Sarah Kinyanjui


Traditional African communities are often said to have embraced restorative values in resolving conflicts and responding to wrongdoing. Through empirical research and analysis of secondary data on the pre-colonial traditional Kamba, Kikuyu and Meru communities in Kenya, this article illustrates how penal practices in these communities embraced restorative justice as understood today. This genealogy of restorative justice in these communities demonstrates the potential of restorative justice as an intervention in crime and its role in meeting overall community goals. By doing so, the genealogy challenges the objectification of retributive justice in modern criminal justice systems, which renders retributive practices as an obvious or self-evident response to crime. The in-depth analysis of restorative justice in the three traditional communities further demonstrates how the penal practices resonated with the underlying cultural values hence effectively responding to crime before the inception of the formal criminal justice system in Kenya.



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