Indigenous Conflict Resolution Institutions: A Study among the Gofa People of the Demba Gofa District, SNNPR

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Addis Ababa University


The role of indigenous institutions in conflict resolution and peace building are hardly ever dealt in literature on Gofa. The present study aims at to direct to this missing gap. It therefore, documents the cause of conflict and the role of indigenous institutions in conflict resolutions among the Gofa people. The study employed ethnographic methods.To meet the objectives various methods like interview, participant observation, focus group discussion and case study are involved. The major causes of conflicts among the Denba Gofa of the study area include economic related, infringement of societal values, issues of religion and homicide. These typical forms of conflicts are seen at family, neighborhoods, clan and dere level. Conflict is also triggered in the study area mainly by denial of contracts, insult, theft, disrespecting of seniority, issue of religion, property destruction, breach of contracts, land related conflicts, abduction, incest and adultery.The findings of this study also reveal multiple entangled indigenous institutions of conflict resolution: dere duleta, gade cima, and lappun cima and yaagano institutions. The different types of conflicts ranging from simple insult to homicide get resolved through the cooperative effect of these institutions.Data obtained from both my informants and FGD discussants show that majority of peoplein the study area favor the indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms than the formal one. People‘s attachment relies on the numerous qualities they enjoy from the indigenous systems such as chance of not being corrupted, the ability to identify crimes committed in secret, healing of the traumas, ease of access, flexibility, time and energy saving and the exercise of familiar terminology, which are not present in the formal institutions. In formal court the parties in conflict are always vulnerable to high finial costs such as court fees, transportation cost, fees for getting legal advices, food and bed rent costs. Even though indigenous institutions have been facing challenges from modern religion and formal law, the benefits indigenous institutions provides for the people favored their continuity



Social Anthropology