A new book of experiences of peace-building in the African Great Lakes region has been launched in Geneva, with the title Beyond Hate, Building Peace (‘Dépasser la haine, construire la paix’).
Angelo Barampama is Burundian and Swiss. Born in 1948 in Kanyonga in the centre of Burundi, he has a doctorate in geography from the University of Lausanne and is a graduate in development studies of the IUED in Geneva, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Married, and with three children, he now teaches at the University of Geneva and also at the Geneva College – and he is a member of the Council of the Foundation CAUX-Initiatives of Change.
He is one of the ‘witnesses’ who tells his story in a new book of experiences of peace-building in the African Great Lakes region has been launched in Geneva, with the title ‘Beyond Hate, Building Peace’ (‘Dépasser la haine, construire la paix’). According to the publisher, ‘It is a necessary and brave book, which aims to share experiences of peace in the African Great Lakes region.’
The project has brought together peace-makers from different parts of the region to tell their stories aimed at helping people to live together. Angelo Barampama, who has lived in Switzerland since 1974, is committed to different peace and development initiatives in his homeland.
In his speech, Barampama saluted the work of Justin Kahamaile, who built up the network ‘Initiative de Genève pour la paix dans les Grands Lacs’ (The Geneva initiative for peace in the Great Lakes) in 2003 and then 2007, the project of this book, but he sadly died before it was finished. For Barampama, Kahamaile was a visionary to rank with the founding fathers of Europe. ‘They needed far-sightedness, determination and courage. I believe we need something of these qualities,’ Barampama continued, ‘if we are to (re-)build Africa today.’
Barampama told how he had survived the massacres in 1972, and then his flight to Switzerland, and his new life there. If he had been able to resist the temptations of hate, it was thanks to his culture, and the quality of ‘Ubuntu’, his up-bringing, and training, and the creative vision of others that he’d received through the brothers and sisters in humanity who had crossed his path, in Burundi and in Switzerland.
In the book, as well as people from the region sharing their experiences, two Swiss artists, playwright Sandra Korol and photographer Serge Boulaz, had also travelled to the Great Lakes region, and based on their encounters with these ‘witnesses’ and other peacemakers, they share their vision of damage and reconstruction. ‘Sparks of humanity offer a universal message on resistance and forgiveness in a time of crisis,’ the publishers say.
Jérôme Strobel, one of the directors of the project saluted at the launching event ‘those who resisted the temptations of evil and revenge, in whom there was a light-switch of humanity’. He reminded the crowded audience that genocide concerns us all, goes beyond borders, and that these examples can speak to other conflict situations.
For information about the Initiatives of Change project in Burundi.
The book is published and distributed by: Editions d’en bas, Editions Couleur Livres, Editions Charles Leopold Mayer, COTMEC, Eirene Suisse. Order form. Prix : 23€, 35CHF.