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Drum Café 2010 Peace Festival 20 -21
Kenya Institute of Education, Nairobi

Boaz Adhengo

Research Consultant, Creative Economy Studies

Fellow: American Biographical Institute

Senior Fellow: Eco Ethics International Union

Tel: 0733 867644

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What is Conflict Management

n    Conflict management refers to the long term management of intractable conflicts. It is the label for the variety of ways by which people handle grievances – standing up for what they consider to be right and against what they consider to be wrong

Common Conflict Management Strategies

     Conflict is not just about simple inaptness but is often connected to a previous issue. However, there is a menu of strategies we can chose from when in conflict situations

  •       Forcing – using formal authority or other power that you posses to satisfy your concerns without regard to the concerns of the party that you are in conflict with.

  •       Accommodating – allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own.

  •       Avoiding – not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it.

  •       Compromising – attempting to resolve a conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties, but completely satisfactory to neither.

  •       Collaborating – cooperating with the other party to understand their concerns and expressing your own concerns in an effort to find mutually and completely satisfactory solution (win – win).


     History and current experience shows that so deep are pains of most of the conflicts experienced in Africa that the popular individualized and rationalistic approaches to healing and transformation simply lack the language and resources to solidly address the challenge of holistic peaceful transformation. Arts approaches provide an accessible language, compelling processes that affirm everyone’s creativity and above all, an inclusive space that enables healing, genuine dialogue and transformation to happen particularly where the violent conflicts and pains are experienced by masses of people.

  •      The carnage that followed Kenya’s disputed election in late 2007 shocked the world.  An exceptional country once considered an oasis of peace and stability in a troubled region had degenerated into disorder, chaos and ferocious violence. Its exceptionalism was in many ways a myth.

  •     The failure of the election was merely a trigger for events that would have taken place at some point in the future. There had been an overwhelming sense of exclusion and alienation among large sections of the populace, thus, the youth saw the violence as moment of unity and empowerment, making them unregrettable for their violent actions.

The road to success

  •     Fixing Kenya is not about building more roads, hospitals and schools. It is about returning some semblance of confidence in the Kenyan state and imbuing the population with a sense of nationhood.

  •     The 2007 post election conflict management innovation was motivated by pro –social team atmosphere as manifested in team identity, the team’s capacity to maximize the potential gains of task conflict.


  •      Conflict processes are determined both by the larger geopolitical context and the domestic political structure. Because parties have to appeal to both their domestic and international constituencies, cross cutting alliances between the two levels become crucial to the settlement of a civil insurgency. Yet current studies tend to examine either international or domestic factors; each level of analysis is studied in isolation.

  •      Such an approach neglects the fact that conflict actors often engage in ‘double – edged diplomacy’


Specifically it was hypothesized:

  •         Integrating would predict innovation

  •         Team identity would be positively related to integrating, and that integrating would mediate the positive relationship between team identity and team innovation.

  •        Task conflict would be positively related to integrating whereas relationship conflict would negatively relate to integrating.

African Dilemma

  •     In African countries where insurgencies co-exist with stable, democratic institutions, external intervention is more beneficial if it works with existing institutions in building trust and affecting change.

  •     Because it does not challenge the reputation concerns of the government, non-coercive intervention, such as mediation, can play a more constructive role than military or other forms of high impact action.

Focus ?

  •     The arguments of this paper are a significant shift from existing literature that tends to focus on conflicts in failed, anarchic states where coercive international intervention becomes necessary (e.g. Somalia).

  •     It argues that conflict management can be homegrown, nurtured and people oriented, given the construction and cooperative management accorded by the public preference at any one time.

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