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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
The Uganda Society
Table of Contents
A short history of Uganda military units formed during World War II
The year of the three kings of Buganda, Mwanga-Kiwewa-Kalema, 1888-1889
The wild mammals of Teso and Karamoja - IV
History and legends of the rocks of Kakumiro
Soils and men
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOC
VOLUME 14, No. I
A Short History of Uganda Military Units formed during World War II
MAJOR E. F. WrrmEHEAD
The Year of the Three Kings of Buganda Sm JOHN MILNER GRAY
The Wild Mammals of Teso and Karamoja-IV J. M. WATSON
History and Legends of the Rocks of Kakumiro J. T. K. GoOMOrOKA
Soils and Men G. AP GRIFFrm
A Relic of S.S. Khedive -
Death of Mumia -
Maize Names -
- H. B. ToLOMAS
- W. J. EGGELING
Mr. A. D. Combe -
'The Zimbabwe-Monomotapa Culture in South-East Africa' (By H. A.
Wieschhoff) A. C. A. WRIGHT
'Our Plundered Planet' (By Fairfield Osborn) G. AP GRiFFITH
Published on behalf of
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
AMEN HOUSE LONDON E.C.4
Price Shs. 10 (10s.)
His Excellency Sir John Hathorn Hall, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C.'
Dr. G. ap Griffith
Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, w.F.
The Hon. Secretary
The Hon. Treasurer
The Hon. Librarians
The Hon. Editors
Mr. E. W. K. Bulera
Mr. B. D. Gupta
Mr. G. A. Kassim
The Chevalier Macken
Mr. A. G. Macpherson
Mr. E. McCully Hunter
Mr. G. P. Saben
Mr. L. P. Saldanha
Mr. R. G. Sangster
Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.9.B.
Hon. Secretary : Mr. J. A. Addington
Hon. Treasurer: Mr. C. W. Stuart
Hon. Librarians: Miss J. Larter
Mrs. B. Saben
Mr. W. V. Harris
Dr. G. ap Griffith
R. A. Tito Winyi II, C.B.E. Mr. H. B. Thomas, O.B.E.
Sir E. F. Twining, K.C.M.O., M.B.E. Dr. A. W. Williams
Mr. Norman Godinho, M.B.E. Mr. Justice Mark Wilson
Mr. E. B. Haddon
Sir A. R. Cook, Kt., C.M.G., O.B.E.
Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E.
Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., LL.D.
Mr. H. Jowitt, C.M.G.
Sir H. R. Hone, K.B.E., M.C., K.C.
Mr. J. Sykes, O.B.e.
Mr. N. V. Brasnett
Captain C. R. S. Pitman, D.S.O., M.C.
Mr. S. W. Kulubya, M.B.E.
Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins
Mr. R. A. Snoxall
Dr. K. A. Davies, O.B.E.
Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins, o.B.E.
Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
Dr. W. J. Eggeling
Editorial Committee :
The Hon. Editors Mr. R. A. Snoxall
Captain C. R. S. Pitman, D.s.o., M.C. Mr. H. B. Thomas, o.B.a.
Mr. 0. S. Keeble, A.C.A.
Mrs A. Tenniswood
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
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THE UGANDA SOCIETY,
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THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
W. V. HARRIS
G. AP GRIFFITH Hon. Editors
C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
R. A. SNOXALL
(assisted in England by H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.)
Published on behalf of
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
AMEN HOUSE LONDON E.C.4
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY HEADLEY BROTHERS
109 KINGSWAY, LONDON, W.C.2 ; AND ASHFORD, KENT
A Short History of Uganda Military Units formed during World War II
MAJOR E. F. WHITEHEAD 1
The Year of the Three Kings of Buganda SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY 15
The Wild Mammals of Teso and Karamoja-IV J. M. WATSON 53
History and Legends of the Rocks of Kakumiro J. T. K. GGOMOTOKA 85
Soils and Men G. AP GRIFFrIT 97
A Relic of S.S. Khedive H. B. THOMAS 103
Death of Mumia W. J. EGGELING 105
Maize Names 106
Mr. A. D. Combe 108
The Zimbabwe-Monomotapa Culture in South-East Africa' (By H. A.
Wieschhoff) A. C. A. WRIGHT 109
'Our Plundered Planet' (By Fairfield Osborn) G. AP GRIFFITH 114
The Birds of Bwamba by Dr. V. G. L. van Someren and G. R. C.
van Someren, a separately bound and paged Special Supplement to
the Uganda Journal, has now been published.
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Applications, which must be accompanied by the necessary
remittance, should be made to the Secretary at the Society's address
(Private Bag, Kampala, Uganda).
A SHORT HISTORY OF UGANDA MILITARY UNITS
FORMED DURING WORLD WAR II
By MAJOR E. F. WHITEHEAD
BEFORE the outbreak of the Second World War, the 4th (Uganda) Battalion
King's African Rifles was the only regular military unit in Uganda. This
battalion had recently been brought up to full strength and had its headquarters
with two companies at Bombo. The two other companies were at Lokitaung
in the Turkana District of Kenya engaged in punitive operations against the
Merille, who had been raiding the Turkana. The new barracks at Jinja had
just been completed and the battalion was shortly to move there from Bombo.
However the War intervened, and the Jinja barracks were not occupied until
The 7th (Uganda) Territorial Battalion King's African Rifles, which had
recently been formed, was embodied on the outbreak of war and moved to
Bombo in September 1939 when the 4th K.A.R. departed to mobilization stations.
The only other body of trained men then in the Protectorate was the Uganda
Police. This force found non-commissioned officers for the King's African
Rifles, notably at Jinja Infantry Training Centre where they did excellent service
in training recruits. The Police Service Company garrisoned Lokitaung for
a period. There were only some twelve hundred troops in the country on
the outbreak of war. During the war approximately seventy-seven thousand
Uganda Africans were enlisted and from such small beginnings the following
Uganda units were formed:
Artillery. 56th (Uganda) Field Battery East African Artillery.
58th ,, ,, ,, ,,
Infantry. 4th (Uganda) Battalion King's African Rifles.
7th ,, ,, ,,
2/4th ,, ,, ,,
3/4th ,, ,, ,,
4/4th ,, ,, ,,
15th ,, ,, ,,
17th ,, ,, ,,
64th ,, ,, ,,
66th ,, ,, ,,
East African Army Service Corps.
D Section, 51st Supply Personnel Company.
Various small detachments.
Medical. 6th (Uganda) Field Ambulance.
3rd (Uganda) Motor Ambulance Company.
Uganda Casualty Clearing Station.
Several small Units.
2 UGANDA JOURNAL
Ordnance. No. 4 Base Ordnance Depot.
Infantry Training Centre, Jinja Infantry Training Centre.
Various. Several details camps and depots.
No account is given of the various Labour and Pioneer Units or of the units of
the East African Engineers in which large numbers of Uganda Africans served.
Many of these men served in Egypt and the Middle East.
Of the above the following saw active service:
56th, 58th Batteries East African Artillery.
4th, 7th, 2/4th, 3/4th, 4/4th Battalion King's African Rifles.
D Section, 51st Supply Personnel Company.
6th Field Ambulance.
3rd Motor Ambulance Company.
Apart from the above there were, of course, many Uganda Africans and others
serving in units named after other territories. In the enormous expansion that
took place the Infantry Training Centre, Jinja, played the greatest part as it
trained not only all the Uganda recruits but also all those for the Kenya units.
Lack of suitable non-commissioned officers was the chief difficulty, but, as
already mentioned, the Uganda Police provided a number. The Nubi com-
munity at Bombo also produced many reservists as well as many others that
were long past the age of recall. It is not known exactly how many recruits
actually passed through this depot, but the number must have been enormous.
Numbers varied, but at one time there were some seventy-five officers and
sixteen recruit companies at Jinja. The now prominent Cassia plantations are
due to an Agricultural Officer who was stationed there and they are now coming
to maturity as a source of firewood for the barracks.
To provide the large number of recruits required recruiting parties toured
the country, and no difficulty was found in obtaining the necessary numbers.
Mention should also be made of the depot formed at Tororo, in which many
of these recruits received some initial training, and their probable suitability
for military, labour or other units was assessed: this depot, under civil direction,
was brought into being in 1941.
Uganda units served in all those theatres of war in which East African
troops took part. They also garrisoned Mauritius and Diego Suarez and built
a large part of the Mombasa defences.
In the short histories of the various units which follow there are, it is
realized, some omissions but, it is hoped, no errors. The smaller units kept
no war diaries and it has not proved possible to make contact with someone
who served in every unit.
AWARDS TO AFRICAN RANKS
The following is a list, which it is hoped is reasonably complete, of the more
important awards made to African ranks during the war. Additionally, a
number of Africans were mentioned in despatches.
Distinguished Conduct Medal:
Company Sergeant Major Zefania Mayanja.
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 3
Military Medal :
Sergeant Yowana Owinja.
,, Quietino Wawar.
Corporal Martino Opio.
,, Lawoko Otim.
,, Mohammed Sorah.
Lance-Corporal Guido Ureria.
Private Mikaeri Mwindo.
,, Yofasi Otino.
Member of the British Empire :
Regimental Sergeant Major Petero Lomoro.
British Empire Medal:
Regimental Sergeant Major Ali Hassan.
Warrant Officer Class 1 Enusi Kibikio.
Warrant Officer Platoon Commander Michael Matovu.
Sergeant Lanoke Oku.
,, Katebo Polikalipo.
56TH (UGANDA) BATTERY EAST AFRICAN ARTILLERY
This battery was formed at the Royal Artillery Depot, Larkhill, Kedong,
on the 3rd August 1941. Here it trained for a short while and then moved to
Nakuru whence demonstrations were regularly given to the Tactical School,
Gilgil. It moved to Yatta in April 1942, when it came under the command of
the 22nd East African Brigade.
The battery next moved to Madagascar to take part in the operations on
that island. In June it was stationed at Orangea and Joffreville where intensive
training was carried out. In September 1942, the unit moved to Majunga by
sea and then to Tananarive and Antsirane where it again came under the com-
mand of the 22nd East African Brigade. In October 1942 it went into action
against the Vichy French at Ilaka, where some good shooting was done,
remaining in action until the armistice of the following month.
4 UGANDA JOURNAL
The battery spent the next six months in Madagascar and during this
period became part of the 1st Field Regiment East African Artillery, which
was later renumbered as the 301st Field Regiment. The next move was back
to Kenya, the battery arriving at Mombasa in July 1943. Here intensive training
was carried out prior to moving overseas, and the battery sailed for Ceylon as
part-of the 301st Field Regiment with the rest of the East African Expeditionary
The ship on which it sailed, the Khedive Ismael, was torpedoed in the
Indian Ocean and nearly all members of the battery were lost. After this
disaster the .56th Battery was never re-formed.
Captain D. C. McCreath.
Major W. W. Mackinlay.
58TH (UGANDA) BATTERY EAST AFRICAN ARTILLERY
The battery was raised at Royal Artillery Depot in June 1942, from
recruits obtained from Uganda, many tribes being represented. As this was
an entirely new unit, shortage of non-commissioned officers was acute, but all
ranks had seen a gun fire before the unit moved to Gilgil in September. While
at Gilgil the battery gave demonstrations to the Nakuru battle school and the
tactical school, later moving to Naivasha for ten days' practice camp. The
next move was to Moshi where intensive training was carried out under command
of the 25th East African Brigade. After this training it embarked with the
first flight of the 11th East African Division.
From August 1943 until June 1944 the battery was training in Ceylon with
the rest of the division, and several moves took place during this period. One
such move was due to the information that Japanese ships had been seen
approaching the island.
The division concentrated in the Dambulla area and embarked for Chitta-
gong in India in June 1944. Here the battery disembarked and moved to a
singularly unpleasant camp called Kazi Camp'. While this was, undoubtedly,
a foretaste of what was to come, it was not a place where it was possible to do
any training as the entire time was spent in carrying stores in the rain.
In August 1944 the battery moved by rail, river and road to Palel where it
was issued with completely new vehicles. It was also re-equipped with 3-7
howitzers which were to be jeep-drawn. This problem was easily dealt with
as the original training had been done with this equipment. Various difficulties,
such as floods, overtook the battery during the move to the Kabaw valley, but
it arrived at Yagazyo in Burma at the beginning of October. Here the first
action took place when the battery supported the 26th Brigade's attack on
Green, Brown and Dick hills. During the advance it was bombed and machine-
gunned and had Japanese jitter-parties round its positions at night. The advance
continuing, the road entered the Myttha gorge which provided some interesting
shooting owing to the difficulty of selecting fire positions.
After the 25th East African Brigade had captured Kalewa the battery
moved up to cover the first crossing of the Chindwin. Here it was visited
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 5
by General Slim, Commander of the 14th Army, and later by Lord Louis
Mountbatten. The 2nd British Division took over from the 11th East African
Division here and the battery returned to the Dimapur area and later to Ranchi.
It was then selected as repatriation battery and eventually faded out as parties
were sent to East Africa for release.
Major J. H. MacCarthy.
Major J. F. C. Powis.
Captain T. Manbre.
4TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
On 25th August 1939 the first company moved from Lokitaung to Nairobi
where it stayed for two days before moving to Mombasa. While in Nairobi it
had nine members of the Kenya Regiment posted to it and was issued with one
anti-tank rifle. It reached its mobilization station, Garsen, on 3rd September.
The other companies and the battalion headquarters moved soon after and the
battalion was disposed with one company each at Garsen, Mombasa, Garissa
and Nairobi with headquarters at Government House in Mombasa. Intensive
training and defence works were started and the first pill-box in East Africa was
built at Garsen. It is understood that it still stands, though full of bats, proudly
overlooking the Tana River.
The battalion did not stay long in the Coast province as it moved to
Nanyuki in February 1940; but it went back to Malindi in May and then to
Mitubiri by way of the Tana River in August 1940. Here the 2/4th King's
African Rifles arrived and both battalions were addressed by Sir Philip Mitchell,
then Governor of Uganda. Later in the year the battalion moved back to the
Tana River, but this time it was to the Garissa-Bura area. Here intensive
patrolling took place and at Bura during one such patrol a part of the battalion
was bombed. At Bedada it fought its first action of the war, when the Italians
withdrew and some prisoners and trophies were taken.
During the advance into the frontier district of Abyssinia the battalion
moved forward to Moyale and then to Yavello. A few miles north of Yavello
at Soroppa the battalion fought a hard action. In this action the Italians put
up a better resistance than usual and the battalion did well to capture the
difficult position with so few casualties. It was here that Company Sergeant
Major Zefania Mayanja was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Continuing along the road to the north, the battalion fought another action at
Megada. From this point it was withdrawn to Mega and Neghelli for garrison
duties and so ended its active operations in Abyssinia.
For the first part of 1942 the battalion was at Yatta refitting and under-
going intensive training and in March sailed for Ceylon to become part of the
34th Indian Division, until the arrival of the rest of the llth East African
Division when it formed part of that force. For the remainder of that year,
for the whole of 1943 and until July 1944, the battalion was in Ceylon doing
jungle warfare training with the rest of the division. During this period many
moves took place to various parts of the island.
6 UGANDA JOURNAL
In August 1944, the division moved to Kazi camp near Chittagong in India.
The 21st East African Brigade, of which the King's African Rifles formed part,
then moved by rail, steamer and road to Imphal in Eastern Assam where the
advance down the Kabaw Valley into Burma started in appalling monsoon
weather. Various patrols were carried out to the Chindwin River and the
battalion was then sent on an independent mission as left flank-guard to the
division. This entailed a further advance to that river through very thick
It was at Chinmagala that the battalion first met serious opposition when
trying to capture Leik Hill. After two attempts it was apparent that the
battalion was not strong enough to take the hill owing to its various other
commitments. The remainder of the brigade now joined in and by taking over
guard-duties enabled a full battalion attack to be carried out.
The Leik Hill action was the hardest the battalion fought in Burma. After
two companies had taken up stop positions the remainder of the battalion
assaulted the hill. At first all went well and good progress was made, later,
however, it was found impossible to advance any farther and the troops had to
dig in where they were. Further patrolling was carried out and early the
following morning a final assault carried the position. After this action twenty-
three Japanese bodies were found, the wounded having been removed. Our
own casualties were fifteen killed and many wounded.
The 21st Brigade remained detached from the rest of the division and
continued its advance down the Chindwin. After a short rest, the battalion
pushed forward through the brigade and fought a small action at Mawlaik and
another at Massein where the river was crossed. The remainder of the division
was now approaching the Chindwin at Kalewa and the brigade was ordered to
form a bridgehead on the east bank to cover the crossing. During the final
move an excellent small action was fought by Sgt. Nekemia Opio and his
platoon, who, in an encounter action, destroyed a complete Japanese patrol.
At Kalewa the division crossed the Chindwin and then handed over to
the 2nd Division who continued the advance. The battalion moved back to
Indainggyi, whence it was flown out to Imphal and eventually reached Ranchi.
Here, with the rest of the division, intensive training was carried out preparatory
to further action in Burma.
However, the Japanese surrender intervened and after a successful tattoo,
in which several East African units took part, the battalion returned to Kenya.
Here is was amalgamated with the 2/4th King's African Rifles to form the
present 4th (Uganda) Battalion. There were, however, representatives of nearly
all the wartime Uganda King's African Rifles battalions in the remaining 4th
(Uganda) Battalion, which returned to Uganda in March 1948 after an absence
of nine years, at last to be accommodated in its own barracks at Jinja.
Lt.-Col. P. R. Mundy.
Lt.-Col. J. C. Keane.
Lt.-Col. J. D. Watson.
Lt.-Col. D. M. Geddes.
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 7
7TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
This unit, embodied at the end of May 1939, was originally intended for
internal security duties and was called the 7th (Uganda) Territorial Battalion
King's African Rifles. On the outbreak of war it was mobilized and moved
into the Bombo cantonment, vacated by the 4th Battalion. Four companies
were raised by January 1940 and one of these was sent as garrison to Lokitaung,
returning to Bombo in May.
When the 2/4th Battalion was formed it took over two-thirds of the officers
and men of the 7th King's African Rifles. The battalion was then left with
two companies, becoming a garrison battalion. However, it was soon again
expanded to the full four companies. In January 1941, two companies were
sent to Lamu and then in succession to Kismayu, Mogadishu in Somaliland and
Assab in Eritrea. Shortly afterwards the battalion was upgraded to a first-line
battalion and formed part of the 28th East African Brigade stationed on the
French Somaliland border. Here little occurred except for clashes with armed
Somalis attempting to run the blockade. After a long stay in this unpleasant
area the battalion returned to Kenya in July 1943, for leave and refitting. The
rest of the year was spent in receiving recruits, training and preparing for the
The brigade sailed for Trincomalee in Ceylon in February 1944, where it
took over from the 11th East African Division. Nine months were spent in
Ceylon, during which time jungle warfare training was carried out, before
sailing to Chittagong in November 1944. The 28th Brigade was first in action
on the advance south from Gangaw in Burma when acting as right flank-guard
to the 7th Indian Division, against slight Japanese opposition. After a rest
near Pawk it was sent on an independent mission with the intention of drawing
Japanese forces south by means of a feint crossing of the Irrawaddy River. The
advance went satisfactorily and Seikpyu was reached after some patrol actions
had been fought. At Seikpyu the Japanese had a strong outpost line covering
the village and, owing to lack of supporting fire, only one company attacked.
A further attack revealed a Japanese withdrawal, though later they tried to
re-occupy the position and twenty-four hours of confused fighting followed.
The enemy withdrew during the night and the position was occupied next
On 12th February 1945 the attached Indian deception unit launched a feint
crossing of the Irrawaddy and the Japanese reaction was as expected. A fierce
counter-attack by fresh troops fell on the left forward company of the battalion,
which was rushed at dawn and suffered many casualties. Later in the day
the Japanese shelled the battalion over open sights and the position became
untenable. A battalion box was formed for the night and the battalion later
withdrew to the brigade box at Letse, during which move two companies saw
In the actions at Seikpyu and Letse all four companies had suffered con-
siderable casualties from fresh enemy troops. The brigade had, however,
fulfilled its purpose of representing to the enemy the whole of the 11th East
8 UGANDA JOURNAL
The battalion was then relieved, flown out to Chittagong and rested at
Shillong in Assam. After a while at Shillong it joined the rest of the East
African forces at Ranchi, in Bihar. In May 1946 the battalion ceased to exist
on the repatriation of all ranks to East Africa.
Lt.-Col. J. A. Young.
Lt.-Col. D. Rossiter.
Lt.-Col. S. D. Field.
Lt.-Col. E. Slayter.
Lt.-Col. J. A. Powell.
2/4TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
This battalion was formed at Bombo on the 1st May 1940 by Lt.-Col.
Channer. It absorbed two-thirds of the 7th Battalion which was at that time
a territorial battalion. The battalion moved at once to Mbagathi in Kenya and
then to Mitubiri. Whilst still stationed at Mbagathi it moved to Garissa and
Bura for ten days and patrolled to Liboi and Kolbio on the Abyssinian frontier.
Though no enemy was met the experience gained of the bush and patrolling
In September 1940 the battalion moved to Turkana as part of the 25th
East African Brigade and was split up into company detachments. Patrolling
into Italian territory was frequent and the battalion saw its first action north
of Todenyang. This resulted in a withdrawal as the transport could not get
through the sand: lack of water was acute. The battalion then advanced,
virtually on its own, into Abyssinia and, in spite of appalling difficulties, took
Maji. Beyond Maji it pushed on towards Gimma, fighting several small actions
at company level. The weather was frightful and the battalion was on half
rations most of the time. Finally, much to the regret of its members, the
battalion was recalled.
June and July 1941 were spent at Ngong and the battalion sailed for
Massawa in Eritrea with the rest of the 25th Brigade in September 1941. The
voyage was exceedingly hot and the sudden change from the heat of Massawa
to the damp cold of Wolchefit, at an altitude of ten thousand feet, caused some
casualties. The battalion led the brigade, taking over the position at Debivar
from an Indian unit. Active patrolling, as well as the actions of Ringrose's
patriots, induced the Italians to surrender and they were given the Honours
of War by the 2/4th Battalion. The Eagle now outside the Orderly Room at
Jinja comes from a monument on the Wolchefit escarpment, which was exten-
sively used as a gunner aiming mark.
The battalion then moved forward to the main defences of Gondar and
more active patrolling followed. A flank march was made round to the south-
east of Gondar and the battalion was ordered to support the attack of the 2/3rd
King's African Rifles on the Kulkaber position, which blocked the Dessie road.
The resistance was severe and the 2/3rd King's African Rifles sustained heavy
casualties, their attack being stopped short of the objective. C and D Companies
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 9
of the 2/3rd King's African Rifles were sent through later in the day and
achieved complete success.
A week later the battalion attacked the defences of Azozo airfield south
of Gondar. This time the resistance was not so great, the attack moving so
fast that it was impossible to arrange any gunner support. Later that same
afternoon, an Italian officer in a very small car, with a very large white flag,
came to surrender and this completed the Abyssinian Campaign.
After a short stay in the Asmara area the battalion returned to Nyeri, then
to Mariakani, going back to Abyssinia in June 1943. In November 1944 it
went to Mauritius, taking over from the 17th (Uganda) King's African Rifles.
After nine months on the island the 2/4th returned to Kenya and moved to
Somaliland in January 1946.
Leaving two companies behind as independent garrison companies, the
battalion returned to Yatta where, on amalgamation with the 4th (Uganda)
Battalion, it ceased to exist.
Lt.-Col. V. K. H. Channer.
Lt.-Col. J. C. Rushbrooke.
Lt.-Col. R. W. Parmentier.
Lt.-Col. R. W. H. Scott.
3/4TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
The battalion was formed in August 1940 at Bombo, where it remained,
collecting recruits and training until moving to Mitubiri in January 1941. From
February until June of that year, the battalion was in the Wajir-Marsabit-
Yavello area patrolling during the advance into Abyssinia. In July, it returned
to Nanyuki for further training.
Forming part of the 25th Brigade the battalion moved to Massawa and
was stationed at Axum in Eritrea. After the surrender at Wolchefit it was in
charge of the evacuation of prisoners of war, and then moved forward to
Amerghe to patrol the northern Gondar defences. During the brigade attack
on Kulkaber the battalion provided the rear protection and was not engaged.
On 24th November 1941 the 3/4th Battalion attacked the Tadda position south
of Gondar with success, having some casualties in a mine-field. Being in reserve
for the final attack on Gondar the battalion was pushed through as soon as the
Italians surrendered and so became the first to occupy the city. Here the whole
battalion was utilized as guards to prevent looting.
The 3/4th returned to Kenya with the rest of the 25th Brigade and was
stationed in Turkana until moving to Moshi in July 1942. In October it went
to Madagascar where it took over guard duties at Tamatave, moving back to
Moshi in January 1943, and sailed for Ceylon with other units of the 11th
Division during the same month. Intensive jungle training was here carried
out in conjunction with the rest of the division, and the battalion moved to
Chittagong and into Burma in July 1944.
The advance down the Kabaw valley was begun and the battalion had a
considerable amount of patrol action. The weather was appalling and it was
well that Japanese resistance was no greater. Several small actions took place
10 UGANDA JOURNAL
on the way to Kalewa and finally the whole division crossed the Chindwin River.
Here it handed over to the 2nd Division, was flown out of Burma, and
eventually reached Ranchi.
Lt.-Col. F. Clifton.
Lt.-Col. C. D. Trimmer.
4/4TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
This battalion was formed at Bombo in August 1940 and moved shortly
afterwards to Kazi on the shores of Lake Victoria near Kampala. In May 1941
it moved to Berbera in Somaliland for garrison duties and then, in October, to
Eritrea and Abyssinia for the Gondar operations. Here it was employed in
patrolling and on prisoner-of-war escort duties. After the capture of Gondar
the battalion moved to Jijiga with the rest of the 26th Brigade, and training
and patrolling were carried out.
After a long spell in the north and Abyssinia the battalion was eventually
withdrawn to Yatta, carrying out exercise en route. A period of intensive
training now followed, with another move to Moshi for jungle training. The
battalion sailed for Ceylon in August 1943 where it took part in all the East
African Division's manoeuvres in preparation for the war in Burma. After
nearly a year in Ceylon it reached Burma in July 1944.
The advance began down the Kabaw valley and the battalion was engaged
in patrol actions. Two such patrols, at battalion strength, then took place as
the 4/4th carried out right flanking attacks. During these patrols several small
actions were undertaken. In one action Corporal Erieza Okadu captured a
Japanese light machine-gun single-handed, killing the whole crew. Before
reaching Kalewa the battalion moved out to the left flank of the brigade with
the intention of cutting the Kalewa road behind the Japanese positions.
Moving down the Bon Chaung River it came up against stronger opposition
and forcing a withdrawal on the enemy, a series of actions took place as the
Japanese fought hard to protect their last supply base west of the Chindwin
River. It took two days to clear this opposition, during which time the battalion
sustained some casualties. After a rest of a few days the battalion crossed the
Chindwin and took over from the 4th Battalion in the bridgehead.
With the rest of the division the battalion was then relieved by the 2nd
Division and flown out to Imphal and, after various moves, reached Ranchi.
Here intensive training for further action in Burma was being carried out when
the war ended. This battalion then took part in the tattoo which followed,
returning to Kenya in May 1946.
Here, after being stationed at Gilgil for a short time, it was disbanded
Lt.-Col. A. T. M'Cullagh.
Lt.-Col. B. E. Horton.
Lt.-Col. T. H. S. Galletly.
Lt.-Col. I. Field.
Lt.-Col. C. Corbett.
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 11
15TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
This unit was formed at Gilgil on the 13th October 1941. At this time
it was a garrison battalion but it was upgraded to a first-line battalion late
Two long periods were spent in Abyssinia and the north, the battalion being
employed on garrison duties. The battalion returned to Kenya late in 1944
and was stationed at Mariakani, for training.
In January 1945 the 15th Battalion sailed for Berbera in Somaliland, and
then moved by road to the Ogaden desert area of eastern Abyssinia, whence
frequent partrols were carried out in the Dakata valley.
In common with most of the later formed King's African Rifles battalions,
this unit did not go to Burma: it returned to Kenya and was disbanded on the
20th March 1946.
