THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE IN UGANDA

The Stages

The British had found the Baganda very hospitable and had greatly used them in the extension of colonial rule. Because of this, Buganda turned out to be the centre of political activities in Uganda, especially after World War II.

The path to independence in Uganda was not easy. This was because there was no national political party, no national figure, no urgent problem and then Buganda's separatist demands.

Buganda had been elevated above other areas. Sir Charles Dundas (1940 - 1944) had given the Lukiiko more independent authority, which greatly dissatisfied people from other areas who felt that the Buganda Lukiiko could not fairly represent their interests.

The British - leaning Katikiro, Martin Luther Nsibirwa had resigned in 1941 and had been replaced by Samwiri Wamala. However, Wamala's administration was not to be easy. This was because of the many enemies he had.

But the most outstanding of all was the Bataka Federation, a group of extremist Baganda conservatives who were opposed to any new idea. The group for example, opposed the building of Makerere College on Buganda's land.

What followed were strikes and labour unrest, all masterminded by this conservative group. They moved around the country canvassing support for what they called a noble cause of preserving Buganda's traditions.

The Central government did not sit back; the Kings African Riffles (KAR) soldiers and the police were called in to bring the situation back to normal.

This confusion resulted in the removal of Wamala as the Katikiro on 22nd February 1945. He was accused of supporting the British. Members of the Lukiiko who were considered "disloyal" were dismissed and normalcy returned to Buganda for some time.

In July 1945, Katikiro Martin Nsibirwa who had been sacked was reinstated by the new governor, Sir

John Hall.

But on 5th September, he was assassinated as he climbed the steps of Namirembe Cathedral. It was widely rumoured that the murder was the work of dismissed Lukiiko members.

Kawalya Kaggwa (a son of Apollo Kaggwa), became the Katikiro. In order for the government to restore confidence in the people, elections to the Lukiiko were organised.

During the elections, thirty-one members of the Lukiiko were elected, but the agitators and the extremists refused to cooperate with the protectorate government.

In 1949, Buganda witnessed another wave of riots organised by the Bataka Federation and the African

Farmers Union formed after World War II,

The two groups wanted some members of the Lukiiko and some Saza chiefs removed and demanded for an increase in the number of the members elected to the Lukiiko.

In April 1949, a group of about 400 angry Baganda agitators camped at Muteesa's palace. The police was

called to quell the situation and many of them were arrested, tried and imprisoned.

The Bataka party and the African Farmers Association, the architects of this unrest were banned. Peace

returned to Buganda.

A commission of inquiry was set up to examine the grievances of these rioters and they were found not to be justified. It however, recommended that constitutional reforms be made to bring the government closer to the people.

From 1945, at the central level, the first three African members to the Legco were nominated. Central

(Buganda), Western (Ankole) and Eastern (Busoga) were each to send one member.

Buganda was however hesitant to do send a representative to the Legco as this would be suicidal and harmful to her semi - independent status.

In 1950, the unofficial members of the Legco doubled to sixteen, eight of whom were Africans. Of these eight, two were to come from Buganda (one nominated by the Kabaka and another by the Lukiiko).

The Buganda Lukiiko still maintained its non - cooperative attitude and refused to nominate a member to the Legco as demanded. Its argument was that this would reduce Buganda to a mere province. This forced the Kabaka to nominate the two members.

In 1953, the Legco was expanded and it now looked like "a small national assembly". It had an official side (government side) and twenty-eight non-official members including all races, tribes and regions.

The "cross bench" was introduced and those who sat on this bench voted freely except on votes of confidence in support of thee government.

The Lukiiko once more refused to cooperate. Busoga joined Buganda in this boycott.

In 1953, a misunderstanding rose between Sir Andrew Cohen (the governor) and Kabaka Muteesa II of Buganda. The Kabaka wanted primary schools, junior schools and veterinary departments transferred to Buganda.

