Land Conflict Prevention and Resolution Mechanisms in Precolonial Bamenda Grassfields of Cameroon: Actors, Institutions, Approaches and Methods
Keywords:Precolonial, Land Conflicts, Prevention, Resolution, Actors, Institutions, Methods
The paper examines traditional mechanisms of land conflict prevention and resolution which were widely accepted and preferred before the advent of colonial rule in the Bamenda Grassfields of Cameroon. These mechanisms were open, inclusive and instrumental in engaging the entire community in the decision-making process, restoring peace, reinforcing social justice and maintaining harmony in the society. This study highlights the role played by different actors and institutions in preventing and solving land conflicts, and argues that the principles, approaches and methods applied in resolving land conflicts in these communities were very successful. Most of the actors such as fons, councilors, elders, family heads, and heads of age-groups and secret society used coercive and ritual institutions to maintain law and order, mend broken and damaged relationships, and ensured the full integration of parties into their societies. The paper further treats the lexicon for land conflict prevention such as dialogue, diplomacy, consultation, apology and friendly disposition, and pays particular attention to the methods of land conflict resolution such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, adjudication and reconciliation. The study made use of primary and secondary sources and concludes that, the principles of land conflict prevention and resolution in the Bamenda Grassfields were anchored on the confidence of the parties, verification of truth, attainment of impartiality, enhancement of transparency, reconciliation and the display of fairness and social justice as well as adherence to forgiveness and tolerance.
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