Lt.-Col. P. H. Catt.
Lt.-Col. I. Field.
Lt.-Col. J. W. R. Dugmore.
17TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
The battalion was formed from East African Holding Battalion at Gilgil
on the 4th November 1941. As a garrison battalion, it spent the next year
guarding Italian prisoner-of-war camps at Eldoret, Jinja and Londiani.
In November 1942 the battalion was upgraded to a first-line battalion.
Concentration took place at Gilgil and the battalion then moved to Mombasa,
where almost the entire time was spent in building and repairing the defences
of the island. Little of interest took place though a 6 ft. 3 in. puff adder was
killed in one of the trenches.
The battalion moved out to Mariakani in August for training and then
went overseas to Mauritius where it was stationed for a year. It was the first
King's African Rifles battalion to garrison the island and the Askari were
called 'Zulus' by the Mauritians. During this time the battalion was called
out once or twice on internal security duties, notably at Terre Rouge.
Embarking on the Empire Woodlark, the battalion returned to Mombasa in
November 1944, having handed over to the 2/4th Battalion King's African
Rifles: it was then stationed at Moshi. Here jungle training was carried out
on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and a week was spent at Same in the Pare hills on
internal security duties.
The battalion then moved to Archer's Post where, during a month of
manoeuvres, the battalion moved to Yatta where the end of the war with Japan
was suitably celebrated; it then took part in the V(J) Day parade in Nairobi.
In January 1946 the battalion moved to Jinja where it was disbanded on the
16th of that month.
Lt.-Col. F. C. Field.
Lt.-Col. E. F. Whitehead.
12 UGANDA JOURNAL
64TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
Originally called the 24th Battalion King's African Rifles, this unit was
formed at Gilgil on October 1st 1942. On the renumbering of the King's
African Rifles in June 1943, it became the 64th (Uganda) Battalion so as to
avoid confusion with the 2/4th Battalion.
It moved to Berbera by way of Mombasa late in the year, remaining there
as garrison until August 1943, when it went to Diredawa and Mogadishu.
After moving by road to Nanyuki the battalion was transferred to Mombasa in
December 1943, for guard and internal security duties. Here it remained until
moving to Yatta for disbandment in August 1944.
Major I. G. Stewart.
Major C. J. Girdlestone.
66TH (UGANDA) BATTALION KING'S AFRICAN RIFLES
This battalion was originally raised as the 26th Battalion King's African
Rifles and like the 64th Battalion was renumbered in June 1943. It was raised
in October 1942 and took over prisoner-of-war guard duties at Jinja and Eldoret
from the 17th (Uganda) Battalion in November. In May 1943 it moved to
Yatta where training was carried out.
In July the battalion moved north into the northern frontier district of
Kenya and Somalia and relieved the 5th Northern Rhodesian Regiment of
guard duties at Diredawa. It became for a time widely distributed, with
companies at Aiscia and Djibuti. Later the battalion moved to British Somali-
land and in February 1945 went to Mombasa where it took part in the V(J)
Day parade. In August 1945 it moved to Mitubiri where it was disbanded.
Major P. L. Batcock.
Major J. Cummings.
Major J. Leon.
6TH (UGANDA) FIELD AMBULANCE
This unit, originally called the 2nd (Uganda) Field Ambulance, was raised
on the outbreak of war and, after spending the first period of its existence at
Nairobi, moved back to Jinja. It then took part in the first big manoeuvres of
the war at Isiolo, in February 1940. The next move was to Turkana where it
supported the attacks on Namaraputh and Kalam and the subsequent advance
into Abyssinia. In June 1941 the unit returned to Kenya with one company
The unit was later concentrated and sailed with the 25th East African
Brigade for Massawa in Eritrea in August. The Field Ambulance Unit was
in action throughout the Gondar operations, being split up into its various sub-
units as the distances were great. It found advanced as well as main dressing
stations, the most advanced company always being well forward. Very good
UGANDA MILITARY UNITS FORMED IN WORLD WAR II 13
support was provided by this unit and the rapid treatment of casualties was
much appreciated by the brigade.
After the capture of Gondar the unit operated the main hospital, gradually
evacuating casualties to Addis Ababa and Kenya. Christmas was celebrated
convivially and the unit was withdrawn with the rest of the 25th Brigade to be
stationed, for a time, in the Mega-Marsabit area.
From August to November 1942 the unit was in Northern Rhodesia and
Tanganyika and moved to Mombasa in June 1943 when it sailed for Ceylon.
Here many exercises were carried out, supported by the unit and in May 1944
it was inspected by Lord Louis Mountbatten. The unit sailed for Chittagong
that month and reached the Tamu-Sittang road in Burma in August. A
Casualty Clearing Post was opened at the 67th mile post on the Tamu-Kalewa
road where casualties were received and evacuated. Various other medical
units were provided by the 6th Field Ambulance and after a stay at Bokajan
in Assam the unit moved to Ranchi.
In February 1946 the unit returned to Mombasa and was at once disbanded.
Major W. Hood-Dye.
Lt.-Col. Philip Cowin.
Lt.-Col. S. D. Luxton.
Lt.-Col. N. F. Blazer.
Lt.-Col. W. T. Thorn..
3RD (UGANDA) MOTOR AMBULANCE COMPANY
This Motor Ambulance Company was formed at Kampala at the end of
August 1939 and moved at once to Nairobi where it was split into two wings,
medical and transport. It was re-formed in February 1940, and after a period
of training moved forward in support of the advance into Abyssinia. A staging
post was first formed on the Garissa road at Mwingi and then in Garissa itself.
Here the unit received and treated casualties before evacuating them to Nairobi.
In March 1941 the unit moved to Mogadishu where it found many small detach-
ments receiving and evacuating casualties. It left Mogadishu in October and
moved by road to Eritrea, staying a short while in Adua. It then set up a
staging post at Adi Arcai, evacuating the casualties from the Gondar
At the conclusion of the Abyssinian war the unit withdrew with the
remainder of the forces and was stationed in southern Abyssinia and Somalia
until moving to Nanyuki in October 1944. Here it remained until disbanded
in October 1945.
Capt. J. R. Spicer.
Major .A. R. Lester.
Major H. G. Floyd.
Capt. S. T. Marchbrand-Evans.
Capt. C. H. Hutchence.
14 UGANDA JOURNAL
D SECTION, 51ST SUPPLY PERSONNEL COMPANY
EAST AFRICAN ARMY SERVICE CORPS
The date of formation of this unit is not known, but at the beginning of
April 1941, it moved from Jinja to Nairobi and then to Marsabit in May. The
unit finally reached Neghelli in Abyssinia in June and took charge of bulk
rations and detailed stocks from the 12th East African Division troops company.
Here the unit stayed for a year dealing with supplies and rations, arriving back
in Nanyuki in April 1942. The unit then moved to Gilgil where it was disbanded
and absorbed by the 86th Platoon, 42nd General Transport Company in the
East African Army Service Corps.
2nd-Lt. J. H. Radford.
Lt. H. C. K. Scott.
2nd-Lt. H. H. West.
[Monsoon Victory by Gerald Hanley (London, 1946), war correspondent
with the 11th Division in South-East Asia, contains, among other information
of great interest, detailed descriptions of actions fought in Burma by the 4th
and 7th Battalions of the King's African Rifles.-ED.]
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA,
By SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY
JN the year 69 A.D. Roman soldiers dragged one of their former commanders
from his hiding place, haled him with every indignity through the streets of
Rome, and finally bludgeoned him to death at the Gemonian stairs. As their
wretched victim sank upon his knees under the rain of blows, he cried out, Yet
I was once your Emperor." That ill-fated man was Aulus Vitellius, the last
of the three soldiers who in little more than a twelvemonth were made and
unmade as Roman Emperors. Later the brief period during which in rapid
succession each of these wore the imperial purple came to be known in history as
"the year of the three Emperors ".
Buganda once had its year of three kings and, if tradition is correct, one
of these three, when being dragged to a terrible death, was heard to use words
which recall the last words of the ill-starred Vitellius.
Here I will endeavour to give a connected account of the events of that
period, which to a large extent shaped the destiny of the whole of the Uganda
Protectorate. I am conscious of the imperfections of the account, but it has
been difficult to sift and reconcile a number of contradictory narratives of these
events, because many of them occurred when there was no European in the
country and not a few versions are derived from partisan sources which have
consequently to be received with some measure of caution. But I have been
able to obtain a certain amount of information from contemporary sources,
which have hitherto been unknown, and I trust that the story will be deemed
to be not entirely devoid of interest.
One has to go back for the beginning of the story to the day in 1884 when
Mutesa of Buganda was gathered to his fathers and Mwanga, his son, reigned
in his stead. Shortly after this latter' ate Buganda', Alexander Mackay of the
Church Missionary Society wrote this of him:
When I came to Uganda, Mwanga was only a little boy. But in all
these years a whole generation of little black fellows has shot up into man-
hood. It would be very hard to describe Mwanga's character. I have
perhaps had more opportunity of knowing him than my brethren have
had. He knows how to behave with dignity and reserve when the occasion
requires that; but he soon throws off that assumed air, and chats
familiarly. But none can fail to see that he is fitful and fickle, and,
I fear, revengeful. One vice to which he is addicted is the smoking of
bhang. This being so one cannot place much confidence in Mwanga's
stability. Under the influence of the narcotic he is capable of the
wildest unpremeditated actions. Recently I have had reason to find him
guilty of such. But generally the young fellow is amiable."
16 UGANDA JOURNAL
Archdeacon Robert Walker, who first met Mwanga in 1888. formed the
following impression regarding him after their first meeting:
"A man with a weak-looking mouth, and rather a silly sort of laugh
and smile; he raises his eyebrows very high, and twitches them in surprise,
or in giving assent to a statement. He looked a young, frivolous sort of
man, very weak and easily led; passionate, and if provoked petulant. He
looked as if he would be easily frightened, and possessed of very little
courage or self-control."
T. B. Fletcher, another member of the Church Missionary Society, who
knew Mwanga at a later date, wrote this of him:
Previous to his accession Mwanga had spent the larger part of his
life away from the capital, living at some distance, as distance was accounted
in those days, away from the movements and the new civilization, which
were rapidly appearing in and around Mengo. As a youth much of his
time was spent at Golola in the county of Gomba, fifty miles from Mengo,
and for a few years prior to his being called upon to succeed to the throne
he lived at Nkanaga in the county of Butambala, which is still more distant.
At both places he was entirely surrounded by pagan life and thought. For
a short period only was he in contact with the missionaries and Arabs at
Natete. So short was the time, and at a period of such unrest in the
country, that no good results could be expected.
Mwanga's temperament is somewhat difficult to describe. He was
nervous, suspicious, fickle, passionate-a man whose one desire and object
was to live his own life to the full. Self in all its many and varied aspects
was his guide. .
In a man of the type of Mwanga, lacking any outlook beyond his
own small country, with no idea whatever of self-discipline, without regard
for life or property as long as he achieved his own end-a man with a
guilty conscience which was with him all his life-the various movements
which took place so rapidly produced confusion in a weak and undis-
ciplined mind. To steer a straight course through a time when such radical
changes were taking place needed a man of a strong character, a firm will
and wide vision. Those characteristics Mwanga did not possess."
Within three months of his accession Mwanga showed his hostility to the
Christian missionaries in his land by seizing and burning alive-three boys
attached to the Protestant Mission. This was followed in October 1885 by
the murder upon his orders of Bishop Hannington as he was making his way
through Busoga towards Buganda. Finally, in May-June 1886, he gave orders
for the putting to death of many converts to Christianity. As a result, eleven
native Protestant readers and twenty Roman Catholics are known to have
been burnt or bludgeoned to death. Then followed an uneasy lull. Father
Lourdel of the White Fathers' Mission was constantly being summoned to the
court and for a time he appeared to be exercising a beneficial influence over the
king. But other counteracting influences were also at work.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 17
It goes almost without saying that the Christian missionaries and their
followers were intensely unpopular with the stalwarts of the old pagan cults of
the country. It was inevitable that the ultra-conservative elements in the
country should dislike the novelty of the missionaries' teaching and that many
of them should feel that these teachers were undermining fundamental customs
and institutions. The missionaries had also incurred the dislike of the Arab
and Swahili traders and their Baganda converts to Islam. In addition to their
religious enmity the Muslim elements in Buganda detested the manner in which
the missionaries attempted to thwart and to suppress all slave-trading activities
and thus to destroy a very lucrative source of income to the traders.1 The
constant vigilance of the British Consul-General at Zanzibar and the British
Navy had led to the capture of more than one compatriot off the East African
coast and to the liberation of many of their slaves and had added fuel to the fire
in so far as all Europeans were concerned. In the circumstances it is not
surprising to discover that the Muslim section of the community spread reports
that the missionaries had come to the land for the purpose of 'eating it up'
and that their reports obtained ready listeners.
A number of events seemed to lend colour to these reports. In the first
place the British Consul-General in Zanzibar was trying to open up communica-
tion through Buganda with Emin Pasha in the Equatorial Province of the Sudan.
Emin was known to be in the Egyptian Government service and during Mutesa's
reign there had been an attempt to annex Buganda to Egypt and to impose an
Egyptian garrison on the country. That attempt was all too recent to be
forgotten. Every person and thing which came from the north was the object
of intense suspicion. Therefore when the C.M.S. missionaries, at the Consul-
General's request, broached to Mwanga the question of allowing letters to pass
through the land of his hereditary enemy, Kabarega of Bunyoro, to Emin,
Mwanga's thoroughly suspicious mind attributed the most sinister motives to
Suspicion was further increased in July 1887 when garbled reports reached
Buganda regarding Stanley's expedition for the relief of Emin Pasha. As
readers of In Darkest Africa will remember, Stanley left Zanzibar on 25th
February in that year on board the Madura for the mouth of the Congo with
six hundred Zanzibari porters and close on two hundred Sudanese and Somalis.
His original plan to proceed direct from the East African coast through Uganda
to Emin at Wadelai had been relinquished at the request of the British and
French Governments, who feared that such a proceeding might endanger the
lives of the British and French missionaries in Buganda. According to the
altered plan Stanley was to proceed up the Congo and its tributary the Aruwimi
and thence strike across country to Lake Albert, where he hoped to make
contact with Emin Pasha.
But the most distorted versions of these plans reached Buganda. On 26th
June 1887 an Arab announced that there is a Muzungu coming here with a
1 The Arabs themselves allowed to me that their action was partly in Mwanga
for the action of the British authorities at the coast in checking their slave selling "
(Alexander Mackay to Colonel Euan-Smith, 18th April 1888 ; printed in Africa No. 10
(1888), pp. 27-30). "This reason they gave me long ago" (Mackay to Emin Pasha,
1st May 1889 ; printed in Stuhlmann, Die Tagebiicher von Dr. Emin Pascha, III, p. 359).
18 UGANDA JOURNAL
thousand guns ". Mackay endeavoured to explain the true facts regarding
Stanley, but his explanation was received with ill-disguised incredulity. When
Mackay announced that Stanley was accompanied by Tippu Tib, an Arab
announced that this latter person was a great land-eater, and that his method
was as if he came here and fired guns and shot the people, and thus by degrees
took the whole country ". Other Arabs insisted that Stanley had at least
two thousand guns with him. The contents of a letter addressed by Mr. Holm-
wood, Acting British Consul-General at Zanzibar, to Mwanga were completely
distorted by an Arab who undertook to translate it. Though Mackay subse-
quently insisted on its being correctly translated, it is evident that a highly
suspicious audience preferred to believe the first translation of the letter rather
than the revised version.
On 27th June an earlier letter from the British Consul-General was produced
and an Arab was asked to translate it. The interpreter began to read: We
are astonished to hear that you have killed the Padre Muzungu in Usoga."
Mackay says he then asked him to look again, and he could find no mention
of Usoga in the letter, nor of a Padre being killed. He looked and allowed
that the word Usoga was not there, but insisted that it was written that a Padre
was killed. Mwanga demanded who accused him of killing a Muzungu ? I
said that the letter did not say that, but referred to him having killed people who
were taught kusoma. On this, he grasped the Katikiro's hand, saying, 'Do
you hear ? That is what they are at! '"
No attempt could avail on Mackay's part to impart a true version of
the contents of the letter. Two days later Lourdel was called in and cross-
examined as to Stanley's intentions. He explained that Stanley's sole purpose
was to relieve Emin Pasha. But, as Lourdel subsequently wrote, Mwanga,
who was feeling Hannington's blood rising to his throat, would not believe me
at all. He was persuaded that Stanley was coming to avenge the Anglican
Bishop's death. They are coming', he kept on saying, to eat the country.'"
Unfortunately, only a few months later, another letter reached Mwanga,
which appeared to confirm his previous impressions that the Europeans were
determined to avenge Bishop Hannington's death. Hannington's successor,
Bishop Parker, reached the southern end of Lake Victoria at the end of the year
1887. Thence, on 28th December 1887, he addressed a letter to Mwanga which
contained the following passage:
Perhaps you are aware that the European who was killed in Usoga
is our brother. Some of his servants, who came from the coast with him
ran back to the coast and gave us full information of his death, how you
ordered him to be killed and his goods brought to Uganda.
Let me answer you that he came, as we come, only in friendship.
We do not ourselves desire to take vengeance for this action of yours, we
are teachers of the religion of Christ, and not soldiers. Nor do we wish
the English to do so. We believe that you must see now that you were
deceived as to the object for which he had come."
It was a very well-intentioned letter, but the writer completely failed to
understand the mentality of the man to whom it was sent and who inevitably
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 19
judged others by his own standards. Why should Hannington's brother make
mention of Hannington's death at all, unless in fact he intended to avenge that
death ? As for the protestations of forgiveness, who could possibly believe
them ? Plenary forgiveness was something quite beyond the comprehension of
a pagan Muganda. Then something happened which seemed absolutely to
confirm Mwanga's belief. Bishop Parker had sent the letter to the Rev. E. C.
Gordon, who was a nephew of Bishop Hannington and was the only Protestant
missionary in Buganda at that time. For some reason, which is not apparent,
Gordon caused the contents of the Bishop's letter to be translated to Mwanga
on three separate occasions. We are told that Mwanga listened to the contents
with ill enough grace the first time. He managed to restrain himself during the
second reading, but at the final reading he completely lost his temper. He called
for ashes and placed them upon the letter as a sign that he accepted the arbitra-
ment of war, and Gordon was given to understand that he was a prisoner. At
various times between 24th January and 5th February 1888, Gordon managed
to write the following letter to his Bishop:
By what the king had said, and the captain' will tell you the same, I
am a prisoner. The king charged the captain to say it would be no use to
send a letter asking for my return, unless another white man comes to live
in Mackay's house. The understanding is that the king may have some-
one here, as he says openly, to kill if he hears reports of the English coming
to avenge the death of the Bishop or to eat his country. The position is
this, Mwanga did not like to be reminded of his crime; he now shows
himself ready to repeat it on a helpless white man. We accept our position,
which is what we have known all along, is it not ? That should the king
hear of war from the English, he would be sure to kill the white man
stationed here. We know that the king will not have an expedition of
English soldiers sent against him; hence our safety here. But on the
other hand, we know not what reports of war may reach him, and it appears
he needs only to hear reports, and will not wait to prove them, but revenge
himself on the white man here; hence our danger."
When this letter reached Bishop Parker and the southern end of the Lake,
Robert Walker volunteered to join Gordon and to share his perils in Buganda.
Mwanga gave him an outwardly friendly reception. When shortly afterwards
the news arrived that Bishop Parker had died at Usambiro, his suspicions were
calmed, but it was no more than an uneasy lull. Though the sword of
Damocles appeared no longer to be suspended over him, Mwanga was for ever
haunted by the fear that Hannington's countrymen would one day seek to
avenge the Bishop's murder.
Mwanga's suspicions were for the time being diverted to his own people.
The foreign devil '-were he European missionary or Arab trader-was after
all very much in a minority in the land and could, if it were deemed necessary,
easily be disposed of by expulsion, if not by other means. But Mwanga and
the stalwarts of the old pagan belief viewed with alarm the dangerous doctrines
which both Christians and Muslims were instilling into the minds of the younger
I sc. of the C.M.S. sailing vessel Eleanor.
20 UGANDA JOURNAL
generation of Baganda. These doctrines were in their eyes utterly subversive
of everything which they valued and struck at the very foundations of existing
In this respect converts to Islam gave as great a cause of offence as did
Christian proselytes. During Mutesa's reign certain Muslim converts had
refused to eat meat killed by the Kabaka's butcher, because the latter was a
pagan. Mutesa had dealt with this recalcitrance by ordering a number of the
converts to be burnt alive. A similar protest was made by adherents to Islam
some fifteen years later, but Mwanga did not dare to deal with them as his
father had done. His only method of retaliation was by exacting labour and
fines from them. For a time the Muslim Baganda were forced to submit, but
the continued exactions slowly but surely filled the cup of bitterness.
But Mwanga's greatest suspicions fastened on the converts to Christianity.
What they were being taught and what they themselves were beginning to
preach was to his mind and to the minds of the followers of the old religion
far more dangerous to peace, good order and government than anything
preached by the followers of Islam. In 1886 a blind anti-Christian fury, which
was in no more small measure inspired by a sudden, momentary feeling of panic,
had brought about a hecatomb of Christian martyrs, but soon afterwards that
fury had apparently spent itself. Like Muslims the Christians were for the
time being allowed to escape with nothing worse than the exaction of forced
labour and fines.
Nevertheless, as one year succeeded to another, it became more and more
evident that the Christian Baganda were deliberately seeking to break with the
past and to overthrow customs and institutions of very long standing. An out-
standing example of this occurred at the end of 1887. Nalumansi was a daughter
of Mutesa and had originally become a convert to Islam. Later still, she had
become an adherent of the Protestant Mission and had been baptized as a
Christian. But she did not give entire satisfaction to her new instructors.
Mackay reported that she was ever slow to learn to read, and, being imperfectly
'instructed besides, was easily led away by her lover ". This said lover was in
-fact a former page of Mutesa, named Yosefu Kadu, who was a reader' with
the White Fathers. In due course Yosefu Kadu contracted a Christian marriage
with Nalumansi, who had been received into the Roman Catholic Church in
1885 and had taken the name of Clara. In November of the same year, shortly
after Bishop Hannington's death, she gave a striking proof of her continued
goodwill to her former instructors of the Church Missionary Society by sending
them warning at dead of night that they must avoid Mwanga's wrath by at once
making friends with him and giving him a large present.
According to the ancient custom of the Baganda, abambeja (princesses)
were neither allowed to marry nor to have children, and the penalty for violation
of this custom is said to have been death by burning alive. Though it would
appear that later kings had somewhat relaxed the rule, none the less a princess
was occasionally made to pay the full penalty for her transgression of this
custom. Possibly Clara Nalumansi ran little risk of suffering the extreme
penalty, but none the less her marriage caused grave offence to many of her
fellow countrymen and that offence was deemed to be aggravated because she
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 21
claimed a right to marry by virtue of her being a Christian. But she was to
scandalize public opinion even further. Shortly after her marriage she was
appointed to succeed a namesake as guardian of the tomb of Junju, generally
reckoned the twenty-sixth king of Buganda, at Luwunga in Busiro county.
On arrival she found her predecessor's house was full of amulets and charms.
The new guardian and her husband promptly drove away the medicine man
in attendance and made a bonfire of the amulets and fetishes. Clara Nalumansi
followed this up by cutting to pieces and throwing away her umbilical cord,
which every princess was expected to preserve with superstitious care. All
these acts were in pagan eyes crimes of the gravest character and there was a
general demand that Clara and her husband should expiate them by paying the
supreme penalty. But very shortly afterwards public indignation was diverted
on to the heads of others and for the time being their lives were spared. But
Nalumansi's neophytic zeal would not allow her to rest. Her grandfather
Suna had dedicated a magnificent elephant tusk to the lake god, Mukasa. On
the night of 17th December 1887 the White Fathers learnt that Nalumansi had
caused it to be carried off. It would appear that for a time suspicions did not
fasten upon her, but in August 1888 she was killed by a rifle shot. Her mother
afterwards asserted that Mwanga had ordered her to be killed because of her
faith and because he was afraid that the Christians might follow the example of
the people of England and proclaim her as ruler of Buganda.
Clara Nalumansi's case obtained a certain amount of notoriety for two
reasons. In the first place she was a mumbeja and a daughter of the late
Kabaka. In the second place she was a woman and feminism was something
novel in a community which had for centuries regarded the tutelage of women
as one of the bedrock foundations of society. But there were also members of
the other sex who as a result of the teaching of Christian missionaries had
become imbued with ideas which the stalwarts of the old pagan institutions and
cults could only regard as highly dangerous. The letters and reports, which
both Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries sent to their respective head-
quarters, are full of examples of this radicalism, of which perhaps the most
outstanding example was that of Yosefu Mukasa Balikudembe, a follower of the
White Fathers, who paid with his life for publicly rebuking Mwanga for having
caused Bishop Hannington to be killed. But possibly one of the gravest grounds
of offence which these early converts gave to Mwanga was the fact that they
were constantly sending news of what he had to say about the missionaries to
the missionaries themselves. "They are, besides ", wrote Mackay on 29th
September 1885, "very eager to learn to write, and at all times scribbling on
boards, or any scrap of paper they can pick up. Invariably some one or other
of them sends us a semi-legible note containing news of anything said by
the king affecting us." It was in the circumstances very understandable that
Mwanga and the adherents of the old pagan cults should attempt measures for
the destruction of what was in their eyes a thoroughly dangerous movement
which was undermining the very foundations of society.
In August 1888 Mwanga determined to enlarge the piece of water lying
in the valley between Mengo and Rubaga, which is now known as the King's
Lake and gave orders for the calling out of his subjects to complete the task.
22 UGANDA JOURNAL
His Christian and Muslim subjects objected and refused to turn out. In fact
the exaction of compulsory labour upon public works of this description was in
native eyes perfectly legitimate, but insistence on following a procedure which is
both legitimate and constitutional may not always be advisable, more especially
when public opinion is known to be against it. There had been many demands
for compulsory work of this description during the preceding months and these
had fallen with undue weight upon Mwanga's Christian and Muslim subjects.
The call for work upon the King's Lake met with little or no response and it at
once became plain to Mwanga that this was a deliberate challenge to his
On 22nd August 1888, a Roman Catholic chief, named Honorat
Nyonyintono, who held a post at Mwanga's court, came to the White Fathers
to seek their advice. He told the Fathers that the Kabaka had expressed his
dissatisfaction as to the slow manner in which the work on the King's Lake was
being performed and had given orders that the chiefs concerned should muster
their men one night for the purpose of continuing the work. He had also
heard that Mwanga had given orders to Tebukoza, the Saza Chief of Buddu,
who was one of the leaders of the pagan party, to come to the Lake at daybreak
with an armed party and to attack the Christians. The White Fathers advised
Nyonyintono that he was in the circumstances under no obligation to obey the
order. None the less a number of Christian and Muslim chiefs and their
adherents made their way to the King's Lake, taking with them their firearms.
The war drums sounded throughout the night and it appeared as if the morrow
would see a terrible carnage. During the night the Katikiro Mukasa, who was
one of the stalwarts of the pagan party, sent a message to Mwanga advising him
to hold his hand, as he was outnumbered and outweaponed by the Christians
and Muslims. The next morning Mwanga proceeded with a strong escort to
the King's Lake. When he saw that he was confronted by a formidable body
of armed men, he decided to take the Katikiro's advice and beat a hasty retreat
to the royal enclosure.
It was clear to Mwanga that this was an overt act of rebellion and that not
only his throne but also his life was in jeopardy. But he obtained a respite
which was probably wholly unexpected. There were divided counsels amongst
his opponents. Some were in favour of an immediate attack upon the royal
enclosure, but others, chief amongst whom was Nyonyintono, were opposed to
such a measure. As with David in the cave at Engedi, so with many Baganda
was it a grievous sin to stretch forth their hands against the ruler of the country.
