Panel 3

Mobility, Violence and Peace Culture

Panel organisers: Victor Adetula, The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden and Cyril Obi, APN/SSRC, USA.


Several millions of people in Africa have fled their homes as a result of war, crime, riots  and other forms of violence and ‘natural ‘disasters-induced pressures. For example, the world's most extensive humanitarian crisis is currently playing out round the Lake Chad Basin where several millions have been displaced, and dependent on food aid, with million children malnourished. While some countries are dealing with the aftermath of violent conflict, others are experiencing new conflicts, partly fueled by clashes over access to scarce environmental resources, destabilizing population movements and the availability of arms. In virtually all the sub regions, the trends and patterns are the same with respect to violent conflicts associated with cross-border movement of population. The complicity of migrant populations in the insecurity in of the host countries as well as instances of xenophobic violence have been reported in some African countries. However, while these negative trends persist, the contributions of the migrant communities to peace and development in Africa is growing as demonstrated by the initiatives of some African diaspora. These issues are for further examination in the proposed panel, which builds on research, peace practices, and policy engagements on the link between population mobility, violence and peace in Africa by some APN-SSRC grantees and NAI researchers & associates. Thus, the proposed panels provides opportunity for panelists to disseminate results of their research, development & peace practice, and policy engagements. We expect a review of existing conceptual and theoretical constructs on the relationship between population mobility, conflict and peace practices. Cases studies from countries and regions of Africa will be entertained to enable the panelist determine the influence of population mobility on vulnerability to conflict, and how population mobility can enhance peace culture. Contributions that deepen our understanding of the contexts and contents of the conflicts between the agrarian and pastoral communities whose livelihood are welcome. Other important outcomes will be contributions to recent social science theories and methodologies, extensive qualitative data on the role of the migrant communities in conflict resolution and peace building in Africa.

Approved abstracts panel 3

1. Mobility and People: the other as Metaphor

Author: Peter Oni, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, Nigeria.

The phenomenological appraisal of mobility and migration in Africa reveals the image of a continent oscillating between socio political, and historical/economic movement of people that is best understood through places, time and experiences. In fact, mobility and migration through their intrinsic relation relate a large-scale phenomenon to its local manifestation. Indeed, human movement is best understood when contextualized and localized. It is against this background that this paper examines the twin concepts of mobility and migration as they apply to Africa and precisely Nigeria. It sets to establish through a deconstructive analysis, that in addition to the ecological and environmental factors, human mobility, conflicts and peace initiatives in most parts of the continent are best understood through African pluralistic worldview and Howard Giles’ communication accommodation theory.

Key Words:  accommodation, Africa, communication, migration, mobility, the other

2. Conflict-Migration Nexus in Ghana: A Case of Bimbilla Conflict in the Northern Region

Author: Aziz Unusah, Center for Migration Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

The study examines the relationship between conflict and migration. Conflicts have affected several communities in recent times. People are central when conflict erupts. Several lives and properties have been lost, and others have been displaced. In order to overcome challenges conflict pose in the lives of people, some people flee to neighboring communities. Using both qualitative and quantitative research techniques, a total of 220 questionnaires were administered to return and non-migrants to address the following questions; what are the main determinants of migration in Bimbilla? What are the factors that lead some people to stay even in conflict situation? What interventions have the government and stakeholders implemented to entice people to return to Bimbilla? The study reveals that target attacks/killing, deteriorated economic activities emanated from the conflict, fear of gunshots and bullets were the main reasons for migrating. More males than females were targeted because of their constant involvement in the chieftaincy affairs which serve as the root cause of the conflict. People stayed in the midst of the conflict even though circumstances of the conflict suggest they migrate. It is further argued that people doubt about challenges they may face in new destinations, the perception of not belonging to any of the conflicting factions, familial reasons such as large family size, aged relatives, and marriage prevented a section of the population from migrating. Most interventions by the government aimed at restoring peace without giving consideration to the basic needs of the affected victims. The study recommends that interventions should aim at providing the basic needs such as food and accommodation to victims of the conflict.

3. Examining the Impact of Insurgency on Inter-State and Trans-Border Mobility in Nigeria's Northeast Region Since 2009

Author: Daniel Olisa Iweze, Department of History and International Studies, University of Benin, Benin-City, Nigeria.

