Managing Diversity - Uganda's experience

 

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A collection of essays produced by the Pruralism Knowledge Programme

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Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience  Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience A collection of essays produced by the Pluralism Knowledge Programme in Uganda

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Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience A collection of essays produced by the Pluralism Knowledge Programme in Uganda Published by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda on behalf of the Pluralism Knowledge Programme partners in Uganda ISBN:978-9970-9274-0-1

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Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience  Contents PART I INTRODUCTION THE CROSS-CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF UGANDA PART II MANAGING DIVERSITY - THE NATIONAL CONTEXT 1. The Politics of Identity: Assessing the Influence of Ethnicity, Regionalism, Religion and Gender in Uganda – A Literature Review KAYISO FULGENCIO 1. The Role of Patronage in Shaping Uganda’s Economic, Social and Political Spheres - A Literature Review EMMANUEL MARAKA 1. Politico-Cultural Pluralism, Diversity and Public Order Management in Uganda Today - A Discussion Paper JOHN – JEAN BARYA for HURINET-Uganda 

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 Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience PART III MANAGING DIVERSITY - COMMUNITY EXPERIENCES 1. Perceptions of Diversity and Pluralism in Selected Sites in Northern and Central Uganda INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND STRATEGIC STUDIES (GULU UNIVERSITY), THE GULU NGO FORUM, THE MPIGI NGO FORUM AND UGANDA MARTYRS UNIVERSITY 1. Living with Ethnic Difference in Uganda - Reflections on Realities and Knowledge Gaps with Specific Reference to Kibaale District JIMMY SPIRE SSENTONGO 1. Intolerance, Stigma, Exclusion and Persecution of People with Albinism in the Elgon Region UGANDA NATIONAL NGO FORUM 1. Community Conversations on Restorative Cultural practices in the Mt. Elgon Area RONALD ELLY WANDA PART IV PLURALISM – AN ACQUIRED VALUE 1. The Family: At the Heart of Managing Cultural Diversity - Conversations with 35 Ugandan Leaders and Rural Women and Men EMILY DRANI, VUSIA SANTA IZAMA 1. The Element of Pluralism in Schools, its Management and its Effect on Schooling DEVELOPMENT NETWORK OF INDIGENOUS VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS 1. Managing Diversity in African Universities - Living and Challenging Difference on four Ugandan Campuses VUSIA SANTA IZAMA AND THE CROSS-CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF UGANDA PART V COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS TO MANAGE DIVERSITY 1. Inter-Religious Action/Collaboration: Myth or Reality? A Comparative Study of Faith-Based Organisations and Inter-Religious Networks Supported by the InterReligious Council of Uganda KAYISO FULGENCIO, INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF UGANDA 1. Documentation of Pluralism within the Women’s Movement in Uganda - Reechoing Voices of Women Activists UGANDA WOMEN’S NETWORK

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Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience  1. Managing Diversity: Perspectives from Eight African Countries - A Review of APRM Reports TABITHA NAISIKO PART VI REFLECTION PIECES 1. Celebrate Plurality DAVID ZAC NIRINGIYE 1. An Inventory of Civil Society Initiatives for the Promotion of Pluralism and Tolerance in Uganda IVAN AMANIGA RUHANGA 1. Legal Pluralism And Culture In Governance – What Works? THE CROSS-CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF UGANDA 1. National Identity Development: Reflections on the Cases of Uganda and Tanzania CHRISTOPHER TUMWINE 1. Understanding Local Perceptions of Pluralism: Is this of any Relevance to Uganda? JOHN DE CONINCK 1. A Time to Act on National Peace and Development UGANDANS CONCERNED FOR PEACE AND NATIONAL COHESION PRESS RELEASE PART VII CONTRIBUTORS AND PLURALISM PROGRAMME PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS

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Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience  I. INTRODUCTION

