Britain Colonizes Uganda

Around this time, the British Government sent FJ Jackson as an agent of the Imperial British East Africa Company. His role was to oversee the British sphere of influence, which included Buganda. While on his way, Jackson heard the news that Karl Peters, a German who was preferred by the Catholics, had come to Buganda. He rushed to Buganda and negotiated with Mwanga who, however, refused to sign a treaty with him because of the Catholic influence. The Catholics’ fear was that any treaty with Jackson’s company would favour the Protestants.

This was put to rest by the Heligoland Treat of July 1 1890. Under the treaty signed in Europe, the territory known today, as Uganda was to become a British sphere of influence and in return the island of Heligoland in the North Sea was ceded to Germany by Britain. At the same time, Emin Pasha was in Sudan planning to annex the kingdoms of Buganda and Bunyoro for Turkey. Also Charles stokes a missionary defector had become a stubborn dealer in arms and was believed to be on the way to sell arms to Kabalega, the major enemy of the whites.

Against this background, Captain Frederick Lugard was dispatched to forestall the Egyptian threat and to prevent Stokes from selling arms to Mwanga and Kabalega. The Catholics and Mwanga, whom they regarded as their sympathizer, saw the coming of Captain Lugard, a representative of the Imperial British East Africa Company, in December 1890 as a triumph for the Protestants.
With the use of threats, Lugard managed to secure from Mwanga and the Catholics an agreement he had initially refused to sign. He later helped to beat off one invasion of Muslims from Bunyoro, proceeded to Nkore and signed a treaty with Ntare V to stop arms reaching Kabalega.

He left Captain Williams who openly favoured the Protestants in Buganda. Lugard reinstated Omukama Kasagama in Toro who hand been defeated by Kabalega.
He later enrolled the Sudanese troops that had been abandoned by Emin Pasha, whom he made to join the Imperial British East African Company’s force. In 1892, as a result of wrangles between the Catholics and the Protestants, a Catholic shot and killed a Protestant. Mwanga carried out a trial and acquitted him.
Lugard protested and wanted a new trial but the Kabaka refused. This led to hostilities between Mwanga and Lugard. Lugard had two maxim guns and a large force and he also issued guns to the Protestants.

Inevitably when fighting broke out, the Catholics were defeated. Rubaga itself was stormed and the Catholics escaped to Bulingugwe Island in Lake Victoria. In a bid to end hostilities, Lugard sent emissaries to Mwanga and the Catholic group asking them to return to the capital. His offer was rejected, and he sent Captain Williams who stormed Bulingugwe.
The Catholics were in disarray and some followed Mwanga to Bukoba. Eventually, Mwanga and his group found their way back to Buddu where they started regrouping. Sensing the danger of a kingdom without a king, Captain Lugard secretly contacted Mwanga and his Catholic group and an agreement to reinstate Mwanga was reached. Mwanga was reinstated on March 30 1892.

In this agreement, Buganda’s land was divided among the religious sects. It was to have 20 counties. Ten went to Protestants; eight went to Catholics and two to the Muslims.
The Ssese Islands were shared between Catholics and Protestants because of their strategic location. Following these divisions of Buganda’s counties, some people moved from one area to another, preferring to live under a chief of their religion, where they could expect preferential treatment.

The Catholics were deliberately denied active political participation, as they could not hold important political offices in the kingdom, not for lack of ability to perform but for their religious affiliation.

Mwanga’s reinstatement was not the end of the story. In July 1897 he escaped from his palace where he was being kept as a puppet king. With some of his followers, he boarded a canoe and crossed Lake Victoria to go to Buddu. From there he started a rebellion against the combined forces of the British and their Protestant collaborators to reassert his authority.

He later linked up with some elements in Ankole, Busoga, Lango and finally with Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro. They fought with gallantry and refused to surrender to the British led forces that were fighting to control their land.
However, this countrywide resistance to colonialism had come too late. Omukama Kabalega had been fighting a lone guerilla war for nearly eight years. With the depletion of their forces, Mwanga and Kabalega were captured on April 4 1899 in Dokolo, present-day Lira, in a house of a Langi chief.
They were both exiled to Seychelles Islands where Mwanga died. Kabalega lived there for a long time and was permitted to return but was kept in Jinja where he died in 1926. His body was taken to Mparo in Hoima for burial.

With Mwanga and Kabalega off the political scene and Mwanga having been succeeded by his infant son in 1900, the Buganda agreement was signed between Sir Harry Johnston and the Buganda regents with negotiations being undertaken by the missionaries.
Clauses mainly touched the administrative structure, Buganda’s position in the region, matters of finance, land clauses and others that were more general. The provisions of the agreement made recognition of the Kabaka and his government conditional upon their loyalty to the Governor; the Buganda courts were made subordinate to the Protectorate courts; and the Kabaka lost his power of maintaining an army in his kingdom.
Additionally, the Lukiiko was created with its functions defined and, above all, it was subjected to the overall control of the colonial government.

Buganda lost its independence through the agreement. In fact, the 1900 Agreement was a capitulation document, because an established kingdom was ceding its power to a foreign authority.

It is not clear whether the regents were conscious of what they were signing. As Samwiri R Karugire writes in a Political History of Uganda (1980): “The last two provisions dealt with definitions and the interpretation of the agreement – interpretation in the sense that it was laid down that the English version of the agreement, not the Luganda one, would be binding on both parties and, of course, none of the Baganda signatories understood English.”

The recommendations of Captain (later Lord) Lugard for the colonization of Uganda had now become clear. Following his conquest of the people of Buganda and their supporters, Lugard had argued that Britain should colonize the region for commercial purposes.
He wrote: “The Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom have unanimously urged the retention of East Africa on the grounds of commercial advantage. The new avenues for commerce such as that in East Equatorial Africa should be opened up, in view of the hostile tariffs with which British manufacturers are everywhere confronted.”

Lugard added: “The scramble for Africa by the nations of Europe… was due to growing commercial rivalry which brought home to civilized nations the vital necessity of securing the only remaining fields for industrial enterprise and expansion. It is well, then to realize that it is for our advantage and not alone at the dictates of duty that we have undertaken responsibilities in East Africa. It is in order to foster the growth of trade of this country, (England) and to find an outlet for our manufacturers and our surplus energy, that our far-seeing statesmen and our commercial men advance colonial expansion.”

Lugard’s advocacy of colonial rule in Uganda was ultimately victorious. In 1900 the British government sent Sir Harry Johnston as a special commissioner to implement Britain’s plans for the new colony.
When Johnston arrived in Uganda, he took immediate steps to transform the economic base of the country by introducing a new system of land tenure and a monetary system. Both measures were incorporated in the Buganda agreement of 1900.
Firstly the land of Buganda was apportioned among the people of Buganda and the British Crown. Whereas previously the land was publicly owned so that the people derived the right to use it from the Kabaka, now they could take individual possession of it.

The immediate effect of this provision was a massive migration. People sought to claim lands that would now become their property on a more permanent basis.
Secondly, the necessity to own land was underscored by another provision in the agreement, which required that each household pay taxes to the colonial government.
This so called ‘hut tax’, which required every hut owner to pay three rupees to the colonial government annually, was intended to force the people to produce commodities for sale.
Thirdly, apart from offering their services as hired labour, the people of Buganda traditionally had no other means of obtaining money to pay taxes.

The method of sharing one’s income with the government by either providing the king’s chiefs with physical quantities of commodities or by paying in local currency, mostly cowry shells, was now rendered inoperative.
Not only were the people forced to share their output with an extra authority, but they also had to pay in cash. In this way, Johnston forced Ugandans to seek money and to enter into international trade by using cash to buy imported goods.

With the Buganda agreement in place, effective colonization of had started. Although present-day Uganda had been declared a British protectorate in 1894, effective control of the various societies was not achieved until the late 1930s.

Control was through signing agreements that subordinated the kingdom areas to British Imperialism; military expansion in case of northern Uganda; and the deployment of Buganda chiefs like Semei Kakungulu to subdue most of Eastern Uganda.

The religious frictions that affected the politics of the country also affected the rest of society and the education sector was not spared. The first schools in Uganda were built by the missionaries: Gayaza High School and Kings College Buddo were the first to be established by the Protestants; St. Mary’s College Kisubi by Catholic White Fathers; and Namilyango College by the Mill Hill Mission from London.
Wherever there was a Catholic school, there was a Protestant one of the same level nearby, and these institutions were hostile to each other.
Colonial and later post-colonial education did not set out to teach people to acquire productive skills. There was little or no vocationalisation of education and this lack of technical skills affected the development of a middle class in Uganda.

A skilled middle class would have been job creators rather than job seekers. No child was allowed to attend a school if it belonged to a denomination different from the one its parents subscribed to.
Muslim children were not able to receive education since both Catholic and Protestant founded schools mostly refused to accept them; and no funding was available from outside to establish Muslim schools since they had lost their benefactor, Turkey, in the First World War.

The colonial government did not participate in the establishment of formal education until 1925, when they started giving grants and facilitating the already established schools. They did not enter the education sector formally.

The Muslims, therefore, as a result of lack of Muslim schools and neglect by the colonial government, were not able even to find clerical jobs, join the civil service, or even work as office messengers.
These Ugandans ended up in petty business, such as butchery, driving trucks and generally lagged behind other religious denominations.

The new religions not only divided people on who should go to which school, but the people also started discarding their cultural identities.
As a result the people lost their unity, which was based on their cultural heritage. These religious based factions later became political parties, which exacerbated sectarianism, based on religious differences.

Alongside the divisive colonial education system, there was also the local government system that was based on tribal entities, with each district being treated as if it were an independent state. The Lango district council knew little about the Ankole district council and vice-versa- all they had in common was the colonial governor at Entebbe.

The separation of districts and localization of district issues due to lack of unifying factors at the national level hindered the growth of supra-tribal national consciousness.
The isolation later affected the emergence of nationally based political parties because the population lacked unifying causes and institutions across the country.