Building Sustainable Peace, A Nationwide Consensus Effort: Practical Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Ghana

Haleema Boakye


This paper was motivated by the author’s interest in analyzing the relative stability in Ghana since 1992 and the role reconciliation might have played in cementing this peace. Building sustainable peace as a nation requires a confluence of efforts and peacebuilding requires a practical self-learning and adaptive approach to reconciliation that, in my view, has been successfully implemented in Ghana.

People working in the field of conflict analysis and peacebuilding recognize the complexity of conflict and, therefore, of peacebuilding, and the difficulty of consolidating peacebuilding efforts.  (Lederach, 1997 & 2005; Ricigliano 2012). Lederach noted that conflicting groups often live in close geographic proximity, and have direct experience of violence and trauma. This causes strong intergroup enmity that is often longstanding, reflecting a history of grievance and enmity that has accumulated over generations. The aforementioned situation makes peacebuilding additionally difficult.

The author recognizes that peacebuilding is an ongoing process with no “standard approach” and/or a distinct endpoint characterized often by fluid and evolving nature. Therefore, the more adaptive it is, the more likely it is to succeed.  This eventually would increase the confidence parties involved would have in a mutually-envisioned future, and therefore keeping the likelihood of reconciliation within reach. Reconciliation should also be perceived and accepted as an ongoing adaptive process tailored towards sustainable peace. Post-agreement or post-conflict periods typically start with the peace accords. The author defines the end of the military regimes in Ghana as the “post-agreement period,” and in the Ghanaian case, the “conflict” ended with a referendum for a constitutional democracy. Marking the beginning of a process that led to successful reconciliation. 

Lederach defines reconciliation as a “meeting place” where four different “actors” or “parties” can come together. (Lederach, Building Peace, pg 44)  Those “parties” are “Peace,” “Justice,” “Truth,” and “Mercy.”  According to Lederach’s theory of reconciliation, all four elements or “parties” are needed to work together in order for reconciliation to be attained.  However, these concepts in principle and practice, are difficult to bring and hold together. The fundamental question Lederach raised was how to create a catalyst for reconciliation and then sustain it in divided societies.

Truth, he suggested, is characterized by honesty, revelation, clarity, open accountability, and vulnerability.  But truth sometimes works against peace, which he says is characterized by harmony, unity, and well-being.  Likewise, Mercy and Justice can often be at odds. Justice is conceived as making things right, creating equal opportunity, rectifying the wrong, and providing restitution.  But Mercy is perceived as compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and the provision of a new beginning, without which healthy relationships would not be possible. But is justice possible with the forgiveness and acceptance of Mercy?

The absence of compassion and forgiveness, he explained, prevents healing and renders reconciliation to be out of reach. Yet Lederach goes ahead to state that, Mercy alone is superficial. According to Lederach, all four elements must work together to enable the disputing parties to explore a shared future together through a joint understanding of their mutual anger and fear. This paper argues that reconciliation and stable peace can still be achieved when just two of the factors are most vibrant and backed up by the silent factor of “will”  to prioritize the envisioned future over any other suppressed and/or transformed factor.

Ghana presents an interesting example of reconciliation in which mercy and peace took precedence, and reconciliation was achieved without much input from or presence of justice or truth.  Mercy came first and was dominant because Similar to peace agreements, the Ghanaian 4th Republican Constitution has some built-in guarantees for supposed perpetrators of violence. Therefore, Ghana’s 4th Republic had the concept of mercy in place from the beginning.

However, truth was not sought until over a decade later when a  a national reconciliation process was initiated in which victims were given  a hearing for the injustices that they suffered.  

Ghana: History & Constitutional History

Ghana, originally called Gold Coast, is found along the Gulf of Guinea in the West African sub-region. The Republic of Ghana currently is  a presidential constitutional democracy. Most of the people in modern day Ghana migrated from the old Ghana Empire, fleeing dominance by Arab invasion. Since the 11th century, many kingdoms and empires emerged. The 15th century saw European powers competing for trading rights in Africa. At the time, the British were the dominant power. By the end of the 19th century, the British had established control of the coast of Ghana. The British rule was met with over a century of local resistance which led to independence on 6 March 1957. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from British colonization.

