Find Information about Profile of Arua District

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Social and Political Background

SOCIAL AND CULTURAL SYSTEMS

Arua District is comprised of four main ethnic groups namely; Lugbara the largest and dominant tribe is approximately 80%, the Madi 8%, the Kakwa 10% and the Lendu 0.01%. The Lugbara, Madi and the Lendu are of the Sudanic origin, while the Kakwa are Nilo-Hamitic. Though there are different tribes, they have and share almost similar social structures and culture systems.

FAMILY STRUCTURE

The families are made up of family clusters as the basic unit. Extended families are very common. The home steads and Kinships composed of the husband, wife, father, sisters, children, grand parents, uncles, cousins, grand children and great grand children that constitutes three or four generations living together in a few huts either on the same compound or spread out within the clan area. All relations are found or confined with the immediate neighborhood.

TRADITIONAL STRUCTURES

An old woman taking a meal.
Background is the hut.

Lugbara people do not have a king, nor do they recognize traditional chiefs. Their social organization is based upon a segmentary patrilineal system whose minimal lineage is led by one or more elders referred to as (‘ba wara). The lineage are grouped and based upon clans headed by (“chief elder”) known as “Opi” who used to be the supreme political leader responsible for the clan. The role of the Opi has been minimized and the word Opi today usually refers to an administrative chief (Middleton, 1960; Barnes-Dean, 1986).

SOCIAL SYSTEM

Patriarchal lineage and marriage

Old woman supported by walking stick

A lineage usually incorporates people from three to five generations living together in huts, either in a compound, or spread out within a clan area. Family clusters form the basic family unit. Household size range from 2 to 25 persons.

Men are expected to respect their senior kin, both living and dead. As in most patrilineal systems, the memory of an ancestor's name fads only after a number of generations. Men are figures of authority within families and are seen as the custodians of culture values. Men owe their allegiance to elders who are the source of ancestral power and strength.

Boy children are also important because they are responsible for continuing the family and the clan.

Marriage is embedded in minimal lineage and is considered both necessary and inevitable. Successful marriages should be blessed with children. A marriage is fulfilled when a woman becomes pregnant and completed when she has a son. Society has maintained two main forms of marriage practice: the traditional and the modern form.

In traditional Lugbara society, daughters are considered to be a source of wealth within

Old aged woman. Background is the papyrus mat for bedding and utensils.
families. Parents are responsible for identifying suitable marriage partners for their children. Settlement of marriage is marked by transfer of bride price (dowry) from the minimal lineage of the bridegroom to the minimal lineage of the bride. Difficulties may arise if a prohibitive dowry is sought. Dowry settlements are reached through negotiations between the parties concerned. A community of interest is established between the paternal relatives. Such relationships are less established or often virtually absent between maternal relatives.

Remarriage after divorce or widowhood is common. Widows are frequently “inherited” by brothers-in-law. This practice originated from a philosophy of protectionism (i.e. the brother of the husband was responsible for the widow), in some cases it has degenerated into an exploitative relationship (the brother of he husband has the right of possession of all his brother's property, including his wife.

Another common traditional in Lugbara marriage is polygamy, which allows a man to have as many wives as he can support. This assumes implicitly that all women must be under the protection of men. Since the 1960s, the proportion of polygamous marriages has decreased considerably. Approximately 10% of all marriages are polygamous. In some areas, however, the figure is as high as 25%.

In rural areas, inter-family relations and interactions are determined by age and sex. The socialization of children is controlled by the economics of rural life. Boys and girls are assigned different roles and they may be segregated. In patrilineal societies, male children are given privileges and prestige because they are responsible for the continuation of the family name. Female children assist in domestic chores and in taking care of siblings.

In this setting, men are figures of authority and are responsible for the family's possessions. Men tend to dominate the household and its individual members:

Dominance is equated with power. As household production methods do not allow for the economic independence of its members, absolute respect for an authority figure, and the acceptance of eventual oppression becomes inevitable. In such a context, the one who is powerful, (i.e. he who owns the land), is the “manager” and makes the decisions. Women are oppressed by their husbands (they are controlled both directly and indirectly) as well as their social environment; they are expected to obey their husbands, to be quiet, and to accept their fate.

