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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Clan and History in Western Uganda: A New Perspective on the Origins of Pastoral Dominance
Author:Willis, Justin
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Uganda
animal husbandry
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:Historians have repeatedly turned to the clan in their search for a social construct through which to research the African past. This article reexamines the historicity of clan in the western part of what is now Uganda. Oral evidence from the small county of Buhweju, and a close examination of the secondary literature on the rest of western Uganda, suggest that earlier writers have misunderstood the historicity and coherence of the social structures that have come to be called 'clans'. Kin groups of varying size and closeness of relationship, called 'enganda', have long existed in western Uganda, but they did not develop through steady fission to produce a distinct and agreed hierarchy. The names of at least some of these 'enganda', which are widespread, have in fact come to be so widespread because they have served as structures through which quite local arrangements of clientship have been created. This pattern of clientship was directly associated with pastoralist authority; that is, with the ability that pastoralists had to extract labour and produce from agriculturalists. Constructed through fictive ties of kinship, these clientship arrangements also bestowed authority on agriculturalist elder men, for they located access to cattle within structures defined by patrilineality and seniority. Notes, ref.