Which Past? Which Future?

re-defining identities

Ben Khumalo-Seegelken: Which Past? Which Future? In: Martin Leiner/Maria Palme/Peggy Stöckner (ed.), Societies in Transition. Sub-Saharan Africa between Conflict and Reconciliation. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2014, 177-188.

Thank you for have invited me to this year’s International Summer School at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena to engage in a trans-disciplinary exchange of experiences and perceptions on “Sub-Saharan Africa – between Conflict and Reconciliation”.

For the closing lecture I have chosen the title Which Past? Which Future? I shall touch on the following points: 1) Societies in Transition  –   liabilities, expectations and options, 2) The Past and the ‘Pasts’, 3) Sub-Saharan Africa between Conflict and Reconciliation – between ‘the Past’ and ‘the Future’, 4) The Future: What, which and when?

Let me, at the beginning, give you a brief reminder and put forward three general observations and one purposely provocative proposal. This should guide my thoughts and help to give a framework to my concluding remarks later on.

The reminder is about ubuNtu, as a quality of character and integrity, which means: unconditional friendliness, regard and respect for humankind and social interconnectedness. As the proverb says: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” (A human being is a human being through human beings, or I am, since we are; as we are, so am I).

The three general observations are the following: Societies are a product of willful effort and are sustained or can be reconstructed on purpose. Time evolves as a continuum from ‘the past’ through ‘the present’ into ‘the future’ – chronos. Time occurs also as an occasional and irreversible ‘constellation of moments’, as a one-time opportunity for phenomenal changes – kairos. The interplay between policy, politics, and polity constitutes that dimension of collective political activity comprising ‘the present’, ‘the past’ and ‘the future’.

The proposal in approaching and ‘dealing with’ ‘the past’ is this: “Never again!” – ‘dealing with the past’ could entail: recalling/reminding; willfully suppressing memory/forbidding commemorations; – it could and should perhaps also end up with: simply forgiving and forgetting – letting the bygones be bygones, however, without denying or distorting anything.[1]

1. Societies in Transition – liabilities, expectations and options

The entities constituting Sub-Saharan Africa today have as sovereign states at least just as many histories behind them as their numbers.[2]Trying to get insight into how they are structured and how they resemble or differ from each other, and in trying to predict how they might be structured and how they might resemble or differ from each other in the near future, we become more aware of the conditions under which they operate and the very diversified nature of their potentials and their strategies.

From the Niger-Delta to both sides of the Nile, from the Great Lakes over the Victoria Falls up to the Cape of Good Hope, people form and change their systems of living as have many before them. They have – like communities elsewhere – to grapple with inherited liabilities, be able and be prepared to address expectations and to recognize and use varying options in implementing their policies.

We are aware: Sub-Saharan states have inherited liabilities and they each bear responsibility towards both the individuals and the population-groups constituting them on the one hand and the neighbouring and the international community surrounding them on the other hand – the Economic Community of West-African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). Sub-Saharan Africa wrestles in varying constellations within this network in trying to cope with the various existential, strategic and other challenges that transitional processes bring along.

When in a particular settlement, region or country things start changing – whatever the cause might be –, the insiders and outsiders in that context start engaging in acts of taking stock of what has been and what the prevailing state of affairs is; they start thinking and talking about what the ongoing change could lead to.  Quite often, however, changes occur so rapidly, are sometimes dictated or enforced by ‘third parties’ and cannot be considered and reflected upon at leisure and in a consultative process.  People get overrun; theirs in such instances is only to respond, follow suit and make the best out of it.

Communication-processes in the aftermath of conflicts –  post-conflict processes – are in the first place largely concerned with addressing issues that actually should already have been dealt with – issues that most probably would have prevented the crisis at hand even occurring at all. They often resemble the exercise entailed in games at Kindergarten or on the playground of having to ‘go back to square one’ in order that one might still continue playing with the others and the next step forward could at all be worthwhile.

