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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Title Page 1
Title Page 2
Table of Contents
Table of Contents 1
Table of Contents 2
British Public Opinion and the Uganda Question: October-December 1892
Bunyoro: A Regional Appreciation
The Diffusion of -uma as a name for Iron
Alur Tradition and its Historical Significance
The Lamogi Rebellion 1911-12
Sultan Fademulla Murjan of Aringa
Notice to contributors
Index to Volume 18 (1954)
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
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THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
DR. W. H. R. LUMSDEN 1
DR. A. W. SOUTHALL Hon. Editors
MAJOR B. G. KINLOCH, M.C.
DR. AUDREY I. RICHARDS
DR. K. P. WACHSMANN
(assisted in England by H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.)
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY HEADLEY BROTHERS LTD
109 KINGSWAY LONDON WC2 AND ASHFORD KENT
British Public Opinion and the Uganda Question: October-December
1892 A. Low 81
Bunyoro: A Regional Appreciation S. J. K. BAKER 101
The Diffusion of -uma as a name for Iron G. A. WAINWRIGTrr 113
Alur Tradition and its Historical Significance DR. A. W. SourHALL 137
The Lamogi Rebellion 1911-1912 A. B. ADIMOLA 166
Sultan Fademulla Murjan of Aringa E. C. LANNING 178
Measuring African Elephants SIR WILLIAM GOWERS 181
A Pagan Harvest Thanksgiving in Acholi District I. R. MENZIES 182
Rainmakers in Teso K. LUDGER 185
Roddy Owen H. B. THOMAS 186
Notes on Certain Shafts in Buganda and Toro E. C. LANNING 187
Ancient Earthworks in Western Uganda: Notes on Finds -
DR. K. P. WACHSMANN 190
Maize Names M. D. W. JEFFREYS 192
The Blood of the Karamojong DR. P. H. GULLIVER 195
Whistled Signals HUGH TRACEY AND H. F. STONEHAM 196
Ringed Birds Recovered in Uganda W. J. EGGELING 198
The Birds of Bwamba W. J. EGGELING 198
Uganda Place Names I. R. DALE 199
The African Mind in Health and Disease (by J. C. Carothers)
DR. J. McFIE 200
Land Tenure in Buganda (by A. B. Mukwaya)
M. SOUTHWOLD AND SIR J. M. GRAY 202
The Grass Communities and Mountain Vegetation of Uganda (by J. D.
Snowden) H. C. DAWKINS 205
The Uganda Company Limited The First Fifty Years (by C. Ehrlich)
C. C. WRIGLEY 207
The Buganda Government and its Constitutional Functions (by A. Kalule
Sempa) W. J. A. HARRIS 209
Survey of African Marriage and Family Life (edited by Arthur Phillips)
DR. A. I. RICHARDs 211
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA
QUESTION: OCTOBER-DECEMBER 1892
By ANTHONY Low
AT the end of 1886 the British and the Germans made their first agreement
T partitioning East Africa. Germany obtained the lion's share, but Great
Britain gained control of Mombasa, the best harbour on the coast. By an
exchange of notes in 1887 the British and German governments agreed to the
so-called hinterland doctrine, whereby he who held a stretch of coastline had
a pre-emptive right to the interior lying behind. On 3 September 1888 the
Imperial British East Africa Company received a Royal Charter from Lord
Salisbury's Government. The Chairman was Sir William Mackinnon, already
Chairman of the British India Steam Navigation Company. Shortly afterwards
it began operations at Mombasa. By 1890 the scramble for the area of the
Great Lakes was leading to a crisis (when Peters and Jackson raced each
other for Uganda) that might have created a 'Fashoda' incident eight years
before Fashoda. But diplomacy disposed of the conflict, and by the Anglo-
German Agreement of 1890 Germany recognized inter alia a British sphere
of influence which included Buganda.
When the Agreement was signed in July the Chartered Company's operations,
apart from Jackson's expedition, were practically confined to the coast, but
the British Government had been doing their utmost to persuade the company
to send a full scale expedition to occupy Buganda for some months past.
Eventually the Company dispatched Captain Lugard, who in December 1890,
marched into Buganda.
For some years the Baganda had been consciously opposed to European entry
into their country, but by 1890 they were broken up into three or four mutually
hostile parties, not one of which was in a position to keep the Europeans out,
two of which were prepared to let them in. Yet it was one thing to allow
European agents to come in: it was another to acknowledge their control.
Lugard stayed in Uganda for some twenty months during which the crucial
question between him and Kabaka Mwanga was, who was overlord? This and
the hostility between the two dominant Christian parties was at the root of
all the confusion-the inaptly called 'religious wars'-which so fully occupied
Lugard's time. Because of this he could do no trade and his operations became
increasingly costly, with the result that the Company soon decided that it could
not maintain him and his force in Uganda any longer, and sent him orders to
withdraw. These he received in December 1891 just when the situation was
leading up to a crisis, and he was naturally taken aback.
But meanwhile the Company had told Bishop Tucker and the Church
Missionary Society what it planned to do, and they were equally disconcerted.
Tucker then made an arrangement with Mackinnon of the Company whereby
it agreed to maintain its agents in Buganda for a further year, if Tucker could
82 UGANDA JOURNAL
find 15,000 to help cover the cost. The C.M.S. were not in a position to hand
money over to a commercial company, but Tucker made a remarkable appeal
to the friends of the C.M.S., and, starting with an anonymous gift of 5,000,
he had collected more than he needed within ten days. He then tried to extend
his fund to cover the cost of a lake steamer for the Company, but he was
severely criticized for this in evangelical circles, and the fund remained at
around 16,500. That was enough however to enable the Company to remain
in Uganda for a further year.
Mackinnon made it clear that at the end of 1892 the Company would certainly
have to withdraw from Uganda. It was unlikely that Tucker would be able to
repeat his appeal with comparable success, and the unfortunate company was
unlikely to attract more capital. The year's interval was therefore to be used
to persuade the Government to take over Uganda and pay for British operations
there from Treasury funds.
For this there was not much support in either political camp. The classic
British policy for the scramble for Africa had been to carve out by diplomacy
a sphere of influence and then authorize a Chartered Company to take up the
burden, thus relieving the British taxpayer of the cost. This had been successful
for some years and (with the exception of Nyasaland where there were special
circumstances) there had been no declaration of a direct imperial protectorate
in Africa since early on in the scramble, in 1885, when rather reluctantly an
Imperial Protectorate had been declared over Bechuanaland. But here in
Uganda the classic policy was breaking down. What was the Government
going to do?
It had to find another policy, Salisbury, who was Prime Minister till August
1892, and also Foreign Secretary in which capacity he dealt with East Africa,
had long since decided that his policy would be to help the Company to build
a railway, which by cheapening the otherwise extremely costly communications,
would keep the Company afloat.
But this was a half measure which overlooked the already dire financial
straits in which the Company found itself-and the situation in Buganda itself,
which had so perturbed the minds of Bishop Tucker and the C.M.S. in the
previous autumn. For though a railway would help in the long run, what was
to happen in the interval between the withdrawal of the Company from the
interior, and their return on the tracks of the railway a few years later?
Salisbury scarcely seems to have been aware that a hiatus might be disastrous;
if he was, he postponed making any further decision until after the General
Election of July 1892, at which, as it happened, he was defeated. So for seven
months of 1892 no further step was taken by the Government than the fulfilment
of their promise to pay for a railway survey.
Buganda was three months journey from the coast, which meant that if
British agents were to be retained there some decision had to be made by
1 October 1892. There was no discussion of the Uganda question during the
election. It was too delicate, and Ireland occupied the whole arena. Once it was
over everything had to wait for the entry into office of the new Liberal govern-
ment, Gladstone's fourth and last, which did not take place until 15 August.
That left only six weeks of breathing space. Lord Rosebery became Foreign
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 83
Secretary, but for a month nothing was done. On 13 September the C.M.S.
became desperate and its General Committee passed a resolution appointing a
deputation to wait on Lord Rosebery at the Foreign Office.' He saw them on
The year's delay had scarcely improved the situation in Buganda. Lugard
and both Christian parties had been involved in the battle of Mengo in the
previous January, and though Lugard had pacified the country by April, he had
only succeeded by dividing the country unevenly between the three religious
parties, who only agreed to the settlement and refrained from flying at each
other's throats because he had shown that his Maxims were more effective
than their antiquated muzzle loaders. From the available evidence-and it is
sufficiently diverse-there need be little doubt that the C.M.S. were right in
saying that the Company's withdrawal at this juncture would have led to
anarchy and bloodshed. All this and much more was clearly put forward by
the C.M.S. deputation, and Lord Rosebery promised to lay their views before
He had already laid before them the views of Sir Percy Anderson, the head
of the Slave Trade Department of the Foreign Office. Anderson suggested that
on the Company's withdrawal, the Government should annex the whole area
up to Lake Albert in order to forestall French and Congo control of the Upper
Nile which would threaten the British position in Egypt. This led to an immedi-
ate and trenchant outburst from Sir William Harcourt, the new Chancellor of
the Exchequer, against what he called this 'Jingo' memorandum. Few were as
downright as Harcourt, but his view was shared in general by Gladstone and
most of the Cabinet, and not even Rosebery was prepared to defend Anderson's
proposals. The fact was that the majority of the Cabinet was opposed to any
kind of extension of the Empire, and in particular to the extension of direct
imperial responsibility: they argued that the empire was large enough already.
There the Uganda question might have ended, despite the C.M.S. who after
all were interested parties.
But even before the C.M.S. saw Lord Rosebery, he had received a cable
from his Consul-General in Zanzibar, Sir Gerald Portal. Portal had been to
Mombasa and there met Lugard who had come down to the coast on his way
to England where he planned to tell the British public about the situation in
Uganda. After talking to Lugard and to some others, Portal solemnly warned
Rosebery by cable that there would be anarchy and bloodshed in Uganda if
the Company withdrew. This altered the situation in the Cabinet. Rosebery
fought an apparently hopeless fight with great skill and persistence, and on
30 September, with not a day to spare, the Cabinet "adhered to the acceptance
by their predecessors of the principle of evacuation" but agreed to pay the
Company to remain in Uganda for a further three months, ostensibly to allow
evacuation to be more carefully organized, but in fact to give the Cabinet three
more months in which to make up its mind in a matter over which it was
hopelessly divided. Rosebery was not satisfied and entered a caveat, but he
told the Queen that among other things the three months delay would give
1 Church Missionary Society Archives, M.C. vol. 56, p. 632.
2 Manchester Guardian, 24 September 1892.
84 UGANDA JOURNAL
time "to elicit the real feeling of the country, which is, he is certain, against
By this time-the end of September 1892-the press had taken up the
question. But like the Cabinet, it was divided, with Conservative papers and The
Times in favour of annexation, and Liberal papers opposed. In a leading article,
one of these, The Globe, argued that "great as our reserves are, they might easily
be strained to the breaking point were England to accept the responsibility of
establishing law and order in all parts of the Dark Continent where anarchy
prevails. She has made, and is still making, enormous sacrifices on that altar but
her people may be pardoned if they look askance at this new demand.4 The
Manchester Guardian went further. "For our part" a leader said, "we hope the
Government will decide absolutely against interference of the kind suggested."5
On the other side was The Times which on 1 October declaimed against "the
cowardly and disgraceful nature of the 'scuttle' we are asked to effect, in order
to save at the outside 40,000 a year until Administration becomes, as it probably
soon would, self-supporting".
The three months grace was not very long and The Times had already made
the point that "at the present time the question of Uganda suffers, in common
with most others, from the political apathy following a general election". Parlia-
ment had met in August to turn Salisbury out of office; it had then adjourned till
January. Even the Cabinet dispersed and had to be recalled from as far away as
Austria and the north end of Scotland. It was not therefore possible to launch a
Parliamentary campaign. Accordingly The Times in that same leader went on
to say that "Everything must depend .. upon the way in which the time of
grace is used by those-and we believe their number is very great-who would
deplore the abandonment of Uganda".6 The hint was taken-and The Times
itself was soon to the fore, with a series of leading articles calling unmistakably
for the retention of Uganda. It was upon this simple point that public opinion
Lugard wrote a long letter on 6 October, soon after his arrival in England.7
He wrote again ten days later. By that time there was a spate of letters in the
papers about Uganda, particularly in The Times. They were mostly in the same
'vein; "I am not an explorer" one correspondent wrote to The Standard on
4 October, "nor a shareholder in the East Africa Company, but like thousands
of my countrymen, I am deeply interested in the fate of Uganda". Stanley
delivered an oration about Uganda on the 3rd, when he received the Freedom
of Swansea.8 On the 11lth the C.M.S. passed a long resolution insisting that "a
grave responsibility lies on the nation".9 On the 20th a deputation 120 strong,
organized by the Anti-Slavery Society, was received by Lord Rosebery at the
Foreign Office.10 On 25 October the Morning Post reported "the growing disaf-
3 Rosebery to the Queen, Letters of Queen Victoria, 3rd Series, vol. ii (London 1931).
4 4 October 1892.
5 24 September 1892.
6 30 September 1892.
7 The Times, 8 October 1892.
8 Western Mail, 4 October 1892.
9 Church Missionary Society Archives, M.C. vol. 56, pp. 670-4.
10 The Times, 21 October 1892.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 85
fection caused in the country by the proposal to abandon Uganda". This was a
little premature, but 7 November The Times could say with accuracy that
"evidence of the true sentiment of the nation upon the question of Uganda is
accumulating with satisfactory rapidity". It is not without point that on that same
day the Cabinet decided to send a Commissioner to Uganda "to report his
opinion whether any and what measures ought to be adopted with respect to it
after its evacuation by the East Africa Company".11
The decision however remained secret while Rosebery tried to secure the
Company's assistance in providing for the Commissioner's safety. A Press
Association report on the 12th stated that the Government had decided to con-
tinue the possession of Uganda, but the official announcement about the appoint-
ment of a Commissioner was not made until 23 November. Meanwhile ignorant
of the Cabinet's discussions, public opinion had been stirred into protest, and
before the end of October, the movement for the retention of Uganda had
switched from the columns of the newspapers to the platforms of the country.
Early in November Balfour spoke in favour of the retention of Uganda at a
great gathering of the National Union of Conservative Associations in Scotland.12
Four days later Salisbury spoke similarly to the Nonconformist Unionist
Association.'3 Throughout November, Lugard toured England and Scotland
speaking to Geographical Societies, Chambers of Commerce and public meet-
ings.14 Stanley and Bishop Smythies of Zanzibar were also campaigning, though
rather less systematically.
But even Lugard's campaign was only part of a much wider movement of
public opinion expressed through the large number of resolutions, petitions and
memorials which were soon reaching the Foreign Office from meetings up and
down the country. These were mostly agreed to unanimously, and over 100
meetings were specially summoned to discuss Uganda. There were, it is certain,
a few Uganda meetings that did not send resolutions to the Foreign Office, but
all the available information about them merely confirms the evidence of the
Foreign Office collection. An analysis of this reveals the nature and extent of a
very remarkable movement of Victorian public opinion during those autumn
months of 1892.15
The earliest of the resolutions in the Foreign Office collection is dated 13
October, but taking them all in all it appears that the movement reached its
height in the country in the first half of November. It is a little difficult to be
absolutely precise with the figures, as in some instances only the date on which
11 Gladstone to the Queen, 7 October 1892. Letters of Queen Victoria, 3rd Series, vol. ii,
12 The Times, 9 November 1892.
13 Daily News, 24 October 1892.
14 In her forthcoming biography of Lord Lugard, Miss Margery Perham will be giving
a full account of Lugard's part in the campaign.
15 The collection will be found in F.O. 84/2192 upon which the text of this article is
based except where other references are specially made.
I hope someday to complete, as part of a much wider study of The British and Uganda
1862-1901, a full account of the discussions about Uganda in the Cabinet, the press and
among interested parties, which has been so briefly summarized here. In addition to the
Foreign Office papers and the C.M.S. Archives, I have used the Gladstone and Ripon
Papers in the British Museum, and the Portal Papers in Rhodes House, Oxford.
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
the resolutions were forwarded to the Foreign Office is available, but with this
reservation they are otherwise clear enough. With the exception of the third
week in November, there were, for five weeks, from the last week in October to
the end of the fourth week in November, at least 20 meetings (of all kinds) in
The meetings really began in the third week in October when there were six;
in the fourth there were twenty. During the first week of November there were
33; in the second 32. By the third week the number was down to 17, but the next
week-during which the Government announced its intention to send a Com-
missioner to Uganda-the number was up again to 25. The following week it
was down to 10. During the week ending 10 December there were eight, but in
the next only four. By then it was over. It was thus a short, sharp campaign.
The resolutions forwarded from a single county, say Yorkshire (even allowing
that it is the largest) give some idea of the range of organizations from which the
resolutions came. There were 20 meetings in Yorkshire which sent petitions or
resolutions. These included Ruridecanal chapters, large public meetings in town
halls, Chambers of Commerce, a Diocesan Conference, 'Friends of Missions',
branches of the C.M.S., village and parish meetings, a Conservative organization,
and a Ruridecanal Conference.
Taking the country as a whole there were 147 sets of Resolutions, 11
memorials and 16 petitions. Seventeen sets of resolutions and one memorial
came from various branch meetings of the Church Missionary Society; seven
from branch meetings of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, a mis-
sionary society of High Church, perhaps Anglo-Catholic, views (an indication
from the start of the diversification of support), and two from large meetings of
"Friends of Missions". Seventeen sets of resolutions and two memorials came
from village or parish meetings, many of them convened by the Vicar, but not
all. Fourteen petitions also came from parishes, some of them originating in yet
more parish meetings. One petition, one resolution and two memorials came
from Presbyterian churches, and one resolution from a Wesleyan Methodist
meeting. Two resolutions from Clerical societies and fifteen from Rural Deanery
chapters-in other words, from small gatherings of Anglican clergymen. Four
sets of resolutions, a petition and a memorial came from Ruridecanal confer-
ences, and one resolution from an Archidiaconal conference. Seventeen resolu-
tions came from Diocesan conferences or synods, one from the Commission of
the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, and there was a remark-
able memorial signed by the heads of all separated Presbyterian Churches of
Scotland. More than a hundred therefore (that is more than half) came from the
But these were not necessarily the most significant. For though there were
occasionally large meetings, as at St. John's, Kennington, where "400 men and
women of all political opinions" were present, and though several others were
"largely attended", many of them must have been like the Dalton Clerical meet-
ing-with its "25 persons". So that apart from the Diocesan conferences, these
16 There were none from Roman Catholic sources. This is not to say that they were
opposed to the retention of Uganda, but they were more concerned at this time with the
rights and wrongs of the events in Buganda earlier in the year.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 87
expressions from religious organizations were probably from small gatherings,
which would not have the same influence as the larger meetings.
Five more sets of resolutions came from a miscellaneous group of Mutual
Improvement Societies and Y.M.C.A. "Parliaments". Six political organizations
-only one Liberal-sent resolutions.17 But then there were 11 sets of resolutions
and one memorial from town and county councils, 19 sets of resolutions and one
memorial from large public meetings, many of which were held in town halls,
and finally 21 sets of resolutions and two memorials from Chambers of Com-
Can one gain an impression of what all this meant in detail? At Dorchester
early in December, a public meeting presided over by Colonel Robert Williams,
a strong supporter of the C.M.S., was called to discuss the Uganda question: it
was numerouslyy attended by persons from all parts of the country". Two reso-
lutions were moved and "in the end carried nemine contradicente". A proposal
in favour of waiting for further information was made, but not seconded. Such
slight departures from unanimity were unusual. Greenock Chamber of Com-
merce sent a memorial: "Your memorialists number" it said, over two hundred
members, and represent Importers of Produce, Exporters of Goods, Sugar
Refiners, Shipbuilders, Shipowners, Makers of Machinery and others."
The village of South Creake in Norfolk sent a petition from its Vicar, church-
wardens and parishioners. It was signed by 104 people-ten of them were
illiterate, and simply put their marks. The list is headed by the Vicar (a Spencer
Compton-possibly a relation of the Liberal Unionist leader, the Duke of
Devonshire) but it was also signed by the Congregational minister, so it would
seem not to have been a denominational affair. Three people named Cook from
the 'Manor House' signed. Among the villagers' names there were five Wasey's,
five Vipans and five Cousinses, so that here was support for the cause from a
typical English village, which in fact probably knew very little about Uganda.
In Cambridge, when Lugard spoke on 25 November, there was a "largely
attended Public Meeting" in the Guildhall. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. John Reile,
Master of Christ's, was in the Chair. The resolution was proposed by the Regius
Professor of Greek, Sir Richard Jebb, who was also one of the M.P.'s for the
University. He was seconded by the Master of Trinity, and as Dr. Reile reported,
the meeting was attended by a "large proportion of the Heads of Colleges and
Professors as well as other graduates of the University". They desired "respect-
fully to urge upon Her Majesty's Government the importance of maintaining
British influence in Uganda".
In Bristol there was a local campaign all on its own, with twelve meetings in
the town and others nearby in Somerset and Gloucestershire. On 11 October, Sir
Michael Hicks-Beach who sat for the local constituency of Bristol West spoke
about Uganda at the annual meeting of the Bristol Conservative Working Men's
Association. "He most earnestly trusted that before any final steps were taken
in this matter the whole circumstances and facts might be put before the people
of this country for their opinion, that Parliament might have an opportunity of
expressing its judgement upon it and that the result might be beneficial, not
17 The National Union of Conservative Associations of Scotland passed a resolution on
8 November (The Times).
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
merely to the interests of this country, but to humanity and the progress of the
world (cheers)".18 This passing reference may have set the Bristol campaign off
to an early start, though on 3 October, "a working man" from Bristol had written
to the C.M.S., saying that "a great crime will be committed "and suggesting that
1,800 people should be asked to pay 1 a year for three years towards the cost of
Uganda.19 At all events on 17 October there was one of the earliest meetings in
the whole country in St. Silas' School, Bristol. In forwarding the resolutions the
Vicar, the Reverend G. A. Sowter wrote a letter to Lord Rosebery which was,
typical of many to come. "I have the honour" he said "to lay before your Lord-
ship a copy of two resolutions adopted unanimously at a well-attended meeting
in St. Silas' School, Bristol, last night. I do so with the greater pleasure because
I believe your Lordship is keenly alive to the terrible results which will not
improbably follow the withdrawal of the representatives of the Imperial British
East Africa Company from that country. I recognize the fact that the exact
course to pursue must be left to those in responsible positions in the state who,
are better informed of all the circumstances of the case, and in so difficult a
matter as this, your Lordship has the fullest sympathy of many. But there can
be little doubt that the evacuation of Uganda in March next will retard the
civilization of that important country, perhaps for centuries, besides imperilling.
the lives of many native Christians and giving a fresh impetus to the slave trade
now largely held in check."
Mr. Sowter wrote on 18 October. On the 17th the annual meeting of the C.M.S.
Union of Younger Clergy for Bristol, Clifton and neighbourhood had also,
passed a resolution. On the 21st there was a parish meeting at Long Ashton and
a meeting of the friends and supporters of the C.M.S. in the Victoria Rooms,
and they passed more resolutions. A few days later there was a parish meeting.
at St. Luke's, on the 28th a meeting of the Israel's Identification Association at
Clifton, and a day or two later of the Bristol Protestant League. On 2, 4 and 7
November, three further parish meetings, and on the 8th a meeting of the Bristol
Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of England. That evening came the climax
-a crowded meeting in the Guildhall with the Mayor in the Chair. Bristol was.
quick off the mark and made up its mind early. With the exception of the Guild-
hall meeting (and Hicks-Beach's), all the meetings were religious and Protestant
-there was no move by the Town Council or the Chamber of Commerce-but
then Bristol had long been a Protestant stronghold, and its early connection with
the slave trade had given it an interest in succouring potential victims.
Norwich took longer, but its reaction was similar. The county is, after all
Buxton country. A C.M.S. meeting was held on 4 November at King's Lynn near
the Buxton home, but despite the meeting of the Rockland Ruridecanal Chapter
on 23 October, and the petition from South Creake on 12 November, the cam-
paign was late in starting. On 24 November there was a C.M.S. meeting con-
vened by a Mr. Gurney (doubtless a member of the anti-slavery family) who was
C.M.S. Group Secretary for the Norwich district. It was possibly at this meeting.
that arrangements were made to collect signatures for parish petitions to the
18 The Times, 12 October 1892.
19 A Working Man to (Wigram). 3 October 1892. Church Missionary Society Archives,
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 89
Foreign Office. These were drawn up in copper plate by some enthusiast from a
printed draft petition which was also used by six other parishes in other parts
of the country. There was a good deal of signature collecting in the parishes of
North and South Heigham, 129 from the latter, 142 from the former including
5 Laceys from No. 11 and 5 Hineses from No. 40 Adelaide Street. But interest
flagged. St. Giles' Parish, Norwich only produced 50 signatories, St. Margaret's
and St. Swithin's 33, St. Mark's Lekenham 21, and Old Catton only 11-there it
had probably been forgotten as it was not sent to the Foreign Office till
22 December, and this was a month after it was known that the Government had
decided to send a Commissioner to Uganda. Even so, this was not the full
measure of Norwich's support for the cause, for Lugard was invited down, and
spoke at two very large meetings, held in St. Andrew's Hall, on Monday,
12 December-in the afternoon for the county, with the Bishop in the chair, and
in the evening for the town, presided over by the Mayor. Identical resolutions
were sent to the Foreign Office. As in Bristol-and in many other towns-the
movement reached its climax with large meetings open to the public.
Even so, in Bristol and Norwich, the interest was almost entirely religious.
This was true elsewhere. In Oswestry in Shropshire the Chapter of the Rural
Deanery, presided over (unusually) by the Bishop of St. Asaph, passed a resolu-
tion on 4 November, and the annual meeting of the local branch of the S.P.G.
on the 8th. Both sets of resolutions were forwarded by Mr. Stanley Leighton,
from Sweeney Hall.
But this is by no means the whole story. Southampton shows how complex
the campaign had become. On 2 November the annual meeting of the Southamp-
ton Branch of the S.P.G. (high church) passed a resolution: on the 10th at
Gosport the Hampshire Church Missionary Prayer Union (evangelical) passed
another: by the fourth week the established Ruridecanal Council had added its
voice and they had already been joined on the 21st by the Chamber of
Swansea was classic: the Town Council passed a Uganda resolution on
19 October, Llandaff Diocesan Conference on the 27th, the Parish of St. Simon's,
Swansea, on 24 November, and the Chamber of Commerce on the 25th. Perhaps
they were specially moved by Stanley's appeal when he received the Freedom of
the Borough on 3 October.
But Worcester was similar-though there was a local variant in the unusually
specific support of the Conservatives. On 27 October the William Lodge at
Kempsay, near Worcester, of the National Conservative League passed a resolu-
tion: on 2 November the Diocesan Conference; on 9 November the City Council;
on 7 December the Chamber of Commerce, and on 19 December the Worcester
"Beaconsfield" Lodge of the National Conservative League.
What was true of the south of England was true of the north. In Hull the
interest was religious. There were only three meetings which sent resolutions-
the Rural Deanery Chapter, the local branch of the C.M.S., and the C.M.S. Junior
Clerical Society-a small circle in which the Bishop, a suffragan of York and
the Rural Dean, were active.
Leeds was more complex. There was a meeting in St. Andrew's Parish School
on 7 November. On the 14th a large meeting in the Town Hall, presided over by
90 UGANDA JOURNAL
the Bishop of Ripon (he had already presided over his Diocesan conference
when it passed a resolution in October). To cap all the Chamber of Commerce
passed a resolution on 30 November.
On Tyneside the Newcastle Diocesan conference passed a resolution on
25 October, and the Wearmouth Deanery Conference two days later. There was
a large public meeting of the Sunderland ratepayers under the chairmanship of
the Mayor on 24 November, and on Monday 28 November a great meeting in
Newcastle at which Lugard spoke.20 On Teesside the Rural Deanery Chapter of
Middlesbrough passed a resolution on 10 November; there was a public meet-
ing at Stockton on the 24th; on the 29th the Stockton Chamber of Commerce
held a special meeting, and they were followed by the Middlesbrough Chamber
the next day.
Birmingham-Chamberlain's Birmingham-gives as good a picture as any.
