the Catholic Church in the Congo, who would be one of our strategic partners, simply because they have infrastructure, they have the vision and they want to act, and they also have problems to deal with, huge problems. We work with the council churches of Sudan, Sudan Council of Churches and the Sudan New Council of Churches. We closely work with them. Last year we went to Khartoum, to support work for the Council of Churches. We work with the Africa Inter-Africa in the horn of Africa and we work with WANEPP in West Africa and CEPP, this is a center in Cameroon, in central Africa, so we have those critical partners to create our net, but our net that is working.
How we work maybe would be the question. They have a need that is getting bigger and they need support because they know the work will do, and so they call upon us and we go there and we support the work that they do. We might have a need in East Africa or the Horn of Africa or wherever we know there is a need. We know the competence we can get from WANEPP or from EMU or from other partners that we have and we draw from them, we call them and they support our work. The most recent example is that we are now engaging in terms of expanding the capacity building program, working on early warning and early response in terms of peacebuilding. We engage in a series of training of early warning and early response on the continent after peace building and conflict transformation. We come to deepen the conflict transformation processes by using the early warning, which refines the analysis of conflict intervention and also refines the strategies for intervention, because it gives scenarios that we can work with and reprocess them of the work that you do. We ask our West Africa brothers and sisters to come to East Africa and be part of us, to train the people of the Horn of Africa. I'll be going in September to West Africa and to support the work that WANEPP is doing in there. On several occasions we've gone even to ??? which is Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, in West Africa to support the work of women for peace.
That integration for me is key to create a whole movement on the continent that is moving towards peace. It's not sectorial peace that we want. We want a very integrative peace that allows the creation of an African consciousness about the problem, to know what is happening to others back there, how to live in solidarity with them, and they know what you are undergoing and will be in solidarity with you. That's how exactly you need to go. It is much in our tradition, as Africans that is more community oriented intervention which is deeply based on solidarity versus individual achievement.