[2nd African Forum: Harare] “Conflict Resolution and Coexistence through Reassessment and Utilization of “African Potentials” “(December 7 – 9, 2012)

Date: December 7 – 9, 2012
Venue: Bronte, The Garden Hotel, Harare


We have held an annual series of open discussions, titled the “African Conflict and Coexistence Forum,” in African locations to promote the international exchange of insights among and with the African scholars and professionals. In December 2011, the first year into our project, the forum was held in Nairobi. In December 2012, the second forum was held in Harare.

At the Harare Forum focusing on Southern Africa, there were 8 presentations, including the keynote speech, made by African researchers as well as 7 by Japanese researchers. There were also 3 African and 4 Japanese participants from the first Nairobi Forum, which had focused on East Africa, and much lively and varied discussions were exchanged as to what constituted the African Potentials to be utilized in conflict resolution and coexistence realization.

Building upon what had been achieved in the Nairobi Forum, the participants in the Harare Forum brought with them short essays of 2000~3000 words in response to following 5 questions we had posed to them beforehand, which were full of personal insights from research in the field. This method was designed to facilitate even more focused discussions on site.

  1. What are African Potentials that can be utilized for conflict resolution, reconciliation and social healing? (The concept of African Potentials could be ambiguous, multifaceted and problematic, and include conservative/liberal/radical ideologies. It might raise a more fundamental question about who Africans are in the Southern African context.)
  2. How can the African Potentials work in a conflict resolution process?
  3. How can African Potentials be articulated with global/universal systems of justice and conflict resolution?
  4. African Potentials may include “harmful” ones. How can a pro-African Potentials orientation satisfy both at once local and universal justice while protecting human rights in addressing such “harmful traditional practices”?
  5. What are unique conflict patterns, if any, in the Southern African context that differ from those in other African regions?

The Harare Forum went as follows:
The project leader, Itaru Ohta opened the forum with an overview of the project. Next, Dr. Intiso Gebre of Addis Ababa University gave a critique of the Nairobi Forum as well as the project itself as a whole. This was followed by the keynote speech by Dr. Sam Moyo, former chairman of CODESRIA and leading scholar on world land reform. Professor Moyo provided a brief review of the contemporary agricultural history of the African Continent to point out its multifacetedness as well as several common themes, then highlighted the characteristics of conflict in Southern Africa, setting the course of discussion for the entire forum.


A total of 14 presentations were organized into 5 sessions. The topics ranged from land reform, autochthony, power sharing, regional cooperation, reconciliation and social healing, everyday conflict settlement, to spirituality and even other themes. Poignant episodes and insights were exchanged on the utilization of the African Potential for conflict resolution and realization of coexistence, as well as the characteristics of phenomena pertaining specifically to Southern Africa.

The following are the debating points culled from the presentations and discussions at the Harare Forum. These were made clear to all participants at the final general discussion for referencing their opinions. The participants agreed at the end for the presentations to be published after revision as the culmination of the forum.

Agenda for General Discussion

1. What are the (unique) conflict patterns and the issues to be addressed in Southern Africa?

  • Settler colonialism, racism and capitalist penetration (background of neoliberal globalization).
  • Centrality of the violent history of the land dispossession of the indigenous people.
  • Autochthony; Migration and historical layers; Precarious positions of minorities.
  • Indigenization and political/economic nationalism against neoliberal reform.
  • Polarized views on “good governance” and “traditional values”: hybrid institution?
  • External contexts: security system and scramble for resources.

2. What are “African Potentials” operating in conflict resolution and coexistence?

  • Negotiated consensus; Are players fixed entities with fixed identities?
  • Ownership of history, and the respect for the ancestry; Whose history?
  • Relational views on humans (and the nature); and openness?
  • Community-based, from within; Culturalist vs. political economy approaches?
  • Always constructed and invented; Only imaginary?

3. Where can “African Potentials” be utilized for conflict resolution and coexistence?

  • Process-oriented, and relating to the past, at multiple loci (at different levels: village/locality/nation/continent/global solidarity):
    • Land reform
    • Ecology and resource management.
    • Projection of (national) identity, dealing with past injustice.
    • Power-sharing, regional mediation, and post-conflict reconciliation.
    • Other critical milieus: class relations, gender and patriarchy…
  • When (how it takes) to judge success; measurement?

4. What kinds of articulation between local practices and formal mechanisms (state structure, regional organizations, etc.) can be envisioned?

