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High Stakes in Uganda’s Land Question

Originally, the intention was that the arguments in this discussion would be carried by exploring the question: “What is the value of my ancestors’ graves?” The hypothesis was that one can tell who the current actors in Uganda’s land question are by how they answer the question: “What is the value of my ancestors’ graves?” The discussion was going to centre on such aspects of how I might be forced to value my ancestors’ remains and their graves when a particular kind of “development” comes to their resting places.

  • How should I value the worth of my ancestors’ remains and therefore the value of the land that is their resting place? 
  • Should I value my ancestors’ remains on the basis of the cost incurred for the burial; or perhaps, the number of mourners that attended the funeral; or perhaps, the cost of relocation and reburying?

There is evidence to support the argument that a certain kind of “development” usually takes priority over the resting places of our ancestors. The difference, though, is in how the bones of our ancestors are treated when that kind of “development” descends upon their resting places. It is those differences and the attitude towards those differences that shows you who the actors in Uganda’s current land question are, I hypothesised.

Cultivation machinery is cutting through and crushing the bones of my ancestors, because “development”, in the form of sugarcane plantations, has come to their resting places. In the name of “development” it is the norm that the mortal remains of my ancestors are not accorded the dignity and the honour that they deserve. They are not re-located at the cost of The State, instead, and knowingly, in the name of “development”, the bones of my ancestors are crushed to dust and are compacted by wheels of graders; turning them into manure for growing sugarcane.

 This is an extract from a discussion by Ms. Norah Owaraga of the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC)Status Report on Land Rights in Uganda”; a report that was formally launched on Thursday, 9th November 2017, at Hotel Africana in Kampala, during a HURIPEC convened “National Stakeholders Convening on Land, Justice and Governance in Uganda.” On request from HURIPEC, this discussion focuses on the “Actors in the current land question in Uganda”, with a focus on agents of land grabbing and special groups (such as women and children).

 Continue reading the discussion here