Chamberlain himself wrote a letter (published 27 October) to the Anti-Slavery
Society regretting that he could not take part in meetings, as he was going
abroad, but strongly supporting the movement for the retention of Uganda. In
Birmingham it opened with a quaint meeting on 1 November of the Birmingham
Ladies Negro's Friend Society in the Temperance Institute: there were gentle-
men present, for a Canon proposed and a Councillor seconded the resolution
which declared that the Mayor should be invited to convene a Town Hall meet-
ing. According to The Times a convening committee met in the middle of the
month, but the Chairman, Mr. F. B. Goodman, said that it was believed "the
pressure already brought upon the Government had induced them to modify
their views, and that at the present time their intention of evacuating Uganda
had been abandoned. In these circumstances the committee considered it would
be inexpedient to hold a town's meeting at present". However, on 3 November
the Blackheath, Dudley, branch and on the 7th the Birmingham branch of the
C.M.S. met, and forwarded resolutions to the Foreign Office. The Chamber of
Commerce followed on the 16th, and were soon joined by the Walsall and
District Chamber. On Monday 21 November, the Dalton clerical meeting at
Wolverhampton passed a resolution. And then Lugard was invited down and
the Birmingham Chamber held a special second meeting on 2 December and
that evening there was, after all, a "crowded and enthusiastic meeting" in the
On a smaller scale, the same pattern was being reproduced north of the
border. Two presbyteries, one at each end of Scotland, at Dumfries and Fordyce,
held meetings at the end of November: Fordyce had already sent a petition to
the Foreign Office on 1 November. The Duns Mutual Improvement Society sent
a resolution, while the Town Council of Linlithgow sent a Memorial incorporat-
ing resolutions. On 10 December the Commission of the General Assembly of
the Free Church of Scotland passed a resolution, and the Diocesan conference
of the two Episcopal dioceses of Edinburgh and Glasgow and Galloway joined
their Presbyterian countrymen at the same time. But if these were isolated cases,
the voice of the Churches of Scotland was quite unmistakably expressed in a
Memorial sent to Lord Rosebery by Mr. J. Cowan as early as 3 November. This
stated that the facts of the Uganda situation "forbid withdrawal". It was signed
20 The Times, 29 November 1892. No resolution reached the Foreign Office.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 91
by the Moderators, and by all the Convenors and Secretaries of the Foreign
Missions Committee of the three Presbyterian Churches-the Church of
Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church of
Scotland. It was also signed by the General Secretary of the Alliance of
Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System, the Chairman and Secre-
tary of the Livingstonia Mission Committee of Glasgow, and by Dr. Robert
Laws-Laws of Livingstonia-the senior Scots missionary in British Central
Africa who happened to be on furlough-a formidable army with which, three
years earlier, Lord Salisbury had successfully frightened the Portuguese when
they had threatened British claims to Nyasaland. During November these church
leaders were joined by five of the most important Chambers of Commerce,
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leith, Greenock and Dundee. In Scotland therefore
religion and trade had joined hands: there was no need for any further indication
of where Scotland's sympathies lay.
Apart from a large meeting of the Friends of Foreign Missions in Belfast on
2 November, Ireland was not stirred. In October Archbishop Lord Plunket
presided over the conference of his three Dioceses of Dublin, Glendalough and
Kildare and all three passed resolutions in favour of the retention of Uganda.
But besides these the only resolution which was sent from Ireland to the Foreign
Office came from the Protestant parish of Powerscourt in County Wicklow, from
which there was also a petition: but these were obviously inspired by Arch-
deacon Henry Galbraith who had long been interested in Uganda.21
Taking the movement all in all, though it varied from say, the "influential and
largely attended public meeting" at Stockton-on-Tees, to the small parish
"Declaration of Opinion" from the village of Icomb near Stow on the Wold
"representative of a small but vigorous community, sincerely interested in foreign
missions" (as the Vicar put it) resolutions, memorials or petitions came from
some part or other of 35 out of the 42 English counties (Oxford, Suffolk, North-
ampton, Buckingham, Huntingdon, Westmorland and Rutland comprising the
unrepresented remainder) so that though there were certainly pockets of enthusi-
asm it was still a countrywide movement, with resolutions reaching the Foreign
Office from north and west, from town and country, from market town and
manufacturing town and from the metropolis itself. It was truly nation-wide.
There are one or two minor features of the campaign which are worth noting.
There was only one meeting on a Sunday, and that was of the Chapter of the
Rural Deanery of Luton on 27 October-hardly a breach of the Sabbath. With-
out doubt sermons were preached (it would be valuable to know when and how
many-though political sermons were not very common-and on what text).
Prayers were certainly said, and the pious may well be right in avowing their
Strangely enough Saturday seems to have been an unusual day for meetings-
the favourite was Thursday. For the first three of the five busiest weeks there
were more meetings on Thursday than on any other day-sometimes twice as
many. Thursday, 3 November and Thursday, 10 November held the record with
9 on each day.
Another feature-a notable feature of English life-was the way in which
21 I have counted this as a Memorial.
92 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mayors and Bishops presided over meetings other than their own Town
Councils and Diocesan Conferences. Mayors presided over most of the public
meetings and on 23 November the Mayor of Guildford presided over the
parish meeting at the village of Stoke-next-Guildford up on the Hogsback
in Surrey. The Bishops of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Norwich,
Worcester, Ripon, St. Asaph, Hull and Lichfield all presided over meetings at
which Uganda was discussed. The Bishop of Chester, Dr. Jayne, seems to have
been as active in the movement as anyone. He presided over the Wirral and
Birkenhead Branch of the S.P.G. on Thursday, 18 October, when they passed
a resolution. He took the chair at a meeting of the Birkenhead branch of the
C.M.S. on Monday 31st when they passed another one. On 3 November, his
Diocesan Conference passed a resolution and that same evening he seconded
Judge Hughes' resolution at the public meeting in Chester convened by the
Mayor. It seems that public meetings became respectable if the Mayor could
be persuaded to preside and that Bishops were local figures of importance who
could give prominence to public meetings at which they were in the chair.
Taking the larger meetings, as presumably being the most influential, the
Diocesan Conferences seem to have made up the earliest important series.
Carlisle on 13 October, Dublin on 24 October, Newcastle, Liverpool, and
Glendalough in Ireland on 25th, Kildare on the 26th, Llandaff and Chichester
on the 27th (where the resolution was proposed by the brother of the murdered
Bishop Hannington, and the Bishop of Chichester told the conference that the
cost of administering Uganda would be "about the cost of a single picture in
the National Gallery").22 Truro followed the next day, and Ripon at about the
same time. Worcester followed on 2 November, Edinburgh, Chester and Here-
ford on the 3rd, Glasgow on the 10th, Rochester on the 15th, and finally
Southwell on 5 December. In most cases this was the normal time for Diocesan
Conferences-they can hardly have been specially summoned-but the oppor-
tunity of their meeting certainly seems to have been taken to proclaim the
The Chambers of Commerce seem in general to have been specially called
to consider the Uganda question. Blackburn was the first on 31 October.
Glasgow, Leith and London met in the first week of November; Greenock and
Newport in the second; Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Dewsbury and
Gloucestershire in the third. By the end of November, the Chambers of
Walsall, Southampton, Dundee, Swansea, Stockton, Exeter, Leeds and
Middlesbrough had passed Uganda resolutions. By 12 December, when the
last of this series-Rochdale-passed a resolution, Liverpool and Worcester
had also met, and Birmingham for the second time. The Chambers of Com-
merce mostly followed the Diocesan Conferences and their meetings were
spread out during November and early December. The same was true of the
Town and City Council meetings and the great public meetings in Town Halls.
It was of course still the heyday of the public meeting, and in the absence of
other forms of mass entertainment and more sophisticated instruments of
propaganda, it was still a weapon which could be wielded to considerable
effect. Indeed, with the extension of the franchise, politicians had found that if
22 Daily News, 2 October 1892.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 93
they were to be masters of their craft they had to be equally at home in two
very different atmospheres, the House, and the public meeting, and this
remained true until, with the expansion of the electorate, the voters to be
wooed quite exceeded the seating capacity of the local Town Hall, and until
broadcasting enabled an eminent personality to be heard in two places at
once. But in 1892 these changes lay in the future, and the weapon that had
been forged by extra-parliamentary movements from 1780 onwards was still
available to any new movement that desired to influence British policy. The
large public meetings about Uganda were therefore of the first importance.
So, of course, were some of those of the Chambers of Commerce, particu-
Jarly those which Lugard addressed-London, Edinburgh, Dundee,
Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. But these were not open to the public,
and though widely reported, they only represented one interest. It seems
necessary however to include among the large public meetings two possibly
doubtful cases: one was the meeting at Stockton-on-Tees under the auspices of
the Chamber of Commerce, for this was a public meeting in the Public Hall
under the chairmanship of the Mayor, who happened also to be President of
the Chamber; the other was the S.P.G. meeting at Reading since this was also
open to the public and presided over by the Mayor.
The public meeting then, began on 31 October with one at Leamington in
Warwickshire. On 2 November this was followed by a meeting at Durham,
with the Mayor in the chair and the Dean moving the resolution. On the
3 November there was the meeting at Chester, convened by the Mayor at which
the Bishop seconded the motion. On the 7th the Mayor of Wells in Somerset
presided over a meeting in the Public Hall. On the 8th was the great meeting at
Bristol, on the 10th one at Woking (which seems to have led to the subsequent
petition from Woking) and that night the largest of the public meetings in
London-in Kensington Town Hall-with speeches by Lugard and the local
M.P.s and an overflow meeting nearby. On the 14th there was the large meeting
presided over by the Bishop of Ripon in Leeds Town Hall; on the 18th another
in London at Woolwich; on the following Monday-the 21st-a crowded
public meeting (the Mayor presiding) in Tunbridge Wells; a meeting at Mal-
vern two days later; with one at Sunderland and the one at Stockton-on-Tees on
the 24th. 25 November saw the Cambridge meeting, the 28th the Reading one
(and the one at Newcastle23). On 2 December there was the "large and
enthusiastic" meeting at Birmingham; another at Cheltenham on 7 December;
in the same week the county meeting at Dorchester in Dorset, and last of all
the two meetings in St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich, on 12 December, and a
meeting at Richmond, with the Liberal Mayor in the chair, on 16 December.
It might have been possible to discount the views of the interested parties
expressed through Diocesan Conferences and Chambers of Commerce. But
these crowded, enthusiastic and unanimous meetings could not be ignored. In
the absence of more exact calculations, these public meetings provided a guide,
of which politicians made use, to the strength of public opinion on a particular
issue, so that of all the meetings on Uganda, these public meetings were
probably the decisive ones.
23 This did not send a resolution to the Foreign Office.
94 UGANDA JOURNAL
Decisive moreover, because like many of the smaller meetings they were
widely representative. This point is specially brought out in several of the
letters forwarding the resolutions. One vicar wrote of a parish meeting "The
room was quite full, and a large number of working men were present". To this
another vicar could add our "meeting was numerously attended by men widely
differing in social position and political opinion". The Mayor of Tunbridge
Wells wrote that his meeting was "representative of all classes of the inhabi-
tants and of all shades of religious and political opinions" and the Bishop of
Ripon reported that the meeting in Leeds Town Hall "was largely composed
of the working classes, and was very enthusiastic. There were representatives
of various religious bodies present. The meeting was in no wise political in
tone or composition, and it was supported by many influential persons"-
which only means that it was a truly national affair.
Critics in the House of Commons subsequently tried to argue that the move-
ment did not have the support of the Liberals in the country. It is true that only
one Liberal organization-the City of London Association-sent a resolution
to the Foreign Office, and that it was non-committal (the only one, it should
be said, in the whole collection), and that five other political organizations
which sent resolutions to the Foreign Office were all Conservative. It is also
true that only Conservative or Liberal Unionist politicians-Hicks-Beach,
Chamberlain, Balfour and Salisbury-publicly expressed their support for the
retention of Uganda, and that at least one Liberal M.P., Sir Wilfred Lawson,
spoke against it.
But this is inconclusive, and further evidence, as for instance from Woking,
indicates that "both Liberals and Conservatives" were supporters of the move-
ment. The evening meeting in Norwich was "attended and addressed by
persons of all shades of political opinion". There were Liberals among the
M.P.s who attended Lugard's meeting with the London Chamber of Com-
merce. Mr. H. F. Brooks forwarded a "largely signed petition by men of both
parties" in his constituency. The Mayor of Richmond, writing "as a humble
supporter of the present Government" forwarded a resolution strongly in
favour of the retention of Uganda, while the chairman of a meeting in Hornsey
wrote, "the bulk of the people here are strong Liberals, but at the same time
they feel most deeply that to evacuate Uganda is a mistake".
Perhaps the most striking instance is the support given to the retention
campaign by John Cowan of Beeslack. He was a noted philanthropist and a
Vice-President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He was also, and
had long been, the chairman of Gladstone's election committee in Midlothian,
and became a baronet when his name appeared in the short list of honours
which Gladstone secured upon his final resignation in March 1894. Yet it was
Cowan who organized the memorial from all the leaders of the Presbyterian
Churches in Scotland. His support was a sign of the times. The Liberal critics
were almost certainly mistaken, for the evidence suggests that the movement
cut across the normal political alignments.
What was more, there were only very meagre attempts to organize a cam-
paign. The C.M.S. were pressed to go in for 'agitation', but studiously avoided
doing much more than making their position clear whenever there was an
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 95
opportunity though there can be little doubt that their supporters were well to
the fore in the movement in the country. There was of course Lugard's tour,
which grew as it went. There was also the decision on 25 October of the Swansea
Town Council to send a copy of their resolution of 19 October to (probably)
every Town Council in England and Wales. Nine of them used the Swansea
formula, which leaves only two Town Councils which devised their own. Here
was a measure of organization, but not a very effective one. The Swansea
formula was also used by the Newport (Mon.) Chamber of Commerce on
11 November, and their Secretary was instructed to send copies to all the
Chambers of. Commerce in the country. But the twenty-three other Chambers
that sent resolutions, with the exception of Leeds, were all independent enough
to devise their own. In addition to the Swansea resolution, there was also a
draft "petition" going the rounds, which was used in 12 of the 17 petitions, but
the only other duplications that can be traced are between the Memorial of the
great public meeting in the Guildhall in Bristol and the Memorial of the
inhabitants of Blaby in Leicestershire, and between the resolution of the meet-
ing in Woking and the resolution of the meeting in Chester. But these proto-
types account for less than 30 out of 17424 which comprise the Foreign Office
collection. There were certainly organizing committees in individual towns but
there was no central organizing campaign committee or anything in lieu of one.
In most of the resolutions the order and subject matter varied considerably.
All manner of combination can be found which suggests that most of them
were drawn up individually. It is only possible to give three or four examples
The Halifax Friends of Missions were brief. Resolved, they said" That this
meeting, in view of the great and various interests involved, desires to urge
upon the Government the importance of maintaining British influence in
Uganda". That was on 6 November. A month later, the Liverpool Chamber of
Commerce, to take another example, resolved (copy to Mr. Gladstone) "That
in view of the important geographical position and natural resources of Uganda,
the Council of this Chamber urges upon Her Majesty's Government the
expediency of placing that country under direct Imperial control so that peace
and order may be maintained and opportunity be afforded for the spread of
civilization and commerce among the inhabitants". Statutory Church organiza-
tions were busy and, the Southampton Ruridecanal Council for instance,
resolved "That we contemplate with the greater anxiety the withdrawal of
British Authority from Uganda, believing, that the result will be disastrous to
the missionary converts in that country; will endanger the lives of British sub-
jects; will stop the advance of civilization in Central Africa; will close a
promising field for the trade of this country; and will bring dishonour upon
England as a Christian nation, in whose power and faithfulness the natives
have learned to trust: Your memorialists therefore pray", etc. And to take one
of the occasional prototypes, as used in Chester, the public meeting there
resolved "That this Meeting of the Citizens of Chester believing that the Slave
24 A few of the resolutions, etc. were forwarded twice. I have naturally only counted
them once. But I have distinguished between the afternoon and evening meeting at
Norwich on 12 December, though their resolutions were forwarded together.
96 UGANDA JOURNAL
Trade would be grievously promoted and that the cause of Christ as well as
lawful commerce and national honour would be injured by the evacuation of
Uganda, earnestly request Her Majesty's Government to maintain the just
influence of England within that territory in Africa which was assigned to this
country by the treaty of 1889". The treaty was in fact signed in 1890, but that
was a minor point.
The main point is that these last two resolutions from Southampton and
Chester show very clearly how inextricably the religious and commercial
aspects were intermingled.
Nonetheless, though there were few standard texts, the same phrases and the
same arguments constantly recurred, and an analysis of the number of times
each occurs in the 174 instances gives perhaps the best indication of what that
ephemeral figure 'the British Public' had in mind.25
As one might expect, the interests of trade and commerce were mentioned
frequently-75 times in fact-and there are 7 or 8 further references to the
fruitful and promising field whose resources would now be opened to develop-
ment. This was clearly important. Continental markets were closing and
hostile tariffs were being evolved everywhere. It was therefore necessary for the
British to look to the future when their existing markets would be more and
more restricted and when they would be glad of every available new one. But
it was not annexation with a view to immediate exploitation that was in mind:
it was merely annexation in case of need.
The appearance of economic arguments however is not the most striking
feature. The most striking fact of all is that in 104 cases out of 174, there is some
mention of slavery or the slave trade-the need for its abolition and the danger
of its resurgence unless the British Government maintained the position in
Uganda. The British public knew very little about Africa, but the preachings
of Wilberforce, Buxton and Livingstone had sunk deep into the national mind,
and any reverse in Africa instantly recalled the horror of slavery which was the
one thing that most people knew about Africa. Uganda had suffered a great
deal less from the ravages of the slave trade than many other areas, but public
opinion is not concerned with such fine distinctions as this: it goes for a broad
fact. It would not be going too far to say that a fear for the revival of the slave
trade was the most important single factor in persuading British public opinion
to insist on the retention of Uganda.
But fear of the slave trade did not stand alone. The dangers of civil war and
massacre, 'barbarism' and grave disaster, anarchy and bloodshed, were men-
tioned in the resolutions more than fifty times: and the need for peace, order
and good government about a further twenty. This reveals a more accurate
assessment, probably garnered from the newspapers, of the real problem.
From the newspapers too there came, no doubt, the fears for the Christian
Mission: the plight of the Christian converts was mentioned 38 times, there
were 10 references to the plight of mission work, 20 to the plight of the native
races or native inhabitants, and 28 to that of the missionaries.
In addition the call of national duty also played its part. The fact that the
25 Slight variations in the figures must be allowed for, owing to occasional variations
in the precise wording of the oft-repeated phrases.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 97
natives had placed their trust in the British occurs five times. There were
thirteen references to the distrust in the British that will be engendered if with-
drawal takes place. There were eight or nine references to Britain's 'moral
policy' or 'moral' or 'legitimate influence'. There are seven examples of the
feeling that Britain has a responsibility to discharge and 31 of the importance
of upholding British prestige and the British position in Africa. And then 38
of the resolutions and petitions referred to the honour of England and the
iniquity of a breach of faith.
Certain stock phrases were liberally used-philanthropy however only four
times, but humanity over 20, civilization 39 times, and Christianity (or Religion,
which at the time was a synonym for Christianity) over 50 times.
This is not of course, a guide to the rarified thoughts of the political speech
makers, but an indication of the sentiments of the groundlings. What these
resolutions reveal is the ubiquity of the Victorian thought-connexion between
Africa and the slave trade, and the fact that people were still ready to make an
effort to see that it was suppressed. Then they show that there was a profound
concern about the fate of Uganda-its people, its Christian converts and its
Christian missionaries. No less important were the interests of trade and com-
merce-'peaceful' and 'legitimate' commerce as it was called. And then super-
imposed on everything was the call of national duty, and the proud confidence
that Britain, having found the means to raise herself above all other civilized
nations, was well placed to impart the benefits of Christianity and civilization,
for which she had striven and to which she was the heir, to others. As Chamber-
lain put it succinctly from a platform in 1894, "What is wanted for Uganda, is
what Birmingham has got-an improvement scheme".
What had happened was that some ideas, deep-seated in the national
character, had been profoundly stirred. In this case, a Christian horror of
slavery; fears for the passing of free trade; memories of Gordon and Khartoum,
and confidence that the keys to progress had been found and could easily be
transferred to Africa. They may be strange bedfellows, and very different from
the precise problem in Buganda (which was simply to prevent the collapse of
the delicate balance between three hostile parties within a single state); very
different also from the Foreign Office's primary concern (with gaining control
of the headwaters of the Nile to prevent any other power upsetting the delicate
British position in Egypt) but clearly enough public opinion is quite capable of
having its own reasons, irrespective of what might be called 'real' or 'adequate'
or 'well-informed' reasons. Perhaps they are best called sentiments.
Part of the strength of the movement lay in its assortment of allies, not of
course so strangely mixed for the Victorians as for a later day. Only a year
previously the C.M.S. had campaigned for money for the Company and for a
steamer to be shared between the Company and the Mission: but their success
had only been partial, because they had worked alone. Shortly afterwards
Mounteney-Jephson, who had been with Stanley on the Emin Pasha Relief
Expedition, went the round of the Chambers of Commerce26 urging the com-
26 e.g. 22 December 1891. Joint Meeting, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Royal
Scottish Geographical Society. A. J. Mounteney-Jephson. Trade Prospects in Uganda,
Scottish Geographical Magazine, 8 (1892), 93.
98 UGANDA JOURNAL
mercial value of Uganda, and several of the Chambers had sent memorials to
the Foreign Office, but with no noticeable effect on Government policy. Two
years later, in 1894 over the Bechuanaland question, the missionaries and the
empire builders were on different sides, with the result that neither got their
way. Rhodes got his railway strip (from which he launched the Jameson Raid)
yet gained no control over the bulk of the tribal lands. But in 1892 in this
Uganda campaign the churches, the chambers of commerce and the empire
builders for once worked together for the same object and at the same time:
for the object they were after was quite straightforward-the retention of
British influence in Uganda.
Of the resolutions and petitions 95 per cent were seen and initialed by Lord
Rosebery in the Foreign Office, but judging by the minuted dates, by the time
he wrote his decisive memorandum for the Cabinet on 3 November, though he
had probably heard of some of the more recent public meetings, he cannot have
seen more than 12 of the resolutions and petitions and there were over 160
more before the movement had finished. By 7 November, when the Cabinet
made its decision to send a Commissioner to Uganda, he had seen 14 more, but
there were still 148 to come. It is doubtful therefore whether the movement had
had much influence on the Cabinet when they reversed their decision of
To some this second decision was adequate. It was 'cordially' welcomed by a
public meeting in the quaint old market town of Wooler in Northumberland,
and by a crowded audience at Godalming 'with intense satisfaction'. But there
were other views. A C.M.S. meeting at Bedford "while expressing its earnest
thanks to Almighty God for the evident answer to prayer, which the present
concession of the Government respecting Uganda indicates would most
urgently press upon the Government the necessity of maintaining an active
control over that land". St. Simon's, Swansea was a little more downright:
"We regret that the decision of the Government so far appears to be somewhat
temporizing." The Vicar of Kirkby Wharfe called it 'apparently provisional'
and he was right. On the face of it there had been a compromise which left a
way out, for the Commissioner could still recommend evacuation, and Glad-
stone and Sir Edward Grey in the debate on the Address in the following
January, when the question was raised by the Little Englanders, promised that
no final decision would be taken until the report was received.
But already Rosebery had made up his mind that there was no way out.
Writing to Portal, after he had telegraphed to him confirming his appointment
as British Commissioner in Uganda, Rosebery told him that his formal instruc-
tions would follow, "but I consider it as settled that your main duty will be to
arrange the best means of administering Uganda There may, of course, be
indicated to you the possibility that should the difficulty of retention be found
insuperable, or at any rate too vast, you should so report. But as a rather one
horse Company has been able to administer I suppose the Empire will be equal
to it, and therefore that saving clause is mainly one of form". Writing again a
week later a covering note to the official instructions he said that he had little to
add, "but I may say this as my confident though not my official opinion, that
public sentiment here will expect and support the maintainance of the British
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION AND THE UGANDA QUESTION 99
sphere of influence".27 Both these letters were private and confidential-pre-
sumably from his colleagues, and they provide a striking example of the
occasional emptiness of official instructions and of the importance of confi-
This was the success of the campaign, that as early as the first week in
December it was quite clear that the country would not tolerate a British with-
drawal and that behind the back of the still-hesitant Cabinet, Portal was
instructed accordingly. The final decision was not taken till Portal's Report had
been received, but for fourteen months it had been almost a foregone conclusion.
Almost but not quite. As The Times wrote on 8 December "What the
Government is now doing in the matter of Uganda is satisfactory enough as far
as it goes, and if Lord Rosebery had a free hand we have no doubt that it would
be made more satisfactory still. But it is still only by a decided expression of
public opinion that he has been enabled to do anything, and it must not be
forgotten that energetic prosecution of the policy now sanctioned cannot be
expected unless the pressure of public opinion can be maintained". But the
spate of meetings could not be maintained, and public attention turned to Egypt
and to Gladstone's Home Rule Bill. By the beginning of 1893 the opponents of
retention had raised their voices in the reviews; chief among them Sir Charles
Dilke; most effectively the Reverend J. Guinness Rogers. But before the end of
the year Lugard's two handsome volumes appeared, as did the Company's
apologia British East Africa, or I.B.E.A., compiled by its Secretary P. L.
McDermott. The Company also published pamphlets. R. Bosworth Smith
published his three letters to The Times. The C.M.S. printed booklets, one of
which had sold 25,000 copies even before the end of 1892. The newspapers
continued their support and all this was sufficient to prevent the effect of the
1892 campaign from wearing off.
Reporting a speech at the morning meeting of the 94th anniversary of the
Church Missionary Society on 1 May 1893, the Church Missionary Gleaner
said "so far as anyone can forecast the picture Sir John Kennaway (the Presi-
dent) feels that the retention of Uganda is now secured".28 On 12 December
1893 at a meeting of the Royal Colonial Institute, Lugard said, "I hope we may
now assume that East Africa and Uganda are saved from the chaos and
anarchy which abandonment would involve, and that the nation will not now
have to face the shame which would be ours if we were to withdraw".29 Two
months later, Rosebery in circulating his comments on Portal's Report to the
Cabinet said "I believe the country has made up its mind". There was a delay
while Gladstone resigned, and Rosebery succeeded, as Prime Minister. There
was one last fracas in the Cabinet on 7 April 189430 but the decision to retain
Uganda was taken and announced in both Houses on 12 April31-in the Com-
mons by Sir William Harcourt its most formidable opponent at the outset.
27 Rosebery to Portal. 1 December and 9 December 1892. Portal Papers, (Rhodes House,
28 C. M. Gleaner, 20 (1893), 85.
29 Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, 25 (1893-4), 120-1.
30 Rosebery to the Queen, 7 April 1894. Letters of Queen Victoria, 3rd Series, vol. ii,
31 Hansard, 4th Series, vol. xxiii, pp. 180-1, 223.
100 UGANDA JOURNAL
Such was the result of that short, spontaneous, countrywide, strangely com-
pounded but truly national movement of public opinion in the late autumn of
In Uganda it was scarcely noticed, for the Company Protectorate was merged
into the Imperial Protectorate without the hiatus which so many had feared.
But in England it marked not merely a change in policy towards Uganda (in the
words of a recent article,32 the last step in the advance from 'informal' to 'formal'
empire), but it also heralded the beginning of the end of that mid-Victorian
anti-imperialism which had on most occasions fought against the creation of
'formal' empire. When Gladstone came into office he had hoped to be able to
evacuate Egypt. Egypt was still a British responsibility when he resigned
eighteen months later, and none of the projected withdrawals were carried out
as he would have wished. By the time the Conservatives succeeded in 1895,
withdrawal was out of the question, and the Liberals had actually agreed to the
building of the Uganda railway, though they had hounded Salisbury for the
suggestion less than four years previously. The movement for the retention of
Uganda has therefore an importance transcending the immediate issue, but its
details emphasize the need for the reappraisal of 'imperialism' which is now
32 1. Gallagher and R. Robinson. The Imperialism of Free Trade. Economic History
Review, 2nd Series, 6 (1953), pp. 1-15.
33 Notably by Professor Koebner. See his article, The Concept of'Economic Imperial-
ism, ibid., 2 (1949), pp. 1-29.
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION'
By PROFESSOR S. J .K. BAKER
JUST over twenty years ago at the end of a visit to East Africa Dr. Julian
Huxley was asking himself what should be the central core in education as
fostered in the schools of this part of the world. His conclusion was that biology
and geography would seem to make the best central core of academic educa-
tion in East Africa.2 In as far as Dr. Huxley is a biologist there is perhaps even
more significance in his award of a palm to geography than in the presence of
biology at the centre of his thinking. But today it is no longer customary to look
for key subjects in the educational curriculum; and even if it were, I would not
presume to erect a scholastic firmament which revolved around a geographical
Yet by its very nature geography occupies an interesting position in the
assembly of academic subjects. Following words used by Thomas Arnold of
Rugby in 1842 to describe the position of geography, it is just that part in the
dominion of knowledge where the students of physical and moral science meet
together.3 Geography reaches out towards the natural sciences on the one hand
and towards the historical and social sciences on the other. Essentially a syn-
thetic subject, it makes its distinctive contribution to knowledge by illuminating
facts which are often drawn from the more analytical disciplines. This theme
may be elaborated with the help of a quotation from the writings of Paul Vidal
de la Blache, who from 1898 until his death in 1918 held the chair of geography
of the University of Paris:
"What geography, in exchange for the help which it receives from the other
sciences, can bring to the common treasury, is the aptitude of not dividing what
nature brings together, of understanding the relationship and the correlation of
facts, either in the terrestrial environment which encompasses them all or in the
regional environments in which they are localised."4
These words of Vidal de la Blache are paralleled in a passage from the
Introductory Essay to the General Comparative Geography of Karl Ritter, who
was appointed as Professor of Geography in the University of Berlin as long
ago as 1820:
"Nature refuses to be studied except in the great mutual play of all her powers,
in the connexion of all her manifestations. Only when thus studied does she
irradiate with life and light all the paths which human activity dares to tread."5
This is not to draw a false antithesis between nature and man, for at the core
of geography is a Darwinian insistence upon "the need for studying living things
and their environments together, as mutually influencing each other but also as
1 An inaugural lecture delivered before Makerere College, the University College of
East Africa, on 29 September 1953.
