Images of a traditional authority
The case of Ker Kwaro Acholi in northern Uganda
in Images of Africa
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Across sub-Saharan Africa traditional authorities have gained prominent positions in both state building enterprises and development programmes since the 1990s. In Uganda there has been an emergence of ‘cultural institutions’ such as Ker Kwaro Acholi in northern Uganda, which has taken on particular significance in the context of a protracted conflict in the region and an influx of international development agencies pursuing initiatives for peace and development. This chapter critiques the way images of ‘traditional authorities’ have enabled and conditioned both Ker Kwaro Acholi’s identity as the traditional custodian of Acholi culture and visions of its capacity as an agent of sustainable development. Although Ker Kwaro Acholi’s revival has been facilitated from the start through donor contributions towards funding ceremonial events and the establishment of a Ker Kwaro Acholi secretariat, it has been predominantly driven by ‘local’ actors through opportunistic, savvy and entrepreneurial strategies. As Ker Kwaro Acholi’s self-presentation closely resembles the preconceptions held by organisations such as the World Bank regarding the nature and potential of traditional authorities in northern Uganda, image creation by Ker Kwaro Acholi can be understood in terms of ‘extraversion’; the appropriation and redirection of international symbolic and material resources by local actors.

Images of Africa

Creation, negotiation and subversion


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