Ghana’s independence became symbolic and a spark for several independence movements in Africa. Its democratic system combines elements of presidential and parliamentary systems of governance.  The country is led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana's growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it arguably a regional power and model in West Africa. The economy perhaps is one of the strongest and most diversified in Africa, following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance.

Stability in Ghana has come to symbolize a success story of constitutional democracy. The country had three attempts at democratization before 1992 when the current constitution came into force. All three previous constitutions in the history of Ghana were mostly suspended by military coups. These were the 1957, 1960, and 1969 constitutions of Ghana.

The 1957 Constitution granted independence and established a Westminster-model constitution still under the control the British colonial power. Then a new constitution was introduced in 1960, designed largely to enhance executive power, grant the country a republican status independent from the British monarchy.

The 1960 Constitution was believed to have overly increased executive power and undermined the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms.  This became a source of contention and start of the first conflicts in Ghana after independence. The period between 1966 and1992 witnessed several military interventions. The country also experimented with different governance styles such as parliamentary, presidential and hybrid styles, as well as single and multiparty systems.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, faced the challenge of uniting the country, which consisted of people and groups who had been in conflict and harbored generational hostility towards one another from centuries of wars and the scars of the slave trade. The situation is believed to have led Nkrumah to ban political parties which were regional or tribal-oriented in an effort to create national unity.

In 1964 Nkrumah suspended the constitution and therefore put democracy on hold, making Ghana a one-party state. The situation raised political tensions, and Nkrumah increasingly moved towards becoming a dictator. He faced criticism from the West, which made him ally himself with the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, although the official position was that Ghana was neither aligned to the East nor the West. Economic issues, political detentions and lack of popularity for Nkrumah led to demonstrations and more arrests of leading members of the opposition.

The first coup occurred on February 24, 1966. It was a non-violent military coup by the National Liberation Council (NLC), which ended the rule of Nkrumah and his government while he was paying an official visit to Chairman Mao in Beijing. The NLC stated the goal of the coup was to end corruption and take the necessary steps to get Ghana back on the democratic path. In May 1969, the NLC claimed to be a provisional government until a new election. They legalized the organization of political parties. In September 1969 the NLC supervised multi-party elections and a new civilian government led by Dr. Kofi Busia, and the Progress Party was formed.

At that point, the Ghanaian conflict transformed into a latent state, with tensions rising sporadically. On January 13, 1972, the military staged a coup again, in response to demonstrations and unrest sparked by an economic depression. This time, the military called itself the National Redemption Council (NRC) led by Colonel Ignatius Acheampong, who installed himself as head of the state. The name of the NRC was later changed to the Supreme Military Council (SMC). The Acheampong rule led to several military harassments, where critics were detained and jailed without sentence. On July 5, 1978, Acheampong was forced to resign by another military coup.  At that time, General- William Akuffo took control of the “Supreme Military Council – II However, On June 4, 1979, the SMC - II was overthrown in a mass revolt of junior officers and men of the Ghana armed forces.

That military uprising saw the formation of an Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) chaired by Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings. The AFRC carried out what they called “a house-cleaning exercise” in the military and across civil society nationwide. Their supposed goal was to restore a sense of moral responsibility and the principles of accountability and probity in public life. The AFRC was in office for only three months and, true to their promise to reinstate a civilian government, political parties were allowed once again in Ghana and general elections were held.

On September 24 1979, the AFRC handed over power to the civilian administration of Dr. Hilla Limann, leader of the People's National Party which won the elections. Dr.Limann compelled Rawlings and his co-officers to retire from the military, an action which, obviously, was not well received by the young military officers. The officers were detained for allegedly being a threat to the peace of the county.  The failure of the government to fix the economy and stop corruption led Rawlings to stage a second coup after his colleagues aided him to break out of jail on December 31, 1981, in a “revolution.”  Flt.-Lt. rtd. Rawlings became the Chairman of a nine-member Provisional National Defence Ruling Council, (PNDC) at that time.