2 Huxley, J. S. (1931). Africa view. London: Chatto and Windus, p. 308.
3 Quoted in (1918). The aim of geography. Geographical Teacher, 9, 195.
4 Vidal de la Blache, P. (1913). Les caracteres distinctifs de la geographie. Annales de
5 Ritter, K. (1817). Die allgemeine vergleichende Erdkunde. Introductory essay.
102 UGANDA JOURNAL
changing in and of themselves".6 Thus we are led on to a recognition of the
power of man in moulding and using the geographical environment of which he
is an essential part, and to the concept of man as a geographical agent of con-
siderable power in the interplay of forces on the surface of the earth. In other
words, man is not simply the creature of his environment, but is in part its
This brief statement serves to express something of the attitude of the geo-
grapher in his study of the earth as the home of man. Yet whilst the world must
be set in the heart of every geographer, we cannot but agree with the Chinese
philosopher, Lao Tse, that our minds are kept healthy by their very inability to
search it out.7 For practical purposes, and especially for his research, the geo-
grapher must normally make his synthesis of geographical factors in one of "the
regional environments in which they are localized". Here, at close quarters with
his material and often gathering it from first-hand observation, he can analyse
and describe the interlocking features of the regional synthesis in his selected
field of study. Here he can show how the geographical personality of a country
emerges as a product of the activity of man.
It is thus that I have chosen to attempt a regional appreciation of Bunyoro as
the means of giving a representative sample of geographical study. Much of the
material was gathered during the course of two field classes, held respectively in
1949 and 1952; and it is pleasant to be able to acknowledge the valuable assist-
ance of one's colleagues and-one's students in these co-operative enterprises for
the study of local geography. It is a duty, too, to express one's gratitude
to the Omukama and to the people of Bunyoro for the active goodwill
which they have consistently shown towards their visitors on these and other
Bunyoro is now a District in the Western Province of the Uganda Protectorate;
but its former position in the Northern Province reminds us that historically and
at the present day there is an appreciable northerly element in its geographical
orientation. It has an area of 4,847 square miles, excluding open water; but in
the present survey attention is confined to the southern two-thirds of the District.
The northern third is unsurveyed and mainly uninhabited country infested by
the tsetse fly, the process of depopulation having perhaps begun in the sixties of
the last century as a result of the activities of the Khartoum slave traders. Since
the area contains the Murchison Falls and teems with a great variety of game, it
has recently been scheduled as a national park, in order that its scenic and bio-
logical interests may at one and the same time be conserved and rendered
Even the remainder of the country is not as a whole densely peopled: the
estimated population of Bunyoro in 1948 was 109,306, including 728 Indians,
138 Europeans, 39 Goans and 8 Arabs. Among the African population there is
as yet no indication of the natural increase now recognized in so many parts of
6 Fleure, H. J. (1944). Geographical thought in a changing world. Geographical Review,
7 Quoted in Fleure, H. J. (1937). Geography and the scientific movement. Geography,
REFERENCE MAP / Murchison
SCALE OF MILES ra
Miles 5 0 10 15 Miles
/ Butiaba Kgumba
K, //Mas3ndi PortV
S/ oy "OBiseruka
(r .- "/~ w<--
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION 103
East Africa. The majority of the Africans speak the Bantu language, Lunyoro;
but in the north-east the Palwo speak a Nilotic language akin to that used in the
adjacent District of Lango; and in modern times a good many immigrants from
the West Nile District have come into Bunyoro. On the other hand, there are
about 100,000 Banyoro outside the District, mainly in the Mubende District of
Bunyoro is a remnant of the extensive, ancient kingdom of Kitara, but in its
modem restricted form it has well-defined geographical boundaries (Fig. 1). To
the south-east there is the channel of the Nkusi and Kafu rivers, formerly
occupied by a single river taking the waters of the Kyoga system westward to the
Congo basin. With the elevation of the flanking highlands of the rift valley from
late Pliocene times onwards, the waters have been ponded back; and although
the Nkusi is still able at the end of its short course to tumble down into Lake
Albert, the Kafu now flows from its swamp headwaters slowly, and apparently
somewhat unwillingly, eastward to reach the Nile at the point where that river
leaves Lake Kyoga. The Kafu is clearly a misfit in its wide and marshy valley.
On the north-east and north the large bend of the Nile carries the boundary to
the northern end of Lake Albert, which lake forms the north-western water front
of Bunyoro, with a width of twenty-five miles over much of its length.
Within these boundaries Bunyoro presents some markedly contrasted land-
scapes, dependent mainly upon the variety of relief features which occurs within
the District (Fig. 2):
(i) Lake Albert lies in a faulted depression trending south-west to north-east
and with a width varying from 22 to 28 miles as measured between the scarps at
lake level. The scarp on the Bunyoro side is steep but not sheer, and there are at
least four tracks leading down it to villages on the shore; and in addition in the
north, where its features become softer, there is the motor road to the port of
Butiaba. The scarp landscape is a young one, formed as a result of earth move-
ments of Pleistocene times; and the numerous streams come headlong down its
thousand feet drop, more often than not in falls. Sometimes there appears to be
,a clean fault; and at other places there is the appearance of step faulting,
although this may be of only a superficial nature. The escarpment is composed
of rocks belonging to the Pre-Cambrian Basement Complex of the continent; but
the floor of the depression is covered with young sedimentary rocks, known as
the Kaiso beds. In their upper part these latter beds contain many pebbles;
whilst lower down the occurrence of fossiliferous beds is a sufficiently rare
phenomenon in the interior plateau of Africa to excite more interest than would
be the case, say, in Western Europe. The Kaiso beds, dated as possibly Middle
Pleistocene in age, are exposed in various flats on the shore, and they presumably
extend under the relatively shallow waters of the lake. A feature of the lake shore
is the development of sand-spits and the enclosure of lagoons; and these can be
observed in various stages of development at Kaiso, Tonya, Kibiro and, above
all, at Butiaba. On an inland lake over 700 miles from the shores of the Indian
Ocean one can thus study some of the shore-line phenomena usually associated
with the sea-coast.8 In the north, from Butiaba onwards, the flats become wider
8 Worthington, E. B. (1929). A report on the fishing survey of Lakes Albert and Kioga.
London: Cambridge University Press, pp. 46-8.
104 UGANDA JOURNAL
and form a continuous lowland as the lake shore curves away from the straight
edge of the escarpment. At a height of just over 2,000 feet above sea level, the
rift valley floor at Butiaba has a mean annual temperature of 78 F., from which
there is virtually no seasonal variation; and the mean daily range is only 120
14F.9 With a mean annual rainfall of not much more than 30 inches and only
92 rain days in the year, again to judge from Butiaba, conditions in the rift
valley are semi-arid; and the vegetation cover consists of poor grasses and
scattered, drought-resisting trees and bushes. Only near the stream courses does
the vegetation thicken.
(ii) The steep scarp is surmounted by a gentler slope which rounds back into
the relatively level plateau. Wayland has described this curved surface immedi-
ately behind the scarp as a "hanging topography", and indeed the gullies and
valleys of the streams that have not yet been able to erode to the new base level
established by faulting are still hanging, like those which end above the steep
trough of a glaciated valley in other landscapes.10 This narrow zone, at a height
of about 3,400 feet above sea level in the central part of the escarpment, is
relatively dry, having just under 40 inches of rainfall per annum; and it pro-
vides transitional conditions between the rift valley and the richer landscape
which comes immediately to the south-east.
(iii) This third landscape has its heart in the hilly country, which with a
maximum width of 18-19 miles stretches along a south-west to north-east axis
from the southern boundary of the District through Hoima to the neighbour-
hood of Masindi. Geologically, the region is developed in the rocks of the
Bunyoro Series, which are not very different in composition from those of the
Karagwe-Ankolean System and show the same tendency to yield a positive
relief. In its numerous summits the zone reaches heights between 4,000 and
4,800 feet above sea level. It is a much dissected landscape; and its many
conical hills come as a change of scenery to eyes accustomed to the flat-topped
hills of Buganda, where with a less advanced stage of re-dissection the former
peneplain is more in evidence in the contemporary scene. The mean annual
rainfall of Hoima, 56-35 inches, is characteristic; whereas Masindi with a more
marginal position, has 50-61 inches. In neither case, though, is there any month
with less than 1 inch of rainfall in the tables of averages. The mean annual
temperature of Masindi is 73-1 F., with a mean daily range varying from 21 in
the wet season to 26 in the dry season. The corresponding temperature figures
for Hoima are likely in each case to be very slightly lower. Under these climatic
conditions the characteristic vegetation is high grass-low tree savanna, with the
tops of the high grasses mingling with the branches of the low trees. Elephant
grass, 14-15 feet in height, is dominant in the association. On the hill tops the
grasses tend to be less luxuriant and an open parkland becomes characteristic.
In some of the valleys savanna gives place to a forest type which has many
affinities with the equatorial rain forest. Towards the west, too, there are con-
tinuous stands of closed forest in the Bugoma and Budongo forests. Mahogany,
9 East African Meteorological Department. (Undated: ? 1953.) Collected climatological
statistics for East African stations. Nairobi: Meteorological Department.
10 Wayland, E. J. (1921). Some account of the geology of the Lake Albert rift valley.
Geographical Journal, 58, 344-59.
RELIEF AND RIVERS --
SCALE OF MILES ----- --
Mdles 5 0 5 10 15 Miles t.
CONTOURS AT 200 FEET V I
SN s v E
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION 105
mvule, and muhimbi (iron-wood) are among the main timbers of economic
(iv) The eastern margins of Bunyoro, adjacent to the lower Kafu and to its
continuation in the Victoria Nile below Masindi Port, comprise a landscape of
gentle relief below 3,600 feet in altitude. Rainfall is less than in the central hills:
the mean annual rainfall is 38-66 inches at Masindi Port, but for the zone as a
whole the average may be about 45 inches. The landscape thus begins to take
upon itself some of the characteristics of the short grass country which is
associated with the well marked dry belt situated between the Lake Victoria
region and the Western Highlands of Uganda."
Turning to the occupations of the people, in effect to the economic geography
of the country, it is convenient to begin with fishing on Lake Albert. The lake is
rich in fish, of which mputa (Lates albertianus or Nile 'perch'), mpoi and ngege
(Tilapia nilotica and Tilapia galilaea or 'carp') are some of the most important
varieties; but on the Uganda side the resources are under-exploited. The fishing
is done in dug-out canoes, propelled by a very distinctive form of paddle; and the
fishermen of today use a type of seine net which is normally made from the
fibre of old motor car tyres. The indications are that in olden time line fishing
and harpooning were practised, and these methods are still employed. The siting
of the fishing villages is determined by the sand-spits and cusps mentioned
earlier, for with prevalent winds from the south-west sometimes accompanied
by seas of considerable size, both fish and fishermen seek the shelter of the lee-
ward, northern side of the spits. At Tonya the fish is dried and then sold mainly
to the Congo where there is a demand for it as food for the labourers of the-
Kilo-Moto mines. The fishermen may take the fish in their own canoes direct to
Kasenyi, or they may send it first to Butiaba, whence it goes by steamer service
to Mahagi Port or Kasenyi. Fish is sold, too, in the plateau hinterland, for
example at Hoima market, in exchange for other consumer goods; but some
household utensils are clearly brought in from the Belgian Congo. Fishing is the
job of the men and boys; and the women cultivate such crops as will grow under
the restrictive physical conditions of the rift valley, especially cassava and
millet. In addition a little cotton is sometimes grown in the Wambabya valley.
Here is a contented and, in its way, prosperous community, the presence of
gramophones and Raleigh cycles being a useful index of material prosperity.
Social cohesion is clearly strong; and there is much interest in the local school,
which takes children as far as Primary IV. The school has the rare distinction
for an East African mixed school of containing more girls than boys. Is it that
there is here less work for the girls than in predominantly agricultural societies?
In contrast with Tonya is Kibiro, the next village to the north-east, about
thirteen miles away by lake travel, but much further by track and road, with an
ascent and descent of the scarp thrown into the bargain. It is an old settlement,
in which fishing has occupied the men folk and salt-making the women.12 The
amount of fishing is now small; and although the making of salt continues, the
relative importance of this village industry has suffered a decline in modern
11 Henderson, J. P. (1949). Some aspects of climate in Uganda, with special reference to
rainfall. Uganda J., 13, 154-70, Fig. 6.
12 Roscoe, J. (1923). The Bakitara. London: Cambridge University Press, pp. 232-4.
106 UGANDA JOURNAL
times. The source of the salt is a hot spring which comes up at the foot of the
escarpment, and it is therefore a continuing one. It is likely, though, that a more
intensive production of salt would soon exceed the rate of replacement. Although
the method of extraction is small-scale and, in a sense, primitive, it is none-the-
less in close accord with laboratory processes of preparation. The immediate
raw material of the industry is not the water of the spring, the salt content of
which would not be high enough for economic evaporation by heating: it is the
salt impregnated soil of the area below the spring, into which the water has been
seeping through the centuries (Fig. 3). The earth is placed in small piles to dry;
the surface layer in which the salt tends by capillary action to concentrate is
duly scraped off; and the process is repeated many times from the same pile.
The resultant material is poured into a porous or perforated pot, and water is
added to it; and the brine filters into another pot placed below. The solution is
then taken to a hut to be heated and evaporated, and conical lumps of greyish
salt about two pounds in weight are gradually built up.'3 Normally the collection
of fire-wood from the scarpment is the work of the men, as is the process of
evaporation. A little agriculture is practised, e.g. the cultivation of cassava, and
some goats and sheep are kept; but most of the wants of the people are met by
taking the salt up the scarpment on Wednesdays and Saturdays to the market
six miles away at Kigorobya. It is a big market, attracting perhaps six hundred
people on a Saturday, and it contains a great variety of agricultural produce and
household goods; but the basic factor in its existence is that it provides for the
exchange of the salt of Kibiro for the cultivated crops of the plateau.
The dominant activity of the people of Bunyoro is agriculture, although with
a population of 110,000 the total volume of production cannot be anything but
small; and except in the central hills, where population is largely concentrated,
the impact of agriculture on the landscape is not usually striking. In most parts,
however, and especially in the elephant grass zone, the soil is wonderfully
fertile. There is obviously plenty of good land available for all who want to
cultivate it, and there is still the possibility of moving to another plot on the
exhaustion of the first. A certificate of occupancy for a holding can be obtained
upon application to the African Local Government. The certificate forbids the
holder to sell, transfer or sub-let any portion of the land or to collect any tribute
in respect of it; but provision is made for his heir to inherit his rights under the
certificate. Also, with due notice he may sell the buildings and crops which he
has put on the land. Discontinuance of cultivation or occupation results in the
cancellation of rights. The landlord and tenant system based upon freehold
grants has been rejected, and the interests of the actual cultivator have been
allowed to predominate.14
In olden times cattle held an important place in the life of the, people of
Bunyoro, especially among the members of the ruling class; but the country as
13 A similar example of the use of something approaching laboratory methods in
traditional African societies is to be found in the early processes of soap making among
the Batoro kinsmen of the Banyoro, although in this case culture contact with Arab
traders seems to have influenced the situation. (Information given by L. M. Kabwizi in
14 Tothill, J. D. (1940). Agriculture in Uganda. London: Oxford University Press,
TRADITIONAL LAND USE
.* "* *. "* -" .', .. ^' ty -.i.., *-..
Kibiro: Salt workings in the foreground on the narrow strip of land between the foot
of the rift valley scarp and the shore of Lake Albert.
r'Oto Dy J. J. K. tBaker, 1949
Mixed Cropping. A field of finger millet with sorghum interplanted, at Kiryandongo.
[face p. zo6
TRANSFORMING AN ENVIRONMENT
Photo by Information Department, Uganda, 1953
Kigumba: clearance of woodland.
Kigumba: a field of sunflowers.
Photo by S. J. K. Baker, 19Y2
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION 107
a whole could never have been ideal for cattle keeping. It is interesting that the
royal herds were formerly pastured in the short grass area beyond the Kafu in
what is now the northern part of Buganda. The troubled period prior to the
setting up of organized administration of the modern kind in 1900, together with
the toll of rinderpest and trypanosomiasis, denuded the country of cattle, and to
the present day the number of cattle in Bunyoro is small.
,The traditional staple foods, particularly of the peasants, were finger millet
(Eleusine corocana), locally known as bulo, and sorghum (Sorghum vulgare)
which has the Lunyoro name of omugusa. The Banyoro are thus to be placed
with the peoples of the short-grass zone of northern Uganda rather than with the
matoke eaters of the long-grass zone around Lake Victoria. On the other hand,
the high-grass country of the central hills which repeats the vegetational pattern
of the Lake Victoria region, is clearly suited to the growth of the plantain; and
there are many references to banana plantations in Sir Samuel Baker's Ismailia,
first published in 1874. The traditional place of the banana in the diet of the
Banyoro seems, however, to have been a subsidiary one, and many of the trees
in the "vast groves" seen by this early traveller may have been intended primarily
as a source of beer. At any time there is in description a danger of over-empha-
sizing the importance of a staple crop, be it for food or cash, and certainly at the
present day a good deal of variety characterizes the cultivation patches around
the homesteads of the Banyoro. For example, statistics of the number of plots
devoted to each crop in the Buhimba gombolola, southern Bunyoro, show that
in 1949 finger millet came first, followed in order by sweet potatoes, beans,
cotton, sorghum, cassava, tobacco, peas, maize, groundnuts and simsim; whilst
in addition there were a few plots of bananas and onions.
Bulo is not only a staple food, but it is an easily marketable crop for local
sale. It is easy to grow and can be stored against famine for two or three years;
its only disadvantage is that the growing crop is somewhat susceptible to
drought. To meet this drawback finger millet and sorghum are often sown
mixed, for although the latter has not the keeping qualities of the former it is
more resistant to drought during growth (Fig. 4). Here is an example of the
wisdom to the African of mixed cropping, although it carries with it the com-
pensatory disadvantage that in a plot which is of ragged height every head of
grain must be cut separately. In the past only one crop of bulo was grown each
year; but nowadays two crops are sown, one at the beginning of each rainy
season, and they are respectively harvested in June or early July and in late
December or January. Millet heads are pounded to form a flour which is used
for baking or taken as a porridge; and the grain is also used for beer making,
which tends to cause inroads upon what would otherwise be a store for famine
days. Some maize is also grown.
The cultivation of sweet potatoes (ipomea batatas), like that of finger millet
and sorghum, is mainly a woman's job. Whilst the sweet potato is in season it is
relished as a daily food. It is an essentially dependable crop, and although in its
fresh condition it will not keep, it can be stored for several months if the tubers
are sliced and dried in the sun, thus serving to tide over the wait until fresh food
is again in season.
Like sweet potatoes, groundnuts (arachis hypogaea), maize and tobacco
108 UGANDA JOURNAL
(Nicotiana tabacum), cassava or muhogo (Manihot utilissima) is an introduction
into the African continent from the Americas. All these crops were brought into
East Africa prior to the Protectorate period, probably via the Portuguese coastal
stations and along the routes of the early Arab traders. It is during the past half-
century that there has been a great increase in their cultivation. Cassava, for
example, provides a valuable food reserve against famine, and its use for this
purpose has been extensively advocated by the Department of Agriculture. The
crop is drought-resistant and can be grown on a variety of soils, including poor
ones; and some varieties can remain long in the ground without deterioration. It
is thus now widely grown in the District, and it comprises one of the principal
food crops, being especially important in the north-eastern area and in the
sporadic settlements which occur along the shores of Lake Albert. Cassava can
be eaten boiled or roasted; and it can be peeled, sliced and dried, prior to pound-
ing into flour. Then it is often mixed with bulo flour to make a kind of porridge.
Unfortunately, cassava is neither particularly palatable nor especially nutritious;
but along the lake shore the presence of fish in the diet compensates for the
deficiencies of cassava.
Beans and peas are traditional items in the local diet. The former are of great
importance, as a visit to any market will show. They are planted at least twice a
year, and they are eaten fresh or dried.
Of the two commercial crops, tobacco may be taken first. It deserves more
attention than can be devoted to it is this summary: not only because of its
economic importance, but more particularly because both in cultivation and in
the subsequent processes of curing, tobacco shows itself to be peculiarly sensi-
tive to atmospheric conditions.15 The cultivation of tobacco was well-established
in the pre-Protectorate period. Sir Samuel Baker makes frequent references to
the crop and remarks that at one place "the tobacco is well attended, as the tops
of the plants are carefully nipped off to prevent them from running too much
into stalk".16 The Buhimba list provides a reminder that'tobacco, like cotton, is
cultivated by the peasants on their holdings, along with subsistence crops. In
addition, there is an interesting example of regional specialization in the upper
section of the valley of the River Waki, which trends north-north-east through
the central hills from a few miles to the north of Hoima. A rich covering of
elephant grass stretching across the two-miles wide valley betokens soil as
fertile as any in the whole Protectorate; and with the help of the Department of
Agriculture, Banyoro and northern immigrants from the West Nile District have
come into the valley in order to cultivate the tobacco plant. The degree of con-
centration upon this economic objective is likely to be limited only by the need
for tobacco to be incorporated in some suitable rotation, if yield and quality are
to be maintained. Altogether, in strips running along the contours with elephant
grass breaks in between, about 500,000 lb. of cured tobacco, valued currently at
300,000, are produced each year in the Waki valley. The seeds are sown in
February in nursery beds about 25 yards by 1 yard, and watered twice daily
until the rains arrive. They are planted out in April, from which time a good
deal of care is needed in the cultivation of the crop. The lower leaves are
15 Purseglove, J. W. (1951). Tobacco in Uganda. Entebbe: Government Printer.
16 Baker, S. W. (1874). Ismailia. London: Macmillan and Co., vol. ii, p. 176.
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION 109
removed, since they deteriorate by contact with the soil, and at a given stage
the top of the plant is nipped off, leaving 9-12 good leaves to mature. Unless
some hazard of disease or weather intervenes, the leaves are picked as they begin
to change colour in August. It is of interest to the climatologist that in the pro-
cess of fire-curing, the fires are put out at sunset and the doors of the barns left
open all night so that the leaf may absorb the moisture from the cool night air,
which prevents it from drying out too quickly. As an aid to marketing, a Waki
Valley Co-operative Society has been formed, including both Nilotic immigrants
and Banyoro among its members; and for many years the Government-owned
Tobacco Packing Factory at Masindi has served the industry.
Biseruka, which is situated above Tonya and in the narrow, relatively dry
zone immediately behind the rift valley scarp, offers an example of specialization
on the cultivation of cotton. The area was opened up in 1931-32 for cotton culti-
vation by seasonal immigrants from Bunyoro and from the north. The average
annual figures are 8 square miles under cultivation by 2,000 to 3,000 growers
producing over a million pounds in weight of seed cotton. The area has now been
under cultivation for over twenty years, sufficiently long to necessitate the use
of a simple rotation and a fallow period, i.e. two years under cotton and one
under maize or groundnuts, followed by three years' fallow during which there
is a reversion to elephant grass. Bulo and sweet potatoes, two of the main food
crops, have been kept out of the area, since each acts as the host to a different
cotton pest. Women, too, have been refused entry, in order that their services
may not be lost to food production. The men bring their food with them when
they come at the appropriate intervals for the sowing, weeding and picking of
the crop. Water supply constitutes a problem, too; and under the stimulus of the
Department of Agriculture reservoirs have been constructed, although the
results have not so far been very good. Formerly Biseruka was the most
important cotton growing area in Bunyoro: now it is third in importance, coming
after areas respectively in the neighborhoods of Masindi Port and Masindi
Town. In general there is a tendency to swing away from the more difficult
tobacco cultivation towards the easier cultivation of cotton; and this trend has
been accentuated by the withdrawal of the Government scheme of hail com-
pensation for tobacco growers whose crop is damaged by this not infrequent
Help is given to the peasant producer by the Agricultural Department, both
by instruction in his own fields and by the experimental work which is being
undertaken at Bulindi Farm, about ten miles from Hoima just off the Masindi
road. For example, experiments have been undertaken to find the best types of
shade and mulching for coffee trees, robusta coffee being third in order of
importance among the crops grown by the peasant farmers for the large-scale
commercial market. The most successful plot seems to be one in which the
ground has been mulched and in which shade is provided by the bark-cloth tree
(Ficus natalensis), where production has been at the rate of over 1,000 lb. of
coffee berries per acre, in place of the 300-400 lb. which is the average for
Buganda and Bunyoro. Elsewhere on the farm experiments have recently been
made in the inter-planting of groundnuts and maize; and work on tobacco is
always being undertaken.
110 UGANDA JOURNAL
There is some production in larger units owing their origin to non-African
enterprise. The main group of estates is aligned to the Butiaba-Masindi road;
but the Hoima River Estates Limited is situated further to the south at Dwoli
in the vicinity of Hoima (Fig. 5). Early European planters were responsible for
the establishment of these various estates, and Dwoli, for example, dates back
to 1912; but most of the estates have now come under the control of companies
whose directorate is Indian. Three of the commodities with which the estates
are at present concerned are coffee, rubber and tobacco. As with the peasant
production, the coffee is of the robusta variety, the altitude of Bunyoro being
below that necessary for the successful cultivation in East Africa of arabica
coffee. For many years the market for rubber has been a precarious one, with
low world prices, except during the war of 1939-45; and although some tapping
takes place there is no present incentive to the further development of the rubber
plantations. Some estates, notably Dwoli, act as collecting centres for tobacco
grown by the African small-holders of the surrounding area. Although there is
some export of the tobacco leaf, the bulk of it is retained for manufacture in
Uganda, by the East African Tobacco Company Ltd., at Jinja and Kampala.
Another non-African enterprise is the 15,000 acre sisal estate at Masindi Port,
situated in the dry belt and on the main line of communication by lake steamer
and railway for the export of its products via the port of Mombasa to Europe
and America. In 1952 about 10,000 acres of the estate were bearing; and 5,000
acres were under very young sisal not yet ready for cutting. Although naturally
the factory is mechanized, it is only recently that mechanical methods have been
applied to cultivation. With a level landscape there should be no insuperable
problem in the way of a complete mechanization of the agricultural processes
of the kind which has occurred in Tanganyika and Kenya. This would seem to
be a natural response to the continued shortage of labour experienced by the
estate. The labour force of 1,300 is largely composed of Bachopi from Northern
Bunyoro and of immigrants from the West Nile and even from the Sudan, there
being few Banyoro among the labourers. It is the only sisal estate in Uganda,
and the exports from it amount to about 1,000 tons per annum. In 1949, 500
tons were exported to the U.S.A., 50 to Western Germany and the rest to the
Timber felling is another industry, the organization of which is in non-African
hands. A Sikh-owned company operates a small saw mill at Kabwoya on the
northern edge of the Bugoma Forest; and the larger Buchanan's Budongo Saw
Mills are cutting into the Budongo Forest from the south. The original saw mill
at Budongo is near the Butiaba-Masindi road: the "New Saw Mill" is
approached by a six or seven mile road, which indicates the extent to which the
company has encroached upon the forest. The chief product of the Budongo
Forest is its mahogany. The company works under the forestry laws and in
close co-operation with the Forestry Department, and re-afforestation is
accompanying the exploitation of the forest. Near-by, is the Government
Forestry School of Nyabeya, where young men who hold the Cambridge School
Certificate are trained as Assistant Forestry Officers.
At Kigumba, some twenty miles east-north-east of Masindi and about ten
miles north-west of Masindi Port, an economic experiment of a different kind
SCALE OF MILES
Miles s I s ,p
County headquarters Q
Townships & trading centres
Non-native enterprises 4
Water holes & springs -w
y v //
MASINDI 4#' o
4 0 0 Ot
04 o #
u t 0"
Based on a drawing by A. B. Scrubiri, 1953
BUNYORO: A REGIONAL APPRECIATION 111
is being conducted on the 20,000 acres of land which have been leased to the
Bunyoro Agricultural Company. Here at the edge of the depopulated zone on
northern Bunyoro, in an area for the fertility and former populousness of which
there is good evidence, a reclamation scheme is proceeding (Fig. 6). Its bound-
aries march with those of the sisal estate on the south-east and it will form a
barrier belt in relation to the potential spread of the tsetse fly; for this insect,
adapted as it is to a light-and-shade environment, is unable to live under the
open conditions of intensively cultivated land. It is true that the spread of the
tsetse fly has resulted in depopulation; but there is a very real sense in which
under-population and under-development provide the invitation to the advance
of this menace.
In its constitution the company provides an interesting combination of public
and private enterprise. Half the share capital is held by Messrs. A. Baumann
and Co. Limited, and the other half by the Protectorate Government, with a
contribution from the African Local Government; and additional loan capital
has been made available by the Government. In the management, too, both
sides are represented, the Department of Agriculture acting as the representa-
tive of Government. It is visualized that the end product of the scheme will be
an area cultivated by the local Africans and in some form or other under their
control. Its significance is as an experiment in the means of combining the
technical skill and organization of estate management with the intensive culti-
vation of the soil which characterizes the system of small holding, thus taking
into account the productivity of the land unit as well as that of the labour unit.
By the end of the 1951 planting season 90 acres had been cleared and were
under crop. In 1952, 260 acres were planted for the first rains and 400 for the
second rains; and the corresponding figures for 1953 were 500 and 620. The
organization of the cleared land is in 20-acre plots, each containing 10 small
fields with grass strips in between for conservation purposes. It is intended that
tobacco shall be the main cash crop, White Stem Orinoco, Yellow Mammoth
and various newer strains being at present planted. In 1953 ten barns were in
operation to cure 150 acres of tobacco. The crop has so far been sold to the East
African Tobacco Company. Experiments are at the same time being made in
the cultivation of a wide variety of other crops, including sunflowers, ground-
nuts, beans, maize, finger millet and sorghum (Fig. 7). The mechanical equip-
ment in 1952 consisted of three Ferguson tractor ploughs and two Massey-Harris
diesel tractors. The European personnel consisted of a manager, an assistant
manager and a builder. Significantly, in a District were labour is undoubtedly
short, there has so far been no difficulty in obtaining labour. A beginning has
been made (in 1953) with the tenant scheme; for under farm supervision a group
of West Nile tenants have planted 20 acres of cotton, whilst a group of Banyoro
have divided the same acreage equally between cotton and tobacco.
