Truth Empowers

Dialogue: A Tool for Acquiring a Greater Truth (1/9)

By Christopher Sebit




Part one of this article gives widerdefinition of dialogue. Pat two examines the impact of dialogue on the people. Part three looks at the necessary preconditions for waging a successful dialogue. Part four is about organization of a dialogue process. The design of a dialogue process and the role of a facilitator are discussed thoroughly in parts five and six respectively. Part seven focuses on moving from theoretical dialogue to practical action. An assessment of dialogue effectiveness is explained in part eight. Part nine is conclusion.

Part One: Defining dialogue

Generally, dialogue includes all types of verbal conversation. In a wider sense, dialogue is a collaborative search for solutions to difficult subjects. It is a process that requires careful listening, understanding and joint problem-solving.Dialogue is a communication process that aims to build relationships between people as they share experiences, ideas, and information about issues of common concern.

In the light of the above definitions of dialogue, the proposed South Sudan National Dialogue (SSND) is going to offer a rare opportunity for the ethnic groups to clearly understand one another’s values, cultures, identities, experiences and perspectives. Understanding each other’s views, cultural values and life experiences strengthens cohesion, creates a sense of security and makes inclusion of minority voices in decision-making processes possible and attractive.The SSND is under obligation to explore ways of engaging grassroots people to work together with a view to identifying the root causes of deep divisions or wounds. The information about the root causes of deep wounds from the past is useful in designing a credible healing and reconciliation process that prevents the culture of retaliatory violence and sets ground for undertaking nation-building project.

Some people have wondered why there is a call for holding the SSND at this difficult time when the peace agreement is experiencing huge challenges and is at the verge of sliding into abyss. The author sees logic behind conducting the SSND at the moment. The SSNDprovides safety required for discussing hot subjects. It reduces violence through trust building and fostering solidarity among participants. Dialogue cannot be equated to other communication styles like conversation, discussion, debate and training.

Dialogue is not conversation, discussion, debate or training though each of these communication styles has some aspects of dialogue in the way it is conducted. In conversation, information and ideas flow between people for the mere purpose of self-expression or persuading others to accept one’s own perspective. Dialogue usually widens participants’ understanding of issues. Discussion aims at accomplishing a specific task or solving a problem through exchanging information and ideas. A dialogue process is not intended to accomplish task, but it is intended to identify tasks that can be pursued at later time. The SSND is intended to collect information and identify tasks that help implementation of the peace agreement.

Training or education helps transfer of knowledge and skills from the trainer to the learners. Equally true, learning takes place during a

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