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Small arms and conflict among East African pastoralists: the Karamoja (in)security complex

  • Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta

While the conceptual models on conflict, security and regionalism have evolved and augmented with time, East African pastoral relations remain subject to simplistic explanatory analyses that view pastoral conflicts as cross-border community conflicts and small arms as part of their cultural heritage. This article strives to find a more nuanced understanding of the relations of pastoralist communities and the role of arms in the perennial cross-border conflict. It uses a regional security complex (RSC) approach, first proposed by Barry Buzan and subsequently moulded in ‘new regionalism’ perspectives, which emphasizes the intricate web of pastoralist relations shaped by their need for security, where their identity and livelihood (cattle) remain at the centre. Taking this further, it develops the concept of a Karamoja security complex (KSC) as an appropriate explanatory framework. Through historical analysis and primary data collected among the Nyàngatom in Ethiopia, the research reveals a regular and complex pattern of conflict moulded primarily by the fundamental need for security.

Alors que les modèles conceptuels sur le conflit, la sécurité et le régionalisme ont évolué et augmenté avec le temps, les relations pastorales en Afrique de l'Est restent sujettes à des analyses explicatives simplistes qui considèrent les conflits pastoraux comme des conflits communautaires transfrontaliers et les armes légères comme faisant partie de leur patrimoine culturel. Cet article s'efforce de trouver une interprétation plus nuancée des relations des communautés pastorales et le rôle des armes dans cet éternel conflit transfrontalier. Il utilise l'approche de complexe de sécurité régionale, initialement proposée par Barry Buzan puis remodelée en perspectives de « nouveau régionalisme », qui souligne le tissu complexe de relations pastorales façonnées par leur besoin de sécurité, dans lesquelles l'identité et les moyens de subsistance (bétail) demeurent des éléments centraux. À partir de cette approche, il développe le concept d'un complexe de sécurité de Karamoja comme cadre explicatif approprié. À travers les analyses historiques et les données primaires recueillies auprès des Nyàngatom en Éthiopie, la recherche révèle un schéma de conflit régulier et complexe essentiellement modelé par le besoin fondamental de sécurité.

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