Eventually Nyonyintono's counsel prevailed and so Mwanga obtained a short
Mwanga made full use of this respite to concoct another plan for the
extermination of his opponents. He gave it out that he had resolved to destroy
all the pagan deities (balubale) throughout the country, to strip all the mediums
of those deities (mandwa) of their property and to begin operations by a raid
upon the island of Bugala in Lake Victoria, where the mandwa had many
herds of cattle. The Christians and Muslims were to be summoned to embark
on board canoes with their firearms. Having embarked, the Christians and
Muslims were to be landed upon some pretext on a desert island and there
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 23
abandoned to perish miserably. But there was a delay in putting the plan into
execution. The soothsayers (balaguzi) had to be consulted and, as the omens
proved unpropitious, Mwanga decided to postpone execution of his plan for
several days. Acting on the advice of the soothsayers Mwanga also gave orders
for two sacrifices of nine persons each. The victims were chosen at hazard
and it is said that there were no Christians amongst them. Very obviously these
preliminaries could not be entirely concealed and inquiries led to the divulging
of Mwanga's plans.
Eventually 9th September 1888 was fixed upon for putting the plan into
execution. Mwanga was at Entebbe and the Christians and Muslims were also
assembled there with their firearms. Orders were given for the Christians and
Muslims to embark, but were not carried out. Mwanga then embarked upon
his own canoe Waswa and told Nyonyintono to accompany him. Nyonyintono
did so, but declined to allow any of his own followers to accompany him. When
Waswa had put a little way out into the lake, Mwanga ordered Apolo Kagwa,
the leader of the Protestants, to embark in another canoe. He also obeyed,
but enjoined his followers not to accompany him. Similar orders were given
to two Muslim leaders, Lubanga and Sekeyeru, but both declined to comply.
Nyonyintono then said to Mwanga, All Buganda refuses to take you to Sese.
There is no old chief here, and we are not able to take you." Mwanga saw
that his plan had miscarried and hastily made an excuse for returning by
canoe to Munyonyo, the port of Mengo, whilst his army made their way back
The Muslim party in particular was now determined that Mwanga must be
deposed. They got in touch with the Katikiro, Mukasa, who agreed that
no other course was possible. The question then arose, and had to be
decided quickly, as to who should be Mwanga's successor. The Muslims put
forward a son of Mutesa, named Kalema, who was well disposed towards their
faction and who was living, according to recognized custom, more or less in
captivity in the custodianship of Kasuju, the chief of Busuju County. The then
Kasuju was a certain Kabizi, who had been appointed to that post in the latter
days of Suna. Messengers who were sent to get into touch with Kalema
returned, saying it was impossible to reach Kalema and that it would be better
if an armed party was sent to rescue him from captivity.
On hearing this Nyonyintono suggested that Mutesa's oldest son, Kiwewa,
should be given the kingship. Hitherto it had been the immemorial custom that
the eldest son of the king should not succeed his father. But Nyonyintono
managed to persuade the Christians and Muslims that, as they were people of
dini (religion), the time had come to break with heathen custom. Messengers
were accordingly sent to fetch Kiwewa. At first he refused to accompany them,
saying that it was unthinkable that he should violate ancient custom in the
manner they proposed. The emissaries then took him by force and carried him
off to the insurgent leaders at Rubaga. In the meantime the royal battery of
drums known as Mujaguzo had been seized by the insurgents and carried off
from Mengo to Rubaga.
On 10th September 1888, before daybreak, the royal drums were heard
booming from Rubaga hill to the cries of, Kiwewa Kabaka! Kiwewa! wewa!
24 UGANDA JOURNAL
wewa! Mwanga hastily left his residence to discover that the whole of
Rubaga hill was covered with armed men. Except for some hundred pages
nobody was prepared to stand by him. The Katikiro Mukasa's followers went
over to the insurgents who advanced en masse on the royal residence at Mengo.
A volley was fired and one of Mwanga's pages fell dead. Mwanga thereupon
fled to Munyonyo on Lake Victoria. As when Saul ruled in Israel so when
Mwanga ruled in Buganda the slaying of a king was a heinous offence, however
detestable that king might be, and might even be visited with the punishment
of death by the supplanter of the murdered man.1 So Mwanga was allowed to
escape unmolested. By this time every single chief had deserted him except
Kawuta (Kauta), who was nominally the chief cook but in reality a person of
some political importance. At Munyonyo Mwanga embarked in a canoe and
set off for the southern end of Lake Victoria. After an eventful odyssey he
reached the Arab settlement at Magu.
But to return to Buganda, not much is known of the new Kabaka. The
Christian missionaries saw very little of him. Hamu Mukasa says he tried to
be a Muslim and a heathen at the same time ". Sir Apolo Kagwa alleges that
he was the friend of drunkards, but the general impression one obtains is that
he was a somewhat colourless person, of whom might be said what Tacitus had
to say of Galba, the first of the three Roman Emperors of the year A.D. 69:
omnium consensus capax imperii nisi imperasset (all would have agreed that he
was worthy of empire, had he never been emperor). He began by placing
himself more or less unreservedly in the hands of Honorat Nyonyintono. He
appointed this latter Katikiro in place of the veteran Mukasa, who retired to
take up his residence at Mutesa's tomb at Kasubi.
Nyonyintono had the confidence and respect of all parties. The C.M.S.
missionary, Robert Ashe, wrote of him that he was a Roman Catholic and a
confessor, having suffered cruelly during the persecution. He was a fine
character, and his death, which took place a little later on, was a heavy loss to
the cause of Christianity in Uganda." He appears to have made an honest
attempt to distribute the chieftainships equally amongst the three parties which
were responsible for placing Kiwewa on the throne. Amongst others Apolo
Kagwa was given the post of Mukwenda, chief of Singo, and a number of posts
were also given to Muslims.
On llth September-the day after his accession-Kiwewa held a public
baraza, which was attended by English and French missionaries and Arab
traders as well as by his own subjects. At this meeting he lifted the ban, which
Mutesa and Mwanga alike had placed on Arabs trading with Bunyoro, and
promised to reduce the payments which his predecessor had been in the habit
of exacting on the import or export of merchandise. He also announced that
he would build a mosque for the Muslims. At the same time he conceded to
the Europeans full liberty to preach the doctrines of Christianity and announced
I The Bakunta, who were responsible for the death of Junju in a war between the
Kabaka and his brother Semakokiro were ordered to be put to death by Semakokiro on
his accession to his brother's throne. They fled from Buganda and settled on the shores
of Lake Edward; Roscoe, The Bagesu, pp. 159-161 ; Sir Apolo Kagwa, Basekabaka be
Buganda, pp. 84-85.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 25
that none of his subjects should in future be interfered with on the ground of
But Kiwewa's popularity soon waned. There were disputes amongst his
followers over the distribution of the chieftainships and estates, the Muslim
party alleging that the two Christian parties had obtained more than their fair
share of these. But according to Cyril Gordon, even here no real quarrelling
nor passionate strife took place, and all such matters were passing on to a
successful conclusion. So, had there been no other foreign element and watch-
fully self-interested party in the country all would eventually have worked well
and prosperously." The foreign element, to which Gordon thus referred, was
the Arab traders. They particularly disliked the appointment of Nyonyintono
to the post of Katikiro. His predecessor Mukasa had often stood between them
and the wrath of Mwanga, but they did not feel that they could place the same
confidence in the new man. Mwanga had left the country owing them large
quantities of ivory and Kiwewa had undertaken to pay this debt. He had
indeed done his best to carry out his promise, but he lacked the wherewithal to
satisfy his creditors in full. The Arabs could expect little assistance from the
new Katikiro and the other Christian chief in trying to collect their debts. It
consequently appeared to them that the only possible means of obtaining satis-
faction of their demands was by ensuring that their co-religionists got the
monopoly of power.
A pretext very soon arose for attacking the Christians. During the
rebellion a Protestant chief, named Dungu, had been in Kiziba collecting
tribute from a chief named Kaitaba. He had ,returned to find that all the
chieftainships and estates had been distributed in his absence. He was said to
have given vent to his disappointment by saying: "Kiwewa prefers the Muslims
to us ; he has put them at the head of all the large provinces; if he continues to
do this, we shall place a woman of the royal family on the throne." Whether
he actually said this or not cannot now be ascertained. But it suited the Arabs'
purpose to believe the story and to make the most of it. The Baganda were
strong believers in the Salic law. In their eyes the accession to the throne of a
woman would have been a gross violation of all constitutional precepts. On the
evening of 11 lth October Gordon and Walker of the Church Missionary Society
were returning home from the capital they met a leading Muslim chief, one
Muguluma, returning from a visit to the Arabs at Natete.
Next day Kiwewa held a Lukiko at which he charged the Christians with
wishing to supplant him and place a woman on the throne. The Katikiro
Nyonyintono strongly denied the allegation, but he was not believed. He there-
upon abruptly left the Lukiko. Gordon tells us that he had hardly got back
to his house, when he was summoned back to the open space outside leading
to the King's courts. The fight had begun. Thus taken by surprise, the
Christian leaders and their followers had to fight for their lives. They had to
fight at a great disadvantage and against desperate odds. The determination
of the Muhammadans was to turn out the Katikiro. The battle waged fiercely
for some time, but the Christians had not been able to collect in sufficient
numbers, nor yet in time. The Katikiro and Mukwenda had been heard to say
that they never intended to fight. They were forced into battle and defeated.
26 UGANDA JOURNAL
Two, if not more, of the chief Christian leaders were killed, the young Admiral
and another chief. The body of the Christians fled with the Katikiro and
Mukwenda." Honorat Nyonyintono and a small party retreated towards the
Roman Catholic Mission at the foot of Rubaga and offered to escort the White
Fathers to a place of safety, but the Fathers had a number of orphan children in
their care and declined the offer. Thereafter Nyonyintono and Apolo Kagwa
retreated in a westerly direction in good order.
The Muslim party then proceeded to make prisoners of all the Christian
missionaries. These included Messrs. Gordon and Walker of the Church
Missionary Society, Monseigneur Ldon Livinhac (Vicar Apostolic), Fathers
Simeon Lourdel and Denoit, and a lay brother named Amans. Both mission
stations were pillaged and the missionaries were despoiled of almost every-
thing they possessed.1 Their lives were spared. After having been kept as
prisoners for several days and treated with the utmost ignominy, on 18th October
they were placed on board the Church Missionary Society's vessel Eleanor
together with Gordon and Walker's two native servants and twenty-two orphans
in the care of the White Fathers. As the Eleanor pushed off into the lake, the
following parting message was delivered to them:
Let no white man come to Buganda for the space of two years. We
do not want to see Mackay's boat in Buganda waters for a long time to
come. We do not want to see a white teacher back again in Buganda until
we have converted the whole of Buganda to the Muslim faith."
Shortly after setting sail a hippopotamus made two holes in the keel of
the vessel, which filled with water and turned over. Five of the orphans were
drowned, but the remainder managed to get to a nearby island, where with the
help of a friendly fisherman Walker succeeded in repairing the damage. There-
after, the Eleanor continued on her way to the southern end of Lake Victoria.
Some time before these events Kiwewa had said to Father Lourdel in
secret, I hate the Muslims who want to circumcize me by force. When I shall
be able to do so, I shall pray with you." On the day when the missionaries
finally left the shores of Buganda, a blind man, named Kanyambo, came to
bid them farewell. As he wrung the Catholic missionaries by the hand, he
whispered, It is not Kiwewa who is expelling you." Very probably Kanyambo
was speaking the truth. But Kiwewa was powerless to intervene, even if he
had wished to do so. When Mackay had heard of Mwanga's deposition, he
had informed the British Consul-General at Zanzibar that he did not "expect
that Kiwewa will be long on the throne, as the old fetish-worshipping party is
still the majority in Buganda, and they stoutly cling to the old rites and customs,
one of which is that the eldest son may not become Kabaka ; we shall, by and
by, hear of another reaction ". For the time being the Arab traders had
completely obtained the upper hand. Some of these had been present at the
1 One of the ringleaders of the attack and pillaging of the Christian missionaries was
a certain Suleman bin Zoher. On the return of this individual to Zanzibar in 1890 the
Sultan imposed a fine equivalent to 3,000 upon him and ordered him to be transported
from Zanzibar for five years. Out of the fine the Sultan awarded the equivalent of
2,000 to the Church Missionary Society for their losses.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 27
fight with the Christians, and others had sent contingents of their slaves to
assist the Baganda Muslims. Other Arabs took a conspicuous part in pillaging
the European missionaries of their goods. Whether he liked it or not, Kiwewa
had to watch in silence all these things coming to pass.
Like his father Mutesa before him, Kiwewa strongly objected to under-
going the rite of circumcision. According to information received by Alexander
Mackay, when the leading Muslim chiefs broached the subject to him, day
after day he put them off, and in the meantime planned how he might rid
himself of them. He tried poison, but only one chief seems to have died, so
that the scheme failed." Information then reached him that there was a plot
to seize his person and to perform the rite by force. He determined to antici-
pate the plot by sending for the leading Muslim chiefs on the pretext that he
wished to arrange about the matter. On their arrival Kiwewa personally
attacked them with a spear, killing two of them. Muguluma, the new Katikiro,
was the third member of the deputation. He owed his life to the prompt action
of a page, who fired a gun at Kiwewa's feet. This had the effect of so frightening
Kiwewa, that he fled incontinently to the Namasole (Queen-Mother). In the
confusion the Katikiro made good his escape and got the opportunity to rally
the Muslim party.
As soon as he was able to collect a sufficient number of armed men,
Muguluma returned and set fire to the Queen Mother's enclosure. Kiwewa
then fled to Mutesa's tomb at Kasubi, where was Mukasa, the former Katikiro
of both Mutesa and Mwanga. Until that time, Kiwewa had been acting
largely on Mukasa's advice in resisting the demands of the Muslims, but at this
juncture the old Katikiro and the guardians of Mutesa's tomb refused to
render him any assistance. They even drove him and his followers away with
violence, killing five of his men.
Kiwewa then retreated in the direction of Singo, where he hoped to rally
the pagan elements to his side and to get in touch with the fugitive Christians.
He had a momentary respite whilst the Muslim party sent for Kalema, their
original nominee, and proclaimed him as Kabaka. The next day they attacked
Kiwewa at Kyebanda. Kiwewa lost about twenty of his supporters killed and
eventually fell into the hands of Kalema's partisans. According to one account
certain of his own followers betrayed him to the enemy. Be that as it may, on
22nd October 1888, Kiwewa ceased to reign after having ruled for the brief
period of six weeks. He was placed in the stocks and deliberately starved.
He was, however, to remain alive for some nine months more and in the end
his death was neither quick nor merciful.
On 6 Rabi-el-Akhir 1306 (12th December 1888) Kalema addressed a letter
to the Sultan of Zanzibar. That letter reads as follows:
We received a letter from Seyyid Barghash telling us to help, assist,
and to do honour to the Christians, and we did according to his order.
But the Christians taught our subjects without our permission, and there
were two parties, one Muslim and one Christian. After that all the people
of Buganda agreed to remove their Sultan, and put his brother Kuyu bin
Mutesa in his place, and then all the Christians agreed to remove Kuyu,
and to put his sister in his place. The Muslims did not like what the
28 UGANDA JOURNAL
Christians wished, and the Muslims and the Christians fought, the
Christians after some time returning to their homes."
"After that Sultan Kuyu wished to kill all Muslims; he killed two
chiefs, and the others ran away from him. Then the Muslims fought till
they captured Kuyu the Sultan, then I became Sultan of Buganda, and I
am now a Muslim. I believe in God and Mohamed: I thank God for
that. Now, what I wish for is for you to send me powder and guns to
help us fight with the Washenzi, and to make them Muslims. Please send
us Misahafu (books, i.e., Korans) and some books which the Muslims
use to read, and we also want one teacher and one of your men with your
Please take this trouble: we have got none but God and you. And
if any Christians come to you for letters to come to Buganda, do not give
them; we do not want them to come to Buganda. If they come, it will be
their own fault (sc., if they suffer harm). And we have Sultan Kuyu in
prison; he will give no more trouble. And I send you nine frasilas, seven
maunds, and twenty-one ratils of ivory. Please accept these things from
"SULTAN KAREMA-BIN-SULTAN MUTESA-BIN-SUNA,"
"Sultan of Buganda."1
As the letter shows, the new ruler of Buganda was ready to satisfy in full
all demands of the Arabs and the Muslim party in that country. He under-
went the rite of circumcision and was ready to take steps to enforce Islam on
all his subjects. For this purpose he was prepared to use force of arms in
particular against the pagan section of the community, whom in imitation of
his Arab dictators he described as Washenzi. As these formed the great
majority and the most conservative of all his subjects, he was setting himself
a Herculean task.
There is another very notable feature about the letter. It treats the
Christian parties in the land as no longer being a force to reckon with, but
in this Kalema had fallen into a grave error. On 12th October 1888 both
Christian parties had been taken by surprise and had been quite unable to offer
any effective resistance to the Muslim party's onslaught, but a number of them had
managed to retreat in good order. When the Arabs and Muslim Baganda
turned to vent their wrath on the Christian missionaries and to despoil them of
all their possessions, attention was distracted from their converts, who thus
were enabled to continue their retreat with little or no molestation. When a
few days later Kiwewa proved recalcitrant, the wrath of the victors descended
upon him and his supporters and once again attention was diverted from the
On the day of their defeat by the Muslim party a number of members of
the Roman Catholic party set out under the leadership of Honorat Nyonyintono
for Buddu, whence in due course they made their way unmolested into Ankole.
After recovering from the effect of the first surprise other parties of Roman
1 Muguluma, Kalema's Katikiro, also wrote on the same date to the Sultan of
Zanzibar in almost identical language.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 29
Catholics followed in Nyonyintono's footsteps. On the evening before the
White Fathers were finally expelled from Buganda, Gaburieli Kintu managed
to let Lourdel know that he was leading another party into exile. From time
to time other small bands of Roman Catholics followed.
One of the Protestant fugitives was Hamu Mukasa, who was later Sekibobo
and, as a member of the Uganda Society, has more than once contributed to
the pages of the Uganda Journal. He was then a youth of about eighteen and
he tells us that he set off for Ankole in a party of five hundred persons, but of
these only one hundred and four eventually reached Ankole. Very many of
our number turned back on the road and for the time became Muslims."
Apolo Kagwa, county chief of Singo, tells us with meticulous precision that
he took one hundred and fifty persons with one hundred and ten guns through
Singo into Ankole. Thence he sent back a messenger to persuade others to
follow him. The messenger managed to make his way into the capital and to
induce a number of Christians to retire to Ankole. A special message was
sent by Apolo Kagwa to the people of the Grasshopper (Nsenene) clan, and the
ancestral home of the clan at Kisozi in the County of Gomba became the
assembly point for many of the parties which ultimately reached Ankole, with
the result that in the course of some four or five months Apolo Kagwa, who was
regarded as the leader of the Protestant partisans, found that he had a thousand
guns at his disposal.
The arrival in his country of these formidable bodies of armed strangers
must at first have caused some concern to Ntare, the Mugabe (King) of Ankole.
Some of the immigrants settled in the county of Bukanga, where there is a
colony of Baganda to this day. Others were allowed to settle in the district of
Kabula on the frontier of Ankole. Mbaguta, who was later to acquire the
Christian name of Nuwa and to become Enganzi (First Minister) of Ankole,
tells us that he was given the task of looking after the vanguard of thirty of the
exiles when they reached Kabula. Later, as their numbers grew, he was given
permission by the Mugabe to enrol some seventy of the immigrants as a band
of fighters, who were concentrated at Katete on the south bank of the Ruizi,
opposite to Mbarara, the capital of Ankole. These acquired the name of
Abagonya and were often employed by Mbaguta in raids into adjacent
territories. Ntare presented the newcomers with five tusks of ivory, thirty to
forty head of cattle and a number of villages. The newcomers repaid this
generosity by raiding the county of Buddu in Buganda and coming back with
one hundred and sixty cattle which they gave to Ntare.
Others of the refugees raided the cattle-owning Banyaruanda. In addition
the visitors set to work to bridge rivers and embank swamps-and in particular
the Ruizi near Mbarara-and also to do other works of public utility. The
result was, in Sir Apolo Kagwa's words, that Ntare was pleased because we
became like his people ". Within a short time the number of the refugees
increased to about two thousand men armed with guns, a formidable fighting
force to be reckoned with in contemporary East African warfare. One thing,
however, greatly impaired their value. As Sir Apolo Kagwa's account of
those days of exile shows, mutual differences, jealousies and suspicions were
already beginning to prevent the Protestant and Roman Catholic sections from
30 UGANDA JOURNAL
pulling together. On 4th March 1889 Nikodemu Sebwato, who was later to
become County Chief of Kyagwe (Sekibobo), wrote the following words from
Ankole to Alexander Mackay:
"At this time the Christians are very many here in Ankole. They
number about one thousand in all, with women. From over there in
Buganda they are coming out of their hiding places, and on the road they
do not cease to come. So for this reason we have found much trouble,
and hunger in plenty; the people are nearly dying. And now all the
people are wanting to return to Buganda, to fight with the people of the
Koran, a second time. Well then, we want you, our brethren, if you
accept these plans to write to us a letter quickly that we may hear. Besides,
also, all matters that you have, do you write to us about, that we may
understand your counsel, what you are advising and thinking about. But
then, our brethren, when we left Buganda, we came in two crowds, we
and our brothers who are followers of the Pope. But we do not pull well
together. They want always to fight with us who are in these troubles
and difficulties. However, we want you to write a letter and send it to
the French priests, that they may make us come to an agreement."
Other Christian refugees managed to obtain canoes and proceeded in
them to the southern end of Lake Victoria. The Roman Catholics had settled
at Bukumbi where the White Fathers already had a mission and the Protestants
at Usambiro where was a C.M.S. station. On 3rd December 1888 one fugitive
reached Bukumbi who was not a Christian. As already mentioned, when he
fled from Buganda, Mwanga had taken refuge with the Arabs at Magu on
Speke Gulf at the south-east corner of Lake Victoria. Shortly after his arrival
there he sent Kauta, the one and only chief of any importance who had shared
in his flight, back to Buganda with a letter (written by his hosts) craving
permission to return! "At first", as Mackay wrote on 24th October 1888,
" Mwanga was hospitably entertained by Said bin Seif, but now the Arabs are
fleecing him terribly. He had with him thirty Snider rifles, which he had just
bought from Stokes's agent before the rebellion, and most of them he has
already sold to the Arabs at Magu for calico and food. What he means to do
when all his guns are gone I do not know." The inevitable day came when
the last gun was sold, his two wives had been seized, and the dethroned Kabaka
could be fleeced no more. At the same time reports came that Kalema was
sending an expedition to seize Mwanga so as to put him to death. Fearing that
he himself might become embroiled in the business, Said bin Seif allowed his
guest to escape by night. So Mwanga made his way to Bukumbi.
He has come ", wrote Monseigneur L6on Livinhac, to beseech us to
grant him hospitality, promising us that he will allow himself to be instructed.
He has implored pardon, with his forehead in the dust, acknowledging that it
was because he had persecuted the religion that God had removed him from
"Poor potentate," added Lourdel, quantum mutatus ab illo! (how much
changed from what once he was). He has thrown himself on his knees and
begged me for pardon for all that he did against our Christians."
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 31
When news of Mwanga's arrival at Bukumbi reached Ankole, there was
much debate amongst the Christians as to what should be done. Eventually
it was decided to send a deputation consisting of Protestants and Roman
Catholics to Mwanga to invite him to return to Buganda. Amongst the
emissaries was Hamu Mukasa. He tells us that on their arrival at Bukumbi
"Mwanga was very glad to see us. We found him sleeping on a bedstead
made of papyrus, which gave way with him every day; it gave way because
it was not strongly tied. They made Mwanga sleep on this bedstead that he
might learn humility by remembering what he had to suffer. As a matter of
fact all this happened to no purpose. He never learnt to be thankful."
The messengers brought with them a letter from Honorat Nyonyintono,
which was addressed to the White Fathers and told them that if Mwanga is
with you and his disposition is better, deliver him over to us, we will take him
back to his own country, because the Baganda realize now that they have done
wrong in allowing him to be expelled ". He also suggested that Mwanga
should try to make a rendezvous with the Christians from Ankole at Dumu on
the Buddu shore of Lake Victoria and that they should advance thence over-
land to Mengo. The Protestant portion of the deputation proceeded to
Usambiro to ask Mackay to lend them the C.M.S. vessel Eleanor so as to take
Mwanga back to his kingdom; but Mackay refused to lend the boat, being of
the opinion that any attempt to replace Mwanga on his throne by force of arms
would be exposing all missionaries in Central Africa to serious and unnecessary
danger.1 On the other hand, Monseigneur Livinhac held that he and his
confreres ought to do nothing to prevent the exiled Baganda from carrying out
their project. "I had already told Mwanga and his people ", he informed
Mackay, that their project was a dangerous one. All replied that they knew
the danger, but that would not hinder them. I do not know if they will be
able to land in their country, and to join their brethren. Perhaps in a few
days we will see them come back as they went." Both Mackay and Livinhac
were much criticized at the time in certain circles for the respective attitudes
which they took up in regard to this matter, but at this distance of time we can
say that the opinions of both men were honest and were given from the best
of motives and that for that reason they ought to be treated with the greatest
possible respect-even by those who may regard them as having been wrong.
Though Mackay declined to assist, another European came to the aid of
the Christian Baganda. This is not the place to give at any length the strange
history of Charles Henry Stokes, but some biographical details must be given
regarding him in order to explain how he came to perform the role of deus ex
machine in the history of Buganda. Stokes was born in about 1851 in Northern
Ireland and was by profession a civil engineer. In 1878 he took service under
the Church Missionary Society and went out to East Africa. During this
period he was stationed in various places, including Buganda, where he stayed
for brief periods during 1879 and again in 1881 when he brought back the
I In a letter of 26th November 1889 to Lord Salisbury the British Consul-General
at Zanzibar concurred in this view. As a letter from Mackay to Stanley of 5th January
1890 shows, the Eleanor was no longer really seaworthy and was very shortly afterwards
broken up. (In Darkest Africa, II, p. 392.)
32 UGANDA JOURNAL
Baganda envoys whom Mutesa had sent to Queen Victoria. A Belgian artist
who met him in Tabora in 1882 drew a sketch of him which depicts him as
having a long beard down to the collar, a turban, a joho and a kanzu. In 1883
Stokes had married an English lady, a member of the Universities' Mission at
Zanzibar; but she had died in 1884 in childbirth and her infant daughter had
been sent to England to be looked after by her mother's relatives. Subsequently,
Stokes had severed his connection with the Church Missionary Society and on
27th July 1886 he went through a ceremony of marriage at the Consulate
General, Zanzibar, with a woman named Limi, who was the daughter of the
paramount chief of the Wanyaturu dwelling in what is now central Tanganyika.
Whilst still in missionary service, Stokes had proved himself a capable caravan
leader and persona grata with many of the leading chiefs in central Africa,
including the redoubtable Mirambo and Mutesa. After severing his connec-
tion with the Church Missionary Society, he established himself as a trader.
In this capacity he amassed considerable quantities of ivory, acquired the
most part in exchange for arms and ammunition. This method of barter had
called forth a protest from Mackay, who wrote on 18th April 1888 from
Usambiro to the British Consul-General at Zanzibar in the following terms:
"Another evil of growing magnitude claims attention. You are
probably aware that Mr. Stokes has this year brought up to this place a
caravan of supplies of Stanley [sic] who is expected to return from Wadelai
by way of Buganda. It seems a strange proceeding for the same
trader to bring here some 200 loads of provisions, cloth and beads for
Stanley, who travels on a peaceful mission, and at the same time to send
100 Winchester repeaters, Snider and Martini-Henry rifles, with nearly
20,000 rounds of cartridges into Buganda, to help Mwanga to defy not
only Stanley, but all peaceful travellers."
Mwanga's head will only be more inflated with pride and a sense of
his own invincibility. Stokes believes that he is doing the mission a good
turn by supplying these arms; but the policy is a very short-sighted one."
