Research has identified a problem of executive authorities in Africa that operate largely free of accountability and/or balance of power, often resulting in oppression, tyranny, or other abuses of power. In response to calls for greater understanding of indigenous African leadership (Littrell, 2011), this dissertation used problem-focused ethnographic methods to investigate characteristics of Gisu/Masaaba clan elder leadership in East Africa, specifically as elders interact with executive authority. Elders are a tribal form of leadership wherein leaders are embedded in the community but lack political power. The research question asked: What are the modalities indigenous to Gisu culture, specifically from elder councils, that facilitate accountability and balance of power in African governance, and how could biblical descriptions of elders be useful in the Gisu's self-perception and construction of elder-based leadership? The study (N = 49) employed participant observation as well as directed observation and interview-based participant listening with elders, youth, and government leaders to produce rich qualitative data. After coding emergent themes and categories, thick descriptions of Gisu clan elder leadership formed a foundation for analysis. Emergent themes were first analyzed using indigenous typologies and then using analyst-constructed typologies before being interpreted to present an indigenous portrayal of traditional Gisu elders' characteristics, concerns, actions, and modalities. Research data provided support for elders' facilitating accountability through speaking directly to the leader, escalating complaints to higher authorities, and taking the case to the public; the data also offered support, to a lesser degree, for elders facilitating balance of power related to executive authority through formation of supraclan bodies such as the Inzu ya Masaaba and Elders Forum as well as through persistently utilizing the modality of elders' voice to call for reform. Drawing from the research data, the author offered suggestions for how biblical descriptions of elders could be useful in the Gisu's self-perception and construction of elder-based leadership, specifically addressing two threats to elder self-perception and construction of elder-based leadership by way of reclaiming important traditional aspects of eldership.
|Advisor:||Bekker, Corne J.|
|Commitee:||Patterson, Kathleen A., Winston, Bruce E.|
|Department:||School of Business and Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Virginia|
|Source:||DAI-A 75/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African Studies, Cultural anthropology, Gerontology|
|Keywords:||Accountability, Clan, Elders, Gisu, Leadership, Uganda|
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