The Teso Insurgency Remembered: Churches, Burials and Propriety
Africa 77 (4), 2007
18 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 22, 2007
From 1986 to 1993 the Teso region of eastern Uganda experienced a violent insurgency. The insurgency was remembered as a time of brutality, when norms of respect and reciprocity were broken down. Younger men targeted and killed older men, and life retreated inwards. In the years since the insurgency a number of institutional developments have reflected on this experience. A growing number of Pentecostal churches have been established in the region, while charismatic forms of worship have been introduced in Anglican and Catholic churches. Burial societies have been set up and in the local courts the presentation of cases has undergone a change of emphasis. In all these different institutions there has been an attempt to draw a line under the violence of the recent past. A growing emphasis on notions of propriety and respectability – whether in church, in court, or at a burial – was a common theme in the life of Teso villages. In emphasizing new forms of sociality and obligation, churches and burial societies promoted a sense of fortunes restored; a belief that the past could be divorced from the present. At the same time, however, the attempt to draw a line under the past made the insurgency, or rather the memory of the insurgency, a powerful catalyst for change. The article examines the continuing influence the insurgency has over processes of social and political change in Teso.
Keywords: Teso, conflict, Uganda, religion, politics, institutions
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