19 June 2017

Uganda: How Buganda Planned Attempted Exit From Uganda

Photo: Henry Lubega/Daily Monitor
Governor Andrew Cohen (right) and Kabaka Muteesa sign an agreement in 1955.
analysis

As former Kabaka Edward Muteesa returned from exile in 1955, the disputes that led to his deportation were not yet resolved. But what his deportation had achieved was strengthen the resolve among the Baganda to have their way against British colonial administrators.

Further, events in Ghana in 1957 when Ashanti king lost recognition following attainment of independence strengthened the Baganda's desire to secede from Uganda to protect the dignity of the Kabaka.

To the neo-traditionalists, Buganda was better off as a small entity under the Kabaka than in a bigger independent Uganda.

To defend and preserve the kabakaship, a number of schemes were employed, top among them being to kill political parties in Buganda. The rise of political parties was blamed on colonial administrators who were encouraging participation of locals in politics.

Writing in the book The Forging of an African Nation: The Political and Constitution Evolution of Uganda from 1894 -1962, Grace Ibingira says: "The first approach was to cripple and eliminate any political party in Buganda. During this endeavour, all the forces of the Kingdom's history were in favour of the secessionist."

The loyalists took advantage of this position to liquidate individuals in Buganda who were politically active and not traditionalist in their thinking.

According to A. Low in his book Political Parties in Uganda, "After the reinstatement of the Kabaka in 1955, public opinion in Buganda was influenced and directed by the tripartite force of the Kabaka, the chiefs, and the people."

The tripartite looked out for influential Baganda involved in party politics and had them silenced.

Ibingira says: "E. M. K. Mulira of the Progressive Party was prevented from attending the Lukiiko, a fictitious charge was levelled against J. W. Kiwanuka, one of the leading members of the UNC [Uganda National Congress] for not only insulting the Kabaka but having plotted to assassinate him. M. Mugwanya, the president of Democratic Party, was prevented personally by the Kabaka from taking a seat in the Lukiiko which he had won in a by-election."

Not done with that, the Lukiiko sought to do away with anything that bounded Buganda to the colonial administration, hence the decision to terminate all treaties they had signed with the British government.

In 1958, then katikkiro Michael Kintu and his Lukiiko sent a memorandum to the colonial office seeking to terminate all treaties Buganda Kingdom had signed with them.

"It would be asking too much of the Baganda to entrust the destiny of their country into the hands of political party leaders whose experience has not been proved by time. This could be extremely risky in the light of recent history which has shown clearly that politicians in emerging countries use parliamentary democracy as a springboard to virtual dictatorship," read the memorandum in part.

Launching the secession bid

Buganda officially submitted their bid to secede to the colonial office on December 16, 1958. The bid was titled 'A memorandum from the Buganda Lukiiko for submission to Her Majesty the Queen being the desire for the Baganda to bring the Buganda treaty of 1894 to an end.' It was the treaty which made Buganda a protectorate.

Article 2 of the protectorate agreement stated that: "Her Britannica Majesty Queen Victoria had been graciously pleased to bestow on Mwanga King of Uganda the protection which he requested."

In his book The Forging of an African Nation, Ibingira says there was lack of sincerity on the side of Buganda while demanding to terminate their cooperation with the British rule. Ibingira says the demand for secession was "extravagant and founded partly in arrogance".

Ibingira's argument was based on the fact that the Buganda memorandum accused the British of stopping the unitary development of Uganda and instead led to the development of tribal pride, and not a national pride.

The memorandum stated: "By the 1900 agreement, the British changed their policy of Uganda being developed as a unitary state and Buganda was made to renounce her dependencies in favour of the British. But these dependencies although surrendered, still enjoyed that same protection for which King Mwanga paid the price."

The dependencies referred to in the memorandum were the kingdoms of Tooro and Ankole in western Uganda and the territory of Busoga. The dependency claim is what angered Buganda's close allies in the west, Ankole and Tooro.

However, according to H. F. Morris in the Uganda Journal of 1956, modern Ankole had never been a province of Buganda at any given time.

For the case of Tooro from when it broke away from Bunyoro, it had never paid homage to Buganda. In the memorandum, however, the katikkiro claimed that Ankole and Tooro were some of the dependencies they lost following the 1984 treaty.

In the Uganda Journal, Morris writes that Ankole kingdom "had a clear independent existence and had never paid homage or tribute to Buganda. It also had a dynasty of independent rulers".

And according to Ibingira in his book: "It's true that Buganda's claim to these dependencies was not a pretext for the Lukiiko in 1958 to secede; it was a claim staked in 1898 by the Buganda Katikkiro to the British administrators with the view to acquiring more territory for Buganda."

However, when the claim was made, the colonial administrators set up a one man committee to investigate the allegations.

Writing in the book The Making of Modern Uganda, K. Ingham says: "The claim of the dependencies was investigated by George Wilson who concluded that although the claim over the western kingdoms of Ankole, Tooro and Bunyoro were theoretical and unreal. Busoga itself had been a tributary of Buganda for a considerable time."

The strong reaction from Buganda's neighbours against the dependence claim strengthened Buganda's demand for secession.

The memorandum signed by the Katikkiro concluded by saying: "It is evident that according to the terms of the 1894 treaty there are other territories in Uganda which obtained British protection by virtue of that treaty and that it follows that anything touching the treaty affects those treaties. It is therefore intended that discussions be held with the view to creating a workable formula between ourselves and those territories."

This demand was outrightly rejected by the colonial office and on December 11, 1959, the colonial secretary came to Uganda and addressed the Lukiiko, during which address he assured them that "the agreements could not be torn up by 1961 although it was possible to review some of their provisions".

Not done with the secretary's stand, the Lukiiko later sent another memorandum early 1960, again tracing Buganda's history and the kingdom's anxiety over the position of the Kabaka if Buganda was to remain a part of independent Uganda.

The document went ahead to state its economic importance in Buganda saying, "it is well known that most of the protectorate government's revenue comes from Buganda and that those monies are spent in other parts of the protectorate while Buganda receives back a mere pittance of what it subscribes, thus Buganda no longer sees the benefit of remaining in Uganda."

Unfortunately for the Buganda Lukiiko, the colonial government stood its ground and pressed ahead with its plans of preparing Uganda as one State on the road to independence.

Launching of secession bid

Buganda officially submitted their bid to secede to the colonial office on December 16, 1958. The bid was titled 'A memorandum from the Buganda Lukiiko for submission to Her Majesty the Queen being the desire for the Baganda to bring the Buganda treaty of 1894 to an end.' It was the treaty which made Buganda a protectorate.

Article 2 of the protectorate agreement stated that: "Her Britannica Majesty Queen Victoria had been graciously pleased to bestow on Mwanga King of Uganda the protection which he requested."

In his book The Forging of an African Nation, Ibingira says there was lack of sincerity on the side of Buganda while demanding to terminate their cooperation with the British rule.

In part two next week, read about Buganda's quest for United Nations membership.

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