Breathing new life into indigenous conflict resolving mechanisms

November 8, 2018 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Addisalem Mulat



An invaluable lesson from rage pacifying Gamo



Without a shadow of doubt, conflict can arise anytime and anywhere on account of a range of reasons. Again and again, a wide spectrum of Ethiopian nations and nationalities make an effort to get to the bottom of quandaries employing a range of traditional conflict resolving mechanisms. From giddy up to whoa, most mechanisms are effective as they ensure peace without doubt. Above and beyond, there are various techniques senior citizens of different Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia utilize for the most part when conflict occurs.


In the same way, most indigenous conflict resolving mechanisms are the panacea in most parts of the country. They are effective for the reason that most people abide by the rules and regulations of their respective norms and cultures. Whenever predicaments surface elderly people solve problems with no trouble. Whatever the degree of conflict may be, senior citizens can easily solve them. More often than not, senior citizens living in the length and breadth of the country are highly respected by the community they live in. But as a whole, this is not bordering on a walk in the park.


By fair means or foul, if indigenous conflict resolving mechanisms are put into effect across the country in the midst of the various Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia, peace will prevail effortlessly in every nook and cranny of the country. Consequently, people should place emphasis on the indigenous conflict resolving mechanisms apart from familiarizing themselves with the nuts and bolts of the various conflict resolving mechanisms of the different Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. Most people feel great and grateful as it prevents lawlessness from taking root.


Recently, the country was feeling a bit under the weather following the unrest stoked by some displeased segments of society. Some of them are still not happy with the wind of change surfacing in the left, right and center of the country. They are running the risk as they do not care about the future of the country. They simply focus on fattening their pockets at the expense of their compatriots over and over again. They always argue black is white. They are running amok. They do not like breathing new life into the country.


Be that as it may, at some point something unexpected came to happen recently in Burayu, found in Ethiopia’s Oromia state. Many lives were claimed, the majority of them from Gamo. It was a heartrending day for all Ethiopians. At that specific point, the hearts of most Ethiopians were broken. Everybody was seeing red. Over the course of time, people living in every corner of the country embarked on expressing their anger. All and sundry were expressing their disappointment in various ways seeing that the news was like a kick in the guts. A question mark was hanging over youngsters. When they heard news of the death of fellow citizens, an electric shock galloped through their bodies.


Likewise, the people of Gamo living in Arba Minch and its environs were getting themselves ready for a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye measure against the death of their compatriots under the guise of peaceful demonstration. Most of them were not able to control their innermost feelings. They did not know what they had to do and as a result, made up their mind to wipe out anything which belonged to the people of Oromo residing in Arba Minch. However, thanks to the sagacity and quick decision of the senior citizens of Gamo, the emotions of youngsters were controlled earlier than destroying properties and claiming the lives of their compatriots.


When youngsters made an effort to destroy everything which belonged to the people of Oromo, the elderly people of the area addressed the problem bringing into play their peculiar traditional conflict resolution techniques. To everyone’s surprise, the way senior citizens of the area solved the problem never ceased to amaze Ethiopians. In next to no time, their success story spread like wildfire across the country. They turned out to be the talk of all Ethiopians.


This journalist had a short stay with various senior citizens of the Gamo people with a view to discovering how they successfully controlled the emotions of youngsters who were getting themselves ready to destroy properties of the innocent ones.


Anjulo Arsha is one of the senior citizens who made an effort to calm down the emotions of youngsters putting into effect the traditional conflict resolving mechanisms of the Gamo area. He was born and raised in Dita Wereda. At this point in time, he runs his own business, possessing his own construction company.


Relating the incidence, Anjulo said, “Considering the death of the people of Gamo and other Ethiopians, the youth were very much disappointed. Their blood was boiling. They all lost their temper. It is really difficult to express the emotion of the people at that point. Everybody was disappointed. We were taking council with one another how to express our condolences for our compatriots who had lost their lives. After passing through a range of processes, we were given the green light to stage a peaceful demonstration in Arba Minch with the intention of expressing our heart-wrenching pains.”


He went on to say, “On the morrow, people from all walks of life set in motion flooding the streets of Arba Minch in a fraction of a second. The feelings of the people were hard to bottle up. Without exaggeration, it is really difficult to express the full extent of the story in a few words. Everybody was emotional. We did not know what we had to do. Then, we came into a conclusion to talk about the problem. The inhabitants of the area were crying bitterly. They were crying their eyes out. Everybody was shedding tears. We were simply making an effort to express our condolences based on our culture. Everybody irrespective of age and sex jump-started coming from Arba Minch and its environs. As tradition dictated, as their emotion hit nadirs, some of them were on all fours. We were heading from Gamo square to Stadium. As ill luck would have it, some of them went straight to Oromia Bank and began throwing stones.”


