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Sub-Saharan Africa (2011)

2nd International Summer School

Societies in Transition. Sub-Saharan Africa between Conflict and Reconciliation, July 18th - 28th, 2011

Our second Summer School on the topic "Societies in Transition, between Conflict and Reconciliation" was again an overall success, as the comprehensive evaluation by the participants demonstrates. The programme focused on the recent changes in various African countries and societies, seen from different but related perspectives. It consisted of lectures, workshops, the presentation of participants' projects as well as films, an excursion to Berlin, a welcome reception, a farewell party, and a walking tour through Jena. Prof. LEINER offered a brief introduction about the overall concept and design of the Summer School. Afterwards, Prof. RALF WÜSTENBERG spoke about the development in South Africa since 1990. He pointed out that the granting of amnesty for army and police personnel was a precondition for the realization of free and general elections. Yet, this also implied the danger that amnesty is understood as forgiveness, although as a judicial act it does not presupposes a confession of guilt. Thus, amnesty can support reconciliation, but it is not in itself an act of reconciliation. The case of Ruanda shows that due legal process and reconciliation can stand in opposition. We used different media, in order to come to a realistic view of the events in 1994. The evaluation of the process of reconciliation remained ambiguous, since there are several different processes: on the one hand, there is a real overcoming of hatred and forgiveness, economic success and the stabilization of the environment, on the other hand, Hutus are persecuted, and there are arbitrary verdicts, and the suppression of dissent. The lecture by Dr. GLADYS GANIEL showed how civil war and catastrophic turmoil could be prevented in one particular country (Zimbabwe). This was possible by isolating those persons or groups who were willing to escalate the conflict. The Christian church played an important role in the process. Moreover, the emphasis on community, which in Southern Africa is expressed by the word "ubuntu", is an important resource for the resolution of strife and conflict. Prof. REINHART KÖßLER addressed the history of the (former) German colonies in Africa. Again, the limitations of the legal system became clear. The genocide against the Herero in Namibia was dealt with in a US Court, and very high claims of reparation were brought forward. This, in turn, blocked an official apology from the German side. The lecture by Sr. HELEN LAMUNU (Uganda) showed the need for rituals, in order to achieve reconciliation. These rituals can differ from tribe to tribe, but despite the differences in detail they form an essential part of the process of reconciliation. This hypothesis was supported by the work of participants from Ghana and Great Britain. Once more, the workshops were a significant feature of the Summer School. Each participant took part in one of the following workshops:

  1. "Reconciliation and Healing" (Dr. Christo Thesnaar)
  2. "Case Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Patterns and Perspectives" (Dr. Ben Khumalo-Seegelken)
  3. "The Colonial Past in the Collective Memory of Germany" (Franka Winter)

We had ca. 50 applications from excellent scholars and professionals, from which we had to choose 30 participants. Eventually, 27 participants came to Jena.

Further information: