2015 年 14 巻 2 号 p. 182-209
After independence, many African governments strived for modernization and nation building, and to this end they suppressed the indigenous kings and chiefs, regarding them as having fostered regional and ethnic distinctions. However, since the 1990s, when African states faced political liberalization and decentralization, not only African governments but also international institutions and donor countries began to support and strengthen kingship and chieftainship.
In Uganda, many kings and chiefs resurged after the amendment to the constitution in 1995 that formally recognized them. Chiefs of the Acholi in northern Uganda have created “Acholi kingdom,” which has a paramount chief and a multi-layered institution to integrate their power. They also encouraged “Acholi tradition,” which uniformly covers the whole Acholi region. This paper focuses on a meeting which chiefs held to deal with a land conflict, and clarifies the process in which chiefs exercised their power and their people accepted it.
In this meeting, chiefs advocated “Acholi tradition” as the basis of their legitimacy and utilized the institution of “Acholi kingdom” in order to exercise their power. However, their legitimacy was not an absolute one that people might accept unconditionally. The chiefs needed a lengthy process, in which their legitimacy was contested and negotiated. It was only through this process that their power was established and accepted by their people.