Methods of Conflict Resolution in African Traditional Society

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This study examined the patterns or mechanism for conflict resolution in traditional African societies with particular reference to Yoruba and Igbo societies in Nigeria and Pondo tribe in South Africa. The paper notes that conflict resolution in traditional African societies provides opportunity to interact with the parties concerned, it promotes consensus-building, social bridge reconstructions and enactment of order in the society. The paper submits further that the western world placed more emphasis on the judicial system presided over by council of elders, kings’ courts, peoples (open place) assemblies, etc; for dispute settlement and justice dispensation. It concludes that traditional conflict resolution techniques such as mediation, adjudication, reconciliation, and negotiation as well as cross examination which were employed by Africans in the past, offer great prospects for peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationships in post-conflict periods than the modern method of litigation settlements in law courts. Key words: African Conflict, Mediation, Reconciliation, Adjudication, Negotiation, etc

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  • ... Olaoba (2010) also asserted that the sources or origin of conflict in traditional Africa societies are associated with their cultural life or heritages. Thus, Africans conceptualizes conflict as a natural phenomenon and are socially inevitable (Ajayi and Buhari, 2014). The same is true among the Dibate of Ethiopia where this article has given due emphasis. ...
  • ... It is evident that most individuals, families and communities still prefer indigenous conflict resolution processes in the two countries because they are based on cultural concepts, values, and procedures that are understood and accepted. Similarly, other authors such as [Kariuki, 2015;Midodzi & Jaha, 2011;Bukari, 2013;Emanuel & Ndimbwa, 2013;Ladan, 2013;Theresa & Oluwafemi, 2014] also studied indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms of various communities in Africa and noted their roles in conflict resolution. Malan (n.d) also ...
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    Ethiopia has been practicing various indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms for many centuries. The study on which this article is based was aimed at describing the role of indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms for maintaining social solidarity and strengthening communities in Alefa district. Descriptive qualitative research method was used with semi-structured face-to-face interviews to collect data. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze the data. The findings reveals that indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms are more flexible than the formal court procedures. Indigenous conflict resolution typically involves consensus building based on open discussions to exchange information and clarify issues about the conflict. The desired end result of indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms is a sense of harmony, solidarity and shared dialogue among conflicting parties not punishment. The absence of clear policy direction in the application of indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms has been found to be a limiting factor. Indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms have great untapped potential in maintaining social solidarity among a multiethnic and multicultural society such as Ethiopia where inter-communal conflicts are prevalent.
  • ... Mediators are sought from within the communities or societies of the parties concerned. Elders are respected as trustworthy mediators all over Africa, because of their accumulated experiences and wisdom (Ajayi & Buhari 2014). The concept of agba (elders) in Yoruba conflict management system, for example, is a Yoruba socio-political model for conflict resolution, and it is the third-party that is responsible for effective conflict resolution in indigenous Yoruba societies. ...
  • ... A conflict, according to Bush and Folger (1994), exists because of a real or apparent incompatibility of parties' needs or interests. Once a conflict exists, there are many strategies used in resolving it which include competing, Traditional conflict resolution strategies as spelt out by Ajayi and Buhari (2014) in their study of patterns or mechanism for conflict resolution in traditional African societies with particular reference to Yoruba and Igbo societies in Nigeria and Pondo tribe in South Africa, concluded that traditional conflict resolution techniques such as mediation, adjudication, reconciliation and negotiation as well as cross examination employed by Africans in the past, offer great prospects for peaceful coexistence and harmonious relationships in post-conflict periods than the modern method of litigation settlements in law courts. ...