The "revolution" Rawlings led was a populist movement with a Socialist ideology.  The emergence of the PNDC was the height of the “dark” days in the political history of Ghana. Rawlings was a charismatic leader, and his populist movement enjoyed support. However, there was opposition from the start. A few months after the PNDC came to power, there were executions/killings of members of an alleged plot to overthrow the government. The PNDC ruled with an iron fist through harsh treatment of dissidents and limited freedom of the press. The so-called “house cleaning’ was a painful period characterized by injustices and abuses of people rights all in the name of the revolution.  

Rawlings and his PNDC government started facing both internal and international pressures in the late 1980s which led him to begin exploring a shift towards democracy. In 1992, a referendum for returning to democracy passed, and political parties were permitted again in Ghana. Rawlings formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to run in the presidential elections which he won. He ruled for another 8 years-- two four-year terms- -after his 21 years of military rule.

The 1992 constitution of Ghana has survived for a quarter of a century, longer than all previous Ghanaian constitutions.

What Accounted for the Relative Stability of the 4th Republican Constitution?

Since February 1966, Ghana experienced four military coups and a series of civilian regimes that were all accused of human rights violations. The country has had three periods of unconstitutional rule, characterized by military takeovers, between 1966 and 1969; 1972 and 1979; and 1981 to 1992.  These human rights violations attributed to military regimes, remained “unresolved” formally. The 4th Republican Constitution of Ghana guaranteed that all perpetrators of alleged atrocities during the military period were untouchable under the “Indemnity Clause,” which the author argues, is the single foundational factor the acceptance of which has been the source of political stability. The Constitution guarantees that all people who might be a threat to the country’s peace and stability are given the assurance of not being prosecuted. This, to a large extent, is one factor that allowed Jerry Rawlings, the last military leader, to hand over power peacefully and without fear.

As explained earlier, Lederach suggests that reconciliation requires four components: mercy, truth, justice and peace. He sees reconciliation, as a social space, a locus, where these concepts and as well as actual people and things come together. But he seems not to have prioritized one over the other. He doesn’t place different weights or magnitudes on any of the four components.

There is a question as to the order in which the four elements of reconciliation should be pursued and whether a significant time lapse has any impact on them.

I agree with Lederach on his four components of reconciliation and I agree that reconciliation is  a social space--a locus and place where people and things come together. But I would like to go further to conceptualize the meeting place as a river. 

Reconciliation can be conceptually or a morally imagined as a “River of Grace” where four streams flow to meet and form a river. Each stream is equally formed by much smaller streams. Truth flows from the streams of Acknowledgment, Transparency, and Revelation flowing to Clarity; Mercy flow from the streams of Acceptance, Forgiveness, Support, Compassion, and Healing. Justice flows from the smaller streams of Equality, Right relationships, Making-things-right and Restitution. Peace flows from Harmony, Unity, Security and Respect.  (See Figure 1.)

However, the four main streams of Truth, Mercy, Justice and Peace have varying sizes and volume of water. While each has a cooling effect and adds to the grace of the river, each also has different obstacles to meander around in the course of flowing as tributaries of the River of Grace – reconciliation. 

In the case of Ghana, the streams of Mercy and Peace were much larger than the streams of Truth and Justice, as is shown in Figure 2. 

Fig. The River of Grace - Reconciliation


Stability and peacebuilding are nurturing efforts that succeed depending on multiple factors.  The social inclusion and opportunity even for supposed culprits of atrocities under military regimes allows for constructive social change. The Akan ethnic group of Ghana has a saying that word of mouth is the only remedy to any conflict, no matter how complicated or hard. The will to live in a peaceful country and world establishes a readiness for building a durable peace on all social fronts. That is not to say that the people of Ghana have forgotten the atrocities and makes no reference to the past.. They are resentful, sometimes, but that feeling is overshadowed by a belief in a form of higher justice- Justice from God. There are a few lone voices, sometimes, but no strong voice has questioned the Indemnity Clause. Almost everyone sees that as the price of peace, and maintaining the sustainability of peace is seen as key.

