Native Administrations and Conflict Resolution

November 26 2009: Locally based systems of administration can play an important role in the mediation of conflicts. In this interview, our local coresspondent for Sudan talks with Mak Al Fatih Yousif about his work for tribes in the Blue Nile State in Sudan, a region much affected by fighting between the government and SPLM.

Blue Nile State

Blue Nile State

Locally based systems of administration can play an important role in the mediation of conflicts. In this interview, our local coresspondent for Sudan talks with Mak Al Fatih Yousif about his work for tribes in the Blue Nile State in Sudan, a region much affected by fighting between the government and SPLM.

Local Correspondent: Can you explain the ‘Native Administration’ in Sudan?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: The Native Administration is a simple legal and political system of Sudan (including the Blue Nile State). It is based on the historical indigenous heritage of the region. The ‘Mak’ is the highest rank of the system, assisted by ‘Umdahs’ and ‘Sheikhs’. They all share part of the power of local councils for governing.

Local Correspondent: How does the Native Administration intervene to resolve conflicts?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: The Native Administration has performed as a mediator in conflict resolution in the region. As a mediator – or so-called Ajaweed, literally meaning generous people who mediate to make good – the native administration is able to fill gaps in people’s views and achieve a solution that satisfies all parties.

The Native Administration has an important role in the Blue Nile State. The conflict reaches the end of the limit of the parties in the conflict and does not extend to include the tribe – a dispute may only affect a couple of individuals in a tribe. However, it is important to understand how quickly such small conflicts can snowball, and this is why the interventions of the Native Administration are important.

Firstly, the conflict is evaluated. If someone is killed, blood money is determined and paid to the relatives of the killed person. If it was damage to farm, material value of damage is calculated and must be paid. There are native courts and the Native Administration is entitled to sentence the perpetrator for up to five years in prison. The courts are attended by a great number of local people.

Local Correspondent: What types of conflicts are there in the area?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: Most of the conflicts in the area are between herders and farmers, about water resources or boundaries. Recently, conflicts have emerged that have been based on the political party affiliation of groups, which is new in the region.

Local Correspondent: What is a ‘reconciliation festival’?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: This is a gathering of representatives of the Native Administration, parties to the conflict, law enforcement and even the media. It follows preliminary consultations on the conflict, and at the festival a document of reconciliation is signed, to the sound of drums. The festivities vary, but often include music and dancing.

Local Correspondent: What are the problems faced by Native administration?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: The transport service can not satisfy the needs of local people – the authorities do not provide the Native Administrations with means of transport, which local government officials are usually provided for their work. Also, the Native Administrations do their work voluntarily and are on low income – they have to do the work on top of their own jobs. If the Native Administrations were given more empowerment, they would be able to respond rapidly to any conflict in the area.

Local Correspondent: Which districts have the most conflicts now?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: The Western districts – in Agadi, Jiraiwah, Duru, Kholi, Bouk and al Ahmar.

Local Correspondent: Do you have any further comments?

Mak Al Fatih Yousif: I have done this interview with Insight on Conflict so that many people will know of our work with the Native Administrations. I also hope to find information on the similar native administrations elsewhere.

If you would like to find out more or contact Mak Al Fatih Yousif, please contact us.
The map of the Blue Nile State is taken from the Wikicommons. It is uploaded under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.

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