One of the arterial roads radiating from Kampala connects Hoima with the
largest town in the Protectorate. At Hoima this road joins that which passes
from south-west to north-east through the District, providing a connexion with
Fort Portal on the one side and across the Atura Ferry with Gulu and Northern
Uganda on the other. The most significant road, however, from the economic
point of view, is that between Masindi Port and Butiaba, in that it forms a link
112 UGANDA JOURNAL
in a through route by rail, lake and road from Kenya and the Coast, branching
after Butiaba to the Eastern Congo and to the Sudan. The latter branch is the
more important for passenger traffic, since it takes the international tourist
traffic of the Nile route and, in another class, provides for the labour move-
ments between the densely peopled West Nile District and the Lake Victoria
zone in which so many economic opportunities are concentrated. There is trade
in commodities with the West Nile District and with the Sudan, sugar, tea,
butter, bacon and timber being among the East African exports to the Sudan.
The Congo branch is a route especially for goods traffic to the Kilo mines,
including imported machinery and implements. The Masindi Port route has
significance for Bunyoro in alleviating the problem of its interior position, by
reducing to the minimum the road haul for some of its rather bulky products. In
so far as this route provides a natural access to Jinja, the contemporary develop-
ment of this town will encourage an increased flow of trade along the route.
There are thus two main axes of settlement, economic development and com-
munications in Bunyoro: one passing from south-west to north-east through the
hill country, and the other traversing Bunyoro from east to west as the means
of communication between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert (Fig. 5). Hoima, the
attractively situated administrative centre of Bunyoro, lies towards the southern
end of the first-named axis. Masindi Town, situated at the intersection of the
two axes, has in these days nodality in relation to a wider area than Hoima; and
it is therefore likely to remain the largest urban centre of Bunyoro.
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON
By G. A. WAINWRIGHT
IT is now many years since Sir Harry Johnston published his book A Com-
parative Study of the Bantu and Semi-Bantu Languages (vol. i, 1919: vol. ii,
1922). In it he made a great collection of vocabularies, classified the words into
groups, and the languages into families, and gave a map of Africa showing the
position of each language. The words for 'iron' of which the diffusion is dis-
cussed in the following pages are taken from him, as is the map (Fig. 1) accom-
Sir Harry shows that there are five main groups of names given to iron by the
Bantu, and a study of his maps shows that they belong to different parts of the
continent. The group studied here is that of -uma, -chuma and -dzuma, which
proves to belong to Bunyoro, Uganda, and the country west, south, and even
east of Lake Victoria with a thin stream down to the east coast opposite Mafia
Island, whence it spreads up and down the coast in Swahili. An offshoot also
keeps along the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika and southwards until it nearly
reaches Lake Nyasa. Here it divides, one portion going west of the lake and the
other east of it as No. 55. This last has been greatly broken up, and scattered so
much further to the east that one part of it has reached the coast.2 However, it
is the other stream with which we are concerned here.
The question is, which way did it go? Did it come up from the coast round
the south of Lake Victoria, and so on up into Buganda until it finally reached
Bunyoro? Or did it come from Bunyoro southwards, and turn eastwards until it
finally reached the coast and came out just opposite Mafia Island? To this
question there can only be one answer, and it is definite. It came from Bunyoro
to the coast.
In Buganda tradition is definite that the iron-industry came to the country
from Bunyoro, and this is in accord with what we know of conditions in recent
and modern times. To begin with, Sir Apolo Kagwa, the late Katikiro of
Buganda, states categorically that the Baganda originally acquired their know-
ledge of smelting from the Banyoro and Banabuddu.3 The Banabuddu are the
people of Buddu, which was subject to Bunyoro until about one hundred and
fifty years ago.4 In this statement Sir Apolo is fully supported by tradition, which
regularly reports the introduction of iron to Buganda from Bunyoro. Thus,
Walukaga, the head of all the blacksmiths of Buganda, came from Bunyoro to
make Kintu's weapons.5 Kimera was born in Bunyoro, whence he sent the first
iron hoes and spears into Buganda. He figures as the great-grandson of Kintu
and became the third king of Buganda.6 Elsewhere this story is told of Kali-
mera,7 who while he was in Bunyoro became the father of Kimera. Similarly a
number of the iron-working clans of Buganda also claim to have originated in
Bunyoro. The Genet clan traces its descent from a certain Luija, who was an
iron-worker living in Bunyoro.8 The Bushbucks go back to the offspring of
the first marriage of Wanyana wife of an early king of Bunyoro.9 The Tailless
Cow clan's progenitor was Katongole, a man who came from Bunyoro.10 More-
114 UGANDA JOURNAL
over, we find that those Baganda living on the Bunyoro border used to pay their
taxes in hoes, for they were well and cheaply made by the Banyoro.11 In fact the
wealth of Singo, the county of Buganda which is only separated from Bunyoro
by the River Kafu, was due to its trade in hoes and salt, as well as in cattle.12 In
the latter part of the nineteenth century iron was still a desirable import into
Buganda from Bunyoro. At that time a prince of Bunyoro promised Mutesa, the
thirtieth king of Buganda, that he would pay a yearly tribute of salt, iron, and
cows, if Mutesa would help him gain the throne.13 In the same way Mutesa's
successor Mwanga, demanded 80 tusks, 600 hoes, and 500 loads of salt from
Kabarega, king of Bunyoro, if he desired peace,14 and from other sources we
hear that pig-iron was at that time an import into Buganda from Bunyoro.'5
In the middle of the eighteenth century a smelter by the name of Kongonge
came from Bunyoro to Mawanda, the twenty-second kind of Buganda, and
was given an estate in Kyagwe.16 The name of the place in Kyagwe where iron
ore used to be dug is a Lunyoro word, Namumira, and the people who dug the
pits were reputed to be more like Banyoro than Baganda.7
Bunyoro is to the north and north-west of Buganda, so that according to
tradition iron-working was established there earlier than it was in Buganda, and
it came thence southwards and eastwards, as indeed it still continues to do.
The southward movement of the iron-industry has been seen in progress from
Bunyoro to Buganda, but it did not stop there but pressed on southwards again,
and then far on to the south-east. South-west of Buganda, Urundi also acquired
a knowledge of it from the north. Urundi lies on the eastern shore of the
northern end of Lake Tanganyika. Here the natives say that the industry came
to them from Kissaka, a region to the north-east.s1 Thus, this account fits in with
the general southward trend of the iron-industry, and the fact that it refers to a
movement as late as the eighteenth century shows that such advance is a per-
manent condition in this part of Africa. While other accounts say nothing about
iron, it may be added that there have been, in recent times at any rate, consider-
able movements of people southwards from Bunyoro and Buganda at least as
far as Ankole. The country was invaded by people from Buganda more than
sixteen reigns ago. Then again, eight reigns ago there was an invasion by the
Banyoro, and four reigns ago by the Baganda, who invaded once more again in
the next reign.'9 About 1780 or somewhat later some Baganda came and settled
in Ankole, and about a century later, in the time of the predecessor of the king
who was reigning in the first years of the present century, a chief and his
followers came from Bunyoro and settled in the same district.20
All of this is nothing new, for in the long ago the semi-mythical Bachwezi
disappeared from Uganda going in a southerly direction, and it now appears
that they were iron-users (See pp. 115-6 infra). Thus, it is evident that the urge
southward has been steady and long-continued. As conquests and migrations
moved in this direction the iron-industry is likely to have done so also whether
brought in this way or by mere culture-creep. Indeed it has just been recorded
that it did so to Urundi which is further to the south again.
It has thus been shown that the iron-industry, and, therefore, no doubt the
name for iron which accompanies it, was ancient in Bunyoro and Buganda,
dating from a time long before any trade with the Arabs on the coast had
Key to Languages.
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 115
reached those countries. In the next paragraphs it will be shown that the Bantu
of the coast used this same native name for iron,21 whereas for the other metals
they acquired Arabic names. In the first place this shows that iron-working on
the coast came down from the interior. In the second place it shows that it was
well-established on the coast and no doubt had been from very early days,
seeing that neither the Arabic hadid nor the earlier Himyaritic frzn have been
able to displace the word.
The coastal languages, Nos. 21-21g, all maintain the -uma of the interior as
the name for iron and it has even crossed into the Comoro Islands as No. 22.
Even Swahili, which has been so heavily impregnated with Arabic, still calls
iron -uma. On the other hand its names for the other metals are Arabic. Thus,
lead is risasi= Arabic rasas, gold is zahabu= Arabic zahab, silver is feza=
Arabic feddah.22 These are all the regular words in Arabic, but the Swahili for
copper and brass is most peculiar. It is shaba, and Velten shows it as a foreign
word, but gives no indication as to whence it came.23 But like the others it also
proves to be derived from Arabic; not however from the usual word nahds which
serves for both these metals but from a very rare word shabah. 24 Thus, with the
one exception of iron, none of the names of metals in Swahili is native, but all
are imported. As the Bantu of the coast did not borrow any word for iron, one
must presume that they had brought their own knowledge of the metal with
them from the interior.25
The word -uma and the iron-industry which it represents must have arrived
on the coast at an early date and have become well known there. Otherwise the
natives would have come to learn of iron from the Arabs and in that case they
would have called the new material by its Arabic name. This they did not.
For the time of this arrival we have at least a terminus ante quem, for we
know that Bantu was already widely spoken on the coast at least by the begin-
ning of the tenth century A.D. The Arab author, Mas'udi, was there soon after
A.D. 916,26 and on several occasions he records good Bantu words as being used
as far south as Sofala.27 Thus, he says that flimi is the title given by the Zeng to
their kings.28 This is the well-known Bantu word falume 'chief' which is used in
Swahili and its dialects up and down the coast today.29 He also says that 'They
give to God the name of Mklnglw',30 which could be vocalized as Mkulu-ngulu.
Even a few years before that the name had been recorded a lmklwglw by
al-Hamadani in A.D. 902.31 Even the second of these is not too bad a reproduc-
tion, while Mkulu-ngulu is a perfect one, of a word which is still widespread in
South Africa as the name of God, i.e. Zulu U-nkulu-nkulu.32 To this we may
add that Uhikulu-fikulu is also used by the Swazi now living inland from
Lourengo Marques, and further north again Nufigufi-gulu is used by the
Shengwe between Inhambane and Sofala.3 Hence, seeing that these Bantu
words were already established far down the coast by the beginning of the
tenth century A.D., we may presume that -uma was also, and hence the iron
industry as well.34
. While at present we have no material evidence of iron on the coast as early as
the tenth century A.D., we are now beginning to approach that date in Uganda.
At the African History Conference held in London in July 1953, the Rev. G.
Mathew made an important announcement. It was that he and Mr. Lanning had
116 UGANDA JOURNAL
found iron objects at sites in western Uganda which are traditionally associated
with the Bachwezi.5 This dynasty Dr. R. A. Oliver at the same Conference puts
at least to the thirteenth century but possibly much earlier.
All of this is long before the Arabs from the coast entered the country of the
Great Lakes. In the early part of the nineteenth century Semakokiro received
some cotton goods and cowries which came from Mombasa. At that time
cowries were so rare in Uganda that two of them would buy a woman. By Suna's
reign, and therefore about the 1850's, they had so depreciated in value that it
cost 2500 to buy one cow, and it took four or five cows to buy one woman slave.36
Yet, even so, the trade was so infinitesimal that when Grant was in Bunyoro in
1862 cloth had not even then reached that country and only a few beads had
just been received, and those not from the coast but from the Nile traders.37
Crabtree says that Uganda's dealings with the coast have always been via the
west and south of the Lake Victoria,38 hence it is noteworthy that this is the
route by which the word -uma moved. Moreover, it is opposite Mafia Island
that the word -uma touches the coast. Hence, it is significant that of this island
it is said that it has no direct connection with the up-country trade routes.39
Therefore, -uma did not start its journey from there. Similarly, at the African
History Conference Dr. R. A. Oliver remarked on the astonishing fact that
before the nineteenth century the influence of the coastal settlements would
seem to have been almost negligible upon the people of the interior. Incredible
as it may seem, it looks as though the twenty or thirty Arab towns of the coast
were almost sufficient unto themselves. Therefore they, like Mafia Island, would
not have sent -uma and the iron-industry up country.
However, it is evident, as Dr. Oliver went on to say, that a certain measure of
Indonesian influence did make itself felt in the interior at some time in the fairly
distant past. It is observable in the sewn canoes of Lake Victoria, in the flat-bar
zither of the Lake regions, and in the double-spiralled ear-pendants and even
sometimes the physical appearance of the Wanyaturu,40 and now apparently in
the name for copper and brass in Uganda, sambu, which is very like the Kanarese
chambu of south, India (see note 23, post). Moreover, at the same Conference
Mathew said that he had found a cylindrical glass bead in opaque Indian red
over a clear green transparent core in the Bachwezi site at Bigo in western
Uganda (cp. p. 191 post).
But still, in spite of these intrusions the iron-industry would not have come
with them. If it had, it would have brought the Indonesian pump-bellows, as it
did to Madagascar.41 This it did not, but on the contrary it brought the bowl-
bellows of ancient Egypt and the interior of the continent, nor did it bring the
Indonesian name for iron as it did to Madagascar.42 Moreover, as has been seen,
tradition is unanimous, and is supported by other evidence, that the industry
came to Buganda from the north, not from the south-east.
For the sake of completeness the appearance of the word -uma for iron in
Congoland must be considered, though it is outside the main argument. It is a
nineteenth century phenomenon.
Quite recently Swahili, and in some places the word -uma with it, has been
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 117
carried deep into central Africa as the lingua franca or trade language. It now
bids fair to become the dominant language of trade and intercourse throughout
all central Africa from ocean to ocean between the Zambezi on the south and
the Sudanese and Nilotic language frontiers on the north.43 This originated with
the activities of the Zanzibari slave-raiders in the latter half of the nineteenth
century. Their centre and fortress in Congoland was at Nyangwe on the Lualaba
River, i.e. the upper course of the Congo itself.44 In the first place it is round
about this town that the Swahili -uma is used by languages Nos. 140 and 143.
The best known of these slavers, Tippu Tib, pushed forward from Nyangwe
and established himself at Kisangani (Stanleyville), whence he laid waste the
country as far as the lower Aruwimi, and his people went on to the Rubi River
and even to the Wele and Bomokandi.45 If the word -uha in No. 157 should
really be a form of -uma, this would be how the word was brought to the mouth
of the Aruwimi along which river Swahili is known to be ousting the native
speech.46 Further into Congoland the word has been accepted as -goma by the
Lolo or Mongo dialects, No. 162.
POSSIBLE ROUTES BY WHICH THE IRON-INDUSTRY COULD HAVE REACHED
To finish the story some remarks may be ventured on the remoter movements
of the iron-industry and the route by which it is likely to have reached Bunyoro,
though here we are much more in the region of speculation (Fig. 2). As has
already been seen on pp. 113-4 it reached Buganda from Bunyoro, for all
tradition is definite on that point and is supported by other evidence. But the
question is, how did it reach Bunyoro? Did it come from the north-west or
from the north-east?
In either case it would have originated from Meroe, which was the centre of a
vast iron-industry leaving prodigious mounds of slag and refuse. A full account
of them has been given in my article Iron in the Napatan and Meroitic Ages in
Sudan Notes and Records, 26 (1945), pp. 19, 20, 22-4. Here it will suffice to
say that the natural mounds surrounding the city were covered with the refuse
of iron-smelting to a depth of about a metre, and that at least one of them was
large enough for the Lion Temple to be built on top of it. This temple was of
early Meroitic date, that is to say sometime after 300 B.C. Smelting had been
going on before then, for Arkell and Lucas found lumps of the slag used in the
rubble filling of the temple walls. They also found lumps in the core of at least
one pyramid in the Western Cemetery. Hence, such being the conditions at
Meroe, it is clear that people who were within reach of the Meroitic culture
would have been in a position to acquire the art of smelting and working iron.
THE POSSIBLE NORTH-WESTERN ROUTE
In considering the southward spread of the iron-industry, and indeed of much
civilization, the great site of Gebel Moya takes an important place. It lies nearly
half-way from the Blue Nile across to the White Nile in the latitude of Sennar
and El Obeid. It was a most important place, but unfortunately the so-called
'excavation' there was an archaeological disaster. However, a painstaking study
Illustrating possible routes by which iron-industry could have reached Bunyoro.
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 119
of those finds that still survive suggests that the site must have been of the
Napatan or pre-Meroitic Age and have been abandoned before the beginning
of the Meroitic Period, i.e. before 300 B.C.47. Iron in comparative abundance
came into use there in the latter part of the occupation,48 and the wearing of
lip-studs was common throughout the period.49 Both the iron-industry and the
use of these strange adornments50 are still found among the Nuba living in their
hills in southern Kordofan, and these people may be regarded as the aborigines
of that country.5" Hence, it is of extreme interest to learn that people of the
same physical type as these Nuba were already living at Gebel Moya in the
remote period of its occupation.52 Thus, as the lip-studs reached the Nuba of
southern Kordofan from this direction, there can be no doubt that at least the
use of iron also would have become known to them.
At the end of Meroitic history we hear of the Nuba by name, though not in
Kordofan but east of the Nile just as there had been Nuba-like people in Gebel
Moya days. At this later time they were occupying the whole country from the
Nile to the Atbara at least as far north as the junction of these two rivers.5 It
was the truculence of the Noba, as they were by that time called, which brought
on the invasion of the Meroitic lands by Aeizana of Aksum and the final destruc-
tion of Merod about A.D. 350. Hence, Nuba-like people, or in later times definitely
Noba, had been in contact with the iron-working Meroites during the whole of
the history of these latter people and even with their predecessors. Certain mem-
bers of the Noba tribes, therefore, had had every opportunity of learning the
blacksmith's trade, and it may have been by their means that it filtered through
to the homeland in southern Kordofan.
Whether the Nuba did or did not bring back the iron-industry, they learned
and brought back the habit of wearing lip-studs54 which had been common
throughout all periods at Gebel Moya.55 Almost certainly another custom was
brought from there to the Nuba Mountains. This was bracelet-fighting, one man
at Gebel Moya having worn one of these weapons on each wrist.56 The bracelet
had a knife edge encircling the whole wrist and was made of iron, as among the
Nilotes and Nilo-Hamites today. In the Nuba Mountains of southern Kordofan,
however, the weapon today is somewhat different being of heavy brass, concave
on the outside and hence with two cutting edges and besides this it is only
attached to the inner side of the left wrist.57
On the other hand, if the art of iron-working was not brought to Kordofan by
the Nuba themselves, it would almost certainly have been introduced by the
Meroites, for we cannot but suppose that some of the population would have
fled away south-west from the destruction of their homelands. This would have
taken them far from the invader who came up from the south-east and who
pursued the fugitives northward down the Nile. Kordofan was by no means a
terra incognita in Meroitic days, though what few suggestions we get about it
are mostly warlike.58
Apropos of this it seems pretty certain that it was still further to the west that
there were 'white men',59 one of whom imparted the knowledge of the iron-
industry to a mulatto.60 This iron industry was evidently worked with the bowl-
bellows of ancient Egypt; for the Bushongo, the tribe from whose traditions the
information comes, still use this type. The Bushongo show signs of having
120 UGANDA JOURNAL
started out originally from south of Lake Chad,61 and, if we may trust their
king-list the revelation of the art of iron-working would have been made about
A.D. 510,62 that is some one hundred and sixty years after the destruction of
Kordofan away to the south-west offered every inducement to an iron-work-
ing people such as were the Meroites, for, in the northern part of the country at
any rate, good quality iron-ore is everywhere to be found a few feet under the
overlying sand63, and there are even hills of iron oxide.64 Also there are quanti-
ties of nodules of sandy ironstone, which would perhaps be more useful to the
early iron-workers.65 Further south the plain south of Dar Nuba consists of
black soil overlying the sponge-like ironstone characteristic of so much of the
basin of the Bahr el Ghazal.66 So great are the opportunities that at the beginning
of the nineteenth century Muhammad Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, had great hopes
of developing a large scale industry there.67
Certainly the ancient Egyptian bowl-bellows reached Kordofan, for they were
still used there in 1837 when Russegger visited the country,68 but there, as in so
many other places, the bag-bellows are encroaching on them69 and perhaps have
long ago superseded them.
Most of this is to the north of the present day Nuba Hills in southern Kordo-
fan, but there is evidence that before the fearful experiences of the nineteenth
century the Nuba were by no means confined to their hills, as they are today,
but had been prosperous and had occupied wide tracts of the country, as they
say, even as far as Halfa.70 Yet even today they still carry on the iron-industry
on their hills, Lafofa and Kurondi being mentioned. The second of these is
probably the most important centre and it exports a considerable amount of
iron to the neighboring hills.71
All of the foregoing is by way of introduction, and we now come to its possible
bearing on the coming of iron to Bunyoro and thence to Buganda. It is that the
Seligmans find evidence of an advance south-eastwards right across the country
of peoples who are physically and to some extent culturally like the Nuba.72
It is surely significant that the advance came along the edge of the ironstone
plateau,73 where iron ore could be found in plenty by people requiring it. One
of the above-mentioned cultural influences is presumably that of wearing lip-
studs.74 On the west of the Nile the Bongo, Kuku and those Bari who live on
that side of the river all wear the lip-stud75 of the iron-working Nuba and of
Gebel Moya where iron was also worked. This south-eastward movement has
profoundly modified the cultural life and physical appearance of such tribes
as the Bari-speaking peoples and Lugbara on the west of the Nile, and of the
Madi, Acholi, Lango and Lokoiya on the east of the river.76 With the exception
of the Bongo who now live far away to the north-west, these are tribes all living
round the northern borders of Bunyoro and Buganda. Again on the east of the
river the smiths of the true Bari are of a different stock from the aristocracy, and
though they are not exactly dupi (serfs), this latter submerged class seemed to
the Seligmans to resemble the Nuba of southern Kordofan.77
Thus, the suggestion is that the Nuba of Kordofan had long been in contact
with Mero8 the great centre of iron-working; that iron-working was carried
thence to southern Kordofan whether by the Nuba themselves, or perhaps more
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 121
probably by refugees from the overwhelming of the Meroitic lands about
A.D. 350; that thence in good time migrations no doubt bringing the iron-industry
with them set in from Kordofan or even from further west78 south-eastwards
reaching at last to the very borders of Bunyoro, whence the industry moved down
Finally, it should be added that Mrs. Trowell has also thought of migrations
from the west and among such contacts as these would have brought, she
includes the art of iron-working.79 At the present time the Ndo (Okebo) provide
an example of blacksmiths who have been working their way east-wards. Rela-
tives of this tribe are smiths of the Lendu and Alur, their neighbours to the
south-east. These people live on the western bank of Lake Albert and are,
therefore, only just across the water from Bunyoro.80 Further to the north, in the
Bahr el Ghazal, we get similar movements towards the east. At present living
round Dem Zubeir the Bviri are iron-workers who originally came from the
west.81 Much better known are the Bongo who were famous smiths. They seem
to have been driven from the Bomokandi River in the south northwards to the
Tonj district where they now exist in scattered pockets. The cause of their
migration seems to have been invasions coming from the north-west some three
or four centuries ago.82 Returning to migrations in the Uganda neighbourhood
we find that in considering the Bahima Crabtree envisages eastward movements
and thinks of these people as not being Hamites, i.e. eastern Hamites, which is
the usual opinion, but as having come from the north-west and as having been
related to such people as the Fula of West Africa.83 The Fula themselves have a
Hamitic strain in them. In Ruanda the Batusi-Bahima claim that they brought
the iron-industry with them, and that it was they who taught it to the aboriginal
Bahutu who have since done the work for them.84 In recent times of course the
Azande had been pushing eastward until their advance was stopped by the com-
ing of the Khartoumers and finally of the Europeans.
Thus, it seems a reasonable belief that the iron-industry reached Bunyoro
from the north-west, starting out originally from Merod, and coming round via
Kordofan or perhaps from even further to the west.
THE POSSIBLE NORTH-EASTERN ROUTE
The possibilities of the iron-industry having reached Bunyoro from the north-
west have been canvassed in the previous pages, and there seems much to be said
for this hypothesis. Another route is, however, possible, that is from the north-
east. We have much information of southward movements coming from this
direction, but they all concern the present dominant classes and all belong to
recent centuries, though in some cases they bring very ancient customs. That
our information only concerns the upper classes and is late does not necessarily
mean that iron-workers did not come this way too, and if they did it would have
been at an earlier time. But unfortunately unless the dominant classes were also
smiths we have no information about the movements of such people. Nonethe-
less in the following pages such information as we have is set out.
In Bunyoro and Buganda the great founder of empire and originator of civil-
ization and history, Kintu himself, is regularly said to have come from the
north, and indeed one account makes him cross the Nile into Bunyoro at
122 UGANDA JOURNAL
Foweira.85 This would bring him from the north-east. Again, the Bachwezi are
likewise said to have come from the north-east.86 Then we have the Lango who
now live on the north-east of Bunyoro and Buganda. Of them Tarantino says that
it seems fairly certain that the original tribe came from Abyssinia, from the
Kaffa country north of Lake Rudolf.87 Hence, they also would have arrived from
the north-east. As has just been stated, the Bahima and Batusi are generally
considered to be eastern Hamites and to have originated from somewhere to
the north-east, though another opinion would bring them from the north-west.
The Didinga live on the south-eastern border of the Sudan, next the Lotuko
and Acholi. Some of their tribes still live in Abyssinia and are recognized as
relatives by the Didinga of the Sudan.88 The Masai to the south, the Bari and
Lotuko to the north and the Uganda Lango to the west all agree, each in their
own legends, that they originated from somewhere to the north of Lake
There has thus been much contact between Bunyoro and Buganda, and that
region and its peoples and therefore influences, from the direction of the Kaffa
countries north of Lake Rudolf. Hence, there has been plenty of opportunitity
for civilization to have moved out south-westwards whether it came by mere
culture-creep or was brought by migrants. In fact one constituent of the civiliza-
tion of Buganda, the banana, almost certainly came more or less from that
direction.90 If the banana came thence, the iron-industry could also have come
from there, and it is quite possible that it should have done so, though admittedly
we have singularly little evidence for such a move. Certainly it was not Kintu
who brought the iron-industry, for, though he is said to have brought the
banana,91 nothing is said of his bringing iron. In fact Roscoe says that there can
be no doubt that the industry existed in Buganda long before his time.92
The history of the Kaffa countries carries us back further north, for that is
where the ruling classes came from, Lower Amhara as they express it,93 in
other words from the lowlands of western Abyssinia. That is to say they have
come up the Didessa River, a southern tributary of the upper Blue Nile, which
leads direct into the heart of this area. On the Blue Nile such people would have
been within reach of the far south-eastern extension of the Meroitic culture area.
At present only a few southern extensions of the Meroitic culture have been
found, but no doubt as time goes on more will become known. Thus, Soba on
the Blue Nile about 14 miles south-east of Khartoum was a Meroitic centre,94
as was Gebel Geili about 90 miles due east of Khartoum.95 Much further south
up the Blue Nile we come to Sennar which was evidently already an important
place in antiquity. It is probable that there was a settlement there as early as the
Napatan Period, for 'Gebel Moya' potsherds have been found there and also a
fine scarab of Shabako, 716-701 B.C.96 At a much later date there was a Meroitic
cemetery there dating to the turn of our era on the east bank of the river, and on
the other bank near the same place a grave was found dating to the fourth or
fifth centuries A.D., when Mero8 was breaking, or had broken, up.97 Further up
the river again a settlement of the mid-Meroitic Period existed at Begawi some
fifty miles or so north of Roseires98 where we begin to approach the Fazoqli
neighbourhood. It is round about Fazoqli that there are the gold-washings, and
these may have helped to draw the Meroites southwards. They have been an
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 123
important lure throughout the centuries,99 and it was no doubt through their
attraction that the banana was brought inland from the Red Sea coast.
Back in the Sennar latitude there was the most important site of Gebel Moya,
which has already figured in the discussion of the Nuba. Here there were
observed customs that still persist in the south today not only among the Nuba
on the west but among others to the east. It has already been remarked (on p. 119)
that at Gebel Moya the wearing of lip-studs had been common throughout the
whole period of occupation. Besides the Nuba in Kordofan and others to the
west of the Nile Addison lists the following tribes as still wearing these adorn-
ments; the Acholi, Anuak, Berri who are racially akin to the Anuak, Didinga, all
on the east of the Bahr el Gebel.100 To these we may add that the Didoans,
neighbours of the Acholi also wear them.101 In the north-eastern corner of the
Uganda Protectorate north of Lake Kyoga lip-studs are also worn by the
Labwar, Karamojong, Dodoth, Jie and Andorobo.102 Also in the 60's of last
century the wearing of the lip-stud was the fashion among the Lotuko women,
again to the east of the Bahr el Gebel,103 as it still is among some women of the
Toposa'04 further to the east towards the northern end of Lake Rudolf. At the
end of last century the stud was also worn by the Bantu Tiriki1'0 in eastern
Uganda between Kavirondo Bay and the Lukds River. In this last case we get
the important information that the fashion was introduced from the north, from
the direction of Lake Rudolf.106 On the road to the south-west, though hardly
on the way to Lake Rudolf, the lip-stud is worn by the Koma on the River Daga.
