Traditional Methods in Conflict Resolution
From June 27th
to July 1st 2000, Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE)
held a Validation Workshop at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in
Entebbe, Uganda. The aim of the workshop was to critically
examine and discuss the research findings on African Traditional
Methods, Experiences and Best Practices in Peace-Building and
the role-played by the Media in Conflict Resolution. In the
opening session, CECORE ‘s Administrative Officer, Rose
Othieno briefly highlighted the organization ‘s objectives
in promoting a culture of peace and tolerance and conveyed the
Executive Director (Stella Sabiiti)’s greetings and
apologies for not attending the workshop due to her appointment
by the OAU Secretary General to monitor the parliamentary
elections in Zimbabwe.
Betheul Kiplagat in his
key-note address, categorized Africa ‘s conflicts into four
types namely; Inter-State and Intra-State Conflicts, Cattle
Rustling and General banditry caused by border tensions,
religious zealotry, ethnic mistrust, unequal access to power and
resources and inadequate state structures. The Ambassador
stressed the need to be pragmatic other than dogmatic allowing a
diversity of views and ideas in the process of conflict
resolution, encouraging dialogue as a tool in peace-making and a
need to check and re-check any information passed out by the
press or any intelligence system that could trigger off or
exacerbate conflicts. USAID’s Project manager, Yves Kore
also gave a brief background of the Greater Horn of Africa
Initiative (GHAI), which gives grants to organizations involved
in the spheres of Food Security, Conflict Management and
Institutional Strengthening activities.
Baker Ochola II of Kitgum
Northern Uganda, gave the closing remarks on behalf of all
participants at the workshop, thanking CECORE for organizing
such an educative workshop that delved in depth on the
importance of positive African Traditional Methods and the Role
of the Media in Peace-building and urged all participants to
support these methods as alternative means to Peace-building. Dr.
Mohammed Ndaula of UHRC further emphasized peace as a human
right for everyone and encouraged participants to prioritise it
as a way forward for Africa.
Sawyer, former Head of
state of Liberia and the Head of the Mission of the OAU observer
Team to the Parliamentary Elections in Zimbabwe, also sent his
greetings to all the participants and revealed that the workshop
was a timely event in line with the objectives of the OAU’s
mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution.
research findings on African Traditional Methods from selected
areas of the region explored various traditional approaches to
conflict resolution. The data focused on particular tribes in
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and also analysed the traditional
court system of the Banyarwanda of Rwanda. The findings put into
consideration the unique African Culture that emphasizes the
resolving of conflicts amicably through elders, traditional
leaders healing and reconciliation rituals.
paper covered the following;
Resolution among the Pokot and Masai in Kenya
Resolution among the Acholi and Karamajong in Uganda
Resolution among the Banyarwanda in Rwanda
Resolution among the Wamakua, Wamwera, Wamakonde and Wayao in
presentations were made participants were given time to react to
the data collected. Below are some of the questions that were
- To what extent is traditional
Media like song, drama and dance used in Solving conflict?
- It has been noted that African
traditional methods are active within the common settings of
the society, but how can they be accepted and used in
government circles so that they may not be overlooked?
- To what extent have
traditional methods amongst the Pokot and Karamojong been
used to curb conflicts amongst those tribes?
- In the Western world man is
believed to be by nature evil, what is the notion of African
philosophy towards human nature?
- Are there studies done on
- Is all conflict destructive or
is there conflict that is constructive?
- Food and brew have been
pointed out as elements that complete the process of
reconciliation. What role do they play?
- What is the role of women in
this Conflict Resolution mechanism, because in Africa women
are seen to be marginalized?
- How do we relate African
traditional methods with the society today? For today we
have states and national legislation. How does one relate
these methods to the current legal situation?
- How do we compromise
traditional conflict resolution with the Christian beliefs
of understanding conflict resolution?
Key Issues that
were Identified by the discussion group on African Traditional
Participants discovered the importance of African traditional
methods and noticed that one cannot dispense with these
traditional approaches any more because they embody a lot of
African cultures that show that Africans also used to counsel
and resolve conflict peacefully.
Participants noted that the return to African Traditional
Methods needed more information and dissemination of the needs
of alternatives because African Traditional Methods brought
about total reconciliation and healing.
The workshop agreed that African Traditional Methods promoted
image and self-esteem of the people involved.
Participants noted the lack of respect for elders due to lack of
information amongst the youth on the role played by the elders
in society. They advocated for the re-installation of these
traditional approaches and the sensitisation of the youth on the
role and significance of elders.
The workshop noted some factors like poverty that relegate
elders into the background.
Participants agreed that African Traditional Methods were not
primitive at all. In fact they acknowledged the importance of
African Traditional Methods in solving problems in society and
encouraged the public to believe in the positive traditional
approaches to peace building.
Participants also noted that African Traditional Methods worked
differently in different cultural settings but with this
urbanization era, participants recommended the adoption of
African Traditional Methods in a multi-cultural society. More
work needs to be done in this area, especially as modern
conflict across tribal and indeed national boundaries.
Players Identified in This Field of African Traditional Methods
Religious leaders were identified to play an important role in
African traditional methods.
The Police and the armed forces
Policy makers, the government and those involved in making
The youth, especially those involved in cattle rustling
The rest of the community
on African Traditional Methods
- The workshop further
recognized the need to incorporate traditional approaches in
the African legal system as a positive step in re-instating
people’s confidence in African Traditional Methods.
- Participants felt the need to
strengthen, research and disseminate information from elders
before it dies out when they pass away.
- The workshop recognized the
re-orientation towards authentic African arts and the need
to look at our African culture through music, dance, songs
and folklore for piece building.
- The workshop advocated for the
integration of positive African traditional approaches in
the school curriculum and the restoration of ethics and
values in institutions of learning.
- Participants recommended
everyone to lobby for African traditional methods because
these methods are simple, flexible and easy to understand
and apply. They are also not expensive.
- The workshop also recognized
the need to sensitise and educate the youth on African
Traditional Methods, and the importance of elders in our