Colonization of Uganda and Present Day Issues

Colonisation can be understood as the policy of acquiring or settling in a new country but remaining under the rule of home land or home country. As far as the question is concerned, this study is going to address the settlement of the British in Uganda, acquiring it as a colony but remaining under rule of Britain. This will further address the issue such as the reasons to why the British colonised Uganda, the measures they used to administer colonisation as well as the effects that resulted from colonisation, not forgetting the present day issues and problems that resulted from colonisation.

When was the area colonised and who by

The process of colonisation in Uganda by the British started during the reign of Kabaka Mutesa 1 of Buganda from 1856-1884 when he welcomed the explores, as well as the missionaries but Uganda was clamed a British protectorate in 1894. Buganda as a kingdom played a significant role in the colonisation of Uganda as a whole country due to its central location as well as its way of administration which was almost similar to that of the British.

Buganda kingdom was headed by the king (Kabaka) and under him were the chiefs so this was similar to the role British which was a monarchy.

Full administration of Uganda as a colony was complete after the signing of the 1900 Buganda agreement with Sir Harry Johnston the commissioner of Uganda representing the colonial government. The agreement resulted into dividing the land , the Kabaka and his chiefs up taking one half of the land commonly known as the mile land because it was measured in miles and the other half was taken by the British and this was called the crown land.

Top Writers
Prof Evander
Verified expert
4.8 (654)
Academic Giant
Verified expert
5 (345)
Dr. Karlyna PhD
Verified expert
4.7 (235)
hire verified writer

Why was the country colonised

It is important to note that the sole reason to why the British colonised Uganda was commercial or financial. It is against the back ground that Sir Harry Johnstons 1900 agreement imposed taxes on huts and guns. These taxes were used to effectively and efficiently administer Uganda as a colony. The chiefs in Buganda were offered jobs in the colonial government as tax collectors in return to their collaboration hence testifying to the alliance of the British and Buganda interests. This is evident in the article from the library of congress country studies; the author affirms that The Baganda immediately offered their services to the British administrators over their recently conquered neighbours, an offer which was attractive to the economy.

Further more, the economy mindedness of the colonial administration was evident in the introduction of cash crops such as coffee and mainly cotton and the encouragement grow them. Agricultural production was mainly placed in the hands of native people. The British were much interested in cotton so as to produce raw materials for the British mills. The importance of cotton in Uganda is further evident by the missionaries who joined the effort to promote cotton planting, buying and transporting the product as well. The author of the article about colonialism in Uganda from Wikipedia Foundations Inc (2006) affirms that cotton was the crop of choice, largely because of the pressure by the British Cotton Growing Association; textile manufactures who urged colonies to provide raw materials for the British mill.

The construction and the completion of the Uganda railway are also evident enough to show that the colonial government was financially oriented. The Uganda railway was a catalyst in the encouragement to grow cash crops. The production of cash crops was meant to help pay the operating costs of the rail line which was the way of easing the transportation of those cash crops from Uganda to the other neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Tanzania to help develop their economic standards of living. (Wikimedia Foundation Inc 2006).

What happened to the indigenous people

Colonialism brought about division among the Buganda and other tribes in Uganda. The fact that British used the Baganda indirectly to administer colonisation created a lot of hatred to the Buganda kingdom by other tribes. Baganda sub imperialism was entirely resented by the other by the other people where the Ganda chiefs ruled. The Baganda chiefs insisted on the use of Ludanda as their language and planted bananas as the only proper food for eating.

They also insisted on wearing only their traditional cloth and regarded as barbarie. This created a lot of tension between the Baganda and the other tribes especially the Bunyoro who had fought a war against the Baganda and the British over the annexation of part of Bunyoro kingdom to Buganda commonly known as the lost couties. The Bunyoro fought the Baganda in a rebellion commonly known as Nyangire meaning refusing and succeeded in expelling the Buganda from their land.

Basiriike et al noted that, in 1884, during the time of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), there was a conflict between the two groups of missionaries who were competing for followers. This conflict ended up in religious wars called Wafaransa- Wangereza wars meaning wars between French and English. Mwanga, who was a king by then, got annoyed hoping that the missionaries would be danger to his kingdom. He ordered to kill some Uganda Christian converts known as the Ugandan Martyrs and also ordered to burn them after wards as a result of Christianity.

The study of Our Country Uganda (1997) also stated that after Uganda was declared as a British protectorate in 1894, the British marked the beginning of strong influence and a decline in powers of the traditional Kings which led to the disagreements between the local Kings who saw their powers being taken away by the European rulers. This can is evident to the fact that most people also lost their cultures and traditions to the British.

How did the colonisers benefit

As already mentioned above that cotton was being encouraged to be grown as the main cash crop by the British, this was largely exposed on to the development of their textile industries in Britain where by they made a lot of money from it thus widening their economy.

After imposing higher taxes on huts and guns towards the people of Uganda, the British gained a lot profits which was then used to pay for the costs of the construction of the East African Railway which was used to ease the transportation of their cash crops. (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc 2006)According to the study of Fountain Social Studies (1997), Stanley wrote a letter to Mutesa 1 for the request of spreading Christianity. This letter was even published in the London news papers, The Daily Telegraph. This was the time when Christianity got spread throughout the country and the British gained satisfaction over their mission.

What present day issues or problems are results of European colonialism

Cash crop introduction by the colonialists developed Ugandas economy. Crops like cotton helped in developing Ugandas textile industry. The income generated by cotton sales made the people prosperous and they spent their new earnings on imported clothing, bicycles, metal roofing and even automobiles which still exist in present day Uganda.

As a result of colonialism, the different societies and kingdoms were merged and formed into one country with defined borders and turned into a republic which exists up to today. Kakaka Muteesa the second became president of the republic of Uganda. It can therefore be argued that present day Uganda exists as it is because of the colonialists who defined its borders. Problems such as division amongst the people of Uganda exist because of the way the borders were defined. People of Northern Uganda do not feel like part of Uganda which has led to insurgencies like the Lords Resistance Army rebellion existing in Uganda today.

Basirika et al affirms that as a result of British influence, Ugandans still copy the British way of dressing, building as well as using English as the formal medium of instruction in major institutions. Christianity still exists and is more influential than the traditional religions of Uganda.

Besides Christianity, the missionaries played a big part in developing Uganda. In 1875, Alexandra Mackay helped a lot in the technical industry especially in carpentry and also opened up a printing press in Uganda where by these were used in the development of reading and writing skills. It is also been mentioned in the same study that the missionaries opened up learning centres such as Kisubi, Namilyango, Nsambya and many more. Basiriika et al stated that all these are still existing thus developing the Countrys social sector.


  1. Basiriike .k, Ajuru.F, kitayimbwa.Y, Mugerwa.S. (1997) Our Country Uganda; Fountain Publishers.
  2. Wikipedia Organisation. (2006) Colonial Uganda; the Colonial Era; Wikimedia
  3. Publishers. Accessed on line on 8-10-2006 at

Cite this page

Colonization of Uganda and Present Day Issues. (2016, Jul 07). Retrieved from

Are You on a Short Deadline? Let a Professional Expert Help You
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7