Uganda Old History

By | January 3, 2023

Uganda is an independent nation in Eastern Africa. With the capital city of Kampala, Uganda 2020 population is estimated at 45,741,018 according to countryaah. Throughout prehistory, the people of northern and southern Uganda created different types of communities. In the south, Bantu people built up the kingdom, while the people of the north lived in looser organized communities. When the British colonized the country during the second half of the 19th century, these differences were reinforced and, above all, they favored the people of the south with education and jobs in the administration. Instead, the people in the north dominated the military. The independence movement started later in Uganda than in many other places in Africa, but gained momentum after the Second World War. However, the division between north and south remained in independence, which came in 1962.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Uganda, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Uganda’s fertile soil has attracted people from surrounding areas since the 4th century BC. First came Bantu people from the West, then Nilotic people from the East and livestock-loving Hamitic groups from the Northeast. In the southern part of the country, the feudal kingdom was founded, where a cattle-owning upper class ruled over an agricultural subclass. These include the banturias Bunyoro, Buganda and Ankole. From the 1300s AD the kingdoms grew in strength. Bunyoro was the strongest empire for several centuries, but in the 19th century it assumed the role of Buganda. For Uganda political system, please check cancermatters.

The people groups that lived in the north had a completely different community organization. They lived in clans, that is, groups of people with a common ancestor, led by a chieftain or elder. Several clans within a peoples group sometimes had a joint council of leaders, but there was no similar state formation. This difference between the north and the south was later exploited and reinforced by the British colonial rulers, and the contradiction has characterized Uganda’s political life up to our days.

In the 1840s, the first Arab merchant, Ahmed Ibn Abrahim, came from the East African coast to Buganda. With the merchants came Islam and trade in weapons, slaves, ivory and cattle. In 1862, British explorer John Speke reached Buganda during his search for the source of the Nile. He was received by Buganda’s king, the Kabakan, and named Lake Victoria. The first Christian missionaries, Protestant Anglicans, arrived in 1876 and three years later followed French Catholics. The Christian missionaries became successful and built up an educational system.

The British colonization of the area began with the trading activities of the British East Africa Company. The company got the UK’s permission in 1888 to administer what is today Uganda, but business went bad. When the company was bankrupt in 1893, it was taken over by the British Crown and the following year Buganda became a British protectorate named Uganda (the Swahili term for Buganda). Two years later, the protectorate had been extended to basically all of Uganda today.

The British ruled Uganda through the classic tactics of disintegrating and ruling. Baggage people in the south were favored at the expense of other groups. Buganda was made administrators of the colony of Uganda and the colonial power invested significantly more in education in the Buganda area than in the rest of Uganda.

The people of the north were not allowed to take part in the care of the colony. They were soon regarded as a labor reserve for agriculture in the south. The people acholi and lango were largely recruited to the army. This division has characterized the country’s later development.

In 1900 a land reform was implemented in Buganda. Private ownership had to replace the former system, where the land was collectively owned by the clans. Half of Buganda’s land was transferred to the British state. In exchange, an agreement on some self-government was signed for Buganda.

Now the cultivation of export crops such as coffee, cotton, tea and sugar was started. Foreign nationals were not allowed to own land in Uganda, which, unlike in Kenya, for example, no large farms were created, run by European settlers. Most of the country’s crops have always been produced by small farmers.

In the late 1800s, many guest workers from mainly India came to Uganda to build a railway to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. The descendants of these Asians eventually came to dominate Uganda’s business.

The road to independence was calmer in Uganda than in neighboring Kenya, for example, which had many white settlers. The traditional Ugandan ruling class had secure positions in administration, church and education. The farmers were reasonably paid for their products. All this reduced the breeding ground for demands for self-government.

It was not until the middle of the 20th century that resistance to colonial power grew. In 1945 and 1949, great strikes and rebellions broke out. During the 1950s, the first batches of importance were formed. In 1960, two nationalist parties joined forces in the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) led by Milton Obote, a radical nationalist with socialist ideas. Obote originated from the Lango people in the north, where the party mainly sought its support. In 1956, the Democratic Party (DP) was formed, a Catholic party with support mainly in Buganda in the south.

Until independence, the politics were marked by contradictions between “major nationalists”, who wanted to see the whole of Uganda united in one state, and “minor nationalists”, who wanted to give the different kingdoms their own independence. Especially the governing class of the Baganda people pushed on in the latter direction.



Uganda is suspected of supporting rebels

In a UN report leaked to media, Uganda is accused of supporting M23 in Congo-Kinshasa (see Foreign Policy and Defense).

Assistance is withdrawn

A report from Uganda’s National Audit raises suspicions that aid funds have been dispersed and Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the UK and Sweden withdraw the part of their support for the country that goes through the Ugandan state (in January 2013 Uganda repays EUR 4 million to Ireland).

Demonstrations for Independence Celebration

Besigye is arrested again in connection with a demonstration in Kampala. Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters. This is happening at the same time as the government is investing large sums in order for Uganda to celebrate 50 years as an independent nation on October 9.


Uganda is appointed as mediator

The ICGLR regional organization appoints Uganda to mediate in the conflict between the Congolese government and the rebel movement M23 (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).

Suspected corrupt politicians back in government

Three leading politicians who resigned in October 2011 following allegations of corruption are returning to the government in the middle of the month. This is the case with Sam Kutesa, who is returning to the post of Foreign Minister, John Nasasira receiving his post as Deputy Labor Minister, and Mwesigwa Rukutana, who is taking up a new job as Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office. This again raises questions about President Museveni’s willingness to fight corruption.


Opposition group is prohibited

At the beginning of the month, the opposition group A4C is banned, officially for conducting manifestations without consulting the police.


Demonstration erupts in violence

On March 21, Besigye will visit several projects in Kampala together with the mayor of the city. When his followers join them, it develops into a demonstration that the police are trying to stop. Violence erupts and a policeman dies after being hit in the head. Besigye, the mayor and 15 others are arrested. Besigye is released on bail the same evening.


Ministers resign

In the middle of the month, two ministers resign because of allegations that they have paid large sums to a businessman in Kampala (over $ 60 million). The ministers claim that President Museveni has given the go-ahead for the disbursements, something he denies.

Proposals for homosexuality are again presented

The controversial bill on homosexuality is resumed (see Social Conditions), but now life imprisonment is the highest punishment that can be imposed. The proposal is presented, just as before, by a single Member of Parliament, David Bahati. He is met by standing ovations in Parliament when he presents the slightly revised proposal. Assessors say he would not act if he does if he did not have government support.


Strikes at rising prices

In the middle of the month, many merchants in Kampala close their stores in protest of rising prices and high bank rates (up to 27 percent). In the past, similar protests have targeted the rising influx of cheap Chinese goods and the rapidly falling exchange rate for the Ugandan shilling.

Uganda Old History