By Ms. JUDITH AKEDI MA
Tangaza University College (TUC) and the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (Shalom-SCCRR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 20 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya. The agreement, in form of a Memorandum of Understanding formalizes the mutual interaction and strengthens the existing relationship between the two institutions.
TUC is an academic center of excellence that distinguishes itself in the world of higher education through provision of quality education, quality research and community service for social transformation inspired by the Gospel values. Committed to social transformation of its students and lecturers, TUC draws its students and lecturers from various faiths, in over 40 countries in Africa and around the world. The institution offers a wide range of training in social transformation; leadership management; interreligious dialogue and Islamic studies; social communication; youth studies; African studies; theology; spirituality and religious formation; and education.
Tangaza University College led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor David Wang’ombe and Shalom-SCCRR’s Fr. Patrick Devine PhD, signed the partnership documents, witnessed by Fr. Oliver Noonan MA, Executive Director Shalom-SCCRR, and the Director, Institutional Advancement and Development at Tangaza University College, Fr. Giuseppe Caramazza PhD. The event was also attended by the Shalom-SCCRR Director of Research, Prof. Omoka Wanakayi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Student Life Tangaza University College, Sr. Dr. Agnes Njeri, and Ms. Judith Akedi MA, Womens Peace Building Program, Shalom-SCCRR and Ms. Naomi Thuo, Ex. Administrator to the Office of Vice Chancellor. (https://tangaza.ac.ke/mou-between-tangaza-shalom-sccrr/)
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. David Wang’ombe expressed his excitement about the partnership with Shalom-SCCRR, and acknowledged that there is no better institution with authority, knowledge and expertise with experience in conflict transformation, that communities would look up to.
“I had the pleasure of discussing with Rev. Dr. Joseph Carramaza who is in charge of Tangaza University partnerships about the idea of community engagement, as this is what I see as a very special place of engagement. There are quite a lot of conflicts, of one form or the other in our society and communities and I think they would look up to someone with authority and knowledge to help them out of these conflicts. Tangaza and Shalom have experience in this field. We will support you internally, as well as in the empowerment of the people we release into the society, by ensuring they have the right kind of tools to deal with the kind of problems they are going to face; incorporating this in our academic programs and our training,” said the Vice Chancellor, Prof David Wang’ombe.
Fr. Devine, while appreciating the remarks of the Vice Chancellor highlighted the importance of having highly qualified personnel, trained with front-line practitioner experience, when addressing issues of peace, justice, reconciliation and social transformation in general. Too often organizations can be just talking to themselves rather than professionally addressing not only the underlying causes of conflict but also addressing the reasons for the persistence of conflict; this is a big challenge of many organizations aiming to address issues of conflict transformation and sustainable development. He gave particular emphasis to the unity of purpose shared by Tangaza University College and Shalom-SCCRR.
“We are very pleased to be here for this MoU signing with Tangaza University College. I have been involved with Tangaza for over 25 years as a board member, vice chairman, lecturer, and now as a member of the university council. Shalom-SCCRR has a very progressive relationship with Tangaza University emerging from offering a course in the University on Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation during the past 12 years. We are very close in respect to our unity of purpose and we are delighted to be signing this MoU. We are glad that we have reached this relationship level and thankful to all that collaborated and cooperated in preparing for this day, yourself Professor David, Rev. Dr. Carramaza and others for their assistance. I assure you of all my support for the positive work you are doing for the future development of Tangaza University.
The two parties expressed their mutual satisfaction towards this new impetus and synergy given to a collaboration that will focus primarily on exchange of information and expertise in the field of conflict transformation, peace building and reconciliation. Fr. Oliver, the Executive Director of Shalom-SCCRR also expressed his joy and pleasure of Shalom-SCCRR’s 12 years of teaching in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at Tangaza. He said that,
“I am very happy to be here today, and that Shalom-SCCRR personnel have been teaching for 12 years in Tangaza University College. It is always great to see the students being inspired by doing the course and knowing the value of it. As you said, there could be a conflict out there, be it manifest or structural violence, and they are going to be engaged in its resolution, so having the necessary analytical skills and peacebuilding techniques for essential aspects of social transformation is very important. Shalom-SCCRR is a specialized organization oriented to empowering people at the grassroots to be the architects of their own interdependent future. I have no doubt the Tangaza students here have been empowered to do the same. This MoU is the basis for much more far reaching quality empowerment affecting many stratas of society; there is a great need for nurturing communities with the right expertise necessary for conflict transformation”
At the core of this MoU, between TUC and Shalom-SCCRR is the recognition of the inseparability of social justice from sustainable processes of conflict transformation and of peace. The MoU reflects the commitment that both partners have in engaging with vulnerable communities, building capacities for improved approaches to conflict management, and collaboration in initiatives such as problem-solving workshops (https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/42363)
Shalom-SCCRR places great value on the signing of this MoU. Speaking at the event the Shalom-SCCRR Director of Research, Prof. Omoka Wanakayi said:
“Shalom-SCCRR is a peacebuilding non-governmental organization with research based knowledge as the core of its peacebuilding initiatives and activities. Some years ago, Tangaza University College hosted an international conference for the purpose of sharing Shalom-SCCRR’s research findings and experience on conflict in the social formations of pastoralism in Eastern Africa. The attendance was large including the top executive of IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) led by the Executive Secretary, His Excellency, Amb. Eng Mahboub Maalim, regional (eastern Africa) and state officials, scholars, religious leaders, among others. This memorandum of understanding signifies the salience that Shalom-SCCRR attaches to its association with Tangaza University College in terms of knowledge sharing and peacebuilding. Peace is a good, that is, it is in demand in virtually all the eight member countries of IGAD. There can be no doubt on that score”
It is worth recalling what the Executive Secretary of IGAD, His Excellency Amb. Maboub Maalin stated on that occasion at Tangaza University College (https://shalomconflictcenter.org/sccrr-endosement-by-igad/):
“The Distinguished Participants, Fr. Patrick Devine and colleagues, and others who are here this morning, we have come to celebrate with you the very important achievements by the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR). Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot explain how honoured, I am to be here this morning and to join you in this auspicious occasion, to mark, and for us to be able to celebrate some of the outputs of the very important work that is being done through SCCRR for sustainable peace and development in our region, being the Eastern African—Horn of Africa Region. I am delighted that Honourable Netsannet As-faw, the IGAD Director of Peace and Security and Dr. Martin Kimani the IGAD Director of CEWARN (Conflict Early Warning Response Mechanism), are here with us today travelling from Djibouti and Addis Ababa.
