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ideas have consequences

Monday, 26 July 2010 22:38


Written by Emeka Chiakwelu
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Kenyan  conflict resolutions

Peace is good for business. No investor or capitalist desires to put his or her money in a troublous society, where conflicts and wars create instability and poor consumers. In developing world especially Africa, conflicts are ubiquitous, with dire consequences on the economic, cultural and sociological growth. The economic merits of sustainable peace cannot be overemphasis. In addition, the political, cultural and social implications of peace in a society are affirmative and liberating. Peace literally is not the total absence of conflict and war, but absence of major catastrophic events that may derail co-existence among groups and individuals in a given society. When we talk of peaceful society, we talk of stable and functional society, where law and order exist. Here conflicts are managed and reduced to a minimal level. Peace encompasses respect for law, which guarantees the protection of lives and properties. However, absolute peace is idealistic. If a government adequately carries out her basic role of safeguarding the society and is able to prosecute recalcitrant people through fair hearing, we can then conclude that a peaceful society and a decisive government have emerged.


The problem in most conflicts in the developing countries especially Africa, is the weak central government which is not necessarily in control and hence centripetal instability protrudes its tendrils to all the nooks and corners of the society. Basically, it is total breakdown of law and order that is confronting Africa in all the hot spots of the continent. When wars were raging in Liberia, Sudan and others, there were no legitimate governments, the citizens were decimated and the scanty underdeveloped infrastructures they had were all unfortunately destroyed. In those instances, there were no functional governments. The parties at war were in struggle for dominance, control of the central governments and countries’ resources. There was no possibility of a short-lived war with an emerging winner, because none of those parties had the resources nor the technical know how to prosecute a quick and successful warfare. Those protracted wars were mainly fought primarily for the control of the countries’ natural resources.

The indigenous news media insinuated those wars as religious, ethnic and tribal without explaining the intricacy of the conflicts as relevant to economic motivations. The media coverage of wars in Africa especially the international media is quite simple but full of inexactitude. None of the news intelligentsia tried to highlight the underlying problems in those wars because the outcome of the wars would always have effect on their predetermined agenda. They seldom take sides in order to protect their perceived interest. The media has abandoned the role of searching and upholding the truth, remember the maxim: Truth is the first casualty of war.

So without the truth, how can the actual causes of the conflicts -cum- wars be genuinely and ultimately resolved? Well these are the major problems that hamper investors in investing their precious capitals in these disaster zones. For developing nations to become a beacon of investors, all these wars must be put to an end and the conflicts at least be managed to a level that does not threaten the status quo. No serious investors will after analyzing the proposed investment feasibility studies, ignore all the vulnerable conditions therein and go ahead and invest their wealth in such places that are prone to conflicts or where wars are already raging.

Developing countries that are confronted with these protracted problems of conflicts must fashion out ways and means to check and eliminate those destructive forces in their societies. The leaders must be willing to understand the language of conflict resolution, which is COMPROMISE. Without compromise, there will be no end to any conflicts and wars. The answer to a troublous world and incessant conflicts is compromise. Unfortunately these political leaders see themselves as tin gods; and see compromise as a mere weakness and sell-out. These leaders prefer to be feared rather than being loved, the vintage Machiavelli's admonition. In their illusion, they believe that once people perceive them as chicken-hearted and malleable that internal opposition will unnecessarily erupt. These leaders must accept that oppositions (both internal and external) are part and parcel of the polity. There is rarely any political dispensation without opposition. Without oppositions, polity will not be up and doing. Oppositions provide alternative answers should the ruling team fail to perform. These leaders refuse to accept dialectical polity, in which there are opposing views. All the groups and individuals in the given society must not necessarily see things in the same perspective as the ruling class and the political leaders do. There is sense and sensibility that exist in individuals and groups because of existential relativity. There must be set of laws that govern a society in which nobody will be seen to be above. But the reverse is the case in developing nations; obnoxious laws and draconian decrees are rolled out for the masses while the leaders themselves are sacred cows covered with immunity. The immunity clause aids them to circumvent laws with reckless abandon. This Orwellian lifestyle of these societies weakens the rule of law in those places. Without the leaders knowing it, they have sabotaged the system by their behaviors. They sometimes unjustly extend favor to their friends and their ethnicity. The nepotism and tribalism practiced by those in the corridors of power provoke the sensibilities of the rest of other clans and tribes. These other groups would plot ways to capture power. This would subsequently result in ethnic and civil wars. Take a look at what happened in Rwanda east of Africa, where almost one million Tutsis were killed and their bodies hacked to pieces by their fellow citizens of Hutus extraction.