He stressed that the situation of the area soon kept on missing the intended target. “We were known for unequivocal influence. We really got confused. Before long, the whole thing turned upside down. The whole lot was getting out of our hands. In due course, we stood up holding grasses to contain the restlessness. The situation was falling from the frying pan into the fire over and over again. We did not know what we had to do. Subsequently, we knelt down in front of youngsters.” This time, the youth changed their minds after a short time. In a twinkle of an eye, the mood of the demonstrators was upturned.


In the fullness of time, “We asked them what they sought after. We told them that we are Ethiopians and the Bank belongs to us. We told them that we had to be logical and reasonable. Above and beyond, we said we should peacefully express our condolences and distance ourselves from revenge. You must be mindful that the crime was orchestrated by evil doers.”


He further stressed that “At the end of the day, the youth suggested the logo of the bank be brought down in no time at all. Afterward, we did as we were told to do so and thus we solved the problem. Later, we encountered some anti peace elements making an effort to slacken the change drive of the country. They were trying to destroy Haile Gebre Selassie’s resort. Most of the senior citizens of the area begged them to refrain themselves from such unwise act of vengeance.”


“In our area, whenever problems surface between two parties, elders solve them after a short time. There is a time in which we solve them using a piece of lion or tiger’s leather. The implication is boarding on “I have made a mistake. And I feel no better than a lame dog. Please leave me alone!” The next step will be negotiations between two parties. Senior citizens solve any type of problem at the stroke of a pen making use of various traditional ways of conflict resolving systems.”


“As senior citizens are highly respected by the community of the area, nobody will breach the law. If seniors rebuke youngsters, they accept them. In Gamo culture, there is no winner or loser,” he concluded.


Dr. Tora Abebe is one of the senior citizens. He is an instructor at Arba Minch University. He was born and raised at Arba Minch Zuria Woreda. He said, “There is a panoply of conflict resolving mechanisms in our area. Whenever problems crop up, we redress them at the drop of a hat. If somebody accuses somebody, senior citizens soon get themselves engaged in solving the problem. They do not simply take the weight off their feet binding hand and foot. Instead, they put into practice various traditional conflict solving mechanisms. Nobody dares to tell a lie. For instance, senior citizens curse a glass of water and make the accused persons drink. Besides, they curse a table and force them to touch.”


“If the problem is very serious, wrongdoers make a clean breast of their crime to the elderly people. Unless the youth respect senior citizens, there is a belief that they coexist harmoniously. If youngsters unknowingly make a mistake, they have to sit down for negotiations given that the Gamo people possess various problem solving mechanisms.”


“Whenever a lot of crises happen, there are ways to solve them. Sometimes to solve problems, the elderly people stand holding an ox between two opponents. The people of Gamo highly respect grasses. As a matter of fact, we as well use grasses in the course of wedding ceremonies.”


Mesfin Eltamo is the other senior citizen whom this writer approached. He lives in Arba Minch. He is a business person. According to him, conflict resolution is one of the cultures of the Gamo people. It is a well known fact that the people of Gamo solve problems without extra cost or easily. “As the people of the region had lived for years under the umbrella of traditional conflict resolutions, they grow to be fruitful,” he concluded.


“As most youngsters in the area were born and raised in the countryside, they know the traditional conflict resolving mechanisms like the palm of their hands. Most of the youth who had partaken in the peaceful demonstration were on familiar terms with the nitty-gritty of indigenous conflict resolutions.”


“Currently, the traditional conflict resolving mechanisms is flourishing over and over again. I would say, we are very lucky in this regard.”


He went on to say that “though the offense perpetrated against Gamo people and other Nations, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia was heartrending, most people had drawn important lessons. In a traditional way, it is possible to solve conflict before it arises and claims the lives of many. To the best of my knowledge, the media should play a major role in solving problems. Both print and electronic media of the country should place much emphasis on raising awareness pertaining to traditional conflict resolving mechanisms. Otherwise, they could go astray.”


He concluded that “in Gamo culture, we stick to commandments Holy books underline such as You shall not worship false Gods, You shall never take my name in vain, You shall keep the Sabbath day Holy, Honor your Father and Mother, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, among others.”


This writer believes that if the different Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopians make an effort to put into effect the different conflict mechanisms, we can easily harvest the fruit of success.





Addisalem Mulat

A published author, journalist, translator, host of a newspaper interview, contributor to magazines and teacher from Ethiopia.  M.A holder in English from Addis Ababa University.

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