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Ethinicity In Uganda Root Causes And Growth By Walubo Jude Tadeo Makerere University, Kampala

9767 words - 39 pages

One of the post-independence political concerns in Uganda today is that ethnicity had been detrimental to national unity, democracy and development. There is no doubt that the conflicts in Uganda from 1964 to 1966 when Prime Minister Milton Obote overthrew President Edward Mutesa, have taken on an ethnic expression. The 1971 coup by Idi Amin, the civil war of 1981-86 and the insurgency in the North since 1987 have all had ethnicity as one of the driving factors. The central problem was and has been the politicisation of ethnicity, that is, its use for purposes of group mobilisation in social conflict that also involves the state. As its impacts have spilled over to the present, its roots can be traced as far back as the pre-colonial period. Ethnicity in Uganda, as elsewhere on the African continent, has been historically constructed and subsequently reproduced. While democratisation may be problematic in the face of ethnic consciousness, the paradox is that the best way to reduce ethnic consciousness is more and not less democratisation.Ethnicity has been variously conceptualised as "a sense of ethnic identity consisting of the subjective, symbolic or emblematic use by a group of people of any aspect of culture in order to create internal cohesion and differentiate themselves from other groups" . In the contemporary debate on ethnicity, consensus has emerged on two key features. One concerns the formation of ethnic identities and the other the function ethnicity performs in contemporary setting. It has been argued that ethnic identities are social constructs defined by the historical conditions in which they emerge. The first feature, formation, postulates that "ethnic identity is based on ethnic groups which can be referred to as a historically formed aggregate of people having a real or imaginary association, a specified territory, shared cluster of beliefs and values connoting its distinctiveness in relation to similar groups and recognised as such by others."The genesis of the ethnic crisis in Uganda, as in most parts of Africa, is mainly linked to the colonial intervention process and the particular organisation of power in society. The post-colonial practices simply enhanced it. Therefore, the formation of ethnic identities is a social construction defined by the historical conditions in which they emerge. Ethnicity is not a constant. Over Uganda's history, ethnicity has been continually redefined as the context has changed. The objective of this section is to present a historical examination of the colonial and post-colonial practices which created and sustain the ethnic phenomenon in Uganda's socio-political set up. Mamdani contends that to understand the phenomenon of what is referred to as 'tribalism' it is necessary to look at it within a social context. This is why, rather than conceiving of an ethnic identity as simply invented by statecraft, as in Ranger , or as 'imagined' by intellectuals, as in Anderson , it would make sense to...

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