687.3 Conflict resolution, language and proverbs: An African perspective

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Veena SHARMA , Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India
As repositories of traditional wisdom and morality proverbs and axioms form an important part of conflict resolution, language of justice, and transmission of cultural and ethical education, particularly for the younger generations.

  Being non-prescriptive and non-dogmatic, proverbs and axiomstend to be situational and contextual in nature and arise only in particular circumstances. That is why conflictual and dis-harmonious situations are not only accepted as an inevitable part of life but are even sought and valued by Africans as they become sites for the transmission oflanguage of justice, culturalknowledge, and for community participation.

  Since group solidarity and harmony are primary values in the African tradition offenders are notexcluded, through individualised punitive measures (as in modern judicial systems), but are re-inducted back into the group through verbal devices and oral strategies.The aim is to create reconciliation between the offender and the offended. Proverbs, with their deep practical wisdom, elegant language and complexity of thought perform this role without in any way damaging the dignity and self respect of the persons concerned.

Using material from creative writing (like Chinua Achebe and Ama Ata Aidoo) and from philosophical treatises written by Africans(such as those by Kwame Gyekye, Kwasi Wiredu and several others)the paper will explore and analyse the use of linguistic devices used during litigation, or for resolving conflicts,thereby also transmitting religious and moral values – that eventually aim at retaining and enhancing group solidarity.