IGAD saw a need to have partner organizations in order to boost output and enhance our systems and information base. It was a result of this that I was fortunate to be introduced to the work of SCCRR and to meet Fr. Patrick Devine, the Executive Director of SCCRR with Dr. Mudida and Dr. Comerford, It soon become apparent, the integrity of the organization, the nature and quality of their work was very comprehensive and of a high standard and critical to the goals of peace development.
After consultation, I decided, with the Director of Peace and Security to enter an MOU with the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. We have the same objective, and since we have similar vision and mission, same outlook and desire, the same interest of what happens in output, we were keen to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). I respected their approach, commitment, their quality of work is excellent, and because of that they would be naturally able to become partners with us.
Shalom-SCCRR will be very beneficial to member states, in their national security policy, their planning processes, their position of security staffs, in bringing about enduring peace and sustained development. So the approach, the quality and commitment of SCCRR is exceptionally high class and also because of the fact that their research methodology is addressing the root causes of recurring conflict events.
SCCRR is very important to us; it is a very good partner in the work of peace and security particularly in the pastoral conflict area; it is in line also with the IGAD member states orientation to heighten CEWARN processes focusing on the conflicts between ‘Pastoralist’ communities.
The work done by SHALOM -SCCRR is so important and what they are giving us is so important.
We are going to look at ways we can heighten our collaboration with SCCRR. On behalf of IGAD, thank you and all the SCCRR team.” (https://shalomconflictcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DX-2500N_20180620_100318.pdf)
The backbone of the MoU is based on the desire to develop and facilitate sustained cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration in research, education and training. The Memorandum of understanding provides a context for the development of common interests in view of Shalom-SCCRR’S vision of promoting a society where peace, social justice and reconciliation prevail throughout Africa. Shalom-SCCRR will seek to enhance the Tangaza University College leadership/personnel by strengthening their conflict transformation capacity and impact in the over 40 countries where their students come from (https://shalomconflictcenter.org/teaching-minds-touching-hearts-transforming-lives-at-tangaza-university-kenya-shalom-sccrr/).
This will involve:
- Promotion of research excellence, that will entail collaborative and comparative research projects in Kenya and across Africa
- Dissemination of research publications and other outputs through cooperation in joint workshops and conferences
Offer training and education that will give rise to qualified staff, who will further enhance relationship development with other third level institutions around the world.
In her remarks, Shalom’s Mrs. Akedi introduced the ‘Social Empowerment Institute Addressing Violence against Women and Children’ noting, that this institute is a high priority institution within the structure of the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation’s (Shalom-SCCRR) vision, mission and interventions. She highlighted the intensive work that Shalom-SCCRR has done with women in the urban slums and in the marginalized areas of Northern Kenya.
“As the lead, at Shalom-SCCRRs Social Empowerment Institute Addressing Violence against Women and Children, I am very delighted about this new MoU development. The Social Empowerment Institute Addressing Violence against Women and Children’ is a high priority institution within the structure of the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation’s (Shalom-SCCRR) vision, mission and interventions. We have worked intensively with women in Northern Kenya and currently the urbans slums, in journeying with them, building their skills and knowledge in designing conflict resolution models in their communities. Over the years I have also taught here in Tangaza, a module on women and conflict, (victims and perpetrators), as part of the Shalom-SCCRR course. At the Social Empowerment Institute Addressing Violence against Women and Children, we recognize that education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women in conflict transformation, especially in societies caught up in interethnic and interreligious conflict, gender inequalities, deeply rooted in the patriarchal norms and unbalanced power relations such as the ones in eastern Africa. As an Alumni of Tangaza University College, I am also very happy about this MoU.”(https://shalomconflictcenter.org/shalom-sccrrs-contribution-to-women-in-conflict-transformation-and-peacebuilding/) (https://shalomconflictcenter.org/the-girl-child-shalom-sccrr-impacting-the-lives-of-young-girls-in-marginalized-and-remote-locations-in-eastern-africa/).
Before concluding, Rev. Dr. Giuseppe Caramazza, the TUC Director for Institutional Advancement and Development enthusiastically welcomed the partnership. He emphasized that indeed there are productive possibilities for expanding collaboration between Shalom-SCCRR and other institutes in Tangaza,
“For sure there is a place for partnership with the Institute of Social Transformation (IST), the Institute of Inter-religious Dialogue and Islamic Studies (IRDIS) and the Institute of Youth Studies (IYS). There is also the aspect of psychology, where we have specialized in counselling and we run a program in Marsabit that should be beneficial for all parties to have mutual engagement.”
The signing of this MoU fortifies and invigorates Shalom-SCCRR’s and Tangaza University College’s conflict resolution and reconciliation impact and resolve in Africa and beyond.
By Ms. Judith Akedi MA, Shalom-SCCRR Program Officer