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

#13

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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2 thoughts on “Big Idea #13: Diaspora for Peace

  1. Anne Whitaker says:

    Regarding Big Idea #13 in South Sudan..
    You ask at the end for ideas on how to overcome divides using leadership development ideas. The day this group shared was a “workshop”, so I assume in a meeting room. Leadership concepts can be learned by doing projects outdoors – very physical projects or problem solving that can bring certain personality traits or work styles out. By working on outdoor projects (building a course for marbles to travel with certain rules) and even helping each other through rope challenge exercises (they can be on the ground – not up in trees) forces people to work together for a common goal, or forces people to help others, physically touching them. A leadership facilitator would introduce these concepts up front, throughout the day and then summarize, get input/feedback at the end. I think it would more quickly bring out issues, see how problems can be solved with cooperation and helping others, and bringing out leadership concepts. Example: One exercise I am thinking of is that you hold a long rope that is suspended from a large branch. You stand on a disk at the end of this rope. (You are on the ground and just step to the disk, and hold the rope.) You were then swing over to a grouping of 5 hula hoops on the ground, and you have to land inside one. Then the next person swings over, and you help direct that person to land in another hula hoop. This continues until all are “safely” standing in a hula hoop! If someone touches outside the hoop, they have to go back and swing in again. It is an individual effort, and yet the group has to grab the person/rope and direct the rope to an empty hoop to complete the project. A LOT can be learned from this type of exercise! Thank you for your work and for the opportunity to respond.

  2. Anne Whitaker says:

    Regarding Big Idea #13 in South Sudan..
    You ask at the end for ideas on how to overcome divides using leadership development ideas. The day this group shared was a “workshop”, so I assume in a meeting room. Leadership concepts can be learned by doing projects outdoors – very physical projects or problem solving that can bring certain personality traits or work styles out. By working on outdoor projects (building a course for marbles to travel with certain rules) and even helping each other through rope challenge exercises (they can be on the ground – not up in trees) forces people to work together for a common goal, or forces people to help others, physically touching them. A leadership facilitator would introduce these concepts up front, throughout the day and then summarize, get input/feedback at the end. I think it would more quickly bring out issues, see how problems can be solved with cooperation and helping others, and bringing out leadership concepts. Example: One exercise I am thinking of is that you hold a long rope that is suspended from a large branch. You stand on a disk at the end of this rope. (You are on the ground and just step to the disk, and hold the rope.) You were then swing over to a grouping of 5 hula hoops on the ground, and you have to land inside one. Then the next person swings over, and you help direct that person to land in another hula hoop. This continues until all are “safely” standing in a hula hoop! If someone touches outside the hoop, they have to go back and swing in again. It is an individual effort, and yet the group has to grab the person/rope and direct the rope to an empty hoop to complete the project. A LOT can be learned from this type of exercise! Thank you for your work and for the opportunity to respond.

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