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Relevance of traditional methods of conflict resolution in the justice systems in Africa

Patience M Sone

Abstract


The traditional methods of African conflict resolution have long existed and are deeply rooted in the customs and traditions of the peoples of Africa. These methods are geared towards maintaining harmonious and peaceful coexistence in the community. Colonialism introduced the modern justice system, which dominated and destabilised the efficacy of the traditional methods. Coupled with the growing  population and complexity of conflicts in the present societies, the system faces challenges in resolving conflicts. This study investigated whether the traditional methods still have relevance in addressing land and marital conflicts which are prominent in African societies specifically amongst ethnic groups such as the Igbos and Yorubas in Nigeria, the Batswanas and Zulus in South Africa, the Pokots and Marakwets in Kenya, and the Wimbums of the North West Region in Cameroon and reveals that, despite the challenges, the methods are still widely used. The traditional methods are non-adversarial in nature, cost-effective and accessible to everyone in the community. It should also be noted that the modern system has failed to obliterate animosity between disputing parties, both during and after litigation. This paper argues that even though the two systems have limitations, both are valid. The systems should be modified and harmonised through training so that they complement each other to improve the justice system in Africa.



AJOL African Journals Online