  • Roles of chiefs. Should be institutionalized? To what extent, in what way?
  • How about the agency of ordinary people? How voices are heard?
  • State intervention; “Uncaptured” peasantry?
  • SADC as a community? Regional conflict/security regime (protection).
  • (Universal) rights and (local) traditions; Harm/utility of each (or of their combination)?

5. Some resonance between “African Potentials” and “Asian potentials”?


December 7 (Fri.)
19:00 – 20:00 Registration
20:00 – 22:00 Reception (Restaurant Emannuels)
December 8 (Sat.)
9:15 – 9:30 Itaru Ohta (Kyoto University)
Introduction: Purpose of the Harare Forum
9:30 – 9:45 Gebre Yntiso (Addis Ababa University)
Comments on the Nairobi Forum held in 2011
9:45 – 10:15 Keynote Speech:Sam Moyo (African Institute for Agrarian Studies)
African Potentials: Southern Africa’s Conflict Regime
10:15 – 10:35 Break

◎Session 1: Dynamics of Conflict Resolution in Zimbabwe

(1) 10:35 – 11:05 Donald Chimanikire (University of Zimbabwe)
Zimbabwe’s discourse of national reconciliation and conflict resolution: The cases of Reconciliation, The Unity Accord, The Global Political Agreement (GPA) and National Healing
(2) 11:05 – 11:35 Grasian H. Mkodzongi (University of Edinburgh)
Land reform, land conflicts and the dynamics of authority after land reform in Zimbabwe 2000–2011
(3) 11:35 – 12:05 Kazuhito Suga (I-i-net, Japan)
Effect of African potentials on conflicts after Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe –
12:05 – 12:15 Comments on the Session 1
Gebre Yntiso (Addis Ababa University)
12:15 – 14:00 Lunch

◎Session 2: Power-Sharing, Mediation and Reconciliation in Southern Africa

(4) 14:00 – 14:30 Yoich Mine (Doshisha University)
Sharing and dispersing power in the African perspectives: A research note on African Potentials
(5) 14:30 – 15:00 Yoko Nagahara (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
History as an African Potential: ¬Conflict and Reconciliation in Relation to Namibia’s Colonial Past
(6) 15:00 – 15:30 Mitsugi Endo (University of Tokyo)
African Potentials in the context of Southern Africa
15:30 – 15:40 Comments on the Session 2
Edward Kirumira (Makerere University)
15:40 – 16:00 Break

◎Session 3: Peopling and Conflict Resolution in South Africa

(7) 16:00 – 16:30 Rumi Umino (Tokyo Metropolitan University)
Living with conflicts: Being “indigenous” in South Africa, and beyond
(8) 16:30 – 17:00 Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town)
Resolving conflict and ensuring peaceful co-existence in South Africa: Any role for land?
(9) 17:00 – 17:30 Toshihiro Abe (Otani University)
Lawyer Mandela’s court tactics and the potential function of the South African TRC
17:30 – 17:40 Comments on the Session 3
Eisei Kurimoto (Osaka University)
December 9 (Sun.)

◎Session 4: Land and Conflict in Zambia

(10) 9:15 – 9:45 Richard Zulu & Chileshe L. Mulenga (University of Zambia)
Conflict resolution: Lessons from Zamba
(11) 9:45 – 10:15 Shuichi Oyama (Kyoto University)
The People’s anger killed a chief and his spirit protects the territory: Inequality and local resolution of land allocation under the new 1995 Land Act in Zambia
10:15 – 10:25 Comments on the Session 4
Kennedy Mkutu (United States International University)
10:25 – 10:45 Break

◎Session 5: African Potentials in Perspectives

(12) 10:45 – 11: 15 Wilbert Sadomba (University of Zimbabwe)
Potential of African philosophy in conflict resolution and peace-building
(13) 11:15 – 11:45 Euclides Gonçalves (Centro de Estudos Sociais Aquino de Bragança)
The politics of persuasion: The influentes and the conflict resolution in Mozambique
(14) 11:45 – 12:15 Michael Neocosmos (University of South Africa)
Thinking the Resolution-of-Contradictions-Among-the-People in Africa and the politics of social healing (some theoretical notes)
12:15 – 12:25 Comments on the Session 5
Motoji Matsuda (Kyoto University)
12:25 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 16:00 General Discussion (Chair: Yoich Mine)
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