Morality as identity: the missionary moral agenda in Buganda, 1877-1945
Musisi, Nakanyike B.
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This article advances three arguments. First, that prior to European intrusion in the mid-1800s, “Buganda” and “Mugandaness” were continually contested ideologies whose meanings were not given but discursively constructed and reconstructed in conditions of historical specificity. Second, that “Baganda” as an identity, was first constructed in the early travellers’ journals. Later on missionaries and Buganda’s leading chiefs appropriated the construct “Buganda” and actively participated in its elaboration and refinement as it was later to be used and popularized in the twentieth century. Third, that Buganda identity was constructed through the active silencing of the disruptive relations of ethnicity, of gender, and of class. In the celebration of an ethnic identity, inequalities and oppression were glossed over. Out of a confrontation with the “other,” Buganda identity was carefully and powerfully articulated by the Christian middle-class men who, from 1900, dominated the newly created ruling council of Buganda, called the Lukiiko. These men claimed to speak for the Buganda “nation” and on behalf of others. Their search for a secure identity was built on their assertion of their superiority over the “decadent” subnationalities; over all non-royal females and over all others who were not Christians, male and middle class. In examining the historical dynamics of identity, it is important to look beyond the illusion of a Buganda “Christian nation” to investigate articulations and manipulations of class, gender, ethnicity, and nationality.