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Area Studies

What can we learn by comparing practices and customs in different societies around the world?

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Book Note: Peacemaking Insights on Africa from Jimmy Carter’s Books and Interview

WCIU Journal: Area Studies Topic

February 28, 2012

Reviewed by James Butare

Read the full Winter 2012 issue on “Peacemaking in Africa.”

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“Jimmy Carter was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office. Carter and his wife Rosalynn founded the Carter Center in 1982, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that works to advance human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and also remains particularly vocal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (Source).

What caught my attention from the interview which Jimmy Carter gave on PBS NewsHour while launching his new book, Living Faith, was his thorough research about the countries where he goes to do peacemaking. I was impressed by his detailed and unbiased knowledge of the historical, cultural, social and political situations in Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. In Living Faith and in his interview, he comfortably uses his Christian faith and beliefs to propose workable solutions. That, in my opinion, is what makes him one of the most respected peacemakers in the world.

Jimmy Carter is also openly critical of the US policies as far as peacemaking and combating poverty in Africa is concerned. “Our nation is not looked upon as a champion of peace and as the most generous country on earth. In fact, we are the stingiest country on earth. Every time a Norwegian gives a dollar in foreign assistance for needy people, we give three cents. And so I think, there’s a great difference and a great way that we can go to realizing the hopes and dreams of Africa, which will exemplify the characteristics of a great superpower.”  (Source)

Jimmy Carter is also critical of Christians. On page 57 of Our Endangered Values, he points out that Jesus announced that his ministry was to “bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed.” Jimmy Carter says that after a lifetime of responsibilities in both religious and political arenas, he reached what was to him a surprising and somewhat reluctant conclusion that government office-holders and not church members were more likely to assume responsibility and be able to fulfill the benevolent missions.

James Butare-Kiyovu (Doctorat en Linguistique Appliquée Sorbonne University, Paris) was the Professor of Applied Linguistics at William Carey International University from 2005–2015

James Butare-Kiyovu (Doctorat en Linguistique Appliquée Sorbonne University, Paris) was the Professor of Applied Linguistics at William Carey International University from 2005–2015

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