Tororo Family Supported to Resolve Land Dispute

In rural Uganda, polygamy is widespread at 17% (UDHS 2011) and the resulting large families often end up in conflicts related to inheritance and property ownership. 86 year old Mzee Christopher Tanga lives in Kayoro Village, Butebo Sub County in Tororo District. He is frail and his upper back has a curvature, an obvious sign that old age is taking a toll on him. With 3 wives and 27 children, most of whom are illiterate, he sits deep in thought. Occasionally, he raises his index finger as he attempts to tell his story.

Although Mzee Tanga in his youthful days acquired 177 hectares of land, just a few months back he was faced with a cultural obligation of having to share his land for his children’s inheritance. Unfortunately, he failed to divide it equally among his children, so they requested that he sells the land and divide the proceeds equally amongst them. Faced with this dilemma and his failing health, he gave powers of attorney to an educated clan leader to help him sell the land.

Regrettably, the clan leader not only sold the land at a low price of Uganda shillings 700,000 per hectare, but when he received Uganda shillings 70millionfrom Busia Allied Sugar Company, the buyers of the land, he gave Tanga’s family only Uganda shillings36,400,000, he took the other half. The little the family received was shared amongst only six of Tanga’s children, and the owner of the land Mzee Tanga was given only UGX 1 million. Dissatisfied with this turn of events, some family members rejected the sale and refused to release the land to the company. Faced with a potential lawsuit by the company, the family approached the sub-county chief of Butebo for advice. He directed the family to Justice Centres Uganda (JCU), a DGF partner operating in Tororo district, for redress. JCU’s intervention not only helped Tanga and his family to renegotiate the value of the land to Uganda shillings one million per hectare, they also had the land surveyed. In addition, the clan leader was instructed to refund the money he had swindled.

JCU further supported Mzee Tanga to distribute the profits from the sale of the land fairly amongst the children and to open a bank account where his share, a sum of Uganda shillings 30million, was saved. With the help of a nephew, he later used the money to construct 3 roomed houses for 2 of his wives and a kitchen for the third wife.