Complaints such as this and the personal estrangement between the two,
which followed upon Stokes's second marriage, naturally coloured their mutual
opinions of each other and serve to explain the acerbity with which each refers
to the other in the course of their correspondence. This is not the place to
give an estimate of the character of either man. But it is not out of place to
put on record here what Apolo Kagwa wrote on learning of the tragic and
untimely death of Charles Stokes:
We were very grieved because Sitokisi was very much our friend;
truly it was he who helped us when we fought against the Muslims, and we
shall not forget that European from England; our children will remember
him; he preserved us from much distress when we were in Busagala
1 For the circumstances leading up to the execution of Stokes in the Congo Free
State in 1895, see Blue Book Africa No. 8 (1896). Certain litigation in regard to his will,
whereby he left all his property to the Church Missionary Society, is reported (Stokes v.
Stokes) in Law Times, LXXVIII, 1897, pp. 50-53.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 33
But to return to the manner in which Stokes helped the Christian refugees
from Buganda, in July 1888 Stokes had paid one of his periodical visits to
Zanzibar and in response to a request from Colonel Euan-Smith, the British
Consul-General, had agreed to be the bearer of a personal letter to Mwanga
explaining the pacific intentions of the British, and in particular of the Protestant
missionaries. Stokes did not reach the southern shores of Lake Victoria until
March 1889. By that time Mwanga had been driven into exile and clearly no
useful purpose could be effected by delivering the Consul-General's letter to
him. Stokes therefore turned his immediate attention to his own personal
affairs. He later reported to the Consul-General that:
"My ivory arrived from Buganda in charge of my servant, Wadi
Maftaha, about the end of March. It came in Baganda canoes, along
with a lot of other ivory belonging to the Arabs. The Arabs were afraid
to seize it themselves, but did their best to persuade the new King to do so.
He, however, refused, and so it reached Magu, the Arab settlement, in
safety. I went up in my boat to Magu, and took it and my people to
Having secured his ivory, Stokes returned to Bukumbi to find that the
Christian deputation had just arrived from Ankole (18th April 1889). Accord-
ing to Hamu Mukasa, Mr. Stokes told us that he had a thing that would set
Kalema's capital on fire. Perhaps the thing he spoke of had not the power
ascribed to it, but we quite thought it had, and told the people so. We told
them that the European had a gun that would destroy everything, and this.
became generally believed." The secret weapon may have been a rocket,
which could have worked devastation amongst the grass-thatched huts of the
Baganda. But whether the weapon existed or not, it had a very effective
After discussing the matter with Monseigneur Livinhac, Stokes decided to
lend his boat for the proposed expedition:
"Mwanga and I then started",' says Stokes, "for Buganda in my
boat and about forty guns, principally Le Gras and Sniders, and 500 to,
600 rounds of ammunition. On arrival at our first point, Buddu, many
thousand fighting men joined Mwanga's standard, and after waiting about
ten days the Christians, about 800 strong, joined us."
They then learnt that the Christians had already been in action. In order
to assist them in their journey from Ankole to Bukumbi, Mukotanyi, Chief of
Kiamutwara, had supplied the Christians with canoes. When Kalema heard
of this, he sent a punitive expedition against Mukotanyi, who appealed to the
Christians in Ankole for help. The Christians responded by intercepting
Kalema's expedition in Buddu and putting it to flight with fairly heavy loss.
But most unfortunately, in a later action in the course of pursuit across the
Katonga River, the Christian leader Honorat Nyonyintono was killed and the "
I Le lundi de Quasimodo (Nicq)=29th April 1889.
34 UGANDA JOURNAL
Christian forces withdrew to Ankole. They now heard of the arrival of Mwanga
and Stokes in Buddu and hastened to join them at Dumu.
Hamu Mukasa was with Mwanga and he tells us that, on arrival at Sango
Bay, Mwanga sent me to the Sese Islands to call on the islanders to revolt from
Kalema and to follow Mwanga. So I set off to the islands and I captured on
the way a Swahili from Zanzibar named Khalfan. He had with him eighty
women and sixty boy slaves. The people with me wanted to kill the man at
once, but I refused to allow this and went off and told Mr. Stokes. He refused
to kill the man and said I had done right. He said, You are a sensible man,
Hamu.' Mr. Stokes was always very fond of me ever afterwards up to the
day of his death."'
The events which followed almost immediately afterwards are best told
in Stokes's own words:
I had great difficulty in getting the Roman Catholic and Protestant
community to join together. Very strong and bitter feelings are held by
both parties. When I arrived, the Christians came down in a body
to meet and greet me. I, of course, joined no side. I told them in matters
of religion every man ought to follow the dictation of his own conscience;
if they chose to accept Mwanga, then their duty to him and to their country
was to obey him, the lawful Kabaka, and fight for their liberty.
". .. When the Arab party got to know of Mwanga's arrival, they
gathered another large party and advanced to Mwanga's camp with about
2,000 guns, a joint party of Arabs, Wangwana (coast men) and Waganda.
Mwanga had by this time about 1,000 guns; he had a great number
of spears, and we were very short of powder ammunition. I tried to get
our party to go out and surprise the enemy in ambush, but it was no good;
they delayed and delayed, and suddenly, one Sunday morning, the Arab
party broke on the camp. It was the very day I had arranged for Mwanga
to rejoin me in the boat. I was in force on the lake with about 150 canoes
and about 120 guns, close to the camp.
Mwanga had already left with his guard of about 150 guns when
the Arab party broke into the camp. When I heard the first volley, I
ordered the canoes into the water, and paddled to the nearest landing
place. After waiting about an hour Mwanga arrived, and shortly after-
wards messengers to inform us our party had been repulsed with the loss
of the Katikiro (general in command)2 and were retiring towards Antari's
(sc., Ntare of Ankole). We then took all our party on board the canoes
and retired towards the Sese Isles. The second day the Christians made
another stand and checked the Arab party, and after a great deal of
trouble I got Mwanga and his party to try and give them a further check
1 This would have occurred in the. latter half of May 1889. According to Ashe
(' Chronicles of Uganda') the Arab Halfan, whose ransom was subsequently paid to
Mwanga, was captured in Gabureli's brilliant action of 2nd September (page 39 post).
See H. B. Thomas, 'Arabic Correspondence captured in 1895', in -Uganda Journal,
. Vol. 13 (1949), p. 34. Hamu Mukasa's personal recollection seems more likely to be
2 In a letter to the C.M.S. dated 30th July 1889 Mackay refers to him as Mwanga's
chief general Mwemba ".
~ ~~''1 I
Portrait of Charles Henry Stokes in 1882, taken
from Jerome Becker, La Vie en Afrique (Paris, 1887).
and reproduced from a photostat kindly supplied
by the Librarian, Houses of Parliament, Cape Town,
(face p. 34
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 35
by attacking them from behind close to the capital. This had been my
plan from the first, but the generals were not all agreed; had they done
so, they would not have been repulsed.
We burnt a large tract of country advancing on the capital, and this
had the desired effect of drawing the Arabs back to the capital, Rubaga.
I then brought the army into camp on a small island close to the place
where Stanley met Mutesa long ago, a place about two hours' walk from
Rubaga. The rest of the war party of Mwanga came into camp at Buddu,
South Buganda. I remained with Mwanga about ten days, during which
time the islands sent embassies to swear allegiance to Mwanga.
I then found it necessary to return to Busukuma to get supplies of
powder and ammunition for Mwanga."
Nyonyintono's death before the return of Mwanga was a most serious loss
to the Christian cause. Although he was an adherent of the White Fathers, he
had equally gained the respect of the Protestants. He had proved himself a
brave and intrepid leader and he had shown that he had greater vision than
most of his fellow countrymen. Sir Apolo Kagwa referred to him as 'our
leader' and he had been the one man who might at length have persuaded the
two rival factions to pull together harmoniously, even if he had not been able to
put an entire end to the petty rivalries and jealousies amongst their followers.
After his death those rivalries and jealousies became even more accentuated.
It had come as a surprise and a shock to Kalema to find that the Christians
were still a potent force and also that they were ready to support their former
persecutor. About the time that the news of this reaction in favour of Mwanga
first reached him, one of Mutesa's sons named Bamweyana managed to bribe
the jailor, in whose custody he was, to let him escape. He tried to make his
way to the Christians in Ankole, but was caught and brought back to his prison.
His escape led Kalema to believe that only one course lay open to him, if he
wished his throne to remain secure. Mwanga might be discarded by the
Christians for Bamweyana or indeed for any other prince or even princess of
royal lineage. Therefore the decree went forth that not only Bamweyana but
every other prince and princess should suffer death by being burnt alive.
Mayinja, one of the only two sons of Suna, who had been allowed to live when
Mutesa ascended the throne, was one of the victims. Kayondo, a son of
Mutesa, had been suggested as Mwanga's successor at the time of the enthrone-
ment of Kiwewa and clearly had to suffer in this general proscription. A
princess named Nasuswa had actively assisted many of the Christians to escape
from Busiro to Ankole; she therefore could expect no mercy. In the course
of a quarrel seven years before Kalema had shot his half-brother Mawanda by
discharging both barrels of a heavy gun at point-blank range and had wounded
him fatally. Mawanda's three sons had at this date fallen into Kalema's
clutches and were destined to die a far more terrible death than their father.
In all some thirty princes and princesses perished in this massacre.
Amongst them was the former Kabaka Kiwewa, "but ", wrote SPr Apolo
Kagwa, the manner of killing him was not a fit manner in which to kill a king.
He (Kalema) began by refusing him food and water for seven days on end.
36 UGANDA JOURNAL
Afterwards he was shot with a gun and they killed him, and then they burnt
him in the prison." Like Vitellius eighteen hundred years before, he had never
wished to rule, and like Vitellius also, when he saw that they were resolved to
kill him, he appealed in vain to his slayers not to put to death the man whom
once they had made a ruler over them. Many of Kiwewa's wives shared his
fate, being put to death in circumstances of disgusting brutality. Only one
prince was saved. This was Mbogo, a son of Suna, who owed his life to the
fact that he had embraced Islam. As a child, he and Mayinja, one of Kalema's
victims, had escaped the general slaughter of Suna's sons after the accession
of Mutesa. Having now been spared a second time, he lived till 1921. Some
of the princesses also saved their lives by professing Islam.
Two- others of Kalema's thirty victims should be mentioned. Kyonya and
Kagalo were mere infants, but they were the sons of Mwanga. Therefore they
had to suffer the same terrible fate as their elders. When the news reached
Mwanga on this island of Bulingugwe, he gave these words to his sorrow when
writing to Mackay: 1
"Consider how Kalema has killed all my brothers and sisters; he
has killed" my children too, and now there remains only we two princes.
Mr. Mackay, do help me; I have no strength, but if you are with me, I
shall be strong."
Kalema also vented his wrath on one other person who was not of royal
blood. Mwanga's former Katikiro, Mukasa, was still living at Mutesa's tomb
at Kasubi. It was notorious that he clung to the old religion of the country.
It was he who had advised Kiwewa against circumcision and reports reached
Kalema that he was now making overtures to his former master. Kalema
therefore gave orders that he should be put to death. The story as to how that
order was carried out is best told in the words of Robert Ashe:
When the messengers came, he behaved with much dignity, and met
his death with the greatest courage. He saw that his murder was intended,
and made no resistance. He was shot, and his body cast into one of the
houses, which was then set on fire, so that all that was mortal of him thus
perished in the flames. This man was one of the most remarkable Africans
that I have ever met. He possessed an astonishing insight into character.
He was as courteous and as polite as an Arab. Emin Pasha called him
the one gentleman in Uganda. When not carried away by the cruel passion
of revenge, he could take a statesmanlike view of affairs. I have a vivid
recollection of his proud and handsome face, which yet was so difficult
But underlying all his suavity and politeness there was a determined
and bitter hatred for foreigners; and whether it was consummate acting or
genuine feeling, he displayed a touching fidelity to his old master, King
Mutesa. Though he could read a Gospel, and knew something of the
Koran, he died as he had lived-an adherent of the old Uganda
1 This forms part of the letter of 25th June 1889 quoted at page 41 post.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 37
Whilst all these things were happening in and near to Mengo, Mwanga
was only a few miles away on Bulingugwe, an island situated in the Murchison
Gulf close to Munyonyo on the western shore of that inlet. In most places the
channel which separates this island from the mainland is little more than three
hundred yards wide. The island itself might be described as oval-shaped
except for the fact that its northern end is somewhat blunted. Its extreme
width is about one thousand yards and its length about twelve hundred yards.
The banks of the island are relatively steep and in the centre is a conical-shaped
hill rising about one hundred feet above lake level. Bulingugwe was evacuated
early in the nineteenth century because of sleeping sickness and has only been
re-occupied in recent years. As a result much of it is now covered by a thick
undergrowth of bush timber. From a sketch plan of the island made by Major
J. R. L. Macdonald in 1893 one gathers that Bulingugwe was always well
wooded, but that there was an open space at the northern end of the island.
Mwanga was destined to occupy this island on more than one occasion.
Stokes first conveyed him there in May 1889. At the end of ten days Stokes
left in his boat to fetch more ammunition from the southern end of Lake
Victoria. He promised to return as quickly as possible, but he was delayed.
His boat had to be recaulked and painted and he himself fell ill. In the mean-
time Mwanga had to hold out as best as he could on Bulingugwe with few
followers and little ammunition. After their defeat in Buddu the Christians
from Ankole had once more returned to that country and only a relatively small
band had accompanied Mwanga to Bulingugwe. As the island lay so close to
the mainland and so near to Kalema's headquarters, it would seem a matter of
some surprise that Mwanga and his handful of followers were able to hold out
Mwanga owed his safety to the fact that he had 'command of the sea'.
For this great advantage he had to thank the Basese. Many of the Sese Islands
were centres of Lubare worship and the majority of the islanders were staunch
supporters of the old cults. They naturally resented Kalema's forcible attempts
to convert them to Islam and this induced them to support Mwanga. The
navigation of the lake was almost entirely in their hands and the result was that
Kalema and his supporters found it well nigh impossible to obtain canoes.
All the same, the island was within effective rifle range of the mainland,
and as Mwanga's party was very short of ammunition, one would have expected
the foothold on Bulingugwe to have been extremely precarious. But by this
time two things were beginning to tell in favour of Mwanga's supporters. What-
ever popularity Kalema may have had when he came into power was rapidly
dwindling. He had obtained the throne by a coup d'etat and not as the result
of popular acclamation. From the outset he had shown that he was a mere
puppet in the hands of the Arab traders. By trying to force Islam upon them,
and in particular the rite of circumcision which was repugnant to the ideas of
the Baganda, he had made himself intensely unpopular with the pagan element
of the population, who formed the greater number of his subjects and included
a number of influential chiefs. Full of iconoclastic zeal, members of the Muslim
party set to work to destroy the shrines and temples of the pagan deities of the
Baganda. Amongst other places they destroyed the temple of the war god,
38 UGANDA JOURNAL
Kibuka, at Mbale, Mawokota. The Mandwa (medium) managed to save certain
relics of the deity by burying them,1 but the destruction of this and other temples.
served to increase Kalema's unpopularity.
Furthermore, Kalema's wholesale destruction of his kinsfolk had outraged.
public opinion. The past history of Buganda shows that its people were ready
to submit to much cruelty and oppression at the hands of a Kabaka, provided.
that their oppressor had other attributes which they regarded at befitting a ruler
of their land. But as more than one Kabaka had learnt to his cost, there were
limits to that endurance and, when the Kabaka had few kingly attributes, the.
cup of bitterness often overflowed very rapidly. Moreover, as Sir Apolo.
Kagwa said, the manner of slaying Kiwewa gravely offended public opinion.
A Kabaka might be starved to death or he might be killed in battle, but
deliberately to stretch forth the hand against the ruler of the land and to slay
him in cold blood was in the eyes of the Baganda a heinous crime. Kalema was.
therefore very rapidly alienating public opinion. As after events showed,
except for the more fanatical devotees of Islam, few of his subjects were ready
to answer his call to arms, and Kalema had perforce to rely largely on the Arabs.
and their bands of armed slaves.
Another serious problem for Kalema was that of ammunition. He was
running just as short of this commodity as were his opponents and his difficulty
in renewing supplies was even greater. The overland route by the southern and
western shores of Lake Victoria was slow and tedious. The right of way was.
dependent on the goodwill of a number of local chiefs, and ammunition caravans
were exposed to the risk of interception by the Christian refugees in Ankole.
The water route was in the circumstances the only practical one. For this
carriage by canoes was unsatisfactory, if not out of the question. The only
hope which Kalema and his Arab supporters had of getting fresh supplies of
munitions lay in being able to obtain the use of one or more of the Arab dhows
at the southern end of the lake. As will be seen, the issue of the struggle
between Kalema and the supporters of Mwanga depended very largely on which
party was able to obtain more quickly a sufficiently large supply of ammunition.
In the early days of Mwanga's occupation of Bulingugwe there was some
exchange of rifle shots between Kalema's supporters on the mainland and the
people of the island, but it seems to have been singularly ineffective, few (if
any) casualties being inflicted on either side.
Obviously operations such as these were not going to lead to any great
strategic advantage and were only serving to diminish an already fast dwindling
supply of ammunition. Kalema, or more probably his Arab supporters,
realized that the replenishment of this commodity was an increasingly urgent
matter. With this object in view the Muslim party managed to get in touch
with the Arabs at Magu at the southern end of Lake Victoria. There were two
dhows at that place, the larger of these vessels belonged to Said bin Seif
(Kiponda) the man who had received and fleeced Mwanga when first he was a
fugitive from his kingdom. The smaller of these vessels belonged to a half-caste
Arab named Songoro (Rabbit). This latter was the first vessel of its kind to
sail the waters of Lake Victoria. Stanley had seen it in the course of construction
1 These relics are now in the Museum of Ethnology at Cambridge.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 39
when he reached the lake in 1875. Obviously these two vessels could carry
far larger cargoes of munitions than the ordinary canoe and they also ran less
risk of interception by small craft.
News of the proposal to send these two vessels to Kalema reached Stokes
at Bukumbi: I wrote to these people ", he told the British Consul-General in
Zanzibar, warning them of the danger they would run, if they sent their dhows
anywhere near Buganda. I offered, if they remained neutral, to make arrange-
ments and get all Arabs out of Buganda before attacking the capital. Arab
like, they refused; they told me Mwanga and his party were fools and had no
strength." So the dhows set sail for Buganda. A private letter from an Arab
to a relative in Zanzibar tells us that nine Arabs and Baluchis and one hundred
slaves embarked on the larger vessel together with a considerable quantity of
gunpowder. The smaller dhow also contained men, arms, ammunition'and
trade goods. Both vessels sailed in a leisurely fashion, plundering the islands
as they went, until they got within a day's journey of Bulingugwe.
As was only to be expected, news reached Bulingugwe well ahead of the
two vessels. Gaburieli Kintu was ordered to try to intercept them and to
prevent their supplies from reaching the enemy. He divided his forces into
two parties. He sent one party overland along the western shore of the lake
and himself embarked with the remainder in twenty canoes. On 2nd September
1889 they found the two vessels at anchor at Entebbe. The Arabs were actually
pitching their tents on the lake shore and had discharged part of the smaller
dhow's cargo when Gaburieli's two parties fell on them. Hamu Mukasa was
a member of the boat party and he has this to tell us regarding the ensuing fight:
I told the Basese paddlers in my canoe to go up close to the Arabs'
boat, but they were afraid and refused to do so. So I said to them, Very
well then, put me ashore.'
So I was taken ashore. Then I, with my ten boys, went along the
shore towards the boat. And one of the Arabs saw me coming, as we were
many, and took aim at me and hit me in the knee.
"The bullet broke my leg and I fell. The boys carried me back to the
canoe, where I lay to watch the fight."
Meanwhile such of the Arabs and their slaves as were on shore were hastily
endeavouring to get on board the two dhows. A number of them were either
killed by the land party or else drowned in the attempt. Gaburieli Kintu in the
meantime had managed to rally the Basese paddlers and to persuade them to
bring their canoes within effective gunshot of the dhows. The occupants of the
larger dhow took cover behind the bulwarks of the vessel and opened a brisk
fire on the attackers. But the reply was so vigorous that nobody dared to go
on to the poop to weigh the anchor. Eventually somebody managed to cut
the anchor chains and a sail was hoisted. For a moment it looked as if the
dhow would make good its escape, but suddenly there were three loud explosions
in quick succession and the dhow caught fire. All the Arabs and Baluchis were
either killed or died later of the injuries which they had received and only a
few of their slaves were saved. Whilst this attack was being made on the larger
dhow, the smaller dhow managed to put out into open lake. As soon as the
40 UGANDA JOURNAL
canoes had finished dealing with the larger dhow, they set off in pursuit of the
smaller one, opening a brisk fire upon it. Very soon there was another terrific
explosion on this vessel, which caught fire. The whole of its crew is said to
have perished in the flames. It was a remarkable and wholly unexpected
success, which indeed proved to be the turning point in the war. If the two
dhows had managed to get through and deliver their ammunition, the history of
the Uganda Protectorate might have been very different. A certain element of
luck doubtless entered into the results of the fighting, but this cannot be allowed
to detract from the skill and intrepidity with which, in this novel amphibious
operation, Gaburieli Kintu pushed home an attack on an enemy vastly better
armed and equipped than his own forces.
Kalema and his supporters had fully realized what it meant to be deprived
of Command of the waterways of the lake and made determined efforts to
remedy the situation. Kalema's Gabunga (Admiral) had been ordered to build
canoes on the shores of Kyagwe county. On 31st August 1889, Nikodemu
Sebwato had raided the canoe builders and destroyed the canoes. According
to Stokes, Kalema then persuaded Luba to believe that the Europeans were
about to retaliate upon him for having caused the death of Bishop Hannington.
Luba thereupon agreed to supply five hundred canoes for an attack upon
Bulingugwe. But, as usual, the news of this alliance reached the people on the
island and Mwanga set a force of five hundred guns under the command of
Abusolomu Seviri to intercept them. The expedition was entirely successful
and the Basoga were repulsed with heavy loss.
Though Mwanga's immediate following was not large, the island of
Bulingugwe was quite incapable of supplying all the food required for its swollen
population. The garrison therefore had to raid the mainland for supplies.
In particular Munyonyo, the landing place on the mainland facing Bulingugwe,
was attacked and destroyed despite the fact that the landing was severely con-
tested. Most of these raids were conducted under the leadership of Gaburieli
Kintu and were carried out with comparative impunity. One other very
successful raid was conducted by Semei Lwakilenzi Kakunguru, who forms the
subject of the interesting article Capax Imperii', by Mr. H. B. Thomas, in the
sixth volume of the Uganda Journal. These successes added considerably to
Mwanga's prestige and, though they did not immediately bring in any large
number of adherents to- his fighting forces, at least they gave an indication to
the sitters on the fence as to which would be the better party to support when
things culminated in a final struggle between Kalema and Mwanga.
Elsewhere things were going far from well for Kalema and his supporters.
After rather indecisive fighting which took place in Buddu in June 1889 the
Muslim forces were attacked by a body of pagan Baganda as they were returning
to the capital. According to Sir Apolo Kagwa, they were instigated to do so by
Kalema himself, who was anxious to free himself from the Arab yoke. Be that
as it may, the pagans, though not entirely successful, are said to have inflicted a
number of casualties on their opponents and their attack on the Muslim party
was symptomatic of things to come. In addition the fact that, notwithstanding
their successes against the Christians from Ankole, Kalema's forces had to
withdraw from Buddu, indicated the very slight hold which Kalema had on the
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 41
outlying districts of Buganda. After their defeat in June 1889 the majority of
the Christians returned to Ankole but a considerable number stayed behind and
established pockets of resistance in Buddu.
Nevertheless, Mwanga and his immediate supporters were living on a small
island in a narrow inlet of Lake Victoria and the whole of the adjacent mainland
was in the hands of his enemies. There was always the risk that supplies might
be cut off and there was the constant danger that a surprise landing might
somehow or other be effected on the island. It is not surprising, therefore, to
learn that Mwanga wrote to a number of Europeans imploring them to come
to his aid. On 25th June 1889 one such letter had been sent to Alexander
"Do not remember bygone matters. We are now in a miserable
plight, but, if you, my fathers, are willing to come and help me to restore
my kingdom, you will be at liberty to do whatever you like. Sir, do
not imagine that if you restore Mwanga to Buganda he will become bad
again. If you find me become bad, then you may drive me from the
throne; but I have given up my former ways and will follow your advice."
In his letter to Monseigneur Livinhac Mwanga wrote:
If you refuse religious aid to me and my brother Christians, I will
abandon the idea of regaining my kingdom, and I shall return to be near
Before leaving Bulingugwe Stokes had given Mwanga a letter to be sent
to the I.B.E.A. Company's expedition which was known to be making its way
from Mombasa through Masailand to the shores of Lake Victoria under the
leadership of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Frederick Jackson. In forwarding this letter
on 15th June 1889 Mwanga sent a long covering letter signed Leon Mwanga,
Kabaka of Buganda "I and addressed to the Europeans, Englishmen, who are
passing through the land of the Masai towards Busoga ". It begged those
Europeans to be good enough to put me on my throne. I will give you plenty
of ivory and you may do any trade in Buganda and all you like in the country
under me." Mwanga had also learnt that Stanley, having effected the relief of
Emin Pasha, was making his way from the southern end of Lake Albert through
Ankole to the coast. He therefore instructed the Christian refugees in Ankole
to appeal to Stanley.2 His message was duly communicated to Stanley by
Samwiri Mukasa (afterwards Kangawo (County Chief of Bulemezi)) and
Zakariya Kizito (afterwards Omuwanika (Treasurer) and one of the three
Regents during the minority of Daudi Chwa) at Katera in Ankole on 9th July
1889.3 But the primary duty of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, which had
already been through many exceedingly trying experiences, was to escort
1 Ldon was Monseigneur Livinhac's Christian name.
2 Mr. Stanley and Dr. Emin Pasha never came to me, but they passed Busagala
(sc., Ankole), and I sent them principal men to say: Come and help me.' And they said,
'We have not permission to help you.' "-Mwanga to Euan-Smith, 28th October 1889
3 I have adopted the date given by Surgeon-Major Parke in his journal printed in
My Personal Experiences in Equatorial Africa, p. 452.
42 UGANDA JOURNAL
Emin Pasha and the refugees from the Equatorial Province to the coast. So
Stanley had to explain that his other duties prevented him from making a
diversion into Buganda.
In the meantime Stokes was making preparations to return to Mwanga's
assistance. The one month, in which he had promised to return, had long
passed before he finally set sail. Urgent messages had in the meantime reached
the mission stations at Bukumbi and Usambiro imploring the missionaries
to send some of their number to administer to their flock in Bulingugwe.
Monseigneur Livinhac resolved to send Fathers Lourdel and Denoit. After
some consultation amongst themselves the members of the Church Missionary
Society decided that the time had arrived to send two of their number back
to Buganda. The two selected were Cyril Gordon and Robert Walker.
Alexander Mackay was at this time busily engaged in putting together a steam
launch for service on the lake, and much as he longed to return to the people
amongst whom he had laboured, he felt that in the interests of the Mission the
construction of this vessel was of paramount importance and that the evangelical
work could be safely left in the hands of his two colleagues.' Only one day
after Gordon and Walker had left to join Stokes's expedition, the Emin Pasha
Relief Expedition reached the Church Missionary Society's station at Usambiro.
Mackay urged Stanley to assist in replacing Mwanga on his throne but, for
reasons already given, Stanley once again declined to assist.2
Stokes's second expedition got under way on 29th August 1889. Lourdel
and Denoit travelled in Stokes's vessel and Gordon and Walker in canoes which
had been sent by Mwanga. Progress was slow, as Stokes's vessel could not sail
against the wind and for mutual security the canoes decided to keep company
with it. On 13th September 1889, the flotilla reached Mfu, a barren island
opposite to Entebbe. Here they found a crowd of men, women and children
who had fled thither to escape from the ferocity of Kalema's partisans.3 All
along the coast were fires which had been started by Kalema's people to destroy
the houses and plantations of their opponents. On 14th September the flotilla
Stokes later told the Consul-General that" on arrival at Buganda the second
time I sent a letter on behalf of Mwanga, warning the Arabs not to join Kalema
and offering to respect them if they remained neutral. This letter they never
replied to. We delayed the attack for about fifteen days in order to give them
plenty of time for thought."
