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Born-again Buganda or the limits of traditional resurgence in Africa

  • Pierre Englebert (a1)

Since the restoration of traditional leaders in Uganda in 1993, the Kingdom of Buganda has developed unusually effective institutions, financing mechanisms and policy tools, re-building itself as a quasi-state. The reinforcement of Buganda's empirical statehood provides one of the farthest-reaching examples of the current trend of traditional resurgence in African politics and to some extent supports claims for the participation of traditional structures in contemporary political systems. Yet, the Buganda experiment also highlights the limits of traditional resurgence as a mode of reconfiguration of politics in Africa. First, it is unclear how the kingdom can maintain the momentum of its revival and the allegiance of its subjects in view of its fiscal pressure on the latter and the limited material benefits it provides to them. Already the monarchists are finding it difficult to translate the king's symbolic appeal into actual mobilisation for development, shedding doubts on one of the main justifications for the kingdom's rebirth. Second, Buganda's claims to political participation clash with the competing notion of sovereignty of the post-colonial state. These limits are likely to confront other similar experiments across the continent.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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