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« on: February 07, 2014, 06:23:45 PM »

BBC Series - Kingdoms of Africa (Bunyoro and Buganda)
BBC Series 2 Lost Kingdoms of Africa (Bunyoro and Buganda aka Uganda)

Uganda -- History

There is general scholarly consensus for the view that the entire extent of human evolution was enacted in the Rift Valley and plains of East Africa. This view has been established mainly by archaeological discoveries. Many scholars argue that Uganda has supported hominid life for as long as any other part of East Africa though it has not yielded hominid remains of comparable antiquity to those unearthed in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. There are only a few places in the country where fossils of such age might be sought. In one of these, the Moroto district, fossils have been discovered that belong to the semi-bipedal proto-hominid Dryopithecusis, thought to have lived about 15 million years ago. East Africa saw two major human immigrations in the period between 1000BC and 1000 AD, both of them involving people of West African of slight physical stature who were similar Bunyoro-Kitara towards the end of the 15th century.

In the second half of the 15th century, the Nilotic-speaking Luo left their homeland on the plains of southern Sudan, and migrated southwards along the Nile into what is now Uganda. There they splintered into three groups. The first of these remained at Pubungu (probably near modern-day Pakwach); the second occupied the region of Uganda that lies west of the Nile; and the third continued southwards into the heart of Bunyoro-Kitara. The arrival of the Luo coincided with the emergence of several other kingdoms in the south and east of Bunyoro. These include Buganda and Ankole in modern-day Uganda (and Rwanda and Burundi) and the Karagwe kingdom in what is now northwest Tanzania. These kingdoms share a common Bacwezi heritage. Bunyoro was the largest and most influential of these kingdoms until the end of the 17th century. It had a diversified economy, a loose political structure, and a dominant trade position due to its exclusive control of the region's salt mines. Prior to 1650, Buganda had been a small kingdom ruled by a kabaka. Of similar size to Buganda, the kingdom of Mpororo founded circa 1650, covered much of the Kigezi region of Uganda and what is now northern Rwanda. In the period between 1650-1850, the kingdom of the Bunyoro shrank to a fraction of its former size, giving regional dominance to Buganda. The most fertile of the Ugandan kingdoms, Buganda stretched by the mid-19th century from the Nile almost as far as Mubende and over the entire Lake Victoria region as far south as the Kagera River.

Colonial History

British colonization of Uganda began around 1860. In 1888 Britain assigned political and economic power over the region to the British East Africa Company by royal charter. The Company's control over the area was consolidated in 1891 when a treaty was signed with the Buganda, then the area's principal kingdom. In 1894 the British government assumed power, declaring Baganda a protectorate. This protectorate was expanded in 1896 to include areas of the Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and Bugosa. Colonial rule altered local economic systems dramatically, partly because Britain's principal concern was financial. The British commissioner of Uganda in 1900, Sir Harry H. Johnston, had orders to establish an efficient administration and to levy taxes as quickly as possible. Johnston approached the chiefs in Buganda with offers of employment in the colonial administration in exchange for their collaboration. The main concerns of the chiefs, whom Johnston later characterized in demeaning terms, lay in preserving Buganda as a self-governing entity, continuing the royal line of kabakas, and securing private land tenure for themselves and their supporters. After hard bargaining, the chiefs ended up with all their demands satisfied, including half of all the land in Buganda. The remaining half, which was ceded to the British as "Crown Land," was later found to be covered largely by swamp and brush. Nonetheless, Johnston imposed a tax on huts and guns, designated the chiefs as principal tax collectors, and generally fomented the continued alliance of British and Baganda interests. The British signed much less generous treaties with other kingdoms in the region (with Toro in 1900, Ankole in 1901, and Bunyoro in 1933), which did not permit large-scale private land tenure. Smaller chiefdoms, that of Busoga for example, were simply ignored. The Baganda immediately offered their services to the British as administrators over their recently conquered neighbors, an offer which was attractive to an economically minded colonial administration. Baganda agents served as local tax collectors and labor organizers in areas such as Kigezi, Mbale, and Bunyoro. Wherever they went, the Baganda insisted on the dominance of their language, Luganda. They planted bananas which they considered the only food worth eating. They regarded their own traditional dress--long cotton gowns called kanzus--as the sole civilized apparel; all other clothing was considered barbaric. They also encouraged mission work and attempted to convert locals to Baganda interpretations of Christianity or Islam.

