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Traditional Conflict Resolution Method

Traditional Conflict Resolution Method: A Case Study of Ora-Eri Community in Anambra State, Nigeria


This work is an analysis of the traditional method of conflict management and resolution in Ora-eri community, Aguata local government area of Anambra state. It examines and considers the effectiveness of the traditional method of conflict resolution in Ora-eri community. This work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the introduction. It also provides the statement of the problem, aims and objectives of the study as well as the significance of the study. Chapter two is basically a literature review of the subject. It entails the past works of some scholars on the traditional method of conflict management especially among the Igbo. Research design, study population, data collection method and limitation of the study were discussed in chapter three of the study. Chapter four, which is the main work of the study, deals with brief historical origin of Ora-eri, the traditional method of conflict management and prevention as a means of conflict resolution in Ora-eri. It discusses the culture of Ora-eri during the pre-colonial era. Chapter five concludes the work; it provides the findings, summary of the study as well as the recommendations.




1.1 Background of the study

The works of scholars and human experiences show that peace is inevitable for human existence and interaction; yet, conflict especially violent ones come up from time to time destroying peace needed for meaningful development. African societies prior to slave trade era and colonialism had well established mechanism for peace education, peace building, conflict management, conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

Some institutions and procedures were set out by Africans because they placed great emphasis on peaceful resolution of disputes which was always aimed at resolving social harmony while at the same time upholding the principle of fairness, equity and justice as engraved in their customs and traditions. For example, Cariston et al. (1998) reveals that among the Arusha of Tanzania there was a strongly held value that disputes should be settled peacefully by persuasion and by resort to the established procedures for settlement. This unique system abhorred killing and violence in resolving conflicts.

In African societies where central authorities exist, there were formally constituted courts that settled disputes and in such courts. For example, Chiefs were the judges- Oba (Yoruba), Omanhene (Fante), Antechere (Asante), Eze (Igbo), Emir (Fulani), (Hausa), Badwa (Akan) and others.

African communities, according to Ayittey (1992) followed four major principles in the maintenance of peace and management of conflicts.

  • Settlements of disputes by peace deliberation not force.
  • Correction of wrong doing through compensation and restitution not retribution.
  • Adjudication and assessment of a body of impartial elders.
  • Fairness, equity and justice.


Omoge (1999) in his study of Nigeria confirms that before the arrival of colonial forces and the amalgamation of northern and southern protectorates in 1914, social conflicts were monitored, prevented, managed and resolved through established institutions such as traditional rulers, council of elders, age sects, chiefs, ancestral cults, religious beliefs and others.

It needs to be emphasized that before the coming of the slave traders and colonial masters to Nigeria communities had their peculiar methods of monitoring, preventing, managing and resolving conflict. They also had their peculiar ways and manners of effecting peace-making, peace-building and confidence building. These peculiar and effective methods have today almost been wiped out by the forces of colonialism including religious psycho-war forces. Dialogue between disputants is today replaced by fighting and the mediating role of elders and other more peaceful institutions such as age grades, highly revered societies and the third neighbours are replaced in several cases with police action and endless court proceeding. However, conflict is perceived in most parts of the world including Nigeria, as something abnormal, dysfunctional and therefore detestable. Yet, conflict is a fact of life and could be a precursor of position changes.

Every plural society is bound to experience one form of conflict or the other. What makes a society an ideal polity is the extent to which the conflicting interests and needs in a society are constructively managed, so that violence does not threaten its continued existence. Conflict changes the rational man to think of alternative ways of meeting human needs and interest. What is to be emphasized, therefore, is not conflict per se but the ways man responds to it. If constrictively handled, it can become an agent of growth and development for all parties. To this extent, conflict is not be demonized but confronted with efficient procedures for co-operative problem solving.

Therefore, this study discusses the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of traditional mechanisms in conflict management with focus on Ora-eri communities; and makes strong case for the adoption, support and promotion of these African ways and means in the pursuit of enduring peace which is a sine qua non for stability and meaningful development.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Many scholars have worked on traditional ways of conflict resolution in Nigeria but there is no elaborate work of Ora-Eri case. Recent works on traditional means of conflict resolution tend to focus on Igbo traditional ways of conflict resolution as a whole without narrowing it down to a particular locality.

In Ora-eri community, the Eze Nri and most of the models of conflict management and prevention have been neglected and ignored thereby resulting in some avoidable conflicts in the community.

Also, there is a general misconception that conflict situation always yield negative consequences. This means that the society tend to misunderstand the meaning of the word conflict and its handling style.

Moreover, conflicts are becoming more protracted due to western method in the society which calls for the recognition of traditional method of conflict management as more peaceful way of solving dispute among the Igbos.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine the efficacy of traditional conflict management mechanism among the Ora-Eri community in Anambra State of Nigeria.

Specific objectives of this study are to;

    1. identify the traditional methods of conflict management in Ora-eri.
  • highlight the principles guiding traditional conflict management methods in Ora-Eri.
  • determine the problems facing the practice of these mechanism and how to revive them.
  • ascertain the ways towards reviving and integrating such methods in the dispute resolution mechanism of Anambra State.


1.4  Research Questions

This study is guided by the following questions:

    1. What are the traditional methods of conflict management in Ora-Eri?
    2. What are the guiding principles of traditional conflict management methods in Ora-Eri?
    3. What are the challenges facing the practice of thiese traditional methods of conflict management in Ora-Eri?
  • What will be done to revive and integrate such methods into the dispute resolution mechanism of Ora-Eri in particular and Anambra State in general?



1.5 Significance of the Study

As a result of the critical and urgent nature of conflicts, its recurring incidences and the problems it poses in Ora-eri there is an urgent need to embark on this study. The result of the study will be of benefit to the Ora-eri community, other communities as well as the society at large whereby there is a focus on reconciling the interest of all the contestants and ensure enduring peace in the society. It can be a useful tool for the governments at various levels and as well, as an important source of materials for historians and conflict managers. Ora-eri town has been carefully chosen for this study because despite the fact that there is series of court proceedings as well as elders in council meetings, the whole town is still in turmoil. What can be described as peace in Ora-eri today is the peace of the grave yard whereby there is no escalation of conflict but there is no oneness among the people. Conflicts in form of interpersonal, intra-religious as well as inter group conflicts are everywhere and all these are hindering development in the town because proper means of resolution has not been used.

Ora-eri is one of the ancient towns in Igbo land. Due to the need for vital information in this study, Ora-eri town is the best place where first hand, authentic and reliable information could be collected due to having highest cultural heritage in Igbo land that has to do with Nri dynasty.


1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This scope of this study is Ore-Eri community in Anambra State alone. Other communities were not studied. This study will be limited to Ora-eri community only. This is to provide a more concrete example of traditional conflict resolution methods. There is also usual recalling inability and illiteracy of the rural dwellers. This however will be addressed by simplifying the content of the interview as much as possible to the layman understanding. Moreover, there were some problems in the collection of data due to unavailability of some eye witnessed informants.

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