This article, first given as a talk to a seminar of the Uganda Parliament in 2000, is a reflection on that aspect of the colonial political legacy that passes for common sense in the region of the African Great Lakes. The author takes a fresh look at recent events leading to civil war in Uganda (1981–6), Rwanda (1990–94) and eastern Congo (1997–.) The article contextualizes three issues: citizenship, civil society and political majorities and minorities as outcomes of the democratic process. To explore how notions of these issues have been changing over the past decade, the author examines the dilemma of a particular cultural group in the Great Lakes region—the Banyarwanda.
Since the 1990s, African actors have been engaged in ending civil wars. These efforts have often been characterized as the quest for indigenous solutions to local conflicts. Using cases of mediation in Eastern Africa-Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Sudan – this study probes the strengths and weaknesses of African mediation initiatives. The book contends that although African actors have limited resources to mediate civil wars, over the years, they have learnt to seize opportunities that accrue from participating in conflict resolution to contribute to peaceful settlements. Conceptualized as building organizational power for mediation, this process has entailed evolving professional norms and standards of intervention. Eastern African mediators have also benefited from interaction with international mediators in conflict resolution.