Post-conflict processes[3] are concerned with many issues: Values that had been upheld[4], traditions that had been cherished and achievements which the particular ‘society in transition’ had attained – not only in material terms – come to mind. Deeds, forces, measures and feelings are named and described: Hate-speech, acts of intimidation and insult, hurting, killing using stones, sticks, knives, fire, fire-arms, policies and even human-beings (child-soldiers).

Both insiders and outsiders at times realize how inappropriate and misleading it can be to categorize participants and contemporaries of conflict simply as ‘perpetrators’ on the one and ‘victims’ on the other hand.  A whole range of combinations, nuances and complexities lies in-between: Survivors of conflict have quite often been victims and perpetrators in one.  A closer look at and into memories, notes and records, often reveals a more complex picture than survivors of atrocities – killings, massacres, genocides, wars – might currently wish to cherish. Sub-Saharan Africa is, as we have once more established, no exception in this regard.  On the contrary: Ivory Coast, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa – to name but a few – are per definitionem societiesat different points of a transnational move from ‘the past’ to ‘the future’ – between ‘conflict’ and ‘reconciliation’.  The question “What has been? What could and should be?” is for millions within these polities the compass and the roadmap.  One might not forget: Most of these states are born out of conflicts[5], are or have just experienced a certain degree of post-conflict decline of immediate intimidation; others have, however, recently fallen back into new series of gross violation of human rights, genocides and similar objectionable practices, campaigns and policies like Gukurahundi, doing away with ‘chaff’, meaning human beings (in Zimbabwe), doing away with ‘cockroaches’, meaning human beings (in North Uganda), ivoirité (in Ivory Coast), xenophobia (in post-apartheid South Africa), homophobia, intimidating, defaming, oppressing, imprisoning and killing homosexuals in Uganda and elsewhere.

Since post-apartheid South Africa instituted its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and started in 1996 implementing its attempt to address the past with the view of laying foundations for a reconciled future, communities and governments throughout the continent are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that ‘the past’ has to be dealt with, if ‘the future’ should mean anything different, (anything) worth striving for and worth being concerned about at least just as much as the ‘the present’.  Post-TRC Africa seems to become increasingly sensitized for issues beyond mere survival. Long-term perspectives in continental and global networks characterize the policies and the politics of the most Sub-Saharan polities today.

The micro- and the macro-dimensions of public activity in Post-TRC Africa today may seem not necessarily congruent, but they are interconnected and intertwined: Traumatised children, women and men – survivors of massacres, wars and renewed traumatisation – in homes, in streets and in institutions throughout the continent on the one hand, governments, rulers, commissions, advocates and activists on the other hand, both have become a reminder to the world of a process going on in Sub-Saharan Africa about whose outcome we can only speculate. Rape and genocide leave an indelible stain on Africa’s identity. They call for a review of the self-perception and the general conception of masculinity in Africa today. I, as someone deeply rooted in that continent, feel obliged to raise my voice and call my fellow Africans to an urgent response:

Mothers, sisters and daughters of Africa – fathers, brothers and sons likewise -, we would render our continent and the world enormous service and ensure sustainable peace and well-being by taking the lead to sensitize and educate our male partners, brothers and sons for manhood characterized by ubuNtu rather than the prevalent ethnic and sexist arrogance responsible for almost every single massacre, genocide and war our continent has had to endure![6]

Both insiders and outsiders will – under the prevailing circumstances -wish and hope that the ongoing transitional processes do not end up eroding the values and the achievements the societies had attained.  The survivors who had been victims of past atrocities very often expect public acknowledgement of their memories and at least symbolic compensation (Genugtuung) for the losses the transition had imposed on them.

