THE TRANSATLANTIC ROUNDTABLE ON RELIGION AND RACE
The conference was held from 1st -5th July at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). It was divided into 2 sections; Pre-conference and the main conference. It was attended by people from different cultural diversities and religions across the globe.
On the first day( Monday 1st), the guests were taken for cultural visits to Kibera and Eastleigh in a bid to learn more on what the local community CBOs are doing to promote peace and unity among people of different diversities. On the Eastleigh visit, they visited the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre (EFC) the CBO reaches out to Somalis through various programmes which include; Sports, Education and conducting medical camps in collaboration with other organizations. On the Kibera visit the guest had a chance to visit Polycom Development Project which is a Women Empowerment and Girl child welfare organization, working to mobilize, organized and develops voices of women/girls living in urban slum settlements. On the second day different local organizations working on peace in Kenya gave their presentations including Vocal KE, Footprints for change amongst others.
The conference brought together scholars from different religious and cultural backgrounds. Each day had a main theme discussed. For instance, on the 2nd the presentations were mainly from different local organizations on what they do for peace, on the 3rd, the main theme was on the East African perspective on religious diversities and conflicts, on the 4th it was on the immigration crisis and promotion of women empowerment and on the 5th was on cultures of development, empowerment and agency and the final overview and report on the discussions.
The conference handled various topics in relation to religion and race. It started off with a topic on East African Perspectives on the Old divisions and new social formations which talked about Regional politics, Conflict and reconciliation in Eastern Africa and the different responses to the conflicts and socio-religious diversities through mediation frameworks, the Catholic social teaching on conflict and other methods of bringing different cultures together for peace and understanding. Issues such as the Immigration crisis and the church response to the same were discussed in a bid to come up with ideas and policies to resolve or intervene in the crisis.
Generally, the conference informed on the key roles played by religion, culture and race in bringing about conflicts and also in resolving the conflicts and promoting peace in the society. For instance, as pointed by one of the speakers Dr James Mwita from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, that Religion is the best option for conflict mitigation and has contributed to responding to the ethnic land conflicts in Kenya. It also appreciated the efforts by different religious organisations in mitigating conflicts and peace building processes. The conference was important in networking through institutional partnerships and community building.
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