It is of iron and the people claim to be Burun, and to have lived until very
recently on the River Yabous some 50 miles north of their present country and
even further to the north-east.107
Another very definite survival from Gebel Moya days is the fighting bracelet
of the 'circular wrist-knife or Turkana type'. This has become wide-spread
among, and at the same time peculiar to, the Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic peoples.s08
At Gebel Moya one man was found who was wearing one of these circular
wrist-knives on each wrist.109
Still further to the south there live another people who, as noted above,
claim to have come from north of Lake Rudolf. They are the Masai, and they
preserve an extraordinary number of customs from the remote antiquity of the
extreme far north.
In the first place the Masai practise a peculiar form of circumcision. This is
to be seen on one of the proto-dynastic palettes of Egypt and again on the
obverse of the great palette of Narmer the founder of the Egyptian dynasties,110
and therefore dating to about 3000 B.c. or earlier. In both cases the Masai method
is seen as having been practised by peoples conquered by the early Egyptians,
and with much reason Seligman supposes that they would have been Hamito-
negroids such as the modern dwellers in the eastern desert and Eritrea.
Next, the Masai and those neighboring tribes who have come under their
influence wear a peculiar bracelet or arm-clamp. Mostly they are greatly
elaborated from a simple form which is also still worn today."' It was
about the Second or Third Dynasty, and therefore about 2800 B.c., that a man
wearing a pair of these simple type arm-clamps, one on each arm, was buried at
Shellal near Aswan at the northern end of the First Cataract. The skeleton is
124 UGANDA JOURNAL
described as being negroid.112 As no other arm-clamps of this type have yet been
found in the well-excavated Nile Valley, it seems evident that this man was a
visitor from elsewhere, and in all probability, as will be seen in the next lines,
from Pwene.t (Punt). That was the Eritrean and north Somali coastlands,11
and hence the man would have been of the same type as the others just men-
tioned. Coming down later into the Fifth Dynasty, c. 2500 B.C., we are shown
Sahure smiting his enemies, Asiatics, Libyans easily recognizable by their dress,
and others whose costumes suggest that they came from Pwene.t (Punt), and
indeed we know that Sahure sent an expedition to that country.114 In one scene
the man is shown wearing one of the original simple arm-clamps on each arm
and in the other the man only wears one on his left arm.115 Four reigns later
Neuserr6 shows a captive with the same arm-clamp."6. These early Puntites also
wear appendages to their hair which Frankfort shows are no doubt the pigtails
of the modern Masai warrior.117 Besides this the Masai and their neighbours,
the Wa-Chagga, preserve a scrap of Egyptian science. It is that they begin the
month at dawn on the morning that the old crescent of the moon is no longer
visible in the sunrise."' This is the ancient Egyptian method of reckoning."'
It differs from that of the Arabs, for they reckon from the evening that the new
moon becomes visible in the sunset.120
We may indeed believe the traditions of the Masai which say that they came
from north of Lake Rudolf, though it can hardly be supposed that they enshrine
a knowledge of a past as ancient as it proves to be. The remote ancestors of the
tribe clearly acquired their civilization several millenia ago in the deserts of
Eritrea or northern Somaliland.
Thus, we find survivals from the distant north such as the calendar, a curious
arm-clamp, a peculiar form of circumcision and method of hairdressing, the lip-
studs and wrist-knife as far south as eastern Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro; and
the extension of the Meroitic culture up the Blue Nile and with it no doubt the
iron-industry. We also find that in more recent times at any rate people have
been accustomed to migrate southwards from the countries of the Blue Nile at
least to Kaffa near the River Omo on the north of Lake Rudolf. Moreover, we
find that it is through these countries on the north of Lake Rudolf that the
ancient survival of the lip-stud is said to have reached eastern Uganda. Yet
again, it was via the Fazoqli country on the Blue Nile that the banana no doubt
reached Uganda far away to the south-west. In view of all this it seems highly
probable that it would have been by some variety of this southerly or south-
westerly route that, among other survivals, the iron-industry could also have
worked its way southwards coming ultimately from the great iron-working
centre of Meroe. Certainly those Burun who live on the River Yabous not far
from Fazoqli not only work iron today but apparently export it.121 This, how-
ever, may be a modem development, for the people of this district have regularly
bought iron from their neighbours wherever it was offered. In the sixth century
A.D. they bought it from the merchants who came to them from Adulis and
Aksum.122 Again we hear that in the late eighteenth century they bought it not
only from the Agau in south-western Abyssinia to the east of them, but also in
the market at Guba apparently to the north-west.123 In the early years of the
nineteenth century Sennar was also importing iron, and this came from Kor-
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 125
dofan.124 But the above-mentioned Burun are Negroes, and we have been using
the history of Kaffa in trying to elucidate the possible movement of the iron-
industry. The Kafficho are not Negroes but Cushitic Hamites, hence it is of
importance that the Agau, who also belong to this general stock, were working
and exporting iron in the late eighteenth century. They live in south-western
Abyssinia which is Lower Amhara where the Kafficho say they came from. Iron
is worked in Kaffa, though whether by these immigrants or perhaps more
probably by the subjected people we are not in a position to say.125 In Karamoja
north of and north-east of Lake Kyoga a south-westerly migration of people is
said to have taken place from the region of Abyssinia into Uganda. During a
sojourn in Buddu these people are said to have constructed those remarkable
earthworks known as Biggo Bya Mugenyi 'The Stranger's Fort'.126 As was seen
on pp. 115-6 these prove to have been made by iron-users and to be traditionally
associated with the Bachwezi. Their king Ndahura is said to have ruled as far
east as the borders of Abyssinia.127 Moreover, it seems probable that their name,
Bachwezi, is derived from the Ethiopic word chewa 'a soldier'.128 Certainly they
are described as pale people.
Yet again, migrations such as those which are known to have taken place
would have forced out other migrations still further away to the south, south-
west and west, bringing with them what culture the migrants possessed. Actually
we have found that in recent centuries at any rate a number of tribes have moved
out in these directions, and, if in recent centuries, no doubt in still earlier ones.129
Such movements, or it may have been mere culture-creep along these routes,
could have spread the iron-industry abroad.
Certainly it is important to note that the smiths of a number of tribes who
have come from the country north of Lake Rudolf, the Bari,130 Lotuko,131 and
Masai,t32 and the smiths of the Banyoro133 and Baganda134 if indeed they
originated from that direction, all use the bowl-bellows of ancient Egypt,135 not
the bag-bellows of the coast,136 though the Masai use the latter as well."37 Their
relatives and neighbours, the Nandi, also use the bowl-bellows and their tradi-
tions bring them from the north, i.e. from north of Mount Elgon and apparently
at a fairly remote period though it was not they who brought the iron-industry.
Their present country had once been inhabited by a much more advanced
people.138 Relics of this race are found in Nandi and on the Uasin Gishu Plateau
and consist of canals and graded roads carried on embankments and through
cuttings and according to tradition these works were made by 'a tall, "red"
people who came from the north',139 further to the south there are large numbers
of such works in Tanganyika including terracing for cultivation.140 Can it be
that the single smith of whom we hear in the next paragraph but one, and hence
perhaps the bowl-bellows, was one of the last of this vanished race? But on the
other hand as indicated on p. 120 the use of these bowl-bellows, at least in some
cases, may originally have been introduced from the north-west, whence they
may have pushed through as far east as the Nandi and Masai country.
In deriving the iron-industry of these tribes ultimately from Mero6 there are
two lacunae in the chain of argument, though they are probably not serious. In
the first place Arkell and Lucas were unable to find signs of any sort of bellows,
either the ancient Egyptian bowl or the Arab bag type, in the mounds of refuse
126 UGANDA JOURNAL
from iron-smelting at that site.141 Yet again, if we are to derive the iron-industry
of Bunyoro and Buganda from somewhere in the general direction of Kaffa and
its neighbourhood, it must be observed that in that country the smiths today
use the coastal bag-bellows,142 and not the bowl-bellows of the above-mentioned
tribes and of ancient Egypt. This is not surprising seeing that the bag-bellows
have encroached from the coast over all this area. But still even today Frobenius
and von Wilm's map shows that they have not yet pushed back the frontier of
the bowl-bellows much beyond Kaffa, for this country is still only just within
the area of the bag-bellows.143 Moreover, it is probably important to note that
the language of Kaffa has two words for 'bellows'. One is mondfo which is the
imported Amharic monaf or menaffia, and the other is kali gi.o, evidently a
native name.144 It would be valuable to know whether this last is, or used to be,
the name of the other type, the bowl-bellows.
However, the movements of peoples which have just been quoted can only be
taken as indications of the general trend of civilization, for we encounter yet
another difficulty, and one that has been noted earlier in these pages. It is the
question of the users of the bellows. Generally it is not the classes of whose
origins we hear in the traditions but some servile class, and it is not often that
we hear of their origins. For instance, among the Masai the smiths are a
despised class145 and apparently foreigners by origin, for according to tradition
the original smith came to the Masai and married a Masai girl.146 A curious state
of affairs obtains among the Nandi. In the old days there is said to have been
only one smith in the whole country, and the people had to buy many of their
implements from neighboring tribes. Then a number of Uasin Gishu Masai
lost their cattle and migrated to the Nandi, where the smith taught them his
trade and now each clan has its own smiths who are descendants of the Uasin
Gishu Masai.147 They use the bowl-bellows like those of the Masai smiths,148
but as they learned their trade from the single surviving smith of the Nandi, this
was presumably the type that he had been using before their arrival.Was the
single smith the last survivor of the more advanced predecessors of the Nandi
as suggested in the previous paragraphs? Or was he some iron-worker, ultim-
ately from the distant west, who had pushed eastwards as far as this? As with
the Masai, so among the Bari, the smiths are a semi-servile class sometimes
included among the dupi (serfs), and they are no doubt descendants of an earlier
people subdued by the incoming aristocracy.149 Yet among the related and
neighboring Lotuko and Lokoiya there are no dupi,150 but the smiths were of
Bari, hence probably of dupi, origin."5'
Among the Lango there is no iron-working. To make spearheads they used to
buy iron from the Palwo and now from the local shop, and beat it into
shape.152 Until very recently they had no other weapons with which to fight than
whips and wooden clubs.153 Though iron has been worked at one time in the
country of the Didinga, today these people are ignorant of metallurgy, and buy
all their iron weapons and implements from their neighbours, the Nipore.'54
On the whole it is remarkable how the present-day tribes east of Uganda seem
to be without an iron-industry themselves and to be dependent either on immi-
grant smiths working among them or on their iron-working neighbours.
While we do not know much about the origins of the smiths in so many cases,
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 127
we do know that the bowl-bellows in Buganda would have been brought by
those clans who use them and that they came from Bunyoro.
The study of the possible north-eastern route for the entry of the iron-industry
to Bunyoro has become one of the early history of migrations, influences and
survivals, but scarcely of the introduction of the industry. It was certainly not
the present dominant races on the east and north-east of Buganda who brought
it southwards. But there are indications that at an earlier period than their
arrival the iron-industry may have been brought to Bunyoro and Buganda from
the north-east. Such bringers might have been the Bachwezi and, if they came
from that direction, the Bahima-Batusi also. In fact there are the material
remains of such an iron-industry just over the far north-eastern frontier of the
Uganda Protectorate. Here in the Didinga country are old slag heaps of which
the present inhabitants of the country know nothing but merely say that they
are the work of some bygone people. On this far north-eastern frontier these
former iron-workers were a long way on the road from such places as the Kaffa
lands towards Bunyoro.1ss
The present inhabitants of the regions north and north-east of Buganda are,
or were originally, nomad pastoralists, idle, and quite incapable of settling
down to work such as the smelting and smithing of iron.156 The history of these
peoples does, however, show the direction in which so many cultural details
were brought to their part of Africa, and the details themselves prove to date
back to various periods of the antiquity of the eastern Egyptian deserts, of
Egypt itself, and of Egypt's successor, the iron-working Meroitic Empire. Some
of the customs originate in almost the remotest antiquity of which we have
knowledge, but from whatever age they come they do not include the iron-
The smelting and working of iron is done for these tribes by others, and all
these iron-workers use the bowl-bellows of ancient Egypt and central Africa,
though in the case of the Masai the bag-bellows are beginning to creep in. The
question thus resolves itself into this: whence did these others come? Did they
come by the north-western route and finally push through as far as these tribes
on the east? Or did they come straight down from the fringe of Meroitic influ-
ence in the Blue Nile regions and Lower Amhara on the north of Lake Rudolf
like the others of whom we hear?
There is yet another movement of peoples which must have brought the iron-
industry into these eastern lands, though it is unlikely that it affected Bunyoro
away to the west. This is the advance of the highly civilized race which has now
vanished, but which once inhabited a great part of the area east of Buganda. Like
the others whose movements we have been able to trace, these people also
came from the north, but unlike them one can hardly think that they were
ignorant of iron seeing the great works they carried out. Certainly they would
have been nearer in time to the coming of iron to Bunyoro. But in their case
also we encounter a problem, which is again the country of their original home.
Did they come from the Kaffa lands? But when considering early civilization so
far to the east as all this the possibility cannot be overlooked that a civilized
128 UGANDA JOURNAL
people may have come from, or at least have been influenced by, south-western
Arabia. Such immigrants would have reached Kenya and Tanganyika from
north of Lake Rudolf, but from east of the River Omo and Kaffa, and would
have passed east of the lake, not west of it. One of their roads runs north and
south and has been traced as far north as Nairobi,157 and large numbers of deep
wells have been sunk still further away to the north-east."58 All this would seem
to point onwards towards the south-eastern side of the Abyssinian highlands.
It has already been shown that Galla-speakers from that region, the neighbour-
hood of Harar'59 and Sidamo, did push southwards even as far as Southern
Rhodesia. This was before the tenth century A.D. and they were iron-users and
iron-smelters. They were also responsible for large works.160 In Kenya and
Tanganyika the vanished race constructed irrigation canals as did the Sabaeans,
and terraced the hills for cultivation as in the Yemen. But, if they came from
Arabia, it is unlikely that they would have brought the bowl-bellows.
With the exception of the Banyoro and Baganda smiths the Bachwezi and
Batusi and the vanished race all the above-mentioned peoples arrived in their
present territories comparatively recently. It should be noted that it was a
practising smith who brought the industry to the Masai, and in the case of the
Nandi there is the suggestion that the iron-industry was being carried on by an
earlier people, as it had been in the country now occupied by the Didinga. We
hear of this state of affairs again elsewhere, for tradition says that when Nyikang
and his Shilluks reached the Bahr el Zeraf in the sixteenth century they found
that the aborigines were already working iron, and they heard the tongg, tong,
tong' of their hammers and anvils. Still today the occupants of the small hills
there, who are the descendants of these pre-Shilluk people are called by a name
formed on bodh, a word meaning 'smith'.161 But we have no information as to
whence the art reached them. Did it come due south from the Nuba Hills? Or
did it come straight up the White Nile?162 Or did these people, like the others
on the east of the Nile and the Shilluk themselves, move in from somewhere
away to the east and therefore originally from somewhere near Lower Amhara
and the Blue Nile and River Omo countries, whence the Sobat leads in the
direction of their present neighbourhood? Or yet again, did they come from the
west whence there has been so much movement? In any case, whichever way
the iron-industry reached the Zeraf Hills it is hardly likely that it would have
been from there that it moved down into Bunyoro. Nevertheless people, and
hence cultures, have come south along the banks of the Nile, as for instance
have the Acholi.163 At present the pre-Shilluk people are mainly of interest here
in giving an indication of a date before which the industry had been established
in at least one corner of north-eastern central Africa. The type of bellows they
use, whether bowl or bag, is not stated.164 Moreover, there seems to be a valu-
able implication in the story that the Shilluk noticed the tongg, tong, tong' of the
hammers and anvils. Their not only noticing it but remembering it as one of
the incidents of their migration would suggest that they had not been used to
iron-workers before they arrived in that country.
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 129
1 See vol. ii, pp. 330, 331 for the list of words and the numbers given to their languages;
pp. 2ff for the names of the languages; the end of the volume for the map.
-goma 162; -oma 1 2 2a 2c 2d, -dzoma 2e, -oma 2 f-g, -chuma, -uma 3, -dluma 3b, -uma
4 5, -chuma 5b, -uma 6 6a 7, -oma 7a 8 (1), -uma 9 9b-c 10, -oma 9a, -uma 14 15 16 20d
21-21g 22 23 23a 24 24c-g 25 39, -chuma 48 52 55, -yuma 56 56a, -uma 140 143, -oma 147,
-uha 157; -somo 19.
The languages to which the numbers refer are: 1 Olu-konjo; 2 Urunyoro; 2a Rugungu;
2c Urutoro (Rusongora, Ruiro, etc.); 2d Oruhima; 2e Urukaragwe; 2f Urukerebe; 2g
Luziba (Lusinja, Kinyambu); 3 Urunyaruanda; 3b Ruha, Rututsi (Tusi, Kijiji); 4 Luganda;
5 Lunyara; 5b Lusinga; 6 Lumasaba (Lusokwia, Lugesu, Lugishu); 6a Lukonde of north-
west Elgon; 7 Kiguzii (Igizii, Kisingiri) or Kisuba (Kosova), 7a Gikuria (Kisima, Kitende);
8 Kishashi and Kirori; 9 North and North-east Nyamwezi (Kisukuma); 9a North-west
Nyamwezi; 9b West Nyamwezi; 9c South and East Nyamwezi; 10 Kinyaturu; 14 Taita;
15 Taveita; 16 Nika (Giryama, Duruma, Digo); 19 Shambala; 20d Kimrima (Lima);
21 Swahili; 21a Kimvita; 21b Kiamu; 21c Kisiu (or Kiozi); 21d Kipate; 21e Kitikuu (or
Faza-Bajun); 21f Kiwibu (Kimerima and Kimgao); 21g Kingoje; 22 Shiangazija (Great
Komoro); 23 Dzalamo; 23a Kami; 24 Kaguru and North Sagara; 24e Ziraha (South
Sagara); 24d Kwenyi; 24e Nkwifiya; 24f Ndunda; 24g Ngwila; (note 24c-g are classified
as South Sagara); 25 Gogo; 39 Kabwari; 48 Ungu (Ichiwungu); 52 Chihenga; 55 Chingindo;
56 Imakua (Tulugu 'Mozambique'); 56a North Makua (Medo or Meto, Mbwambe);
140 Nyangwe (South-west Kilega): 143 South-east Kilega; 147 Kivamba; 157 Soko or
Losoko (Heso); 162 Lolo or Mongo dialects.
Johnston gives No. 8 in ii, p. 331, but leaves a blank in the vocabularies i, p. 89.
2 The word also occurs in northern Congoland, but this is a modern phenomenon, for
which see pp. 116-7.
3 Sir Apolo Kagwa, The Customs of the Baganda, p. 160, cf. also pp. 94, 165.
4 Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 255. It was conquered from Bunyoro by Junju of Bugarida,
the sixth king before Mwanga, who reigned c. 1780 to c. 1797.
5 Roscoe, op. cit., p. 171. Walukaga belongs to the Kisimba (genet) clan, and his estate
was at Kiruga in Butambala county (Kagwa, op. cit., p. 160). Butambala adjoins Buddu
across the River Katonga (map at the end of Roscoe, op. cit.). The blacksmiths of the
Kisimba clan make the king's spear at the coronation and present the hammer with which
it is made (Kagwa, p. 65). Those of the Nvuma make and present his dagger (loc. cit.).
6 Roscoe, op. cit., pp. 163, 215, 387.
7 Id., Twenty-five Years in East Africa, p. 220. In Anthropos, 1908, p. 216. Stami reports
a less detailed version of the story in which another name is given to the culture-hero. His
version merely says that a certain Mulanga learned the art of working in iron and became
a great hunter. Unfortunately Stam does not say where the art was learned. Hartland in
Folklore, 1914, pp. 435-41 is not unnaturally able to find discrepancies in the traditions,
as indeed Roscoe allows there are when he says that the iron-industry is older in Buganda
than the time of Kintu in spite of the unanimous verdict of tradition (The Baganda, p. 379).
But the discrepancies cannot affect the view that the knowledge of iron-working reached
Buganda from Bunyoro, which is not only stated a number of times, but appears in a
number of ways, and is also in accord with technical evidence. Roscoe, The Baganda,
p. 378, says that iron ore is plentiful in Bunyoro. Mathew has recently found iron objects
at the 'Bachwezi' site of Bigo (see pp. 115-6 infra).
8 Roscoe, op. cit., p. 171. The Genet clan is the Kisimba clan (loc. cit. and p. 138). For
the Kisimba clan and Walukaga see note supra.
9 Roscoe, op. cit., pp. 163, 215, 379. The bush-buck is the totem of the Babito, the
royal clan of Bunyoro, Gray, Uganda J., 2 (1935), 267.
10 Roscoe, op. cit., p. 170.
11 Kagwa, op. cit., p. 94.
12 Kagwa, op. cit., p. 162.
13 Mrs. A. B. Fisher, Twilight Tales of the Black Baganda, p. 161. It is interesting that
there was a rich trade in salt, hoes, and cattle-breeding, and that the inducement offered to
Mtesa on this occasion also consisted of salt, iron, and cows, for these are the same com-
modities as those in which payment was made in the sixth century to the inhabitants of
Fazoqli for their gold. The merchants from Aksum brought with them 'oxen, lumps of
salt, and -iron' (J. W. McCrindle, The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian
Monk (Hakluyt Society, 1897) p. 52). For studies of this trade see Wainwright in Man,
1942, No. 30; Arkell in Man, 1944, No. 24. In the next case quoted in the text the cows
have been replaced by tusks.
130 UGANDA JOURNAL
14 K.W. Uganda J., 5 (1937), 65.
15 R. P. Ashe, Two Kings of Uganda, p. 311.
16 Kagwa, op. cit., p. 160.
17 Snoxall, Uganda J., 10 (1946), 46.
18 H. Meyer, Die Barundi, pp. 83-85. Here again the story is not to be taken too
literally, for in view of the history of the words -uma, -chuma they must be very much
more ancient in Urundi than the eighteenth century to which this statement refers. The
story reports a late movement which happened to be the most ancient of which the
19 Meldon in J. African Soc., 6 (1907), 241-3.
20 Meldon, op. cit., p. 245. [Regarding movements of Baganda into Ankole at the ends
of the 17th and of the 18th century, see Oliver, Uganda J., 18 (1954), 31.-ED.]
21 I am told that -uma is good Bantu with the meaning 'to pierce'.
22 C. Velten, Suaheli-Woirterbuch ii, pp. 149, 342, 661. Similarly pua which Swahili
uses for 'steel' is marked by Velten as a foreign word. It appears to be not Arabic. As
puwa it has been introduced into Uganda (Snoxall, Uganda 1., 5 (1938), 281). The know-
ledge of steel, quite unlike that of iron, is thus shown to have arrived in Uganda from the
23 Velten, op. cit., ii, p. 389. It belongs to class iii which is that for foreign words,
p. viii. It is also used for zinc and tin. A similar vagueness in use is to be seen in Abyssinia,
where forms of the ancient Ethiopic word birti meaning 'brass, bronze', have passed into
various modern languages with the meaning of 'iron'. Such languages are Amharic, Saho,
Dankali or Afar, Somali, Agau, Gafat, Gonga and Harari. In the language of Kaffa
birato is used with both meanings (Reinisch in Sitzungsb. d. phil-hist. classes d. kais. Ak. d.
Wiss. (Vienna, 1888) cxvi, p. 274). (Die Kafa-Sprache in Nordost-Afrika.)
Returning to the origin of shaba, it may perhaps be that it is not original in Arabic, but
may have been introduced there also. It has been suggested to me that it may have been
derived from Kanarese, a Dravidian language of southern India, which calls copper and
brass chambu. In Luganda these metals are called sambu, but neither of these is par-
ticularly like the Arabic and Swahili shaba. In any case such a supposition is not neces-
sary, for shabaha is a well-known Arabic root with all sorts of meanings based on the
idea of similarity.
24 The mere fact of its introduction is strange in itself, for in Arabic shabah is applied
not to copper or to brass in general but to the highest quality brass only. The primary
meaning of the word is 'likeness, resemblance' and this highest quality brass was so called
from its resemblance to gold which was given it by the addition of some alloy (E. W. Lane,
An Arabic-English Lexicon ii, p. 1500). It was evidently what the Romans called auri-
It was under the name opeixaAixo that brass was imported into Adul6 in what is now
Eritrea and its neighboring coastlands already in the first century A.D. The Periplus of
the Erythraean Sea says 'There are imported into these places brass (dpeiyaAKOs),
which is used for ornament and in cut pieces instead of coin; sheets of soft (?) copper
( JEAL'E00a XLaAK honey pot copper') used for cooking utensils and cut up for bracelets
and anklets for the women, copper (XaAdca) drinking cups, round and large' (C.
Miller, Geographi Graeci Minores i, p. 262 = W. H. Schoff, The Periplus of the Eryth-
raean Sea, p. 24, 6 and notes pp. 69, 70). In 8 it is reported that the soft (?) copper
(here merely called jteAIe0Oa) was imported into Malao = Berbera in small quantity.
Presumably the idea of the superiority of this brass had become so well established that
when the Arabs arrived they had to bow to local prejudice and assure their African
customers that this was no common nahas, whether red or yellow, that they were offering
but shabah, something very superior. Anyhow, what is of interest at the moment is that
the Swahili word for copper and brass is an introduction from Arabic, just like the words
for the other metals with the one exception of iron, and now in modem times of steel. The
possibility has just been mentioned, and dismissed, in the previous note that both the
Arabic and Swahili words may have originated from the south Indian word chambu by
which copper and brass are called in Kanarese.
25 It seems as if the state of affairs with the banana was similar, for Swahili has not
adopted the Arabic name for it, moz, but keeps its own name calling the tree gomba and
the fruit dizi (Johnston, op. cit., i, p. 129). This of course is on the supposition that these
are generic names and not those of some variety of banana. The banana is likely to have
been gradually working its way inland from the Eritrean coast by the early sixth century
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 131
A.D. But, as it had arrived on that coast, one would suppose that it had also arrived on the
26 Cf. The Encyclopaedia of Islam iii, p. 403 s.v. Mas'udi, for the date.
27 See Wainwright in Man, 1949, pp. 62-3 and p. 65 note 8; and Man 1951, No. 300,
for the evidence that he is referring to Sofala and its hinterland.
28 C. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, Magoudi, Les prairies d'or i, p. 371;
ii, p. 292. The word has been much confused with another and quite different one,
wqlimi, the f and the q only differing by a single dot in the Arabic script. For a fuller
discussion of the confusion see Wainwright in Man, 1949, pp. 64-5, notes 5, 8.
29 Sir Harry Johnston, op. cit. i, p. 130, and ii, p. 270. Swahili is No. 21 and its dialects
are Nos. 21e, f, and g.
30 Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, op. cit. iii, p. 30 and cf. p. 445 note 1.
Cf. also Wainwright in Man, 1949, pp. 62-3.
31 Hess and Mainhof in Zeits. f. Eingeborenen-Sprachen, x (1919-20), p. 147.
32 Id. in op. cit., pp. 147-149 who add the Herero Mukeru; Ferrand in Journal asiatique,
17 (1921), pp. 163-4.
33 Johnston, op. cit. i, pp. 271, 302.
34 Iron had been smelted and used at Great Zimbabwe in Southern Rhodesia at the
time of the building of the Conical Tower in the ninth century (For the evidence of the
beads as to the date, see Beck in G. Caton-Thompson, The Zimbabwe Culture, pp. 229,
232-7). A piece of iron was found under its foundations in Stratum 2, the lowest occupa-
tion level. Iron slag was also found in this same stratum, both at the Maund Ruins and at
the Acropolis (Caton-Thompson, op. cit., pp. 97-8). No doubt the art of smelting had been
brought by the ruling classes, who prove to have been Galla from Southern Abyssinia
(Wainwright in Man, 1949, p. 62). These people thus came from much the same country,
though perhaps further to the east, as did the various immigrants into Bunyoro, Buganda
and the neighbourhood, as shown on p.125, supra.
35 An account of the work is published by E. C. Lanning in Uganda J. 17 (1953), 51-62.
For the iron see pp. 56, 60 and cf. p. 57. The Bachwezi are said to have been clever smiths,
36 Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 456.
37 J. A. Grant, A Walk across Africa, p. 271, and in Buganda it seems that beads were
reserved for the king, p. 229.
38 J.R.A.I. 53 (1923), 485.
39 Piggott in Tanganyika Notes and Records, No. 11 (1941), 35. However, the trail of
-uma names takes practically the route followed by Speke going up from the coast (J. H.
Speke, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Map). From Lake Tanganyika
it passes along the Ugala River and then down the Ruaha and Rufiji Rivers. In Tanganyika
Notes and Records, No. 4 (1937), 11, Barker says that the Rufiji is a pleasant river with
no mosquito breeding swamps and is a highway of human traffic.
40 J. Hornell, Indonesian Influence on East African Culture in J.R.A.I., 64 (1934), 305;
A. T. and G. M. Culwick in Tanganyika Notes and Records, No. 2 (1936), 60 ff. The sewn
boats were already on the coast in the first century A.D. for they are then mentioned at
the island of Menuthias and at Rhapta. W. H. Schoff, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea,
p. 28, 15. Influence from a very different country appears to have been felt by the
Wandamba in the Ulanga Valley. They consider that hippopotamus meat is good for
pregnant women (Hodgson in J.R.A.I., 56 (1926), 65), and in ancient Egypt Thoeris, the
hippopotamus goddess, was the patroness of pregnancy and childbirth (Seligman and
Murray in Man, 1911, No. 73; Roeder in Roscher, Ausfiihrliches Lexikon, s.v. Thueris;
Rusch in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopaedie, s.v. Thoeris col. 303). This influence, if
such it be, probably dates from Ptolemaic times, 332-30 B.C., for survivals, evidently from
that period, still exist among the aborigines of Zanzibar Island (Wainwright in Man, 1940,
41 W. Ellis, History of Madagascar i, illustration facing p. 308; id., Three Visits to
Madagascar, illustration facing p. 264.