The people of Bunyoro, who had fought both the Baganda and the British, were particularly aggrieved by this new domination. A substantial section of their land had been annexed to Buganda as "lost counties." They resented having to obey orders by "arrogant" Baganda administrators, having to pay taxes, and furnishing unpaid labor. In 1907 the Banyoro rose in a rebellion called nyangire, or "refusing," which led to the withdrawal of Baganda subimperial agents.

Meanwhile, in 1901, the completion of the Uganda Railroad from the coast at Mombasa to the Lake Victoria port of Kisumu led colonial authorities to promote the growth of cash crops to help pay the railroad's operating costs. The railroad also led to the 1902 decision to transfer the eastern section of the Uganda Protectorate to the Kenya Colony, then called the East African Protectorate, in order to keep the entire railroad line under a single local colonial administration. When costs overran initial estimates in Kenya, the British justified its expense and paid its operating costs by introducing large-scale European settlement in a vast tract of land that came to be known as the "white highlands," which soon became a center of cash-crop agriculture. Buganda, with its strategic lakeside location, immediately reaped the benefits of cotton cultivation. The advantages of this crop were quickly recognized by the Baganda chiefs, who had recently acquired freehold estates. Income generated by cotton sales made the Buganda kingdom prosperous, compared with the rest of colonial Uganda. By the beginning of World War I, cotton was being grown in the eastern regions of Busoga, Lango, and Teso. Many Baganda spent their new earnings on imported clothing, bicycles, metal roofing, and even automobiles. They also invested in their children's education. Christian missions emphasized literacy skills, and African converts quickly learned to read and write. By 1911 two popular monthly journals, Ebifa (News) and Munno (Your Friend) were being published in Luganda. Supported by African funds, new schools in Baganda were soon graduating classes at Mengo High School, St. Mary's Kisubi, Namilyango, Gayaza, and King's College Budo--all in Buganda. The chief minister of the Buganda kingdom, Sir Apolo Kagwa, personally awarded a bicycle to the top graduate at King's College Budo, together with the promise of a government job.

Unlike Tanganyika, which was economically devastated during the prolonged campaign between Britain and Germany in the East Africa during World War I, Uganda prospered from sales of agricultural products to feed the European troops. Having suffered population declines in the era of conquest as well as losses due to disease (particularly the devastating sleeping sickness epidemic of 1900-1906), Uganda's population was once again increasing. Even the depression of the 1930s seemed to affect Ugandan cash crop farmers less severely than it did the white settlers in Kenya. Ugandans simply grew their own food until rising prices made exporting their crops attractive again.

Two issues continued to cause grievance through the 1930s and 1940s. The colonial government strictly regulated trade in cash crops, setting prices, and giving Asians, considered more efficient by the British, the role of intermediaries. The British and Asians combined to repel African attempts to break into cotton ginning. Asian-owned sugar plantations were frequently worked by migrants from peripheral areas of Uganda and even from outside Uganda.

The Struggle for Independence

In 1949 the Baganda rioted, burning down the houses of pro-government chiefs. The rioters had three demands: the right to bypass government price controls on the export sales of cotton, the removal of the Asian monopoly over cotton ginning, and the right to representation in local government in place of the chiefs appointed by the British. They also criticized the young kabaka, Frederick Walugembe Mutesa II (also known as Kabaka Freddie), for his neglect of the needs of his people. The British governor, Sir John Hall, rejected the suggested reforms on the grounds that the riots were allegedly the work of communist-inspired agitators.

In 1947 the Uganda African Farmers Union was formed, but later it was banned by the British authorities. Musazi's Uganda National Congress replaced the Farmers Union in 1952. Because the Congress never developed into an organized political party, it stagnated and expired just two years after its inception. Meanwhile, the British began to prepare for Uganda's inevitable independence. Britain's long-standing attitudes toward colonial power had been severely challenged by its postwar withdrawal from India, by emergent nationalist movements in West Africa, and by the emergence of a more liberal philosophy in the Colonial Office that looked more favorably on future self-rule. The impact of these changes were soon felt in Uganda. In 1952 an energetic reformist governor, Sir Andrew Cohen (formerly undersecretary for African affairs in the Colonial

Office) took over Uganda's administration. Cohen set about preparing Uganda for economic and political independence. He removed restrictions on African cotton ginning, rescinded price controls on African-grown coffee, encouraged cooperatives, and established the Uganda Development Corporation to promote and finance new projects. Politically, he reorganized Uganda's Legislative Council, which had heavily favored the European community, and included African representatives elected from districts throughout Uganda. This system came to be a prototype for the future parliament.

The prospect of elections caused a proliferation of political parties that alarmed the old-guard leaders within Uganda's kingdoms when they realized that power would be redelegated away from local control to national rule. Opposition to Governor Cohen's reforms was further inspired by a speech by the secretary of state speech in London in 1953 that considered the possibility of a federation between the three East African territories of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika, on similar lies to the federation established in central Africa.

