Trapped and Invisible: Uganda’s Maragoli People Fight for Official Recognition

Published: 2/Feb/2021
Source: Global Press Journal (Washington DC)

Tens of thousands in Uganda belong to tribes that aren’t recognized by the country’s constitution. That means they can’t access government services – and can’t become citizens.

By Nakisanze Segawa

KIRYANDONGO, UGANDA — In 2014, Sagwa Moses Masaba wanted the bank to loan him 10 million Ugandan shillings ($2,700) to expand his produce business. He grows and sells maize, collard greens, sunflower seeds and other vegetables in Kitwanga village, in northwestern Uganda.

He lacked only one thing: a national identity card.

Sagwa is a Maragoli, a minority group that Uganda’s constitution doesn’t recognize as one of the country’s 65 indigenous tribes. To get an identity card, a Ugandan resident’s tribe must be on that list.

The Maragoli’s absence both baffles and frustrates Sagwa, who says his ancestors have made Uganda home since the 18th century. Still, he needed the loan. So he changed his name to Masaba, officially attaching him to the Bamasaba tribe, one of the 65 groups.

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Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Uganda
Year: 2021