Source: The Monitor (Kampala)
By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI
After decades of living in the shadows of a country they have known as their home, the Maragoli people, a minority group, will soon be recognised among the 65 indigenous Ugandan communities in the proposed amendment of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution.
The actual number of Maragoli in Uganda is not readily available rather than being considered under ‘others’ in the two most recent Ugandan censuses, according to Minority Rights Group International (MRG).
Leaders from Kiryandongo District and the community in Bunyoro sub-region, mid-western Uganda estimate the Maragoli population to be between 25,000 and 30,000. Majority of Maragoli are found in Kiryandongo District and basically occupy at least a parish comprised of two to three villages. Some are scattered within Kigumba, the main town council for Kiryandongo District.
According to MRG, Maragoli have lived in Uganda for more than a century and until recently they had experienced few serious problems either with the communities they settled in or with the government. Although they were absent from the national schedule in the 1995 Constitution and the amended schedule in the 2005 constitutional amendment that list the tribes of Uganda, they continued to enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
The current difficulties of the Maragoli community began in 2015 when the government introduced a mass national registration of Ugandan citizens and issued each person a national identification card under a newly constituted National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). It is at this point that the Maragoli for the first time were put at risk of statelessness due to the withholding of their identity cards, MRG observes.
In 2017, NIRA held onto 15,000 national identity cards of members of the Maragoli on grounds that they are not a recognised tribe in Uganda.