Quaker Peace Network-Africa (QPN-Africa)
always ask if the various Quaker peace organizations in Africa interact.
they overlap and step on each other’s toes? The
answer is: Quaker Peace Network – Africa.
continent-wide meeting of Quaker Peace Network-Africa was held in
during September 2002 through the initiative
of David Niyonzima, then General Secretary of Burundi Yearly Meeting,
and David Zarembka, AGLI coordinator. The gathering included Quakers
from East and Central Africa, and southern and western Africa. In addition,
members of Quaker policy organizations – Friends Committee on
National Legislation (FCNL) from Washington, DC, Quaker United Nations
Office (QUNO) in Geneva and New York, the American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC) Africa program, and Quaker Peace and Social Witness
(QPSW) from London – sent representatives.
Every one and a half to two years, Quaker Peace Network-Africa gatherings
have been held regularly with approximately fifty Quakers from around
the continent. The American Friends Service Committee has given grants
to provide transportation for African peacemakers from the distant
countries to the venue. The African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) and
Change Agents for Peace, International (CAPI) have supplied funding
for East and Central Africa participants. The main Mennonite organization
in the region, Mennonite Central Committee, has always been invited
and attended these gatherings.
of history, programs, approaches to peace, and planning for the future
has been a constant in these meetings. As the international
policy organizations have attended when possible, direct, first hand
grassroot-to-policy institutions has been one of the valuable aspects
of QPN-Africa. In time the organization was divided into four regions – QPN-East
Africa, QPN-Central Africa, QPN-West Africa, and QPN-Southern Africa.
The regional groups have tried to meet locally between the continent-wide
At the second conference in 2003 in Kibuye, Rwanda, James Mageria
from Kenya explained to the gathering how during the 2002 election
in Kenya, the Kenyan electorate was able to successful bring regime
change to Kenya, peacefully and democratically through highly organized
work by the churches and civil society in Kenya. This made the members
of QPN realize that elections were one of the main causes of unrest
and violence in the East and Central African countries that Quakers
needed to address. As a result QPN-Africa decided to develop a program
of election observing. QPN-Africa began election observing with the
2005 Burundi elections. Since that time it has observed elections in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2006), Rwanda (2006 and 2010),
Kenya (2007 and 2010), and again during the most recent elections in
Burundi (2010). In the five 2010 Burundian elections for different
levels of government, QPN-Burundi had up to 278 election observers
placed around the country. Most election observers are local people.
There are always some international observers from the other countries
to give added creditability to the observations and allows people to
see how elections are conducted in other countries. The observers were
given one day of training and a questionnaire to complete. After each
election these were compiled into a report.
To date what QPN-Africa has learned is that election observing on
the day of the election is not sufficient. Observing must begin with
the voter enrollment process including the campaign period, the voting
itself, the tallying of the votes, and the post election period.
Another function of QPN-Africa has been to upgrade the peacebuilding
skills of those who attend the conferences. QPN-Africa has been teaching
a program called Reflecting on Peace Practice (RPP) which enables people
to analyze their peacemaking activities. The program is designed for
peacemakers involved in the planning and evaluation of peace programs
and those working to develop effective peacebuilding programs.
The last Africa-wide gathering was held in August 2009 in Nairobi,
Kenya. The next one is planned for 2011 in Sierra Leone. For further
information contact Hezron Masitsa, Clerk, QPN-Africa, at email@example.com.