African indigenous knowledge systems in contemporary conflict transformation : a case study of the Bakweri people of the Southern West Region of Cameroon.
Ferim, Valery Buinwi.
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this study was to investigate the relevance of African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS) in contemporary conflict transformation with specific reference to the chieftaincy of the Bakweri people of the South West Region of Cameroon. The study population comprised of Bakweri indigenes as well as settlers and other short-term residents in the district of Buea such as students, business people and government employees. Taking into consideration the holistic and community-based nature of indigenous knowledge systems, interactive research methods such as in-depth interviews, participant observation, and focus group discussions were used data collection. The qualitative data from both the primary and secondary sources were analysed through content analysis. A combination of theoretical frameworks were used to analyse the challenges and prospects of using Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in contemporary conflict transformation among the Bakweri people in Buea. These included endogenous development, the postcolonial theory, the modernisation theory and the concept of integralism. The study revealed that due to the political, social, economic and cultural significance of the Buea, the contemporary conflict issues among the Bakweri people arose from land, marriage, crime, corruption and those associated with the proliferation of Pentecostal churches. It was also found that although the Bakweri people have a rich history of indigenous institutions, the most resilient of these, even in contemporary times, is the chieftaincy. The institution is very central to the cultural, economic and political ethos of local communities. In spite of this, the Bakweri chieftaincy and associated indigenous institutions tended to be marginalised by the state in the search for sustainable solutions to contemporary conflicts. The policy makers did not take the chieftaincy seriously in policy implementation. The Bakweri chieftaincy and associated indigenous institutions had certain limitations which undermined their relevance in mitigating contemporary conflicts. These included the appointment of chiefs by the state, the system being dominated by the French bureaucratic system which marginalized African traditional leadership systems, rent-seeking, the patriarchal nature of the Bakweri customary law and the impact of heterogeneity on Bakweri culture. This is compounded by the fact that state-based structures are laden with excessive bureaucratic red tapes, corruption, low morale and a culture of impunity in the civil service. The study recommended the need for conflict resolution mechanisms to adopt a bottom-up approach and for governments to empower indigenous structures to resolve their own conflicts. There is also need for further research using different cases, on the relevance of indigenous approaches to conflict transformation in the era of globalisation in order to build on or challenge existing theories. Furthermore, traditional institutions have to be interfaced with modern institutions to meet the contemporary challenges arising from globalization.