The British announced that elections for "responsible government" would be held in March 1961 as a precursor to formal independence. Those who won the election would gain valuable experience in office, preparing them for the responsibility of independent governance. Buganda leaders urged a boycott of the election on the grounds that the British had ignored their attempts to secure promises of future autonomy. Consequently, when voters went to the polls throughout Uganda to elect eighty-two National Assembly members, Buganda voters were largely unrepresented. Only Roman Catholic supporters of the DP braved severe public pressure to vote in the election, capturing twenty of Buganda's twenty-one allotted seats. This gave the DP a majority of seats, in spite of the fact that they had only 416,000 votes nationwide compared with 495,000 for the UPC. Benedicto Kiwanuka was elected as the new chief minister of Uganda.

Caught unprepared by these results, Baganda separatists, who had formed a political party called Kabaka Yekka (KY--The King Only), reconsidered their election boycott. They quickly welcomed the recommendations included in a British proposal for a future federal government in which the Buganda would enjoy a measure of internal autonomy if it participated fully in the national government. For its part, the UPC was equally anxious to eject its DP rivals from the government before they became entrenched. Obote reached an understanding with Kabaka Freddie and the KY, accepting Buganda's special federal relationship in return for a strategic alliance that could defeat the DP. The kabaka was promised the largely ceremonial position of Uganda's head of state, which the Baganda considered of great symbolic importance.This marriage of convenience between the UPC and the KY made inevitable the defeat of the DP interim administration. In the aftermath of the April 1962 election leading up to independence, Uganda's national parliament consisted of forty-three UPC delegates, twenty-four KY delegates, and twenty-four DP delegates. The new UPC-KY coalition led Uganda into independence in October 1962, with Obote as prime minister and the kabaka as head of state. [1]

The Post-Independence Era

The Obote regime: Under the compromise constitution of October 1961, which had been framed primarily to meet Buganda's political demands, Uganda became independent neither as a federation nor a unitary state. Neither was the country a monarchy nor a republic. It was described at the time as "the sovereign state of Uganda". The relationship between Buganda and the central government remained a crucial political problem, since the people of the three western kingdoms resented the special status accorded to Baganda and were to demonstrate their dissatisfaction by voting for DP in 1962.

In April 1966, Obote suspended the constitution and declared himself Executive President. The Buganda declared Obote's actions null and void, passing a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the central government from Buganda soil by March 30 1966. On May 24 government troops stormed the Kabaka's palace, seizing it after a day's fighting. Mutesa consequently fled to Britain, where he died three years later. To consolidate his power, Obote introduced a republican constitution that abolished the four kingdoms and made Uganda a unitary state. In 1969 he introduced "the Common Man's Charter," which was designed to transform Uganda into a socialist state. Opponents of these measures believed that Obote was trying to turn Uganda into a communist state.

On January 25, 1971, when Obote was attending the Commonwealth Conference in Singapore, Major-General Idi Amin seized power with considerable internal and external support. Immediately after the coup, Amin adopted a strong pro-Western stance. He declared that Israel and Britain were favored allies. Within two years, Amin had imposed one of the severest dictatorships in Africa. Throughout 1971 he systematically eliminated soldiers suspected of remaining loyal to Obote. After an abortive invasion of Uganda by Obote's supporters in September 1972, Amin began to murder civilians in large numbers. In January 1973 the regime was forced to admit that 86 prominent citizens had mysteriously disappeared, including Chief of Justice Kiwanuka, the

Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University, and the Governor of the Bank of Uganda. Many other disappearances were to follow in coming years. After several years of terror and killings, the death toll had risen as high as 300,000, according to Amnesty International estimates. In 1972 relations between Uganda and the Western powers began to deteriorate. The United States closed its embassy in Kampala in protest against the death of two Americans at the hands of Amin's soldiers. Amin expelled Israeli nationals from Uganda in 1972 and adopted a strong pro-Palestinian stance. In August 1972 Amin announced that alien Asians would be expelled from the country. Uganda turned to the Soviet Union and Arab states for military and financial support.

