A total of 49 students, teachers and some headmen of arbitration who underwent leadership and transformation skills in Maun were this week awarded certificates by the Kagiso Project, a pilot initiative designed by the Queen Esther International beauty pageant organisers and local Peace Corps.
Giving a brief overview of the project, Daniella Montemarano, a US peace Corp working in partnership with Queen Esther Botswana Founder, also former Ms Malaika 2005 Vehae Tjiriange said having stayed in Botswana for a while now, she and her colleagues were inspired by the various traditions in Botswana, particularly those of the Ngamiland district which has become their second home, hence the setting up of the Kagiso Project in September 2014. So far she said they have trained key stakeholders in a variety of disciplines such as peace education, leadership training, as well as conflict transformation in schools meant to combat conflict in the school system. Upon completion, she said the expectation is that students should have a totally changed mindset and be in a position to spot and mediate conflict amongst their peers without causing harm, as is currently the case at some local schools. She said as custodians of communities, dikgosi are currently doing a much commendable job in that they promote peace amongst the people they serve, even under unsafe working environments.
“For a long time now the Maun Tribal Administration has supported us in all our endeavours. They have assisted in the facilitation of our routine workshops which they were also part of. We are just hopeful that their contribution to the projects’ success since its establishment would go a long way to help us achieve our intended purpose”, she said. Montemarano also said students who took part in the training should be praised for their hard work and commitment. While in Maun, she said they also aim to work towards empowering the girl child on life skills as they are most vulnerable to social ills. They will at the same time help improve partnership between students and teachers.
One of the trained teachers, Saudu Siamisang of Tsodilo Junior School said conflicts have always been in existence and have therefore become part and parcel of everyday life. However he said there is need for all human beings to be able to identify conflict before it spirals, and where possible apply resolution skills. He said chiefs are already tasked with bringing people together and out of conflict regardless of how big the matters maybe. She said it is for this reason that there should be like-minded people working behind the scenes who are always ready and willing to offer a helping hand whenever the need arises.
For his part, Kgosi Prinsloo Shashe said the training was of tremendous importance as it has not only empowered them, but has also equipped them with the much needed skills. As arbitrators, he said they are tasked with a lot of things that require a lot of patience coupled with good listening skills, all of which they learnt during training. “I must say this has been an eye opener to all of us and will boost the tribal leadership immensely. We have also come to the realisation that we had at times been very impatient with our clients.
Personally, I am now a better person as i now know how to analyse conflict in a better way, no matter the hostility of some of our clients. Meanwhile Vehae Tjiriange said funding for this one year girl empowering project is facilitated by the PEPFAR Gender Based Violence Fund through the United States Peace Corps. She said they are hopeful that when its piloting ends in September this year, they would have achieved their intended goals.