Uganda History

By | October 6, 2021

Ancient kingdoms

Since the 10th century, Bantu-speaking groups formed small agricultural states in what is now Uganda. The Kitara empire was founded around 1350 and extended (starting from Bunyoro ) to what is now northern Rwanda and western Kenya. After its decline and a phase of instability, the Bunyoro Empire expanded from around 1500 and was dominant south of Lake Kyoga until the 18th century. After 1660, and especially at the end of the 18th century, the Buganda kingdom developed into a dominant power; north of Lake Kyoga, however, v. a. stateless societies and minor chiefdoms.

From the colony to the independent state

From 1840 the Bugandian kabaka (king) Mutesa I established relationships with Arab ivory and slave traders from the east coast of Africa. A little later, European travelers reached the court of the Kabaka, which gave access to both Christian mission churches and Islam. The rivalry between the colonial powers France, Great Britain and Germany was decided in 1890 in favor of Great Britain, which Buganda declared a protectorate in 1894. From there, British rule took hold of the other inter-sea states (Bunyoro, Ankole, Toro ). Until 1899, armed resistance against British rule was made particularly in Bunyoro. While Buganda achieved a special position within the Protectorate through the “Buganda Agreement” of 1900, the system of rule there was transferred to all societies in Uganda as a model within the framework of the British “Indirect Rule”. With the suppression of an uprising in Acholi in 1913 and the cession of the West Nile region by the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in1914, the colonial expansion to the north came to an end. From 1922 Uganda was part of British East Africa. In 1921 the British government provided the governor with a legislative council, which had included Africans since 1945.

Led by Kabaka Mutesa II. The upper class of society in Buganda tried to maintain its special position within Uganda and showed little interest in a legislature that was responsible for all of Uganda. When Mutesa II demanded the complete independence of Buganda, the British colonial administration, which Uganda sought to preserve as a whole, forced him to go into exile from 1953 to 1955. Even the Catholic Democratic Party (DP) under Benedict Kiwanuka (* 1922, † 1972) and the Protestant-oriented Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), led by M. Obote, and rooted in northern Uganda, turned against the growing secession movement in Buganda.

In 1961 the DP was able to win elections to the Legislative Council. Kiwanuka became prime minister. In Buganda, the Kabaka Yekka (KY, German: The King Alone) party was founded – in the spirit of Kabaka – which, after renewed elections in 1962, formed a coalition with the UPC. After a constitutional compromise between the Bugandian independence efforts and the federal conceptions related to the whole of Uganda, Uganda gained independence on October 9, 1962, Mutesa II. Became President (without executive functions). The coalition of UPC and KY under Prime Minister Obote broke up in 1966 because of the renewed antagonism between the Ugandan central government and Buganda; in May 1966, Obote coerced Mutesa II. To leave the country. With the constitution of 1967, which dissolved the member states, Uganda received a unitarian presidential constitution; Obote became president.

Terror and civil war

Following the example of Tanzania, Obote turned to an undoctrinal socialism; he nationalized banks and numerous industrial companies. Obote’s increasingly authoritarian course (introduction of the one-party state, ban on all parties except the UPC) and the ongoing conflict v. a. between the political forces in Buganda and the central government sparked widespread discontent.

After a coup d’état by the army (January 25, 1971) and Obote’s flight to Tanzania, the Muslim General I. Amin Dada established a dictatorial system of government (suspension of the constitution) as president (appointed himself president for life in 1976) and placed the army above it previously applicable law. The displacement of some 50,000 Asians (some of them British citizenship, 1972) who had dominated small-scale industry and trade contributed greatly to Uganda’s economic decline. In terms of foreign policy, Uganda turned to the Soviet Union and Arab countries, especially Libya. Western countries, on the other hand, stopped development cooperation. The ever increasing arbitrariness of Amin Dada Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim. Numerous assassinations and coup attempts against him failed.

After an invasion by Ugandan troops in the Tanzanian Kagera region in 1978, Tanzanian troops moved into Uganda together with Ugandan opposition members; Amin Dada fled into exile in April 1979. With the Moshi Agreement (March 1979), various groups in exile joined forces in the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). However, soon after Amin Dada was overthrown, this “anti-amine front” broke up because of its internal contradictions; the presidents it provided, Yusufu Lule (* 1912, † 1985; 1979) and Godfrey Binaisa (* 1920, † 2010; 1979/80) failed.

After the revival of the earlier parties, the UPC, led by Obote, who had returned from exile, emerged victorious from the December 1980 elections, which were controversial in terms of the course and outcome; Obote himself became president. Dissatisfaction with the Obote government, however, continued to lead to unrest; various political groups, including the National Resistance Movement (NRM) under Y. Museveni, started a guerrilla war. After ongoing fighting between government troops, soldiers loyal to Amin and the NRM, tens of thousands fled to the neighboring countries of Sudan, Rwanda and what was then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo ).

Uganda History