Conflict resolution, transformation, reconciliation, and peacebuilding do not merely rely on the signatures on peace accords—or,  in the case of Ghana on a referendum for constitutional democracy., Rather, they require a  process of enduring peacebuilding with a recurrent effort to commit to an open self-reflective acceptance of peace. Both conflict transformation and reconciliation emphasize building relationships.  I see reconciliation as part of conflict transformation--which is a process of engaging with and transforming the relationships, interests, discourses and, the parts of society that fuel continuous violence.

 Conflict can be positive, too, when it is constructive. as it acts as a catalyst for change, as suggested by Ricigliano (2012). Communities function as a system, and everyone has complementary roles to play in the process of peacebuilding. Like managing an addiction, peacebuilding must be founded on the knowledge that acceptance of one’s vulnerability and willingness to mutually respect the other and accept that each one deserves dignity is essential. Lederach nicely describes conflict transformation as the effort to move relationships from those defined by fear,violence, and mutual recrimination to ones defined by mutual respect, love and proactive engagement.  This effort requires tactfulness and sustained commitments to the cause of peace.

Reconciliation and peacebuilding need to be tailor-made to reflect local needs. Here, the author draws on the specific constitutional provision on forgiveness and mercy under the Indemnity Clause of the 1992 constitution of Ghana:



1. No member of the Provisional National Defence Council, Provisional National Defence Council Secretary, or other appointees of the Provisional National Defence Council shall be held liable either jointly or severally, for any act or omission during the administration of the Provisional National Defence Council.

2. It is not lawful for any court or tribunal to entertain any action or take any decision or make any order or grant any remedy or relief in any proceedings instituted against the Government of Ghana or any person acting under the authority of the Government of Ghana whether before or after the coming into force of this Constitution or against any person or persons acting in concert or individually to assist or bring about the change in Government which took place on the twenty-fourth day of February 1966 on the thirteenth day of January 1972, on the fourth day of June 1979 and on the thirty-first day of December 1981 in respect of any act or omission relating to, or consequent upon   a. the overthrow of the government in power before the formation of the National Liberation Council, the National Redemption Council, the Supreme Military Council, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Provisional National Defence Council; or   b. the suspension or abrogation of the Constitutions of 1960, 1969 and 1979; or

  c. the establishment of the National Liberation Council, the National Redemption Council, the Supreme Military Council which took office on the ninth day of October 1975, the Supreme Military Council established on the fifth day of July 1978, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, or the Provisional National Defence Council; or d. the establishment of this Constitution. 3. For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that no executive, legislative or judicial action taken or purported to have been taken by the Provisional National Defence Council or the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council or a member of the Provisional National Defence Council or the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council or by any person appointed by the Provisional National Defence Council or the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in the name of either the Provisional National Defence Council or the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever and, accordingly, it shall not be lawful for any court or other tribunal to make any order or grant any remedy or relief in respect of any such act. 4. The provisions of subsection (3) of this section shall have


Notwithstanding anything in Chapter 25 of this Constitution, Parliament shall have no power to amend this section or sections 34 and 35 of this Schedule.”

In these constitutional provisions the concept of “mercy” has been imbibed into Ghanaian law and enshrined as unamendable. It is a fool-proof guarantee of mercy for all those whose actions during the military rule may have harmed others. While the constitution used the coercion of law to enforce mercy, the unanimous acceptance of the constitution in a referendum was an acceptance of such forgiveness. In my view, this guarantee of mercy, and therefore forgiveness, has been the single foundational factor contributing to the sustainable peace in Ghana and the long life span of the 4th republican constitution.