Early in 1978 Amin endorsed the mass slaughter of Acholis and Langis. Human rights violations soon led the US government to ban trade with Uganda. On October 31, 1978 Amin's forces crossed the border with Tanzania and occupied the Kagera area. Tanzania retaliated, seeking to punish Amin severely. Under pressure from President Nyerere, a meeting was convened in March 1979 at Moshi in Tanzania; this meeting resulted in the formation of a coalition of 18 Ugandan groups of various ethnic, ideological and political alignments, which came to be called the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). On January 22, 1979 the joint liberation forces crossed the border. Libya subsequently sent 1,500 troops to support the Amin regime but proved unable to stop the liberation forces. The UNLF and Tanzanian forces occupied Entebbe early in April 1979. As they advanced on Kampala, Amin's soldiers and the Libyans fled for other parts of the country. On April 11 1979 the UNLF entered Kampala. Amin fled to Libya and later to Saudi Arabia. Professor Lule arrived in Kampala on April 13 1979 to be sworn in as head of state of a provisional government. The 30-representative National Consultative Council (NCC) of the UNLF became the interim legislature, pending general elections to be held within two years. On June 2, 1979 President Lule stepped down and Godfrey Binaisa was elected as the new President. President Binaisa sought to achieve political stability, broadening the political base of the government by enlarging the NCC to 91 members. Each of Uganda's 31 districts was to nominate three representatives whose credentials would be examined by the NCC. This measure resulted in the inclusion of the Uganda Liberation Group and the Ugandan National Union, both of which had been operating underground during Amin's rule.[2] Binaisa enjoyed a relatively short term in office since he was removed by the Ugandan army in May 1980. A military commission was established under the leadership of P. MuWanaga, a strong supporter of former President Obete.

The military commission organized elections for December 1980. By this time Obote had returned to Uganda to lead the UPC. His party's main opposition came from the reborn DP and from the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM), led by the young radical Yowri Museveni. The UPC won a majority of twenty seats in the new National Assembly, and Obote resumed the presidency. Moreover, he simultaneously held the posts of Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign affairs.MuWanga was made vice president and Minister of Defense. Though the DP and the UPM complained of electoral fraud, Obote had made an unprecedented political comeback to win thee election and the support of the army. Obote's comeback did not, however, bring an end to Uganda's problems. Under Obote, as under Amin, detentions, torture, and killings betrayed an essentially unstable and violent political situation.

Claiming that Obote had rigged the elections, Museveni proclaimed a guerrilla war of resistance with the goal of overthrowing him by force. Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) gained support in Buganda. This army brought an end to the second Obote presidency in August 1985. One ethnic leader, General Tito Okello, used the support of his fellow Acholi, the dominant ethnic group in the army, to force Obote into exile. In January 1986 the NRA defeated Okello's forces and drove him from Kampala. The NRA thereupon established a new government with Mueseveni as president. Although Museveni put national reconciliation at the top of his government's priorities, various groups opposed his takeover, in some cases forcefully. Thus the government was engaged in various types of military and security operations against dissident groups from 1987 through 1991. Museveni maintained that the nation needed time to recover from dictatorship and war before democratic elections could be held. [3]

While awaiting a new constitution, the government in 1993 restored the indigenous monarchies abolished by the 1967 Republican Constitution. President Museveni also put in place some measures of restitution to Asian victims of Amin's rule.

On May 4, 1993 the government announced restrictions on the activities of all political parties. A new prime minister, Kintu Musoke, was appointed on November 18, 1994. The following month the government announced that the Constituent Assembly would continue working on the new Constitution until May, which was to be promulgated in June. New voter registration would be carried out in the first month of 1995; civic education programs would be carried out from September to November; and nominations would open in October for a new parliament, who would be elected by December 1995. On March 29, 1995 it debated a motion calling for a Federal system, before finally rejecting it.

On June 21 1995 the Constituent Assembly voted 199 to 68 in favor of continuing the current party system. This decision, though opposed by many Ugandans, was incorporated into the new constitution, with the proviso that there would be a referendum on the Constitution in 1999. Until then, parties could legally exist and sponsor candidates for elections, but they could not hold rallies or campaign as parties. Elections were scheduled for April or May 1996. The presidential elections took place as planned, with Paul Ssemogerere running as the main candidate opposing President Museveni. Museveni was elected with a comfortable majority, winning 74.2% of the six million votes cast [4].

[1] Source: Briggs, Philip, 1996. Guide to Uganda, Globe Pequot Press: Old Saybrook, CT, pp.13-20.

[2] Uwechue, Raph (ed.) 1996. Africa Today, Third Edition, Africa Books Limited, pp.1554-1557.

[3] Maxon, Robert M. (ed.), 1994. East Africa, An Introductory History, West Virginia University Press: Morgantown, pp. 262-267

[4] Uwechue, Raph (ed.) 1996. Africa Today, Third Edition, Africa Books Limited, pp. 1562-1565


Buganda: 19th century
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