Virtual Book Launch of Researching Peacebuilding in Africa: Reflections on Fieldwork, Theory and Context

April 2nd 2021

 

The virtual book launch commenced with the introduction of the editors of the book, Ismail Rashid and Amy Niang, and the book launcher, Nomfundo Walaza, by Cyril Obi, the program director of the SSRC’s African Peacebuilding Network (APN) and Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen) programs. This was followed by the presentation of the overview of the book by the editors and some chapter contributors. The editors explained that the book was the product of dialogues that facilitators/mentors had with each other as well as APN fellows during training workshops held annually since 2013, on the various dimensions of peacebuilding in Africa. They explained that it was a “library” of some of the most significant work and scholarly achievements of the program from inception to date, while noting that the book was held together by its focus on interdisciplinarity, critical reflexivity, research ethics and other aspects of peacebuilding research. Some attention was also drawn to the evolution of African peacebuilding as a field of study, and the rationale for the structuring of the book to address conceptual, thematic and methodological issues, complemented with case studies that helped unpack and illustrate such issues. The contributors that spoke to the content of their chapters included, Duncan Omanga and Pamela Chepngetich, Godfrey Maringira, Festus Aubyn and Kenneth Omeje. The book launcher, Nomfundo Walaza, spoke to her work as an experienced peacebuilding practitioner, including the work of the peacebuilding organization which she co-heads, the UNYOKE Foundation. Of note was the unique approach of the foundation to inter-generational peacebuilding by drawing on African knowledge systems and oratures, and by focusing on youth during its retreats for mediators. Nomfundo Walaza launched the book and described it as a “beautiful” volume that everyone should be proud of. She also recommended it to readers observing that the book addresses theory in a way that equally engages practice. She however drew the attention of the audience to the need to “mind the gap” between, research, policy and the people. Interventions from the audience also spoke to the book’s positive qualities and raised questions related the issues of accessibility, including language, pricing, and the need for translated versions so the book could reach a wider audience. The event was ended on the note of a consensus that Researching Peacebuilding in Africa would contribute significantly towards reshaping the discourse on African peacebuilding.