In 2011 I started reconciliation work with members of two warring tribes in Kenya. I started with the elders.
They had been raiding cattle and killing each other for decades.
When asked by a contact person about what I would offer to the warring parties, I told him: I would be willing to listen to them. The contact person was sceptical about this offer, because it did not include e.g. sitting allowances, offerening them money for attending the meeting as they are used to, nor any fixed strategies.
I told him to check with the two parties.
To his surprise the two parties agreed on meeting for reconciliation.
The guess is that this met their needs for recognition and acceptance and probably for autonomy.
I do not come with fixed strategies, in contrary I facilitate the process of finding their own strategies.
This is why I/we were told “You are different” several times over the years of reconciliation work.
I usually concentrate on the needs, starting to collect the causes for the violence.
In one case for example this was
• Pasture for the cattle -> need for nutrition/food
• Wealth -> needs for nutrition/food, recognition, education for their
children, availability of health services
When the participants realized they had the same needs they desperately tried to meet, even by killing each other, they were perplexed. The tension decreased noticeable.
This was the changing point to look for other strategies.
They came up with an action plan, which at one time led to 50 people from each side restoring an old well.Something they would not have even imagined before the meeting.
(To protect the still fragile peace between these two parties I will not disclose the participants.)
This year (2012 I worked with the young warriors of the two tribes)