Mediation at the Grassroots: Kenya
BY NJOKI NYANJUI
In Kenya, mediation is not a new concept. It was traditionally used to settle disputes, says mediator Njoki Nyanjui. With the number of cases filed at the courts rising, the government is actively promoting mediation as a faster and cheaper way to attain peaceful resolutions. Read her article on Mediate.com to learn about the use of mediation in Kenya.
Mediation is not a new concept in the Kenyan culture. It was traditionally used to settle disputes. It was used to resolve all manner of community disputes: domestic disputes, land issues, neighborly conflict among others. To date, domestic disputes are resolved through mediation at a family level. The parents are notified when there is need for intervention. They meet with the couple, listen to their dispute and mediate, the goal being to reconcile the couple. In most instances, the dispute does not go beyond the immediate family unit.
The purpose is to keep the dispute within the family and not broadcast the disagreement ‘outside’. In other disputes such as land or other community disagreements, Village ‘Elders’ were called upon to resolve the disputes using various methods that included negotiation, arbitration or mediation. Many disputes are still resolved in this manner.
Mediation was first introduced in the Kenya Judiciary in 2016 as an alternative dispute resolution method of settling cases. Since then, the court system has been moving aggressively towards mediation for thousands of cases that have been in the judicial system for a long time. Mediation is being promoted as a faster and cheaper way to attain peaceful resolutions. It is also a way to help people reach amicable agreements, instead of letting a court system decide for them.
It is very important to resolve conflicts amicably because, apart from the substantive issues covered in any dispute, there is usually a relationship that needs restoring or maintaining and this is very important as those involved in disputes are either family, friends or business associates.