Lesssons on Reconciliation from Ghana
There is a lot of talk these days in Kampala about a National Truth and Reconciliation Process. Advocates use the word process, instead of commission, to indicate a more decentralized approach that leaves truth and reconciliation to individual families, cultural leaders, and regional peace teams, instead of a national process based on the experience of South Africa or Sierra Leone. This seems appropriate in a country that has experienced 20 conflicts in the past 25 years, and where huge numbers of people would not trust the Government to lead a national process.
However the structure turns out, its success is largely based on individuals taking courageous steps to get past their history. Here is a wonderful example of this, from Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission:
For many Ghanaians, the greatest moment of hope for national reconciliation came when B.T. Baba, a former director of the prison service, openly apologized to a man who alleged Baba had supervised his torture in prison. “We were young and could have done a few things out of exuberance. Forgive me,” Baba pleaded. The victim walked to Baba and embraced him, generating a thunder of applause from the audience in the commission’s auditorium. For many Ghanaians, Baba became a symbol of decency and humility.