Indigenous Conflict Resolution Practices Among the Kpelle People of Bong County, Liberia, West Africa


The study was conducted to find out how Kpelle people understand and resolve conflict as well as build relations. The largest of the sixteen indigenous ethnic groups in Liberia is the Kpelle people. The Kpelle people are believe to have migrated from north Africa in search of a suitable land for farming and safety. They are predominantly found in Bong County, located in central Liberia.

The research focused on the question: How do Kpelle People resolve conflicts? To find answer to the question and other complementary questions, the study was conducted through literature review and an interactive approach using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method, which has the comparative advantage to empower local people to take ownership. PRA was chosen because it provides many opportunities for the research participants to actively participate in the decision-making process of the research.

The primary sources of conflict among the Kpelle people are women, land, Poro and Sande. Traditional peacemakers within the Kpelle society are nephews, nieces, elders and zoes. The way traditional Kpelle people deal with conflict is influenced by their cultural beliefs and value system strongly grounded in the teachings and practices of the Poro and Sande, which are traditional institutions of education. The ngamu is the head of the Poro responsible for handling serious conflicts, particularly those that result to physical violence, war and destruction of lives and properties. A decision made by ngamu in any conflict is respected and cannot be challenged. Reconciliatory rituals are performed using animal sacrifice to rebuild the broken relationships among family members. Personal belongings (finger rings, bracelets) of dead elders are kept in homes for reconciliatory rituals.


Peace and Conflict Studies | Regional Sociology

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