The thirteenth of our 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa: bringing people together for dialogue brings about possibilities for reconciliation and peace. Every opportunity for people to talk openly with one another helps bring the solution a little bit closer.

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Diaspora for Peace

Possibilities for Reconciliation


Photo by Aaron White

Two big questions to think about:

  1. How might we leverage leadership development to convene those affected by conflict?
  2. How might better leadership be used to strengthen peace?

Diaspora—the scattered people of a common origin—might be one possible solution.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, there is a sizable population of South Sudanese diaspora. When first arriving in the United States, nearly 20-30 years ago, many of the South Sudanese refugees stuck together, forming a close-knit community, one based on a solidarity from their war-torn country. Looking past major tribal lines, Dinka and Nuer shared a common heritage by developing strong community, eating together, even singing in the same choir together.

But tribal tensions in the new nation of South Sudan plunged the country back into war in 2013.

Moses Wawich, a CCL Leadership Beyond Boundaries Fellow from South Sudan, saw the ripple effect of the conflict. By bringing together nearly 30 South Sudanese diaspora, he hoped to create dialogue through the convening of people still very emotionally connected to South Sudan.

In a session with CCL, many of the former refugees mentioned how they used to be close, but after the conflict started again in South Sudan, and even though they were thousands of miles away, they became divided themselves. They had stopped singing in the same choir, and stopped connecting with one another. They wanted peace and wanted community, but were not clear on how to rebuild it.

The one-day session may have brought the South Sudanese community a bit closer, but it didn’t solve the issue. The problem is much bigger than a short workshop, but still, it was an opportunity to help people talk.

More importantly, it gave us helpful insights on how better leadership might be used effectively in the future (in the right context, and over a longer duration) to build reconciliation—and hopefully peace.

Questions for Further Reflection:

  • What leadership development strategies might be useful to overcome divides created by space and time to build community?

Tell us your big ideas in the comments.

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Leadership Beyond Boundaries - Center for Creative Leadership logoThis series, 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa, was brought to you by CCL’s Ethiopia office and Leadership Beyond Boundaries, an initiative by the Center for Creative Leadership to democratize leadership development and unlock the power of human potential around the globe.

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