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The Role of Local Peacebuilding

on Thu, 05/24/2012 - 13:37


Theatre in Uganda should not start from the National Theatre in the city and then spread outwards but should start from the villages, and then build up to the National Theatre in the city."

This is a quote by Robert Serumaga from a book chapter, 'Theatre, War and Peace in Uganda', that I am reading presently. It reminds me of discussions I have had with others on the role of local small-scale peacebuilding work in Serbia, Croatia and the Congo. We used the term 'under the radar peacebuilding' for such community-led efforts that address the impacts and legacies of war and violence at a very basic level. Community networks, interactions and relationships are often the first victims of violence and intimidation, creating situations of isolation, fear and suspicion. Without trust, no society can function well. Seemingly simple initiatives, such as enabling a local radio phone-in or creating a space for storytelling, can start the essential process of building connections, relationships and trust within communities. They often go unrecognized and unacknowledged by those in positions of power and authority and by external peacebuilding agencies. Yet peace treaties and larger scale development projects cannot go far without the threads of human relationships that enable individuals to look each other in the eye, communicate and somehow begin the painful process of recovery and building a different and better future for all.