1 It was your son who decided that the time had come for the missionaries to
return to Uganda. He was so sorry not to be able to return himself, but he sent Mr. Walker
and me. Who can tell his great sorrow at heart at his own detention at the south end of
the lake at that time ? So great was his devotion to duty that he felt himself detained at
Usambiro by the heavy work he had on hand. But his longing was to be able to return
to Uganda in the boat which he was diligently building. He was spending all his strength
upon this work, for whatever he undertook to do, he did with all his might."-Rev. E. C.
Gordon to Mackay's father, 4th January 1892 (printed in The Story of the Life of Mackay
of Uganda by his sister (15th Ed.), p. 310).
2 Mr. Stanley declines to aid meantime in this enterprise of aiding Mwanga (as I
have suggested to him), as he has no instructions to do so."-Mackay to I.B.E.A. Company,
2nd September 1889 (copy in Zanzibar Archives).
3 Hamu Mukasa was on the island at the time recovering from the wound in his
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 43
In his life of Simdon Lourdel the Abbd Nicq gives an interesting description
of the encampment on Bulingugwe as it was in those strenuous days. The
following is a translation:
The banks and sides of the hill were covered with temporary huts,
where the Baganda took shelter, and one could estimate them at about four
thousand. Each hut housed three or four inmates; there was therefore
a population of twelve or fifteen thousand souls, waiting upon Divine
Providence for their daily bread, for the formation of reserve stocks of
provisions is not known in this country. They had to collect the bananas
and potatoes required for so many mouths day by day from abandoned
plantations, often at a distance of one or two days' journey by canoe. It
was truly a miracle that all these people could have lived thus for the past
During the first week of their stay the missionaries occupied their
time in hearing confessions, and looking after the sick, who were numerous.
Shortage of food, bad housing and crowding was causing innumerable
diseases; one of the orphans who accompanied the Fathers was stricken
by the plague and died the second day.
Each night brought hundreds of refugees, whom the canoes went to
fetch from the coast: the population of the island was increasing beyond all
calculation; and.it would have made a stay there impossible if it had been
Robert Walker attended to the sick and wounded and some astonishing
feats of surgery were performed by him. There were other matters for the
missionaries to attend to besides their spiritual ministration and tending of the
sick. In a letter of 25th October 1889, Gordon informed the British Consul-
General, only the first Sunday after our arrival (15th September 1889) we saw
good reason for our coming amongst them. For we were enabled by our
presence to quiet some hostile feelings, which had long worked in the minds of
the two bodies of Christians towards each other." Lourdel gives us further
details. It is not necessary to go into the rights and wrongs of this particular
controversy, but it suffices to say that, had not both Gordon and Lourdel at this
critical moment exercised a restraining influence on the members of their
respective flocks and proclaimed entire liberty of conscience for all Baganda,
there might well have been so serious a rift between the Protestant and Catholic
factions as to have ruined completely any prospect of bringing the operations
against Kalema to a successful conclusion.
On 23rd September some deserters arrived from Kalema's force, bringing
with them news of the Christian refugees in Ankole. Very soon after the.
arrival of these refugees in Ankole, Ndaula, Mukama of Koki, the small buffer
principality between Ankole and Buddu, had taken sides with the Christians
and had assisted them in the unsuccessful operations near Dumu Point and,
despite that temporary check, was ready to continue his assistance. In addition
there were, as already mentioned, a number of pockets of Christian resistance
which had remained behind after the defeat at Dumu. According to the
information given to Stanley by the Baganda in Ankole these numbered some
44 UGANDA JOURNAL
two thousand. This figure may be exaggerated, but in any event the refugees
were there in sufficient numbers to be able to render very material help if at any
time the Christians in Ankole should renew the offensive in Buddu. Kalema's
Katikiro, Muguluma, combined with that role that of Pokino, County Chief
of Buddu. He was not proving very fortunate in either capacity and, in
particular, was singularly unsuccessful in maintaining law and order in Buddu.
Besides this, he had found it by no means easy to get on with the Arabs at
Kalema's headquarters. He had therefore retired to Buddu and had sent thence
a letter to the Christians in Ankole suggesting that they should combine with
him in operations against the Arabs. Suspecting a trap, the Christians declined
the proposal, but decided that the time was ripe for an invasion of Buddu.
The invaders were led by Apolo Kagwa. They speedily overran Buddu
and in the course of the fighting Muguluma was killed. The Muslim forces
retreated into Mawokota. Here they rallied and counter-attacked at Kasenyi.
In that counter-attack they killed some two hundred of the Christians and
drove the rest back in confusion. Apolo Kagwa tells us that he found himself
alone on the battlefield except for six companions, that he and these six retired
into a small forest, whence after resisting all attempts of the enemy to dislodge
them, they retreated to Jungo. Thence Apolo Kagwa sent a messenger to
Bulingugwe to ask for help. Cyril Gordon tells us that on receipt of the news
of Apolo Kagwa's plight the Christians and Mwanga were much discouraged,
and we were asked to plead for help from Mr. Stanley. We wrote to Mr.
Mackay and told him the state of affairs as it then was." But Stanley had left
Usambiro on his way to the coast long before the letter reached Mackay. In the
meantime Mwanga was persuaded to send one thousand men with guns to
Kagwa's aid. The original commander, Sepiriya Mutagwanya (afterwards
County Chief of Buwekula) fell ill and his place was taken by Semei Kakunguru.
There was a halt of seven days, during which time Apolo Kagwa was able to
rally his scattered forces. On 4th October 1889 the combined forced advanced
to Bunakabira, where they arrived at about three o'clock in the afternoon.
Here they found a strong force belonging to the Muslim party, whom they
promptly attacked and by nightfall drove back to Kitebe, which was only a
few miles from Mengo. Stokes tells us that a very severe battle was fought
this day, and no doubt it was the deciding battle. Kalema and his party fought
bravely, but the Christian boys' blood was up, and, though fighting against
heavy odds, were irresistible and drove the Arab party back to the capital.
News came of their success late in the evening, and we sent them more
ammunition and strict orders not to dally, but next morning at cock crow to
storm the capital."
It was, however, the Muslim party who renewed the attack at daybreak.
But they failed to take their opponents by surprise and after a short, sharp
struggle were put to flight, taking Kalema with them. The Christians took
possession of the capital. Here they found Mwanga's mother, Abisagi
Bagalyaze. She was in irons. It had been Kalema's intention to put her to
death and she owed her life to the hurried flight of her captors.
Kalema and his supporters fled in a north-westerly direction towards Singo.
The victors followed them for two days, but abandoned their pursuit when the
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 45
scattered remnants of the defeated force had crossed the Mayanja River.
Lourdel's diary gives a very full account of events on the days which immediately
followed Kalema's defeat:
7th October-I left early in the morning for the scene of combat.
It was not without emotion that I set foot again on the shore of Buganda ....
What a change in the course of a single year! There is no trace of
the main road which led from here to the capital. Of the hundreds of reed
huts, which housed the king's women, there now remain only ashes. The
banana plantations, which were once so green, have disappeared to give
place to brambles. Even Mengo, Mwanga's capital, has disappeared in
the long grass. There now remains only the post of a lightning conductor.'
Rubaga and Mengo have become the prey of flames. At every step one
comes across dead and wounded. Swarms of vultures are hovering in the
air and swooping down on corpses which nobody troubles to bury.
I have tended nearly one hundred wounded, all Mwanga's soldiers;
not a single Muslim who was wounded or taken by surprise in the retreat
has escaped the spears of the bakopi (country people). It is impossible
to stop these last-named in their grim task.
In the evening I went to Namasole's place. On seeing me, she fell at
my knees, and poured blessings on me, calling me her father, her brother,
her liberator, her son, and even her husband! .
Overcome with fatigue, I returned to take some rest at Gaburieli's
place, a poor hut, half burnt, in the middle of the battlefield.
To-day I found two of our orphans, who had been carried off by
the Arabs last year.
8th October-I hastened to visit our beloved house at Rubaga.2 On
the way I came across a number of corpses which exhaled a fetid smell.
What sorrow I experienced on seeing this house, which had cost us so much
toil, completely in ruins; no doors, no windows, no verandas; the walls
tumbled down; the ceilings broken; and long grass and brambles growing
over all these ruins. The eucalyptus, guiva and mango trees planted by us
are hardly visible in the undergrowth which has taken the place of our
garden. Rain put an end to my sorrowful visit and compelled me to
return to Gaburieli's, where I continued to tend the wounded. In the
evening I returned to Bulingugwe."
Robert Walker was about the same time looking at the house which Mackay
had built over on the other side of Rubaga Hill. Natete ", he informed the
British Consul-General at Zanzibar, is simply hopeless pori (wilderness): all
trace of human dwelling has disappeared ". So French and English missionaries
alike had to start building again.
On 9th October the Christians returned from the pursuit of Kalema to
report that he and his followers, who were said still to number one thousand,
were making for Bunyoro. The same day Mwanga crossed over from
1 Erected by Mackay. "
2 This house had been built by Lourdel. It was on the side of Rubaga Hill, lying
to the north-west of and about half a mile below the present Cathedral.
46 UGANDA JOURNAL
Bulingugwe to the mainland and spent the night at Nsambya. On 11th October
he formally re-entered his old capital at Mengo. According to Walker, on
the day of Mwanga's return here, at the very moment of his arrival at the
temporary palace, Stokes fell down in a fit, and was very violent and out of his
mind for about an hour. We were sent for, and did our best for him."
The events of the next few days are perhaps best given in the words of Cyril
Gordon in a letter addressed to the British Consul-General at Zanzibar:
While the Christians pursued Kalema, the spearmen remained behind
to plunder the capital and the houses of the Arabs and coast men. These
spearmen, or common people, carried off a great deal of spoil, which they
have probably hidden in the country. Moreover, a large quantity of ivory
fell into the hands of the Christians, and the king received his portion of
the spoil according to the custom of the country. .
The next few days were occupied with the business of the
division of the country among the victors. The whole land has been
divided between the two bodies of Christians. The Protestants and Roman
Catholics have taken up all the chieftainships, dividing the land attached
to these chieftainships equally between themselves. The numerous
heathen party has hardly got anything at all, but had still less when the
Mohammedans were in power.
The Katikiro,1 the Mukwenda,2 and the Pokino3 are Protestants, the
Sekibobo,4 the Mujasi,5 and the Kangawo6 are Roman Catholics. Most of
these chiefs, with many subordinate chiefs, have gone off to the country
to see their various possessions. Therefore, the capital is nearly deserted."
Another person who put in his claim for reward was Charles Stokes.
According to Walker he demanded one thousand frasilas7 of ivory. Eventually
he received about one hundred and thirty frasilas, but, according to Gordon,
" another year when he returns to Buganda, Mr. Stokes expects to receive more
ivory for this business ". Stokes also received grants of land in different places.
"One bit ", Walker complained, "is our old post:8 another is the house of
Sese which the people built for Mwanga." Eventually, Stokes left the capital
on 21st October taking with him the only three Arabs who had survived the
fighting. The three reached the southern end of Lake Victoria and in due
course sent word to their relatives in Zanzibar that, now the place is spoilt,
and Uganda is in the hands of the Europeans ".9
1 Apolo Kagwa.
2 Yona Waswa, County Chief of Singo.
3 Nikodemu Sebwato, County Chief of Buddu, afterwards Sekibobo.
4 Alikisi Sebowa, County Chief of Kyagwe, afterwards Pokino.
5 Gaburieli Kintu, commander-in-chief: Lugard gives some account of this man in
Volume II of The Rise of Our East African Empire. Regarding his subsequent rebellion
cf. Africa No. 2 (1898) and Sir Apolo Kagwa, Basekabaka be Buganda, p. 200.
6 Yozefu Kiwanuka, County Chief of Bulamezi.
7 One frasila=36 lb.
8 At Munyonyo. Stokes's claim was not forgotten by the Regents when allotting
estates under the Uganda Agreement, 1900 ; for his son was given a certificate for this
piece of land.
9 cf. Appendix A.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 47
But despite all the jubilation over the recent victory Gordon rightly reported
to the British Consul-General at Zanzibar that the conquest of the Christians
cannot be called complete, for Kalema is still a power in the land. He tried to
enter Bunyoro, but was refused admittance; he has turned aside and has taken
possession of a part of Buganda which lies near Bunyoro; there he has stationed
himself with the Muhammadans, and probably some coastmen and Arabs. They
have plenty of food and have put up houses of reeds. From their retreat they
will probably harass, and give much trouble to the Christians."
Gordon's prediction was soon confirmed. On 20th October news reached
Mengo that Kabarega of Bunyoro had come to the assistance of Kalema and
had invaded Singo. Apolo Kagwa was sent to deal with the situation. On his
way to Singo he collected over two thousand men with guns. He attacked
Kalema's forces at Kinakulya. At first the day appeared to be going well but
during the fighting Apolo Kagwa was wounded. The command then devolved
upon Yona Waswa, County Chief of Singo. According to information given
to Lourdel, the new commander insisted, against the wishes of the men under
his command, in pursuing the enemy when his men were worn out with fatigue
and running short of ammunition. Three days later the enemy ambushed their
pursuers in some tall grass and successfully routed them. The flight developed
into a panic and eventually the retreating army arrived back at Mengo with
reports that Kalema was hard upon their heels. The day after the news reached
Mengo, Mwanga fled by night to Bulingugwe. The Protestant and Catholic
missionaries accompanied him. The next day (26th November) Kalema's
vanguard set fire to Mengo and fifteen days later Kalema re-occupied Rubaga at
the head of a strong force of Banyoro. On 1st December 1889 Lourdel wrote
at Mwanga's request to the leader of the I.B.E.A. Company's expedition in
Kavirondo begging him to come to the Kabaka's assistance. In return ", wrote
Lourdel, besides the monopoly of commerce in Buganda, he offers you as a
present one hundred frasilas of ivory, which he will give you when he is put
back on his throne. He also takes upon himself the feeding of your men and
accepts your flag."
Reasons, which need not be discussed, prevented Jackson from entering
Buganda at the time. The result was that Mwanga was forced to make a long
sojourn on the island of Bulingugwe. For some time, both sides were so utterly
war-weary that there was a lull in the fighting. After their defeat Mwanga's
forces had dispersed throughout Buganda. Some had gone eastwards into
Kyagwe and others westwards into Buddu. Time was therefore required before
a sufficient force could be mustered to resume the offensive. Innumerable
difficulties led to further delays. At one time personal as well as religious
jealousies looked as if they might lead to such disunion amongst Mwanga's
supporters that a counter-attack on Kalema would be entirely out of the question.
In December 1889 Nikodemu Sebwato, County Chief of Buddu, had been
sent to attack Kalema's people when they were engaged in a raid in Kyagwe,
" but ", in Apolo Kagwa's words, Sebwato did not fight; instead he ran away
and came to the island of Bulingugwe ". When at the beginning of the following
year plans were being made for a renewal of the offensive, Nikodemu Sebwato
" showed some annoyance at receiving orders from Kagwa, since Kagwa was
48 UGANDA JOURNAL
nothing in the Church, where he himself was the principal man. Walker and
Gordon felt that in showing this spirit he was quite wrong, though many of the
Christians supported him; when, however, he understood that the missionaries
desired him to conform to some kind of discipline, he gladly furnished his
contingent. It was a matter for astonishment that anything was accomplished
at all, so little discipline of any kind was there amongst the Christian faction.
The same want of order doubtless obtained among the Muhammadan party,
and this no doubt somewhat equalized the contending armies."
Religious discords almost inevitably cropped up again. Neither faction
would agree to co-operate with the other, unless and until it had received a firm
guarantee that there would be no treachery on the part of the other faction. At
length on 3rd February 1890 the leading members of each faction entered into
an agreement whereby they pledged themselves upon oath we shall not betray
and shall never kill our friends of the opposite religion, and furthermore, if we
are stronger than them, we shall not kill them. Any person who breaks these
words and kills his friends, will be answerable for it in the final day of
To add to all this, plague broke out in the crowded encampment on the
island of Namulusu, whither Mwanga removed from Bulingugwe in January
1890. According to Apolo Kagwa over four thousand persons were killed either
by plague or else by starvation, but this figure has doubtless to be received with
The arrival of Stokes's boat at the end of January brought fresh heart to the
Christians. Stokes was on his way to Zanzibar, but his nahoda brought the
ransom for Khalfan bin Farid, the man whom Hamu Mukasa had captured on
Lake Victoria some eight months before. That ransom consisted of a quantity
of gunpowder, guns, and calico and proved as timely as it was acceptable.
It was eventually agreed that Gaburieli Kintu, whose previous exploits had
certainly earned him promotion, should command the combined Protestant and
Catholic forces, which had been raised in Kyagwe, Singo, and Buddu and
eventually assembled at Jungo, Apolo Kagwa's rallying point in the earlier
fighting. Rubaga was retaken on 11th February 1890 and the Muslim forces
retreated into Bunyoro. At Bulwanyi the final battle was fought. The
Muslims were defeated. According to information given by a young Christian
chief to Major Macdonald a few years later, over eight hundred Muslims were
left dead on the field. The survivors fled to the borders of Bunyoro taking with
them Kalema and the royal drum Wango. A few days later Mwanga returned
in triumph to his ruined capital at Mengo.
Shortly after his hurried flight, Kalema died of smallpox. When news
of this reached Mwanga, he sent Semei Kakunguru to attack the Muslims.
Kakunguru attacked and defeated them at Kijungute in Singo. He also managed
to obtain possession of Kalema's body, which was brought back to Buganda and
buried at Mengo.
After Kalema's death the Muslim Baganda chose as Kabaka Suna's son,
Nuhu Kyabasinga Mbogo, who had survived Kalema's massacre of the previous
year, but he was in reality only leader of a faction. For a time it was feared
that he and his supporters might obtain material assistance from Kabarega of
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA 49
Bunyoro and even from the Mahdists in the Sudan, but these fears proved
groundless. Fadl el Mula Bey and the remnants of Emin Pasha's Sudanese
garrison in the Equatorial Province declined to throw in their lot with the
Mahdists and held on to Wadelai, thus providing an effective barrier to com-
munication between Bunyoro and Khartoum. There was a small colony of
Arabs and Swahili in Bunyoro, some of whom had managed to escape from
Buganda, but their political influence was very small indeed. Though an
occasional caravan from German territory might smuggle arms and ammunition
through Ankole into Bunyoro, such supplies were limited. The destruction of
the only two dhows on Lake Victoria and the effective barring of the land route
through Buddu made supplies from any other quarter out of the question. In
Stuhlmann's words, they were sitting at Juwagu, Kabarega's capital, because
the way through Buganda was closed and they could not return home but must
brood idly over their stores of ivory like Fafnir over the Nibelungen hoard ".
Whilst Kabarega continued to give aid from time to time, it was for the most
part not upon a very generous scale. This parsimony was due in part to his own
shortage of arms and ammunition and in part to the fact that a losing cause had
little appeal for Kabarega.
None the less the Muslim Baganda were for a time able to raid the countries
of Singo, Bulemezi, and Kyagwe, with comparative impunity. One such raid
took place shortly before Lugard's arrival in Buganda, but was repulsed by
Alikisi Sebowa, who was then County Chief of Kyagwe (Sekibobo) but was later
to become County Chief of Buddu (Pokino). These raids continued after
Lugard's arrival, and eventually led to Lugard himself collaborating with the
Christian Baganda in an expedition which, on 11th May 1891, inflicted a severe
defeat on Mbogo's followers and Banyoro allies. Twelve months later the
Muslim party agreed to recognize Mwanga as their ruler. In Lugard's words,
"the giving up of their king meant to the Mohammedan Waganda their
annihilation as a faction struggling for supreme power in the country, and was
a mark of extraordinary confidence. Mbogo remained a guest at Kampala, and
during all the troublous times that followed he never wavered in his loyalty."
LETrER FROM ZAID BIN JUMA BIN SAALEM TO HASHIR BIN MSELLEM
"The news of this place is that everything is quiet except that there is bad news
of the circumstances that took place at Uganda.
When Sheikh Said bin Seif El Shebi heard that some Europeans were going to
help the dethroned prince, he sent his dhow with numerous free people and slaves
and a large amount of gunpowder there, in order to help the Arabs and the present
Sultan of Uganda. The names of the people sent by Sheikh Said bin Seif are as
follows: Ahmed bin Seif El Meskeri, Hilal bin Nasser, Ali Mohamed and your
grandson, Ali bin Msellem bin Hashir, Nurmahomed El Baluchi, Karundad El
Baluchi, Khalfan bin Fasih, Abeid bin Ari, Wazirvad Zoher. Besides these there
were 100 slaves of the above men. They were all going to Uganda. They met the
50 UGANDA JOURNAL
Europeans at sea. The Europeans had with them 500 canoes filled with people,
and they prevented the Arabs from going to Uganda, and a fight took place between
the Europeans and the Arabs. The fire of the Europeans got into the dhow loaded
with gunpowder; the dhow burnt and all the Arabs died. The Europeans then
returned and went to Uganda with their own people, and fought with the present
Sultan of Uganda and the Arabs of the place. The Arabs all ran away, many of
them being killed and very few of them saved.
The persons saved are: Said bin Juma, Khalfan bin Said, Khalfan bin Khalifa.
The persons who were killed and known to us as powerful Arabs, are: Salim bin
Seif El Siriri, Said bin Ali El Hijri, Sleyum bin Chuen El Geithi, Saleh bin Abdulla
Mgazija, and his friend, Shaib bin Ali, Khamis bin Khalfan El Behluli and his son.
All other Arabs are killed.
Now the place is spoiled, and Uganda is in the hands of Europeans. We do
not know what will be the result. The dethroned prince is with the Europeans."
(The letter bears no date but was received in Zanzibar on 13th February
TRANSLATION OF AGREEMENTS CONCLUDED AT BULINGUGWE, 3RD FEBRUARY 1890
AGREEMENT OF THE CHRISTIANS
We who follow the Catholic religion of Jesus Christ, we hereby absolutely
agree, and we swear the same to be the truth before God, that we will no longer kill
nor betray our friends, and even if we are stronger than them, we will not kill
them. Whosoever breaks this word and kills his friends will be punished with
fire by God.
(Signed) MWANGA, Kabaka-ALExIs, Sekibobo-STANISLAS,
Kimbugwe-YUSUPHU, Kangao-GABRIEL, Mujasi-KAGGO-
Bulingugwe, 3rd February 1890.
We, the Christians who follow the religion of Jesus Christ and the Ten
Commandments, hereby absolutely agree and we swear the same to be the truth
before God, that we shall not betray nor kill our friends, who follow the Catholic
religion, and even if we are stronger than them, we shall not kill them. Whosoever
breaks this word arid kills his friends, will be answerable for it on the final day
(Signed) AP, Katikiro-YOSWA, Mugema-PAULO, Kotwa
Kasubi-BARTOL, Sekiwala-OMWANGA, Hezikeyeli-TOMASI,
Bulingugwe, 3rd February 1890.
THE YEAR OF THE THREE KINGS OF BUGANDA
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
(A) ORIGINAL LETTERS AND COPIES OF LETTERS IN ZANZIBAR ARCHIVES
(Certain of the undermentioned letters have been reprinted in whole or in part in
certain of the books mentioned below)
Berkeley, E. J. L. Memorandum of a conversation with Father Bresson on 29th
Currie, Sir Philip. To Imperial British East Africa Company, 14th February, 1890.
Euan-Smith, Colonel C. (British Consul-General at Zanzibar). To Marquis of
Salisbury-numerous letters between 1888 and 1891.
To Alexander Mackay, 15th May 1888.
To C. H. Stokes, 26th July 1888.
To Sultan of Zanzibar, 11th January and 13th February 1889.
Gordon, Rev. E. C. To Bishop Parker, 5th February 1888.
To Church Missionary Society, 7th November 1888.
To Colonel Euan-Smith, 25th October 1889.
Holmwood, F. (Acting British Consul-General at Zanzibar). To Sir Evelyn Baring,
25th September 1886.
To Earl of Iddesleigh, 27th and 30th September 1886, 1st January 1887.
To Alexander Mackay, 28th December 1886.
Jackson, F. J. Extracts from Report of Uganda Expedition (1890).
Kagwa, Apolo. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 25th April 1890.
Kalema. To Sultan of Zanzibar, 12th December 1888.
Kirk, Sir John. To Mwanga, 13th August 1885.
Mackay, Alexander. Extracts from Diary for 1887.
To Church Missionary Society, 29th September 1885, 6th June 1887, 27th
November 1888, 17th March 1889.
To Colonel Euan-Smith, 18th April, 24th October, 10th and 26th October 1888,
1st January 1890.
To Imperial British East Africa Company, 2nd September 1889.
To Rev. R. Lang, 17th March 1889.
To E.. Stock, 27th November 1888.
Martin, James. Memorandum as to statement by, dated 14th September 1890.
Michahelles, G. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 30th May 1890.
Muguluma. To Sultan of Zanzibar, 12th December 1888.
Muwuliriza and others. To F. J. Jackson, 23rd November 1889.
Muxworthy, Edward. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 14th February 1890.
Mwanga. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 28th October 1889, 26th April 1890.
To F. J. Jackson, 25th November 1889.
To Sir John Kirk, 19th February 1886.
To the Englishmen who are passing through Masailand ", 15th June 1889.
Parker, Rt. Rev. Bishop H. P. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 28th December 1887,
28th February 1888.
To Mwanga, 28th December 1887.
Salisbury, Marquis of. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 20th February 1889.
Stokes, C. H. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 26th July 1888, 6th October 1888, llth
January, 26th February, 23rd April, 13th May 1889.
Walker, Rev. R. H. To Mrs. Walker, November 1888.
To Colonel Euan-Smith, 21st October 1889.
52 UGANDA JOURNAL
Zaid bin Juma. To Hashir bin Msellem, s.d.
Zanzibar, Sultan of. To Colonel Euan-Smith, 20th January, 15th February 1889.
To F. Holmwood, 29th September 1886.
To Mwanga, 29th September 1886.
(B) PRINTED WORKS
Africa No. 8 (1888). Correspondence respecting Expedition for the Relief of Emin
Africa No. 10 (1888). Further Correspondence respecting Germany and Zanzibar.'
Ashe, Rev. R. P. Two Kings of Uganda (1890).
Chronicles of Uganda (1894).
Clarke, Rev. R. F. Cardinal Lavigerie and the African Slave Trade (1889).
Fletcher, T. B. Mwanga-The Man and His Times' (Uganda Journal, Vol. 4).
Harrison, Mrs. J. W. Mackay of Uganda (1890).
-. The Story of the Life of Mackay of Uganda (1911).
Jackson, Sir F. J. Early Days in East Africa (1930).
Pere, J. M. La Mission Catholique et les Agents de la Compagnie Anglaise (1893).
Kagwa, Sir A. Basekabaka be Buganda (1912).
Ebika bya Buganda (1908).
Mpisa za Baganda (1918).
(In his Chronicles of Uganda, Ashe expressed his acknowledgments to
Kagwa's Wars of the Baganda, which is no longer extant, but the text thereof
appears to be incorporated in Basekabaka be Buganda.)
Lugard, Lord. The Rise of Our East African Empire (1893).
-. The Story of the Uganda Protectorate (1900).
Macdonald, J. R. L. Soldiering and Surveying in British East Africa (1897).
Mackay, A. (cf. Harrison, Mrs. J. W. L.)
Mbaguta, Nuwa. Ebigambo by' Owekitibwa Nuwa Mbaguta Katikiro (Munno,
Mukasa, Hamu. Life of Hamu Mukasa (1904).
(Translated by the Ven. Archdeacon R. H. Walker and printed in the
Mullins, Rev. J. D. The Wonderful Story of Uganda, 1st ed. (1904).
Nicq, Abbe. Le Pere Simeon Lourdel (1922).
Peters, C. New Light on Dark Africa (1891).
Philippe, A. Au Coeur de l'Afrique-Ouganda (1928).
Roscoe, Rev. J. Kibuka, the War God of the Baganda' (Man, 1907).
Stanley, Sir H. M. In Darkest Africa (1890).
Stock, S. G. The Story of Uganda and the Victoria Nyanza Mission (1892).
Stuhlmann, F. Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika (1894).
Williams, F. Lukyn. 'Nuwa Mbaguta, Nganzi of Ankole' (Uganda Journal,
Vol. 10, 1946).
The Drum Wango' (Uganda Journal, Vol. 6, 1938-9).
