Social Networks, Conflict and Indigenous Conflict Resolution Mechanisms among the Derba Oromo of North Shewa

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Addis Ababa University


The Oromo of Derba had been engaged in endemic conflicts among themselves through out their history. Homicide and the Guma resolution mechanism have continued to the present decade though the imposition of the state laws to ban the indigenous mechanisms is beyond expectation. This thesis attempts to explain the underlying causes, motives, types and nature of Derba Oromo conflict in general. It reviews some theoretical approaches to the study of social networks, conflicting human behavior and demonstrates that the Derba Oromo conflict was rooted in their social structure. This study clearly reveals that networks playa significant role in conflict enhancing or as a means of bringing peace. Thus, individuals can manipulate their contacts to destroy their enemy. On the contrary, members of lineage could ostracize their members who are provocative and always tend to drag them into conflict. This way avoiding the notorious network member is preferred to entering the unjustifiable conflict with their neighbors. Among the Derba Oromo Walwaalechaa (kinship relationship) is still intact as it fulfills the expected kinship obligations. Moreover, important contacts and coalitions are proved to enable individuals to attain their goals even though the alliance is temporary. Despite the imposition from the government that litigants should t!'ike their cases to courts, the people still prefer the traditional Jaarssumma (moot) to settle their disputes. Thus, they try to avoid the legal courtroom as much as possible and go to the therapeutic and conciliatory moot. This research has found out that, using the traditional conflict resolution mechanisms, the Derba Oromo go to the extent of settling homicide cases through Seera Waadaa (Agre~ment reached among the Woreda elderly). This way homicide cases are resolved by the payment of Guma (compensation), which is facilitated by Daachii (selected elders). It also shows the role of the Qallu in conflict resolution process. A litigant who refuses to settle conflict is forced by the Qallu to uphold the approved patterns of social conduct. The Qallu is highly respected and feared that if anyone is pleaded by the name of the Ayyaana responds quickly. So the Qallu institution is visited by its followers time and again not only for spiritual ceremony. The institution serves as the center of dispute resolution. Most of the time people settle their disputes at the Qallu center with mutual understanding ' and the interference of the Qallu himself



Social networks, conflict