The Story of Kintu and his Sons

The Story of Kintu and his Sons. Naming, Ethnic Identity Formation and Power in the Precolonial. Great Lakes Region of East Africa

This essay investigates the historical background of ethnic disunity in today’s Western Uganda as part of the Great Lakes Region of East Africa. In general, there are two opposing views with respect to the existence of ethnicity in precolonial times. On the one hand, social scientists state that the existence of ethnic groups is an invention of the joint work of colonial administrators and professional ethnologists. On the other hand, several scholars argue that ethnicity is an ancient phenomenon predating colonial times. In the past decades, the study into the ancient history of the Great Lakes Region  has made great progress. The interdisciplinary approach of historical linguistics, history and anthropology revealed a fascinating and complex history of languages and cultures. However, the history of the different peoples who spoke these languages and built up these cultures is much less known, in particular about how they interacted with each other and how they judged socio-cultural differences. For example, what names they gave each other. This essay tries to give an impetus for further interdisciplinary research about the existence of ethnicity in precolonial times. Identity formation within and between groups is related to power structures in societies. Therefore,  investigating  ethnicity in precolonial times has to be carried out in the context of developing power structures.

Read the Working Paper.

This is volume 139 of the ASCL Working Paper series.

Author(s) / editor(s)

Hans Schoenmakers

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Hans Schoenmakers, anthropologist (PhD), worked at the Africa Studies Centre Leiden and at the Office for International Cooperation of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. In 2012, he was a guest lecturer at Uganda Martyrs University, Kampala.