The un-archived horrors of slavery at Fort Patiko: Rethinking the historical narratives of slavery and slave trade in post-conflict northern Uganda

Aerial view of Fort Patiko showing the architectural structures that included the grain and ammunition stores
Aerial view of Fort Patiko showing the architectural structures that included the grain and ammunition stores

Fort Patiko, Gulu, Northern Uganda


The proposed project intends to rethink the un-archived memories of slavery and slave trade at Fort Patiko in post-conflict northern Uganda. Fort Patiko or Baker’s Fort, constructed in 1872 by Sir Samuel Baker was used by the Equatorial province governors namely; Sir Charles Gordon and Emin Pasha.  This project intends to archive memories, activities, and architecture associated with slave trade at Fort Patiko from slave capture, the period of custody at Patiko, preparation of slaves for onward trekking to create a repository for showing the way of life at Patiko Fort during the slave trade. 


  1. To create an archive of the hidden legacies of slavery in northern Uganda at Fort Patiko.  
  2. Examine the un archived story of the slavery and slave trade in post-conflict situation. 
  3. Enhance understanding and empathy to reduce inter and intra-community conflict for sustainable peace. 

The research methods include use of primary data from oral stories, performative orality exploration, focus group discussions and observation. While secondary data will be obtained from existing written records in Libraries like the Uganda Society Library at the Uganda National Museum.  


  • Exhibition and research dissemination (Feb 2022):

An online exhibition at the Uganda National Museum website starting 15th February 2022 will run for a one month. The Uganda Museum intends to have an exhibition on slave trade memory in Uganda in April 2022 and they will incorporate this into the National display.

The dissemination of the research will be through the exhibitions, digital archive which can be accessed through the Kyambogo and Uganda National Museum websites, social media and the conferences Pan African Congress (7th -12th August 2022) and the one in World Archaeological Congress at Prague from 3rd-8th July 2022


  1. Ethical clearance and organising the research team 30th June 2021, Uganda National Museum Clearance and 15th September 2021 University of Exeter ethical clearance.
  2. Survey to establish quantity, quality, extent, formats and condition of existing information related to the project (June-July 2021)
  3. Community engagement and Focus Group Discussions (18th -20th Aug 2021)
  4. Fieldwork; Collection of oral narratives and performances (26th -30th Sept 2021)
  5. Focus group discussions (Nov-Dec 2021)
  6. Mapping and photography of the Patiko landscape (26th-30th September 2021)
  7. Key Informant Interviews (January 2022)
  8. Exhibition and research dissemination (Feb 2022)
  9. Report writing and designing digital archive (March 2022)

Clockwise photographs show ruins of Patiko Fort Garrison, the Patiko community, the entrance/welcome to the Fort site and youth ready to start the Bwola dance. Note the Bwola dance is one of the Acholi traditional ceremonial dances presented by the Patiko community before their King (Rwot) at Fort-Patiko. All photographs © Abiti Adebo Nelson

Gulu - Patiko Rd, Uganda