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The Bakungu Chiefs of Buganda under British Colonial Rule, 1900–1930

  • Michael Twaddle

In 1959 C. C. Wrigley published ‘The Christian revolution in Buganda’. an important essay summarizing a decade of intensive research into Buganda politics during the nineteenth century. There he demonstrated how ‘Ganda society had undergone, immediately before the advent of British imperial power, a genuine revolution, which had brought about drastic changes in ideology and in the structure as well as the personnel of government and that as a result of these [and other] changes it was uniquely fitted to cope with the new situation which confronted it in the last years of the nineteenth century’. This essay seeks to reconstruct an intriguing attempt made by the Bakungu client-chiefs who triumphed in that ‘Christian revolution’ to perpetuate their power in the Buganda kingdom by making further institutional changes during the second decade of the twentieth century. But first it is necessary to discuss the general factors shaping political relationships between these client-chiefs and their European rulers during the first and third decades of this century. In this it is possible to take account not only of several secondary sources published since the appearance of Wrigley's article nearly ten years ago, but also of certain primary materials which have recently come to light.

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1 Wrigley, C. C., ‘The Christian revolution in Buganda’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 11 (1959), 33–, 3348.

2 This Paper amplifies part of an earlier one presented to a seminar at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London, on 3 November 1966. Besides being most grateful to the mimbers of that seminar for their comments, I have special debts to Professor Roland Oliver, Dr. J. A. Rowe and Dr M. S. M. Kiwamka.

3 See Oliver, R., Sir Harry Johnston and the Scramble for Africa (London 1957), 287337;Low, D. A., ‘The British and Uganda, 1862–1990’, unpublished D.Phil. dissertation (Oxford, 1957), and ‘Uganda: the evolution of the protectorate, 1894–1919’, History of East Africa, II, ed. Harlow, V., Chilver, E. M. and Smith, A. (Oxford, 1965), 57122; and Rowe, J. A., ‘Land and politics in Buganda, 1875–1955’, Makerere Journal (Kampala 1964), 113.

4 Low, D. A. and Pratt, R. C., Buganda and British Overrule, 1900–1955 (London, 1960), 137: to which (esp. pp. 137159) the rest of this paragraph is also clearly indebted.

5 Whether it was also a victory over the so-called Batongole chiefs as well is rather more questionable. See Faliers, L. A. (ed.), The King's Men (London, 1964), 114, for a query by Southwold, M.; and Rowe, J. A., ‘Revolution in Buganda, 1856–1900,’ unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (Wisconsin 1966), 191, for another negative comment.

6 ‘Memo, by H. H. Johnston on the land settlement in Uganda’, 2 March 1903, Public Record Office, FO/2/741.

7 Many references; but Wamala, Solomon, Obulamu bwa Semei Kakungulu, pp. 19154, provides the most vivid evidence in documentary sources. (Copy in Makerere College Library.)

8 ‘At present most of the Officials, although they speak Kiswahili, speak that language only’ (Frederick Jackson to Foreign Office, 25 January 1902, P.R.O., FO/2/589).

9 Johnston, , ‘The Uganda protectorate, Ruwenzori, and the Semliki Forest’, Geographical Jl XIX (1902), 21.

10 See Churchill, W. S., My African Journey (London, 1908), 59, for a convenient summary of local British views.

11 See Mukasa, H., Uganda's Kitikiro in England (London, 1904), 237 ff.

12 Kagwa, Paulo, Omukwano gwa Kabaka Mwanga: Ye Lwakirenzi Semei Kakungulu, 22. (Microfilm copy in Makerere College Library.)

13 Walker, to family, 28 07 1895 (Walker papers, C.M.S. Archives).

14 Johnston, H. H., Story of My Life (London, 1923), 366, speaking specifically of the three regents.

15 Zimbe, B. M., Buganda Ne Kabaka (Mengo, 1939), 248; quoting from the English translation by F.Karnoga (p. 349) now retained by Makerere College Library.

16 But only waging war (okugaba olutabalo) when specifically asked to do so by the British (see Fallers, , The Kings Men, 107–8).

17 See Mulira, E. M. K., Troubled Uganda (London, n.d.), 34.

18 Ibid. 13.

19 See Wrigley, C. C., ‘The changing economic structure of Buganda’, The King's Men, ed. Fallers, L. A., (London, 1964), pp. 42ff.

20 Besides Wrigley (‘Changing economic structure’), see also Low, D. A., ‘The advent of populism in Buganda’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, VI (1964), 425–44.

21 See Rowe, , ‘Land and politics in Buganda’, 9.

22 Thomas, H. B. and Spencer, A. E., A History of Uganda Lands and Surveys (Entebbe 1938), 72.

23 Daudi Chwa to governor, 22 April 1915, E.S.A. C/255/1910.

24 Kagwa, Apolo to governor, 28 04 1915, loc.cit.

25 Minute by Buganda, P.C., 6 05 1915, loc. cit.

26 See Rowe ‘Revolution in Buganda’, chapter 1, for an account of disaffection towards Katikiro Kayira during the early nineteenth century for a similar reason.

27 Sturrock to Ass. Sec. for Native Affairs, 31 July 1922, E.S.A. C/160/A/1910.

28 Mair, L. P., An African People in the Twentieth Century (London 1934), 170.

29 Ibid. 198.

30 Baganda regents to Buganda, P. C., 5 06 1912, in English and Luganda, encl.Knowles, to Entebbe, , 18 06 1912, E.S.A. C/113/1910.

31 Nuhu Mbogo, Yusufu Suna Kiwewa, Joseph Musanje Walugembe, Augustine Tebandeke, and Alimanzani Ndaula.

32 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 18 06 1912, E.S.A. C/113/1910.

33 Minute by Jackson, , 28 06 1912, loc. cit.

34 Minute by Russell, , 26 06 1912, loc. cit.

35 Minute by Wallis, , 3 06 1912, loc. cit.

36 Joswa Kate to Knowles, n.d., loc. cit.

37 Mackenzie, to Kampala, , 21 08 1912, encl.Knowles, to Entebbe, , 31 08 1912, loc. cit.

38 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 2 12 1912, loc. cit.

39 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 11 11 1912, extract copy, loc. cit. Probably the most serious discrepancy was the use of lukiko lwe kyama for ‘committee’ in the Luganda draft, since kakiko seems the most straightforward translation of that word; kyama means ‘secret’.

40 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 2 12 1912, E.S.A. C/113/1910.

41 Minute by Knowles, , 31 01 1913, loc. cit.

42 Knowles, to Buganda, D.C.s, 22 02 1913, copy encl. Knowles to Entebbe on the same day, loc. cit.

43 Minute by Jackson, , 27 02 1913, loc. cit.

44 Minute by Jackson, , 3 03 1913, loc. cit.

45 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 2 12 1912, loc. cit.

46 Cooper, to Entebbe, , 23 03 1913, loc. cit.

48 Buganda, Lukiko, Ekitabo kyo Bwami bwabami bomu Buganda (Kampala, 1907).

49 Ibid., p. ii.

50 Cooper, to Entebbe, , 23 03 1913, E.S.A. C/113/1910.

51 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 3 03 1913, loc. cit.

53 Minute by Jackson, , 7 03 1913, loc. cit.

54 Knowles, to Entebbe, , 10 03 1913, loc. cit.

55 Browning, to Entebbe, , 13 06 1913, loc. cit.

56 Undated petition, loc. cit.

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