The interface between indigenous and modern law: Interrogating social disorder, violence and crime among the Lugbara of Uganda
This study explored the interface between indigenous and modern law: interrogating social disorder, violence and crime among the Lugbara of Uganda, 1914-2010. It questioned the prevalence of social disorder, violence and crime, in the modern state despite the emphasis on modern law. Indigenous Lugbara law was embedded in custom, traditions, values and religion, and focused on social order and harmony. Modern law, introduced by colonial rule, was coded, secular and applied by courts, police and prison institutions. This study historicised social disorder, violence and crime across the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. It reviewed selected theories of law and order, and explored the post-colonial theory, that attributes social disorder, violence and crime to colonialism. Data was collected from archival materials, primary and secondary documents, interviews, focus group discussions and observation of court sessions. Data was subjected to content analysis, narrative analysis and chronological analysis, and presented in the form of discussion, verbatim narrations and chronicles, maps and tables. The study established that indigenous law was tool for social identity, cohesion and ordering. There was divergence in the spirit and nature of the indigenous law and the modern law. While the indigenous law aimed at restoring social-political and economic harmony, and did not regard offences as crime but sin, modern law was a tool for domination, oppression and exploitation, and regarded offences as crime punishable by law. Modern law was operated through the courts, police and prisons. Whereas the indigenous law was for correction and reconciliation, modern law was for retribution and punishment. Although, this study established that there was an apparent increase in social disorder, violence and crime, it argues that, there is actually no increase, rather the interface between indigenous and modern law has increased the range of actions which are defined as crime. The apparent rise in social disorder is therefore attributed to the state enacting several laws which are easy to breach. Post-colonies need to rethink the use of indigenous and modern laws.