Lederach suggest that reconciliation must be proactive in seeking to create an encounter where people can focus on their relationship, as such he further suggests that reconciliation is built on a paradox, that which links seemingly contradictory, but in fact interdependent ideas and forces which seem to be reflective in Ghana.

While agreeing with Lederach that reconciliation is both a locus and a focus, the author differs on the magnitude and importance to be placed on each stream in the “River of Grace” metaphor.     In the case of Ghana, streams of Mercy and Peace were much bigger than the streams of Truth and Justice. While Truth is the longing for acknowledgment of wrong and the validation of painful loss and experiences, not everyone’s truth was heard in the Ghanaian story; but Mercy started probably as a lake that later became a stream flowing over time -  the will for acceptance, letting go, and accepting a new beginning was institutionalized constitutionally. Justice, representing the search for individual and group rights, and for restitution, I would say, had the most obstacles and the longest route, but it made it to the River of Grace anyway by focusing on the need for interdependence, well-being, and security. While these four streams continuously flow into the River of Grace, representing reconciliations constant efforts are being made to protect the tributaries and their courses.

In Ghana, most of the people with direct or indirect military affiliations who contributed to “terrorizing” Ghanaian citizens in the past did not openly acknowledge their wrongs and beg for forgiveness. However, mercy was a constitutionally assured, nevertheless Ghanaians have worked hard with a strong will to own the Constitutionally-required mercy and forgiveness, and therefore, achieve peace. This goes to confirm the paradoxical nature of reconciliation as pointed out by Lederach thus reconciliation is built on seemingly contradictory factors with interdependent ideas and forces.

The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) of Ghana

While most countries establish truth commissions generally during the transition period immediately following conflict and an authoritarian regime, in the case of Ghana, the NRC was created almost a decade after a return to democracy. The truth of the events and atrocities of the military era were told by the victims and survivors to a National Reconciliation Commission, but no significant acknowledgment by the perpetrators was made. The Commission received some 4240 petitions, but just about 2000 had a public hearing. Public hearings were said to be based on the gravity of the allegations, as well as on merit, and also on a first come, first served basis. Cases involving incidents of administrative injustice, such as a large number of wrongful dismissals that occurred under successive military regimes, did not receive public hearings. The Commission heard testimony from 2,129 victims and 79 alleged perpetrators. The former President, John Jerry Rawlings and the former National Security Advisor, Captain Kojo Tsikata, also testified.

 While perpetrators did not willingly come forward to acknowledge wrongdoing, they came forward mainly to contest allegations against them when they were named. Of the 79 individuals ‘perpetrators’ who testified before the Commission, just a few admitted to wrongdoing or asked forgiveness.  The main "perpetrator" and leader of the 1981 revolution, Jerry John Rawlings, never came to acknowledge any wrongdoing or validate the pain the revolutionary movement caused to Ghanaians. However, a public acknowledgment of their pain was acceptable enough for people to be willing to move on. Ghanaians seem to have accepted “partial” truth and “transformed” justice. The average Ghanaian believes in the law of karma, that a higher authority would deliver justice. So it is common to hear Ghanaians say that God would give them justice and, therefore, they do not need to pursue justice on their own.

This paper by no means implies that Justice cannot be achieved if peace is to be maintained. However, justice can be redefined and transformed to varying meanings to different people.  While Lederach is not wrong in explaining reconciliation as a four-sided place, attention needs to be given to the context. It is widely accepted that conflict is dynamic and, so, too, is its resolution.  While justice plays a role at arriving at the meeting place, the four factors have a different measure of importance and carry different weights or in the river metaphor, water volume. Reconciliation as a river sourced from streams of truth, justice, mercy, and peace flow through the course directed by the conflicting parties involved. In Ghana, justice was diverted from the course of “human justice” to an alternative course—one of higher justice provided by God, or the law of karma.