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    This study assessed the effectiveness of village heads in Simatelele Ward, Binga District in resolving conflicts in Zingozo village. The study was from April 2012 to June 2013. Four village heads were sampled using a simple random sampling technique and four types of conflicts common to all the four selected village heads were taken. A mathematical model was developed to assign village heads to cases they can resolve and improve their effectiveness. The four types were divorce cases, conflict of interest, witchcraft and domestic violence. The principle behind was to assign each village head to a single case to resolve so that the overall effectiveness of the village heads at community level is maximized. Ten observations were made per village head per case. The results indicated that, on average, if the village heads resolve the conflicts the same way they are currently doing, they will be 69% effective. The collaborative approach as suggested by the research indicated that the effectiveness of the village heads in resolving conflicts will increase by 14% translating to approximately 9 cases out of 10 being resolved. It concludes that the collaborative approach improves the effectiveness of village heads in resolving conflicts hence its recommendation.
  • ... geared towards reconciliation, maintenance and improvement of social relationships. For instance, the Akans traditional court in Ghana (Okrah, 2003); the Tswana culture in Botswana (Ngcongco, 1989); the endogenous gacaca courts in Rwanda (Mutisi, 2009); the Acholi Justice System in Northern Uganda (Wasonga, 2009); the Kpelle people of Liberia and the Ndendeuli of Tanzania (Bob-Manuel, 2000); the Yoruba peoples indigenous law (Olaoba, 2001); the Igbo traditional institutions (Bennett, 1993, & Olaoba, 2001; and the Pondo tribe of Zulu in South Africa justice system (Olaoba, 2001, Ajayi andBuhari, 2014) are some of structured African traditional institutions that play major roles in conflict resolution. ...
    Traditional African societies are closely attached with deep-rooted cultural facts and elders play a major roles tosolve problems, create strategies and shape local visions based on skills and wisdoms. To do this, they use their pastexperience and knowledge which transmit from generation to generation. That accumulated knowledge of elders areindigenous knowledge which cultivated from the local community. Therefore, elders apply their indigenousknowledge for development planning as well as solving social problems. To obtain the purpose of this paper, theauthor selected the Anyuaa society from East Africa who are living in Ethiopia and South Sudan along the border viaGambella. They have traditional institutions known as Nyieye and Kwaaro to implement indigenous knowledge inorder to handling social problems including conflicts. Thus, in the body the paper, the concepts of indigenousknowledge, conflict resolution, roles of indigenous knowledge in conflict resolution, Anyuaa's traditional institutionssuch as the Noblship (Nyieya) and the headman (Kwaaro) including their conflict resolution process, compensationand purification are briefly discussed. The discussion supported by pictures that help us easily to understand therelevant linkage of indigenous knowledge to conflict resolution. Finally, conclusion is forwarded to accentuate howthe African traditional institutions play their role to manage conflicts through their indigenous knowledge.
  • ... Barki and Hartwick (2004) characterizes conflict as a dynamic process that happens between interdependent parties as they experience negative responses to perceived contradictions and obstruction in the accomplishment of their goals. Conflicts could be violent, uncontrollable, escalating and insolvable or latent and resolvable (Ajayi and Buhari, 2014). ...
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    The Horn of Africa region stands out amongst the planet's territories that are most volatile and vulnerable to armed violence. Conflicts have greatly affected the region over the past 50 years. The conflicts have disrupted the lives of people as well as the environment in ways that are not fully understood. Although armed conflict has generally had a negative impact on the environment, the environmental impact of conflict within the Horn of Africa has barely been evaluated. Similarly, our understanding that climate variability as well as change could have played a role in increasing or decreasing the impacts of conflicts within the Horn of Africa is insufficient. Therefore, this paper looks at the environmental impacts of conflict in the Horn of Africa since 1970 and also the role of climate variability in increasing or decreasing the impacts of conflict. Scientific publications as well as grey literature were reviewed with the aim to understand the status of past and present conflicts in the Horn of Africa, environmental impacts of conflict and the role of climate variability in decreasing or increasing impacts of conflict. The review demonstrates that conflict has extensive negative impacts on the environment in the Horn of Africa with main causes like grievances, government behaviour and interests, resource scarcity and transborder conflict as well as internal migration and climate variability. Similarly, climate variability plays a great role in exacerbating the impacts of conflict in the region. However, further research is needed to clearly show the impact of conflict and climate variability on the environment in the Horn of Africa.