In dealing with ‘the past’, societies in transition have a range of approved options at their disposal, ranging from the prosecution of the perpetrators or the granting of impunity through amnesty up to restitution and compensation of the victims. Experiences gathered in post-conflict processes in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years vary and would not be unconditionally transferable: Zimbabwe is not South Africa, and Rwanda cannot simply adopt the outcome of the post-conflict process in the Ivory Coast or in North Uganda.  Learning from each other therefore entails also considering the specific points of departure, the demographic constellations, economic entanglements, geo-political factors and international interests – to mention but a few. ECOWAS, SADC and other regional constellations have in that regard an essential function within the AU, in the interests of the peoples within their boarders, and in the promotion of sustainable peace in continental and global perspective.  Each member of these post-colonial networks can benefit from the experiences of the others, each member, however, has to evolve and implement a specific plan for its own particular situation.  This leads to the second point.

2. The Past and the ‘Pasts’

The ‘past’ is still very present – not only in the memories of survivors of violence.  The various ‘pasts’ – both individual and collective – pose a challenge to be borne in mind and addressed adequately and differentially by the societies concerned and the world surrounding them.

Colonialism, neocolonialism and apartheid are systems of rule and government in recent times that have left indelible marks on the face of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa can today, indeed, still be equated with a generation of orphans – brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same mother but from many fathers – re-gathering after a tsunami and trying to find out how they could survive, lay new foundations, build and master the future together.

A passing glance on parts of Sub-Saharan Africa today stills shows: on the one hand, systematically ordered and neatly arranged urban and rural landscapes in most countries in Southern and East Africa with homesteads and settlements of modern architecture and standards, with long-distance roads, railways and telegraph-lines cutting through large and very large fenced-in plains, running over hills and through valleys many of which are covered with plantations, fields and gardens watered through irrigation-schemes and quality-livestock grazing and roaming under optimal conditions, attended to by complacent tenants, servants, labourers, workers and labour-tenants, who are often grossly underpaid and have to live without the appropriate insurances and securities; on the other hand, semi-urban and rural homesteads and settlements of low-quality building-material on arid lands in outskirts, often haunted by drought, floods and other extremes, mostly overcrowded and prone to high rates of criminality, pandemics and crises.

The geography of colonialism and apartheid prevails, as it were. Most people in these countries still live or have to live in places and areas in which the measures, the rules and the laws under which colonialism, neocolonialism and apartheid had forced and restricted them.  Countries in West, Central and North Africa today show a picture which, in principle, is by no means different, although it makes a somehow more natural impression; those countries underwent colonialism and neo-colonialism that had a somehow differing approach.

The big roads and railway-lines still connect mining- and agricultural regions with the nearest harbour and serve to facilitate raw materials reaching Europe and America via the shortest possible route, rather than connecting cities and regions within the continent and promoting intra-continental mobility, exchange and cooperation in the immediate interests of the people in the long term.

The public-sector – especially the governments, the armies and the public service – in most post-colonial states in Sub-Saharan Africa still remind us of the masters from Europe of yesteryears, who left not only their languages, but also their mannerisms and etiquettes for political office-bearers, purposely intricate and inconsistent bureaucratic procedures, uniforms and protocol for all categories of professional and non-professional workers (watchmen, police and soldiers, nurses, academic and judges’ robes and a lot more) – tokens of alienation that  – in the meantime and in their present elaborate forms –  are held to be ‘typical of Africa’ to the amusement of the very former masters from Europe – ‘almost French’ and ‘very British’!   Would post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa one day rediscover their own qualities and standards, re-gain pleasure in speaking their own languages and appreciating their own manners, etiquettes and forms of expression and public conduct?  A re-birth – a renaissance – is indeed a great challenge post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa still has to address.

Inherited limitations can, of course, be overcome.

