Adama Sarr is an MBBI consultant based in Dakar, Senegal who has been involved with the organization since 2015. His background is in surveying and land disputes and began to be interested in mediation after a consultancy for the UN in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Adama became very close to the community he was working with there, and soon developed a passion for mediation.
Engagement with MBBI
Adama values his involvement in MBBI for a number of reasons. He is enthusiastic about the regular interactions that allow him to engage in the diverse culture of the members and staff, as well as enjoys the diversity of the commissions and what they work towards. Every year, MBBI’s Climate Change Policy Project (CCPP) sends a delegation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At COP 21 in Paris, France, in November of 2015, Adama was an integral part of the MBBI delegation as he created the map of MBBI to share at the event.
Additionally, he expounds on what he has been able to learn from his engagement with the organization and how it aids him in his work. The opportunity to be part of the MBB Consulting team has expanded his view and practice of peacebuilding, especially as it relates to his work mediating disputes over land and occupation. Historically and in the future, disputes over land have been infused with meaning and cultural aspects that go deeper and beyond fighting over limited resources. Understanding mediation from all angles and from all over the world can contribute to peacebuilding, especially when it is done in conjunction with cultural understanding and a love of community support.
After five years of involvement with MBBI, Adama says that everyone with a love of peace should join the organization; ‘Everyone who wants a better world without war, without racism, without religious conflict, without discrimination, will be welcome in MBBI. And particularly those who are working for youth and women’s rights.’ He maintains that mediation is particularly important in a world that seems to grow in complexity every day ‘Because mediation is the key to all sustainable solutions.” The pure nature of the way that mediation works mean that it adapts to the situation, and therefore is the most malleable and flexible method of dispute resolution.
Advice for Mediators
As an experienced mediator, Adama is in a good place to give advice. When asked what the most important qualities are for a good mediator to have, he says that “above all one must be patient and take the time to listen.” The perception of the role of the mediator is also important, and it is key to stay neutral and ensure that both parties see you as such. “Patience is crucial and must also be used in analyzing each party’s position;” Adama’s line of work also includes land surveying and beyond.
Land dispute mediation is Adama’s forte, and it is among the most meaningful experiences in his career. Specifically, there was a specific “land dispute where neither party had legal documents that proved the land belonged to them. It made it challenging to resolve but incredibly rewarding to do so. Also, there are some disputes where two parties both have a legal document for the same piece of land.” These difficulties only reinforce the importance of patience. Adama gives the following advice for young people interested in mediation: ‘My advice to the young generations is to be fair and very patient while doing mediation. And above all, to always have an emphasis on open-mindedness.’
Article by Lizzy Nestor, MBBI Writer