Africa's Peace Seekers: Lazaro Sumbeiywo ; Peace Is Coming to Africa. the Number of Major Conflicts on the Continent Is at Its Lowest Level since 1997. There Are Geopolitical Reasons - the Rise of Democracy, the End of the Cold War, and Stronger Regional Organizations. but Often, a Peace Deal Comes Down to an Individual Willing to Step between the Warring Parties and Forge Peace. in the First of Three Profiles: How Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo Helped End the Fighting This Year in Sudan

By Abraham McLaughlin, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 12, 2005 | Go to article overview

Africa's Peace Seekers: Lazaro Sumbeiywo ; Peace Is Coming to Africa. the Number of Major Conflicts on the Continent Is at Its Lowest Level since 1997. There Are Geopolitical Reasons - the Rise of Democracy, the End of the Cold War, and Stronger Regional Organizations. but Often, a Peace Deal Comes Down to an Individual Willing to Step between the Warring Parties and Forge Peace. in the First of Three Profiles: How Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo Helped End the Fighting This Year in Sudan


Abraham McLaughlin, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Until a single phone call from the president of Kenya changed the trajectory of his life, Lazaro Sumbeiywo had spent the whole of his illustrious career focused on making war.

When the phone rang in his office in October 2001, this towering son of a village chief was Kenya's top general.

"I have an offer for you," he recalls the president saying, "and I order you not to refuse."

General Sumbeiywo was fiercely loyal to then-President Daniel arap Moi. During a 1982 coup attempt, he'd raced to Mr. Moi's home to protect him. Off and on since 1987, he had sometimes been involved with the Sudan negotiations. But the president's order caught him off guard.

"I want you to find peace in Sudan," Moi said.

The general was dumbstruck. This was Africa's longest civil war - a seemingly intractable 18-year conflict between Muslim Arab northerners and mostly Christian black southerners. Some 2 million people had died. Four million had been forced to flee their homes. And at least five major peacemaking efforts over 13 years had failed. Yet if peace could be found in oil-rich and populous Sudan, it could usher in a new era of trade and prosperity in neighboring Kenya and across northeast Africa.

After stammering something, Sumbeiywo hung up. Then, he phoned back to try to reject the assignment. But Moi wouldn't take the call. So, Sumbeiywo did the only thing he could think of: He started a three-day fast "to get very close to God."

It was not the last time he would seek divine help. Over the next 3-1/2 grueling years of peace talks, he would muster the persistence of the biblical Joseph, the wisdom of an African chief, and the ingenuity of a modern mediator. And eventually the process he led would become what many now see as a gold standard for making peace in Africa.

"General Sumbeiywo should win the Nobel Peace Prize," says former Sen. John Danforth, who was President Bush's special envoy to Sudan from 2001 to 2004. "His ability to stay there in the talks and be an honest broker - and to listen to all the back and forth over such a long period of time - was essential, and was very largely responsible for the result," says Senator Danforth by phone from St. Louis.

* * *

As a boy, Sumbeiywo would walk past one of the biggest trees in his rural village and see his father, the chief, sitting under its sprawling branches, surrounded by neighbors. His dad would listen for hours as people aired disagreements over such things as who owned a particular cow. Then he'd dispense his wisdom. Like many African chiefs, he'd stay under the tree until every villager had spoken.

Decades later, standing at the front of a conference room at a Kenyan resort hotel, Sumbeiywo drew upon his father's ways: He let the two sides vent.

The tall oak of a man with broad shoulders and a deep, soothing voice started his "ventilation sessions" in June of 2002 with a basic question for representatives from the Khartoum government in the north and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLA) in the south: "Why are you at war?"

For two weeks, they "steamed out" as Sumbeiywo filled page after page of flip-chart pads. He'd scrawl things like "oil" and "sharia" and "religion" and "self-determination" on the pages, and then tape them up around the room.

The words were shorthand for the root causes of conflict in Africa's largest country - a place more than three times the size of Texas that straddles the continent's great north-south divide between Arab and non-Arab, Muslim and Christian. Among the issues: How to split up Sudan's oil wealth; whether Islamic law (sharia) should be imposed on the south, where most people are Christian or animist; and how to assuage southern feelings of political and economic exclusion from power. (Similar feelings of marginalization also sparked the separate 2003 rebellion in Sudan's western Darfur region, which led to US charges of genocide against the Khartoum government. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Africa's Peace Seekers: Lazaro Sumbeiywo ; Peace Is Coming to Africa. the Number of Major Conflicts on the Continent Is at Its Lowest Level since 1997. There Are Geopolitical Reasons - the Rise of Democracy, the End of the Cold War, and Stronger Regional Organizations. but Often, a Peace Deal Comes Down to an Individual Willing to Step between the Warring Parties and Forge Peace. in the First of Three Profiles: How Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo Helped End the Fighting This Year in Sudan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.