Understanding Conflict Dynamics: Identifying ‘attractors’ in the Alavanyo - Nkonya Conflict

Dennis Amego Korbla Penu, Patrick Osei-Kufuor


One of the key attributes of ethnic conflicts is that they could be complex and intractable. Peace-building efforts aimed at resolving ethnic conflicts therefore need to be informed by the interwoven factors that bring dynamism and complexities (intractability) to the conflict. In an exploratory qualitative study of the almost century-old, seemingly intractable Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict in Ghana, a thematic analysis of primary and secondary data revealed some significant elements (attractors) that contribute to the positive and negative dynamics of the conflict.

The study identifies four elements that serve as positive attractors (peace factors) and negative attractors (tension factors) in this conflict. These include, conflict management efforts, anonymous killings, communal content over time, and the media. Out of these four, one (anonymous killing) is an outright negative attractor and the other three could serve as positive or negative attractors depending on the time, nature and circumstance under which they manifest. These three are fluid attractors and have shown to be more or less determining of the conflict depending on how they impact the conflict and perceived by conflict parties. Overall, this study finds that the effect of positive attractors have had a greater influence than negative attractors and this could explain why relative calm exists in the area over the course of the conflict.

The study concludes that the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict is protracted because of these dynamics and recommends that state agencies and mediators adopt a modified peace-building approach that transforms the conflict, pays attention to original conflict actors and pursue the possibility of amicably setting aside the hurdle of previous court rulings.

Keywords: Conflict Dynamics, Ethnic Conflicts, Peace-building, Alavanyo, Nkonya, Ghana

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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