Under the Acacia: Mediation and the dilemma of inclusion

"Fostering peace through mediation involves a number of complex and important challenges. A key aspect of any mediation process is the inclusion of primary and secondary actors. This paper examines indigenous approaches to mediation and assesses how they address the issue of inclusion. It discusses examples of indigenous mediation from the Tiv community in Nigeria, the guurti system in Somaliland and the application of ubuntu to mediation and reconciliation found predominantly in Southern Africa. It argues that official mediation processes limit the number of interlocutors in order to protect a process and encourage expediency, but as a result, undermine their own legitimacy. In contrast, indigenous processes are more inclusive, but tend to be slow in bringing about agreement. In its final section, the paper proposes a possible 'hybrid approach', which might incorporate elements from indigenous and official processes to create greater thresholds of inclusion while maintaining important efficiencies."