SIGNIFICANCE OF DIALOGUE FORUMS
By Paul Jimbo
Dialogue is focused conversation, engaged in intentionally with the goal of increasing understanding, addressing problems, and questioning thoughts and actions. It engages the heart as well as the mind.
It is different from ordinary, everyday conversation in that dialogue has a focus and a purpose.
It is therefore imperative to note that the on-going dialogue initiatives are part of the wider efforts in the search for a lasting peace in South Sudan.
The dialogue forums draw participants from different groups in the society with a view to barnstorming an issue or a topical matter of national interest and in the case of South Sudan it is about peace and stability.
The fact that all tribes in the country have tales to tell in regard to the brunt of past conflicts is in itself a blessing in disguise.
It gives us the liquidity of mind and numbness of imagination alongside the much needed focus to re-examine ourselves with a view to define a common ground that is favourable to all of us.
This country is large enough to accommodate all of us and so our interests must be reflected in the outcomes of these dialogue forums.
The essence of these forums is to provide us with an opportunity to be part of the solutions to our problems.
The dialogue forums provide us with great opportunities to tackle certain thorny issues, which can never be discussed in other forums.
However dialogue is a process and a journey. Participants are expected to understand that not all suggestions would be put into practice and so the common good factor comes into play.
Parties participating in any dialogue forum must accept to give and take and must understand that no single person has monopoly over knowledge.
This means that they must learn to cede grounds, must accept to be corrected and must be ready to win and lose.
You don’t go into a dialogue expecting to emerge victorious because such forums are basically aimed at finding favourable solutions to all parties involved.
Dialogue forums provide us with opportunities to speak out our minds and painful truths.
Some people say, “Vomit everything or pour out our hearts”. This means we must expose all secret cards during dialogue and should never hide any dangerous cards because dialogue demands for utmost good faith.
Parties to a dispute must appreciate the fact that even their acceptance to sit down and talk constitutes part of solution finding.
Negotiations and talks call for good faith and commitment. This means that parties to any agreement must remain faithful to its spirit and letter.
It is worth indicating that many at times suspicions in dialogue forums only serve to poison the whole process and so the need to give room for trust building and full commitment.
It would be useless to spend time and resources in any process whose outcomes are not realistic and do not provide solutions to a problem at hand.
The fact that regional dialogue conferences have been going on in this country for a while is a clear indicator that we have all soul searched and agreed that we need one another as a nation to heal this country.
We seem to have woken to the fact that out differences only serve to our disadvantage and therefore the need for us to start looking at one another as one people, one nation and one society.
Peace is sweet and very enjoyable but very fragile if poorly handled. We have given all indications that understand our shortcomings after tracing our paths and that we have finally come back to our senses that we have a country to live in and lives to protect.
The on-going dialogue between different regions should be geared toward ensuring we do not slip back to war again.
We should use our past experiences, some very painful to remember, to refocus our energies on peace and conflict resolutions.
Participants in the dialogue forums must be very candid, frank and realistic in their demands; they must show reason why we should adopt certain resolutions and how they translate to a peaceful country.
Peace is very fundamental in any efforts to heal an economy. No single investor would gamble with his money where instability is the order of the day.
Let us use the available opportunities to solve our problems as part of the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
We should all strain our eyes on November 12th deadline so that we celebrate the long journey toward a peaceful country.