Conflict Management and Resolution
Report by Youth Assembly Secretariat
The Youth Assembly in collaboration with International Peace Initiatives (IPI) hosted a two day peace building workshop with an aim to provide new ways of engaging conflict. The workshop took place on 12th & 13th June 2010 at Hill Side Hotel, Mtito Andei, Kenya. The main facilitator was Dr. Karambu Ringera of International Peace Initiatives (IPI) and also a Professor of Communication at the University of Nairobi.
The Youth Assembly engaged the youth of Kibwezi and Oloitoktok in a peace building assembly in efforts to promote peaceful cohabitation between the two neighbouring communities. Twenty-four youth leaders were mobilized from Olorika in Oloitoktok and Nthongoni location in Kibwezi especially.
The workshop aimed at:
- Analyzing and understand conflict without assigning guilt or taking sides, thus achieving a new position of leadership that can truly bring transformation and real possibility for peace.
- Initiating being proactive agents for peace by reading early signs of conflict, predicting escalation and preventing and managing it ahead of time.
- Working with conflict in a way that brings transformation
This assembly was necessitated by the ongoing conflict between the Kamba and the Maasai communities. The Youth Assembly felt it was necessary to have this forum in place of the planned Kibwezi Constituency assembly. The Assembly was held after a reconnaissance in both Olorika and Kibwezi was held.
The team travelled to Mtito Andei on Friday 11th June. On arrival at Mtito, a meeting was held with the Tsavo West National Park Community Warden, Ms Rose Malenya and the Deputy Park Warden Mr. Koruta. The objective of the meeting was to persuade the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to allow passage, through the park, of participants from Olorika and also to request them to send a representative, since the game wardens had been accused by the communities of playing a role in the conflict. They granted the request and agreed to let the participants pass through the park without a fee.
Later on a meeting with the District Officer for Kibwezi Division was held to brief him on the workshop on behalf of the Provincial Administration.
The workshop started at 10:00 am with introduction and statement of expectations. Background on the Youth Assembly was given, its objectives and structure.
The main objective of this assembly was to identify the underlying factors that lead to the Kamba/Maasai conflict and to come up with workable solutions to the conflict.
The need for youth to interact at a personal level was emphasized and those present were urged to maintain active networks.
The participants expected that at the end of the two days they would be able to:
- Know how to resolve conflict
- Understand the meaning of conflict, its causes and effects and how to seek long lasting solutions.
- Transform conflicts
- Come up with mechanisms to resolve the current conflict in their area
- Enhance good relationships amongst themselves
- Grow networks among the diverse groups in the area.
I PRESENTATION ON PEACE BUILDING
Peace is not just the absence of war. It is a sum total of met basic needs (presence of food, shelter, clothing, security and education).
This session involved identification of positive names which begun with the same letter as ones preferred name. Participants would then introduce themselves using their preferred names and their positive names. This exercise was used to demonstrate that every person has something good that God has bestowed in them, which should be used to the best interest of and benefit to humanity.
The lessons from the activity were:
- One has to identify the good in them and build on it before they do it for others
- One needs to enhance peace in oneself before they can uplift it in others
- God is universal, He created all people
- Solutions to challenges should come from the good in ourselves and others.
- Talking about one’s positive aspects helps strengthen their good qualities.
It was also noted that without recognizing the context within which we live, life is incomplete. Understanding people’s social contexts and constraints leads to respect of others in spite of our cultural differences.
Know, recognize and build your own confidence and show it with humility. How do we achieve this?
- Do not look down upon other people
- Do unto others what you would like done unto you.
ii) What is conflict
What comes to your mind when this word is mentioned?
Participants helped to define conflict as follows:
- Disagreement between two people
- Invading other people’s rights
- Issues to be addressed
- No peace
- Competition between people
Conflict refers to; A form of selfish competitive behavior among people or groups of people where one group feels that its interests are under threat.
Conflicts are human and are a reflection of diversity.
Conflict is not necessarily bad. The responses chosen make it good or bad. Negative actions have negative effects and consequences.
iii) Negative effects of conflicts
- Destruction of property
- Lack of essential amenities
iv) Positive effects
- Resolution brings peace
- Helps in better communication
- Bring lasting solutions through problem solving skills.
v) Responses/solutions of conflict
- Closure of borders
- Tit for tat
- Close trade resource
- Look at the root causes
- Reporting to relevant authority
- Calling a meeting for dialogue
Why we respond to conflicts the way we do.
