Inter-Tribal Conflict and Restorative Justice in Kenya

Segment 1: The Village Gathering
Our guest on this edition of The Doug Noll Show is Paula Langguth Ryan, principal mediator at Compassionate Mediators, LLC, and a member of ACR’s Elder Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution Section. We will discuss her work with The Village Gathering, which focuses on sustainable restorative justice mediation in Kenya. Paula’s latest book (among many) is the forthcoming Ryan’s Rules of Order: A Clear and Compassionate Process for Minimizing Conflict and Keeping Any Meeting on Track. Her website is

Segment 2: One Tribe
As a middle child growing up, Paula felt an innate connection to peacemaking. Her professional peacekeeping work in Kenya begin right after the Kenyan election crisis in 2008. Paula was asked to go to Kenya to lead a pastoral conference for a week, but found that her work would not resonate unless the prevalent inter-tribal conflict was first addressed. At that point she knew nothing about restorative justice, but with help from other mediators, as well as a former warrior (now a self-taught peacemaker) named Lantano, the tribes literally ended up “breaking bread” together. Lantano reiterated a new message: we are ONE tribe. We’re Kenyans.

Paula’s 2nd trip was in 2010 for two weeks. Again she met with members of a small tribe (1 of 13 tribes) about inter-tribal conflict. She watched Lantano, who had no formal training as a mediator or peacemaker, go to speak with the mothers of the fighting warriors as well as the elders of the tribes and successfully bring the members of the tribes together for a communal meal.

Segment 3: The Reconciliation Meal
Lantano, the young warrior turned peacemaker, organized a reconciliation communal meal. The meat was braided, and there is a tradition in Kenya that says if you have shared a piece of meat together you can no longer be enemies. At this communal meal the tribal warriors cut meat for each other and fed one another. Every warrior bit from a single piece of meat.

Segment 4: The Kenya Solution
Paula believes the solutions for Kenya’s problems have to come from Kenya. The Kenyan people know what the underlying fears are and how to address them. They want to solve their own problems. There is a deep authenticity when one has truly experienced war, and this authenticity stems credibility within the tribes. Professional mediators can provide support, coaching, training, and funds, but fundamentally they can’t be the peacemakers in Kenya. Only the Kenyans can.

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Doug Noll is a lawyer turned peacemaker. His weekly radio talk show invites listeners to call in with their conflicts to stump the peacemaker. Listen in at

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