  • ... Unfortunately, modern history shows that Indigenous societies and cultures, as Brigg and Walker (2016) argue, have suffered immensely during the periods of colonial explorations and post-colonial administrations. Ajayi and Buhari (2014) argue that the advent of colonial masters in Africa did not only adulterate, but also wiped out most of the indigenous African methods of conflict resolution. Breed (2007) argues that even though the Gacaca courts in Rwanda were historically effective, their reinvention to establish peace and reconciliation after the civil war through the interventions by the state court system put limitations on this indigenous model of conflict resolution. ...
    Since the process of decolonization started after the conclusion of the Second World War, a major victim of this process was indigenous cultures and social structures in most of the former colonies. This paper draws its analysis from postcolonial theory by considering the detrimental effects that colonialism has left on the culture and governance in tribal societies. The paper attempts to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on indigenous/traditional conflict transformation and peace strategies by studying the role of indigenous strategies in resolving conflicts in Pakistan and Tanzania. In Pakistan, the Pashtun Jirga is a council of elders that plays a significant role in mediating and resolving conflicts among Pashtuns, especially tribal Pashtuns. In Tanzania, two cases of extractive resource conflicts in North Mara and Mtwara show how these conflicts have been resolved and what role indigenous strategies played or could have played if they were to be effectively used. In both Pakistan and Tanzania cases, we find that indigenous strategies of peace and conflict transformation are an important and necessary ingredient to conflict resolution. However, despite their significance, indigenous strategies are hardly a priority for respective post-colonial governments and the international community.
  • ... But some authors observed that in Judiya it is mostly the respected elderly who fulfill these skills and be accepted as Judiya members. A statement by Ajayi & Buhari (2014) justifies this: "Elders are respected as trustworthy mediators all over Africa, because of their accumulated experiences and wisdom". Mohamed (2012) also observed the elders in rural Sudan are respected for their wisdom and"their words are rarely disputed". ...
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    This study explored Judiya which is the main mechanism for traditional mediation, reconciliation and justice in Darfur in Sudan, in relation to humanitarian diplomacy. Ajaweed (respected elders and traditional leaders) play a central role as the mediators in Judiya. The purpose of the study was to elicit the possibilities of utilizing Judiya as a potential resource that may have more promising benefits in humanitarian diplomacy than in political rounds in the context of the Darfur crisis. The study followed a descriptive methodology based on a review of data collected mainly from research articles and documents published in the web (online). The results revealed that Judiya operates in line with humanitarian diplomacy. It embraces the fundamental humanitarian principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence. Furthermore the study observed that many tools in the practice of Judiya and Ajaweed are shared with those utilized in humanitarian diplomacy including skills, ownership, the win-win attitude in solutions, and the presence of a protocol that respects the local culture. The study indicated that Judiya leaders as individuals are fit to assume the roles of humanitarian diplomacy actors. Many obstacles and difficulties facing organizations providing humanitarian and relief services in Darfur will probably be tackled by approaching Ajaweed appropriately.
  • ... The architecture of the indigenous reconciliatory mechanisms were originally configured to enhance social relations and value consensus as these constituted the core ingredients that actually restored relationships. As Ajayi and Buhari (2014) put it, the African model of conflict resolution is built on consensus building and social-bridge reconstructions. Other researchers (e.g., Albert, Tinu, Georges, & Wuyi, 1995;Ayittey, 1991;Uwazie, 1991) confirmed that the yearning for a return to the African mechanisms of conflict resolution was in the first place occasioned by the institutional flaws and lapses of the modern-day legal system. ...