THE WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA-IV
By J. M. WATSON
Family: LEPORIDAE. Hares, Rabbits.
LEPUS CAPENSIS CRAWSHAYI De Winton. East African Hare, Crawshay's
Teso: Apoo, apooi. Karamojong: Apoo, ngapooi.
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread throughout Teso and Karamoja, particularly
in open short-grass areas. It is found, however, under a great variety of condi-
tions including the dry, almost arid, thorn-scrub country of south-east Karamoja.
Part of Mulondo in Teso is known as Arapoo, good for hare-hunting ', owing
to its wide, open character.
DESCRIPTION: In general shape and appearance, very similar to the
European hare, the head and body measuring between 16 in. and 20 in., tail
about 2 in. and ear 31 in. The females average larger than the male. A richly
coloured hare, the upper parts grizzled black and buff, individual hairs greyish
at the base and banded with black and pale sandy brown annulations. The
limbs and flanks are much paler than the dorsal surface, lacking the black
admixture, and are often tinged with rufous; the under parts are whitish. There
is a noticeable rufous nape patch and in some specimens there is a small white
spot on top of the head. The ears, which are longer than the greatest length of
the skull, are covered with short dark brown hairs tipped with cream; the actual
ear tips are black. The dorsal surface of the tail is dark brown to black ; sides
and ventral surface white. Weight, about four pounds.
Unlike other rodents, members of the suborder Duplicidentata possess two
pairs of incisors in the upper jaw, the second functionless pair lying behind the
larger frontal pair. The female has six mammae.
BIOLOGY: During the heat of the day, the East African Hare spends much
of the time squatting well concealed in its forme which consists of a slight
depression often located in the thick undergrowth at the base of a thorn bush or
in a large tussock of grass. In the evening it comes out to feed and, attracted
by the short grass on the verge of the road, it is frequently picked up by the
headlights of a car. Its terrified and erratic flight in and out of the beams of
the car lamps will be familiar. The animal's diet consists mostly of grass and
small herbs but crop damage has also been reported.
1 Ellerman (1940) does not include the Hares and Rabbits in the Order Rodentia.
He considers that it is reasonable to regard them as forming a distinct Order-Lagomorpha;
not only do they differ fundamentally in the appearance of those parts of the skull to
which jaw muscles are attached but they also retain a second pair of functionless upper
East African Hare.
FIG. 2 FIG. 3
Lado White-toothed Mole-Rat. Cane-Rat.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 55
When alarmed it moves off at a rapid pace; usually silent, it will scream
when caught. Although it does not burrow on its own behalf it may when
hard pressed take refuge in an earth. It is a good swimmer.
The leverets, two or three in a litter, are born in the open with their bodies
fully coated with fur and their eyes wide open; the young of the rabbit, on the
contrary, are sparsely covered and are both blind and deaf, the ears being closed
and immobile until some ten days after birth. The gestation period of the
European hare (Lepus europaeus) varies between thirty and forty days and the
young are suckled for about a month, after which time they are left to fend for
themselves. A leveret in East Africa which I successfully reared took a mixture
of milk and water in equal proportions with a pinch of salt for over three weeks
during which period it proved itself tame and affectionate. When it was first
brought to me it was but a few days old, and was easily contained in the cupped
palms of the hands. It was necessary at first to feed it with the aid of a fountain-
pen filler; later, it graduated to a small bottle and teat. When it was fully
weaned it evinced great nervousness at the approach of a human and became
such an uninteresting pet that I finally released it. In Europe, the hare produces
several litters per year, breeding commencing six months after birth. A South
African observer records that there it breeds twice a year; a native of Suk
informs me that as a child out herding he frequently found the leverets (invariably
two in number) in their forme during the dry months of the year.
MISCELLANEOUS: The flesh is eaten by both the Teso and Karamojong,
and I know of one European who also enjoys it.
Family: BATHYERGIDAE. Mole-Rats.
CRYPTOMYS LECHEI (Thomas). Lado White-toothed Mole-Rat.
Teso: Enyukunyuk, inyukunyukun. Karamojong: Enyukunyuk,
DISTRIBUTION: Throughout Teso district wherever the soil is of sufficient
depth and consistency to permit extensive tunnelling. I think that the animal's
presence indicates soil fertility as I have not noted it in thin sandy soils such as
are found in the neighbourhood of Kumi and Ngora. In Karamoja I have
recorded it from Labwor, Nangeya, Kaabong, Kichere and in a few fertile
patches of soil between Kaabong and Loyoro near the hill Lojum ; in the latter
locality I have seen more mole-hills than anywhere else. In southern Karamoja
it does not appear to occur, and among the true Karamojong, i.e., natives of
Bokora, Pian and Mathiniko, the vernacular name Enyukunyuk is not under-
DESCRIPTION: The Mole-Rat, being highly adapted for an underground life,
is not unlike the true mole in general appearance but there is no real relationship
between the two animals; true moles are insectivorous, feeding on worms and
insects. The Mole-Rat is a stockily built creature about 7 in. to 8 in. long
with short dense velvety mole-grey hair; some specimens have a patch of
FIG. 6 FIG. 7
Striped Ground Squirrel. African Dormouse.
Common Field Rat.
I,*.- ~ ^
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 57
pure white on the crown of the head which in some cases may extend along the
back of the neck. I have caught Mole-Rats with and without the white crown-
patch both in Teso and Karamoja. There is also sometimes a narrow white
line on the under side between the forelegs. The tail is very short, and the eyes
minute. The vestigial external ears are represented only by the thickened rim
of the ear aperture. The legs are short, the forefeet broadened to assist in
digging. The powerful well-developed white incisors are a distinguishing
Thomas (1917) notes that the female possesses two pectoral pairs of
mammae and one inguinal pair. The testes of the male are internal.
BIOLOGY: The appearance of large mole-hills is the first intimation that
this curious animal is actively at work. It seems to have a predilection for
certain spots-possibly where the soil is friable or there is a plentiful supply of
food-and in Karamoja it is extremely local, favouring patches of deep soil in
the neighbourhood of rocky hillocks. If undisturbed it will remain in one
small area for a number of years.
The Mole-Rat is an accomplished excavator, using its powerful front
incisors to bite through obstructing roots and, possibly, to assist the fore feet in
the actual work of tunnelling. When a sufficiency of soil is accumulated this
is pushed out along the passage with the head to the surface through perpen-
dicular vents excavated for this purpose. A newly constructed mole-hill consists
of a mass of compacted cubes of earth which rapidly weathers into the conven-
tional mole-hill; excavation is only possible in the rains. Although I have
released a number of Mole-Rats in the hope of observing them in the act of
digging, I have never achieved this object as the animal does not commence to
dig immediately but aimlessly moves about at a staggering walk, keeping in
the shade as much as possible. My attention has invariably been distracted
from the Mole-Rat by the appearance of a cat or a dog and by the time I have
dealt with the intruder the Mole-Rat has either made good its escape or fallen
prey to a passing hawk! If a recently constructed mole-hill is levelled and the
entrance to the perpendicular vent leading to the passage below is exposed the
Mole-Rat will probably make an attempt to close it and in so doing frequently
exposes its head above ground. By the rapid and judicious use of a spade it is
possible to cut off its line of retreat and capture the animal. Shortridge suggests
that the Mole-Rat is anxious to prevent the inroads of snakes or possibly to
reduce the discomfort from draughts.
Its food consists of grass roots, bulbs, tubers and possibly insects; it can
do a great deal of damage in a sweet potato plot. When in search of food at
night it freely leaves its underground dwellings and will, for example, wander
widely over a plot of maize digging up the newly sprouted grain. At Kaabong
I was shown two traps both of which had claimed victims and which were set
in a plot many yards from the nearest mole-hill. I am informed that the Mole-
Rat is also very partial to groundnuts.
Its eyesight is very poor but it can see sufficiently well to bite savagely when
prodded with a pencil which it will almost sever in two.
A female caught in Karamoja in December 1946 contained two embryos.
Striped Grass Mouse.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 59
Family: ECHIMYIDAE. Cane-Rats.
THRYONOMYS SWINDERIANUS VARIEGATUS (Peters). Cane-Rat, Edible
Teso: Enyuru, inyurui. Karamojong: Enyuru, nginyurui.
DISTRIBUTION: Widely distributed throughout Teso but restricted to the
thick succulent reed beds bordering lake and swamp where there is a sufficiency
of vegetation to provide cover throughout the year. It is also found in western
Karamoja (particularly in Jie), along the Dopeth-Nakodokoi river systems, and
in the valleys of Labwor. The true Karamojong does not appear to be
familiar with the vernacular name which is only understood by the people of
Jie, but a large edible, rodent-like animal which is reported to be found along
the banks of the Namalu river must, I feel sure, be the Cane-Rat. It is strange,
however, that the Pian whom I questioned were unable to provide a name for it.
DESCRIPTION: A large, stoutly built, short-legged rodent measuring over a
foot in length, in general appearance resembling an overgrown guinea-pig. Its
English name is somewhat unfortunate as it is not a rat either in appearance or
relationship. Specimens vary considerably in size, but fully grown males are
stated to weigh up to 18 lb. The fur is exceedingly coarse, stiff and harsh. The
hairs of the upper side are blackish brown with broad creamy annulations which
impart an appearance of buff ticking to the back. The under parts are much
paler, almost dirty white. The tail, 3 in.-4 in. long, is short in comparison with
the rest of the body and is covered with scales and diminutive, bristle-like hairs.
The eyes and rounded ears are both very small. The three central toes of the
fore feet are well-developd, the middle toe being the longest. The thumb is
much reduced while the fifth digit, though possessing a normal claw, is so
contracted as to be almost functionless. The toes of the hind foot are some-
what larger but the first digit is entirely wanting. The orange-coloured incisors
are broad and powerful, those of the upper pair each bearing three longitudinal
The teats of the female are six in number (three pairs) placed low down
on the side of the body; this position, according to Shortridge, renders it
unnecessary for the female to lie on her side when giving suck. The testes of
the male are semi-internal.
BIOLOGY: The Cane-Rat, which is for the most part solitary, frequents
the thick, tangled mass of scrub and reeds bordering lakes, rivers and swamps.
For its daytime rest it takes refuge in this almost impenetrable cover, which it
leaves at evening to feed on roots, stems and bark and, if in the vicinity, sugar-
cane, maize, groundnuts and sweet potatoes. There are records of stored ivory
being gnawed by Cane-Rats, the characteristic marks left by the grooved incisor
teeth on the tusks leading to the identification of the intruder. It follows well
defined paths of its own making among the dense grass and reeds and will
take readily to water when pursued.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 61
When there is a sufficiency of cover the Cane-Rat does not indulge in
burrowing, but where natural cover is inadequate it will excavate shallow
burrows in which to shelter during the day and in which the young-the number
varies between two and four-are born. At birth these are well covered with
hair and have their eyes open.
According to Shortridge, the dung is lozenge-shaped, similar to that of the
porcupine but smaller. After reed beds and cane brakes have been burnt
droppings are often much in evidence.
MISCELLANEOUS: I am told that the white flesh of the Cane-Rat is extremely
good eating, but it does not figure frequently on the menu of the Karamojong
as it does not fall an easy victim though a few are caught when reed beds are
fired. In Buganda, however, the emusu is regarded as a great delicacy and much
time is devoted to its capture with the aid of nets and dogs. A Teso tells me
that he had heard of Cane-Rats being captured and domesticated. He adds
that the animal is always cooked unskinned, hence pelts are not easily obtained.
Family: HYSTRICIDAE. Porcupines.
HYSTRIX GALEATA GALEATA Thomas. East African Crested Porcupine.
Teso: Echoich, ichoichia. Karamojong: Echoich, ngichoichia.
DISTRmUTION: Abundant throughout Teso and the greater part of Kara-
moja, but absent from the more arid areas.
DESCRIPTION: The stout, heavily built Porcupine, the largest of the African
rodents, though doubtless familiar to everybody through the medium of photo-
graphs and captive specimens, is rarely seen despite its omnipresence. An adult
specimen may measure up to 3 ft. in total length, of which the short tail will
contribute some 5 in.-6 in. The back is covered with stout, cylindrical black
and white banded quills 6 in. to 8 in. long intermixed with longer, more slender
and more flexible quills which tend to be entirely white. The powerful rattling
quills of the tail are somewhat different in construction; they possess slender,
stalk-like bases while the rest of the quill forms a hollow cylinder which is open
at the apex. The spines of the head, limbs and under side are slender, the
general colour being black ; the quills of the head form a long crest.
On the broad fore feet there are four well-developed digits each provided
with a thick claw; on the hind foot there are five toes, the two central digits
being slightly longer than those on the outside.
The weight of an adult male is between 40 and 50 lb., but weights of 60 lb.
are not unknown. The female has six black and somewhat pendulous lateral
BIOLOGY : The Porcupine is almost entirely nocturnal; on only one occasion
have I encountered it after daybreak. It is sometimes seen on roads at night
and is occasionally run over by cars; the resulting punctures are, however, a
considerable deterrent to this method of killing it. During the day it retreats to
its underground lair, which may take the form of a deep and extensive warren,
62 UGANDA JOURNAL
excavated by itself, or may be a natural cavity amidst a jumble of rocks.
Excavated lairs, often situated at the foot of a termite-hill beneath a dense mass
of tangled bush, may possess one or two well-concealed emergency bolt holes
as well as the normal entrance. When prowling at night in search of food the
Porcupine usually keeps to itself: unlike other nocturnal wanderers, it makes
no attempt at concealment drawing attention to its presence by guttural grunts
and the rattling of the tail quills. Its normal pace is a shuffling run but it can
break into a clumsy gallop if hard pressed: it is a poor climber over rocky
Its food consists of roots, bulbs, tubers, bark, etc., and it can prove a
destructive pest in a sweet potato or cassava plot. It will fell maize plants to
reach the cob by biting through the stalk. It is also fond of gnawing bones,
and an accumulation of old animal skulls with, here and there, a few cast off
quills is a sure sign that a Porcupine has his residence nearby. Pitman (1931)
has described the Porcupine's method of defence: It retreats and from time
to time halts abruptly, elevating every spine on its body to form an impenetrable
barrier-delivering severe blows at its pursuer by suddenly hurling itself back-
wards." According to Ellerman (1940) it is the short thick quills of the back
which are responsible for inflicting wounds. The animal is, of course, quite
incapable of shooting its quills, like arrows, at its adversary; the quills are,
however, readily detached, and a vigorous shake of the body might loosen one
and fling it for some distance.
The Porcupine is an extremely difficult animal to trap as it is keen of scent,
and is very suspicious and wary. If caught in a trap it often manages to twist
off its foot and escape but I have been told that if the trap is covered with a sack,
so that when it is sprung the limb is firmly held but is not damaged or broken,
the Porcupine is not so likely to release itself. The Karamojong account for a
few by spearing them at night while in the act of raiding their shambas.
The young are born in a nest of dry grass and leaves placed at the bottom
of a burrow, the normal number in a litter being one or two. They are born
with open eyes and are well-covered with sharp but soft prickles which harden
within ten days. The period of gestation is from six to eight weeks. It is
stated that the female South African Porcupine, Hystrix africae australis, which
is closely allied to the East African form, will carry her young on her back, one
at a time, in time of emergency to a place of safety.
The droppings consist of small accumulations of rough lozenge-shaped
particles which Pitman has likened to a heap of date-stones.
MISCELLANEOUS: Ellerman (1940) has given an interesting account of the
captivity habits of the closely allied Hystrix cristata. He found it to be an
abnormally nervy animal, extremely hard to tame, which might take sixteen
weeks before it fed from the hand. But once it conquered this preliminary
shyness, it became a most friendly, good-tempered creature with, he thinks, a
good memory for people. It never completely lost its distrust, and a sudden
movement, or a sneeze, was liable to result in a panic. Only one specimen
allowed itself to be stroked, and he delighted in being scratched and rubbed
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 63
Three large East African porcupines seen by Pitman in the London Zoo
in 1947 were most friendly and the keeper could walk unconcernedly amongst
them, even though an adult pair had two newly born juveniles. These two
comic and tiny youngsters, however, demonstrated most threateningly against
Family: SCIURIDAE. Squirrels.
HELIOSCIURUS MULTICOLOR DYSONI St. Leger. Common Tree Squirrel.
Teso: Eles, ilesia. Karamojong: Eles, ngilesia.
TAXONOMY: The race of Heliosciurus multicolor occurring throughout the
greater part of eastern and northern Uganda is H. m. elegans (type locality,
Mt. Elgon), but specimens of the Tree Squirrel from Serere in Teso and from
Karamoja appear to agree more closely with Miss St. Leger's description of
H. m. dysoni than with the series of elegans in the Coryndon Museum. The
type locality of this race is Lodwar in Turkana, about forty miles along the
Turkwel from Lake Rudolf. Dysoni is closely related to elegans but the dorsal
colour is paler and the ochraceous colouring of head, arms and feet is replaced
by pale yellow.
DisTRmUTION: Well distributed in well-wooded localities throughout Teso;
I have noted it in Soroti township and at Serere. In Karamoja it is mostly
confined to well-wooded water-courses, e.g., at Amudat and in the Moroto
township in the vicinity of the Lia river. A particularly tame individual shared
the Kaabong rest camp with visitors for a short period in 1948.
DESCRIPTION: The Common Tree Squirrel is about 17 in. long, including
the 9 in. tail. The dorsal surface is greyish brown with profuse pale ticking, the
whole tinged with orange-buff (particularly noticeable when the sun strikes
the coat). The individual hairs are parti-coloured-pale brown to chestnut at
the base, black in the centre and white at the tips-an arrangement which is
responsible for the ticking on the upper parts. The orange suffusion is most
apparent on the rump and at the root of the tail. The under parts are wholly
greyish white. The tail is ringed dark and pale buff, but this pattern is only
noticeable at close quarters. The ears are small, rounded, and well-covered
with hair but lack the characteristic tufts of the red squirrel of Great Britain
in winter coat.
BIOLOGY: The true home of the Tree Squirrel is among the branches of
trees, but it will frequently descend to the ground in search of food, or to move
from one tree to another when the gap between is too wide to jump. Its food
consists chiefly of fruit and seeds, including the pods of Acacia spirocarpa, but
it will take eggs and young birds; a small fruited riverain fig provides a particu-
larly favoured meal. Its mode of progress consists of a series of jerks very
reminiscent of an early cinematograph film.
The nest is usually placed in a hole in a tree but I have found one sited
between the wall-plate and roof of a garage. The gestation period of the red
64 UGANDA JOURNAL
squirrel is thirty days and it is probable that that of the Common Tree Squirrel
is very similar.
While staying at Amudat I have on two occasions been surprised by the
bold and defiant attitude adopted by a Tree Squirrel. My attention was first
drawn to its presence by the peculiar cry which consisted of a series of shrill
squeaks interspersed with an occasional low-pitched grunt. It permitted me to
approach within a few feet and only retired when I made a sudden movement,
but almost at once turned round and continued its scolding. I could find no
sign of a nest nearby and assume that it was merely showing its annoyance at
my presence in a favourite feeding ground. I believe the red squirrel behaves
in a similar manner when its food supply is threatened. The usual cry of the
Tree Squirrel is a not unpleasant bird-like twittering. During mating the female
utters a harsh grating squeak.
XERUS (EUXERUS) ERYTHROPUS LACUSTRIS Thomas. Striped Ground
Teso: Ekunyuk, ikunyuko. Karamojong: Ekunyuk, ngikunyuko;
DISTRIBUTION: Ubiquitous throughout Teso and the greater part of Kara-
moja. In the south-east the species next to be described appears to take its
place, the two species overlapping roughly on a line Moroto-Lotome-Karita.
DESCRIPTION: The Striped Ground Squirrel is at once distinguished from
the tree squirrel by the presence of a very conspicuous, narrow, white flank-stripe
extending backwards from the shoulder, and by the very coarse nature of its
fur which resembles dry grass in texture. The length of head and body is about
10 in. to 12 in.; the tail is about 8 in. long. The stiff, harsh fur of the upper
parts appears dark brown suffused with rufous, an effect which is due to the
black and pale brown annulations on the individual hairs. The under side is
scantily clothed with yellowish cream hairs; the limbs are sandy. The tail,
which has a characteristically flattened appearance, is poorly covered with
ginger hairs which are darkest at the base and have black and white annulations
towards the apex: they impart to the tail an indistinct pattern of alternate black
and white rings.
The claws of the feet, unlike those of the tree squirrel which are sharp and
adapted for climbing, are blunt and suited for digging.
BIOLOGY: The diurnal Ground Squirrel is very frequently seen on roads and
bush paths and must be familiar by sight, if not by name, to all Uganda residents.
It appears to take the most perilous risks in front of fast-moving cars, but usually
manages to save itself in the nick of time by an incredible right angle turn, the
tail acting as a powerful rudder, followed by a wild leap to safety into the grass.
It is entirely terrestrial and incapable of climbing trees. When not unduly
disturbed and its curiosity aroused it will rise smartly to a sitting position to
obtain a better view.
It excavates a burrow about a foot below the surface of the ground and a
few feet in length into which it immediately scuttles on the approach of danger.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 65
The nest, composed of dry grass, is placed in a specially enlarged nursery which
is provided with an emergency exit set at right angles to the main burrow. The
usual number in the litter is four.
The diet is very mixed and includes groundnuts, sweet potatoes, beans,
and young cotton bolls. It is also said to fell maize plants by digging at the
base until they fall over when it is possible to reach the cob. In Karamoja,
where crops are not so readily obtainable, various wild roots and bulbs are
eaten; Hydnora hanningtoni is a particular favourite.
It is inadvisable to be bitten by a Ground Squirrel for, according to a
Karamojong informant, the site of the bite itches whenever the victim is ridiculed
and this peculiarity remains throughout life. Another informant adds that the
bite is likely to prove fatal if somebody laughs at the victim while he is being
bitten, and that the body of one unfortunate who suffered this experience was
so swollen when he died that it was necessary to remove the door of his hut and
its frame in order to bury the body. I have a note of a Teso child who,
endeavouring to grasp a Ground Squirrel which had taken refuge in a temporary
earth, was bitten in the hand. On returning home, the child complained of
severe sickness and was dead within the hour.
XERUS RUTILUS DORSALIS Dollman. Unstriped Ground Squirrel.
Karamojong: Ekunyuk, ngikunyuko.
TAXONOMY: Specimens from Karamoja agree quite well with the two topo-
typical examples of this race in the Coryndon Museum. The type locality is
Lake Baringo and on geographical grounds dorsalis is to be expected in south-
DISTRIBUTION: I have only recorded the Unstriped Ground Squirrel from
the south-east quarter of Karamoja where it appears to replace the striped
ground squirrel. The two animals overlap in the neighbourhood of Lotome
and I have seen both on the road east of Karita. I have no record of its
appearance north of Moroto but it is found throughout the greater part of
DESCRIPTION: The Unstriped Ground Squirrel is at once separated from
its near relative by its smaller size, redder coloration and the absence of a
conspicuous white flank stripe. The head and body measure about 81 in. in
length ; the tail 72 in. The upper parts are reddish sandy, darkest on the back,
redder on the flanks, the whole conspicuously ticked with buffy white. The
reddish colour is carried up the neck and over the crown to the forehead but
the muzzle, sides of face and neck are pale buffy yellow.
The under side is white and is well demarcated from the brick-red of the
flanks. The tail is similar to that of the striped ground squirrel.
One specimen collected in February was in the process of moulting, the
front half of the body was in the new pelage, as described above, while the
hinder portion and tail were in the old worn coat and were much faded; this
was particularly noticeable on the tail, where the blackish hairs had faded to,
foxy red, giving the animal a very different appearance.
66 UGANDA JOURNAL
BIOLOGY: The Unstriped Ground Squirrel appears to be the form found
in the more arid parts of East Africa. As far as I am aware its mode of life is
very similar to that of the species already described.
Family: MUSCARDINIDAE. Dormice.
GRAPHIURUS (CLAVIGLIS) MURINUS SATURATUS (Dollman). Tree
Dormouse, Grey Dormouse.
Teso: Asiring, asiringia. Karamojong: Nalwado, ngalwadoi.
DISTRIBUTION: I have notes of the Tree Dormouse from many places in
Teso and Karamoja, and as it is well known to natives of both these districts it
is doubtless widespread throughout.
DESCRIPTION: The Tree Dormouse can hardly be mistaken for any other
member of the large superfamily Muroidae, but I admit that not a few Teso
confuse it with the tree squirrel, while a Karamojong to whom I showed it
classed it as a bush-baby. It does possess a very superficial resemblance to
both these animals, but it is very much smaller than either. The small ears of
the squirrel are well covered with hair, whereas those of the Dormouse are large
and naked; the bush-baby, being a primate, has a dentition quite unlike that
of a rodent and its hands and feet bear a strong resemblance to those of human
The Dormouse measures: head and body, 31 to 4 in.; tail, which is
,characteristically bushy, 3 in. The dorsal surface is medium to dark grey with
a brownish tinge, the individual hairs being white at the tips. There is an
inconspicuous dark ring round the eye extending forward on to the nose. The
sides of the face below the eyes, the backs of the hands and feet, and the toes
are white. The under parts are a markedly paler grey and there is an abrupt
transition from the dark of the back to the lighter colour below. At Napyenenya
two of my specimens had what appeared to be a brick-red stain on the chin
and throat, upper chest and the inside of the front limbs. According to the
Karamojong of the neighbourhood this peculiarity is not uncommon. Dr.
McInnes suggests that it may be produced by a radical change in the diet, e.g.,
a sudden surfeit of white ants.
BIOLOGY: I assume the Dormouse to be naturally arboreal but all my
specimens were taken in dwelling places of varied descriptions including the
humble grass hut and the brick and cement mansion of the P.W.D.; in the
latter, the Dormouse was a frequent nocturnal visitor to the store. In cold
localities in Kenya, this creature seems to like warmth and will make its home
behind the woodwork of the fire-places and mantel-shelves. Its food consists
of small fruits, seeds, insects, eggs and young birds. Mr. T. W. Chorley observed
a specimen which came out of the roof of the house each evening from 7.30 p.m.
onwards and dashed across the mosquito-gauze to seize moths and other insects
attracted to the light.
Its nest is a globular structure with a hole in one side, and is placed in
thatch, banana bunches, low bushes or some such similar place; it is made of
grass and leaves. A nest taken from a box in an attic consisted largely of strips
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 67
of paper, but it will also tear up clothes and hats to obtain suitable material for
its nest. The number of young varies from three to five.
Despite its neat and pleasing appearance, every care should be taken when
handling a Dormouse as it is savage and ferocious and can inflict a painful bite,
as I know from personal experience. It is said to be capable of driving out all
other rodents from any hut of which it has taken possession and in South Africa
the males of the typical form are stated to fight fiercely among themselves, often
to the death, the victor celebrating his victory by eating the vanquished.
Family: MURIDAE. Rats, Mice, Gerbils.
GRAMMOMYS SURDASTER ELGONIS (Thomas). Tree Mouse, Long-tailed
Although the Tree Mouse appears to be well known to the Teso and
Karamoja I have not been able to record a reliable vernacular name for it. I
have heard it referred to as a little squirrel or a brown squirrel.
DISTRIBUTION: I have taken the Tree Mouse only at Serere and Moroto;
it is common at both places. As various forms of the species are known to
occur throughout Kenya and Uganda it is doubtless widely distributed in the
orchard-savanna and grass-woodland areas of the two Districts. The type
locality of elgonis is Malakisi on the south slope of Mt. Elgon.
DESCRIPTION: A small animal with a noticeably long tail-about one and
a half times as long as the total length of the head and body. Measurements :
head and body, 4 in. to 4+ in; tail, 6 in. to 7 in. The soft, short fur of the upper
parts is tawny; it is greyish brown on the head and almost chestnut on the rump.
The sides are paler with a buffy line demarcating the dark upper parts from the
white belly. The ears are tawny brown to blackish. The long, pencilled tail
is uniform dark brown and is almost naked except near the tip where it is well
covered with longish hair which forms a distinctive tuft.
BIOLOGY: The species is arboreal and seldom enters houses though Mr.
