'Ugandans have been too engrossed with our differences. We have a history of tribalism that manifest itself in the idea that one has to create strong tribal entities that are able to dominate the othes. We must accept plurality as a fact and a gift and identify the common ground. This is a challenge for our political leadership, but also for each of us here.´ Key note speaker Bishop Zac Niringiye conveyed this message to the participants of the pluralism knowledge programme conference in Kampala, supported by various speakers.
The conference, organised by the Cross-cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) brought together civil society activists, academics, cultural leaders and political party representatives to discuss first results of research carried out in central and northern Uganda on ways of managing diversity in local communities. In all studied communities, diversity was seen as a challenge. Newcomers from other ethnic groups are considered as deviating from the norm.Traditional practices of managing diversity differ, but overall newcomers are expected to ´buy-into´ the dominant culture by learning the dominant language and adopting local names and to perform services to the dominant group as labourers with lower social status. Local leadership is often in the hands of the dominant ethnic group and patronage is the system by which resources are being spread in a community.