Potentials and achievements lie dormant. Two examples:

The Western Cape and other parts of post-apartheid South Africa have a diversified population speaking different first-languages, one of which is “Afrikaans”, a language born and bred on African soil with European, Asian and African roots and rich in expressions and pictures nurtured on African soil – a language that also was instrumentalised by the apartheid-regime as vehicle of its policies and atrocities, a language that the people of post-apartheid South Africa have reaffirmed through their constitution as one of the languages of South Africans with official functions. That language and its speakers in the Western Cape and other parts of post-apartheid South Africa today can by way of example contribute considerably to facilitating post-colonial Africa to come to terms with themselves, ‘deal with the past’ responsibly, constructively and in the spirit of ubuNtu (“umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”) and to appreciate similar cultural achievements elsewhere on the continent in the interests of positive self-assertion on a par with other multilingual and multicultural regions on the globe.

The second example concerns the Land Issue in post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa: The great contribution to the democratization-movement especially in Southern Africa that led to the birth of what we today celebrate as post-apartheid South Africa, can be seen in the struggles of the peoples who challenged colonial rule and finally – at the end of the Second Chimurenga from 1966-1980 – brought post-colonial Rhodesia to an end, enabling the birth of post-colonial Zimbabwe. They put the Land Issue on the priority-list of post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa and reminded Africa and the world that land is the most essential and irrevocable nest and haven for human life and should therefore never be converted into a commodity and a prestige-object affordable to a few at the expense of the many for whom land is and always has been a source of living and home for the living in the present and in the future. Namibia, South Africa and other post-colonial states in Southern and East Africa, who have since reached the goal of liberating and starting to democratize their countries, will hopefully find constitutionally accountable ways and means of correcting the inherited geographies and structural injustices, implementing the awareness on the necessity to readjust the access to and the use of land and landscape[7]one good lesson from Zimbabwe[8].

A complex aspect of ‘the past’ is at stake when one reflects on the violation of human rights. Too many a person in Sub-Saharan Africa today has – as survivor of conflict – memories of ‘a past’ they would not wish it had happened at all. This was made clear to me recently in a discussion with survivors of atrocities in KwaZulu-Natal: The concept of reconciling named “ukuBuyisana”, literally meaning “meeting halfway in order to return home together”, was redefined by my hosts to mean “meeting halfway in order to proceed together”.  They were arguing: “Return home?  For God’s sake, by no means!” Traumatised survivors of atrocities can eventually meet halfway with their offenders, ‘the past’ they once shared would, however, remain behind; it will not always turn into a new common future. Or they were arguing: “Return home?  Which home?” People in societies that had been torn apart and had never shared ‘the past’ in togetherness, would eventually meet halfway and most probably agree and succeed in ‘proceeding together’.

3. Sub-Saharan Africa between Conflict and Reconciliation – between ‘the Past’ and ‘the Future’

Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Burundi and Kenya are five of those societies in transition in Africa today which have drawn lessons from the outcome of post-apartheid South Africa’s endeavours to address the past and lay foundations for a reconciling society. The interventions and consultations involving personalities and teams from South Africa under the responsibility of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) in these and other conflict-scenes in Sub-Saharan Africa brought about a new phase of intra-continental initiatives and contributions to post-conflict relations – a phase that would only be inadequately circumscribed with the slogan ‘African solutions for African problems’.  Sub-Saharan Africa learns to rediscover and make use of its resources and to share responsibility convincingly and sustainably.

When Ivory Coast eventually instituted a Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission in April 2011, a new series of turbulences could be contained. A starting-point for a process of healing, of coming to terms with each other within and among the community and hopefully reconciling, too, had been accomplished. Armed conflict had for almost over a decade terrified, instrumentalised and played against each other parts of the country’s population in a power-struggle between two rivals, costing hundred thousands of lives, causing material havoc, and violating traditions, unwritten laws of decent conduct and long-standing rules and practices of going about with political power and public confidence.  Not only Africa has been held in alarm and concern by that conflict.  The government of that country is now faced with seeing to it that ‘the future’ they had set out to bring about, would at least mean relief and betterment as compared to ‘the present’ resulting from that tumultuous ‘past’.

Zimbabwe, Somalia, the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of those polities in transition that still shall be keeping the world in alarm and concern in the near future.

