Forgiveness, listening and dialogue at the heart of peace circles in Mali

Just Governance for Human Security 2019

30/07/2019
Femmes du Mali, JGHS 2019

 

On Thursday 4 July at the Caux Forum I met a group of four women involved in the peace circles in Mali: Boye Diallo, Mamou Soucko, Kadidia Djenepo and Kadidiatou Mint Hanka. Peace circles is a project based on Creators of Peace, started by the organization Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) and since 2015 it has been supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

 

Femmes du Mali, JGHS 2019

 

Boye is sat next to me. She starts talking and tells me about the discussion groups that she organizes under the programme to strengthen social cohesion. She has been coordinating these groups for almost two years and bases her meetings on the model for peace circles provided by the Initiatives of Change programme, Creators of Peace. For three days a dozen women meet to explore their contribution to peace not only at the family level but also the community and national levels. This meeting model for peace circles is now used globally.

Boye, Mamou, Kadidia and Kadidiatou are at the Caux Forum for the Just Governance for Human Security conference to share their experiences and listen to other men and women committed to peace and social justice. They also hope to increase their skills and knowledge in areas such as leadership, team work, tolerance and social inclusion.

‘To learn about others.’ This is how Mamou Soucko summarises her main reason for participating. Involved in the programme to build social cohesion and peace circles since 2016, she has discovered during the conference that the problems the women face are not unique to their country. ‘By talking to the other participants, I have come to realise that it is a question of governance, violence and social peace,’ she continues.

Kadidia Djenepo also highlights the organisation of the programme and the serenity of the place. ‘It’s all natural here. I’d like to return and spend my holidays here every year!’

Kadidiatou Mint Hanka talks to us about the discussions that made an impression on her including the story of the indigenous peoples discussed in a documentary and the values expressed by India’s Minister of Happiness. During the conference she has learnt to stretch her limits in terms of forgiveness, peace, acceptance of others and commitments. This is a commitment she would like to strengthen within her community.

Boye Diallo then speaks about the situation in Mali and the insecurity which negatively impacts their actions. The example she gives of the difficulties linking the south and the north is striking. Due to security problems and roads littered with explosive devices, the women have to use internal flights provided by the United Nations Mission in Mali or pass by the neighbouring borders of Burkina Faso and Niger. These are sometimes depressing and demotivating obstacles ‘in the 21st century!’.

For Kadidia the only way to work for peace is through self-management, which is achieved through silence, forgiveness and making others aware. She therefore starts every day with a moment of silence to free her spirit and help her concentrate. She sits on her roof, listens to the birds and to the running water.

 

Text: Apolline Foedit

Photos: Apolline Foedit, Paula Mariane

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