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ISSN / EISSN : 0001-9720 / 1750-0184
Published by: Cambridge University Press (CUP) (10.1017)
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Derek R. Peterson
Published: 31 August 2021
Africa, Volume 91, pp 620-640; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0001972021000462

Abstract:
Under Idi Amin's government, institutions that served the public interest were dramatically under-resourced. An array of self-nominated, self-important, self-righteous people were empowered to take on administrative tasks that, in an earlier dispensation, had been the work of professionals. Businesses and institutions that had formerly been under the regulatory authority of credentialled experts were thrown open all at once for commoners to operate. Everywhere there were campaigns, as the new regime made obscure and technical issues into urgent problems demanding a resolution. Ugandans were called upon to defend cultures, to struggle against imperialism and racism, and to transform the architecture of the economy. That is how people came to see themselves as proprietors of public life. Their work allowed commoners to claim equity over resources and infrastructures. In their investments in the operations of public institutions, people became custodians, proprietors and petty authoritarians. Their proprietary sense of responsibility was a powerful inducement to self-sacrifice. It was also the fuel for demagoguery.
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