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Four PhD’s for DUT Peacebuilding Programme

Four PhD’s for DUT Peacebuilding Programme

Four students from the University’s Peacebuilding Programme, a programme that has been labeled as the largest of its kind in Africa, received their Doctorate degrees yesterday (18 April 2016) during day one of the DUT Durban Centre’s graduation ceremonies.

The four graduates: Drs Kudakwashe Shonhiwa, Bosco Binenwa, Cyprin Muchemwa and Mediel Hove graduated with degrees originating from research that will make an actual difference in people’s lives. Dr Binenwa was however not able to attend his graduation ceremony. 

The Peacebuilding research doctoral degrees examine how conflicts can best be prevented from becoming violent and how individuals, communities and societies can best recover from violence. The emphasis is on how to transform the conflicts which underlie violence by working to improve the relationships between the parties involved.

Dr Hove’s research looked at the strategies, methods and effectiveness of the nonviolent campaigns that were carried out in Zimbabwe between 1999 and 2013. Dr Hove landed on this research topic after realising that the country “has been affected by violence since 1890 (at independence) until present day”. “There seems to be a culture of violence (in Zimbabwe). South Africa is home to over three million Zimbabweans which concerned me a great deal. The driving factor (behind the research) was (to find out) how do we end this culture of violence and replace it with nonviolence”, he said.

Speaking about his research findings, Dr Hove said the country employed nonviolent solutions on a short term basis which hampered lasting peace in the country. The cause, he said, was the country’s embedded culture of violence. “Zimbabwe has been affected by violent strategies even before 1890. People (in the country) believe that problems must be resolved through force or violence, yet there are nonviolent alternatives to challenges. Violence has existed for a long time and nonviolence can’t be used for a day. We must give it time. We need time to change mindsets”, he said.

Dr Muchemwa’s research focused on building friendship between the Ndebele and Shona ethnic groups; two of Zimbabwe’s main ethnic groups that have tensions dating back to the pre-colonial period. This study employed action research by using young people drawn from the Shona and Ndebele groups. “In Africa, we have a tribalism and ethnicity problem and it cuts across the entire continent. The violence between these two ethnic groups has mutated over time, almost leading to civil war after independence,” said Dr Muchemwa, whose research findings proved that changing the attitudes of young people can create a generation of tolerance. “Despite signing a peace accord in 1987, tensions are still present in the country. For my research, I said if I brought together young people (from the two ethnic groups) to meet in dialogue and to learn more about each other, we can change their attitudes about each other. My research found that is actually possible”, said Dr Muchemwa, adding that previous academic research into the problem mainly focused on the ‘who did what” aspect instead of finding a solution.

Dr Muchemwa said he intends on using his research findings to engage affected people and communities more.

Both research was supervised by Professor Geoffrey Harris and Dr Sylvia Kaye both from the Peacebuilding Programme. 

Prof Harris said PhDs are a long road and he is proud of his graduates. He said his students’ research topics are not just academic but, in each case, make a difference in a small number of people’s lives. He encouraged deliberate efforts that bring about peace instead of waiting for policy changes which may take years to come to fruition.  


– Sinegugu Ndlovu

Pictured: The three PhD Peacebuilding graduates shortly after their graduation yesterday (18 April 2016). Pictured from left are Drs Mediel Hove, Cyprin Muchemwa and Kudakwashe Shonhiwa. 

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