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Tosh, John (1973) Political authority among the Langi of northern Uganda, circa 1800-1939. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Throughout the pre-colonial era, the Lango people of Uganda lacked any state organisation or formal chiefdoms. The scope of the thesis is determined by this salient feature. The development of political authority among the Langi is traced from the formation of the Lango people around 1800 until the eve of the Second World War. The pre-eminent social category in 19th century Lango was the clan, which was small and highly localised. Above this level, regional leadership provided the basis for inter-clan harmony at home and successful warfare abroad. But at the beginning of the 1890's, major defeats in the inter-lacustrine region, together with the disastrous social consequences of the great rinderpest epidemic, destroyed the authority of the regional leaders. Thereafter, local combinations of clans under a dominant clan leader could provide security and redress for wrongs in the immediate vicinity, but otherwise there were no restraints on inter-clan warfare. When the British arrived at the turn of the century, the scope of political authority in Lango was therefore more restricted than ever. Nevertheless, clan leaders were able to delay the assertion of full colonial control, and then to manipulate the new administrative structure for the benefit of traditional interests. The ordinary population lost the participation in political decisions which they had had in pre-colonial times, and they found scant redress against abuse of power. But up to 1939 native administration was controlled for the most part by men who enjoyed some traditional status.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11

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