- 1. Gender
- Both genders have different ways of solving problems because of socialization. Boys are taught to be assertive and aggressive whereas girls are encouraged to be submissive
- 2. Self Concept
- It deals with perception.
- Does one take things personally?
- It is good to distinguish between an act that is being criticized and a criticism of the person
- 3. Expectation
- What does one carry in their head?
- One’s assumptions influence what they will do about a situation.
- 4. Situation
- This could be the place where the conflict is taking place i.e., are the people there familiar?
- It also reflects on the context of the conflict- why and how did the conflict start.
- 5. Position/Power
- It involves the power dynamics. Are all parties equal or are some more important than others?
- 6. Communication Skills
- Ineffective communication skills leads to negative responses in conflict
- 7. Life Experiences
- People practice what they grow up seeing their parents doing
- The lives people lead become a tradition, and may need to be unlearned so as to change with current societal times.
vi) Understanding conflict (Conflict Tree)
In a conflict tree, the leafs represent the symptoms of the conflict and the roots, its real cause.
a) Root Causes
Beliefs/values- for example ownership of livestock by nomadic societies e.g. some groups of people believe it is right to steal cattle from their neighbors and when one does so, they are declared heros.
Structures- they include institutions such as schools, courts, etc. With regard to schools for example, we look at the number of students and their ratio to that of teachers especially in hardship areas and how this affects education – poor performance and discouragement from continuing with education.
Roads are also a major aspect and other infrastructural factors. This mainly affects marginalized areas like Garissa and Mandera for instance, where roads are impassible.
Superiority Complex- Some groups of people feel they have an advantage over others e.g. Warlike communities feel they can attack anytime since their counterparts are weak and may not be in a position to fight back.
An additional cause is third parties who want to exploit two warring nations.
- Repetitive stealing of livestock
- Negative utterances
- No business among involved parties
- Communication breakdown
- Exclusive meetings
At times, conflict goes beyond what can be seen. There are underlying causes.
vii) Mechanisms of violence
If one takes a position to involve violence, they internalize it and thus become unjust to themselves. In this position, one assumes a “Major” role therefore making others “minor”. When people feel “minor,” they try to protect themselves i.e. they become defensive thus escalating the conflict. For instance, group A stole group B’s livestock then the latter was invited by the former to go solve the problem. The group B agreed to go on condition that the livestock were returned.
The group A in this situation have the upper hand which facilitator described as capital [M] position and the group B is a victim described as small [m] position.
To De-escalate this problem one of the following should have been done;
- Group A (Capital M) should have gone to Group B (Small m) and not the other way round
- A meeting should have been called on neutral ground
- An arbitrator could have been appointed
II PRESENTATION ON NON-VIOLENCE
Resolving conflict using E-Model. This is by creating equity among conflicting parties since they depend on each other, one way or the other. Every human being has a survival instinct. When one is pushed he/she tries to resist external pressure. The following steps should be in place to ensure the functionality of E-Model:
In case of a tug of war, do not resist. Use the foundation instinct which answers the questions `WHY? WHERE? `
In this situation people will try to listen to each other and try to solve the problems, but when both parties resist, the problem will definitely be escalated.
Peace has to start with us.
In the case of rumors ask for the reason a person is saying what they are saying. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Get out of your comfort zone and put yourself in other people’s shoes. What if you were the one in a disadvantaged position?
ii) Effective communication
I Feel……. [Emotion and not a belief]
Because….. [Basis of a feeling other than blaming yourself or others]
Example: SAY: “When you left me alone, I felt scared and afraid” INSTEAD OF: Your problem is that you go out every night and leave me alone. The first approach focuses on you and how you felt. This might lead the other person to see, wow, so this is how my absence makes you feel.
The second one blames the other person. Approached in this way, the person is more likely to get defensive and close up. No effective communication will take place.
iii) Questions that arise from `I` messages
- What are the emotions that the behavior brought out in you and why; e.g. Anger reflects another emotion like say: remembering a similar situation [recurrence of behavior].
- From what image of me do these behaviors come?
- What specific behavior triggered that emotion?
- Do I really want to resolve this conflict or do I strike back
- What might be a reasonable response for me to undertake
III PRESENTATION ON LISTENING SKILLS
Listening in a discerning way involves listening to get the real truth without pre-conceived notions. It requires a certain level of open mindedness, maturity and personal transcendence i.e. it goes beyond personalizing things. You must be patient, open to new ideas and listen beyond the layers of what the person is saying.
