- University of Cape CoastPhD Scholarship Holder
Transforming Protracted Social Conflicts in Ghana through Culture and the Arts
Ghana has been touted an oasis of peace in a tumultuous region of West Africa and Africa as a whole. Ghana has endeared her neighbours such as Gambia, Guinea and Togo to study and implement her strategies to also build a peaceful and resilient society. However, Ghana has experienced and still experiences conflicts which have defied resolutions and have become protracted and resulted in the destruction of property, displacing people and leading to loss of human lives. The conflicts that have become protracted are ethnic and chieftaincy conflicts (Tonah & Anamzoya, 2016). While studies have focused on the effects, causes and history of these conflicts, management of these conflicts, not much attention was given to reasons for the protractedness, such as the non-involvement of the parties in the resolution processes, the over-reliance on Western approaches in the interventions adopted (a critique of conflict resolution theory), the relegation of the cultural beliefs and traditions of disputing parties in the resolution process, marginalization of groups based on their identity and greed for bigger share of basic needs (Azar, 1990; Burton, 1990; Collier & Hoeffler, 2003; Collier 2001).
The neglect of context in conflict interventions and the associated mixed outcomes of these interventions have resulted in the mainstreaming of arts and culture into peacebuilding and conflict transformation activities to enable dialogue between opposing groups, rebuilding trust and empathy in communities devastated by conflict and promoting tolerance and diversity which are non-existent during and immediately after the conflict. Thus, this study argues that art, culture and conflict are related to conflict transformation and can contribute positively to peace in post-conflict societies and societies replete with violent conflicts. Evidence show that when violent energies are transformed via cultural adherences and bringing indigenous art forms into the measures adopted, conflicts are resolved according to the indigenous holistic theory (Absolon, 2010). When the Committee of Eminent Chiefs in Ghana employed tradition-informed methods of transforming the violence the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict, the conflict has been resolved, while the issue had been at the court for decades.
Conflict transformation places emphasis on culture as a tool for transformation. Lederach (2015: 8) postulates that “conflict transformation must actively envision, include, respect, and promote the human and cultural resources from within a given setting.” Culture matters in processes adopted to resolve conflicts and this can be best achieved through a contextual culturally informed conflict transformation (Abu-Nimar, 2010; Avruch, 2006; Lederach, 2015). This study sets out to explore how culture and arts of the can be used in transforming violent, destructive conflicts and leading to peace and peaceful co-existence among the combatants.
The following questions will drive the study:
• What factors have contributed to protracted social conflicts in Ghana?
• In what ways are the combatants involved in the process towards the resolution of the protracted social conflict?
• What are the reasons that will make conflicting parties and stakeholders use indigenous methods in transforming protracted social conflicts?
• In what ways can culture be used to transform protracted social conflicts in Ghana?
• How can arts be used to transform protracted social conflicts in Ghana?
The study will be qualitative, thriving on the views and interpretations of participants. Interviewing and focus group discussion are tools for data collection. The study aims to bring targets such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 which is geared towards building safe, just and peaceful societies and the African Union’s Agenda 2020 which also aims to “silent the guns” and remove all conflicts on the continent, to fruition.
Richard Ametefe is a PhD Development Studies (Peace option) candidate at the Department of Integrated Development Studies, School for Development Studies, University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana. His love for society resulted in reading Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, UCC for his undergraduate programme and graduated with single honours in 2004. For a year, he was a Teaching Assistant for Sociology and gained much experience. In 2009, he enrolled and pursued a Master of Philosophy in Peace and Development Studies at Institute for Development Studies, UCC and graduated in 2012.
He joined the Faculty of Law, UCC as an Assistant Research Fellow and later sought transfer to Department of Peace Studies, UCC where he is currently. His academic and research interests include conflicts, conflict resolution, ethnicity, inequality and minority studies, peacebuilding, conflict transformation, cultural studies, migration studies and human rights.
His Master thesis was entitled “The Ethnic factor in the Political, Social and Economic Life of the People of Asuogyaman District”. He co-authored “Ethnic Factor and Politics in the Asuogyaman District of Ghana” with Dr. Kenneth S. Aikins, his academic mentor at the Department of Peace Studies, UCC.