The rule of law as enshrined in the constitution is still the corner stone of living in a peaceful society. When a citizen’s social contract and protection under law are fully taken care of, such a citizen will no doubt have faith in the system and in his or her fellow citizen. But when the laws are double standard in their application and could not stand a test of originality in its application, the coercion of society is bound to wither and eventually dissipate. One thing the ruling class never grasped or refused to accept is that once a group is marginalized, the codes of conduct governing that society are simultaneously abused. Stability cannot be achieved when various groups of the population in a society feel as if they were strangers in their own country. Even if their perceptions are abstract, those encumbrances that impede them not to have had a sense of belonging in the given country and society must be addressed. All the areas of their perceived marginalization must be looked into and measures taken to remedy such situation. When the remedy is costly and complex, it is self evident that it is being attended to and not discarded on the roadside. When justice is selective in the course of a normal application of law, there is no justice in sight for poor masses. Justice must be the operational word, not just in word but in action. Justice demands equity and fairness. When justice is done, everybody must be able to recognize, testify and appreciate it without any doubt or reservation. This is where consensus comes in, there can never be absolute consensus, there is nothing like 100% consensus but a majority acceptance of the outcome is a general consensus especially from the group that feels alienated.

When the constitution is strongly adhered to by the ambassadors of law, there will be respect for law and this will invariably guarantee the rights and protection of the minority. The tyranny of the minority by the majority of the population group must be rejected in any form. This is where the constitutional protection of minority rights matter. When the minority protection under law is not given priority in the law of the land, the abuse of the minority is imminent. Mind you the last hope of a common man in the street to seek redress is law court. But where such cannot dispense justice, it poses a great danger to the society. This may trigger off retaliation that will eventually lead the path to nihilism and possibly anarchy. In essence a special attention must be paid to the maintenance of cordial relationship among compatriots. Different ethnic groups must be made to imbibe that there is strength in diversity. This is only possible when they live in harmony and work together for a common goal.


Peace and stability attract foreign investments. It is of a paramount consideration to the investor that his capital, property and wealth are safeguarded and protected by the law. When investments are in good hands and the society is at peace, the returns from investments can be repatriated to the country of the foreign investor and this will boost business ties between the countries. Most developing nations have not yet built societies where respect for life, property and more importantly rule of law is proclaimed supreme.

The use and application of propaganda is not necessary to construct an orderly society; the point is not to brainwash nor intimidate people to respect the law. A culture of respect of law must be cultivated in minds of citizens. The idea is to let the people understand the merits of living in an orderly and peaceful society. There is this other side of the coin that must be revealed to the people, that when laws of the land are violated, culprits must not go unpunished. No stone will be left unturned in the course of realizing a peaceful and lawful society.

Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called the children of God

The peace loving people will also gain the fruits of the society. Because they are willing to work hard and play by the rule without cutting the line. They will reap their rewards. The point here is not to philosophize the significance of peace and tranquility but to appreciate the intrinsic value of a successful society. Impact making investments including technology transfer and copy engineering have eluded so many nations in Africa simply because of absence of peace and conflict ridden. Nations have to look into preventive conflict measures, instead of waiting to take actions to arrest conflicts when they rear their ugly head. There must be stipulated measures that will be in place that should be functional, which will continue to be applied in day to day running of a society.

However, a big nation may fragment despite her outward peaceful nature. There are preventive conflict measures. They are supposed to be incorporated in the governing and running of a nation. When any nation neglects those aspects of governance and sociology that prevent conflicts and enhance mutual relationship between citizenry, the consequence is the eventual breakdown of the society. But when the imminent danger is nipped in the bud through socialization and education of the masses, the application of those preventive measures can truly stabilize a factious society. In multifarious and multiethnic society, where diversity of cultures and religions exist, it is imperative on the polity to be extra careful and diligent in dealing with issues involving race, creed and religion. When these constituents of the society are not prudently managed, the consequences are violence, conflict and sometimes outright war. The most damaging is the lack of trust and confidence even after the cessation of conflict among citizens and groups in the given society. Rebuilding trust is very difficult and it takes so many processes to regain understanding among warring factions. An element of patience must exist to make amity sustainable. To listen to one another is a great attribute of patience, with this attribute, dialogue will be made possible. Before joint deliberations, emotions must be checked and tamed to avoid escalation of the crisis. People must abandon their comfortable zones and make themselves available for casual talk, which can metamorphose into serious talk. By this, it implies that the willingness to give peace a chance cannot be overemphasized.

