Members of Uganda parliament have supported the steep of constitutionally the government to recognize the other remaining marginalized tribes in the country and among these include Maragoli, Mososhek, Sabot, Bakingwe and Bahaya minority groups as indigenous tribes in Uganda.
Years after number of tribes in Uganda considered as strangers, the rising cases of human rights in Uganda has fought tightly to ensure that the marginalized groups of people are constitutionally defended. With this case the legal formulating arm of the government is working closely to ensure that all loopholes are fully covered.
Although these communities have lived in Uganda for years, they are not recognized in the Constitution as Ugandans which has led to discrimination and denying them social services since they are not citizens. And yet the government has in place several legal framework and policies to promote and protect the rights to education and health services in Uganda. The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHCR), the Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts provide avenues for redress.
The motion was present by Kibanda south Mp Jacob Karubanga on parlemary seating on Thursday 11th November, 2021. Presenting a motion to introduce a private member’s Bill to that effect, MP Jacob said although the communities have lived in Uganda since the first day of February 1929, they were never included in the third schedule of the Constitution as one of the indigenous communities.
According to chapter 3 of the 1995 Constitution provision for citizenship under articles 9 to 19, it provides for citizenship by birth, adoption, registration and nationalism. The list of 65 indigenous communities whose members qualify for citizenship by birth because such communities were living in Uganda as of February 1, 1926, are provided in the constitution of the country.
MP Jacob added that “because of their marginalization they are denied social services and cannot seek political office”. “Non-inclusion of these communities as one of the indigenous communities has adversely affected them since they are not considered Ugandan citizens for purposes of accessing identity cards, travel documents, eligibility to stand for political office and have no social protection against the loss of their identity and cultural norm,” he said.
“The lack of recognition of these people has led to their assimilation by bigger tribes leading to the loss of their language, identity, culture and self-determination”. He added
About the 5 marginalized minority
The five minority groups are spread across the country where some where relocated by the British colonialist from Kenya.
The Maragoli tribe; is one another minority group whose great-grand parents were resettled in Bunyoro from Kenya in 1958 by the British colonial government. Most Maragoli remain in Kenya and are a dominant segment of the Luhya; a major ethic group in that country. But the Maragoli in Uganda say that after living as a community in Uganda for over 50 years and without any connection to the Kenyan Maragoli anymore, they deserve to be officially recognized as a Ugandan ethnic group. Today the Maragolis are living in Bunyoro sub-region in districts of Kiryandongo, Masindi and Hoima, and summing up they have a community of about 30,000 people. These people settled in Uganda by the 19th century as one of Uganda’s indigenous communities as of February 1, 1926. The Maragoli tribe since the 1990s sought inclusion in the Parliament. In February, the legal and parliamentary affairs committee had started considering a Bill on the constitutional amendment seeking the recognition of the Maragoli as one of the indigenous tribes in Uganda tabled by the then Kibanda South MP.
The Mososhek people numbering about 8,500 live on the upper slopes of Mt. Elgon in the districts of Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo in Sebei subregion. They have lived in this area since time immemorial. The Sabot people live in Bubulo district, the Bakingwe (about 2,000 in number) live in Kasese district while the Bahaya live in Rakai district.
Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi, suggested that all minority communities in Uganda be included in the Bill so that the matter is settled once and for all.
The matter of indigenous people has been slowly handled by the government, just in recent years the Benete, Batwa, Karamajongs, Ik Basongola and many other marginalized minority groups were just constitutionally recognized due to endless demands from the human right activitiests and NGOs.
The marginalized people for long have suffered with not getting access to basic services from the government including education and health. The Batwa in 1991 were forcefully evicted from their ancestral forests without compensation for the sake of conservation.