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Is it indigenisation or decolonisation of social work in Africa? A focus on Uganda

Sharlotte Tusasiirwe


There is some consensus that colonial white western social work which centers on western philosophy, theory and epistemologies is inappropriate, irrelevant for African contexts. The need to create a culturally appropriate and locally relevant social work has been echoed for decades now with social workers proposing various approaches including indigenisation and decolonisation. I have found the interchangeable use of indigenisation and decolonisation in social work literature rather confusing, leaving me with unanswered questions about what the terms mean and when or how to use these terms. While it may be true that indigenisation and decolonisation are interrelated or inextricably tied because they were brought about by the need to address colonisation in social work where the western model of social work was imposed in other diverse contexts as a universal model that transcends all cultures, it has also been argued that indigenisation and decolonisation are different processes conveying different ideas. This paper seeks to examine these terms to analyse the difference between the approaches and how they can be adopted in the Ugandan context to progress the process of creating culturally appropriate and locally relevant social work.