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Power Back to the People

The Relevance of Ethnic Federalism in Uganda

by Vick Lukwago Ssali

The infamous “Scramble for Africa” resulted in random and unlikely borders that remain today. The West partitioned territory for the sake of its short-term goal of influence or mastery. They gave little thought to the long-running consequences for the Africans themselves. This arbitrary carving up of Africa, the colonial policy of divide and rule, and the resultant segmental cleavages in most post-colonial African states may be blamed for the horizontal inequalities, conflicts, and insecurity rampant since independence. In Uganda, as in many other African countries, the most evident of such cleavages have been tribal and ethnic. Recently there have been calls for constitutional reform that would devolve power to the tribal regions and revive the idea of federalism which was the organizing principle in the immediate aftermath of independence. This book highlights the dynamics of ethnic politics in the post-independence sub-Saharan setting in general and the background, meaning, and relevance of the debate on ethnic federalism in Uganda, in particular. Part of the book covers  Vick Lukwago Ssali’s own experiences growing up in an independent but troubled Uganda. However, its central thesis is based on the voices of selected samples of ordinary people in ten different tribal areas of Uganda and what they comparatively think about the issue of federalism. Is their loyalty growing towards the centre or fading outwards from the troubled state to their integral traditional and cultural units?

ISBN 9789956553242  | 250 pages | 229 x 152mm | 2023 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9789956553495


“In this book Dr Ssali attempts to answer critical questions about democracy and authoritarianism by examining the case of Uganda, combined with his life story as an eyewitness account of modern Ugandan history. Readers will welcome this creative combination of sound scholarship and motivational, existential narrative.”

Yoichi Mine, Professor, Graduate School of Global Studies, Doshisha University, Japan

“This book deals with one of the most persistent issues in postcolonial Africa—the politicization of ethnicity. The comparative approach is refreshingly innovative, as Ssali creatively combines autobiography and social analysis, with a style of writing that is free from excessive abstractions so common in much of academic writing today. This is an original contribution to the academic and policy debates on the role of ethnicity in African politics. And it is very timely!”

Seifudein Adem, Professor, Graduate School of Global Studies, Doshisha University, Japan

“This book is a political, social, and economic reflection on a nation that has missed its position for greatness ... The book is arguably the best scholarly work that gives Uganda hope on how we can rise and meet the challenge of nation-building.”

Ambassador Wasswa Birigwa, former envoy to Japan, and national chairman, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party



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