Conflict resolution, management, and transformation training for Umlazi youth

INTRODUCTION

Post the unrest, with various peer educators, took part in stakeholder engagements that sought to respond to and address the unrest that rocked the province of KwaZulu Natal. These engagements formed a roadmap that was intended to guide a series of interventions that will sustainably foster community-level peacebuilding capacity. In this regard, Africa Unite in partnership with Action Support Centre funded by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture conducted a three-day youth training in Umlazi Cinema on the 11th, 12th, and 13th August 2021, and 44 youth were trained.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Following the unrest in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng which led to looting, widespread destruction of property, multiple deaths, and injuries as well as racial tensions, many communities have been directly and indirectly affected. In the aftermath of the unrests, Africa Unite youth peer educators took part in various consultation engagements targeting the affected areas. These were meant to coordinate joint intervention plans with the overall objective of building community-level mechanisms that will proactively respond to conflict situations in different communities as well as to act as a prevention framework. The outcome of these initiatives highlighted the fact that youth are disproportionally affected by conflict and to address this, youth should play a key role in sustainable peace. It was also noted that the role of youth in decision-making, leadership, and participation in conflict resolution, peace processes, both pre- and post-unrests are pivotal in promoting lasting peace and security. Given this context, it was therefore prudent to acknowledge and reflect on the role of youth and to integrate them into peacebuilding initiatives following the unrests. Apart from the peacebuilding drive, these initiatives will seek to shift the perception that sees youth as being without the skills, knowledge, or social status needed to bring about change in post-conflict environments. The integration of youth will also be important in addressing racial divisions and putting youth at the forefront of peace mediations. The planned training, therefore, focused on defining concepts of conflict, violence, and peace as well as highlighting the conflict analysis tools. These activities will assist in strengthening existing community initiatives towards better responses, strategies, and sustainable peace.

Introduction To Conflict Defining Concepts

To set the scene for the training and to create a space for open learning to take place, the facilitator, Chief Simon Mothoagae opened a platform for participants to unpack in smaller groups what they understand by conflict, violence, and peace. 

Analysing and Mapping Conflict

In this exercise, words like assumptions, stereotypes, prejudices, and values were brought forth as the words play a pivotal role in determining our attitudes or mindsets. This was because our attitudes are the foundation where we make decisions that impact relationships with people and value systems of society and our own. In analyzing the conflict, it was raised that conflict mapping was pivotal in identifying people directly involved, who among these are influential or in a position of power, who are most radical and who are more open and accessible, what persons, are not involved in the conflict, have the ability to influence those in conflict, what do people in the community know and think of conflict, identify key people who are respected by both sides of the conflict, are their people who can help and support those directly involved, are their people who, for various reasons, do not wish the conflict to be solved.

Tools For Conflict Analysis

The participants were also equipped with tools for conflict analysis, and these included

  • Onion tool or conflict layer model: this was useful for parties who are involved in negotiation, to clarify for themselves their own needs, interests, and positions. This tool enabled the parties to move beyond the public position of each party and understand each party’s interest and needs. This enabled them to find the common ground between groups that can become the basis for further discussion.
  • Conflict tree: it is a graphic tool which uses the image of a tree to sort key conflict issues. It also offers a group, a community, or an organization to identify the issues that each of them sees as important and then sort these into three categories a) core problems b) causes and c) effects.
  • ABC Triangle: this analysis was based on the premise that conflicts have three major components: the context or the situation, the behaviour of those involved, and their attitudes.

Communication For Change and Conflict Transformation

In this segment, participants distinguished between listening and hearing, identified and understood how listening skills can be used to make communication more effective or create conflict.

In conclusion, the participants applauded the importance of the training as they noted that most conflicts ended up being violent in communities due to proper skills to tackle them and due to the growing culture of violence that was rampant. They also pledged to share the knowledge with other community members to curb violence being used as a tool for resolving conflicts.

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