CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: The Role of Indigenous Conflict Resolution Mechanisms


Conflict is a fundamental part of human interaction. From Liberia in the west to Rwanda in the east; from
Libya in the north to Angola in the South, Africa has been a hot bed for violent conflicts. This is why
practitioners and academics alike lay emphasis on conflict resolution mechanisms. This paper uses
secondary data and content analysis to describe the various mechanisms for resolving conflicts in Africa.
This paper concludes that conflicts in Africa can better be resolved by combining western methods
(mediation, negotiation, conciliation,etc)withindigenous conflictresolutionmechanisms.
Key words: Conflict, conflict resolution, arbitration, mediation, indigenous conflict,resolution.
Africa’s history is one with a number of examples of conflicts. From Liberia to SierraLeone, Congo, Nigeria,
Sudan, Angola and Mozambique (to name a few) there have been recorded instances of conflicts. Conflict is
an inevitable aspect of human existence and interaction. As long as human beings interact, there is bound to
be contradiction of interests. Conflict is not entirely a negative phenomenon. If managed effectively it can
lead to progress.According to Albert (2001), there is nothing wrong with conflict, it is a crucial mechanism by
which goals and aspirations of individuals and groups are articulated; it is a channel for definition of creative
solutions to home problems and a means to the development of a collective identity. With this in mind, it is
important that conflicts in Africa be resolved and managed.
This paper analyzes the concept of conflict, conflict management and conflict resolution. It looks at the
various mechanisms for resolving conflicts in Africa. Such mechanisms include: negotiation, mediation,
conciliation, arbitration and peace keeping. Theindigenous mechanisms to conflict resolution is also explored
in this work. However before delving in the subject matter, let us look at Morton Deutsch’s theory of conflict
Morton Deutsch’sTheory of Conflict Resolution
Morton Deutsch is an American psychologist who has made significant contributions tothe study of conflict
resolution. Central to his work has been the issue of making conflict productive rather than eliminating it
(Wani, 2011). Deutsch has been guided by five assumptions: (a) Each participant in social interaction
responds to the other in terms of his perception and cognition of other. (b) Each participant in social
interaction being cognizant of the other’s capacity for awareness, is influenced by his own expectations
concerning the other’s actions as well as by his perceptions of the other’s conduct. (c) Social interaction not
only initiated by motives but also generated new motives and alters old ones. (d) Social interactiontakes place
in a social environment, in a family, a group, a community, a nation, a civilization that has developed
techniques, symbols, categories, rules and values that are relevant to humaninteraction. (e) Even though each
participant in social interaction, whether an individual or a group, is a complex unit composed of many
interacting subsystems, it can act in a unified waytowards some aspects of environment. Deutsch believes that
conflict resolution is primarily governed by the development of skill. The more skillful the party, the more
likely that the…

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