42 There iron was called vihe in the seventeenth century which has now become vy,
G. Ferrand, Dictionnaire de la langue de Madagascar (1905), p. 134.
43 Johnston, op. cit., ii, pp. 38, 127.
44 H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, ii, pp. 116-124; H. Brode, Tippoo Tib,
45 J. Czekanowski, Forschungen im Nil-Kongo-Zwischengebiet, ii, p. 241 and cf.
pp. 243, 245 for yet other distant penetrations (Wiss. Ergebnisse d. Deutschen Zentral-
Afrika-Expedition, 1907-8, Band vii).
46 Johnston, op. cit., ii, p. 127.
132 UGANDA JOURNAL
47 F. Addison, Jebel Moya, i, pp. 253,255.
48 Id., op. cit., p. 146.
49 Id., op. cit., pp. 127-30, and the illustrations on pp. 62-96. Two were also found at
Khartoum, but only in the rubbish, and Arkell supposes them to be of Meroitic date,
A. J. Arkell, Early Khartoum, p. 136.
so C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, p. 371.
51 Id., op. cit., p. 366
52 Resulting from Dr. Derry's examination of the few skeletons that were in good
enough condition to be studied; to this opinion Prof. Seligman readily agrees (J.R.A.I.,
43 (1913), 625, 676).
53 E. Littmann, Deutsche Aksum-Expedition, iv, pp. 33f, 11. 15, 21, 29, 39, 40.
54 Seligman, Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, p. 371.
55 F. Addison, Jebel Moya, i, p. 129.
56 Id., op. cit., p. 142 and Fig. 41, p. 78. See p. 119 supra for more about these weapons
in modern Africa.
57 Kingdon in S.N. & R., 21 (1938), pp. 197-9. The bracelet-fighting of today in the
Nuba Mountains is now only a sporting contest.
58 Wainwright in S.N. & R., 28 (1947), 11-24.
59 Torday and Joyce, Les Bushongo, pp. 20, 21, 44, s.v. Bumba, Lobamba. The original
'white' man, Bumba, was deified. Before going up to heaven he called together the three
best men in the country who were one 'white' man and two black men, and he told the
black men to pay tribute to the 'white' man. The Negroes regularly apply the term
'white' to anyone paler than themselves, and it has often been applied to men from the
Nile Valley. The slave-hunters from Khartoum earned the name 'white devils' from their
victims (F. Werne, Expedition to Discover the Sources of the White Nile, i, p. 183).
Similarly the Azande called the Egyptian troops who occupied their country by a name
'Azudia' which implies 'paleness' (A. de Calonne-Beaufaict, Azande, p. 31).
60 Torday and Joyce, op. cit., p. 21, s.v. Woto.
61 Id., op. cit., pp. 43, 44.
62 Id., op. cit., pp. 17-19, 37. The Bushongo have an official keeper of the traditions
which makes it possible to calculate these dates. For the calculations see pp. 34-6.
63 J. Russegger, Reisen in Europa, Asien und Afrika, ii. (Pt. 2), p. 290 J. Petherick
Egypt, the Soudan and Central Africa, p. 293. The ore is oxide containing 55 to 60 per cent
pure iron, Petherick, loc. cit.
64 E. Riippell, Reisen in Nubien, Kordofan und dem petriiischen Arabien, p. 152.
65 Russegger, op. cit., p. 287.
66 Watkiss Lloyd in Geographical J., 35 (1910), 255.
67 Rtippell, loc. cit.; Russegger, op. cit., pp. 238, 290. Petherick was actually brought
out from England by Muhammad Ali as a mining engineer to see what could be done
about the project, Petherick, op. cit., p. 1.
68 Russegger, op. cit., p. 292 and illustration.
69 Petherick, op. cit., p. 293.
70 Watkiss Lloyd, op. cit., p. 262.
71 C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, p. 398; cf. also Watkiss
Lloyd, op. cit., p. 266. Nadel, coming thirty years later and not getting so far south, says
of the northern hills which he studied that iron is scarce, is bought from the Daju and
Arabs, and was never produced by the Nuba, The Nuba, p. 70.
72 Seligman in J.R.A.I., 55 (1925), 22ff with conclusions on p. 34; id. in J.R.A.I., 58
(1928), 431; also 55 (1925), 34 and Fig. 2, p. 23. This sketch map is more fully developed
in their Pagan Tribes, Figs. 4 and 6; and for a discussion see pp. 12, 14, 15.
73 Seligman, Pagan Tribes, pp. 5, 15.
74 Unless of course the Kuku and Bari learned it from their eastern neighbours, for
which possibility see p. 123 supra.
75 Addison, Jebel Moya, p. 128. The Bengo, however, are probably rather a different
proposition from the others, for, as will be seen below, they came to their present position
from the far south.
76 Seligman in J.R.A.I., 58 (1928), 412, and 55 (1925), 34.
77 J.R.A.I., 58 (1928), 431 and photographs on Pl. xlv, Figs. 1, 2.
78 The Shari River has been an avenue by which the iron-industry entered the world of
the Congo. If, instead of turning southwards from it, migrants continued on along it and
its upper tributaries, they would find themselves led away south-eastwards, and hence
started off in the direction of the far distant Bunyoro. But perhaps it is not necessary to
look so far afield, for the whole country east of the Shari is wide open to anyone tempted
to go southwards from Darfur or Wadai.
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 133
79 Margaret Trowell, Clues to African Tribal History. Uganda J., 10 (1946), 62-3.
80so A. N. Tucker, The Eastern Sudanic Languages, p. 5 and Map 2. They now speak the
language of their employers.
81 Filiberto Ucin in S.N. & R., 28 (1947), 98, 100-1. They have had a troubled history,
continually having to flee from one place to another. It is the Gonva clan among them
that specialize in iron-working, p. 100. For their position see Santandrea in S.N. & R.,
29 (1948), map facing p. 78.
82 Evans Pritchard in S.N. & R., 12 (1929), 4, 11-2. For their smithery see pp. 56-8,
which is, however, only a condensation of Schweinfurth's account. A resume of the history
of numbers of the tribes of these regions is given by Tucker, op. cit., pp. 21-55.
83 J.R.A.I., 53 (1923), 484-88; Trowell, op. cit., pp. 54-5. But in Trowell and Wachs-
mann, Tribal Crafts of Uganda (1953), pp. 13-21, she returns to the eastern Hamitic theory.
84 Loupias in Anthropos, 3 (1908), 9.
85 H. R. Wallis, The Handbook of Uganda (2nd edn., 1920), p. 3. Kintu is said to have
come from beyond Mount Elgon (Oliver, Uganda J., 17 (1953), 137).
86 Oliver, loc. cit., p. 136.
87 Uganda J., 13 (1949), p. 147. Two Lango tribes still exist in Abyssinia, p. 145. In the
nineteenth century they came still further west: into Bunyoro, where they came as mer-
cenaries, and even further west again, for they accompanied the Banyoro across Lake
Albert when the latter were invading the country of the Alur and Lendu, pp. 233-4.
88 C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, p. 361.
89 Gulliver in Uganda J., 15 (1951), 112. Cf. C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, op. cit., p. 14.
90 Wainwright in Uganda J., 16 (1952), 145-7.
91 Wainwright, Uganda J., 16 (1952), 146-7.
92 Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 379.
93 F. J. Bieber, Kaffa, ii, p. 497. No doubt there have been many such movements
southwards. This one began in the thirteenth century, when Yekuno Amlak restored the
'Solomonic' line in Abyssinia, and it was about A.D. 1350-1400 that Minjo founded the
empire of Kaffa (Bieber, op. cit., ii, pp. 495, 501). Yekuno Amlak's date was either A.D.
1268-1283 or 1270-1285. (E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia, i, pp. 284ff, and cf.
pp. 213ff for the Zagwe (Agau) usurpation.) See also Bieber, op. cit. i, pp. 68ff, and for
much other information with much theorizing see pp. 46ff.
94 Griffith, Meroitic Inscriptions i, (bound with Crowfoot, The Island of Meroe), Pl. xv
and pp. 51-3.
95 Id., op. cit., PI. xiv and pp. 24-7; Crowfoot in S.N. and R., 3 (1920), 88 and Pl.;
Whitehead and Addison in S.N. & R., 9 (1926), No. 2, 51-2 and Pls. x, xi.
96 Arkell in Antiquity, 1951. p. 96 and Pl. viii=Id., in J.E.A., 36 (1950), 40.
97 Addison in S.N. & R., 18 (1935), 292 and Pls. v, vi, and p. 293 and Pl. vii. In S.N. &
R., 17 (1934), 103-10, Arkell published three more burials from here, and suggests that
they would be of much the same date.
98 Addison, S.N. & R., 13 (1930), 266 and Pls. i, iv.
99 Wainwright in Man, 1942, pp. 52-8. They attracted merchants from the Red Sea in
the sixth century A.D., and in the nineteenth Ismail Pasha who came from Egypt. Roseires is
one of the markets for the gold today. In Man, 1944, p. 31 Arkell says that the value of
the gold marketed at Roseires, Kurmuk and Geissan alone is estimated at E50,000 a year.
By hand washing a native makes from 3 to 30 piastres a day in dust and small grains
excluding lucky nuggets. A local chief is said to have died worth about E100,000 prob-
ably mostly derived from gold.
100 Addison Jebel Moya, p. 128.
101 Powell in S.N. & R., 4 (1921), p. 215. [Editorial note: This obscure reference to the
'Didoans' is the only one we have so far been able to trace. They must be an extremely
fragmentary group, doubtless of mixed origin. There is no reference to them in Seligman,
Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, London, 1932, in Nalder, A Tribal Survey of the Mon-
galla Province, Oxford, 1937, nor in Huntingford The Northern Nilo-Hamites, I.A.I.,
102 Wayland in J.R.A.I., 61 (1931), PIs. xx, Fig. 1, xxi, Figs. 1, 2, 3, xxv, Figs. 1, 2, xxvi,
Fig. 1, xxvii.
103 Sir Samuel Baker, The Albert Nyanza (1898 edn.), pp. 137-8 and illustration.
104 Beaton in S.N. & R., 31 (1950), Fig. 4 before p. 129.
105 These people are, however, considered to be of Nilo-Hamite origin [ED.].
106 C. W. Hobley, Eastern Uganda, p. 49 (Anthropological Institute, Occasional Papers,
No. 1 (1902)).
107 Corfield in S.N. & R., 21 (1938), pp. 127-8, 131-2, 139 and Pls. iv, Fig. 2, v, Fig. 1.
The Daga is an east-west-flowing river north of the Sobat.
134 UGANDA JOURNAL
108 Evans-Pritchard in S.N. & R., 17 (1934), p. 267. The Nilo-Hamitic Suri wear them
at Boma on the Sudan-Abyssinian border (Lyth in S.N. & R., 28 (1947), 112). But, as was
seen on p. 119 supra, a version of it survives in a sporting contest among the Nuba of
109 Addison, op. cit., p. 142 and Fig. 41, p. 78.
110 Seligman in Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology (Liverpool), 7, 43-9, and
111 Braunholtz in Man, 1921, PI. E, Fig. facing p. 65. Frankfort shows many simple ones
in Studies Presented to F. Ll. Griffiths, P1. 71 facing p. 448. Nearly all the specimens shown
by Braunholtz are elaborations of the original simple type, and he is unfortunate in
thinking that the simple type is a degeneration from the more elaborate. As a matter of
fact the simple type preceded the elaborate by many thousands of years.
112 G. A. Reisner, The Archaeological Survey of Nubia, Report for 1907-08, i, pp. 50-1,
Grave6 190. One of the arm-clamps is shown in a very bad photograph on Pl. 66, Fig. b, 19.
They were of heavy ivory.
113 Alliot in Revue d'Egyptologie, 8 (1951), 1-7. The name still exists as Hafun, which is
the Opone of Ptolemy in the second century A.D. It is just round the corner of the Horn of
Africa. In Zeits. f. Eingeborenen-Sprachen, 12 (1921-2), 305 Meinhof compares the
Egyptian Pwenet to the Swahili pwani 'coast'. I am informed that the Swahili word means
the strip of beach left dry as opposed to ufuoni, the part lapped by the waves. The
co-incidence is remarkable, for Pwene.t has no explanation in Egyptian and would, there-
fore, be a foreign word, while such a word as pwani would make a singularly appropriate
name. The Egyptian ships were drawn up to the beach and planks were run out for com-
munication with the shore (Naville, The Temple of Deir el Bahari iii, Pl. lxxiv). Appro-
priate as the Swahili word would be as the origin of the Egyptian Pwene.t (Punt), yet it
appears that there is a serious difficulty in the way of this superficially self-evident deriva-
tion. In Man, 1948, p. 24 Huntingford says that pwani is formed from a widespread Bantu
root pwa 'to dry' plus the locative suffice -ni meaning literally 'on the coast'. This he also
says 'is obviously a late rather than an early formation', whereas the Egyptian Pwene.t
goes back as early as 2725 B.c. or 2500 B.c. as later estimates now make it, when it is
doubtful that even the germs of Bantu speech existed. Yet one cannot but think that there
must be a connection somehow. Can it be that -ni is not the Bantu suffix at all, and that
both the ancient Egyptian word Pwene.t and the very much later Bantu pwani are derived
from some other language?
114 Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt i, 161.
115 L. Borchardt, Das Grabdenkmal des Kinigs.SahurP ii, Pl. 7 = Pl. 5 bottom row for
the single arm-clamp; Pl. 8 for the pair; p. 20 for a discussion of the subject.
116 Id., Das Grabdenkmal des K6nigs Ne-user-re, Pl. 9 top row but one; PI. 10 top row.
Again we can only judge by the dress, which is that of Sahure's captives. Only a few men
so dressed wear the arm-clamp, for there are several who do not.
117 In Studies Presented to F. LI. Griffiths, pp. 447-8. Curiously enough, with the possible
exception of the pigtails twice, the dress of the Puntites is entirely different in Hatshepsut's
drawings of about 1500 B.C. (Naville, op. cit., iii, Pls. Ixix, lxxiv, lxxvi). Only the last man
in this last plate and a man at the top of PI. Ixix have an appendage to their hair, con-
ceived however as wavy locks, which no doubt represents those of the Old Kingdom.
Frankfort has made these points in his study, but as Africanists are hardly likely to
encounter it, it is as well to set it out here shortly.
118 Martin P. Nilsson, Primitive Time Reckoning (Lund, 1920), p. 169.
119 R. A. Parker, The Calendars of Ancient Egypt, pp. 10, 22, 23 (Or. Inst., Univ. of
Chicago, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, No. 26).
120 E. W. Lane, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians
(1836), i, pp. 278 note -1, 279, 280. The Hebrews evidently reckoned from the evening,
vide 'the evening and the morning were the first day' and so on (Gen. i. 5, 8, etc.), instead
of 'the morning and the evening' as we should say.
121 Evans Pritchard, S.N. & R., 15 (1932), p. 19. The Yabous flows into the Blue Nile a
little south of Fazoqli and along with the River Toumat, which joins the Blue Nile just
north of that town, is the centre of the gold-washings which have been the attraction
throughout the ages (Wainwright in Man, 1942, pp. 52ff. For the gold on the Yabous see
122 Wainwright in Man, 1942, p. 52.
123 Wainwright, op. cit., p. 86, and Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile
(1790) ii, pp. 438-9. On the first map at the end of vol. v. he shows Guba west of the Blue
Nile, but modern maps only seem to show a Guba on the east of it, and, therefore, prac-
tically in the Agau country. Those relatives of the Burun who live further to the south,
THE DIFFUSION OF -UMA AS A NAME FOR IRON 135
the Koma on the River Daga, evidently also work iron, for their vocabulary includes a
word for 'blacksmith' (Corfield S.N. & R., 21 (1938), 159), but nothing is said of it in the
description of the tribe.
124 Wainwright, loc cit.
125 Iron is smelted and roughly forged into hoes in Jimma Kaka just outside the bound-
aries of Kaffa proper but still within the kingdom. The Kafficho smiths refine the metal
and work it into tools and weapons (Bieber, op. cit., i, p. 412 and map at the end of
vol. ii). But it is not said whether any of these people are Kafficho or whether they belong
to one of the many aboriginal tribes.
126 Wayland, J.R.A.I., 61 (1931), 229.
127 K. W., Uganda J., 3 (1935), 159. He is also said to have ruled as far to the south-
west as Kiziba and Karagwe.
128 Wright, Uganda J., 16 (1952), 85. For some questions about the Bachwezi see Oliver,
Uganda J., 17 (1953), 135-7.
129 In fact, as was recorded in note 34, we know of one southward migration of iron-
smelters in early days which originated from north of Lake Rudolf, though not from west
of the River Omo but from east of it. This was that of the founders of the 'Zimbabwe'
civilization who had already established themselves in Southern Rhodesia before the
tenth century A.D. (Wainwright in Man, 1949, pp. 62-6; Id. in Man, 1951, p. 176).
130 R. Buchto, Die oberen Nil-Lander (Berlin, 1881), photograph 33.
131 Sir Samuel Baker, The Albert Nyanza (1898 edn.), Fig. on p. 165 and description.
132 M. Merker, Die Masai, Fig. 25, p. 114.
133 J. Roscoe, The Bakitara or Banyoro, p. 220; id., The Northern Bantu, p. 76 and
PI. ii facing p. 74.
134 Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 380; J. R. McD. Elliot in The Graphic, 1 Nov. 1924,
pp. 718-9. See also Roscoe, The Banyankole, p. 106 and Pl. xxiv facing, for the use of the
same bellows by a neighboring tribe.
135 They entered Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty, at which time the earliest pictures
of them are shown in Rekhmire's paintings about 1450 B.c. (N. de G. Davies, The Tomb
of Rekh-mi-ri at Thebes, PI. lii). They were then used in the bronze-industry, not the
iron-industry which was not introduced to Egypt until the seventh century B.c. (Wain-
wright in Man, 1944, pp. 94-8, and for some corrections and additions see Id. 1945, p. 71).
136 The bag-bellows were not used in ancient Egypt (Wainwright in Man, 1944, p. 96).
Frobenius and von Wilm, Atlas Africanus, Heft i, PI. 4 shows the diffusion of the two
types, the bowl- and the bag-bellows. This makes it very clear that the bag-bellows are an
Arab coastal phenomenon which is gradually seeping in to Africa from the east and
north coasts. Again, from quite other studies Dr. Reche has been led to the conclusion that
the bowl-bellows are the older of the two types and are part of the Bantu culture-complex
(Zur Ethnographie des Abflusslosen Gebietes Deutsch-Ostafrikas, p. 124, published as
vol. xvii Abhandl. des Hamburgischen Kolonialinstituts).
137 Merker, op. cit., Fig. 24, p. 114.
138 A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, pp. 2f.
139 Huntingford in Antiquity, 7 (1933), 159, 162.
140 Wilson in Man, 1932, No. 298.
141 The iron-smelting took place on the top of natural mounds, hence the furnaces
presumably depended for their draught on the steady northerly winds and did not need
bellows. On the other hand it may have been considered that too fierce a fire would have
caused a loss of metal, as do the Jur of the Bahr el-Ghazal, G. Schweinfurth, The Heart
of Africa (1873) i, p. 207; Crawhall in Man, 1933, p. 41.
142 Bieber, op. cit., i, p. 411.
143 Frobenius and von Wilm, loc. cit.
144 Bieber, op. cit., i, p. 411. Mondfo is only one of many introductions from Abyssinia.
As has already been pointed out on p. 122 the aristocracy say they came from Lower
Amhara. They also say that they came speaking Tigr6, and only learned to speak their
present language after their arrival in Kaffa (op. cit. ii, p. 496). Christianity was brought
from Abyssinia (ii, p. 419) and Christians are called Amaro (Amhara); the old heathen
worship of Heqo still persists alongside of it (ii, pp. 380-419).
145 A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 330, 331.
146 M. Merker, Die Masai, p. 275.
147 A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, p. 36. But were they really Masai? Or were they only
people from the Uasin Gishu Plateau, members of that vanished race of superior culture
which has left traces of itself in the well-engineered graded roads there?
148 Id., op. cit., Pl. xiv and p. 37.
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
149 Whitehead in S.N. & R., 12 (1929), 93. In J.R.A.I., 58 (1928), p. 431ff Seligman
reports that they differ physically from the Bari freemen.
150 Seligman in op. cit., p. 428.
151 Id. in op. cit., pp. 422, 433. The smiths settled among these tribes apparently not
very long ago, say about the beginning of the nineteenth century.
152 J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 81; Alban in S.N. & R., 5 (1922), 50.
153 Driberg, loc. cit.
154 Driberg, in S.N. & R., 5 (1922), 209ff. There are old slag-heaps in various parts of
the country which the Didinga say are the work of some by-gone inhabitants, p. 210.
155 Further on towards Bunyoro there are today the Dodoth and Labwor. They are
iron-smelters and workers (Wayland, J.R.A.I., 61 (1931), 197-8 and Figs. 5, 6, p. 200), and
also wear the lip-stud of Gebel Moya (Id. in op. cit., Pls. xx, Fig. 1, xxi, Figs. 1, 2, xxv,
Figs. 1, 2, xxvii).
156 Another dominant pastoral people is the Batusi-Bahima in Ruanda, and in the same
way they do not work iron but get it done for them by others, in their case by the abor-
iginal Bahutu, who form the labouring classes of the community. However, the Batusi
are different from the other pastoralists, for they claim that their ancestors were iron-
workers who received the art from heaven and then taught it to the Bahutu (see p. 121
157 Wilson in Man, 1932, sketch-map on p. 251. The road has been traced at least as
far south as the head of Lake Nyasa.
158 Huntingford, op. cit., p. 161.
159 For what it is worth, the majority of blacksmiths today in the neighbourhood of
Harar are Somalis (J. Desmond Clark in Man, 1944, p. 32). That no doubt means that they
are Tum&l, the pariah tribe which carries on the despised iron-workers' trade among the
Somali (G. Ferrand, Les Comrndlis, p. 18-3TFor an account of the industry see Paulitschke,
Ethnographic Nordost-Afrikas (1893), p. 236.
160 Wainwright in Man, 1949, No. 80.
161 Howell in S.N. & R., 26 (1945), p. 327.
162 In this area there is an obviously 'ancient' site at Doleib Hill near the junction of the
Sobat River with the White Nile. It is, therefore, close to thlse bodh people. Here two
fragments of alabaster, apparently the base of a small cup, were found, and Arkell sug-
gests that imports from ancient Egypt may have reached as far south as this (Arkell,
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 36 (1950) 40). This is also the country where
Herodotus (ii, 30, 31) puts the deserters who fled from Psammetichus in the seventh century
B.C. (Wainwright in S.N. & R., 28 (1947), pp. 12-8), though his information has been over-
looked hitherto. In S.N. & R., 26 (1945), 328 Arkell says that some of the pottery from the
Zeraf hills may be in the Meroitic tradition and that some is like material that may go
back to Kerma (c. 1800 B.C.) and some possibly to predynastic days.
163 Sir J. M. Gray, Uganda J., 15 (1951), 121.
164 The Shilluk themselves use the bag-bellows today (W. Hofmayr, Die Schilluk, Fig.
22b and p. 320. Their smiths are itinerant, D. Westermann, The Shilluk People, Introduc-
tion, p. xxxi), and the Kytch tribe of the Dinka were already using them in 1862 on the
Bahr el Gebel near Abu Kuka and Gaba Shambyl nearly half-way to Gondokoro
(Petherick, Travels in Central Africa and Explorations of the Western Nile Tributaries
i, p. 163).
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL
By DR. A. W. SOUTHALL
T HE Alur occupy the southern quarter of the West Nile District of Uganda,
and the neighboring parts of Mahagi Territoire in the Belgian Congo.
They are linguistically classified as Nilotes, along with the Acoli, Palwo (Copi),
Padhola (Dama) and Lango of Uganda and the Luo of Nyanza Province in
Kenya. I stress the linguistic basis of this classification advisedly, because in
culture and ethnic origin the Alur are extremely heterogeneous. The dominant
groups among them claim to be Lwo, thus linking themselves with all the other
tribes mentioned above except the Lango, and also with the numerous Lwo
groups of the Sudan.
In addition to this Nilotic component, the Alur are composed of Bantu and
Sudanic elements which they have absorbed from all around them. The Bantu
or originally Bantu elements consist of immigrants of high status from Bunyoro,
remnants of the aboriginal Bantu tribes of the shores of Lake Albert and the
Albert Nile, and small numbers of Nyali and Bira from the Congo. The Sudanic
elements consist of portions of the Okebo, Madi, Lendu and Bendi peoples,
most of whom are now in the Belgian Congo. According to Alur tradition, the
process of assimilating these remarkably diverse elements into a degree of
common culture had been going on continuously for a number of generations
up to the time of the imposition of European rule. It must suffice to say here
that the process of assimilation was accomplished largely through peaceful
penetration and recruitment rather than by military conquest, the assimilators
being aristocratic Lwo, or Bantuized Lwo from Bunyoro, who established
themselves as ritual leaders among the chiefless societies around them, arbitrat-
ing in their endless inter-clan conflicts, providing them with a larger scale
administrative organization which gave them some respite from fighting amongst
themselves, and enjoying a great reputation as rainmakers.1
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the historical significance of tribal
traditions in general, and in the light of this discussion to present a very
abbreviated summary of the voluminous traditions of the many Alur groups.
From this summary the reader may judge the relationship between tribal tradi-
tion and social structure, and the relevance of this particular body of tradition
to an explanation of the relation between various Alur groups and of the
emergence of the Alur as a people.
It may be noted briefly here that the salient characteristic of Alur social
structure is its combination of political institutions at an elementary level of
specialization with an extensive and highly ramified system of localized
segmentary lineages. This may be characterized as two polar principles of social
organization, the one operating from above, the other from below. Above, there
was the political institution of chiefship, tending towards the centralization of
1 A full analysis of the Alur social system is awaiting publication.
138 UGANDA JOURNAL
political power within any of the numerous Alur chiefdoms. Below, there was
the system of localized segmentary lineages, giving opportunities for the con-
stant splitting, dispersion, and regrouping of the smaller social units.2
MYTH AND HISTORY
Anthropologists have of late been criticized, or have criticized themselves,
for neglecting the time dimension in their studies.3
They have also from time to time put forward very good reasons for doing so
in certain circumstances.4 There is no doubt that the folk traditions of preliterate
tribes cannot be simply treated as historical accounts of their past development.
Some myths present no difficulty in that they do not claim any time referent.
Some tribes 'have no history', in the sense that the structural relations on which
they are based give no evidence of any changes except in their human content,
and in the absence of other reliable records this has to be accepted as an
irreducible datum, though it may be quite erroneous were the truth known. The
importance of showing, if possible, whether a certain process has regularities
over a longer time period as well as in space, need not be stressed. Of course, by
the very word 'process' we are at once committed to a limited time dimension,
but this is usually taken for granted, and it is the question of greater time depth
which constitutes the problem.
A great deal of the theoretical interest of a political system such as that of the
Alur centres upon the time dimension. It is essential to establish the synchronic
relations between individuals and groups of which this system is at any moment .
made up, but much of the significance of these is lost if nothing can be indicated
as to their development. I have therefore adopted the somewhat daring course
of illustrating this in a series of maps with a commentary. I have found that this
has several incidental advantages. Nothing but the attempt to relate the space and
time dimensions of groups can so clarify the problems of their development and
reveal the possible inconsistencies which might otherwise unwittingly influence
critical judgment without ever being consciously appraised. I present the results
with hesitation, but with the justification that the evidence is there for others to
reject my interpretation, and that the issues have not been twisted or the con-
Although all preliterate societies are subject to the same lack of internal
documentation of their past, the relation of their folk traditions to the actual
sequence of past events varies greatly according to the type of society. The
crude distinction is between societies having hereditary chiefs and those with-
out. The traditions of decentralized societies whose social organization is
restricted to a very small scale, may almost entirely lack any historical content.
Some groups 'may indeed for a considerable period have had no significant
history except the continuity of their structural relations. But this is still an
important historical fact. Is the Nuer belief (see Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer,
2 An adequate explanation of this somewhat complex system cannot be given here,
and must await the publication of the full analysis.
3 E.g. Gluckman, Africa, 1947, pp. 103-06. Murdock, American Anthropologist, vol.
53, No. 4, Pt. 1, p. 468. Evans-Pritchard, Man, 1950, No. 198.
4 E.g. Radcliffe Brown, J.R.A.I., 1941, pp. I and 16. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, Oxford,
1940, p. 108,
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 139
p. 101), that man was created under a tree still standing in Nuerland, without
historical significance? There is in principle no reason why myths should not
utilize a historical content for the attainment of other purposes, but some
societies have identifiable motives for distortion, such as the adoption of the
traditions of migration associated with other groups of higher status. Even so,
where several societies are in contact at all it is likely that some valid informa-
tion will result from checking the accounts of different neighboring societies
of one another. This makes it possible, for example, to establish the last major
movement of even a chiefless migratory society, but not to work back into its
more remote past. Societies with hereditary chiefs and with even a very element-
ary state organization usually have a positive vested interest in the transmission
of historical information of a type, and the fact that myths are used to validate
contemporary relationships will in such societies favour the recollection of
important historical events in some detail, albeit with distortions and exaggera-
tions. But these latter are still subject to the countercheck of the versions of all
the groups concerned in a particular event.
