The Rules of a Rebel

Most of my reading on Uganda has to do with the Lord’s Resistance Army, but recently I’ve been reading up on their precursor, the Holy Spirit Movement. Like many groups in northern Uganda, the group had written rules for all participants. From an article in 1991:

The rules vary somewhat between testimonies but are consistent in their prohibition of wearing lucky charms, consulting other healers and mediums, sexual intercourse, alcohol, tobacco and certain foods (white ants, pork, sometimes mutton). Other prohibitions that appear frequently are on food cooked in saucepans, eating with anyone who has not been anointed, killing snakes, becoming angry, and theft. Additionally there are often instructions, such as ‘When we gather our- selves after battle, we must have water sprinkled on us before drinking’ and ‘When going to the front-line, we should sing, “Medicine give power, give me guidance. Anthill give me respect”.’ In some cases the lists of rules are presented in an explicitly biblical style, and those contained in the testimony obtained by Behrend even come complete with references, for example ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery or fornication (Deut. 5, 18: Gal. 5, 19)’. In addition there is occasionally a rule relating to the correct shape of the body, such as ‘Thou shalt have two testicles, neither more nor less’


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