Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts: African Conflict 'Medicine'

Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts: African Conflict 'Medicine'

Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts: African Conflict 'Medicine'

Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts: African Conflict 'Medicine'

Synopsis

Persistence of violent conflict in Africa indicates that modern international methods are ineffective. This study examines traditional conflict management practices that can be found on the African continent, and looks at similar practices elsewhere, such as the Middle East and China, for comparison. Examples of African conflict management practices are presented, and their characteristics are discussed in the context of both internal meaning and external comparisons. Chapters are in sections on managing conflict in traditional African societies, other traditional approaches to reconciliation, and applying traditional methods to modern conflict management. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

Traditional societies in Africa and elsewhere are reputed to hold secrets of peacemaking locked in their ways, formed from centuries of custom before the disruption of colonization. In places and practices that modernization has passed by, these traditions are often claimed to be still in use, keeping the heart of society in harmony while imported overlays such as states and currencies are collapsing in conflict around them. Some of this smacks of the “noble savage” of romantic literature, and other aspects may merely be the invention of a current conflict management fad that ignores the pervasiveness and creativity of conflict. But some of Africa's reputation in conflict management has historic and even contemporary footnotes, and there are also other, less well-known claims to a non-Western approach to conflict management. A clearer picture is needed.

In recent times, medical scientists have turned attention to medicines and healing practices used in precolonial Africa in order to understand the bases of their effectiveness in modern scientific terms (de Souza 1997; Ahyi 1997). In some cases, such study has brought to light new chemical compounds and psychological effects, enriching the scientific repertory with previously unknown substances and practices. Without the benefit of modern science, Africans discovered chemical substances through their effects and used them effectively for medical purposes (Githens 1949; Kerharo and Bouquet 1950; Kerharo 1974; Kokwaro 1976; Radji 1987; Movich 1997–1998; Adjanohoun 1980; Bep 1986; Mortabo Degbe 1991; Diemé 1992). In the same way, healing practices were developed that now provide new insights into different ways of dealing with illness (Lambo 1961; Field 1960; Laplatine 1976; Sow 1977; Adjido 1984; Good 1987; Lewis 1988).

In other cases, it turned out that the substances and practices of African traditional medicine were the same as those used today, independently discovered and developed in Africa and in other parts of the world. Here, the . . .

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