Culture September 26, 2018 at 04:31 am

Before modern courts, here is how African communities handled conflicts

Nduta Waweru September 26, 2018 at 04:31 am

September 26, 2018 at 04:31 am | Culture

Photo: The Star


During the pre-colonial times, the Agikuyu concentrated on arbitration between warring parties more than other forms of conflict resolution.  According to studies, the disputants always brought the case to the elders, who then act as the mediators.

The hearing of the case was always public and open, and many young warriors who wanted to learn conflict resolution skills would join to learn how it works. However, the determination of judgment was carried out by the elders and excluded anyone who was directly or indirectly involved in the case.

The disputants were required to each provide a goat as court fees. The goat would be slaughtered and eaten as the elders passed judgement.

Although most of the cases were resolved through compensation to the aggrieved party, habitual offenders whose crimes were serious were publicly put to death.   The Agikuyu carried out executions in different ways including tying dried banana leaves around the offender’s body then setting it on fire, rolling the offender in a bee-hive from a hill down the river to drown and stoning. In all these cases, the offender’s close relatives are required to start the process.


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