There are three levels of communication;
- What you say to a person
- What you meant to say
- What you both understood
When you speak there is a spectator and an inward listener. The inward listener hears the words and their conscious meanings. All these are articulated in the unconscious.
Aspects of a true listener
- Is involved with the speaker (cares for him or her)
- The speaker matters to the listener
- The listener is vulnerable i.e. when you listen you risk being changed and this needs courage
- Its helpful if the speaker knows that the listener has been through some testing comparable to their own
- Acceptance of the speaker
- You expect good from the speaker
- You must learn to hear words accurately
- A good listener has no pre-occupation
- Checks out your own understanding
- Serves feelings behind words (empathetic)
IV PRESENTATION OF CONFLICT IN AFRICA (THE CASE OF LIBERIA)
This presentation was a Film ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ showing what conflict can inflict in a society and measures women of Liberia took to transform and overcome it. It is a powerful testimony of the role of women in peacebuilding in Africa today.
ANALYSIS OF PEACE FILM –Pray the Devil Back to Hell
- Rights were violated
- Property was destroyed
- Women and children were the most affected
- Women got desperate and used whatever power they had to stop the violence: nonviolence
- Children and women were raped
- It was dehumanizing
- Small boys (12yrs) were recruited as child soldiers. They were exposed to drugs
- Peace is a human right: The women of Liberia used peaceful means to demand for peace because they recognized it was their right. They used nonviolent demonstrations, dialogue, and prayer to demand for peace.
V TRANSFORMING POWER
- Each one of us has an inborn power that God has bestowed in us i.e. its divine
- We should be aware of having it and be present to it
- Its not tangible but you can see/ feel it when it is in work
- It transforms a situation of violence to one of conversation/dialogue
- It tends to see the humane part of even a bad situation
- It recognizes another person’s humanity, even when the other has done a wrong
- It recognizes one’s humanity: if you see that part of a person there grows respect between the two of you
- Transforming power calls into and draws from the depth of the Divine in each one of us
Here a common ground is reached
- Look at that thing in others that seeks to do good for you and others
- We’ve all made a journey; where is that other person coming from
- Positions should be based on truth
- Readiness to revise your position if it’s not fair
- Risk being creative not violent
- Learn to trust your inner sense of when to act and when to withdraw
- Work towards new ways of overcoming injustice
- Patience and persistence in continuous search for justice
- Help build community based on justice, honesty, respect and care
In response to the Transforming Power discussion, one of the participants quoted the prayer of St. Francis of Asis as follows:
“God give me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change those I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
It is good to realize how much power we have in our speech. Draw on the good of yourself and others. What you think in your mind, determine in your heart and say in your mouth will come to pass. Be deliberate about it because it is a prayer and it will come to pass.
Application of lessons learnt on conflict Resolution
A man got released from prison and wanted his family to move to a new residence. The various family members each had a reason why they should not move but the father insisted on moving.
A family wanted to go on vacation but they only had a little savings. They wanted to go to a luxurious place and even take their friends.
Identify the main problem and come up with a solution that looks at the interests of all involved parties.
From the above, you can only solve a problem if you have identified what is ‘common’ to all people, that is what will benefit all the people. The solution has to be realistic.
In solving any such conflict, sacrifices have to be made. People have to give up something in order to reach a common ground.
Compromise your position and give up some of the things you really do not need.
FEEDBACK FROM PARTICIPANTS
- During conflict we should release hard position and make sacrifices
- All people’s views should be listened to so that we can come up with a common point of view.
- Understand the issue so that we see the shared problem, work with it and make sure everyone’s needs are met
- What is the root cause of the problem?
- Compare previous ways of conflict resolution to what you learnt
- We should all agree that we hold solutions to our problems and when we do not solve our problems they tend to erupt in form of a violent reaction.
- If we give others a chance to be heard first before we state our position, they realize they can be listened to and therefore transform the problem (add value to another persons humanity)
- Aim at making a positive contribution to the solution at the end of the day.
- Use positive language instead of insults. Do not judge people as they speak because what they say is real to them
- Do not try to put people in the minor position (m) i.e. don’t look down upon people
VI PLENARY DISCUSSION
In the plenary discussion participants identified causes of conflict in the area as follows:
- Cattle theft
- Grazing of cattle in the farms which have food crops
- Competition for resources i.e. grazing land and water points
- Personal differences
- Difficulty in using the Park as the only access road to the Market
- Sexual abuse
- The cattle facilitate soil erosion due to overgrazing
- There is a third party that catalyses the problem of cattle rustling(spies)
- The offenders are known yet they are not exposed
- Old and deep-rooted cultures and traditions
- The Provincial Administration takes long to follow up reported cases
- Violent methods of solving conflict
- Infrastructural problems e.g. there is no network in Olorika and access roads in the Park are dilapidated
- Assumption that a criminal belongs to a particular ethnic group
- Laxity from the security personnel
Brainstorming on solutions
What should be done?
