By
Rob Lancaster
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08 May, 2013

 

The toolkit of a peacemaker - South Sudan

Rob Lancaster from Australia was one of the team responsible for training the peace and reconciliation mobilizers. This was his speech to the graduates of the four-week course which concluded on 1 May.

Speech for closing ceremony of Peace and Reconciliation Mobiliser training – Juba, 1 May 2013

(Photo: Paul Briggs)
(Photo: Paul Briggs)
There are many South Sudanese in Australia right now, playing a part in writing the newest chapter in Australia’s multicultural history. So it’s a pleasure to be here in South Sudan and playing a small part in writing this the newest chapter in South Sudan’s history. Thank you.

There is training everywhere in the world. There are as many training programs as there are tadpoles in the puddles around Juba right now. We often go to trainings looking for answers from the trainers. But we say the answers are not with us, the so-called ‘trainers’. The answers are, rather, within us, between us, and among us.

Building bridges between people, the theory is very clear and very simple. But without a renewed spirit of hearts and attitudes in people, that theory amounts to nothing, which is why our whole training has primarily focussed on the qualities of a peacebuilder. This is the first dimension of the training. Am I ready to be open to others, to give others credit, to trust others? Am I ready to let go of power and pride? Am I willing every day to look first to where I am not living with integrity, rather than pointing the finger at those around me?

And then the toolkit of a peacebuilder, the second piece of the training program. With that spirit of selflessness, how can I draw on story sharing, different facilitation techniques, dialogue circles, conflict mapping exercises, and so on, to invite others into that same journey.

Finally an action plan. Time will tell how we go with that.

But the foundation of our training has also been that the greatest action plan comes not directly from a template, or a model that is taught, but from searching daily for a wisdom beyond each of us – correcting where we are going off course, and finding an inspired, selfless direction forward.

As we leave, let’s be real. Incredible things have happened this month. But this will only translate into peace and reconciliation for South Sudan if a committed group takes it forward. And a committed group doesn’t wait for finances, or an official plan. Perhaps we can ask ourselves as we leave today: is my commitment to reconciliation in South Sudan conditional – on money, on being recognised, on being given a position? Or am I absolutely committed to this – such that I will work for unity in this country whatever obstacles come my way?

Reconciliation, to my mind, is part of the mandate of being born.  As one of the facilitation team, this month has been part of a journey of healing for global reconciliation. The history closest to our conscious memory is often linked with a national narrative. At the same time, we are all connected by deeper and longer narratives. And the peace of the world will only bring us closer together, physically at least. Our journeys of reconciliation nationally – be they in South Sudan, Australia, or wherever else – will teach us lessons not just for putting right the past, but getting right the future of our relations with those whom we perceive as different. That is a journey for us all. Thank you to all the participants and to the government of South Sudan for allowing us to share in this chapter of that global journey with you.

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.

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