The idea to let loose the destructive anger shows sense of maturity, this is an important ingredient in the making of a peaceful society. When negative thoughts are challenged in a forum of conflict resolution, citizens will begin to see themselves as people who can live together in spite of their historical differences. Building a friendly environment where citizens can relate to one another without fear of repression is essential in sustaining a peaceful society. Those at the helm of authority must grant audience to the aggrieved parties, so that they can air their views without intimidation. This will assist in healing their wounds and will rightly pave way for true reconciliation. At best, this will encourage peace. However, such views must be constructive and not in a manner that will heat up the polity.

Resorting to dialogue is the greatest key in finding lasting solutions to conflicts and wars. Giving citizens opportunity to express themselves can aid in quelling violence that did arise out of frustration and paucity of medium to voice out anger and grievances. But the modus operandi of expression must be non violence and lawfully. Any society that is serious about co-existence in a conflict free society must acknowledge the state of the people, their sense and sensibility even their agitation. You cannot turn a blind eye to the yearnings of the people, for if they are not carefully managed, a simmering anger will be worn on the face of the society. The conflict emanating from such negligence can precipitate into a devastating war. The government can avoid this by becoming a watchdog of her impact on the populace, by using opinion polls and feelers to gauge the moods and understanding of her citizenry. The motivation is not to be a big brother and to be become paternalistic, rather to feel the pulse of the society and comprehend the people much better. Nothing should be taken for granted, neither be allowed to accumulate before attended to.
In many developing countries, African nations in particular, allegiance to ethnic extraction, religion and clan has stronger bond than the one to the national governments. Besides, poverty has an intense hold on the masses and this makes them to be gullible, politicians therefore, skillfully cashed in on that to take undue advantage.

Whenever these political and tribal leaders suffer any loss, whether appointment or election, they insinuate discrimination as the basis of their misfortune. Little wonder, they are demagogues, they are detrimental to the polity, for they overheat the polity for their own selfish ambitions. This is not the way a responsible citizen must act under any circumstances. Even when such a leader has a legitimate cause, he must channel his misgivings to the appropriate authority in a civil manner and not to take laws into his hands. A true leader must rise up to be a statesman, a centripetal criteria to vie for a national position or appointment. But if they persist in bringing their grievances unchecked in a public square, the danger of over heating the polity is inevitable. The spill over will compass the society, subsequently violence and destruction of lives and properties will demolish any tangible peace in that given society. Leaders must not be self-centered to a point where they derelict their responsibilities to the society.


Peace is a precious commodity, once consumed, becomes very difficult to be recreated. Peace does not make itself nor sustain itself. Rather men and women of goodwill make peace possible by being the guardian of peace. Extraordinary talents given to some leaders can be skillfully utilized in the making of a peaceful society. The true foundations of peace are fairness, equity and justice. When these building blocks are present, co-existence as well as harmony is feasible. Other factors including rule of law can be used to sustain peace. But one has to be careful, for when brute force application is used to create an orderly society, then pseudo peace has been given birth to. In this false peace, a society is held together with reasonable tranquility by usage of fear via intimidation as a weapon of control. Violence and torture are employed and applied to silence the society. In essence, the primary problems militating against the society were neglected while just the symptoms were been treated. The simmering anger and grievances of the society have to be dealt with accordingly. All the society is doing is buying time and deferring the impending disaster. Seemingly stability derived from fear and force is not sustainable. Eventually an implosion and bloody uprising may take place. Longevity and profound peace must be the goal not superficiality for sake of international public relation. The false peace cannot be sustained because the building blocks of peace are absent. These building blocks of real peace are justice, fairness, equity and equality. In a society that works toward genuine peace, those building blocks must be the real foundation of a sustainable peace.

The INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, A UNITED NATIONS COVENANT ON THE BASIC RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS AND NATIONS INCLUDING RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION, FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND RIGHTS TO EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW must be the bedrock of a peaceful and conflict free society. Human decency and human rights are supremely divine, the corner stone of our humanity and civilization. These intrinsic principles are priceless and must be jealously protected anywhere, anytime for sustainable peace.


Last modified on Sunday, 19 December 2010 03:19

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