Tap to book now
+(256)-414-532-162 +(256)-773-912-891 / +(256) 702 12 3064
Home » Blog » Uganda History | History of Uganda

Uganda History | History of Uganda

A Brief history about UgandaUganda History, History of Uganda

  1. Early history of Uganda
  2. Arab traders in Uganda
  3. European explorers in Uganda
  4. European missionaries in Uganda
  5. Germany influence in Uganda
  6. British influence in Uganda
  7. Independent Uganda
  8. The years of Idi Amin in Uganda
  9. Uganda after Amin
  10. Beginnings of recovery
  11. Early history of Uganda
  • Uganda’s early history comprises the history of Uganda before the area which is now Uganda was turned into a British protectorate at the end of the 19th century.
  • The Batwa pygmies were hunter-gatherer people and original inhabitants of Uganda.
  • They lived in the forests around the Virunga Mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the home of Moutain gorillas in southwestern Uganda for thousands of years.
  • Around 200 BC, the early Bantu-speaking peoples arrived, reached and settled in Lake Victoria hinterland. They lived in loosely assemble chiefdoms.
  • Around 1500, the first centralized political system made appearance in Uganda; the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. Its origin is shrouded in legends.
  • The first dynasty ruler of Bunyoro Kitara is said to be the Batembuzi, who may have migrated from Sudan or Ethiopia and later by Bachwezi, who ruled Bunyoro Kitara for some generations and strangely disappeared.
  • However, it is believed that it was the Nilotic Luo invasion from the north in 1650 that ended the rule of Bachwezi dynasty over Bunyoro Kitara. Under their leader Rukidi, the Luo established the Babiito dynasty.
  • The arrival of Luo coincided with the emergence of several other kingdoms; Buganda, Ankole, Toro, and Busoga, but Bunyoro remained the largest and most influential kingdom in the region.
  • In 1700, Buganda started to expand at the expense of Bunyoro.
  • In 1800 Buganda was in control of the territory bordering Lake Victoria from the Victoria Nile to the Kagera River and was the most politically and economically powerful.
  1. Arab traders in Uganda
  • The history about Uganda shows that it was during the period of Buganda’s rise that the first Swahili-speaking traders from the Indian Ocean coast arrived in Uganda.
  • In the 1840s, the Swahili slave traders arrived in the Buganda Kingdom which was ruled over by Kabaka (King) Mutesa I from his capital, at Kampala.
  • Kabaka Mutesa permitted the slave traders to operate from his capital and he collaborated in slave-raiding parties into neighboring territories.
  • The traders converted several Baganda chiefs to their faith (Islam).
  1. European explorers in Uganda
  • In 1862, the British explorer John Hannington Speke becomes the first European to visit Buganda, in his quest for the source of the Nile/source of the Nile River.
  • In 1875, Henry Morton Stanley another British explorer also visited Buganda. He tried to convert King Mutesa 1 to Christianity.
  • Finding Mutesa apparently receptive, Stanley on behalf King wrote a letter to the Church Missionary Society in London and persuaded it to send missionaries, to educate the people of Uganda.
  1. European missionaries in Uganda
  • In 1877, members of the British Missionary Society/ Church Mission Society (CMS) (Protestants) arrived in Buganda.
  • In 1879, French Catholic White Fathers also arrived in Buganda and the stage was set for a fierce religious rivalry.
  • By the mid-1880s, all three parties (Protestants, Muslims, and Catholics) had been successful in converting substantial numbers of Baganda, some of whom attained important positions at court.
  • In 1884, Mutesa I died. His son and successor, Mwanga was a volatile and headstrong teenager who took the throne as religious rivalries in Buganda were intensifying.
  • Meanwhile, the new flock of believers transferred their loyalty from the king to new religious systems.
  • By 1885, Mwanga was determined to rid his kingdom of the new teaching and its followers.
  • On June-3-1886, Mwanga ordered the execution of all converts and the climax was the execution of 26 Christians. They were roasted to death at Namugongo (today’s Uganda Martyrs shrine) in Kampala.
  1. Germany influence in Uganda
  • During the period of European scramble and partition of Africa. All European powers were eagle to get their hand on the well-watered and fertile Kingdom of Buganda.
  • In February 1890, Carl Peters, a Germany colonialist arrived at Mengo clutching a treaty with the German East African Company.
  • Mwanga signed it readily, possibly in hope that the German involvement would put an end to the Anglo-French religious intrigues which had persistently undermined his throne.
  • Unfortunately for Mwanga, German deliverance was not to be; a few months after Peter’s arrival, Germany handed Buganda to the British East African Company (IBECO) in exchange for the Heligoland; a tiny but strategic island in the North Sea.
  1. British influence in Uganda
  • As noted above, in 1890 – Britain and Germany signed a treaty (Heligoland treaty) that gave Britain rights to what was to become Uganda.
  • In 1892, Frederick Lugard, the Imperial British East Africa Company agent extended the company’s control to southern Uganda and helped the Protestant missionaries to prevail over their Catholic counterparts in Buganda.
  • In 1894, Uganda became a British protectorate.
  • In 1899, the British government sent Sir Harry Johnston a seasoned administrator to study and recommend the best form of administration that would keep the Uganda protectorate in a calm and productive situation.