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10 Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience Managing diversity in Uganda – how relevant today? THE CROSS-CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF UGANDA Developing a pluralistic society and ‘managing diversity’ are seen as increasingly necessary– if challenging – considerationson the political, cultural and socio-economic agenda of most nations in the northern hemisphere.But is this also of relevance to contemporary Uganda? We are fond of saying that our nation is culturally rich and diverse, but more rarely do we investigate the consequences and challenges of managing such heterogeneity, both within our communities and as a nation. Yet these challenges seem ever more present. Whether it is the complicated relationship between cultural institutions (usually representing ethnic interests) and the unitary state; the fragmentation of our national territory (or not) into ever more numerous districts; the continued feeling of disenfranchisement in northern Uganda; or the complicated dosage of political posts according to region, ethnicity and religion (often, it seems, in preference to competence). Wherever one looks it indeed seems that managing diversity remains a challenge in Uganda today. Is this surprising? Uganda’s recent history reminds us that this artificial colonial creation is still a young, uncertain entity whose citizens usually find solace and expression in sub-national forms of identity, rather than in their ‘Ugandanness’, a concept that remains difficult to define. It is through these forms of identity that searching and securing resources – whether recognition, jobs, contracts or others – is often undertaken.We also remember that the recent history of Uganda has been characterised by strife, when the sub-national ethnic card has so often been manipulated to the advantage of those in power. The contemporary politics of inclusion and exclusion that determine access to vital resources thus often seem to prolong their colonial trajectory, when foreign religions aggravated intra-and inter-ethnicfactionalism, and the policy of divide-and-rule fed into the pattern of collaboration and resistance to colonialism that kept religious divisionism and ethnic consciousness alive. One could indeed argue that the autocratic rule of post-colonial governments in Uganda since 1962 has reproduced rather than deconstructed ethnicity. In particular, patronage continues to pervade economic, social and political spheres: ethnicity is therefore then neither about pluralism, nor about ‘tribes’, but an ideology of dominance that inevitably results in a significant democratic deficit. In such an environment, favouritism and corruption thrive and result in the current perception that cultural diversity represents exclusion to the detriment of the collective public good. For the future, therefore, effectively managing diversity appears as not only extremely difficult, but as inescapable for national health. It is therefore not altogether surprising that, at a national conference on managing diversity held in Kampala in April 2009, a main conclusion was that, by virtue of

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Managing diversity in Uganda – how relevant today? 11 the nation’s history and its ethnic, political and religious composition, valuing and managing diversity is central to equitable and sustainable development. The Pluralism Knowledge Programme This conference was held under the auspices of an international initiative, the Pluralism Knowledge Programme and this volume arises from the work of organisations and individuals attached to universities and NGOs, brought together since 2009 by this programme in Uganda. The Pluralism Knowledge Programme (PKP) also linked universities and NGOs across four countries. The initiative was taken after civil society based organisations in the South signalled growing intolerance, often manifested as fundamentalisms rooted in religion, ethnic affiliation, nationalism, social class, gender and other identities or value systems. As one observer then put it, “It seemed increasingly difficult to mobilise local communities to deal with the complexities of diversity and co-existence, rather than the more accessible but divisive and polarising issues of difference. These developments seemed to curb the organisations’ pursuit of a pluralist, diverse and dialogical culture for development and empowerment.” Responding to this, a group of academics and civil society-based actors expressed a desire to rethink their strategies and reinterpret their understanding of local situations. They decided to cooperatively search for and generate knowledge aimed at developing new insights into diverse manifestations of diversity and to comprehend divergent experiences and views on pluralism. As this volume illustrates, both academic and practical sources of knowledge are considered essential, as is the interaction between them. Academic knowledge offers a broader conceptual understanding of the issues at hand. Practitioners’ knowledge and experiences provide new insights into how fundamentalism pervades the work of civil society organisations and which concrete initiatives best promote pluralism or fail in development practice. Pluralism or diversity? This enquiry is built on the premise that processes of civil society building that are aimed at the ability to live creatively in a pluralist society should be worked out in different directions, at the social or communal level through initiatives of civil society organisations, the business world, by religious and other institutions, in particular in the field of awareness raising, media and in the public debate. It takes as point of departure an understanding of diversity that is essentially descriptive and passive: diversity describes the differences between our respective  The Promoting Pluralism Knowledge Programme is a joint initiative by the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS), together with the Kosmopolis Institute of the University for Humanistic Studies in the Netherlands, in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society in Bangalore, India; the Centre for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU). For a list of Pluralism Knowledge Programme partners in Uganda, see Part VII.

