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Ethnic Conflict Discussion

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Ethnic Conflict Discussion



Conflict is defined as the incompatibility of values, or the friction arising from misaligned interests. Where one person’s interests if achieved will have rubbed negatively the position and the interest of the second party. This back and forth of persons with incompatible interests is what is referred to as conflict. Conflict assumes different forms and sometimes it could go beyond the mere absence of peace and escalate to become a violent conflict.

Ethnicity comes from the Greek word ethnos, which means a community. A community is simply a group of people who share a common ancestral descent and have shared values. These values could be the cultural, moral, religious and or a commonality of customs and way of life. Of importance is the high regard for the institution of community as this is the focal point for the fundamental understanding of ethnic conflict.

As the name suggests, ethnic conflict is the conflict arising between people of one community versus another community. These communities are engaged in prolonged unending battles that are triggered by small elements that usually act as triggers for the community members to take up arms against the other.

These ethnic conflicts don’t necessarily have to be violent. Sometimes in societies with multiple ethnicities, it could take the form of plural democracies where nonviolent forms of picketing could occur. It might take the form of rude interactions and unmerited societal injustices where for example, persons of a specific community are in apposition of authority and are likely to misuse this power through ethnic favouritism over the other people.

Majority of scholarly researchers have discovered that these conflicts usually have nothing to do with community as ethnic factions, rather it has everything to do with struggle for resources and control of power. Resources are the prime areas of conflict of these parties, but to achieve solid control over the other parties, one has to pull together people on the basis of ethnicity. This enables the schemer achieve his desired goals.

The main underlying cause of conflict comes from the differences in political narratives witnessed by different communities in different countries around the world. It helps in bringing about conflict itself. In most cases, conflict results when the people involved decides to keep their historical roots alive thus keeping the conflict alive.

In most societies the whipping up of emotions is done by the elite of society who use ethnicity as a tool of control. The tool creates unreasonable differences between ethnic groups to show their disparities. The elite class, through political manipulations, usually create a narrative to sell to the community members that attributes all the societal problems to the existence of the other community. This eventually makes one community believe that the problems the community faces are due to the doings and actions of the other community. Eventually, this leads to violent conflicts, usually to the benefit of the political elites.

For example, elections in most countries is presidential, where the majority candidates with most votes, get to be decided winner. Politics in most parts of the world, in this case Africa, is all about the control of resources. So the political class, familiar with this facts, start to breed narratives to their people, in order to make them ethnically aware, so as to vote for leaders from their areas, with the hope that once their person has gotten into power, they will be able to gain control of resources, and improve the communities’ lives. This in most times is usually a fallacy.

There are different reasons why communities have certain ways of looking at each other. This may be through historical upbringing to interactions all the way to the current interests these communities have against each other. Academically, they could be divided into three schools of thought.

Primordialist, this look assumes that an individual and his ethnicity cannot be differentiated. Certain behavioural attributes are engraved on such a person, and therefore one person could symbolize the entire characteristic of the rest of the members. This could be biological attributes, to location and place of origin and general assumption on the way of existence of these certain ethnicities.

Instrumentalist, where ethnicity it is looked at as a tool or instrument to wield power by the political elites through manipulation of the ethnic masses.

Constructivist, believe that ethnicity is socially constructed through social interactions, and the way the majority of the people have discovered a certain community, is likely to be the way other communities will view these people.

 Numerous reasons exist for the triggers of violence amongst communities, this could be the struggle for habitat, grazing space to minerals found at their places.

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