THE Executive Director of the African Arts Institute in South Africa, Prof. Mike Van Graan, has identified inequality in the sharing of power and national resources as the cause of the various conflicts and wars plaguing most African countries and the rest of the world.

He said to help find lasting solution to those wars and conflicts, there was the need for heads of states and governments, as well as international organisations, to find means of granting equal share of power and resource to all communities, irrespective of their religion, ethnic background and political affiliation.

Prof. Graan made this disclosure when he gave the keynote address at the maiden international conference on culture and conflict resolution at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The three-day conference, organised by the Centre for Cultural and African Studies (CeCASt), in collaboration with the College of Art and Social Sciences (CASS) of the university, was aimed at providing an avenue for stakeholders from diverse disciplines, countries, cultures, and religions to dialogue on how traditional and cultural values can be employed to promote and sustain peace in conflict situations while maintaining the existing peace in non-conflict areas.

The conference, which had the theme: ?Inter-cultural dialogue: Harnessing cultural values for social stability and democracy,? brought together over 100 participants from the US, Germany, Italy and South Africa, among others.

Also in attendance were renowned statesmen, members of the National Peace Council, traditional leaders, and academicians across the globe.

He said although countries could practise democracy, there was the need for them to take into consideration the traditional, cultural and religious values of their nation in the implementation of national policies.

Prof. Graan mentioned that there was the need for African countries to explore means by which culture and other traditional values could be inculcated into ways of governing the people to avoid any form of outburst which could lead to conflict or war within the continent and beyond.

He lamented the rate at which conflicts and wars were making nations and people poorer and poorer by the day, saying involving traditional authorities and religious leaders in conflicts resolution was very crucial to help end most conflict and wars confronting nations now.

The executive director appealed to the International Court of Justice trying heads of states for various crimes to avoid being biased in terms of regional segregation to avoid losing the trust and confidence that people the world over had in the? court.

He said there was the need for all heads of states, irrespective of where they were coming from, to be given the same treatment or attention and added that it was not fair to target? leaders from a particular continent or country while their colleague heads of state with similar charges were allowed to go scot free.

The Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. William Otto Ellis, in a goodwill message, said it was without doubt that the virtual absence of inter-cultural dialogue among communities, societies and nations had often led to suspicion, disrespect and dominance of one group over the other.

The resultant effect manifests in the impasse and misunderstanding among groups over trivial issues which often times served as the recipe for conflicts, with marked devastating consequences.?The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church and Chairman of the National Peace Council, Prof. Emmanuel Asante, who chaired the function, called for the acceptance and respect of inter-religious and cultural difference by various groups in countries to avoid conflicts.

He commended the organisers of the conference for their foresight and innovation and urged the participants to brainstorm to create a blueprint that could be used as a working document by nations and the international community as well.

The Provost of CASS, Prof. Samuel Afranie, in his welcome address, said since wars and conflicts had great impact on the socio-economic development of every nation, there was the need for all to support any effort at finding a lasting solution to issues before they rose to become big issues of war and conflicts.

He urged members of the conference to propagate the story of democracy through inter-cultural dialogue on such a platform.


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