- Create networks to communicate theft immediately
- Leadership committees should be formed
- Form teams for conservation teams from both Olorika and Nthongoni
- Committees should meet to review the progress or any outstanding changes
- Thieves should be arrested and cattle returned to the owners
- Citizens should cooperate with the provincial administration
- The conservation teams should be active in informing and educating the residents
- Living together and harmonizing neighbors is vital especially during drought and famine
- Avoid security scare but instead inform the relevant authority
- Action should be fast especially in emergency
- Radios should be enhanced in the case of where telephone network is a problem
- Conservation committees should involve the KWS and the police
- Have an exchange programme to learn from each other
The Resolutions arrived at in during the workshop
Participants resolved as follows:
- The conservation teams should be formed immediately in both Nthongoni and Olorika
- A Rapid Response Committee should be formed with membership from the conservation teams
- The Rapid Response Committee should comprise of 5 youth and a chief each from Nthongoni and Olorika, hence a total of 12 members.
- The rapid response team was selected as follows:
Members from Nthongoni
- Bonventure Mutinda
- Catherine Matee
- Cosmas Nzilili
- Dominic Musyimi
- James Makusi
- Juliana Mutiso
- Saruni Yiakon
- Lakaya Kipeno
- Lekatoo Kamaami
- Katerian Rimba
- Terian Tipape
Ex-Officio members are; Joseph Lekirrukule
- The conflict should be mediated by the Rapid Response Committee
- All the participants should exchange phone numbers to facilitate communication and network formation
- The Rapid Response Committee should meet quarterly for updates
- Resolution from this workshop should be communicated to other leaders who are not present.
- Another peace workshop should be held in Olorika comprising participants from Nthongoni and Olorika as soon as possible
Distinguished Guests in the Workshop
This forum was also attended by the area Member of Parliament, Hon. Prof. Philip Kaloki, MP, His Worship the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Mtito Andei Township.
His Worship, David Maliti, the Deputy Mayor of Mtito Andei Township
When addressing participants, the Deputy Mayor said that people should start by avoiding ethnic naming e.g. Wamasai, Wakamba. He urged the residents of Kibwezi and Loitokitok to shun tribal nicknames as they have demeaning connotations.
He also said that traditions play a major role in conflicts. So Kenyans should be in a position sieve good traditions from the bad ones to be able to live in harmony. Poverty, he said, has been blamed for causing conflict but if traditions can be tamed, the people of this area should be in a position to share whatever they have and live in harmony. Their ethnic diversity should be used to strengthen the communities living in this area.
His Worship, Kyalo Laiti, the Mayor of Mtito Andei Township
His Worship the Mayor emphasized the importance of the Kenyans living in peace as we need each other for nation-building. People should look at each other like brothers and sisters for the country to progress.
He also emphasizes the need for dialogue and the need for these kinds of fora that bring people together. He said this should happen more often to create strong bonding among the people of this region. These fora can help identify early signs and prevent conflict before they occur. Peace should be enhanced for stability prosperity for our country.
Hon. Prof. Philip Kaloki, MP
Hon. Prof. Philip Kaloki thanked the organizers of the forum because he loves peace dearly. He said this forum is very important for both communities because security brings with it development and peace. He reminded participants that the two communities in Kibwezi and Loitokitok lived together for centuries and they are still going to be together hence the need to resolve differences amicably.
The issue of communication, one of the components the workshop, is a powerful tool because it helps in exchanging of information. This helps people each other because where there is good communication, there is peace. It also helps form bonds and friendships, therefore minimizing conflict. He said the need to form a joint committee cannot be over emphasized. This will enable the communities identify those who want to cause problems and assist in curbing negative effects. The essence of being good neighbors is caring for each other and helping one other.
The main challenge was language barrier especially because some of the participants did not understand Swahili or English and someone had to translate what was said. Translation took time, but it was worth it because no one felt left out.
SUGGESTIONS for Way Forward
- The participants suggested that such fora be held regularly.
- A forum should be held on the Olorika side