Evarist Ngabirano is a graduate student at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. He holds a Master of Advanced Studies in theology and religion (KU Leuven, Belgium), Masters of Religious Studies (KU Leuven, Belgium), a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Makerere), a Bachelors of Divinity (Makerere), and a Bachelors of Philosophy (Urbaniana University, Italy).
He has now received the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellowship three times (2017, 2018, 2019). His area of concentration is culture and politics in an interdisciplinary PhD in social studies program. His topic of research is “The Politics of Tribalism: A Comparative Study of Kigezi and Toro districts in Uganda.” Before joining Makerere, Ngabirano taught at Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal, Uganda where he directed the project to preserve and digitize the district local government archives and initiated the Centre for African Development Studies to study, research, publish and disseminate African indigenous knowledge. He has also previously received a University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars fellowship (UMAPS 2013) as an early-career faculty to prepare himself for graduate training.
Although several narratives have emerged to explain the escalation of violence including religious and class based analysis, cultural explanation tend to dominate the discourse on the causes of violence. The Bakiga are natives of Kigezi but have settled elsewhere in Uganda particularly in Toro and Bunyoro where episodes of violence have been reported on several occasions. For instance, in 1993 there was violent eviction of the Bakiga from Kibale Forest National Park, which was perceived as ethnically motivated. In the early 2000s violence erupted in Kibale district between the migrant Bakiga and the native Banyoro. As a group of people with an identity, the Bakiga intermingle with others in Kigezi and the diaspora impacting on their culture and politics resulting into either social cohesion or violence. Generally, these outcomes have been given a tribal explanation. For instance, the view that the Bakiga who do not subscribe to a kingdom would not live well in Toro and Bunyoro where there is reverence for monarchical rule. There is also a belief that lack of traditional authority to revere made the Bakiga independent, unruly and ungovernable. The tendency is to use these cultural traits to explain the social violence in areas where the Bakiga hail. My proposed research seeks to historicize the Bakiga culture and politics in order to understand how the historical formation of Bakiga identity could explain their politics in Kigezi and the causes of violence in the communities where they have settled in the diaspora. I want to speak to elders, politicians and religious leaders about the Bakiga politics in Kigezi and the diaspora. I also want to use the Kabale District Local Government Archives to better understand the colonial and post colonial Bakiga politics in Kigezi. In addition, I will use the Kabarole District Archives at Mountains of the Moon University which give detailed account of the Bakiga resettlement in Toro and other regions.