 In the eight years of Rawlings’ democratic rule, he continuously celebrated the events of December 31, 1981, which was a constant reminder of the pain of many in Ghana but even then, the common belief was justice from above. The celebration of the revolution was outlawed after the Rawlings’ two-term presidency ended.

Civil society organizations, religious bodies, and traditional authorities continuously keep on reinforcing the idea of forgiveness and the need to put Ghana first all the time. These voices get louder every election year, and there is no complacency on the part of anyone in Ghana. The recognition and acceptance of vulnerability and the desire for a prosperous country seem to drive the will for sustainable peace. The case of Ghana is still a work in progress, as in treating addiction to drugs. So the people of Ghana do not have the luxury of complacency. Ghanaians seem to have reached a consensus by agreeing to maintain a relatively stable peace through the ability to face challenges together.  Reconciliation as a river into which each of the four elements of Mercy, Truth, Justice and Peace flows, has its characteristics and significance defined by the parties involved.  The flow of the river is also determined by how protective the parties are of its sources ensuring each element’s continuous flow, making the stream bigger and consistent as it goes.

Conflict Management as a Team Project in Ghana: A Refection of SAT Model

Although Ghana has been described as peaceful country, violence occurs from time to time involving various ethnic, religious, economic and political groups. Fortunately, the country’s risk for war has been recognized and continuous efforts are made to address the situation. The SAT model of peacebuilding as proposed by Ricigliano, seems to be the approach utilized in Ghana. In his contribution to the body of knowledge sustainable peacebuilding, Ricigliano proposes the application of insights from systems thinking. He advocates for a shift of mind to “systemic thinking,” proposing a holistic view of peacebuilding through a three-part theoretical framework; namely Structural, Attitudinal and Transactional (SAT). By structural, he refers to systems and institutional planning designed to meet people's basic human needs. Governance assistance, rule-of-law, security sector reforms and economic reconstruction programs are some of the structural peacebuilding strategies he identified. At the attitudinal level, he refers to shared norms, beliefs, and building relationships. Such peacebuilding efforts would utilize trauma-healing, community dialogue and truth and reconciliation commissions. Lastly, Ricigliano talks about transactional peacebuilding, referring to processes and skills used by key people to peacefully manage conflict.

 The SAT model proposes that effecting lasting, systemic change in a social system requires shifts in all three levels of society. There are efforts to sustain peace on all three fronts, structural, attitudinal and transactional, in Ghana. On the structural level, peacebuilding efforts have focused particularly on the institutional change theory, which says that reliable and stable institutions are needed to assure the provision of the citizenry’s fundamental human needs. In Ghana, both local and international initiatives have gone into supporting the building and developing stable and reliable institutions that guarantee democracy, equity, justice and fair allocation of resources.  Institutions which provide basic needs and human rights are being strengthened. The police, courts and other agencies continue to benefit from governance assistance from the international community, which demands accountability to avoid a repetition of the past events. The past is in the past and the institutional capacities are being built to protect the present and future. There have been reforms in the security sector, and rule of law has been strengthened. The country has been able to hold successful elections, and the government has changed peacefully three times in the period.  Also, there are attempts made by various agencies to establish a database of conflict zones and to design early warning systems to help pre-empt violence.

In addition to structural changes, attitudinal and transactional changes have taken place in Ghana as well.  The relationship between parties has been improving, in part due to transformative process that allow the parties to deal with tensions and differences more constructively than they had in the past.

These efforts in Ghana seem to fit into Lederach’s portrayal of the "moral imagination" as the capacity to recognize pivotal moments and windows of opportunity and possibilities to walk down unknown paths and create a new reality. In Ghana, the moral imagination has opened up the capacity to imagine and generate effective processes that deal with emerging challenges of violence to control the likely destructive patterns. This portrays the attitudinal part of the SAT approach where shared norms, beliefs, and intergroup cooperation seem to be working.

