Uganda in the 1970’s

By | June 8, 2022

Formerly a British protectorate, an independent state since 1962 within the Commonwealth, it has been a federal republic since 8 September 1967.

On 236,860 km 2 of territory (of which 39,450 of inland waters), at the 1969 census there were 9,548,847 residents. (40 residents / km 2), very irregularly distributed, with a sharp increase compared to the 6,523,628 at the 1959 census, and further increased to 12,353,000 according to a 1977 estimate. The absolute majority of the population is Africans, for a third Bantu, for the rest Hamitic, Nilotic and Sudanese. In 1966 about 68,000 Tutsis from Rwanda, 55,000 Sudanese and 30,000 Congolese had taken refuge in the US. Among the minorities we remember the 90,000 residents of Asian origin and about 10,000 Europeans, mostly employed in shopping centers. The main tribes (cens. 1969) were those of the Baganda (2.667.332), the Bagosa (949.384), the Banyankore (861.145), the Bakiga (647.988) and the Iteso (570.628).

Until 1967 the Uganda it was divided into four provinces with surfaces and densities significantly different from each other (from 62 residents / km 2 in the eastern provinces to 14.5 in the northern provinces). Later, the state is divided into 21 districts (three of which are urban) grouped into four regions, which have the names of the four pre-existing provinces (Buganda, Eastern, Northern, Western) but very different surfaces, albeit with almost equal regional density. Less than 21% of the land area is arable land and woody agricultural crops; slightly higher, the area with permanent meadows and pastures.

In 1977, industrial crops stood out, such as cotton (591,000 ha, 410,000 q of seeds and 910,000 q of fiber), coffee (235,000 ha, 2 million q), tea (22,000 ha and 150,000 q), sesame (113,000 ha and 400,000 q). And so is the peanut (250,000 ha and 2, 1 million q), sugar cane (230,000 q of sugar). Other crops are particularly important for the indigenous population’s nutrition, namely: cassava, yam, millet, maize, sorghum, as well as beans and potatoes.

According to PHILOSOPHYNEARBY, the livestock patrimony was based, in 1977, on 4.9 million cattle, 1.100.000 sheep and 2.1 million goats. Fishing in 1977 yielded 178,600 tonnes, more than double that in 1961.

Mining in 1976 produced copper (15,900 t of metal), wolframite (137 t of WO 3), cassiterite (117 t of Sn), cobalt phosphates (15,000 t), etc.

Electricity production went from 397 million kWh (346 of which water) in 1961 to 729 million in 1976, partly sold to Kenya. The installed power, which in 1961 was 132,500 kW (of which 121,200 was water), in 1975 had risen to 163,000 kW, of which 156,000 was water.

However, industrial development is always modest: in 1976 two cement factories produced 88,000 t of cement (66,000 t in 1961), a brewery produced 389,000 hl of beer (78,000 in 1960), and the metallurgical industry gave 12,000 t of steel and 8,200 tons of copper: there are also cotton gin, cotton fabric, fertilizer, sugar and tobacco processing factories.

Foreign trade (excluding that with Kenya and Tanzania, with which the Uganda has a customs union) in the five-year period 1972-76 has strongly contracted in imports, passing from 813 to 666 million shillings (the shilling – 106.30 lire in 1977), but it significantly increased in exports, from 1861 to 3,001 million, consisting mainly of coffee, cotton, copper, tea, and especially directed, in 1976, to Great Britain, the United States, Japan and the Federal Rep. Of Germany. The main suppliers in that same year were Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan.

There are 1300 km of railways (about 600 km, before 1970), 6200 km of roads (of which 1250 tarred, double lane) maintained by the state and about 18,000 km of district roads. Navigation services operate on Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Alberto. An international airport is in Entebbe.

History. – As established in October 1961, the independence of the Uganda it was proclaimed on 9 October 1962. From 1 March the protectorate had obtained full self-government; the Uganda People’s Congress, UPC, led by Milton Obote, tactically allied with the Kabaka Yekka party, loyal to Mutesa II, king of Buganda, prevailed in the elections in April. With independence, the UPC leader and prime minister Obote began to consolidate central power to the detriment of the prerogatives of the federal kingdoms, Buganda in particular. At the proclamation of the Republic (9 October 1963) the choice of the kabaka (king) of Buganda as president established a precarious balance between Obote and Mutesa which then had to suffer the result of a popular referendum, foreseen by the constitution of 1963, which separated the “counties” of Buyaga and Bugangazzi from Buganda. The opposition was fueled, in 1965, by the difficulties resulting from the influx of refugees from Sudan and Rwanda and the incursions of rebels from Zaire. Growing tension over the accusations of smuggling against government officials, Obote, sure of the loyalty of the army composed mainly of elements of his own ethnicity, suspended the constitution on February 24, 1966 and dismissed Mutesa from the presidency of the Republic. A provisional constitution, adopted in April, transformed the Uganda in a unitary state under presidential regime (Obote assumed the presidency); the reaction of King Mutesa, as well as of the constitutional bodies and the population of Buganda was suffocated within a few months (Buganda remained in a state of emergency for a long time). On 8 September 1967 a constitutional, authoritarian and centralist text was approved, which amended that of 1966; It was accompanied by a restrictive law on individual freedoms. In an attempt to broaden its base of consensus, the government in the Commons’ Man Charter of October 8, 1969 proclaimed directives for social development in favor of the popular masses (in September the leading exponents of the Democratic Party had been arrested). In November the death in London, for suspicious causes, of the former King Mutesa II fueled opposition to Obote (who escaped an attack in December).

Between 1971 and 1972 a series of decrees prohibited all political activities, suspended constitutional rights and personal freedoms, conferred unlimited de facto powers on the army (since 1973 the military court has acquired jurisdiction for all crimes). The ranks of the army were completely changed with the introduction of entire ethnic groups loyal to Amin and the elimination of the others. Thousands of people – opponents and critics of the government, actual or alleged, and in any case suspected elements – have been violently eliminated (mostly “disappeared” without a trace, among them the former premier B. Kiwanuka); an attempt by Obote supporters to penetrate the Uganda was a pretext for bloody crackdowns in 1972 and the banning of the Ugandan National Student Union. Against the tragic dictatorship of Amin – whose unpredictable and sensational attitudes even made his mental equilibrium doubt – repeated and documented accusations have been made in various international fora, among other things by the International Commission of Jurists. The international consideration that the Uganda it had acquired during the Obote government – which in 1969 had welcomed Pope Paul VI – was lost after the advent of Amin. The latter completely subverted the foreign policy of the United States: in March 1972, to win the sympathies of the Arabs, he broke off the previously very good and active relations with Israel; in August 1972 he expelled Asians with British passports (40,000 Asians left the country already in the course of the year, while very few Brits remained there), completely ruining relations with Great Britain. From 1974-75 Amin – who assumed the title of marshal and increasingly dictatorial, often farcical attitudes – exacerbated relations with neighboring countries (Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania), while internally engaging in extensive and arbitrary repressions in vain denounced in international headquarters. Hostilities with Tanzania, which worsened in 1979, ended in April with the fall of the regime, aided in vain by Libyan forces, and the flight of Amin (11 April). The provisional president, Yusuf Lule, who resigned, was replaced (June 20) by Godfrey Binaisa; a Legislative Assembly began work in October, the first step towards a return to democracy.

Uganda in the 1970's