A woman's progression through life is marked by a series of transitions in status in terms of her relationship to the head of the family/household. She begins life with the status of a daughter and progresses to daughter-in-law, wife, mother and ground mother. Different authority relations with other women in the household characterize each of the periods in her life. In general, older women dominate younger women: mother in laws dominate daughter-in-law; elder brothers' wines dominate younger brothers' wives and so on. Age stratification amongst women with patriarchal interests (both share domination and exploitation of younger women) and gives younger women something tom aspire to with advancing age. The process of sex-role socialization during childhood, where young girls spend most of their time learning the work roles, skills, and tasks t! hat constitute the women's hare of the division of labour, engenders unambiguous and powerful norms regarding responsibilities of males and females. The social features of a woman's life have particular significance for the social control of women and the perpetuation of patriarchy in Lugbara society.

Respect for women as producers of children and as such responsible for the continuity of the lineage and clan is expressed by naming clans abs sub clans after the eldest mother.

Modernity, Christianity and Islam have tended to disrupt the continuation of traditional marriage practices, especially in the urban environment and among the educated classes. Today, the identification and choice of a marriage partner is increasingly a matter for the young to decide for themselves.

Modern marriages still retain certain aspects of traditional marriage. For instance, the fulfilment/settlement of a dowry. However, the concept of “dowry” has been transformed, in many cases, into a culture of ownership: a man ‘buys' his wife and consequently ‘owns' her, her property, her children and benefits of her work.

The educated and urbanized population often has their marriages blessed by the clergy in churches or mosques. Civil marriages may be presided over by an authorized government representative.

Cultural systems

Some cultural practice (African Traditional Religion) such as belief in the power of drought and rainmaking, as well as worship of their ancestors still persists. However, the influence of Christianity and Islam has affected and eroded many such customs and practices.

Religious systems

There are three modern religious practiced by the people of Arua District. These are:

Roman Catholic church 54.3%

Protestant ( Anglican) 22.3%

Muslims 23.0%

Others 0.4%

The Church

Christianity

The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Uganda have been partly responsible for the modernization of the society. They have been active in education, health care, supporting women's and community groups, and in preaching and religious education. When the Churches first confronted the Lugbara culture, they condemned traditional religions, dances, funeral rites and beer drinking. The churches' attitude contributed to the decline of those traditions. However, the fact that there are more Catholics than Protestants in the region if often attributed to the Church of Uganda's more radical disapproval of local traditions.

Education was based on the Western models and did not regard traditional values and know ledges as consequential.

Islam

In the years between the two world wars, the colonial army was home to a large contingent of Muslim soldiers. After the soldiers were retrenched, they settled in the West Nile region principal in Aringa County. They married local women and thus helped spread Islamic religion. Islam was, therefore, disseminated in a completely different manner to Christianity, which had been preached by foreign (often colonial) missionaries.

Muslim soldiers were often rewarded with posts as (sub) county chiefs, and their higher status is also thought to have contributed to the spread of Islam. Islamic education and health services have only developed recently.

The Muslim community in Arua is composed of two groups: the indigenous “Aringa” Muslims and the “Nubians” settlers. The majority “Aringa” group is mainly found in the rural areas of Aringa County and, to a lesser extent, in Koboko and Madi. The Nubians came in later and settled in the main trading centers, primarily around Arua and Koboko. Although they form a numeric minority, they have great influence not only in trade and commerce, but also in public and political administration.

The power struggle between the Suni and the Shi'ite factions of Islam, which prevails in Muslim life in southern Uganda, is not significant in Arua.

However, under the influence of foreign teachers, the issue of Islamic fundamentalism may become more prevalent in some sectors of the ‘Aringa' group.

Today, Islamic religious education is taking place in a large number of Madarasatis (Garaa) where generally, no secular or English education is provided. The number of Muslim schools registered with the Ministry of Education and Sports is increasing. It is widely agreed that the main constraint on the development of education in the Muslim community in Arua is lack of indigenous teachers, both religious and secular.

Christianity and Muslim co-exist peacefully in the District, although mutual exchanges and contacts are minimal.

The number of adherents to traditional religions is not reflected in the official census, however traditional practices persist. People seem to be able to reconcile “modern” religions with traditional rites. Appeals to customary religion and rituals tend to be made during periods of crisis.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The first foreigners in Northern Uganda were Egyptian and Sudanese traders and slave-hunters who came in the 17 th century. They introduced Islam and established important trade routes up to Khartoum. However, it seems that their influence was limited to the Eastern side of the Nile. While the kakwa were affected by the slave hunters proceeding from what is now Central Africa Republic.

