Academic journal article Journal of Sociological Research

Exploring Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution: The Case of the Bawku Conflict in Ghana

Academic journal article Journal of Sociological Research

Exploring Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution: The Case of the Bawku Conflict in Ghana

Article excerpt


Ghana has a number of ethnic conflicts, most of which are protracted mainly because of the type and nature of conflict resolution mechanisms that are used in finding solutions to them. Many of the solutions to these conflicts often fail to adopt home-based mechanisms (indigenous) in resolving them since most of our conflicts have traditional underpinnings. Many resolution measures have been used and continued to be used in bringing lasting peace to Bawku, but the area is yet to have lasting peace. This paper is an empirical study which uses the views of traditional actors to examine how indigenous mechanisms in the Bawku Traditional Area can be explored in resolving the ethnic conflict in the area. The study reveals that indigenous methods of conflict resolution in the Bawku Traditional Area can be effective in resolving the conflict through an integration of both Kusasis and Mamprusis indigenous approaches.

Keywords: conflict, Ghana, Bawku, peace, conflict resolution, indigenous approaches.

1. Introduction

The biggest challenge today confronting humans is not about the occurrence of conflict per se, but how these conflicts are fully resolved whenever they occur to prevent them from further escalating. Conflict will continue to exist with humanity since they like death, are inevitable. The inevitability of conflicts, however, becomes pathological to society depending on the type and nature of the resolution methods used. Many a time, the intervention mechanisms to a conflict right from its onset can be problematic and therefore can be a source of conflict itself. Conflicts often occur within a certain political, economic, social and cultural milieu. Today, many of the conflicts that occur or what Kaldor (2007) called 'new wars' are more internal, non- conversational and culture-sensitive (Boege, 2006). Many of these 'new wars' need intervention mechanisms that are culturally-based and relate to their environment of occurrence.

Many of the people of Africa in the past have lived together peacefully and had their own ways of settling their disputes before the colonialists arrived. In their attempts to set up administrative structures to make their governance easier, many ethnic groups were forced into cohesive structures by the colonists destroying many of the roots of traditional structures including mechanisms of conflict resolution (Awedoba, 2009). These forced administrative structures resulted in many of the lingering conflicts in many parts of Africa today (Awedoba, 2009).

Thus, this has led to a spate of new and different conflicts in Africa with varied causes. These conflicts include predominantly, ethnic conflicts between rival ethnic groups, internal conflicts, conflicts over succession and power struggles within the state and conflicts over the control of state resources (Idowu, 2005). Most of these conflicts have often been driven by ethnic contest for power, land, resources and the struggle for identity and, in recent times, political infiltrations (Osaghae, 2005). These conflicts, such as the Sudanese, Burundian and Democratic Republic of Congo's conflicts, have created deep-seated hatred and destructions with their attendant manifestations of genocide, mistrust, inequality in the distribution of power and resources among ethnic groups in these states.

Many of conflicts that occurred in Africa in the 1990s were approached with a wide range of approaches and mechanisms to regulate and resolve them through a number of resolution processes that involved the use of international statesmen, international and regional organizations, the involvement of neighboring countries, peace support operations and civil society organizations (CSOs) (Galadima, 2006; Konteh, 2006). Many of these methods of conflict resolution were thus western and conventional that did not take into account the cultural milieu of their occurrence. As a result, many of the conflicts became protracted and intractable. …

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