    Most African societies are predominantly collectivist in nature with social relations forming their core basis of group identity. The affinity for that which protects the interests and identity of the group has come to be not just the source of strength for these societies, but also their bane, especially in the context of the development of the African child. This chapter begins with a consideration of the vitiated forms of the almajiri discipleship system and the persistence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in parts of Africa today, including the cultural and historical context in which these practices emerged and changed. The chapter next presents three major psychological theories providing insight into the persistence of these practices—Albert Bandura’s theory of moral disengagement, perspectives on non-violence in sociocultural practices from the field of Community Psychology, and Johan Galtung’s theories of cultural violence, positive and negative peace—and illustrates the applicability of these constructs in case study analyses of interviews with eight Nigerian respondents. The chapter concludes with perspectives on intervention and prevention strategies in regard to cultural violence, with a particular focus on the corrupted forms of the almajiri discipleship system and the persistence of FGM. Although most of the child-debasing practices are imbedded in long-standing cultural traditions, Africa also has people-friendly traditions to counter them. Priority should be given to encouraging conflict transformation, peace education, balancing between individual and cultural needs, instilling moral values, and advocating practices such as social cohesion, dialogue, truth-telling, and empathy.
  • ... The Yoruba society has similar tradition. According to Ajayi et al (2014) Yoruba peoples indigenous law derives from customs and traditions which were primarily unwritten. These laws were however preserved through oral tradition. ...
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    Volume one Number four of Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development
  • ... Decisions in matters are taken openly and in the presence of the parties, members of their family, village or community. Theresa (2014), it is the firm belief that the "presence of the ancestral forces is a factor; some may collapse or be forced to say the truth because of the ancestral forces". 11 In cases where it is difficult to ascertain the truth especially where either the identity of the offender is in doubt or it is very difficult to resolve the facts in issue, instruments like oath taking, divination and trial by ordeal are usually employed. ...
  • ... Such deities include Ogun, Sango, Ayelala, Ayeni, Lenuwa and others among the Yoruba. 15 The deities are believed to be capable of handing down instant justice to people who break their rules. The various forms of sanctions mentioned above created fear in people and prevented them from engaging in anti-social activities that could lead to public disorder. ...
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    Isurmona V.A. (ed.) (2005). Problems of Peacemaking and Peace Keeping. Perspective on Peace and Conflict in Africa, Ibadan: John Archers Publishers Ltd.
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    This text identifies contributions of traditional mechanisms for conflict management in Africa and elsewhere. With African conflicts eluding efforts to be controlled, this work is guided by the question: can traditional methods yield insights and approaches that might help end the violence?
  • Article
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    Recently scholars around the globe have given attention to conflict prevention, management and resolution. A considerable body of literature has been added to our academic libraries mostly by scholars from the Western societies. Conflicts in the developing areas by contrast are only minimally researched. For quite some time the assumption seems to have been made that the Western techniques of conflict prevention, management and resolution will also apply to Third World nations. Recently, however, some scholars in the developing countries began to think otherwise. Cultural diversities do not only shape our perception of conflicts but also determine techniques to be employed in handling them. The study of conflicts in the Sudan has significance for scholars in Africa, the Middle East and, indeed, around the globe. Sudan reflects the cultural heritage of Africa and the Middle East. Sudan has known a central authority that brought all its territory under effective control only since the beginning of the colonial era in 1898. Before that time local communities were largely left to administer themselves, inventing their own mechanisms for handling conflicts. Customary mediation is such an important mechanism which appears to have been effective up-to-now among tradition-bound communities. Over the course of time, and because of societal normal processes of change, government-sponsored mediations have been introduced, incorporating to a large extent indigenous practices. Lately, however, government intervention appears to be doing more harm than good, leading to the exacerbation of intergroup conflicts and the inadequacy of customary mediation to solve them. The article explores both phenomena, pinpointing what went wrong. It also argues that customary mediation, as a Sudanese practice, may have relevance for scholars in Sudan, Africa, the Middle East and indeed around the globe.
  • Book
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    This books contains basic tips for planning and managing conflict at communal level. It draws from lessons learned from Nigeria