How to heal divided communities: 5 tips from East African peace campaigners
20 December 2019 by Tobias Wellner
We work together with local partners in Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi to build a positive, nonviolent grassroots peace movement. Our Turning the Tide programme helps local activists to stand up for social justice and peace.
Quakers in Britain partners with Alternatives to Violence Kenya Trust, Rwanda Yearly Meeting and Ministry for Peace and Reconciliation under the Cross (MIPAREC).
Together we deliver locally driven projects organised by community-based volunteers and trainers. The approach is adapted from the Quaker nonviolent training programme, Turning the Tide.
Turning the Tide (TTT) is an approach that links peacebuilding with nonviolent campaigning. It seeks to equip and support people to address root causes of violence with nonviolent tools. TTT has four main programme pillars:
Our partners recognise that while trauma recovery, mediation, and conflict resolution are crucial, the success of these initiatives will be limited while legitimate grievances about governance, corruption and basic rights remain unaddressed.
TTT East Africa does not decide what campaigns trained groups work on. Facilitators help groups identify and analyse injustice and ensure that while addressing root causes, campaign groups use nonviolent measures.
Because of this approach, the projects that TTT East Africa has supported over the years are diverse. There have been campaigns against land-grabs, domestic violence, and corruption, and campaigns that support disability rights, environmental rights, and women's rights. Examples include:
A short film about the first Turning the Tide East Africa gathering, which brought together more than 30 peace activists from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Nigeria. The film was produced by Rwandan film-maker Yves Shema with the support of the TTT team in Rwanda.
Quakers in Britain have close historic links to Quakers in East Africa. In 2007, Kenyan Quakers reached out to Quakers in Britain, asking for support to overcome the challenges of the 2007 post-election violence.
TTT Britain staff travelled to Kenya and together with Kenyan Quakers adapted their approach to the Kenyan and East Africa context. Since the first trainings in 2010, our East African colleagues have further developed and nourished the nonviolent approaches of TTT.
Turning the Tide's work is based on a broad and deep understanding of violence that embraces physical, cultural and structural violence. As such, it resonates with 'taking away the occasion for war' and also the Quaker Advice to 'search out whatever in your way of life may contain the seeds of war.'
By supporting people to analyse violence in their own communities and develop strategies to reduce it, the growing movement of TTT practitioners in East Africa are actively promoting the achievement of a more peaceful society.
Read Kenyan TTT activist Betty Atieno's reflections on 6 years working towards peace in Nairobi.
Listen to interviews with African peace activists, undertaken for This Light That Pushes Me, an photography exhibition and book created by Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
Read a blog post looking at 3 things that East African community peace campaigners can teach us
Further blog posts about our peacebuilding work in East Africa
Sign up for email updates about the work through the monthly Quaker Faith in Action email newsletter.
20 December 2019 by Tobias Wellner
East Africa Programme Manager
020 7663 1075