South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia and others are by no means already where they set out and ought to be.

The FIFA World Cup 2010 helped focus world attention on Southern Africa and sensitized the interested public to look beyond spectacular performance and to record the state of affairs on the grassroots level.

While the government and the civic society of South Africa and the continent received the acknowledgement they duly deserved for having hosted the event successfully, survivors of atrocities eventually could grab the opportunity to state their case and recall their demands in public and under the most favourable conditions they had ever dreamt of. The non-governmental organization (NGO), Khulumani – “Speak Out!” – is one such interest-groups.  They used the increased global interest and attention on their country, South Africa, to remind the world that multi-national companies that had continued supporting and supplying the apartheid regime with weapons and related goods in violation of the UN Weapon Embargo of 1977, breaking international law, had never been called to account for their part in perpetuating gross violation of human rights under apartheid-rule in South Africa. Daimler Benz is one of those multi-nationals that Khulumani could, as a result, successfully bring before a court in New York in 2010 to account for sharing responsibility for atrocities that were in the meantime thought to have been swept under the carpet to be forgotten. Grassroots’ initiatives of survivors of atrocities like Khulumani became aware of kairos and acted accordingly.  The slogan of the FIFA World Cup 2010 “Ke Nako!” – “It’s (high)time!” – was interpreted and made by them to mean, it is time for justice!

In Nigeria, the Bodo community of the Ogoniland region consisting of about 69 000 inhabitants, one of the grassroots communities in the Niger-Delta operating within the MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), sued in April 2011 Royal Dutch Shell in a British court for damages resulting from crude-oil spills in 2008 and 2009 amounting to up to round 1,5 Million tons since 1960, which had contaminated drinking water supplies and devastated their residential sites and fishing grounds and are said to have led to the politically motivated prosecutions and executions of protesters and prominent activists including the playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, 9 of whom were hanged by the Nigerian government in November 1995[9]. Lawyers representing the Bodo community expect compensation-payment by Shell amounting to at least 410 Million Dollar, based on the yearly income of about 5000 Dollar that the claimants have had to forfeit in the last three years.

Survivors of atrocities promote justice by coming forward with their memories and records and contributing towards a culture of responsible and accountable management and government. No dictator, no government, no public company can in the future be sure to continue oppressing, exploiting, silencing and murdering people and getting away with it. We may soon witness a significant stride in international law leading to the prohibition of amnesty for gross violation of human rights – a timely and an appropriate message to dictators, governments, public companies and other violators of human rights prone to indulging in those crimes.

Notwithstanding, I would like to ask: Will that already be the ideal state of affairs in which Sub-Saharan Africa could thrive? Considerably, I maintain!  The least that international scholars could do to conduce the realization of that ideal, would be to intensify their case-studies monitoring the developments in post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa and to maintain direct exchange of experiences and perceptions with individuals, communities and societies in transition in that part of the world.

4. The Future: What, which and when?

We have observed that in Sub-Saharan Africa communities, rulers and governments will, after armed conflicts, quite often make attempts to come to terms with themselves and their former adversaries. They will – in that process – at least express the intention to commit themselves to laying foundations for future perspectives[10].  Since the recurrence of clashes is not always in their interest, post-conflict communities will seldom allow memories to nurture ill-feelings that could be conducive to jeopardising their efforts at ‘laying ghosts to rest’[11]. The patterns of how they try to meet that end range from tacit or expressive undertakings to simply and strictly ‘refrain(ing) from recalling evil episodes’, “me mnesikakein”[12], up to silentium perpertuum – maintaining unending silence on those incidents: “Khohlwa hlwi!”

