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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Modernizing and Integrating Traditional Judicial Systems: The Case of the Burundian Bashingantahe Institution
Author:Nahimana, Terence
Periodical:East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights (ISSN 1021-8858)
Geographic terms:Burundi
East Africa
Subjects:conflict resolution
customary law
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
judicial system
Traditional practices
Justice, Administration of
Abstract:For many decades 'Ubuntu'/human dignity has been cast aside by most African governments. The author argues that it is very important as it forms the interface between traditional and modern systems. In order to examine the theoretical and practical issues of modernizing and integrating such a traditional/non-formal system, he looks at the Burundian bashingantahe system. Its name is derived from the Kirundi verb 'gushinga' (to fix, uphold) and the noun 'intahe' (rule of fairness), symbolized by a sacred wooden stick. It had five roles in society: to advise/mediate; to arbitrate/try; to protect the weak and the earth; to lend moral support to social contracts; and to sponsor those in power. The traditional ruler, the Mwami, could not assume power without the consent of the bashingantahe. He explains how the members are chosen and talks about the procedures which are based on equality, truth, fairness, and reconciliation. Because of its strength it was marginalized during the colonial period, an attitude which was maintained by the postcolonial rulers. The author feels it is very important that it be restored to its former glory, but with the proviso that there must be some changes to its structure. He urges that women and unmarried people, for instance, should be able to be members. Such institutions are the way to put a society back on its feet. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]