One example of note is the National Peace Council, a non-partisan body made of religious leaders and clergymen who work daily to ensure constructive conflict resolution. The National Peace Council, with offices nationwide, undertakes periodic educational campaigns on peace, which are intensified during general elections. The Council has utilized transactional processes and skills-- such as utilizing key people in mediation between conflicting groups. . For example, the former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan and the Asantehehe (the King of Ashanti) often lead mediation efforts.  This council seems to have absorbed Lederach’s emphasis on art and imagination in their conflict resolution approach and makes efforts to lead Ghanaians to develop their individual moral imaginations.

According to Lederach, the moral imagination rests on four principles and capacities. First is the requirements to develop the ability to imagine oneself in a network of relationships including one's enemies. Second is the capacity to embrace complexity without getting caught up in the social division; third is a commitment to the creative act and finally, an acceptance of the risk and along with attempts to transcend violence.) These principles can be summed up into relationships, paradoxical curiosity, creativity, and risk.

 The Peace Council and other affiliated organizations continuously work towards a constructive change by making efforts to encourage parties to move beyond relationships of fear (characterized by blame, self-justification, and violence) to relationships of love (characterized by openness, mutual respect, and dignity). The Peace Council acts like a fire or rescue unit that moves in to quench fear and encourages constructive social change through effective interactions reinforcing relational dignity, respectful engagement, and a common national good.

Lederach suggests that social change should be seen as an art form in which peacebuilding clearly emerges as a process that requires creativity, constant innovation, and flexibility. For Lederach, the value of moral imagination rests on the capacity to move from cycles of violence and intolerance to new relationships. In Ghana, the national consciousness is oriented towards prayer and faith and citizens are encouraged to pray for the nation constantly. One remarkable group is the Aglow International Ghana, a non-denominational Christian women fellowship that has successfully held national monthly “intercessory” prayer service for some years now. These women can rally women of all faiths to their sessions, and their dress code is always national colors. Through their efforts and many others, a web of relationship continues to build up as a national front.

How long can reconciliation last when other underlying factors of conflicts still exist? In other words, how can we protect the River of Grace? While this river still flows in Ghana at the national level – as there is no civil war – many ‘minor’ ethnic conflicts seem to be part of the obstacles around which the tributaries of the river meander. The way to the river has risk factors that could jeopardize sustainable peace. It is worth recognizing the recurring ethnic clashes in the Northern part of the country.. The underlying causes of these conflicts have deep historical roots, as a result of the colonial policy of putting acephalous (non-chief) societies under the centralized states. The ancient societies feel marginalized and desire their own leaders and control over the lands on which they have settled. This is aggravated by problems of succession to skins – the symbol of authority- and political differences. Mediation efforts have yielded short-term calm, but usually fall short of creating durable and sustainable peace.  

On the micro level, there are still relationships to be healed. How do Ghanaians continue to ensure lasting peace as a whole unit, not just the absence of ‘major’ civil war? If reconciliation is not held constantly as a terminal point, then what is needed is constant support, vigilance and hard work to sustain the will and interest in the envisioned future together.  Many groups and organizations are committed to this cause and are working hard to shape an active civil society through grassroots empowerment. They encourage people to understand conflicts and imagine alternatives in dealing with conflicts.

The author acknowledges the fact that it’s hard to measure the impact of intervention in conflict resolution. There is a correlation, it seems, between, the building of mercy and forgiveness into the Ghanaian 1992 Constitution under the Indemnity Clause, and Ghanaians relatively sustained peace.  But is it causation?  We do not know.  . The spirit of the argument here is not to offer a simplistic reason for the relative longevity of the 1992 Constitution and therefore stability. It is, rather, to propose that the indemnity clause is a strong facilitating foundation for reconciliation by acting as a form of security guarantee and a confidence-building measure as well as a policy of amnesty (Fusato, 2003). While Lederach’s four-point intersection of truth, mercy, justice and peace is fundamental in many contexts, there are variance in the form and significance of each element depending on the nature, context, interest and will of the participants. The course and flow of “River of Grace” therefore is context specific and facilitated by the wind of will and pushed through currents of a jointly- envisioned future.


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