Whereas South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (1996-1999) could accord perpetrators of atrocities impunity through amnesty, international criminal law would in the meantime differentiate somehow more precisely between criminal offences and would in most cases insist on the accused being tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC).[13]

The informal sector of polities in transition is becoming more appreciative of the effectiveness of personal and local practices of forgiving and reconciling. Retaliation loses plausibility and acceptability as an option worth considering in post-conflict discourse; ukuBuyisana – meeting halfway in order to proceed together – is seen as affording more scope for genuine reconciliation. Informal local and regional practices of justice and reconciliation like “Mato Oput” – “taking a sip of a particular sap”, “Gomo Tong” – “bending the spear / destroying the weapons” and “Nyono Tong Gweno” – “treading on an egg to re-enter home”  in Northern Uganda could possibly support formal national and transnational instruments of ensuring justice and supporting conflict transformation.  International criminal law and international human rights’ law gain more connectedness to notions and rituals regulating relations in homes and villages at grassroots where punishment, forgiving and forgetting without denying very often open new and sustainable horizons for many.

Concluding Remarks

With China entering the economic scene in Sub-Saharan Africa, with new continental and global constellations taking shape and posing new challenges[14] and with the African Union and its regional organizations increasingly gaining proficiency in providing the necessary think-tanks and networks for efficient interplay within the continent and with other global players, the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa can rightfully expect that their efforts in addressing the various challenges today will yield and bring about the envisaged results.

A constellation of moments and factors positive to phenomenal changes could be realized. Concern arises pertaining to “continuities” and “discontinuities” with global capitalism and lead to the question whether Sub-Saharan Africa could soon fall prey of a new wave of colonialism under the pretext of transformation and globalization.

An inner-African process of exchanging perceptions and experiences on these and related questions, such as human rights’ issues, is underway.

Africa’s time – Africa’s kairos – is come. Ke Nako! – It’s (high)time for reconciliation through justice!



Christian Meier, 2010: Das Gebot zu vergessen und die Unabweisbarkeit des Erinnerns. Vom öffentlichen Umgang mit schlimmer Vergangenheit. München: Siedler Verlag.

Francis Akindès, 2009: South African Mediation in the Ivorian Crisis, in: AFRICA’S PEACEMAKER? Lessons from South African Conflict Mediation, edited by Kurt Shillinger. Auckland Park: Jacana.

Mamphela Ramphele, 2008: Laying Ghosts to Rest. Dilemmas of the Transformation in South Africa.Cape Town: Tafelberg Publishers.

Margaret C. Lee 2009: Trade Relations between the European Union and Sub-Saharan Africa under the Cotonou Agreement: Repartitioning and Economically Recolonising the Continent? In: A New Scramble for AFRICA? Imperialism, Investment and Development, edited by Roger Southall and Henning Melber. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 83-110.

Mxolisi R Mchunu, 2007. “Culture change, Zulu Masculinity and intergenerational conflict in the context of civil war in Pietermaritzburg (1987-1991).” In “From Boys to Men. Social constructions of masculinity in contemporary society” edited by T. Shefer, K. Ratele, A. Strebel, N. Shabalala and R. Buikema. Cape Town: Juta & Company, 225-240.

Ralf K. Wüstenberg, 2009. The Political Dimensions of Reconciliation. A theological analysis of ways of dealing with guilt during the transition to democracy in South Africa and (East) Germany. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans.


Ben Khumalo-Seegelken is Lecturer in Theology and Social Sciences at the Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany, and a member of the Southern African History Research Society (SAHS). He studied Economics and Law in South Africa and received his PhD in Theology and Education from Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, Germany. His current research focuses on inter-cultural studies, studies on sustainability, post-conflict studies and reconciliation.

[1]Taking as a starting-point the contribution by German historian Christian Meier (2010), in a series of lectures and public addresses since 1996, a year after the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, on the theme “Erinnern – Verdrängen – Vergessen” (“Commemorate – Suppress – Forget”) entitled “Das Gebot zu vergessen und die Unabweisbarkeit des Erinnerns. Vom öffentlichen Umgang mit schlimmer Vergangenheit” (The Requirement to Forget and the Irrefutability to Recall. Whether and How the Public Deals with Evil Episodes of the Past), we shall look closer at the principle “mè mnésikakein” (never remembering/reminding of the evils again) and “silentium perpertuum” (enduring silence/speechlessness on a particular issue) in the context of post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa and seek for comparable insights including the practice of ‘ukuKhohlwa’ entailing the adamant expectation to “khohlwa hlwi!” (simply and strictly forget!).