  • In 1900, the British signed an agreement with Buganda that granted it autonomy and made it a constitutional monarchy governed mainly by Protestant chiefs.
  • Also, in the agreement the status of the Kabaka of Buganda was put in recognition of Britain along with his council of chiefs.
  • Unlike in Kenya where the whites were occupied the Kenyan Highlands, Uganda had been declared uninhabitable by British.
  1. Independent Uganda
  • In the mid-1950s−Lango school teacher, Dr Milton Obote managed to put together a loose coalition headed by the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), which led Uganda to independence.
  • In 1962, Uganda becomes independent with Milton Obote as prime minister and Kabaka (king) Edward Mutesa II of Buganda, as president of the new nation.
  • In 1966, Milton Obote ends Buganda’s autonomy and promotes himself to the presidency. He arrested several cabinet ministers and ordered his army chief of staff, Idi Amin, to storm the kabaka’s palace in Kampala.
  • Following this coup, Obote proclaimed himself president, and the Buganda monarchy was abolished, along with those of the Bunyoro, Ankole, Toro and Busoga kingdoms. Meanwhile, Idi Amin’s star was on the rise.
  • In 1967, Obote ordered his attorney general, Godfrey Binaisa, to rewrite the constitution consolidating virtually all powers in the presidency and then moved to nationalize foreign assets.
  • In 1969 a scandal broke out over US$5 million in funds and weapons allocated to the Ministry of Defense that couldn’t be accounted for. An explanation was demanded of Idi Amin, and when it wasn’t forthcoming, Amin’s deputy, Colonel Okoya, and some junior officers demanded his resignation
  • Shortly afterwards rumours began to circulate about Amin’s imminent arrest. It never came. Instead, when Obote left for Singapore in January 1971 to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Amin staged a coup. Obote went into exile in Tanzania.
  1. The years of Idi Amin in Uganda
  • In 1971, began Uganda’s first reign of terror.
  • All political activities were quickly suspended and the army was empowered to shoot on sight anyone suspected of opposition to the Amin’s regime.
  • Over the next eight years an estimated 300,000 Ugandans lost their lives. Also targeted was the strong Asian community.
  • In 1972, Amin ordered 70,000 Asians – to leave the Uganda. They were given 90 days to leave the
  • Meanwhile the economy collapsed. The prolific wildlife was machine-gunned by soldiers for meat, ivory and skins, and the tourism industry evaporated.
  • Faced with chaos and an inflation rate that hit 1000%, Amin was forced to delegate more and more powers to the provincial governors, who became virtual warlords in their areas.
  • Towards the end of the Amin era, the treasury was so bereft of funds it was unable to pay the soldiers.
  • One of the few supporters of Amin at the end of the 1970s was Colonel Gadaffi, who bailed out the Ugandan economy in the name of Islamic brotherhood and began an intensive drive to equip the Ugandan forces with sophisticated weapons.
  • The rot had spread too far, however, and was beyond the point where a few million dollars in Libyan largesse could help.
  • Faced with a restless army beset with intertribal fighting, Amin looked for a diversion.
  • He chose a war with Tanzania, ostensibly to teach that country a lesson for supporting anti-Amin dissidents. It was his last major act of recklessness, and in it laid his downfall.
  • In 1978 – Ugandan army rolled across northwestern Tanzania virtually unopposed and annexed more than 1200 square kilometers of territory.
  • In 1979, Tanzania invaded Uganda, unifying the various anti-Amin forces under the Uganda National Liberation Front.
  • Amin fled the country and eventually ended up in Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003, never having faced justice.
  1. Uganda after Amin
  • In 1979, Yusufu Lule was installed as president
  • On 20th June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, Lule was bundled out of the office and replaced with Binaisa having ruled for 68 days.
  • In 1980, Binaisa was overthrown by the army. Milton Obote becomes president again after elections.
  • In 1985 Obote was deposed in military coup and replaced by Tito Okello.
  • On 26 January 1986, the National Resistance Army rebels entered Kampala, Okello was surrendered tamely and Museveni was sworn in as president. The long nightmare was finally over.
  1. Beginnings of recovery
  • In 1993, Museveni restored the traditional kingdoms of Uganda, including Buganda, Bunyoro, and Tooro but without political power.
  • In 1995, a new constitution was drafted which legalized political parties but maintains the ban on political activity.
  • In 1996, Museveni returned to office in Uganda’s first direct presidential election.
  • With peace came optimism: services were restored, factories and farmland that had lain idle for years were again put to use, the main roads were resurfaced, and the national parks’ infrastructure was restored.
  • The stability and rebuilding that came with President Museveni’s coming to power in 1986 were followed in the 1990s with economic prosperity.
  • For many years, Uganda was Africa’s fastest-growing economy, becoming a favorite among investors.
  • During the 1990s and early 2000s, the economy of Uganda improved rapidly and Uganda has been acclaimed for its economic stability and high rates of growth.
Book your trip

More posts for you