We had a case recently of a man who used to beat his wife when he got drunk. One night, things were worse than usual and the woman couldn’t take it anymore. Where should she run?
It’s a simple story, repeated many times with some variations across the country, and it’s an important one, because it is a very typical depiction of what legal pluralism really means for Ugandans, stripped of the theory.
Legal pluralism isn’t about different laws: it’s about different world views Customary land law and state land law are not substantively different in northern Uganda, because Parliament decided that customary land law should be binding.
Why then is it so difficult to find points of contact between the two? And why have State administrative and judicial structures not replaced the struggling customary ones?
Part of the explanation is that the State tries to deal with legal pluralism as though it were about different laws, when in fact it touches much deeper and more profound differences in people’s basic world view.