Seriki, Kazeem Omotola
Department of History,
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,
Ogbomoso, Nigeria

The role of indigenous institutions in peace-building, conflict resolution and re-democratisation in colonial Ijebu province is yet to receive any serious attention from the academic community, particularly historians. Thus, this paper fills the gap in literature by examining the role of indigenous institutions in peace-building, conflict resolution and re-democratisation in Ijebu province of Western Nigeria from 1900 to 1960. Using primary and secondary sources of historical data including archival records, oral interviews and texts, the paper reveals that the structural delineation of Ijebu province into districts; the establishments of the Judicial Council and the Ijebu Native Administration (INA) from 1917 led to the proliferation of indigenous institutions in the province. The reforms also reconfigured the Ijebu traditional political system which enabled ‘hyper-elevation’ of the office of the Awujale against the initial tradition. The study argues that the colonial reforms consequently impacted the internal dynamics of Ijebu politics, while it created conflicts which the community associations including Egbe Ojuba and other progressive associations had to deal with by engaging on peace-building processes and re-democratizations of the indigenous institutions to address issues of inequalities, as processes to sustaining peace within the province.
Keywords: Indigenous institutions, colonial reforms, Peace-Building, Conflict Resolution and Re-democratisation

From historical perspective, peace-building, conflict resolution and democratization have a long history in many African societies dating back to pre-colonial times. It is a verifiable historical fact that the phenomenon of conflict has been common denominator and recurring decimal in African societies from pre-colonial to post-independence times. In pre-colonial Africa, conflict assumed micro and macro imensions depending on its impact on the conflicting parties or the people around them. It involved rifts, misunderstanding, family and market brawls, skirmishes and wars, public insurrections and assaults, chieftaincy and boundary disputes.
In lieu of the inevitability of conflicts and the understanding that peace was a sin qua non for community development, a kind of political culture evolved in pre-colonial African societies recognising certain indigenous institutions as agents of conflict resolution and peace-building. The idea of conflict resolution was essentially aimed at the restoration of peace and enhancement of harmony in African indigenous societies. The traditional strategies and mechanisms for conflict resolution and peace-building in pre-colonial Africa were mediation, negotiation, adjudication and reconciliation. Indeed, in pre-colonial Africa communities, there were numerous indigenous institutions that played important roles in peace-building and conflict resolution.

The prominent indigenous institutions of peace-building and conflict resolution in pre-colonial Africa were the age-grade societies as well as secret societies. Of course, there were other agents and stakeholders in conflict resolution in pre-colonial African societies. The king, chiefs, elders and family heads all played crucial roles in peace-building and conflict resolution in pre-colonial African states. These indigenous institutions contributed in no small measure by channeling their positive energy into the peace-building and conflict resolution. These institutions were in the saddle of re-establishing the energy within individuals, families and communities so as to re-build social harmony and peace in pre-colonial Africa. For instance, the Poro society in Sierra Leone, the age-grade societies among the Igbo and the Ogboni cult among the Yoruba of south west Nigeria had long established the models of conflict resolution geared towards peace-building and peaceful co-existence of people in their environment.

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