Opinion
Let cultural leaders intervene in land conflicts
Publish Date: Aug 13, 2014
newvision
  • mail
  • img

By Simon Mone, civil engineer

Many years have elapsed since the war in northern Uganda forced over 1.7 million people into Internally Displaced peoples’ camps (IDPs) for fear of being maimed, abducted or killed.


The hostile environment couldn’t allow communities to make good use of their land. Some people relocated near urban centres where they felt more secure because of Government protection.

So a good percentage of the current generation of young people in north Uganda were born and bred in IDP camps.

 

Once the war ended, communities returned home but many found it difficult to point out the actual boundaries of what were once their homesteads.

|
A significant proportion of young people having lost parents during the war became child heads of households. It meant that an attempt to recover boundaries of what became defunct homestead would create conflicts.


Their vulnerability gave the initiative to elderly community members to try and take advantage by possessing land that doesn’t belong to them.


There have also been cases where ‘Good Samaritans’ helped settle some displaced persons who fled from the far ends of affected districts on their land near towns.


Once the war ended and they were expected to vacate and return to their villages, a number of people found it hard to go back.


They instead insisted that having been hosted for many years, they deserve to settle there. Majority of such people have even established permanent houses and are promising not to leave. Local council chairpersons have had to intervene in a number of land conflict cases but in vain. Communities are not willing to heed to calls to vacate.


Those who returned home found portions of their land occupied and this has caused what we have hitherto been witnessing as boundary clashes.


Conflicting villagers have continued to detain, confiscate property, and destroy crops and kill each other. Resolution of many such disputes has had to go to higher courts but the problem is far from over. A permanent solution lies in lower level institutions that exist in communities.


Traditional leaders (‘rwots’) and clan chiefs are still highly regarded and listened to by the local population. They know the extent of their peoples’ boundaries.


Most boundaries should still have records but where records are absent, features are available that can facilitate easy identification of land that belongs to particular communities. In the olden days, some areas were given names according to particular historical events, which events can only be vividly remembered by the elderly community members.
 

In the past, certain vegetations were planted at certain locations to demarcate borders between homesteads or communities.


These are features that the younger generation cannot easily tell. Cultural leaders still have the voice and so can find a compromise with their counterparts to allow peaceful settlement of all disputed land. Their direct involvement should go a long way in putting land conflicts to bed.

 

Where another community is only utilising the neighbour’s land for cultivation, traditional heads should be able to prevail over this to ensure that crops are not destroyed. For a long time, communities have believed in their cultural leaders and this has not changed yet.


They can successfully supervise land dispute resolutions and can also facilitate peaceful vacation of land occupied by other communities.


One of the reasons cultural leaders exist is to be able to provide solutions to difficult situations so that people can live in harmony.


Cultural leaders in the country should get involved in settling land disputes to end clashes among communities and tribes.

The writer is a civil engineer


Related Stories

Cultural institutions will not be abolished - Govt

Museveni urges cultural leaders to promote unity

'Create parliament seat for cultural leaders'

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Staying the Course in Europe’s East
As the European Union’s leaders gather in Riga for a summit with the six members of the EU’s “Eastern Partnership,” many recall the dramatic meeting in Vilnius of November 2013....
President Museveni is still right on creation of constituencies
This debate arises from the creation of 36 constituencies by President Yoweri Museveni. The people of Uganda should not criticise the creation of constituencies but argue for a strong policy....
Teachers strike; its high time government enforces contracts
On Tuesday morning, as I set out from home to town to begin my day, a village woman stopped me and requested me to offer her a lift which I did. Before she could settle in the car, she sought my opinion about the ‘silent’ teachers’ strike....
Channeling China’s aspirations
China has begun to stretch its economic and military muscles in recent years. In the South China Sea, it has built a series of quasi-military bases on the tiny Spratly Islands and deployed warships to defend them....
The missing meaning democracy
The decision to abandon relative peace and prosperity for brutal war and instability may seem irrational. But young people, born and raised in democratic societies, have increasingly been yielding to the appeal of death-dealing groups like the Islamic State, leaving their homes and families to wage...
Why Greece is Different,  Daniel Gros
By Daniel Gros The seemingly interminable negotiations between the new Greek government and its international creditors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission – on a new loan deal have entered a dangerous phase....
Should politicians be banned from addressing religious gatherings?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter