Feminine identity in anti-colonial struggles: the legacy of Muhumuza of Nyabingi Movement in Kigezi, Uganda
Kentaro, Grace Maria
MetadataShow full item record
The study examines the feminine identity and rejects the long-held orthodoxy that silences and looks at women as mere observers in affairs of the community. In this study I use Queen Muhumuza of Nyabingi Movement to illustrate the agency of women in the anti-colonial struggles in Africa. Approached qualitatively and anchoring on feminist poststructuralist theory and Feminist Decolonial Theory, I argue that African heroines of the anti-colonial struggles ought to be acknowledged and documented since they played unforgettable roles in the organization, leadership and execution of anti-colonial struggles as exemplified by Muhumuza. Guided by four objectives: to locate Muhumuza’s position in the anti-colonial struggles in Uganda; to examine the origin of the Nyabingi Movement as an anti-colonial struggle under Muhumuza in the history of Kigezi; to analyze the transition of Muhumuza’s Nyabingi from a spiritual movement into a political movement during the anti-colonial struggles and to document the legacy of Muhumuza. Employing archival research and oral history through use of key informant and in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions, the study found out that women played leadership, organizational and military roles in anti-colonial struggles despite their silence in available literature. Muhumuza in particular, played a commendable leadership role as a female figure in a male dominated field manifested by her advocacy for the right and freedoms of all women and men in her time. This can be translated as a fight for equity, equality and agency in anti-colonial struggles in Uganda. Her resistance particularly against the Germans in Tanzania, Belgians in Rwanda and against the British in Kigezi region of Uganda proves her determination to liberate not only women from patriarchal tendencies but also liberation of all local communities that were being oppressed by the colonial powers. Muhumuza’s death in 1945 did not stop her previous actions but rather revolutionized African women and men to be involved in the anti-colonial struggles, and hence this was the genesis for comprehensive struggles for liberation of Uganda as a sovereign nation. The study concludes that despite limited documentation, Muhumuza’s leadership unquestionably left a mark as a true woman leader, and a pioneer female identity who steadily united the followers to defend their rights and posed a resistance against various colonial rulers’ agonizing demands. Muhumuza was a charismatic, diplomatic, fearless and eloquent leader who managed to fight a multinational resistance against the British, the Germans and Belgians. Muhumuza as a female in a male dominated field defied the social norms of the time by participating in anticolonial struggles using religion as a tool to fight and threaten the three international powers or colonialists. This means that Muhumuza’s leadership definitely left a mark as a true female who defended the rights of all Banyakigezi. Therefore, this study documents the legacy of Muhumuza and recommends documentation of several women heroines in different spheres of life.