When Soldiers’ Survival Became Spiritual: Ugandan Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan war

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This paper examines military landscapes as a source of violence, and soldiers’ efforts to deal with this violence by using their spiritual beliefs. The paper reveals how Ugandan soldiers who fought in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan believed that their survival in war was a consequence of their spiritual beliefs in God rather than the mighty power of the gun and their military knowledge. The paper is based on life histories of former Ugandan soldiers drawing on interviews with nine former soldiers. The soldiers encountered the strange terrains and landscapes of armed conflict, whilst enduring scarcity of the basic necessities in war. The soldiers described how the mighty and supernatural powers of the transcendent, as well as the promise of tradition and spiritual belief, were seen as important in understanding their survival in armed conflict. The paper emphasizes the importance of an understanding of spirituality in explorations of the violence of military landscapes.

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Alice Wabule

Post-Doctoral Fellow Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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