G. H. E. Hopkins records one which lived in his house for a couple of days,
where it betrayed its presence by eating a pair of his wife's gloves; on detection
it bolted outside and attempted to escape by climbing the rough-cast wall, not
by running as a terrestrial rat would have done. It nests in bushes and trees,
the nests being placed 2-4 ft. above the ground when built in shrubs, but con-
siderably higher when in trees; in Buganda, Dracaena and Euphorbia tirucalli
are frequently selected. Nests are sometimes placed in thatch and also in the
grass cover of native bee-hives. The animal is nocturnal and the nests are
occupied during the day but, Mr. Hopkins notes, if disturbed it will take
immediate flight, running up the tree if the nest is low down; if the nest is
higher up it commonly makes one wild leap into the undergrowth, its out-
stretched feet and violently gyrating tail serving to keep its balance.
The nest is made of coarse grass, the lining of very fine chewed grass.
There are usually three young in the litter; two females taken at Moroto in
November each contained three embryos.
68 UGANDA JOURNAL
The Azande of the Congo have a theory, recounted by Mr. Lang of the
American Congo Expedition, that the Tree Rat will run up the trunk of an
elephant when the latter is feeding near its home. The elephant, on finding its
trunk blocked by the rat, endeavours to rid itself of its unwelcome visitor by
beating its trunk against a tree. This is not always effective and the death of
the elephant may result.
DASYMYS INCOMTUS HELUKUS Heller. Swamp Rat, Shaggy-haired Rat.
Teso: Eperege, iperega.
DISTRIBUTION: I have only caught the Swamp Rat at Serere, but as it is
recorded from Budama, Busoga, Mengo and Gulu, it is likely to be found
throughout western Teso in suitable localities. The type locality is Sergoit on
the Uasin Gishu plateau of Kenya.
DESCRIPTION: The Swamp Rat is about the same size as the black rat
(Rattus rattus): head and body, 5i in. to 71 in.; tail, about the same length as
the head and body or possibly a little shorter, 5 to 6j in. The fur is long,
soft, and untidy and the general colour of the upper parts is darkish grey tinged
with brown. Individual hairs are annulated black and buff, but the'annulations
are not conspicuous. The under side is slaty grey with some white admixture;
backs of hands and feet, dark ; ears, hairy. The incisor teeth are not grooved.
The tail is very sparsely haired. Mr. Hopkins has drawn my attention to the
peculiar flattened appearance of the Swamp Rat as if the creature had been
BIOLOGY: The Swamp Rat, as its name implies, is an inhabitant of the
rank grass associated with river valleys, but it is not entirely confined to such
localities and all my Serere specimens were caught on high ground. It is mainly
nocturnal and has occasionally been known to enter houses. The American
Museum Congo Expedition was told by Africans that the nests of this species
are built nearly on the surface of the ground with practically no excavation and
consist of a heap of fine dry grass carefully concealed and covered on the top ".
The number of young varies between two and three.
The form montanus, which is distinguished from helukus by its longer
hair and slightly longer tail, was found by the British Museum Ruwenzori
Expedition to be extremely common on the boggy moss covered ground between
12,000 and 14,000 ft. where it feeds on the blossoms of the everlastings
(Helichrysum) and young rushes and, apparently, on moss as well.
MYLOMYS CUNINGHAMEI ROOSEVELTI (Heller). Groove-toothed Thicket
Teso: Eromo, iromoi.
DISTRIBUTION: At Serere I have caught only a very few specimens of the
Groove-toothed Thicket Rat and as it is not included in collections from other
parts of Teso I assume that it is nowhere common. It has been recorded from
Photograph by T. Chorter
[face p. 69
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 69
Kampala and the Mabira forest and it is probably, therefore, widespread in
western Teso. The type locality of roosevelti is on the Nzoia river, Uasin Gishu
plateau, Kenya. I have not captured it in Karamoja.
DESCRIPTION: This is a medium-sized rat. The head and body are about
the same length as the tail; the total length from nose to tip of tail is about a
foot. The long hair of the dorsal surface is bright tawny golden, particularly
on the rump and hind quarters, and is heavily lined with black. On the back
there is an admixture of much longer black hairs with a strong olive iridescence.
The flanks are paler but sharply demarcated from the white of the under side,
the hairs of which show some grey at their bases. The rounded ears, sparsely
covered with tawny yellow hairs, are sufficiently large to cover the eyes when
bent forward. The tail is blackish above, buff to white below.
The Groove-toothed Thicket Rat bears a close resemblance to the field
rat (Arvicanthis), but can at once be distinguished by its strongly grooved upper
ARVICANTHIS ABYSSINICUS NUBILANS Wroughton. Common Field Rat,
Dark-bellied Grass Rat.
Teso: Egurumu, igurumo. Karamojong: Emir, ngimirio.
DISTRIBUTION: This is undoubtedly the commonest rat in Teso and Kara-
moja and is to be found almost everywhere except in the mountain forests. The
species is also very abundant in other parts of Uganda. The type locality of
nubilans is Kisumu in Kenya.
DESCRIPTION: A neat stocky rat of medium size with a tail distinctly
shorter than the head and body. Measurements: head and body, 61 in.; tail,
4 in. The hairs of the upper parts are dark brown to black, tipped with buff
-a pattern which imparts a very characteristic pepper and salt' appearance.
On the hind quarters and at the base of the tail the colour of the hair tips is
almost rufous. The small ears, covered with short yellowish hairs, will not
cover the eyes when bent forward. The under side is paler and greyer than the
upper parts but there is no sharp line of demarcation. The short, thickly
clad, scaly tail is blackish above, buffy below. The orange incisor teeth are
BIOLOGY: This is by far the commonest field rat throughout the greater
part of Uganda, occurring in grass, bush and cultivated areas. Until recently
it was still the commonest rat in Kampala, even out-numbering the black rat
(Rattus), but the gradual disappearance of the long grass within the township
has left the latter species in undisputed dominance. This statement no doubt
applies to many of the growing townships throughout the Protectorate. In
Teso and Karamoja the Common Field Rat is encountered everywhere but it
appears to be particularly numerous during the early months of the dry season.
It is possible that there is a period of maximum breeding towards the end of
the rains which results in the sudden increase in the rat population. The Kara-
mojong are well aware of this phenomenon and explain it by stating that the
70 UGANDA JOURNAL
emir has the power of changing itself into the harlequin quail during the wetter
months of the year and at the end of the rains reversing the metamorphosis.
which results in the sudden appearance of swarms of Common Field Rats!
During the dry weather the existence of a countless host of rats in and among
the parched grass and undergrowth is very evident to the most casual observer,
and by day and night there is a constant rustle as they scurry hither and thither
along their well-defined runs.
The Common Field Rat will enter grain stores in search of food and is a
frequent visitor to the stockaded villages of the Karamojong. I have encoun-
tered it in old soakage pits and drains and I have watched children dig it out of
deserted termite-hills where it appears to live on friendly terms with the elephant-
nosed shrew. It is rare or absent in European and Indian houses but may be:
found in stables.and barns. The nests, made of grass, are often sited in burrows,
excavated by the rats, in banks and rubbish heaps, with tunnels radiating from
them through the thick grass. Surface nests in thick tussocks of grass are
reported to occur, but it is not entirely clear in what circumstances these are
used. A female caught at Ajeluk in November contained six embryos.
The diet of the Common Field Rat is varied; sweet potatoes, cassava,
grass shoots, leaves and shoots of various plants including Amaranthus and
possibly Bidens pilosa (Black-jack), and grass seeds of all kinds.
MISCELLANEOUS: The Common Field Rat is still caught and eaten in large
quantities by Karamojong children and during the dry season it is a not
uncommon sight to see both boys and girls returning home with bags of twenty
or more rats. A number of snares are quietly set in the numerous runs within
a few yards of the entrances to the underground burrows. The undergrowth
and grass is then beaten to drive the rats towards their underground refuges and
so into the snares. A large specimen which I watched being cooked and eaten
provided only two mouthfuls despite the fact that skull, bones and entrails were
ARVICANTHIS NILOTICUS (Desmarest) subspecies. White-bellied Field Rat,
White-bellied Grass Rat.
Teso: Egurumu, igurumu. Karamojong: Emir, ngimirio.
TAXONOMY: The form jebelae was described by Heller from Rhino Camp
in West Nile and it is probable that the White-bellied Field Rat taken in Teso
and Moroto is referable to this race.
DIsTRIBUTION: I have taken the White-bellied Field Rat both at Serere
and Moroto where it occurs together with A. abyssinicus: it is not, however, so
abundant as the latter species. On Mt. Kadam, and therefore probably on
other Karamoja mountains, it is extremely numerous, taking the place of the
plain-loving A. abyssinicus on the open grassy spurs.
DESCRIPTION: This rat is very similar in size to A. abyssinicus. Recorded
measurements are: head and body, 5+ in. to 6 in.; tail, 51 in. to 6 in. The
tail is almost equal to the length of the head and body, sometimes longer and
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 71
sometimes slightly shorter than this measurement. The colour of the upper
surface is much as in abyssinicus, tawny ochraceous with coarse black ticking
produced by longer black hairs. The under side is white, the hairs being white
almost to the roots, though the extreme bases are grey; in some specimens the
hairs are white to the base. The fur of niloticus is possibly somewhat softer
than that of abyssinicus.
BIOLOGY: I have few notes on the habits of this species which I imagine to
be similar to those of A. abyssinicus. It appears to prefer a mountain habitat;
on Mt. Kadam, among the dried grass and aloes on the open rocky spurs, its
well-defined runs are a most noticeable feature.
LEMNISCOMYS STRIATUS MASSAICUS (Pagenstecher). Striped Grass
Teso: Eleli, ilelio. Karamojong: Lopiliyese, ngipiliyese.
DisTRn UTION: The Striped Grass Mouse is well known to the local people
throughout Teso. In Karamoja it is also familiar to many but I have examined
very few specimens from this District. It is apparently common in the drier
south-east, where it is said to frequent black cotton soil' patches, while speci-
mens have also been obtained at Wiawer in Labwor.
DESCRIPTION: The presence of numerous pale dorsal and dorso-lateral
stripes is completely diagnostic of the genus Lemniscomys. The Striped Grass
Mouse measures: head and body, about 41 in.; tail, 51 in. The upper side
is darkish brown, the hairs being tipped with buff except on the broad almost
black dorsal line. On each side there are about six buff-coloured narrow
longitudinal stripes which, if examined carefully, will be seen to consist of a
series of spots which almost or quite touch one another. The ears are opaque
and clothed with rufous hairs. The lower flank stripes are much less distinct
and the spots of which they are composed are widely separated. The tail is
moderately well covered with hair, blackish brown above, paler below. The
under side is pure white.
BIOLOGY: The Striped Grass Mouse is to be seen during the day and also
at night. It appears particularly partial to cultivated land although it is by no
means dependent on crops for its food. It seldom if ever enters houses. It
will eat sweet potatoes and cassava and I have observed this (or possibly the
next) species raiding a simsim rack. Near Kampala it has been caught in some
numbers in heavy forest. Its nest, made of grass, is often sited at the foot of a
tussock of tall grass.
LEMNISCOMYS BARBARUS ZEBRA (Heuglin). Barbary Mouse.
Teso: Eleli, ilelio. Karamojong: Lopiliyese, ngipiliyese.
DISTRiBUTION: I assume the Barbary Mouse to be widespread throughout
Teso as I have collected it both at Serere and at Lorengikipi just within the
bounds of Karamoja. It is certainly not so common as L. striatus if the number
72 UGANDA JOURNAL
of times it is caught is any guide. The type locality of the race zebra is the
country of the Req negroes, Djur and Bongo, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan ".
DESCRIPTION: The Barbary Mouse bears a very strong resemblance to the
striped grass mouse, but the stripes are rather broader and show no tendency to
break up into spots. It is also somewhat smaller, the head and body measuring
about 4 in. to 41 in. The tail is slightly longer.
AETHOMYS KAISER MEDICATUS (Wroughton). Bush Rat.
Teso: Elacho, ilachoi.
DISTRmIBUTION: Widespread throughout the greater part of Teso. It is
also recorded from Loyoroit in Labwor and a single specimen of a rat caught
at Moroto appears to be referable to this species, which I have not as yet obtained
elsewhere in Karamoja. The type locality is Mumias in Kenya.
DESCRIPTION: The Bush Rat is of medium size, the head and body being
about 6 in. long, the tail being about the same length. The fur is soft, smooth
and tidy, the hairs of the upper side being grey tipped with reddish brown;
those on the under side are mainly pure white, but the long grey bases of the
hair show if the fur is ruffled. The ears are medium sized-when bent forward
they will not cover the eyes-and are well clothed with short pale brown hairs.
The backs of the hands and feet are white, contrasting noticeably with the dark
coloration of the rest of the limbs. In this respect the Bush Rat differs from
Dasymys, to which it bears a superficial resemblance, but which has dark feet
and hands; the fur of the swamp rat is also much more untidy owing to its
greater length. The coarsely-scaled tail of the Bush Rat is scantily haired.
The incisor teeth are ungrooved.
BIOLOGY: This is a nocturnal rat of the open bush country: I have caught
it in traps baited with sweet potatoes placed in grass runs. It is said to enter
houses on rare occasions. Three is the usual number of young in a litter.
RATTUS RATTUS KIJAB1US (J. A. Allen). Black Rat.
RATTUS RATTUS FRUGIVORUS (Rafinesque). Cream-bellied Black Rat.
Teso: Esolima, isolimai. Karamojong: Esolima, ngisolimait.
TAXONOMY: It is usual to refer all East African specimens of the Black
Rat to the two sub-species kijabius and frugivorus, the former being applied to
the dark-bellied forms and the latter to those with whitish bellies. These forms
are not true geographical sub-species as they seem to show little or no relation
to locality. Hinton regards those with the pale under parts as wild or original
forms of the domestic rat, R. r. rattus, which through generations of living in
dark houses and cellars have become dark in colour. When introduced into
the tropics, where life under much more open conditions is possible, he suggests
that they tend to revert to the wild whitish bellied form frugivorus, passing
through a stage of greyish bellied form alexandrinus, on the way. According
to this theory, kijabius is a synonym of alexandrinus.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 73
DIsTRaBmTION: The Black Rat is not indigenous but found its way to
Uganda, probably via the railway, at some time after 1911. Baker, writing in
1922, states that it was still rare at Entebbe in 1917, but was the common house-
rat there in 1921. Since its first arrival it has slowly spread throughout the
country and is now to be found almost everywhere. In Teso it is widely distri-
buted and very common but is invariably associated with the presence of man,
being particularly abundant in dukas, godowns, ginneries, villages, and other
such places. It is said to be absent from Tisai Island at the east end of Lake
Gedge. In Karamoja it is an inhabitant of most of the trading centres, and
the neighboring villages. At Moroto, where I have set a number of traps in
and around huts and shops, I have caught more specimens of the multi-mammate
rat than of the Black Rat. It is probably safe to say that the latter is now in
the process of invading Karamoja but has not as yet over-run the District to
anything like the extent it has Teso. It is probably largely dependent on its
own means of locomotion, but in Karamoja lorries transporting foodstuffs must
have rendered much assistance. I captured a specimen at Lorengikipi, far
from any human habitation, soon after the dam construction unit had com-
menced work; it must have arrived in a lorry carrying the rations for the
labour. If the Black Rat came to Moroto by this means it cannot have done so
before 1928, when the first lorry arrived.
I have only captured one specimen of the Cream-bellied Black Rat at
DESCRIPTION: The Black Rat is a medium-sized rodent, the head and body
measuring about 51 in. and the tail 71 in. The tail is distinctly longer than the
head and body. The rather long, slightly harsh fur of the dorsal surface is
greyish brown with longer black hairs intermixed; the under side is slaty grey.
In the sub-species frugivorus, the ventral parts are pale, sharply contrasting with
the flanks, the hairs being mostly cream-coloured. The ears are large and
translucent, practically naked, and will cover the eyes when bent forward.
The muzzle is sharp; the feet are rather thinly covered with very short hair.
The scaly tail, sparsely clad with hairs, is dark throughout.
BIOLOGY: I have only captured the Black Rat in buildings-in the thatch
of grass-roofed huts, stores of Indian shops, etc.-and it is evidently confined to
human habitations or their close proximity. In 1937 very heavy rains were
followed by the sudden appearance of the Black Rat in a number of European
houses in Kampala in which there were normally no rats; this may have been
due to the heavy rains rendering the thatch of nearby huts uncomfortably wet.
In the majority of African huts the Black Rat lives in the thatch but occasionally
where the roof is old and water-logged it will take refuge in the walls and floors.
The Black Rat is entirely nocturnal, spending the day asleep in some
comfortable nest made of a variety of materials including grass, paper, rags,
cotton-seed, etc., sited within easy reach of its food supply. Between nest and
feeding-ground it develops a series of well-defined runs from which it seldom
deviates and to which, in houses, attention is sometimes drawn by the appearance
of a smear caused by the rubbing of its greasy fur on the wall. Its food is
chiefly grain but it will eat almost anything, animal or vegetable, including
74 UGANDA JOURNAL
groundnuts, cotton-seed, fruit, meat, potatoes, green vegetables and its dead
or dying comrades. In Tanganyika it is reported to damage stored hides and
beeswax. To maintain its ever-growing incisors at the correct length it regularly
gnaws hard substances of which the chief is wood, but lead pipes, ivory, bones,
bricks and cement are all sometimes attacked. In South Africa it is said to
require water at least once in two days if no moist food is available and it is
prepared to travel over a quarter of a mile to obtain it.
The usual number of young is six or seven; they are born in a helpless
condition, being blind and naked with their external ears sealed down. The
eyes open at about the fourteenth day and weaning takes place about a month
after birth. According to Hinton (1931) sexual maturity is attained long before
the female has completed her growth which continues until she is eighteen months
old; she is capable of breeding at four months old. The menopause commonly
occurs at the age of fifteen to eighteen months. Hinton records that the female
comes on heat in the absence of the male at intervals of about ten days but heat
lasts for a few hours only and if not satisfied it rapidly subsides and the female
cannot then be impregnated until her next heat period. The period of gestation
is normally about twenty-one days but it may be extended for a further ten days
if the female is already nursing at the time of impregnation. She is as a rule a
good and careful mother and will only eat her offspring under certain conditions
such as when competition for food is very keen or when there is undue disturb-
ance following overcrowding.
Breeding goes on throughout the year but according to Harris, working in
Tanganyika, the greatest increase in numbers is probably shortly after the grain
harvest and the minimum population at the end of the rains.
MISCELLANEOUS: The Black Rat, owing to its close association with man,
is the chief agent in the spread of bubonic plague. This disease primarily
attacks rodents, and is transferred from one animal to another through rat fleas.
Fleas which suck the blood of infected rodents take into their gut with the blood
the plague bacilli, Pasteurella pestis, which multiply within the flea and are
transferred to any new victim which it may chance to bite. Normally this
unfortunate will be another rodent of the same species, but when the plague has
assumed an epizootic form and when many rodents have succumbed to the
disease or left for more healthy climes, the flea is forced to seek blood from a
less preferred host which is all too frequently man. Control of the spread of
plague therefore consists largely in reducing the number of rats or their contact
To-day plague is not known in Uganda from outside those areas where the
Black Rat is abundant but in the past, before its introduction into Uganda,
plague was widespread in many districts. Baker, writing in 1921, records that
plague was endemic in Teso up to 1917, but rats were scarce everywhere in
1921 (when his investigations in this area were carried out) and Rattus rattus
was only found at Lale and Bugondo. It must be assumed, therefore, that
Mastomys coucha, the species next to be described, was the chief vector of
plague before the arrival of the Black Rat. I have found no record of any out-
break of bubonic plague in Karamoja although the disease, etula, is known there.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 75
RATTUS (MASTOMYS) COUCHA UGANDAE (De Winton). Multi-mammate
RATTUS (MASTOMYS) COUCHA PALLIDA (Dollman). Rat.
Teso: Enyabwosi, inyabwosio. Karamojong: Natelewa, ngatelewai.
TAXONOMY: The Multi-mammate Rat of Teso has been assigned to the
form ugandae. Specimens from Karamoja show considerable colour differ-
ences between individuals, but some are sufficiently near to ugandae for them
all to be included provisionally in this race. Allen accepts pallida as a valid
race: it was first described from Kamchuru1 in Labwor.
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread in Teso and Karamoja. In the latter area it
is particularly abundant and I have captured more specimens of this rat in the
environs of Moroto than any other species. In Karamoja it is undoubtedly
partial to man's presence, being an inhabitant of huts, stores, villages and
DESCRIPTION: A smallish rat lacking any distinctive markings; the tail
is usually noticeably shorter than the head and body. Measurements are:
head and body, 4Q in. to 61 in.; tail, 41 in. to 51 in. The fur of the upper side,
which is distinctly soft and silky, is grey-brown with a greater or less amount
of buffy wash depending on the length of the buff tips to the hairs. The under
side is pale grey, the individual hairs having long slate-grey bases and very pale
buff tips. The backs of the hands and feet are whitish. The tail is scantily
haired and rather paler below than above. The ears are large--they will cover
the eyes when bent forward-and are naked and translucent. The form
pallida is described by Dollman as having the dorsal surface dark brown,
between 'olive-brown' and 'hair-brown' (Ridgway, 19122), lined with black
and washed over with pale buff, this latter tint most dominant on the flanks and
forming a yellowish line between the dark flanks and pale under parts ". The
specimens I have examined from Moroto and elsewhere do not show the pale
buff coloration of the lower flanks to the extent which is suggested by Dollman's
description of pallida.
The teats of the female, sixteen to twenty in number, form continuous rows
and are not divided into pectoral and inguinal sets. The incisor teeth are
BIOLOGY: In Karamoja this is the common village rat, but in Teso I have
captured it in the open away from human habitations. It is now thought that
Rattus coucha was formerly the prevalent hut rat throughout most of Kenya
and Uganda but that during the last thirty to forty years it has had to give way
to the all-conquering black rat and take to the open fields. The Teso name
enyabwosi is derived from two words, enyama meaning devourer and abwosi
the frontal skin apron at one time worn by all women. This suggests that in
the past the Multi-mammate Rat or, as the Teso would have it, the Clothes
Rat', was regarded as a common and harmful household pest. In Karamoja
1 I have not been able to trace Kamchuru in any map, nor is the name known to the
local inhabitants of Labwor.
2 Unfortunately, I do not possess Ridgway's Colout' Standards and Nomenclature and
it is therefore difficult to appreciate the full meaning of his colour definitions.
76 UGANDA JOURNAL
it is still recognized as a persistent marauder of stored grain, and particularly
liable to gnaw through the skin bags in which the latter is kept.
The species is a good digger and its nests are often placed in mud walls and
floors of huts, although occasionally they are found in grass roofs. The South
African form is stated to have several alternative openings to its burrows.
While staying in the Kangole rest-camp I watched a twilight invasion of the
camp building by a horde of these rats. They emerged from their burrows,
sited in a Commiphora fence and, following a well-defined run across an open
space of some fifteen yards, proceeded by a series of short climbs into the grass
roof of the house. This was in December, and I imagine that the animals were
attracted by the stores of grass seed to be found in the thatch. The Karamojong
inform me that the Multi-mammate Rat is not endowed with much intelligence:
one permitted me to stroke it for a minute or two before it noticed anything out
of the ordinary.
The number of embryos in pregnant females varies: in catches made by
Hopkins they varied between three and twelve, but a specimen with sixteen
embryos was found by the American Museum expedition. In South Africa
the species is stated to breed when three months old. Harris records that
in Tanganyika this rat is subject to rapid increases in numbers, apparently
especially in swampy places. When this occurs there is an influx into the
nearby fields and extensive damage to crops may result. His observations
suggest that the population is at its minimum at the end of the dry season,
gradually increasing to its maximum towards the end of the rains.
MISCELLANEOUS: As plague was widespread in many parts of Uganda
before the arrival of the black rat, it is probable that the Multi-mammate Rat
was then the chief vector. Baker, writing in 1921, recorded that he saw large
numbers of this rat dead of the plague: he notes that plague was endemic in
Teso up to 1917, but that even in 1921 the black rat was only to be found at
Lale and Bugondo. Plague was widespread in Lango before the advent of
Rattus rattus, and R. coucha swarmed everywhere: a request for rats at Lira
produced 6,400 in twenty-four hours!
MUS BELLUS (Thomas) subspecies. P
MUS GRATUS (Thomas & Wroughton) subspecies.
Teso: Isimamorl, isimamorio; Edomelu, idomelun. Karamojong:
Loyokomoru (plural wanting).
TAXONOMY: The taxonomic position of the genus Mus both in Karamoja
and Teso is still very obscure. A subspecies of M. bellus occurs commonly
in the Serere neighbourhood, and one specimen of the Pigmy Mouse taken in
this locality agreed quite well with the description of M. tenellus though as I
neglected to have my determination confirmed I have not included it here.
(The long pointed snout, projecting incisors and the short hairy tail are diagnostic
features of the tenellus group.) Specimens of Mus collected at Lotome (Kara-
moja) were determined provisionally by the Coryndon Museum as M. gratus.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 77
Another species, very common around Moroto, differs from both bellus and
gratus in the complete absence of the ochraceous flanks; it is quite unlike
anything at the Coryndon Museum and I await a determination from the
DISTRIBUTION: Pigmy Mice are found throughout Teso and Karamoja.
In the latter district they are said to occur on the lighter red soils, and in and
DESCRIPTION: All the mice of this genus are very small and dapper, with
the tail shorter than the head and body. The fur is short and soft, and inclined
to be crisp, falling back stiffly into place after being ruffled: there is a sharp
distinction between the white under parts and the brown upper parts. All
Pigmy Mice are slim and well-groomed.
Mus bellus measures: head and body, 21 in.; tail 11 in. The upper parts
are rich dark brown, merging gradually into broad tawny rufous flank bands
which are sharply demarcated from the pure white chin, throat and under parts.
There is a paler rufous patch around the eye. The tail is dark brown above,
paler below. M. gratus averages somewhat larger than bellus: head and body,
21 in.; tail, 2 in. The upper parts are dark brown, the flanks paler owing to
the buffy tipping of the hairs. There is a definite suggestion of an ochraceous
flank band, narrower than that of bellus. As in the latter, the upper parts are
sharply demarcated from the pale under parts, which are dirty white or washed
with grey. There is a pale buffy spot on the cheek but no pale patch encircling
The Pigmy Mouse found at Moroto differs from either of the above by the
absence of any rufous or orange on the flanks. The general colour of the upper
parts is dark brownish grey, some of the hairs being tipped with buff. On the
flanks the sandy buff flecking is much more prominent but there is no obvious
flank band. The crown of the head is dark, the top of the snout somewhat paler.
There is a pale orange spot below the eye with a suggestion of an orange ring
around it. The ears are covered with short dark hairs; the tail is dark,
possibly a little paler below. The chin, throat and under parts are dirty white.
Measurements: head and body, 2j in.; tail, 1 in. (single specimen).
BIOLOGY: The Karamojong tell me that the Pigmy Mouse is chiefly found
in the vicinity of cultivation and villages and my own observations tend to
confirm this. I have caught it in my wardrobe and among stored boxes, and
I have seen a series of small holes in a hut wall which I was reliably informed
was the home of this little creature. It is certainly nocturnal and at Serere
not a few were captured by my cat at night in the compound and brought into
the house. I found a nest at Moroto in September 1948 in a depression beneath
a floor-board at the door of a kitchen; it contained six young. 1 presume the
attraction for an ever-ready food supply outweighed the disadvantages of
persons passing overhead throughout the day. The small cup-shaped nest was
made entirely of thin slivers of rotten wood. In soft sandy soil the Pigmy
Mouse will excavate short burrows, the mouth of which it fills, when in
residence, with small stones, presumably to prevent the ingress of unwelcome
78 UGANDA JOURNAL
visitors; the small stones must take time and much energy to gather. This
peculiar habit is well known to the Karamojong and the name loyokomoru,
which is applied to the Pigmy Mouse, means pebble herdsman, from ekeyokon,
herdsman and imoru, small stone.
LOPHOROMYS SIKAPUSI ANSORGEI De Winton. Harsh-furred Mouse.
Teso: Amuget, amugeto.
