Office of Public Affairs
Sept. 27, 2000
OSWEGO STATE PROFESSOR TAKES
NON-VIOLENCE MESSAGE TO AFRICA
OSWEGO -- Dr. Marcel Kitissou, director of the Peace Institute at Oswego State, took his beliefs on summer vacation with him. He spent three weeks working in the Alternative to Violence Project, teaching conflict resolution skills to people in the West African nation of Ghana.
Kitissou was part of a multi-national delegation, which was formed by a woman from Baltimore, and included a volunteer from Nigeria and a woman from the Netherlands who most recently worked for the United Nations in the Republic of Georgia.
They taught conflict mediation skills to parents, teachers and community members at a Montessori School in Kumasi, a city of 2 million people.
John and Nana Randall of New York City founded the school. Nana Randall, chief of revenue trust funds and technical cooperation for the United Nations, grew up in Kumasi.
The Randalls had taken an Alternative to Violence Project workshop at John's Quaker Meeting for Worship and believed it would be beneficial for the Ghanaians. The AVP began in 1975 in New York's Green Haven Prison as a collaboration between prisoners who wanted to decrease violence and some Quakers they contacted for help.
Even before this summer's delegation arrived, conflict resolution was a popular topic in Ghana. The country's president, Jerry Rawlings, went to Japan to take courses in the subject.
When the delegation arrived, they found they had more candidates than they could handle. They formed two groups of 20 people each. The first
group had training in basic and advanced conflict resolution and was trained as trainers. The second group only had the basic instruction.
The people could apply their training not only in their professional life but also at home, Kitissou said. "To resolve conflicts without
violence was a big discovery for them," he said. Church members even planned to use it for disagreements between the churches.
The school of 350 students impressed Kitissou because of its philosophy. "They want them to be Ghanaians first," he said, and then trained in international skills.
"What has emerged from global culture is an elite more eager to control global technologies than to respond to the needs of their communities," he said. "This school focuses on rooting students in their own culture first, then giving them skills for the international arena -- practically the reverse of what's going on in other places."
Kitissou is from Togo, a country that has had conflicts with Ghana, but he said he was welcomed at the school. He plans on returning to Ghana next summer to continue training people in conflict resolution.
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CONTACT: Dr. Marcel Kitissou, 341-3454 or 312-3454
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