Bini has a quiet, unassuming confidence about him. The kind that’s evident in that he’s a great listener and a radio producer with a reach of thousands. In 2009, while studying Political Science at Addis Ababa University he joined the Peace Club which was the first Ethiopian student organization to run a Sustained Dialogue programme in the country. Talking about his experiences there, and how they paved the way for a successful radio show that takes a format of a Sustained Dialogue meeting, he says,
“When I was a participant I used to tell my story and listen to others. But you must also be in the background, listening to others and helping people talk to each other.”
Largest Sustained Dialogue process in the world
For the last 6 years LPI has supported and promoted the largest Sustained Dialogue process in the world (in terms of the number of participants in each cycle), around 1700 students have participated in Ethiopia from 2009-2014.
University campuses in Ethiopia reflect the cultural diversity of the country, and they are often the first point of contact among students from various cultural and religious backgrounds. While the campuses offer the space for cultural awareness among students, they also serve as the grounds where ethnical stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings are projected and sometimes violently expressed.
LPI introduced SD to Addis Ababa University
Sustained Dialogue (SD) is a continuous process that creates a platform for dialogue and interaction among conflicting individuals or groups, based on the rationale that good relationships and trust fostered through continuous interaction, create a conducive environment for co-existence, peaceful conflict resolution and ultimately peace. While SD has been used widely as a conflict management and community-building tool around racial issues, mostly in American universities, its application in the Ethiopian context is new.
LPI’s journey supporting SD in Ethiopia started when it introduced the process to the Peace Club in Addis Ababa University (AAU) in 2009. After three successful years of LPI-supported SD at AAU, the process was fully owned by AAU, where it is currently run independently by the Peace Club, with financial support from the university itself.
Since 2013, SD has been introduced to Haramaya and Jimma Universities, which have experienced tensions and intermittent violence between students from different ethnic or religious backgrounds in recent history. While 600 students have participated in SD in 2014 at these two universities, a process to scale-up the dialogues is underway. And like Bini, participants take their Sustained Dialogue experiences to their homes, daily commutes, offices and radio shows.
Download the complete report.