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PROJECT TOPIC: CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN AFRICA: THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY

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CHAPTER ONE

THE CONCEPT OF CONFLICT AND

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

Conflict is the incompability of goals and values between two or more parties in a relationship, combined with the attempt to control each other and antagonistic feelings towards each other. It is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests.1 It exist whenever incompatible activities occur. An activity that is incompatible with another is one that prevents, blocks or interferes with the occurrence or effectiveness of the second activity.

The incompabitlity or differences may exist in reality or may only be perceived by the parties involved. Nonetheless, the opposing actions and the hostile emotions are very real hallmark between people in all kind of human relationship and in al social settings. As a result of the wide range of potential differences between people, the absence of conflict usually signals the absence of meaningful interaction2. A conflict can be as small as a perceived disagreement or as large as war. It can originate in the person, between two or more people or between two or more groups. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad but the manner in which conflict is handled determines whether it is constructive or destructive.

A conflict is different from competition and cooperation because in competitive situations, the two or more individuals or parties have mutually inconsistent goals as either party tries to reach its goals, it undermine the attempt of the others to reach theirs. Therefore, competitive situations will by their nature cause conflict. Conflict can also occur in cooperative situation, in which two or more individuals or parties have consistent goals because the manner in which one party tries to reach its goal may undermine the other individual or party.

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