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Facilitating research for peace in Africa

Prof Andreas (Dries) Velthuizen

Unisa’s Institutional Partnerships and Internationalisation unit continues to facilitate key academic linkages and research collaborations to advance intellectual thinking about conflict in Africa, including the remarkable work of Prof Andreas (Dries) Velthuizen, internationally recognised scholar in the field of peace studies.

Velthuizen is a Unisa alumnus and lifelong learner, currently on the faculty of the Thabo Mbeki African School for Public and International Affairs (TM-School). He started his studies towards a BA degree in International Politics in 1984 and eventually completed his BA Honours and MA in Strategic Studies, all through distance learning at Unisa. The platform for his academic career was established when he completed a D Litt et Phil in 2008 with the title "The Management of Knowledge: A model for the African Renaissance".

Walking the talk

Velthuizen’s research journey took place in very challenging and sometimes high-risk circumstances when he lived in northern Namibia, and did his research in Uganda, Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. His achievements are a standing testimony to the opportunities that open distance learning presents to those who cannot enjoy the luxuries of residential universities. 

Although Velthuizen’s ongoing research continuously generates new questions, the main research question that guides his research is: "How can African knowledge and knowledge in Africa inform a new theoretical framework for peace and conflict studies in Africa with a view to preventing violent conflict and restoring long-term peaceful relations?"  His core argument is that peace in Africa can be achieved by applying conflict resolution practices, processes and mechanisms that are appropriate to African contexts, replacing archaic, hierarchical systems that are forced on Africa by geopolitical powers and systems of colonial origin.

Partnering for peace

From 2013 to 2016, Velthuizen was the project leader of the San Dispute Resolution Project, with several San communities in the Northern Cape benefiting from the research in terms of revived customary dispute resolution practices and the establishment of a Knowledge Centre in the Platfontein San community near Kimberley. 

Since joining Unisa, Velthuizen has followed a trajectory to establish himself as an internationally recognised scholar in the field of peace studies, conflict studies and security studies in Africa (he currently has a C-rating from the NRF). In collaboration with Institutional Partnerships and Internationalisation, a unit within Unisa’s Department of Institutional Advancement, he maintains ongoing collaborations with international institutions such as the Africa Institute of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow; the Scientific Committee of the Africa Platform at the University of Ghent, Belgium; the Bayreuth International Graduate School for African Studies at Bayreuth University in Germany; and, more recently, the Centro Universitario do Sul de Minas in Brazil.

Velthuizen says that sharing his knowledge within Unisa and broader South African society remains his highest calling. He emphasises that to become a successful scholar requires a strongly developed work ethic, doing what you promise other people, irrespective of challenges, and working with like-minded people in what has become an intensely networked world. "If you are inspired by a need to serve the people around you and society at large," he concludes, "teaching and learning become an important part of purposeful living and scholarship."

* Submitted by Institutional Partnerships and Internationalisation, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/06/15