NPR

Remembering Michael Sharp: He Risked His Life To Make Peace

The death of the 34-year-old Kansan was confirmed this week. Correspondent Gregory Warner met him by chance on a boat and found out how he managed to forge a dialogue with violent rebels.
Michael Sharp visited Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during his time in the country. When he was killed, he was part of a U.N. mission. Source: Jana Asenbrennerova

Michael Sharp believed in the power of persuasion. The 34-year-old Kansan with the round face and a penchant for plaid shirts would walk, unarmed, deep into rebel-held territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sit in the shade of banana trees with rebels and exchange stories.

Inevitably, those stories would turn to the past. "Rebels love talking about the past," Michael once told me.

Michael's deep understanding of how these rebels saw their country's past — the mythical version of that past that they used to justify their own violence — allowed him to emerge from the jungle each time unscathed

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