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Why Buganda is Uganda’s eternal benefactor

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Added 12th April 2016 10:51 AM

At the most basic level, it is neither a coincidence nor an accident that terms Buganda and Uganda are separated by a mere letter ‘B’. Just as God created Eve out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22), so did the British construct Uganda out of Buganda. Where is the evidence?

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Sam Akaki is the former FDC international envoy to the UK and European Union

At the most basic level, it is neither a coincidence nor an accident that terms Buganda and Uganda are separated by a mere letter ‘B’. Just as God created Eve out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22), so did the British construct Uganda out of Buganda. Where is the evidence?



By Sam Akaki

As the Baganda celebrate the 61st birthday of the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II tomorrow, it is an opportune time for all Ugandans to look beyond the person, Mutebi and reflect on what the Buganda kingdom did for this modern nation now called Uganda.

At the most basic level, it is neither a coincidence nor an accident that terms Buganda and Uganda are separated by a mere letter ‘B’.  Just as God created Eve out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22), so did the British construct Uganda out of Buganda. Where is the evidence?

It was President Milton Obote, no less the person who tried to obliterate from history the 600 year-old kingdom of Buganda, who said “in the past, Buganda has served our country very well”, (Communication from the chair, November 1966). What did he mean?

Given that most, if not all priceless historical documents were destroyed in the senseless cycle of political violence, you have to go to the British House of Commons Library, the British Reference Library, the British National Archives, Oxford, Cambridge and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) libraries, to mention but a few, to find out what Dr Obote meant. The records are as enlightening as they are mesmerising.

According to The making of modern Uganda by Kenneth Ingham, “some 600 years before the British came, the Buganda kingdom had evolved a sophisticated system of administration. The kingdom was divided into 20 Sazas (counties); each county was divided into gombololas (sub-counties), and each gombolola was divided into mulukas (parishes).”

“Over and above the chiefly hierarchy were three ministers – the katikkiro (Prime Minister), the omulamuzi (Chief Justice) and the omuwanika (Treasurer). The three ministers and 20 chiefs constituted the Lukiiko, a kind of parliament. The only hereditary office was that of the Kabaka. All others, including ministers and chiefs were appointed on merit.”

An eyewitness, John Hanning Speke, wrote on reaching Buganda in 1862. “The straight, wide roads, broad as an English coach road, which cut through the long grass and climbed many hills, were in strange contrast to the wretched tracks in all adjacent tribal regions.  This was but the doorway to the Kingdom of the Baganda.”

He added, “people wore neat back-cloth cloaks resembling the best yellow corduroy cloth, crimp and well set, as if stiffened with starch and over that as upper cloak, a patchwork of small antelope skins, which I observed were shown together  as well as any English glove could have been pieced together. At the centre of this well-organised community was its ruler, Kabaka MutesaI.”

It was this organised system of administration, which the British copied and pasted in other tribal areas all over Uganda. Chiefs, judges and councils cropped up and roads were built where there had been none.

Other equally, if not more revealing books include ‘Buganda and the British over-rule 1900-1955’, by Low and Pratt, ‘The political Kingdom in Uganda’, by David Apter, British policy is changing Africa’, by Sir Andrew Cohen and ‘Administration in East Africa – six case studies’ by LB Jacobs.

Still other books are Inside Africa, by John Gunther; An African survey, a study of problems arising in Africa south of the Sahara by Lord Hailey; My African tour, by Winston Churchill and ‘The remarkable expedition – the story of Stanley’s rescue of Emin Pasha’by Oliva Manning.

These books disclose, among other things, how the 1900 Agreement between Britain and the Buganda kingdom shaped the present Uganda socially and economically.

For example, it was as a result of the 1900 Agreement, that the Buganda Kingdom asked the British government to send missionaries to spread Christianity, education and medical services in Buganda and, by extension, throughout the Uganda Protectorate.

It was also thanks to the 1900 Agreement, that land was made available for building King’s College Budo, Makarere University, Gayaza High school, Mulago, Namirembe and Nsambya hospitals, Kampala Technical College and other critical social and economic infrastructures, which have served all Ugandans over the generations.

And it was the 1900 Agreement, which committed the British to prohibiting the sale of land in Uganda to a non-natives.  The Official Protectorate Gazette of December 15, 1915 stated “No more grant of freehold land will be made to non-Africans in Uganda and no African-owned land will be transferred to a non native.”

Crucially, it was the Buganda kingdom, which strongly and relentlessly opposed the proposed federation of Uganda with other British colonies of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesian (Zambia), Nyasaland (Malawi), Tanganyika (Tanzania) and Kenya.

The Buganda kingdom argued that such a federation would inevitably lead to Uganda becoming a white settler colony; thus making native Ugandans squatters in their own country just as Africans in Kenya and Southern Rhodesia then were.

Granted, the Buganda army Gen. Semei Kakungulu did commit terrible atrocities in Bunyonro, Bukedi, Bugisu, Lango and Teso regions while spreading British colonial rule.

But, objectively speaking, we Ugandans should recognise our eternal debt to the Buganda kingdom for the positive contributions it made to the birth and development of our country.

The writer is the former FDC international envoy to the UK and European Union, also former independent Parliamentary Candidate in the UK, now writer and executive director — Africa-European relations

 

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