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12 Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience identities – whether given, ascribed, or bestowed - as individuals, groups and societies. Pluralism is on the other hand understood here as the principle that people should be respected for what they have reason to value in their lives (Sen, 1999). Pluralism accommodates people to value difference and promotes their active encounter with diversity, by seeking understanding across lines of difference. This also presents a key value in the domain of human development. Diana L. Eck (2006) argues that a limited kind of pluralism may depend on clear boundaries of interaction, but that a deeper kind may require steady and meaningful engagement across differences, e.g. across ethno-religious lines. Eck thus offers salient points to orient our thinking: first, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Diversity is a given, but pluralism is not; it is an achievement. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies. Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require people to know anything about one another. Is pluralism relevant in Uganda? To start examining the relevance of the concept of pluralism in Uganda, the 2009 PKP conference attracted many participants from academia and civil society organisations.Five mapping studies that had been commissioned to explore various aspects of pluralism can be found in this volume. The first concerned the role of ethnicity, regionalism, religion and gender on the politics of identity in Uganda and the author (Kayiso, this volume) stressed that “the politics of inclusion and exclusion are central to understanding the politics of identity”. The author notes that these have continued to reproduce themselves over time: as in the colonial and post-colonial ‘divide-and-rule’ policy; forced political integration into the nation-sate; skewed access to resources; and authoritarian government. Forms of identity that impose limits to people’s access to these resources are principally ethnicity and nationality but also include political affiliation, class, religion, education, language and gender. The author further notes the consequences of this state of affairs, such as the ‘overcentralisation of power’ in Uganda; the development of a ‘personality cult’; the emasculation of national institutions and the lack of political will to effect changes and become accountable. The second study (Maraka, this volume) focused on the role of patronage in shaping Uganda’s economic, social and political spheres and explained how patronage, in addition to the politics of identity, influences access to resources, while noting that managing patronage can also facilitate the management of diversity. Both positive and negative connotations and effects of patronage are reviewed; how it is ingrained in the culture of Ugandans, having been present from pre-colonial times, and having a continuing effect on identity, development and state formation. The positive aspects of patronage include a force for inclusion and care of the weak and the poor and, more broadly, for managing social, economic and political affairs. On the negative side, patronage and clientelism are recognised as hindering poverty eradication when

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Managing diversity in Uganda – how relevant today? 13 relationships are hierarchical and power sharing unequal. In Uganda, it is entrenched “from top to bottom”; its effects on culture are pervasive (such as in the notion that “politics is the way to get rich” and in fostering paternalistic values among the country’s leaders). Still, an inventory of the main civil society initiatives (Amaniga, this volume) revealed a wide range of activities, ranging from advocacy (for inclusion), capacity building, protection of human rights, awareness and sensitisation, peace building, and developing national values. While these activities have resulted in some change (such as contributing to building a broader knowledge base about democracy and civic consciousness; and stimulating constructive debate), challenges included the increasingly contested space for NGOs and the media to operate in, an unsupportive policy and legal regime, sporadic funding, and often negative attitudes towards pluralism, reflecting low levels of civic education. Looking beyond Uganda, an analysis of NEPAD’s country reports from Algeria, Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda (Naisiko, this volume) indicated that managing diversity appears as a crosscutting issue, with the rationale for managing diversity given as nation-building, unifying people within the state, so that it remains politically stable. Managing diversity is however also seen as a challenge in all countries. The author identifies two main implications for Uganda from her study: to avoid conflicts, issues of ethnicity in national development cannot be taken for granted; and managing diversity is essential in sharing national resources and services equitably. This calls for inclusiveness in building people’s potentials to become productive members of the community and to contribute to its sustainability. Another international perspective is offered in comparing Uganda and Tanzania from a national identity viewpoint. Tumwine (this volume) remarks on the “low levels of national identity among Ugandans” as compared to Tanzanians. The reasons for the apparent success in “nation-building” in Tanzania include the uniting role of the political party in Tanzania and President Nyerere’s visionary leadership; while in Uganda ethnicisation of the army, the special position that was accorded to Buganda at independence; and the struggle for livelihood manifesting itself in religious, ethnic and racial intolerance are underlined. The conclusions of the debate underlined that, by virtue of our nation’s ethnic, political, and religious composition, valuing and managing diversity is necessary for equitable and sustainable development. This, it was felt, demands the recognition of differences, engagement with these differences and creation of equal opportunities for all to be productive. More fundamentally perhaps, there was a recognition of identity and diversity as both familiar and elusive; as ‘natural’, constructed and ascribed, often finding their sources in exploitative mechanisms. The importance of an ‘African’ cultural dimension to understand identities and distribution of resources was also underlined,

