Local traditions of reconciliation

A research project of the Missionaries of Africa, Southern African Province

The research on local African traditions of reconciliation is a response of the Missionaries of Africa to the second African Synod. We hope for wide participation for this research, which is coordinated by FENZA. Please send contributions to the director@fenza.org.

Our areas of apostolate differ greatly. What follows is not meant to be a universally applicable questionnaire, but a tool to give some hints into which different directions the research may go; a deeper investigation into any one point alone would be enough for a meaningful research. Point number 4 may be interesting for a future publication, if the concerned people agree.

Proposed method: after looking at the different possible points proposed in this paper, to come up with our own appropriate open-ended questions, relevant for the area we live in and for the people we live with. Encourage people to talk, and see where they want to go with the topic of reconciliation. To take notes, compile, and continue researching.

Whom to interview? Elders, traditional authorities (chiefs, headmen, counsellors), different traditional healers, court clerks, church counsellors, pastors of different churches, people with an interest in culture, women groups, church groups, … no limits.

1. Linguistics

2. Oral traditional wisdom

3. Every day usage:

4. Personal stories (testimonies, or case studies) of reconciliation

5. Lessons from history:

6. Local courts & traditional justice systems (chiefs, headmen, …)

7. People’s evaluation of justice in praxis:

8. Cultural evaluation of crime

9. Mediators

10. Anticipation of conflict, prevention of conflict, and representation of conflict

11. Study of common traditional rites in view of reconciliation

12. Traditional prayers:

13. Rites used in different churches

14. Conflicts within our church: how do we deal with our own conflicts? How did reconciliation come about, and what was involved? Which types of conflicts are difficult to solve within the church?

15. Conflicts within church groups: How do groups of children / groups of youths / women groups (and other groups) deal with conflicts? What are the main problematic issues that lead to confliuct, and how do they strive for reconciliation?

16. Conflicts among ourselves (Missionaries of Africa): How do we deal with conflict? Which issues are addressed, which issues are not addressed? What has helped?

17. African philosophy of reconciliation
The following statements have been proposed in regards to African concepts of reconciliation. Do they correspond with experiences in your area? Do you know of better ways of saying what is at stake?

Literature: Please ask director@fenza.org for a username and password.