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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Chewi-kubandwa debate: gender, hegemony and pre-colonial religion in Bunyoro, western Uganda
Author:Doyle, ShaneISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Uganda
Subjects:Bunyoro-Kitara polity
African religions
External links:https://doi.org/10.3366/afr.2007.77.4.559
Abstract:The Cwezi-kubandwa cult was the most prominent form of religious belief in the interlacustrine region of East Africa during the precolonial period. It has long been regarded as providing ideological support to monarchical regimes across the region. Recently, though, scholars have contrasted the hegemonic ambitions of the State with evidence that Cwezi-kubandwa also provided opponents of precolonial authority structures with both ideological and organizational resources. In particular historians of the cult have hypothesized that Cwezi-kubandwa offered women a refuge from patriarchal political and domestic institutions, and that Cwezi-kubandwa was dominated by women in terms of its leadership, membership and idioms. This article challenges the new orthodoxy by suggesting that both traditional religion's hegemonic and counter-hegemonic roles may have been over-estimated. A re-examination of the Nyoro sources indicates instead that Cwezi-kubandwa was far from homogeneous and dominant, that kubandwa was not obviously oppositional to other, supposedly male-dominated, religious beliefs, and that Cwezi-kubandwa brought female exploitation as well as empowerment. These findings require either a re-evaluation of the nature of Cwezi-kubandwa across the region, or recognition that the cult was much more geographically diverse than has hitherto been believed. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]