DISTRIBUTION: I have only caught the Harsh-furred Mouse at Serere
where it does not appear to be very common, although it is well known to the
Teso people in the neighbourhood. It is recorded from other parts of Uganda
and also occurs in many areas of Kenya: the type locality of this race is Mumias
in Kavirondo, Kenya.
DESCRIPTION: The stockily built Harsh-furred Mouse measures: head and
body, 5 in. to 6 in.; tail, about 3 in. The texture of the fur though smooth and
sleek, is stiff and brush-like, a characteristic from which it derives its English
The colour of the dorsal surface is dark chocolate brown; that of the
under parts, including the chin, a rich brick-red. The short stumpy tail-much
shorter than the head and body-is dark and clothed with coarse hairs. The
small rounded ears, dark brown in colour, will not cover the eyes when bent
BIOLOGY: The Harsh-furred Mouse is an inhabitant of heavily grassed
bush country and is nocturnal. There are usually two young to a litter.
ACOMYS WILSONI ENID St. Leger. Spiny Mouse.
Karamojong: Nachirikukwai (plural wanting), from ekukwai, a thorn.
DISnTRIBUTION: I have taken the Spiny Mouse in widely spaced localities
in Karamoja. It is likely to be common in the less arid short-grass thorn-scrub
areas. The type locality of the race enid is the Koliokwell river, Lake Rudolf,
DESCRIPTION: The Spiny Mouse is immediately distinguished from all
other mouse-like rodents by having the hair of the dorsal surface wholly con-
verted into coarse spines, the spines extending forward to the region of the ears.
It is a small creature, head and body measuring 3 in. to 31 in.; the tail, 11 in.
to 2 in. The general colour of the back is sandy with a reddish tinge speckled
with sooty black ; the spines in the region of the nape are ringed with dark grey
and orange-yellow, and have dark brown tips. The flanks and a narrow bar
running below the eye and ear are paler, almost corn-coloured at the junction
of the dorsal colour with the white under parts. The muzzle, cheeks (except
for the narrow strip of light colour beneath the eye), fore legs, inner side of hind
legs, hands and feet, and the whole of the under side are pure white. The tail
is white, finely scaled, and clothed with fine white hairs. The ears are brown,
the stiff hairs immediately behind being almost white.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 79
BIOLOGY: Shortridge records that in Northern Rhodesia the Spiny Mouse
(Acomys selousi De Winton) hides by day in the crevices of large termite-hills
in dense bush and forest. In Karamoja I am told that the local race frequents,
among other places, the grass and rubbish which collect beneath the tangled
mass of thorns placed around sorghum fields, and it is accused of damaging
maize, climbing up the stalks to reach the cobs. It is nocturnal. I have only
taken it in the less arid parts of Karamoja either along river banks, e.g., near
Lotome and Lorengikipi or in well wooded localities such as Kichere in north-
Members of this genus do not appear to be prolific breeders ; Heller found
the normal number of embryos in pregnant females to be either one or two. He
records one instance (in Acomys wilsoni ablutus Dollman) of a female with four
embryos, but another specimen of the same form had one only. The gestation
period is likely to be short; Bonhote (1911) records 11-58 days (single case) for
the gestation period of the Egyptian Acomys cahirinus (Desmarest). This must
surely be the shortest gestation period of any non-marsupial mammal.1
SACCOSTOMUS CRICETULUS G. M. Allen & Lawrence. Short-tailed Mouse,
Karamojong: Lokuuku (plural wanting).
DISTRIBUTION: This form was first described from the south bank of the
Greek river in the Sebei area, north of Mt. Elgon. It is well known to the
Karamojong and I have collected it both at Lotome and Moroto. I imagine it
to be widespread throughout the central plain in the proximity of the less arid
DESCRIPTION: A stockily built mouse with longish, soft and silky fur, and
a noticeably small tail, about half the length of head and body. In a series of
seven adults from Karamoja the head and body measured 51 in. to 511 in. ; the
tail, 2 in. to 2j in. The colour is grey, with a slight brown tinge much inter-
mixed with black hairs in the mid-dorsal area. The flanks are paler, the under
sides being very pale grey, the hairs having white tips and slaty bases; there is
no sharp demarcation between the colour of the flanks and that of the under
side. The ears, very similar in colour to the back, are small and hairy. The
tail is fairly well covered with hair, blackish above, paler below. The backs
of the hands and feet are white. The upper incisors are ungrooved and the
cheeks are provided with pouches.
BIOLOGY: South African observers state that their form of this rat is slow
moving; if surprised in the open it can be overtaken at a walking pace. It is
nocturnal, but will come out on dull days or late in the afternoon. Its burrow
has a separate entrance and exit with special chambers to serve as dwellings
and stores in which it keeps grain and other seeds. The Roosevelt expedition
found a Kenya form occurring in the longish grass along a dry stream bed,
I The marsupial, endowed with a specialized nursing pouch, is in a class by itself.
The female rat-kangaroo (Potorous sp.) is distinguished by having a gestation period of
eight days only.
80 UGANDA JOURNAL
where the animals were trapped in their rather indistinct run-ways ". My
specimens were also obtained in relatively dense vegetation in the neighbourhood
of dry streams and river beds.
CRICETOMYS GAMBIANUS ELGONIS Thomas. Giant Rat.
Teso: Ekorikituk, ikoriokituk or ikorikituko ; Azitya (no plural recorded).
Karamojong: Epude, ngipudei.
TAXONOMY: Specimens from Teso have been provisionally ascribed by
the Coryndon Museum to the form elgonis, the type locality being the south side
of Mt. Elgon at a height of 10,000 ft.
DISTRIBUTION: The Giant Rat is widespread throughout Teso and is well
known to many of the local inhabitants. I have seen specimens from Serere,
Ongino, and near Soroti. It probably extends its range eastwards into the
grass-woodland areas along the western boundary of Karamoja and I have
found it between Karita and Kanyerus at the foot of Karangoboge hill and on
the banks of the Lia river at Moroto.
DESCRIPTION: The Giant Rat is quite unmistakable, far exceeding in size
any other rat-like rodent. One specimen noted in my records measured: head
and body, 141 in. ; tail, 16 in.-giving a total length of 301 in. from tip of nose
to end of tail. The tail is usually longer than the head and body except possibly
The short, coarse fur is grey, gradually fading to a paler shade on the under
side, but without any clear demarcation between the colour of the flanks and
belly. The ears are not outstandingly large and will not cover the eyes when
bent forward. The tail is clothed with short, scanty hairs, the apical part being
white in marked contradistinction to the dark basal portion; it is from this
peculiar characteristic that it derives its Teso name ekorikituk or cow's tail
(from ekori, tail; atuk, cow). It would seem that the proportion of white to
grey on the tail is a variable factor. I have noted that the white portion occupies
about a third of the total length, but Hollister records of three specimens caught
near Kakamega that the white portion of the tail is much more extensive than
the darker basal portion ". The Giant Rat possesses cheek pouches in which
to carry food.
BIOLOGY: The Giant Rat appears to be an inhabitant of grassy woodland
areas and thickets such as occur around Serere, Ongino and at the foot of some of
the rocky outcrops in the neighbourhood of Ngora. It does not inhabit the
more open and less fertile localities of Teso. It is by no means averse to enter-
ing house ; one was caught in my servants' quarters, and another was seen
endeavouring to climb across the mosquito gauze of a house at Ngora. Both
the Luganda and Acholi names for this rat-nsomba-byuma, the metal thief,
and lakwal-pala, the knife thief-suggest that it possesses, like the jackdaw, a
predilection for small bright objects. It lives in burrows in the ground (a
specimen brought to me at Ongino occupied a burrow amidst a tangle of tree
roots) and is nocturnal, coming out to feed at night. An observer in S. Africa
notes that it loosely fills the entrance of its burrow with dead leaves when the
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 81
moon is out. The British Museum Ruwenzori Expedition recorded of the
form occurring in the more humid west of Uganda that these large rats are
not uncommon on Ruwenzori up to 7,000 feet. They appear to inhabit chiefly
the more open and cultivated land below the forest line and, according to the
natives, do a good deal of damage to the bean crops."
STEATOMYS PARVUS Rhoads. Lesser Fat Mouse.1
DISTRIBUTION: I have included the Lesser Fat Mouse on somewhat slender
evidence. Among my collections from Lotome was a single skin, without skull,
which both Mr. Hopkins and an authority at the British Museum considered to
be that of the Lesser Fat Mouse. In appearance it agrees well with the written
description of S. parvus which is known to occur in the Lake Rudolf area.
DESCRIPTION: A small plump mouse with a short tail, distinguished from
all other short-tailed rodents by the fact that its upper incisors are grooved. Its
stoutness is due to its ability to store fat as a food reserve beneath its skin.
In size it measures approximately: head and body, 3 in.; tail, 1+ in. The
upper parts are a uniform tawny brown, lined with black slightly darker on the
back and the hinder part of the head. The sides are more tawny while the
under parts, including the feet, are dirty white. The upper and lower parts of
the tail are coloured like the corresponding parts of the body. There is a white
spot at the base of the ear. The type is a female and has three pairs of teats,
pectoral, abdominal and inguinal" (Rhoads, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia,
1896, p. 529).
BIOLOGY: Nothing has been recorded of the habits of this genus in East
Africa. A South African species is stated to live in small colonies in open
plains and to dig short, rather shallow burrows with many ramifications. In
Nigeria and possibly in the Transvaal it is stated to aestivate. Owing to its
plumpness it is a slow mover.
TATERILLUS EMINI (Thomas). Emin's Gerbil or Kangaroo Rat.
TATERILLUS LOWEI Dollman.
Teso: Elepo, ilepoi. Karamojong: Lonang, nginangia.
TAXONOMY: Taterillus emini was first described from Wadelai, and the
Kangaroo Rat, occurring in Teso has been ascribed to this species. Specimens
from Karamoja, however, agree quite well with the written description of
T. lowei, of which, unfortunately, there are no examples in the Coryndon
Museum. The type locality is near the Turkwel river a few miles south of
Lodwar and it is therefore not unlikely that it occurs in Karamoja.
DISTRIBUTION: Common, though not abundant, throughout Teso, especially
in the more open areas of cultivation. In Karamoja it frequents similar localities
and is also to be found in the short grass areas on red soil in the central plain.
1 In my systematic list (Uganda Journal, Vol. 12, p. 204) I wrongly included Steatomys
in the subfamily Murinae. Ellerman places it in the subfamily Dendromyinae.
82 UGANDA JOURNAL
DESCRIPTION: The appearance of all members of this genus is very charac-
teristic ; they are all large-headed and, owing to the fact that their hind limbs
are long in proportion to the fore limbs, they resemble in shape miniature
Emin's Kangaroo Rat measures approximately: head and body, 51 in.;
tail, 61 in. The upper parts are grey with a pronounced reddish tinge; they
are darkest on the dorsal area owing to the rich rufous tips to the dark grey
hairs. There is a rather indistinct darker band around the strikingly large eye,
and a white patch behind the ear. The flanks are lighter, and approaching
reddish orange; the chin, backs of hands and feet, and belly are pure white.
The ears are large, sparsely covered with dark grey hairs, and when bent
forward will cover the eyes. The tail, considerably longer than head and body,
is well clothed with hair for its entire length, the terminal hairs being elongated
to produce a bottle-brush effect. The yellow incisors are grooved.
T. lowei appears to be very similar in size and shape to T. emini but lacks
the rich brown of the latter species, the dorsal colour being described as pale
dirty yellow, the central portion of the back rather darker owing to the dark
hair tips being more developed: it does not appear to have the darker eye ring.
TATERA LIODON DUNDASI Wroughton. Rat-like Gerbil or Kangaroo Rat.
Teso: Ekimya, ikimyan. Karamojong: Logolengiro (plural wanting).
DISTRIBUTION: I have taken the Rat-like Gerbil from widely spread
localities in Teso but in Karamoja it does not appear to be so abundant. A
few specimens from Lotome are clearly very similar to the Teso race, dundasi.
DESCRIPTION: The Rat-like Gerbils of the genus Tatera are, as their name
suggests, much more rat-like in build and general appearance than members
of the genus Taterillus. The discrepancy between the two pairs of limbs is
very much less marked but the combination of long feet and markedly hairy
tail is diagnostic. The Rat-like Gerbil of Teso and Karamoja measures approxi-
mately: head and body, 61 in.; tail, about the same length, sometimes a little
less. The upper parts are finely grizzled black and buff, the black being most
prominent on the dorsal area. There is a gradual paling from the dark back
through sandy buff to the pale flanks which are almost entirely sandy, the hairs
of the whole of the upper parts having long leaden-grey bases. The under parts,
including the chin, are pure white, the hairs being white to the roots. The ears
and eyes are large; the backs of the hands and feet pure white. The tail, which
is well covered with hair-much more so than are the tails of any of the true rats
or mice-is without a distinct tassel; it is dark brown above, pale below.
TA TERA NIGRICA UDA BA YERI Lonnberg. Black-tailed Gerbil or Kangaroo
DISTRIBUTION: I have only obtained two specimens of Black-tailed Gerbil
at Lotome but as the type locality is the Maroon river in West Suk I imagine
that it is fairly widespread in Karamoja in suitable localities.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 83
DESCRIPTION: Superficially, the Black-tailed Gerbil resembles T. liodon
but it is very much smaller and its tail is distinctly longer than its head and body.
One of the specimens from Lotome measured: head and body, 4Q in.; tail,
6I in. The colour of the upper parts is similar to T. liodon except that the pale
ticking is coarser and often more extensive. The well-haired tail is black or
mainly black for more than half its length dorsally and for a considerably
shorter distance ventrally; the hairs of the distal portion are markedly longer
than the rest. Owing to this feature I first mistook the Black-tailed Gerbil for
a form of Taterillus; however, the colour is quite different, Emin's kangaroo-
rat being very much more rufous and without any obvious ticking.
BIOLOGY: Gerbils are industrious excavators, digging for themselves small
warrens wherever the soil is sufficiently loose and sandy to permit underground
operations. The burrows usually communicate with one another and small
nesting chambers are scraped out at the end of selected passages. Austin
Roberts, writing of the South African Tatera schinzi, says that if the burrows
,are dug open they are usually found to lead from one entrance to another,
.and the first attempts to procure the animal are thus disappointing, but after
experience one learns that the animal has burrowed down elsewhere along the
course of the passage, closed up the burrow behind it with sand, and then
continued to do so as far as the chamber in which it has made a large nest of
dry grass ". A peculiar feature of the burrows of Emin's Gerbil, and one
which I believe is found in those of other Gerbils, is the escape hatch which
terminates just below the surface of the ground. When danger threatens from
below the Gerbil flees up this bolt hole, bursts through the thin crust of earth
at the top with, according to a Karamojong informant, sufficient force to propel
itself well into the air, and then scuttles away to the safety of another warren.
The Karamojong are well aware of this -habit and the vernacular name lonong
is derived from the word anang, meaning to punch out, there being apparently
some similarity between this action and the sudden' jack-in-the-box' appearance
of the Gerbil above ground.
Gerbils are nocturnal; they are sometimes caught in the beam of head-
lights as they cross the road in small bounds. Their food consists of seeds,
roots and bulbs; Shortridge notes that specimens kept in captivity were
particularly partial to locusts and beetles. Sixteen pregnant T. liodon females
had an average of 3-5 foetuses, the maximum being six and the minimum two.
TACHYORYCTES RUDDI Thomas subspecies. Orange-toothed Mole-Rat.
Kadam and Tepes: Nadunach. Suk: Pungumwa.
TAXONOMY : I have only managed to obtain the skull of this creature, with
its diagnostic large yellow incisors, although I have endeavoured to dig it from
its burrows on Mt. Kadam. I have not examined a skin from Karamoja, but
the typical form was described from Kirui at 6,000 ft. on Mt. Elgon and I
imagine the Karamoja form likely to be allied to this.
84 UGANDA JOURNAL
DISTRIBUTION: Common on the open grassy spurs of Mt. Kadam at the
6,000 ft. level and upwards. It also occurs on Mt. Moroto in similar localities.
(e.g., just below Imagit summit) and it is reported from the Suk hills. The
Karamojong of the plains are not familiar with this oddity and I have therefore
given its Kadam/Tepes and Suk names.
DESCRIPTION: Like the white-toothed mole-rat, the Orange-toothed Mole-
Rat is mole-like in form and strongly modified for burrowing; it has short legs,
broad and spade-like feet, vestigial ears and a very short tail. The head and
body measurement is about 7 in. The fur is rather long, soft and dense. The
colour, according to a Kadam informant, is greyish brown. The young in all
forms are black or blackish; the adults also are occasionally black. Asymmetric-
ally placed blotches of white or black are common features of the genus. The
female is frequently darker than the male.
BIOLOGY: On Mt. Kadaia the Orange-toothed Mole-Rat is an inhabitant
of the open grassy spurs and ridges from about 6,000 ft. upwards. The observant
climber who camps at Umthuk will notice there a conspicuous assemblage of
mole-hills in the vicinity of the camping ground. The burrows are not for
the most part very deep, but in siting its nest the animal delves to a depth of
two or more feet and excavates a side chamber which it lines with dried grass
roots. There is no attempt at sanitation, the nests being full of stout, lozenge-
shaped droppings. Innumerable short side passages open off the main upper
series of burrows, and are presumably made in search of grass roots. The
animal must also at times come to the surface as I found fresh grass in the
tunnels. The Kadam, who eat the Mole-Rat, hunt it by removing the earth
from a newly-made mole-hill; in a short time the Mole-Rat starts to close the
hole by shovelling out more earth and the hunter then shoots an arrow into
the upheaving mass of soil. At Umthuk I found the remains of a Mole-Rat
which appeared to have fallen a victim to some bird or small carnivore while
burrowing close to the surface. Loring, writing of the Naivasha form, records
that he found several dead near their holes and suggests that owls may have
been responsible for their deaths. The same observer notes of animals dug out
of their burrows that after the lapse of a few seconds, they would begin to
dig. In any slight depression they began work; and when small roots or a
tussock of grass intervened, they used their teeth until the obstruction was
removed, and then with the nails of their front feet only continued digging. As
the hole deepened they threw the dirt out between their hind legs and with them
still farther beyond. After the earth accumulated so that it drifted back, they
faced about, and using their chest as a scoop, pushed it entirely out of the way.
They were most active in the evening, at night, and in the early morning."
Above ground the Mole-Rat can only move at a slow, clumsy crawl.
(To be continued)
HISTORY AND LEGENDS OF THE ROCKS OF
KAKUMIRO AND OF SOME OTHER PLACES IN
THE SAZAS OF MUBENDE
By the late J. T. K. GGOMOTOKA, SSABALANGIRA
(Translated from the Luganda by Omw. P. S. Misagga and edited and annotated
by R. A. Snoxall)
T HE author of this article, the late Ssabalangira J. T. K. Ggomotoka, died
in 1942 when he was occupying the position of Kaima or Saza chief of
Mawokota County in Buganda. He was a recognized authority on the language
and history of the Baganda and a staunch champion of the preservation of all
that was best in Kiganda culture and of a return to the simplicity of the past,
and an equally firm resister of all that he considered undesirable in modem
trends. He was quite fearless in following what he thought was right and cared
little for popularity, as is instanced by his destruction of the canoes for beer
brewing in his gombolola, when, as gombolola chief, he sought to decrease the
drunkenness of the country. Indeed, in all his doings he discharged his duty
without fear 6r favour.
He was the author of a Grammar of Luganda and of a history, rather more
social than political, of Buganda entitled Magezi Ntakke, as well as of a
number of articles contributed to the vernacular press and in particular to
'Munno'. In 1932 he summoned what was at that time, and probably still
remains, the most representative conference on the spelling and writing of the
Luganda language which has yet been convened. His literary style is that of
a conservative and a purist, and to the foreigner and probably to the modern
Muganda he is difficult and obscure, but his works are a repository of fast
disappearing Kiganda customs and lore and his death was a tragedy for the
country, for it is likely that further valuable work would have flowed from his
pen. It is typical of the late Ssabalangira that he should during his tenure of
the office of Kiyimba, or Saza chief of Bugangadzi, have reduced to writing the
legends and history which surround those weird groups of rocks which stand
up from the surrounding countryside in Mubende District, when so many others
have been content merely to visit and to listen with cursory interest to the tales
of the local elders.
THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM BECOME ROCKS
Local tradition says that there was once upon a time a man by name
Kabwolo (a very poor man) who had a wife who was called Nabwolo. After
many years of married life they were blessed with a daughter whom they called
Namirembe when she grew older.
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
When this daughter became of age she desired to get married and eventually
her choice lighted upon a man by the name of Mulegeya. But before the
arrangements for the marriage began to take place there came a fortune-
teller to her parents who told them that when the time had come for their
daughter to leave their roof for the house of her future husband they were
on no account to emerge from their house to view the wedding procession as
After the departure of the bridal company and its orchestra which con-
sisted of members of both wedding parties, playing upon a variety of instruments
such as the long wedding drums, other drums, fifes and harps, which provided
the accompaniment to a number of pleasant and tuneful songs sung in honour
of both the bride and bridegroom and of the whole wedding company, the
mother of the bride, Nabwolo, became so excited that she no longer remembered
the instructions of the fortune-teller and followed the wedding procession. So
delighted was she with all that she observed that she went back and besought her
husband to come and watch too. He, however, remembered the words of the
fortune-teller and told his wife that they must not watch the procession. But
since his wife continued to entreat him he eventually gave in and went out with
her to watch.
No sooner had he looked at the procession, which by this time was
approaching Mulegeya's house, than he, the bride, and the bridal procession
were changed into high, big rocks, which make a group on the hilltop.
This hill is called Bulegeya after the name of the prospective bridegroom
Mulegeya who lived there at the time that the event was supposed to have taken
These rocks are pointed out to the visitor to this day by the inhabitants of
that place in Bugangazzi. Certainly the resemblance of the two largest rocks
with their curious forward inclination to the unfortunate bridal pair is striking,
as is also that of the smaller rocks clustered around to the other members of the
It is stated that owing to this disaster which befell the bridal party of
Mulegeya the people of the district gave up completely the custom of taking the
bride to the chosen groom during the day-time and ever since then the custom
of taking the bride on her wedding journey at night has replaced the older bridal
ceremony which took place in the day-time.
KATEBOWA MUTESIBA AND HIS TRENCHES
Once upon a time in Bugangazzi there lived a very strong and wise man
by name Katebowa (Mutesiba-one who does not tie himself up). It is improb-
able that he was ever the ruler of the whole of Bunyoro but the people of these
parts have a well established tradition that he had a large army of men and
that he dug permanent and deep trenches which are called "ensa" in the
Lunyoro or Lugangazzi language.1 These trenches can be compared with the
1 For a discussion on the place-name Munsa see the Uganda Journal, Vol. 10
(1946), p. 45.
HISTORY AND LEGENDS OF ROCKS OF KAKUMIRO 87
'Bigo bya Mugenyi' (the Forts of the Stranger) in Bwera now the Mawogola
county of Buganda near the Katonga and Kakinga rivers. These earthworks
have been discussed in my book called Magezi Ntakke.
In the county of Bugangazzi there are other trenches of the same type such
as those near Bikekete, in the' gombolola of Mutuba III. At that place also.
there are high rocks which are said by the natives of that place to be the place
where Katebowa used to sun himself and to take pleasure in looking at the
distant view. In this neighbourhood there is a rock called the drinking vessel
from which Katebowa is reputed to have drunk his beer. I myself have looked
closely at the rock and found that in it there are two holes of which one is of
great depth. It is said that the people of this'area used to bring Katebowa beer
at their nvujjo '.1 This was poured into the deep hole until it was full and the
remainder was poured into the shallower hole from which the princes (the sons
of Katebowa) sucked their beer through their reeds or drinking tubes.2 Then
the chief used his tube and drank the beer from the deeper hole, and what
remained over was left there for his future use, at any time he liked. At the
time of my visit in July 1938 both holes were full of water and although the
reed which I dipped into one was quite six feet long it did not touch the
The trenches which I have mentioned are found at Bikekete, Kasenyi and
Kikoloboto in the gombolola of Ssabawali who resides at Kakindu, as well as
in the gombolola of the Ssabawali of Buyaga County, Kiryanga. The trenches
in some places are still deep and so wide that a man could not jump across
them. In one place I measured a width of twenty feet and a depth of ten feet.
But in other places with the lapse of time the trenches have become filled up
although the earth which was cast up in the excavation is still visible and is
quite a high bank.
Also they say that Katebowa bridged with stones the river at Kasambya in
the gombolola of the Musale Bugangazzi. The river was subsequently called
Kyetinda.3 The strong bridge is an astonishing sight. The water passes
through the channel and comes out about two hundred feet below. It is open
to conjecture whether Katebowa was a Roman by nation, but it is almost
impossible to concede that he was a native of Bugangazzi. Such information
as I have given above must be corroborated by the investigations of expert
Europeans, who can take photographs with which to illustrate their articles in
print, and who can perhaps give convincing explanations of these excavations
and semi-legendary beings.
In the area of the Ssabaddu of Buyaga there are more such trenches,
although local tradition is quite unable to account for their origin, nor is there
any established tradition of where Katebowa came from or of whither he
1 Nvujjo may best be translated as first-fruits for it is the offering of agricultural
produce from the peasant tenant to the landlord.
2 By the term the princes ', or in Luganda balangira', is meant probably nothing
more here than the sons of Katebowa, who was a big enough chief to have been of
3 Kyetinda can be rendered as that which bridges itself'.
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
THE CAVES OF BUGANGAZZI1
(a) MUZIMU cave, which is of great width, is in the gombolola of the
Ssabagabo of Bugangazzi in the neighbourhood of Kitayuka on the hill called
Kasozi, where the late Omwami Yoanna Gawedde had his property. It has
nine entrances and in former times was a welcome hiding place when the
Baganda came to besiege the Banyoro. It harboured refugees of all kinds
together with their possessions such as goats and sheep. After the departure
of the invaders the people would emerge from their shelter.
(b) SEMWEMA cave, which is formed by a huge and flat-topped rock, is
in the gombolola of Mutuba III Bugangazzi near. the Saza headquarters of
Bwanswa and provided a shelter for the people of'olden days from the invader.
It contains two chambers known as 'ebidongido', or waiting-sheds, in the
Lunyoro language. The appearance and shapeliness of the 'ebidongido' and
of the whole cave force us to wonder at the power of divine providence in
creating such a place and it is difficult to describe adequately this natural
phenomenon. Inside the cave you can see some well defined paths and shapely
corners, as though built up purposely; while some parts are quite light others
are dark, and the darkness gets very real the farther one penetrates into the
interior and torches are necessary if any quick progress is to be made. Some-
times ropes were tied round the middle of those who went in, and a guide, or
really an attendant, was left at the exit holding the end of the rope so that the .
people inside should not lose their way. It is almost laughable to think that
such artifices were resorted to.
In the kidongido' you find also flat rocks like seats, arranged as it were
by providence so that one can sit and converse with one's friends. By passing
through the first chamber, in some places by crawling and in others by easy
walking, you come to a second. Further progress into the caves necessitates
crawling quite flat in a very restricted space.
The caves are the residence of countless bats and probably of other creatures
such as snakes, leopards and hyaenas, but it is said that all these creatures did
no harm to the people who sought refuge within the caves since the place was
supposed to be a temple of their god.
The area covered by the flat rock within which is the cave is not less than
ninety-four acres and the rock is to be found among the villages of the late
Mikaeri Kalibbala, formerly the gombolola chief of Mutuba III Bugangazzi.
(c) KISANA cave is at Kigomba in the gombolola of the Ssabagabo of
(d) KABANOBA cave is at Kibijo.
1 The history connected with these caves of Mubende District is reminiscent of that
of the caves of Bwanjai, in the mukama-ship of Kiziba in the Bukoba District of Tangan-
yika Territory, wherein local tradition states that many Baziba took refuge during the
incursions of the Baganda, in the reign of Kabaka Suna and earlier. They are now full
of bats and an exploration is anything but pleasant. However, the rock shelters of Bwanjai,
with their interesting red-coloured drawings, are readily accessible and are quite near to
the caves. There is a very similar rock shelter, but without the drawings, at one of the
outlets to the Kakumiro caves.