mi-adeTHERE is need to review the current mode of policing and security in Nigeria and other African nations. It is very crucial at this point because insecurity is everywhere and there seems to be no way out. Police and other security agencies have no solution to the insecurity challenges, government and leaders seems to be helpless, they can’t find solution to the numerous crisis and other route causes of the challenges. Even the law court which was described as the last hope of common man now look like the death zone for common people.
Just few weeks ago, a law court sitting in Ikirun, Osun state sentenced two young men to death for allegedly stealing fowl. There is law, but there is no justice. While those stealing billions go scot free, we condemn those who are made robbers as a result of government failure to death for striving to survive.
Also, Inter-personal and inter-group conflicts is increasing by the day, conflict in Jos is not ending, communal clashes in Nasarawa is escalating, crisis in Benue, Kaduna and other places are also resurfacing. There is no end in sight to all the insecurity in the land, yet government seems helpless and less concerned. This apart from the constant religious clashes, public attacks, counter attacks and many more.
On a larger scale, insurgency is a major threat to many African countries including Nigeria, why is there crisis all over the place? we must review the mode of policing.
It should be noted that, the major reasons for crises in Africa are not entirely internal, but local and foreign problems combined which ride on the back of internal grievances. Since conflict is inevitable in human existence, what usually cause conflict escalation from within is the perceived unAfrican court processes which breeds hatred, contempt and lack of trust that usually creates permanent enmity. Police engage in the use of force in ordinary civil matters, people are unlawfully detained for no just cause and in some cases, the law enforcers concoct false charges against innocent victims to get financial benefits, failure to pay such demand land many in jail. A random survey indicate that, many perceived the police as the peoples’ enemy, rather than friend.
Therefore, provided these current trend of human rights abuses by security agencies continue, provided the court are failing to provide true justice, provided people continue to perceive the government as strangers with no people’s interest, certainly, the current spat of insecurity cannot be tamed. No amount of ammunition, personnel or resources by security agencies can prevent the crisis. Insecurity is natural reaction to human abuse.
Since conflict in one part of the world could equate to conflict in the whole of the world, it is safe to say that, peace in the world cannot be achieved until there is peace in Africa, and the peace in Africa cannot be a reality until the Africa peace institution are revised, reintroduced and standardized to meet demand of the 21st century.
It is on record that, peace institutions in Africa before slavery and colonialism varies in different communities, but there is one distinguished quality that merges them together, it is called the African Palaver (AP).
The concept of African Palaver is widely used to settle conflicts in Africa before slave trade and colonialism. However, various communities call it different names. Among the Kpello people of Liberia, it is called, the house of moot.
It is a council made up of the kinsmen and neighbors of the conflicting parties to a conflict. Where every claim from both parties would be investigated with honesty, transparency and at the end of the findings, judgment would be delivered and all party would share drinks no matter how complicated the issue may be at first. In Chad, it is called Cofono among the Toubou society. It is also known as Adzo in Beti society in Cameroon.
In Tanzania, among the people of Arusha, there was instituted Golib, which was a peace institution used conflict that would involves the use of supernatural powers, open hostilities, bloodshed and destruction of properties.
listen to both parties, call witnesses, and then question both sides and the witnesses, starting from the eldest of these local judges to clarify issues and get the true picture of the conflict.
The use of palaver is the emphasis on restoration of harmony rather than on who is right or wrong.
This concept involves three stages:
Persuasion stage where delegation would be sent to both party for persuasion.
Where both parties would speak or give a speech on the issue involved, their fears and worries etc
Is the decision stage, where the institution settle the conflict and restore harmony.
The Traditional approach to conflict prevention is done through socialization, Africans see human existence as unified, interlinked and integrated.
Investigation reveals that in South Africa, there exist the concept of Ubumtu which means, collective person hood. This concept is contained in the Nguni proverb that states that, “I am because we are.” From childhood, people were taught to live in harmony and avoid trying to win at all cost. Africans impart in the children that a quarrel with others is to be regarded as a fight between blood relations.
Many people do not know how myths, idioms and proverb were initiated, in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, at a point of sorrow to a person, when consoling him or her, they would say, ”Ironu ko ni dada tio se fun ara” which means that thinking has no good to offer the body. But at other times when they try to impress the value positive thinking into someone, they would say, “a lai ni iro nu” which means, a thoughtless person. This is done to always suit different purposes in the name of managing situations. Inculcation of myth, use of proverbs, idioms, folktales and songs to describe nature and how to live in it was a way to preventing, managing and resolving conflicts.
Study also shows that, the use of traditional institutions in conflict monitoring, the family ,council of elders, king in council, clan, etc were used in the task of conflict monitoring and prevention. Each family head is employed and mobilized to prevent conflict through peace education, conflict monitoring, mediation and reconciliation. Ritual treaties and blood covenant were used to remove fear and engender trust, bind families, villages and avoid wars. Such treaties involved powerful deities which makes it not easy to violate as violation would bring dire consequence. Institutions and celebration of festivals during which the virtue of peace were extolled in songs, rituals are performed and prayers for peace are made by all. The use of sanctions, marriage, oath taking, diplomacy like such between the ruler of Mali and Shangai are all means to monitor and prevent conflict in Africa before the advent of slave trade.
Slave trade, colonialism, religious misunderstanding and the European commerce which promote crass materialism and individualism were factors that destroyed the family solidarity and corporate integrity. This was responsible for the weakening and eroding of indigenous peace institutions.
However, Maya Angelou noted that, it takes more than a horrifying transatlantic voyage chained in the filthy hold of a slave ship to erase someone’s culture. Africa’s history did not begin in slavery, and despite the peculiarity, horror, and duration of enslavement of Africans, slavery occupies a minor timeframe. Maya Angelou said.
It was revealed that, Christianity existed in Ethiopia long before there was the “Church of England”. Islam exited in Africa before it even reached outside of what is today Saudi Arabia. Libraries and universities existed in Islamic cities such as Timbuktu, where advance mathematics and astrology were studied. In Ethiopia for hundreds of years the Kebra Negast was written in the only surviving African native script Ge’ez. Ethiopia was the only African nation to actively repel colonialism and is one of the world oldest continuous civilizations.
Africa has always been part of the Biblical, Jewish and Islamic world. It was a common site to see Ethiopians in Rome or anywhere in the “known” world. Modern day Israel was also a site for Ethiopian pilgrimage and Mecca was for Muslim Africa. The historical trip of Kanka Musa was said to alter the economy of every state he passed through on his way to Mecca.
History and development didn’t happen in isolation of African agency. Slavery and Colonialism did victimize Africans, but Africans are not histories perpetual victims. Africans in antiquity had agency and made conscious choices which contributed to the development of humanity. In Axsum the course that Ezna took to make Christianity the state religion was based on his sovereign agency.
Regardless of orientation, to believe Africans have been on the receiving end of other people’s whims is to deny African human agency. Agency swings both ways and as much as it holds us accountable it also defines our station in civilization. The African peace institution before slave trade would not only restore peace but foster development and unity.
We must review the current mode of policing and incorporate African mode of policing which is seen as more people friendly. We must empower the traditional institutions to play vital role in ensuring peace and providing proper education for the people, we must ensure the role of family solidarity is restored in a more standardized way and limit extent of police intervention in civil matters especially in rural areas.
These would not only help reduce the current insecurity in the land, it shall position our society for prosperous future.