Early European contact in West Nile came with the Austrian Emin Pasha (1885-1889), former governor of Equatoria Province under the Anglo-Egyptian Sudanese Government. He came in with an army of some 9,000 Sudanese Muslims and settled in Wadelai. His soldiers were to play an important role not only in the colonial army, but even more so in spreading Islam in Arua.

After the colonization of Africa by the European powers the area, which is now West-Nile, became a source of dispute, largely because of the strategic importance of the river Nile.

Until the partition of nations, the area West of the Nile was part of the Lado Enclave, which was leased in 1894 by the British to the Independent State of Congo. In 1900 the Belgians began to administer the region, opening several garrison posts (Yumbe, Wandi, Ofude). The Belgian administration introduced agents or “chiefs” (meaning “King of the village”) who had wider powers than the powers, which had previously existed in the indigenous society. These chiefs were paid in cattle, which made them rich beyond local conception and provided them with the resources to maintain many wives. Thus orientated much of the status, which is still attributed to cattle and polygamy. Chiefs were directly responsible for collecting levies; some greatly abused their traditional powers. In 1907, after the death of King Leopold II of Belgium, the Lado Enclave b! ecame an area of dispute among the different colonial powers. During this time, no control or governance took place and elephant poaching occurred on a huge scale, with ivory being taken by different nations.

In 1914, the Southern portion of the Lado Enclave was assigned to Uganda under the British Protectorate. A.E. Weatherhead took over the administration of the ‘New area' as District Commissioner, building a station in Arua, the present headquarters. He waged continual war against the Lugbara groups in an attempt to impose British Colonial rule. He referred to Lugbara as “wild and unattractable”, and as “shy and unorganized”, requiring “severe measures before submitting to administration”. Following the British policy indirect rule, he used the chiefs appointed by the Belgians for the administration and control. In 1919, the chief participated in the Odupi uprising, which was the last indigenous resistance against colonization. Weatherhead then chose to install so called “native agents” who were mostly Sudanese remnants of Emend Pashas's troops ! who had settled throughout Uganda. They liaised between the District Commissioner, the chiefs and the local population, and they were not withdrawn until the mid-1920s when the administration was handed over to the local chiefs (“native administration system”). At the higher (district) levels, local leaders did not have sufficiently high educational backgrounds, so the indirect rule system was modified in 1925 to make way for the system of local government whereby administrators from other parts of the country were appointed.

In 1925, ten counties were created in the West Nile District, with a regional headquarters in Masindi. Since the gradually, with administrative reforms, Moyo, Nebbi and Yumbe have each attained District status (Moyo in 1961, Nebbi in 1974 and Yumbe 2000).

The African Mission (Protestant) from the Congo and the Verona Fathers (Catholic) from Sudan entered West Nile in 1917-1918. They provided only western education in the area until Independence. Their schools generally excluded non-Christian children. Muslim children were thus unable to obtain the necessary skills for advancement within the colonial system. Consequently, they developed commerce in the region as a means of achieving material advancement. Today, Muslims still dominate the commercial sector.

As the colonial administration consolidated its base, modernization unfolded with the introduction of the money economy, and with it taxes, cash crops, and labour migration to plantations in Buganda and Busoga. All of this contributed to the erosion of the traditional Lugbara culture and its replacement by a western-oriented pattern of beliefs and values. It is important to point out that at time, the colonial rule in Uganda also systematically favoured the south over the north. This due to the fact that the British considered that the hierarchical social structure of the Baganda Kingdom, which was similar to the British system, to be superior and was hence easier to work with. The level of favouritism laid the ground for the disparities in economic and educational development that still exist between the south and the north of the country to ! date. This history has contributed to the tensions, which have been responsible for much of the civil strife in Uganda's recent past.

Arua District is the home area of former president Idi Amin Dada (in power from 1971-1979), but the district did not benefit from any sustained structural improvement. On the contrary, during the so called liberation war (1979), both fleeing troops and their pursuers i.e. the combined forces of the Tanzania Peoples' Defense Force (TPDF) and the Ugandan National Liberation Front (UNLF) dislodged a major section of the population (at least 300,000 persons) and looted virtually all infrastructure.