Buganda also wanted to pursue her own road to independence, equal representation on the Legco, return (from the Colonial office) to the Foreign office and was also against the idea of federating the East African states.

This confusion created tension that resulted into the deportation of the Kabaka to England on 30th

November 195'3.This is what is known as "The Kabaka Crisis".

The Baganda remained in a very tense and uncompromising situation, demanding for the return of their king.

They thus refused to choose an heir to Muteesa as the British had hoped.

In 1954, Sir Keith Hancock a constitutional expert arrived on the political scene of Buganda to reconcile the two parties (Buganda and the Central government). Discussions went on for a full year until a settlement was reached;

• The Kabaka was to become a constitutional monarch.

• Saza chiefs were to be elected by members of Lukiiko.

• The Lukiiko was to nominate Kabaka's ministers and these were subject to the governor's approval.

• There were to be no further constitutional changes for seven years,

• Nothing was to be done about the closer union of East Africa.

• Buganda was to nominate a member to the Legco.

• This 1955 agreement therefore amended the 1900 Buganda agreement.

On 17th October 1955, Muteesa returned to his people amidst joy and jubilation.

The same year, membership to the Legco was increased form twenty-eight to thirty. The cross bench was abolished and a ministerial system was introduced (3 Africans, 1 Asian and 1 European). These made up a council of eleven ministers and two unofficial members.

1n1957, the need for a Speaker arose and some of the unofficial members were to be elected directly by the people of Uganda except in Karamoja.

The Baganda felt that the new created post of Speaker was unconstitutional, violating the clause that no constitutional changes would take place until after seven years. They therefore withdrew their membership from the Legco.

However in 1958, two political parties emerged to contest the elections. One was the Uganda National Congress (UNC) formed by Ignatius Kangave Musaazi whose Uganda Farmers Association had been banned and another was the Democratic Party (DP).

After the elections, a split occurred among the UNC members leading to the formation of the Uganda

Peoples Union (UPU), a faction of members who were opposed to Buganda's privileged position.

In November 1958, the Wild Commission led by J. V. Wild was formed to plan and organise the 1961 elections to the Legco. The commission recommended elections for all races and these were to be held on a common roll with a small number of official members.

The Lukiiko boycotted the elections claiming that the Baganda had nothing to do with them (the elections), that what they wanted was independence for Buganda not the whole nation. Despite these threats the government went ahead with the constitutional changes.

In 1960, many Baganda refused to buy goods from non - African (Asian) shops.

In the elections of 1961, two political parties participated, DP led by Ben Kiwanuka and majorly composed of Baganda who were opposed to the Lukiiko and the second one was Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), a merger between UPU and a faction of UNC.

The Democratic Party won the elections with fourty-three seats while the large Protestant UPC party got thirty five seats. Kiwanuka became the leader of the Legco and Obote, the leader of the opposition.

In 1961, the Kabaka Yekka party (King alone) (KY) was formed by Kabali Masembe, It was a royalist party that mainly drew its support from members of the Lukiiko. It wanted Buganda to retain her special status in the independent Uganda.

After the September 1961 London Conference, Kiwanuka became the Prime Minister, He was answerable to the National Assembly and advised by a council of ministers.

On 1st March 1962, Buganda attained self - rule; it was given powers over her internal affairs.

In April 1962, another round of elections was organised. During these elections, DP got twenty-four seats, UPC thirty-seven and KY twenty-one.

UPC and KY formed an alliance to form a government. (UPC - KY marriage of convenience). Dr. Apollo Milton Obote became the new Prime Minister.

On 9th October 1962, Uganda became independent. The Union Jack was lowered and the Uganda flag raised amidst joy and jubilation at Kololo airstrip. Obote had steered the country to independence.

At first the Governor General was the head of state, but the National Assembly decided that it should be a traditional ruler to hold such a post.

And on that recommendation in 1963, Kabaka Edward Muteesa II of Buganda was called to be the first

President of Uganda.