Yahya Sseremba is a post-doctoral research fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISER), Makerere University in Uganda. He received his PhD from Makerere University in interdisciplinary social studies in 2019. He was awarded numerous awards from the Social Science Researdch Council’s Next Genderation Social Sciences in Africa Program: 2016 Proposal Development Award, 2017 Disserattion Research Fellowhsip, and the 2018 Complettion Fellowship. He also was a 2017 fellow of the Young African Scholars Program of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.
How do we explain mass violence without using culturalist explanations and without denying the agency of the warring societies? In Uganda's Rwenzori area, each of the Bamba, Basongora and Banyabindi ethnic groups seeks to secede from the Bakonzo and establish its own kingdom or district in a contestation that often escalates into bloodshed. Researchers tend to explain this conflict as a consequence of cultural differences between the warring parties. Those who attempt to give a political explanation reduce politics to the divisive actions of the head of state whom they blame for instigating tribalism for personal gain. I go beyond the head of state and examine the historical production of the agency of the warring societies and how this explosive agency is reproduced through state institutions. Far from focusing on the president, I problematize the post-colonial state and explore ways of reforming it as opposed to simply changing the president.