Most of the people who were displaced, settled in refugee camps, others just fled across the borders into Zaire (now Republic of Congo) and Sudan and stayed with relatives (Lugbara and Kakwa live on both sides of the border). People slowly started coming back as security improved a process, which continued up to the end of the eighties. Unquestionably, it was a dreadful experience to have to flee into exile, to fully depend on others (tribe-fellows or relief agencies), and to come back to find all possessions destroyed and fields abandoned. This happened to virtually all the inhabitants of Arua. After the repatriation, reconstruction of homesteads, fields and infrastructure was tackled with great dedication and effort. Although some relief/development agencies such as UNHCR, SCF, CARE and LWF contributed to the resettlement, a large part of th! e costs of reconstruction relied on the contributions and work of the local population.

By 1994, although all homesteads had been reconstructed and agricultural and other economic activities had been taken up again, the wounds of the war are still to be seen, especially in the social infrastructure, which has not recovered.

After the NRM government pacified the area, it deployed efforts to restore and extend buildings and infrastructure destroyed during the years of civil strife, and thus narrow the gap in development between the northern and southern parts of the country. These efforts culminated in the design and present implementation of the Northern Uganda Reconstruction Programme (NURP).

LIST OF COUNTIES, SUB-COUNTIES AND PARISHES OF ARUA DISTRICT

Ayivu : County

4 : Sub-counties

32 : Parishes

ADUMI

AROI

PAJULU

OLUKO

Nyiovura

Ombachi

Maracha

Mite

Mingoro

Mbaraka

Anyara

Bura

Micu

Alivu

Aliba

Oreku

Ombaci

Ewadri

Lufe

Eleku

Etori

Urubgo

Yivu

Pokea

Driwala

Mutu

Adalafu

Oluko

Orivu

Riki

Ombokoro

Andruvu

Zenva

Onzivu

Muni

Arivu

Vurra : County

4 : Sub-counties

15 : Parishes

LOGIRI

VURRA

AJIA

ARIVU

Oliba

Ozoo

Anyavu

Lazebu

Okavu

Opia

Ezuku

Eruba

Nyio

Ajono

Anzuu

Ocoko

Ajia

Ayaa

Olevu

Arivu

Ulepi

Bondo

Awika

Terego : County

6 : Sub-counties

24 : Parishes

ODUPI

OMUGO

AIIVU

KATRINI

BILEAFE

URIAMA

Azaapi

Lugbari

Ombokoro

Orivu

Owai

Obi

Anufira

Angazi

Yiddu

Bura

Paranga

Onzoro

Ogunu

Erea

Aripea

Otrevu

Anivu

Wandi

Olua

Ocopi

Abindi

Adripi

Ajiraku

Urivu

Aripi

Maracha: County

5: Sub-counties

27: Parishes

OLEBA

OLUVU

YIVU

KIJOMORO

NYADRI

Retriko

Paranga

Worogbo

Buramal

Ombachi

Micu

Mundru

Otravu

Baranya

Obicha

Kamara

Kimiru

Alipi

Alarapi

Ombia

Loinya

Tara

Orinzi

Okuvu

Nyori

Ambidro

Oluvu

Lamila

Bura

Pabura

Baria

Robu

Koboko: County

3: Sub-counties

22: Parishes

LOBULE (NYARILO)

LUDARA

MIDIA

Nyai

Lobule

Aliribi

Panyura

Borokolongo

Lurujo

Ludara

Longira

Gurepi

Ayipe

Kuluba

Pamodo

Oraba

Midia

Lurunu

Dricile

Nyangilia

Leiko

Godia

Kingaba

Ginyako

Town. B. Koboko

Madi Okollo: County

5: Sub-counties

18: Parishes

RIGBO

OKOLLO

RHINO CAMP

OGOKO

OFFAKA

Luba

Kwili

Ewanga

Okollo

Akino

Ajibu

Uleppi

Glulukuatuni

Anipi

Ewamva

Awovu

Odrana

Pawor

Alivu

Adraa

Anyiribu

Oribu

Ocebu

Arua Municipal Council: County

2: Sub-counties

6: Parishes

RIVER OLI

ARUA HILL

Pangisa

Tanganyika

Kenya

Mvara

Awindiri

Bazaar