The crucial distinction is between societies which have a motive for trans-
mitting information which is historical in type, even if not wholly accurate, and
those societies which have not. Nadel5 hypothesizes for purposes of argument
"a state based on conquest, so that its justification lies in historical happenings,
which carries historical viewpoints and reasoning into a wide range of social
contexts". The psychological needs served by oral traditions require only to
emphasize particular qualitative aspects and details of events, not necessarily
to distort the major historical sequences. This is amply illustrated in the recur-
rence of certain themes in Alur tradition, the details of which are quite inessen-
tial to the major occurrence which happens to be expressed in this form.
In the case of Alur society we have the Lwo, chiefly elements who had this
historical motive, and the various subject tribes who until they came in contact
with the Lwo probably had not. I am therefore sceptical about establishing the
migrations of the subject tribes except during the comparatively recent period
with reference to which a number of independent accounts are available includ-
ing that of the Lwo themselves; but I refer to some of the attempts at recon-
structing these migrations. A strong argument for the near accuracy of much
of the Alur tradition, granting the counterchecks already noted (and after all
these still have to be employed even when written documents are available),
is the continuity of the main processes through time, or rather, the consistency
of the traditional account of political activities from the crossing of the Nile
till the European occupation, of the recollections of reliable informants of the
actual events of their youth, and of the political attitudes still expressed towards
A technical argument for this presentation is that it makes a rather complex
social situation, and the arguments based upon it, so much more easily intel-
ligible. The maps have been arranged in seven successive phases with a view
both to illustrating events which seem to have been roughly contemporary, and
to including only a schematically manageable body of facts on each one.
5 The Foundations of Social Anthropology. London, 1951, p. 399.
140 UGANDA JOURNAL
The sources on which this account is based are of three kinds, the writings of
Europeans on tribal migrations, European recordings of native traditions, and
my own recordings of native traditions. I have leant most heavily on the first
source for the earlier, more general, and least important part of the account, con-
tained in the first two phases. The rest is based on my own study of the native
traditions, confirmed or amplified at various points by that of other writers.
The more the concrete local details are ignored and the more general such
accounts are made, dealing with large tribes or language groups rather than
smaller political groups, the more suspiciously coherent they seem to become.
It is usually held by those who hope to reconstruct tribal histories that the
problem could be solved if enough of the local traditional material could be
assembled and collated. I think that, within a very limited time period,6 this
would be true. But when many of the sweeping generalizations made about tribal
movements extending far into the past are confronted with this local traditional
material the result is a mass of contradictions. This is partly because memory
does not extend far enough back and so what has actually been forgotten must
be invented, and partly because of the positive reasons for the distortion of
history. Also, when large tribal movements are studied at close quarters there
sometimes emerges such a welter of small independent groups moving appar-
ently in all directions that any picture of a coherent general. movement is
obscured. To this extent the near view is unable to see the wood for the trees.
However, in the present state of knowledge, the logical hypotheses which
could account for the distribution and relationships of the main ethnic groups
of this area during the last two or three centuries are sufficiently restricted for
the general outlines of the account to be beyond serious doubt. Certain con-
clusions of a historical kind, consisting of a probable chronological order of
events in any area, though the length of the time-periods involved can be only
very roughly calculated, do emerge from the relation of traditions to the actual
present distribution of peoples, to the linguistic evidence, and to the few avail-
able milestones of a more definitely historical kind. This is true of the historical
relations of all the following groups: the Southern Lwo (Alur, Acoli, Palwo,
Padhola, Kenya Luo); the related dynasties of Bunyoro, Toro, Koki, Kiziba,
Buganda, Busoga and Bugwere: The Hinda dynasties of Nkole, Karagwe,
Uzinza and Usubi; the related Hima-Tutsi dynasties of Mpororo, Ruanda,
Urundi, Uha, Usukuma and northern Unyamwezi; the conquering dynasties of
the Mangbetu and Azande; the Sudanic Moru-Madi group of Logo, Kaliko,
Lugbara, Madi, Okebo and Lendu; the Nilo-Hamitic 'Lango' group of the
Karamojong including the Lwo speaking Lango;7 and the other mixed peoples
of the north-western Congo area8 (Grass and Forest Bira, Nyali, Bendi, Mamvu-
Lese and Pygmies).
6 Cf. van Warmelo, in The Bantu Speaking Tribes of South Africa, ed. I. Schapera,
London, 1937, p. 44. "Native tribal tradition is weak in chronology and scanty in regard
for truth. As a rule, three hundred years is the limit of possibly reliable tradition."
7 For such an account of this group see P. H. Gulliver, the Karamojong Cluster,
Africa, January, 1952.
8 For this area see P. Schebesta, Die Bambuti-Pygmaen vom Ituri, Brussels, 1938, and
subsequent volumes with a very useful map (Band I at end).
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 141
Along these lines earlier writers such as Calonne Beaufaict9 and Czeka-
nowski10 attempted to work, and, with much greater precision as material
accumulated, more recent writers have continued to do so. Particularly valuable
is Tucker's concise assessment of the evidence as a background for his
When attention is focused upon one particular tribe, as has here been done
for the Alur, certain minimal conclusions can safely be drawn, such as that the
tribe appears to have been settled in the same territory for a certain number of
generations, or that it came from a certain direction so many generations ago,
and that certain correlated movements of adjacent tribes must necessarily have
occurred. Within such a broad framework of relatively shallow time-depth, the
more detailed movements of component sections of a tribe can be established
from checking the traditions of all groups within areas whose populations
retain some common consciousness of one another and their past. The inter-
pretation of native tradition depends upon a critical quality towards it which is
rarely conveyed with success in published accounts. It is only when one is
thoroughly conversant with a particular society at first hand that one can make
much confident use of further material recorded by others from the same tribe. It
is essential to know the general social structure of a people, the age, education
and social status of informants, and the exact social groups and localities from
which they come.12 There still remains the qualitative assessment of a people's
attitude towards time and historical events, and their possible motives for distor-
tion. In accounts of migrations, data of this kind are required all along the route
Crazzolara13 is bringing a wealth of local traditional detail rarely surpassed
in African studies to bear upon his account of the Lwo migration and the peoples
concerned in it. Though one may be permitted to doubt some of his more far
fetched conclusions (for example, his superficial identification of Cwezi and
Hima with Lwo) and some of his methods of interpretation, the material he pro-
vides substantiates some of his main points.
For the more recent period of Alur development I have used as a rough
chronological yardstick the generations of the various lines of Alur chiefs. I
have assumed a generation in this case to be about twenty years, which is a
conservative estimate. The recent reigns of chiefs have been rather long, fifteen
cases averaging twenty-eight years, but this has been under conditions differing
in important respects from those of the past.
The fullest account of Alur dynastic traditions is that of Quix14 which I have
found reliable, though it would be better still if one knew exactly who the
9 Azande: Introduction a une ethnographic gdndrale des Bassins de l'Ubangi-Uele et de
l'Aruwimi. Brussels, 1921.
10 Forschungen im Nil-Kongo Zwischengebiet. Leipzig, 1911-27.
11 A. N. Tucker, The Eastern Sudanic Languages, Oxford, 1940, pp. 25-37.
12 Cf. Kluckhohn's exhaustive discussion of the difficulties of adequately recording
native texts for personality purposes, in The Use of Personal Documents in History,
Anthropology and Sociology. American Social Science Research Council. Bulletin 53,
New York, 1945.
13 The Lwoo, Verona, parts I, II, III, (published 1950, 1951, 1954).
14 Au Pays de Mahagi, Congo, 1 (1939), 276-94, 387-411.
142 UGANDA JOURNAL
informants were. Another valuable confirmatory source, dealing mainly with
the Uganda midlands and lowlands of the Alur country, is an unpublished
manuscript of Father Maeght,15 which is also quoted by Quix. Father Vanneste's
Legenden Geschiedenis en Gebruiken van een Nilotisch Volk16 is a fine model of
the recording of native tradition, in which the vernacular text recorded from
each informant is given verbatim together with his name, but not, unfortunately,
his social group. Crazzolara (op. cit.) also includes some detailed Alur material,
but it is considerably coloured by the tone of the author's translation and his
a priori objectives.
It should be noted that the vast wealth of detail collected in recording the
traditions of local groups on which the following account is based has been
omitted. This detail is of the greatest interest in relation both to the social
structure and to the value system of the Alur, but its omission is the only way to
render intelligible an account which may well be considered over-complicated
The early migratory period. Tradition represents the Cwezi as ruling over
Hima and Bantu both in the area of the present Bunyoro and also to the south,
east and north.
The Lwo are represented as moving southwards from the Sudan through the
present Acoliland, coming in contact with the Cwezi political system somewhere
to the north of Bunyoro. The Lwo probably travelled in a number of relatively
separate groups, some of which were already in contact with Madi and Okebo,
if not also Lendu.
The Madi were also moving down from the north, and though they therefore
mingled considerably with the Lwo on the same route, on the whole they were
further west, possibly on both banks of the Albert Nile, with the Lwo mainly to
The Okebo were no doubt divided into a number of independently moving
groups, some of which mingled with the Lendu, some with the Madi and some
with the Lwo.
I have assumed that the Lendu were already across to the west of the Nile,
as the direction from which they got there is dubious. They were probably
scattered widely over the whole area to the west of the Nile and Lake Albert
from Puvungu in the north to the Jangoba river in the south, extending inland
for forty or fifty miles. Throughout this area, place names testify to their
former presence. The Lendu language is much more distantly related to Okebo
and Madi than these two latter are to one another. It may be, therefore, that the
Lendu migration was considerably earlier, and that they began to move on
again to the south-west when the Okebo, Madi and Lwo came in contact with
Along the western shores of the lake and the river were sparse groups of
Bantu who were sections of the aboriginal Bantu tribes of Bunyoro (Gungu,
is I am informed by Dr. R. Oliver that a copy is to be found in the District Office at
16 Institute Royal Colonial Belge, 1949.
144 UGANDA JOURNAL
Kobia, Loholi, etc.). Some mixture took place between them and the Lendu on
the arrival of the latter. There were also odd groups of Abira widely scattered
inland which gave rise later to other hybrid groups.17
Pygmy Bambuti were in wandering bands in the south-west of the area nearly
up to the shores of the lake. It is natural to suppose that mixture took place
between them and the Lendu, and most writers on the subject have assumed
direct pygmoid influence on Lendu physique.18 It is certainly true that the Lendu
are today the shortest and palest skinned inhabitants of Alurland. Some of
their own traditions refer to a period at which they themselves were hunters
and collectors, and hunting magic is still the most noticeable direction of
cultural elaboration among them.
I do not include the Bendi, Nyali or Bira on the map of this phase because the
Alur had no contact with these peoples until much later. The traditions of
tribes of this type, entirely lacking any centralized political authorities, are a
very uncertain guide to past events unless they can be checked against those of
tribes whose political systems render traditions of a more historical kind
important to them. However, Johnston, Van Bulck, and Maenhaut'9 accept the
theory that the Lendu found Bambuti, Lese, Nyali and Bendi in this area and
according to Moeller (op. cit.) the Lendu turned back the Nyali from the region
of Mahagi to the south-west.
The period in which the oldest of the present dynasties of Alur chiefs made
their first appearance in Alurland, twelve or more generations ago in Alur
By this time the Cwezi had disappeared and the Lwo had taken possession
of Bunyoro and founded the Bito dynasty. A little later a branch of the Bito
moved into Buganda, leading to a change of dynasty there. Ganda tradition
expresses this event in the story of the prince Kimera,20 who is supposed to have
been the son of one of the wives of Wunyi, King of Bunyoro, by Kalimera, son
of the King of Buganda, who had seduced her. But in Nyoro tradition Kimera
appears as Kato, twin brother of the King of Bunyoro, who went and con-
quered Buganda. Modern authorities are agreed that this myth represents a
change from the Kintu dynasty to a Bito dynasty of Ganda kings. Six of the
present Ganda clans claim to have come with Kimera from Bunyoro. Among
17 The ethnic status of the Abira is dubious, and they have been equated with the Bira of
the Congo or held to be of Okebo or Lendu origin. At anyrate they are widely scattered
in small groups among the Alur. and always strenuously lay claim to a distinct origin
although now indistinguishable from their neighbours in language, culture or physical
is See Johnston, The Uganda Protectorate, London, 1902, p. 547. A. Moeller Les
Grandes Lignes des Migrations, I.R.C.B., 1936. F. Stuhlmann, Mit Emin Pascha, Berlin,
1894, p. 534.
19 Johnston, Uganda Protectorate, p. 550. Van Bulck, De la Recherche Linguistique au
Congo Beige, Brussels, 1948, p. 190. Maenhaut, Les Walendu, Bulletin Juridique Indigene
du Congo Beige, 1939, i, 1-7; ii, 25-37; iii, 65-77; iv, 97-116.
20 Roscoe, The Baganda. London, 1911, p. 163, and also several articles in Uganda J.,
2, 266 (J. M. Gray), 7, 182-3 (F. Lukyn Williams), 14, 153 (A. H. Cox).
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 145
these is the Ganda Bushbuck clan, which shares this totem with the Bito kings
of Bunyoro and with ruling clans in Toro and Busoga all evidently of common
origin.21 Others of these six clans have strong Hima associations.
Meanwhile, it is probable that the Atyak and Ucibu clans of the Lwo were
moving separately down towards the Nile. More Lwo continued to move down
from the north. Sometime during this period the body of Lwo who were later
to become the Padhola and the Kenya Luo began their journey to the east,
possibly after a period of settlement in Bunyoro.22 The earliest of present Alur
groups settled on the Nile seems to be Panyimur, and they may have reached
there at this stage. Panyimur chiefs belong to the Kwoija group of Lwo.23 They
practise a crude form of mummification on dead chiefs, delaying their interment
several months for ritual reasons. There is a puzzling connection between
Panyimur and Abira, both groups claiming that, some time after Panyimur had
settled at the mouth of the Albert Nile, their chief Lingru went off westwards
into the hills and eventually left his son Alal as chief of Abira, himself returning
to Panyimur. This is much at variance with the whole tradition of all other
Abira groups, which are essentially chiefless decentralized groups. It seems the
most plausible hypothesis that Abira received an early line of Lwo chiefs from
More Madi were still coming into the Nile valley and Acoliland from the
north. The term Madi properly includes the tribes at present known as Lugbara
as well as Madi, nor is there any hard and fast distinction between the Lugbara
and the Kaliko and Logo further north. But the Logo and Lugbara on the one
side, and the Lendu, Okebo and Madi on the other, represent respectively a
western and an eastern migratory movement of the Moru-Madi peoples, of
which the latter was considerably the earlier. It toqk place mainly to the east
of the Nile, though many groups eventually crossed over to the west. Traces of
21 Although the Alur lack totemic clans, the major Alur chiefs share with the Bito the
prohibition on eating bushbuck. Dr. E. H. Winter has brought to my notice the interesting
case of an Amba group recently adopting this prohibition because of its prestige associa-
tions with the ruling dynasty of Toro. Nowadays, the traditional status relations of social
groups may be upset or even reversed by current economic developments. But in pre-
European times, there was little chance for groups of inferior status suddenly to adopt
prestige symbols to which they had no right. In the first place, even groups of inferior
status accorded general recognition to the value system which subordinated them; and
had they attempted to adopt the symbols of prestige, they would only have evoked
ridicule if not a more violent reaction.
22 Cf. also Crazzolara, The Lwoo People, Uganda J., 5,1; also The Lwoo, Pt. 1 (Verona,
1950), pp. 78-80, 88-9, and R. M. Bere, An outline of Acholi history, Uganda J., 11.
23 Other Alur groups claiming descent from Kwonja are Palei, Padere, Panywer,
Panyoga, Mbaro pa Magungu, Pumit. There is some confusion between the figure of
Kwon]a and that of Cuwa; some groups which claim bonds of common exogamy with
clans of the Kwoja group themselves claiming descent not from Kwoija but from Cuwa,
and the same legend is attributed by one group to Kwonja and by another to Cuwa. Both
names frequently occur in the legendary period of both the Alur and the Bito. Kwonja in
Alur language literally means 'beginning', while Cuwa is also the name of the tamarind
tree. Another figure of the same legendary period is Lei or Nyilei, who often stands for
Kwo.a or Cuwa. In Bunyoro there is also Kiyabambi, who sometimes appears in Alur
versions, and is interpreted by Maeght, (Les Alurs) as the name given to Nyilei by the
Bantu in Bunyoro. Pamitu are the most important Alur clan of the Cuwa group; others
are Pulum and Koc. Bakwona and Bachwa clans also appear in Bunyoro and Toro,
Busoga (Kwanga and Mucwa), and Nkole (Abanemucwa)-see Roscoe, The Bakitara,
1923, The Northern Bantu, 1915 and The Banyankole, 1923.
S 0 0o 0 > o
a 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 .L. W. 0O
o o o o o
0 0 0a 0 a/ a
:io 0 0 0 0 e
HIMA A CWZI .- -
BANTU(NYORO GROUP) I I I I I
MADI ......... -
PYGMIES .......... ..
BIRA .. .........
6+ O 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0
o LU o 0 o 0 0
~. oPADHOLA .
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 147
Lwo24 influence occur among the Madi to the south, where they reached the
lower valley of Ora river, and beyond that mingled with the Alur, and also in
the north where they are now settled immediately to the west of the Acoli, on
both sides of the Nile just south of the Uganda-Sudan border. According to the
traditions of both, groups of Madi frequently moved east among the Lwo and
groups of Lwo moved west among the Madi. The culture of the Lugbara, and a
fortiori that of the more distant Logo, shows no such influences, and this
western stream of Moru-Madi migration probably did not come in contact with
the Lwo until about eight generations ago. By that time (phase V) there were
evidently some Lugbara about, for example the Paijira group in Juganda claims
descent from Agangara, who went from Ukuru, and married among others
In the map (Fig. 2) I represent a section of the Okebo as having already
crossed the Nile and reached the country between Nebi and Zeu. This is simply
to indicate schematically what must have happened. It is clear that some Okebo
were well in advance of the Alur, while others stayed in close dependence on
the latter. The aboriginal Abira of Ukuru speak of Thiful and the Lendu going
by before the arrival of the Alur, but all the Okebo of western Ukuru maintain
that the Okebo who are now much further to the north-west came up with
Thiful and passed on before the appearance of the rest of the Alur.25 There
must have been a good deal of pressure on the Okebo with Lendu to the south,
Madi to the north, and Alur advancing from the east: but its influence upon
their movements may have been lessened by the fact that their ironworking
specialization predisposed them to live in symbiosis with other groups. But for
those who wished to escape there was only the north-west unbarred.
Movement to the west and south-west was equally obvious for the Lendu in
response to the pressure of the other tribes, for even if they had to push out
other tribes such as the Nyali there is no sign that the latter were ever more
than very sparsely settled, whereas on all other sides the Lendu were sur-
rounded by tribes such as the Madi, Nyoro and Lwo which were already
numerous and fairly dense, or else were rapidly increasing.
By the end of this phase all the Okebo must have crossed to the west of the
Nile. The Atyak Lwo crossed at Puvungu under their chief Nyipir, and
gradually moved inland for some thirty miles. Nyipir is said to have settled for
a time at Nyaryegi hill just south of Alwi, and later at Ramogi between there
and Nebi. At Ramogi the tethering place of Nyipir's cattle is remembered, and
he is said to have died and been buried there. He was succeeded by his son Umier
Amor (Umier the Fierce) of whom, however, practically nothing is remembered,
whereas the events attributed to Nyipir suggest a very long reign, unless several
generations have been telescoped in the figure of Nyipir. Nyipir represents a
24 To wit the presence among the Madi of the concept of Rabanga (see F. R. J.
Williams, The Pagan Religion of the Madi, Uganda J., 13, 202), of the name abila for a
type of ancestor shrine, of rainstones and rainmakers, and of clan names either of Lwo
form or actually common to both Madi and Lwo.
25 In Alur tradition the brothers Thiful, Nyabogo and Nyipir represent three different
migratory streams; Nyipir that of the Alur themselves into their present territory,
Nyaboio that of the Bito into Bunyoro, and Thiful another stream which cannot with
certainty be identified. (Cf. R. M. Bere, op. cit., and Crazzolara, The Lwoo, part 1.
148 UGANDA JOURNAL
critical point in the fortunes of the Lwo and the emergence of the Alur, and
the name is a household word even to Alur who are poorly informed on tradi-
tional matters in general. Occurrences are therefore sometimes carelessly
attributed to him, and some groups have ulterior motives for claiming associa-
tion with his name. These accretions are revealed by comparing the accounts of
many different groups.
Late seventeenth century, eleven to twelve generations ago.
It is characteristic of the Alur, as it is of the Kenya Luo and probably many
other migratory peoples, that their recollections of the past take on a quite
different quality with reference to events which occurred before and after the
moment when they passed some striking physical barrier or landmark and
entered their present territory. This is true of the Alur once they crossed west
of the Nile, and for the Luo of South Kavirondo once they had crossed
Kavirondo Gulf. Within the people's own attitude system there is something of
the distinction between myth and history between these two sections of the
past. Their past is thus far from being an undifferentiated continuum, though
the greater clarity and precision of the more recent section of it is clearly to be
linked with its contemporary importance as an index of structural relations.26
Umier Amor had succeeded his father Nyipir as chief of Atyak. During his
reign he moved on about ten miles further west from Ramogi, settling at Agem
hill on the north-west bank of the Namtin river. It was here that he died. The
quarrel for the succession between his sons Nduru and Umier Dhyaij (Umier
the Cow) of whom Nduru was the eldest, led to the secession of Nduru and the
accession of Umier as chief. Nduru's secession was the origin of the important
chiefdom of PaNduru, the first of many to split off from Atyak. Nduru first
withdrew a little to the south across the Namtin river, together with his two
full brothers Minya and Zango, who became the founders of the large lineages
of PaMinya and Pagei. Minya soon fell out with Nduru, and moved away to the
east again with his followers, setting himself up as an independent chieflet.
Nduru and his party later set off on their travels, leaving Pagei behind. Pagei
rejoined Umier DhyaD and became one of the most important loyal lineages
under his successors the chiefs of Ukuru. Two other sons of Umier Amor went
north among the Madi, founding the lines of chieflets of Udraro and Akina with
Nduru is supposed to have wandered on from Nebi right to Zeu, then down
south to Mount Rona and east again back to the track previously followed by
Atyak between Alwi and Nebi. On his way he came across Mitu, whose group
claim to have crossed the Nile with Nyipir and then on the way up went off on
a long trek to the west and slightly south as far as Mount Akara and back. The
main body of PaMitu remained closely associated with PaNduru, having chief-
ship of their own but accepting the PaNduru chiefs as overlords. One section of
PaMitu later wandered off again to found the chiefdom of Mambisa to the
south-west, while other sections are found in various chiefdoms as Lwo com-
26 Cf. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, Oxford, 1940, p. 108.
HIMA 1 CWEZI-----s a
BANTU(NYORO GROUP) II I I I
o O ...........
PYGMIES ........... .
N IAU ...........
SI .... .. ... -
... .. 11
0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
o d 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 o
150 UGANDA JOURNAL
The Alur were frequently depositing small settlements in their track to look
after localities of ritual importance.
Of unique significance among these is Puvungu, which is claimed to be the
group left ritually to guard the spot where the axe was buried sealing the
separation of Alur, Acoli, and Bunyoro groups of Lwo.27 No parties to such a
pact could go back beyond the place of the axe for to meet one another again
before a sheep had been sacrificed between them would mean disaster. A
Puvungu girl is remembered as wife of chief Umier Amor. The chiefdom of
Pukwac (which gave its name to the present river port of Pakwach) whose ruling
line changed several times, is also claimed to have been established at the time
when Atyak went on inland from the river. The chiefs of Panyigoro, who settled
just north of Panyimur, claim to have split off from the main body of Atyak on
the march inland. Paroketo chiefs claim to have come from the Lwo in Bunyoro
at the same time and settled between Panyigoro and Pukwac. The founders of
the chiefdom of Ragem, which was established near Wadelai among the Madi
and some other Lwo groups, are said to have arrived there drifting down the
Nile from Bunyoro on the sudd.
Oecologically, the country offered two obvious foci of attraction, the Nile and
the grassy highlands. The Nile held fish and hippopotamus, and the highlands
grass for cattle and very fertile soil. At this time cattle were also kept in the Nile
valley, but it was obviously less favourable to them and was later invaded by
tsetse. These different foci were responsible for a certain separation, both
physical and cultural, between the lowland groups on the river who acquired a
particular sense of common identity as Junam28 (river-dwellers) within the
general body of the Alur, and the highland Alur who tended to move further
away from them. There was not a complete loss of contact between them. West
of the Nile is a narrow belt of particularly barren and dry country, which can
never have been attractive, and the less so during the early period when such a
free choice offered elsewhere. But the Junam and the highlanders were kept in
continual indirect contact by the subsequent Lwo groups which kept crossing
the Nile to the west and following on behind. Later, the highlands themselves
returned the process in establishing some colonies in the lowlands, or in the
midlands immediately behind. At this period the space shown on the map
(Fig. 3) between Junam and Atyak was certainly the scene of various wandering
groups, some of which we shall specify but many others of which have no doubt
vanished leaving no trace. There were there besides small numbers of Madi,
Okebo, and Lendu who stayed on under the Alur.
The Mamvuli, claiming descent from Nyaborjo the founder of the Bito,
crossed to Panyimur and began to follow after Nyipir and Atyak, eventually
founding a small chiefdom in the midlands with Lwo, Madi and Okebo subjects.
The Cubu are a group of rather obscure origin. Like the Palwo29 they claim to
have come from Mount Igisi, but some Alur think that they are Alurized Lendu.
They must have been one of the earliest groups to settle, were of low status, but
27 See R. M. Bere, loc. cit. Fr. Crazzolara, The Lwoo, part. 1, pp. 59-66.
28 Cf. Crazzolara, op. cit., p. 86-7.
29 Crazzolara, op. cit., p. 79 reports a Lwoo group of Ya-Cobo, claiming to have come
from Pawir (Palwo) and to be related to the Alur, though now living in the south-west of
Lango district, fifty miles west of the present Palwo country in Bunyoro district.
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 151
became the most important subject group in the establishment of the chiefdom
While the Atyak had been crossing the Nile and moving inland from Puvungu
the Ucibu were doing more or less the same thing further north. There is no
need to suppose that all crossed at exactly the same point; the main Anal
tradition speaks of crossing near Wadelai. But instead of going to the west they
then made a great detour round to the north, passing Mount Jebelewati, and
then turning south-west as far as Mount Aipi and from there south to Zeu.
The earliest Hima chiefs to cross Lake Albert were the Gegere who settled
among the Lendu south-west of Mount Aboro. They were recognized as over-
lords by subsequent Hima groups which joined them. Presumably Bantu
speakers on arrival, they gradually became entirely Lendu in speech.30 Other
Hima crossed further south near Kasenyi. These retained a form of Nyoro
speech, but as they dominated Lendu and Bira they learnt those languages as
The Okebo spread further to the west and north, the Lendu to the west and
south. By this time the Lendu may have come in contact with the Nyali and
Bendi. All along the western borders the population seems never to have been
anything but very sparse as it is today. In the Territoire de Djugu two thousand
Bendi still occupy nominally a vast tract of country, which has now been desig-
nated by the Belgian authorities as an expansion area for the dense Alur popu-
lations to the east.
Early eighteenth century, nine or ten generations ago.
The Ucibu clan split into two, Juganda moving slightly to the west among the
Okebo and Lendu, Aijal moving round to the north of the Atyak settlements
and across to the south-west of Nyarwodho river which was for a time the
boundary between them. According to some versions Aijal settled actually with
Atyak for some time before misunderstanding arose between them and Aijal
After the quarrel with Nduru, Umier Dhyag (Umier the Cow) had succeeded
Umier Amor as chief of Ukuru, as we may now more conveniently call the
parent chiefdom of Atyak, though they themselves ascribe the origin of the
name Ukuru to a later period. Umier Dhyaj moved on from Nebi a little further
north-west just below the escarpment of the highlands. Various groups were
left behind around Nebi: Pubidhi and Pawoio lineages descended from Nyipir,
Pakucur under Umier Amor's son Ucur, and a number of groups in charge of
the great shrine at Kalowai with other sons of Umier Amor to supply them
with chiefship. Then Paidha and Palara split off from Ukuru under different
sons of Umier Dhyaij. The tradition attributes the origin of Paidha to the kid-
napping of the chief's son by some Okebo groups to be their chief. Paidha settled
between PaNduru and Ukuru, with Palara to the south-east.
A branch of the Bito crossed from Bunyoro to found the chiefdom of
30 In the genealogies of their ruling lineages famous names from Nyoro tradition
remain recognizable in spite of typical Lendu consonantal changes, e.g. Murindr for
Mulindwa, Ndraura for Ndaula, Vavito for Babito.
152 UGANDA JOURNAL
Panyikago south of Panyimur. Panyikajo never achieved great size, and like
Muswa were almost exterminated by sleeping sickness early in this century. The
Kings of Bunyoro gave Panyikaijo a ritual supremacy over the chiefs of Muswa
and Mukambo who communicated through them with Bunyoro and sent their
tribute by them. A Magungu31 group went all round Lake Albert from Toro to
the west and north, and, settling between the rivers Jangoba and Kakoyi, founded
the chiefdom of Musongwa. According to their tradition the first chief then
made a great journey through the Lendu of the hinterland, passing up the
Kakoyi valley, leaving PaNduru and PaMitu a little to the north, entering the
southern Okebo country and so round south and east back to the lake. Of their
subjects, the Bantu Muliu who had first received them on their arrival, and the
Acoli Pakule who joined them there, had the highest status. They were also
recognized by the Okebo of Mount Aboro and by all the neighboring Lendu.
