Why They Don’t Fight: Explaining Non-violent Responses to Exclusion, Discrimination and Injustice among the Youth in Uganda
Keywords:non-violence, youth, resilience, adaptation, self-advancement
The youth has and continues to play a central role in various violent conflicts in Uganda. However, the majority of the youth does not participate in violence. This article explores factors that the youth utilises to respond to exclusion, discrimination and injustice without violence. Basing the research on grounded theory, a comparative study of participants from the Kampala and Jinja districts was conducted. Data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions and document reviews, and data analysis was conducted through open coding, axial coding, and selective coding to delineate explanations of the research problem. The findings revealed that the pursuit of self-advancement influenced the youth’s preference for non-violence to respond to exclusion, discrimination and injustice. Variations in the identity and cultural practices among victims of exclusion, discrimination and injustice notwithstanding, a range of internal and external factors combined to foster resilience and adaptation as responses to adversity among the youth who did not fight. During this process, resilience was not maintained as an end in itself but as a response undertaken to protect and pursue opportunities and pathways crafted towards self-advancement, especially of the individual and the family. Proactive action, self-regulation, problem-solving and the setting of clear expectations were found to be internal factors that facilitated resilience processes among those who did not fight. Positive peer influences, family environment, relationships with adults, education, groups and organisations that supported intellectual, emotional, moral, and behavioural competencies were some of the external factors that enabled victims of exclusion, discrimination and injustice to remain optimistic and to cope with adverse conditions. These factors can be cultivated among the youth through a range of national and community-level policies and programmes to promote non-violence and reduce youth participation in violence.