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14 Managing Diversity – Uganda’s Experience as well as the need to understand diversity as a collective endeavour and the apparent lack of political good will and trust in Uganda (as expressed in skewed distribution of resources, corruption, etc.). The role of capitalism and whether it can accommodate pluralism was part of the inquiry, given its focus on the survival of the fittest and its spawning of policies that promote divisions and intolerance (e.g. exploitation of some districts resources; district-centric decentralisation, under-represented minority groups). In building tolerance, a common language was not seen as necessarily the solution (especially if imposed; and as the example of Rwanda had shown), but education (curriculum, non-formal, civic) and ‘visionary leadership’ were agreed to be important, recognising that, in Uganda, the leadership does not currently seem to positively address issues of diversity and pluralism. It was also noted that the Uganda situation presents a paradox: while much emphasis is placed on the difficulties the country is facing in managing diversity, one forgets the more tolerant aspects of society and its remarkable track record in surmounting grave crises that threatened national unity. Nevertheless, many signs that fundamentalist tendencies are spreading in many spheres were noted, such as the way the person looks at her/his neighbour or the shrinking political spaceto express dissenting views. One could find reasons for this in skewed access to resources, but also in the absence of a national project, amidst fractious identities. For the future, therefore, effectively managing diversity appeared as inescapable. As De Coninck (this volume) points out, the 2009 ‘Kampala riots’, the continued uncertainties surrounding anti-homosexuality legislation and the reactions following the deadly 2010 bomb blasts – as illustrated by one of the cartoons by Ras –continue to highlight this national challenge in its diverse manifestations. This challenge is later further emphasised by J-J Barya (this volume) in his paperon “Politico – Cultural Pluralism, Diversity and Public Order Management in Uganda Today”, which was presented at the National Convention on Peace, Democracy and Governance, co-organised by the PKP in 2011 (see also the press release -A Time To Act On National Peace And Development – this volume). In his paper, Prof. Barya recalls that Uganda is an artificial colonial creation, with different ethnicities and nations who do not see themselves as one people. The non-political elements of the different peoples’ cultures, he argues, are rarely controversial, but tensions usually arise where culture meets with political processes and power, such as in the dispute between the central state and nationalities that demand more autonomy. Prof. Barya observes that, while the Constitution of Uganda lays down human rights standards that protect the freedoms necessary in a pluralistic society and a multiparty system, today’s public order management regime –in terms of practice, legislation, political pronouncements - undermines efforts at managing diversity. The current regime, he argues, has done little to foster pluralism. Taken together, several legislative instruments are intended to stifle freedom of association, the right to dissent, media freedom and are against the spirit of encouraging unity in diversity whether at a political, civil or cultural level. Informal platforms (cultural associations in universities, community radios) to replace

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Managing diversity in Uganda – how relevant today? 15 the formal space threatened by these laws and practices have emerged, but these can exhibit exclusionary tendencies, reinforcing differences between communities. Therefore, the author urges, civil society, political parties, the media and liberal elements in government need to work together to ensure that anti-democratic laws, policies and practices in place and proposed Bills are amended or dropped. Meanwhile, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda undertook research on legal pluralism (CCFU- this volume), and drew on four case studies to present reflections on its relevance in the Ugandan context. The cases highlight the resilience of structures, mechanisms and values that help local communities organise themselves and deal with the problems they face, as opposed to the existence of the monopoly of a single stateinspired governance framework. Further, not only are ‘traditional’ reference points being used, they are also being adapted to new sets of local circumstances, although the study notes that one must avoid any romanticism about such governance systems. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that there is much to learn from such systems and from examining their potential contribution to enhancing governance as a nation. This encourages us to consider the co-existence of several value systems. The authors argue that legal pluralism is indeed desirable, providing a source of alternative ideas and experiences that can contribute to the design of appropriate mechanisms, institutions, and practices. The case studies also suggest that benefits could be derived from moving from an ‘either or’ situation, to one where the positive aspects of both types of governance perspectives are brought together. The paper concludes that traditional cultural leaders, if they are to continue playing an effective role in the current context, must have the self-confidence to claim their legitimacy, to resist co-option, but also to constantly re-invent themselves and ensure that there is no risk of being tainted with any suggestion of adhering to authoritarian and paternalistic values that are ill-fitting with people’s contemporary aspirations. In the process, they can contribute to a more legitimate and accountable exercise of power to the benefit of all citizens, in tune with the vital cultural values that can inform the future of the nation. Investigating local perceptions of diversityand its management While the initial conference and subsequent research had recognised the relevance of pluralism in the local context, it was felt important to further understand how Ugandans view diversity and its management, especially at the ‘grassroots’, rather than pluralism in its ‘imported’ and universalistic form. PKP partners from the Gulu and Mpigi research ‘clusters’ set their research teams off in April 2010, focusing on selected local communities in the districts of Mpigi in central Uganda, Amuru, Pader and Dokolo in northern Uganda and Kibaale in the western region. The research teams engaged diverse groups and individuals in these communities to explore people’s understanding and experiences of pluralism, diversity, and marginalisation. Everywhere, it was revealed (see Uganda Martyrs University et al, this volume), diversity was perceived as a challenge and its most dominant manifestation was ethnicity. Other perceived sources of diversity included political affiliation, economic

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