Beyond ethnic patriotism: A comparative study of Toro and Kigezi Districts in Uganda
To explain the ‘puzzle of tribe’ in East Africa, the historians of Africa claimed that it was African leaders they called ‘ethnic patriots’ whose intellectual and political work constituted their people into tribes. The claim emphasizes that these leaders wrote history books to validate and authenticate themselves as leaders of their tribes and that the successive postcolonial heads of states have exacerbated the problem through patronage. That is how the creation of kingdoms and districts and the distribution of national resources based on tribe, which are sources of violence, has been explained in the politics of post-colonial Uganda, particularly Toro. In response, I deploy comparative, historical, anthropological and political science approaches to examine archival material, oral interviews and literature to study three main realities. The first is that colonialism replaced pre-colonial politics of mobilizing society focusing on territorial residence with tribe and homelands (indirect rule). In Toro for instance, one tribe, the Batoro were officially recognized as native and all possibilities for others to be recognized were extinguished. This became a basis upon which natives qualified for political and socioeconomic inclusion and the Batoro used it to discriminate Bamba and Bakonzo. The second is that the colonized naturalized rather than challenge indirect rule. Such response was derivative of the colonial structure and inspired by colonial ethnographers. The Bamba and Bakonzo for instance called for a three-tribe solution, which was a demand that the British consistently apply indirect rule as an administrative practice. In Kigezi, the British applied the three-tribe solution from 1930 when they replaced Baganda agents with native chiefs of Bakiga, Bahororo and Bafumbira in their respective homelands. This arrangement created political majorities and minorities, which accounts for ethnic maneuvers in the local council elections of the 1950’s. The third is a response that steps outside the parameters of indirect rule to focus on building a residence-based identity/administrative unit that explains the absence of derivative responses in Kigezi. This thesis claims that such response was dialectical because it challenged rather than reproduced the structure of indirect rule. I argue that this response received inspiration from a multiplicity of sources including pre-colonial, colonial and the socioeconomic aspirations of the people of Kigezi. However, I claim that in Toro, Isaya Mukirane’s response does not necessarily represent only the negative in which the response was derivative. As manifested in his thought and actions, the move he takes demonstrates tactical rather than strategic calculations. Moreover, I argue that the struggle between accommodating and adopting the demands of indirect rule (derivative) and seeking to reform it (dialectical) can be found inside both Mukirane’s and Ngologoza’s agency in Toro and Kigezi respectively and not between the two.