[2]See for example the Comparative Survey: Reconstruction and authority in Eritrea and Rwanda http://www.africaresearchinstitute.org/files/briefing-notes/docs/Princes-Progress-Reconstruction-and-authority-in-Eritrea-and-Rwanda-LETPSFQPKU.pdf

[3] More often in recent years, post-conflict processes in Sub-Saharan Africa employ pre-colonial indigenous notions and rituals like “ukuHlambulukelana”in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, or “Mato Oput” – “taking a sip of a particular sap”, “Gomo Tong” – “bending the spear / destroying the weapons” and “Nyono Tong Gweno” – “treading on an egg to re-enter home” in Northern Uganda.

[4] Value-systems like “ubuNtu” – a way of thinking and living underlying all spheres of individual and collective identity and activity, based on the philosophy: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” meaning more or less  “I am, since we are; as we are, so am I”.

[5] For example, Zimbabwe is one of the societies in Southern Africa that have had to fight hard to challenge and overcome colonial subjugation and neo-colonial exploitation (through the resistance and liberation-wars, the First and the Second Chimurenga of 1896-1897 and 1966-1980 respectively).  Thirty years post-colonial Zimbabwe is, however, still facing the challenge of attaining at least a minimum of functional interplay between policy, politics and polity complying with the principles of constitutional democracy.

[6] Masculinity based on quality of character,unconditional friendliness, regard and respect for humankind, exemplary mannerism, responsible behaviour and social interconnectedness, in the sense Mxolisi Mchunu contends in the case of Vulindlela in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. See: Mxolisi R. Mchunu, 2007.

[7] A variety of concepts, such as land ownership and land reform, is currently under discussion. (see Land needed – Land wanted ; “Let’s transform the debate on land reform”, http://anothercountryside.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/lets-transform-the-debate-on-land-reform/

[8] Policy, politics and polity in Zimbabwe today unfortunately still fail to constitute a constellation congruent to the country’s needs and expectations (see “Great potential of Zimbabwe land reform limited by violent state?”, http://anothercountryside.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/potential-of-zimbabwe-land-reform-limited-by-violent-state/

[9] See also: MOSOP Press Statement: Niger Delta Civil Society Organisations Demands Demilitarisation and Respect for Minority Rights at the U.N., Geneva, Switzerland, 7 February 2009 (PDF)

[10] Oaths sworn in Ancient Greece some 2,400 years ago (404 / 403 B.C.) “never (ever again) to remind of the evils” (“mè mnésikakein) bound the respective post-conflict parties (the state and its citizens) and publicly committed them to accede to granting ‘immunity from prosecution and punishment’ (= “amnesty”, a term derived from “mnemo” to mean ‘not/ no longer remembering’), which was meant to prevent eventual escalation of the conflict, forestall possible retaliation and facilitate the settlement of the conflict and new begin. (see: Christian Meier, 2010. 15-49).

[11]“Laying Ghosts to Rest” in the sense the social anthropologist, Mamphela Ramphele (2008), identifies what she terms “stubborn ghosts” (Racism; Ethnic chauvinism; Sexism; Authoritarianism) and pleads for “laying ghosts to rest” by way of “channelling anger into creative energy”.

[12] Christian Meier, 2010, 15-49.

[13] See: Coalition for the International Criminal Court: www.coalitionfortheicc.org ; Impunity Watch: www.impunitywatch.org

[14] Is a new drive underway to re-divide and re-colonise the continent? See: Margaret C. Lee (2009).

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