Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Rural - Rural Movements in East Africa: a Study of Rwandan and Southern Ugandans in Karagwe District, Tanzania

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posted on 2021-11-07, 19:52 authored by Katalyeba, Philbert Oslo

This thesis redresses a major gap in the literature on population movement, especially population studies in Tanzania where there have been few attempts to study and understand the movement of people within and between rural areas. Largely owing to political concerns for rural - urban movements, more money has been made available for scholars to study this phenomenon. As a consequence, explanations of movement have focused on rural poverty, privileged economic based models of analysis, and ignored the dynamic nature of the bulk of the population who live in contiguous rural areas not only of Tanzania but also neighbouring Kenya and Uganda. This urban bias is reinforced by a methodological unwillingness to study population movements that do not fit this economic rationale. I argue that to understand population movement in and between rural areas, attention needs to be refocused on non-economic motives, give more emphasis to cultural continuity and to understanding the meanings of movement as the people engaged in it see it for themselves. In this study, I use an ethnographic approach to explore the movement of people in Karagwe rural district. This district receives movers from Ankole (Southern Uganda) and Rwanda inspired by cultural considerations that become understood by listening and seeing the movement in their own worldview. The Banyankole and Banyarwanda perceive movement as a "homeward journey" best described by the metaphor of 'omuka/oweitu' (home to home) as people move within their cultural territory to live with relatives of consanguinity, affinity and African blood pacts. The network of these relationships evolved out of historical movements, intermarriages, norms and customs created and shared over many years to give a sense of oneness or common identity in a shared cultural space. During the field study in 2000, these homeward movements revealed in the family life histories were part of a strategy to cement the bonds of kinship and a return to the roots/ ancestral homes. This understanding and interpretation of movement in a constructed cultural space is revealed through listening to the life histories of family movement and experiences as well as the language used to express the event of movement. In this cultural space where they negotiate a living, long-term movement is perceived, as 'okutaha' (to go home) and 'okutura' (to settle or stay) while short-term movements are captured by the metaphors that revolve around the theme of 'visits'. The origin and destination points for these movements are "home" meaning a place where one resides or where one is born. In both meanings the mover has relatives of kin and is in a familiar environment/cultural territory. Movement is one that leads a person outside the created cultural space often disassociated with and considered as disappearing into the unknown. This suggests that intra-rural and inter-rural movements are culturally inspired and are strategies to maintain and activate relationship networks between people as described in a language and the worldview of the movers - the world they live in.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Young, Raymond; McKinnon, John