Prior to Boko Haram insurgency, there was free flow or movement of people, and goods underscoring inter-state and trans-border mobility in the North-East region and the neighbouring countries of Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon. Insurgent’s attacks disrupted such flows transforming inter-state and trans-border routes into highways of terror and destruction. Insurgents’ targeted attacks at motorists, commuters, security personnel, students, traders, politicians, traditional rulers, road construction workers, and ordinary people. This made road travel to become a risky undertaking with adverse socio-economic impacts on the region and bordering countries. This paper adopts the risk society theory of Ulrich Beck in exploring the daily risks insurgent`s attacks had posed to road travel, multiple livelihoods and transport infrastructure. This paper submits that road transport infrastructure and trans-border mobility constituted one of the major targets of terrorist attacks leading the growing insecurity in Nigeria’s Northeast.

4. History, Trajectories, Politics and Consequences of Migration in the Horn of Africa

Author: Redie Bereketeab, The Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden.

Migration in the Horn of Africa (HOA) has a long history. From the 1950s-1980s people from the HOA used to migrate to the Middle East in search for greener pasture. In the 1990s, trends began to shift. Indeed, the magnitude, trajectories and politics have changed dramatically. In recent years, the proportion of youth leaving the region, destination Europe, grew astronomically. The routes pursued and tragedies they entailed hit all-time high as magnified by world media reaching every household. This generated intense worldwide debate and discourse about the moral economy of migration/asylum. Ironically, the tragedies screened in televisions worldwide could not decrease the flow of people through dangerous routes. Why this dramatic and dangerous increase now? Although the nature of migration have changed, the drivers, basically, remain the same. The drivers of migration are multiple. Some of the traditional drivers are state crisis, intra-state and inter-state conflicts, external interventions, environmental degradation, underdevelopment and poverty, youth unemployment, etc. forcing people to flee their home countries. The push and pull factors as component elements of drivers are consistently changing. The host states’ policies and diaspora community’ influences also compound migration drivers. The flow of youth to Europe is, very much propelled by the European politics of asylum where some groups are given blanket asylum recognition, which not only increase the pull factor for those groups, but also dictate the claims of origin. Asylum claimants are compelled to reset their stories and narratives as well as home origin contingent on asylum policies in European countries. They have to, constantly; adjust to the asylum market supply in order to boost their chance of grants of asylum status. Is this fostering culture of market driven migration/asylum claims and politics? In addition, what are the consequences for society of origin and the host societies?  The paper will critically interrogate the history, trajectories, politics and consequences of migration from the HOA. It will closely interrogate role and responsibility of national states, diaspora groups, European states and the individuals themselves.

5. Nomadic Fulani Herdsmen’s Violent Attacks in Southeastern Nigeria, and Their Effects on Adolescents Wellbeing: Implications for Good Governance

Author: Anthony Sopuruchi Anih, Abo Akademi University Vaasa, Finland.

Objective: To analyze the negative effects of the violent attacks by the Ethnic Militia called Nomadic Fulani Herdsmen, in the Southeastern geo-political region of Nigeria, with a focus on their impact on adolescents living in the region.

Method: Data were collected with a questionnaire administered to schools. Two-hundred and fifty adolescents (170 girls, 80 boys; mean age 16.1 years, SD 1.1) participated in filling in the questionnaire pertaining of both single items and scales measuring PTSD, physical punishment, domestic violence, parental negativity, anti-social behavior, poverty and war experiences.

Results: Girls scored significantly higher than boys of symptoms of PTSD.Out of the two hundred and fifty adolescents, 20.8% had lost someone close to them during the war, and 8.4% had themselves been injured. Nine percent had themselves injured someone during the war, and 5.2% had actually killed someone during the war. It is of importance to note that 1.8% reported having been raped by an armed group, and 1.2% reported having been taken as a sex slave.

Conclusions: The results indicate that the Fulani herdsmen attacks had a strongly negative impact on the adolescents which are likely to affect them throughout the rest of their lives.

Key words: Fulani herdsmen, ethnic militia, Nigeria, adolescents, gender, war, PTSD, rape, murder

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