A brother of the chief led his followers southwest among the Hima where they
became Lendu speaking subjects of the Gegere chiefs. Another Magungu group
crossed from Bunyoro to found the chiefdom of Muswa on the north bank of
Kakoyi river next to Musongwa.
We may at this point conveniently begin to call the Lwo who had lately
settled in the north-east of Bunyoro the Palwo.32 They consisted of an influx of
Lwo later than those who came with the Bito and who, like them, adopted
Bantu speech in Bunyoro. Those Lwo who still remained east of the Albert
Nile further north, mingling with the Madi and themselves receiving further
accretions of Lwo from the north, we may begin to call the Acoli. Some of these
groups, like Payera and Patiko, may have arrived at the time when the Alur of
Atyak and Ucibu crossed the Nile, others came later. These are empirical dis-
tinctions. There are few a priori grounds for distinguishing between Palwo and
Acoli. Palwo seems to be a name of antiquity by which they know themselves;
the name Acoli, though in its present form attributable to the early foreign
travellers in the area, seems to represent the root Collo, which like Lwo itself
is an ancient generic name in this Nilotic group. Palwo is now administratively
restricted to the Lwo who settled on the banks of the Somerset Nile above the
Murchison Falls, and who became known as Copi by the Nyoro. Oecology gave
these people something of the same distinctness from the population of Acoli-
land as the Junam had from the highland Alur. Nevertheless, as a term of self-
ascription, Palwo includes most of southern and eastern Acoli as well, for most
of the ruling groups of this area came from Palwo, that is to say, from the banks
of the Somerset Nile and the north-east corner of Bunyoro, which may be
regarded as Palwo proper. Acoli would more logically refer to the northern and
western parts of Acoliland where the population claiming to have come from
Palwo is unimportant. But here oecology is a unifying factor, in view of the
physical homogeneity of Acoliland, and I understand33 that this, together with
the common substratum of Lwo culture, gives many common elements to the
31 The term Magungu is used by the Alur for ruling groups which came from Bunyoro
and may, in fact, have been of varying ethnic origin.
32 Pawir was also an important name by which the Palwo were known, especially in
Acoliland. cf. Crazzolara, The Lwoo, part 1, pp. 78-80.
33 From Mr. F. K. Girling who has studied the area.
154 UGANDA JOURNAL
process whereby Acoli society has come into existence in both the 'Palwo' and
'Acoli' regions of Acoliland.
It is generally accepted34 that the Palwo made this double movement, first
south as far as the Somerset Nile and possibly deep into Bunyoro, then back
again to the Somerset Nile where the main permanent concentration has been,
and from there north and east to become ruling groups among the subsequent
Lwo population there and the Nilo-Hamitic 'Lango' elements35 mixed with it.
The Palwo are therefore distinguished from the other Lwo of Bunyoro in that
they were not Bantuized, and from the rest of the Acoli in that they arrived in
their present settlements from the south and not the north.
It may seem of small moment whether certain groups immigrant into Alur-
land are classified as Palwo or Acoli. However, when I refer to them as Palwo
I mean that they consider themselves as such, very often claiming to have come
from Mount Igisi in Palwo proper, but during the early period they might have
come from wandering almost anywhere in northern Bunyoro or southern
Acoliland. Alur groups classified as Acoli in origin came from northern or
western Acoliland, where there had been no re-colonization from Palwo, con-
siderably later than the period in which the main Alur groups, Atyak, Ucibu,
and PaMitu, had crossed west of the Nile.
Two of these Palwo groups, of some numerical importance, had arrived west
of the Albert Nile by the fourth phase. The Acer were somewhere in the mid-
lands west of the mouth of the Albert Nile. Here they came in contact with
Ainal on the arrival of the latter from the north-west.
The Pamora were also in the midlands a little to the north, and there PaMinya
found them after they had separated from PaNduru. Pamora accepted the heads
of PaMinya as chieflets over them. A smaller group which reached the same
area at this time was Paicirj.
With the arrival of Aijal south and east of the Nyarwodho river the Cubu
accepted Aijal as their chiefs. Together they fought Abira and according to the
tradition it was a Cubu who shot the Abira chief. Abira also became subjects of
Aijal. Later, fighting broke out between Anal and Acer.
It is rarely possible to mention, or depict on the map, groups other than those
which had a fairly progressive history in terms of natural increase and survival
as self-aware units. There are one or two Alur groups extant today which once
had chiefship and subsequently lost it. Such groups may have been at this period
of little less importance than the other chiefly groups which are now so much
larger, but time has proved them abortive. Presumably there were other such
groups which died out or disappeared completely. Therefore, besides those
developing Alur groups shown on the map we must remember that there were
probably others, filling up much of the blank space left on the map between
Puvungu and Nyarwodho, Panyikaio and PaNduru and Juganda. The story of
Thiful may represent such a lost group formerly of great importance.
34 J. M. Gray, Uganda J., 15, 121; Crazzolara, The Lwoo, part 1, pp. 52-8, 67-8, 83-5.
Girling, verbal communication. R. M. Bere, An outline of Acholi history, Uganda J., 11, 1.
35 For this term see Fr. Tarantino, Notes on the Lango, Uganda J., 13, 145; P. H.
Gulliver, The name Lango as a Title for the Nilo-Hamites, Uganda J., 15, 111; Crazzolara,
The Lwoo, part 1. p. 88.
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 155
Late eighteenth century, eight or nine generations ago.
Umier Dhyaij died in Patera on the edge of the Alur highlands and his son
1]ira, who succeeded him as chief of Ukuru, moved up into the highlands and
lived substantially where the Ukuru chiefs still live today. The reasons for this
final move are told in a very widely known story.36 One of Ijira's sons became
chieflet over several groups of Madi and Gungu origin, forming the political
unit of Patek on the edge of the escarpment. Several other chiefly lineages joined
it later. The alien elements became highly assimilated to Alur culture in course
of time and the chiefship of Patek imperceptibly lapsed, the whole population
of Patek reverting to the status of direct commoner subjects of the Ukuru chiefs.
Ijira was succeeded by his son Awaza as chief, but he proved unsatisfactory
and was turned out by the subjects and his younger brother Keno installed
instead. Whereupon Awaza, like Nduru before him, set up a new chiefdom,
which became known as Padea and occupied the area west of Paidha and north
of PaNduru. A chiefly group from Pawoij in Nebi moved east among the Madi
and became established as chieflets of Parjyeth. The original chiefship of Pawoij
lapsed, possibly as a result of the Anal-Acer war, and Pawoei became subjects
of War. (see p. 157.)
With Padea dominating the Lendu to their north, PaNduru extended further
among the Lendu to the south, and by this time if not earlier, a section of PaMitu
left PaNduru and wandered off to the south-west under Ukal, founding the
chiefdom of Mambisa. They ranged far and wide over what is now the Terri-
toire de Djugu, and Ukal was eventually killed by the Hema while returning
from one of his expeditions in which he is said to have reached the Semliki River.
The Mambisa PaMitu settled mainly in Lendu country, but they had a large
group of Okebo attached to them, and later incorporated eastern portions of the
Bendi, Nyali and Bira.
Mukambo are another Magungu ruling group who claim to have arrived after
half circumnavigating Lake Albert from Bunyoro round the south and west.
They settled between Muswa and Panyikanio, but on arrival split in two forming
the chiefdom of Mukambo proper, on and immediately above the lakeshore,
and Ruvinga under a younger brother in the high mountains just across the
middle Kakoyi river. They received at first mainly Lendu subjects, together
with small Bantu groups, but were also joined by some wandering groups of
Palwo and Acoli. Juganda continued to expand westward among the Okebo,
without interference from other Lwo groups. Wherever the Lwo settled among
the various subject peoples part of the population became assimilated to them
and the other part moved off further afield.
During this, and the next phase an extensive reshuffle of groupings occurred
in the midlands between Panyimur and Nyarwodho river, after which they
assumed something like their present distribution. Because of the importance
36 One of the chief's bulls wandered off and got lost. Subsequently it returned plastered
with mud which was recognized as an indication of the presence of water and fertile soil.
Members of Palei clan tracked the bull back again to the source of the Nyanjoto river,
and brought back such a glowing report of the country that the Ukuru group moved up
and settled there.
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 157
of these developments the maps illustrating phases V and VI represent events
which took place during shorter periods than those of the other phases (Figs.
5 and 6).
Another important Palwo group,37 that of Parombo, claim to have crossed the
Nile with Nyipir and Atyak and to have followed them up to the highlands,
remaining in Ukuru chiefdom. Then they came down again to settle in the mid-
lands inland from Panyimur and to act as agents for the chiefs of Ukuru in
supplying them with salt from Panyimur. As noted under phase IV, fighting was
going on between Anial and Acer, and the latter appealed to Parombo to get
help from the chief of Ukuru. The chief of Ukuru, following the usual custom,
gave one of his sons, Udero, to Parombo to take back with them to Acer.38
Udero failed in his task of assisting Acer, and was unsatisfactory in other ways,
but he and his descendants were chieflets of Padel with a number of small
subject groups (Pamitu, Pataka, Jagi, Padolo, Penji). Pataka also claim to have
fetched Udero as chieflet, if so perhaps they fetched him after he had failed in
his mission to Acer, or else the chief of Ukuru indicated him to assist Acer
because he was already on the spot. Parombo then again petitioned the chiefs
of Ukuru, and were given another son, Umier nyathi rombo ('Umier the Lamb').
Umier enabled Acer to beat off Ajal, and founded the chiefdom of War with
Acer as its most important subjects. Parombo also from then on formed part of
War, but continued to recognize the supremacy of the chiefs of Ukuru and to
provide them with salt. The chieflets of Palara recognized War chiefs as over-
lords. Paicir also became subjects of War. Mamvuli say that Aial 'took their
drum'; at any rate they lost their authority and their subjects scattered to other
chiefdoms, some to War, some to Aial, some to PaNduru and some Okebo
groups eventually to Jukoth (see below). Mamvuli themselves reverted to com-
moner status as subjects of War.
Aijal moved south, immediately inland from Panyikaijo, after failing to
establish domination over Acer. Their main subjects at this time were Tharo, a
clan which had accompanied Aial across the Nile and throughout their travels
since then, the Ubaro Okebo who had come with them from Zeu where they had
left the Juganda, Panam who had joined them at Namtin river just before they
crossed the Nyarwodho, Cubu who have already been mentioned, and the Abira
whom they had recently subdued. About this time they received an important
addition in the related Acoli clans of Paravur and Arjaba, which accepted com-
moner status under them.
In present day AMal there are about 3,000 Paravur and Aiaba, 1,000 Cubu,
2,000 Abira, 500 Tharo and some 200 Panam. Of more importance for the
future was the arrival in Anial of Uceni, founder of the chiefdom of Jukoth.
Ucetj was a Magungu from Bunyoro and evidently of high status. He crossed
first to Panyikaio and from there appeared among the Paravur and was taken
by them to the chief of Arjal who received him with great respect. He stayed in
37 But Crazzolara calls them Lax)o.
38 I fall into the Alur habit of personalizing clans and lineages for the sake of brevity
where the meaning is plain. The statement that such and such a clan performed a certain
action means that such action was taken by the constituted authorities, clan heads and
often the heads of component lineages supporting them.
158 UGANDA JOURNAL
Ajal and came to be accepted as chieflet by a group of Lendu. He eventually
fled from Aijal and set up as a chief on his own among the Lendu further west
The end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, seven
Of all the figures in the Alur past chief Keno of Ukuru has left the greatest
historical mark. According to tradition, he acceded to the chiefship as a young
boy and ruled till he was an old man. Begetting a large family, he saw at least
ten of his sons establish themselves as chieflets, while from his other sons more
than half a dozen large clan sections descend, and numerous smaller ones. In
his old age he left his son Songa as chief in his place, and travelled round visiting
some of his other ruling sons, eventually meeting his death among the Lendu,
whereupon his famous drum miraculously made its own way home.
We have already noted the founding of Padel and War by sons of Keno. Other
sons founded Boro, Mbaro, Alwi, Anial-the-bei, Ramogi, Vur, Padwot and
Boltur. The subjects of these chieflets were, as usual, various: in Boltur-Madi;
in Vur-Abira, Okebo and Lendu; in Ramogi-Madi; in Aral-the-bei several
groups left behind there by the main body of Aijal, some of chiefly descent,
some Tharo, some Acer; in Alwi some Acer and Madi; in Mbaro-Gungu and
Okebo: in Boro-Gungu and Acoli. Keno himself, during his travels, came to
Aijudha accompanied by one wife and her two sons. Here the Lendu showed
him the shrine of Jok Riba and the secrets of the fish harvest in Lake Albert
nearby. Keno left his wife and two sons in Anudha and they and their descen-
dents remained there in charge of the most celebrated shrine in Alurland.
Songa succeeded Keno as chief of Ukuru. The Madi Lokra took his son
Agulukono to be their chieflet on the northern border, and a number of other
chiefly lineages subsequently joined them, forming the group known as Juloka.
The chief of PaNduru set off with the Pamoc travelling south-west to the Mam-
bisa country. There he left Pamoc as a Lwo chiefly group associated with the
PaMitu Mambisa, and himself returned to PaNduru. On his death Kingi
succeeded but was later turned out in favour of his brother Adrogo, just as Keno
had replaced Awaza in Ukuru. Kingi followed the usual pattern in founding the
new chieflet group of PaKingi. In Padea there was a similar split resulting in the
formation of Pakwo who settled south of Padea proper.
A group left Aijal and went north-east to settle on the Nile north of Puvungu,
and, as Panyango, became the most numerous commoner clan under the chiefs
of Ragem. During this period, An3al was extending its settlement inland to the
west, and chief Ukwir's son Upiyo became a chieflet over the Lendu to the
south, with a number of commoner clans following him from AI)al proper. At
this time also, the chiefs of Jukoth established their independence of A3al, and
began to spread very rapidly among the Lendu to the south and west.
Mid-nineteenth century, five to six generations ago.
New chieflets continued to issue from Ukuru; most important were Ucego
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 161
and Aryek in Nebi and Atyak in Junam. The latter did not thrive but, together
with Boro, Alwi and Patyeth formed the only extensions of Ukuru domination
into the fringes of Junam where miscellaneous ruling clans were in power. Aryek
was founded by Songa, a son of chief Ucweda of Ukuru, and superseded a
number of pre-existing chieflets whose power had decayed. At Ucweda's death
Acil disputed the succession with Aryem but was worsted and went to join
Aryek in Nebi with a very large following.
Aial continued to spread westward, the chieflets of JUpiyo occupied the
whole valley of the Ca and the middle Kakoyi, and Agasa, a son of chief Ujanga
of Anal, became a new chieflet founding JupAgasa on the slopes of Mount
Ju, west of Kakoyi.
Everywhere there was a general growth of the numbers and spread of the
settlements of the Alur Lwo and Lwo-ized lineages. But the outstanding feature
of this period was the breaking out of PaNduru into repeatedly aggressive war-
fare, which changed the quality of Alur expansion to the south-west, and during
the subsequent period just before the European occupation, threw the whole of
Alurland into temporary confusion when the coming of guns and slave-raiding
threatened to revolutionize the traditional political methods and upset the deli-
cate balances of power.
By this time, the Lugbara had probably approached near the Alur northern
border, and caused further movement of the Okebo to the west and north.
The last period of independence, ending 1912-1914.
No more ruling groups entered Alurland from the outside. Those already
there, continued to expand by the same methods as before; by the purposeful
sending out of chiefs' sons to be chieflets over both Alur and non-Alur groups,
by the splitting of chiefly groups after internal quarrels also leading to the
establishment of new political units embracing new non-Alur groups, and by
the increasing density of population, due especially to the growth and prolifera-
tion of chiefly lineages leading to general expansion of settlements. We have
seen how through these processes a new society came into being over a few
The first contact with new external forces came in the shape of the traffic in
arms and slaves, brought to Alurland by traders of African or mixed blood, but
indirectly due to the Arab slave trade organized from the coast, and ultimately
to the tightening grip of the European powers upon Africa. These forces would
have had a devastating effect on Alur society anyhow, but historically for-
tuitous39 factors added to it. Alur society depended on a peculiar blend of
quasi-kinship quasi-state organization in which political development offered
easy channels for the exercise of the fantastic new power created by the intro-
duction of firearms, but provided no unequivocal state organs for the undisputed
use of it. To put the matter concretely, it was far more disruptive of Alur life
than it was of Ganda or Nyoro life. Unless it was that British and Belgian inter-
vention in Alur affairs cut in just at the point of disequilibrium before a new
39 On this question see Nadel, The Foundations of Social Anthropology, pp. 13-16.
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
adjustment could appear. In that case, perhaps those Alur are right who think
that Ujuru, the ferocious chief of PaNduru, would have created a single Alur
state and so caught up with the political and territorial development of the
Lacustrian kingdoms. Some factors in the traditional system rendered increas-
ing political centralization likely, but their operation was obscured by the
arrival of firearms and, shortly afterwards, by the imposition of European
It is unquestionable that, both in PaNduru and in Mambisa, a ruthlessness
and violence which was uncharacteristic of political activity in other chiefdoms
had become common before the coming of the slave and arms trade. This was a
historical accident which enhanced the disruptive effect on Alur society as a
whole.40 Deeds of violence and treachery certainly occurred from time to time in
the dynastic affairs of other chiefdoms, succession was sometimes disputed or
subjects wantonly pillaged, but in the minds of every Alur these things were
regarded as occasional lapses, whereas in the later history of PaNduru they
became almost commonplace. I here recount briefly some of the salient later
activities of PaNduru to show the mounting incidence of atrocities and the
implication of other chiefdoms.
Laio, third in the line of PaNduru chiefs, had to fight for the succession with
his brother Nyondo, and then with another brother, Jalkil who fled to War where
he was killed. Lano then left a third brother, Wonda, in charge of his chiefdom
and went off on his travels. Wonda incited the Lendu to kill Lajo on his return.
La3o's sons Kingi and Adrogo recovered his corpse and buried it. As chief,
Kingi killed five of the widows whom he had inherited from his father, then by
forcing the Okebo to dig his fields he provoked a rebellion in which he was
deposed and Adrogo installed instead. Adrogo fought against Acer. He was
succeeded by his son Malawi. Malawi fought Palara for making fun of him in a
song, then he massacred the Lendu of Kpandruma because one of his men had
been killed. He skinned the murderer to make a medicine. Acida succeeded
Malawi, and again fought Palara, then allied with them to fight the Lendu right
down to the Hema of Blukwa (Gegere). On his return he fought Padea who had
stolen a cow, and turned on PaKingi suspecting them of the same. He was
involved in internal feuds and had to fight his own PaMitu and Paboi subjects.
Padea took the news of an expected PaNduru attack on them to Alworuna,
chief of Ukuru, and Ukuru and Padea then took Acida by surprise and killed
him at Mount Rona. His son Ujuru succeeded him. Ujuru renewed the war with
Padea, but became involved in fighting with his own brothers over an adultery
case. They allied with PaKingi against him and intercepted his tribute. In the
ensuing fighting between them not even women were spared as was usual.
Ujuru's brothers then appealed to Ukuru and Jukoth for help against him. At
this, Ujuru turned upon Jukoth, ravaged chief Kidikpa's village and plundered
his cattle. Jukoth appealed to Keta, chief of Aijal, who then massacred a
PaNduru settlement but had part of his forces in turn massacred by Ujuru on
4o Cf. Nadel, loc. cit. "when a group adopts this or that cultural item from outside, I
can legitimately search for some pre-existing readiness, that is, for a state of affairs which,
on the grounds of general knowledge would be likely to lead to some such results as
actually happened; yet, that the readiness was matched there and then by a suitable
occasion, is, once more, accident".
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 163
his way back. Moving north Ujuru then subdued the Lendu of Anzhou south of
Juganda, then returning south at a call from 1jblukba the Hema chief of the
Gegere he massacred the Lendu as far as Blukwa and Mambisa. Going north
again, he subdued the Malizi Okebo and began to massacre and pillage
Juganda, taking many of their young men and girls as slaves. Juganda fled
en masse to Aqial and have never recovered from the disaster. Ujuru went on
north from Juganda into Lugbara country and captured thousands of cattle and
hundreds of slaves. The Lugbara have never forgotten this and still maintain a
lively hatred of the Alur in general for Ujuru's sake. On he went beyond the
Lugbara into Logo country and made blood brotherhood with Matafa of
Faradje. Then followed an incident with one of the early European elephant
hunters; PaNduru claimed that this man had taken a cow from Ujuru's brother
Janga without paying for it; with this good excuse, Ujuru captured him and
killed all his armed followers but one, taking a prize of seven rifles of improved
design. With this access of firepower Ujuru felt strong enough to avenge his
father's death on Ukuru. He made a surprise attack by night and is said to have
killed more than six hundred men.41 He captured Alworuiga, killed him and
burnt his body, throwing the ashes into water.42 Like Juganda previously, Ukuru
fled en masse, nearly all went as far as Nebi and many crossed the Nile into
Acoliland whence they were brought back after the establishment of British
rule. The PaNduru sequence of events is of importance because of the contrast-
ing light which it throws on the political methods of different Alur chiefs over
the last four or five generations of their independence. But by the end of the
nineteenth century other neighbours were adopting methods similar to those of
PaNduru, and any small feud was exacerbated and almost haphazardly extended
by the presence of a few firearms. A little before Ujuru's attacks upon them,
the Acoli chief Ulili had crossed the Nile and entered Ukuru and Juganda on a
slaving expedition. From there he went and took slaves among the Cubu and
Paravur subjects of Ai3al. The Aqial chief Keta gave battle and was defeated.
Ulili marched to Keta's village and sacked it, after which there was another
fight in which Keta himself managed to wound Ulili with an arrow and put him
to flight, then pursued and finally killed him. A few years later there ensued the
succession war of the brothers Uwiny and Uinwec for the chiefship of Ragem.
It was aggravated not only by the added incentive of slaving, and the greater
mortality resulting from the use of firearms, but by the fact that UiJwec came to
be associated with the then Belgian sphere-west bank and Uwiny with the
British sphere-east bank of the Albert Nile. The fighting dragged on for years,
and was further increased by the invocation of chief Awich of Acoli Payera
first on one side and then on the other, bringing Acoli forces from Payera,
Ariya, Pagero, Yweya, Pabit, Alokolum, Koic and Pawel, to assist in the
decimation of the population of Junam.
It seems that Alurland had entered upon a period of destructive turmoil
which was still on the increase when European rule was imposed. Areas such as
41 Of course no accuracy can be claimed for the recollected figures of these campaigns,
but that the casualties were prodigious by Alur standards there can be no doubt; I have
often enough met people in Ukuru who had several relatives killed in this war.
42 Such details emphasize the degree of calculated brutality, normally repugnant to the
164 UGANDA JOURNAL
Juganda and northern Junam suffered so badly, that the effects are still felt, but
for most Alur, after nearly two generations of guaranteed peace, the gun and
slave period has lapsed into the perspective of a brief atypical interlude in the
continuity of their tradition. This is not merely their own subjective verdict, but
objectively, the political values to which they are still most strongly attached,
and which they continue to practise within the limits set by alien rule, are clearly
those belonging to the continuous tradition, upon which the irregular violence
of the last days of independence was largely a superficial imposition induced
from without. In fact, even during the turbulent period these traditional pro-
cesses continued, for this was the very time during which the important chieflets
of PAmatho, PaKubi and PAryem established their rule over the Lendu and
Okebo who actually lay between PaNduru, Juganda and Ukuru.
THE APPARENT TRENDS IN THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ALUR SOCIETY
The following emphases may be noted in the development of Alur society as
seen in the traditions. At first there were large numbers of Lwo groups, of similar
status but under no common organization, wandering about and establishing
themselves as, at first, petty chiefs. So far as it is possible to tell the Atyak chiefs
were even then pre-eminent in the degree of differentiation of the group they led,
for it already contained numerous different Lwo clans in addition to whatever
alien groups were then associated with it. On the available evidence I think
there is no other group among the Southern Lwo43 except the Bito which can
compete in this respect with the Atyak clan of the Alur. The number of uncon-
nected ruling groups in the Alur country in course of time became less, and the
pre-eminence of a few steadily increased, above all the chiefs of the Atyak clan
and to a lesser extent those of Ucibu. Atyak was equally pre-eminent in the
proliferation of its chiefship. Other chiefly lines segmented once or twice, and
Ucibu somewhat more, but the number of lines of chiefs derived from Atyak is
counted in dozens. The later expansion of the Alur was more by the derivation
of new chieflets from existent chiefships than by the addition of new immigrant
chiefs. All the highland chiefdoms had a very high rate of increase of their Lwo
population, so that, in spite of the frequent colonies which went out as Lwo
minorities among other tribes, the ratio of Lwo to non-Lwo in such areas always
rose rapidly, producing an effective core of common culture and often giving
the Lwo element eventual dominance in numbers as well as status. As in most
chronicles, battles and conquests are landmarks which more easily hold interest
and memory than less spectacular events, but it is clear that the Alur gained
most of their non-Alur subjects by methods other than those of armed force.
The fact of the recording in tradition of the fighting which occurred at various
points in the process emphasizes the marked lack of it in most instances of the
extension of Alur authority over surrounding tribes. Assimilation was so suc-
cessful in some cases that the ethnic origin of some large clans is impossible to
establish with certainty, for while they seem to be of non-Alur origin all
diagnostic traits of their original ethnicity have vanished (e.g. Mbaro in Padwot,
43 Acoli, Alur, Palwo, Padhola and Kenya Luo. The Lango also belong to this lin-
guistic group, though of different ethnic origin from the rest. The Bito would formerly
have been included in it but are now Bantu.
ALUR TRADITION AND ITS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 165
Cubu in AMal). But usually assimilated clans know their ethnic origin perfectly
well, though for all practical purposes, they are accepted as Alur commoners
in everyday life.
One striking feature is the failure of Palwo groups to establish effective chief-
ship west of the Nile. The first Lwo immigrants established chiefdoms, some
lasting and others not, so did the more recent Magungu chiefly immigrants, but
there seems to be no case of a Palwo group doing so. This raises the question of
what enabling qualities the others had which the Palwo lacked, and how it came
about that Palwo did succeed in establishing so many chiefdoms in south and
east Acoliland. These latter Palwo seem mostly to have belonged to the Pawir
group, and possibly the Alur who went westwards did not, but the problem of
the distinguishing qualities of the two remains.
The proliferation of Alur chiefship was hardly ever a ruling clan's planned
policy of expansion. The expansion occurred for a variety of reasons and in a
variety of ways, and the parent chiefships made little or no attempt to consoli-
date or centralize it politically, though several rivals might go on claiming ritual
supremacy. Even when chief Keno of Ukuru planted a colony at Jok Riba, the
most widely recognized Alur shrine, it never became a political bargaining
counter for Ukuru, and few of those to whom Riba is well known are aware
of the Ukuru connection.
Alur society developed embryonic political institutions of a specialized type.
This, combined with the continuous mobility and fluidity of Alur groups in
space and time, rendered necessary and habitual the recollection of past events
as a charter of present political relations. The high degree of ethnic variability
and of temporal and spatial fluidity and mobility provides some of the fascina-
tion of Alur studies, but involves formidable difficulties of presentation.
This paper is intended to provide some concrete evidence of the influence of
differing types of social structure, and of the temporal processes inherent in
them and the particular oecological environment, on the quality of recollection
of past events. From this, the reader may assess the advisability of relating the
traditions of particular tribal societies to the possible sequence of historical
44 For other writings on the problem of time and social processes see:
E. Sapir, Time perspective in Aboriginal American Culture, Canadian Department of
Mines, Ottawa, 1914.
M. Fortes, Time and Social Structure: An Ashanti Case Study, in Social Structure-
Studies presented to A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Oxford, 1949.
I. C. Cunnison, History on the Luapula, Rhodes-Livingstone Papers, No. 21, 1951.
J. A. Barnes, History in a Changing Society, Rhodes-Livingstone Journal, No. 11, 1951.
THE LAMOGI REBELLION 1911-121
By A. B. ADIMOLA
[I have heard the story of the Lamogi Rebellion since I was a child, but it was told in a
confused mass of truth and inaccuracy. For the following account of the Rebellion, which
I claim to be the nearest approach to the truth of the event now possible, I am indebted
to government officials, missionaries, and some clan elders of West Acholi.
I am particularly grateful to Mr. R. M. Bere, the Provincial Commissioner, Northern
Province for his synopsis on the Rebellion taken from the report of Mr. Sullivan, A.D.C.
in West Acholi at the time of the Rebellion. Mr. Bere began work in Acholi as an A.D.C.
at Kitgum in 1930 and later became D.C. at Gulu. He is the only high government official
known to possess a great knowledge of the country and the language of the Acholi people.
My sincere thanks are also due to the present District Commissioner, Acholi District, who
has permitted me more than once to study the historical files of the district. Of the
missionaries I have interviewed, Fr. Crazzolara deserves a special mention. He was an
eye witness to the incident which occurred at Jago Ali's home and further bandaged the
wound on Ali's head. Fr. Crazzolara apart from his great missionary work in Northern
Uganda and Southern Sudan, is an author of great repute on the history and traditions
of the Lwo. To, his credit is also due a book entitled A Study of the Acooli Language
Grammar and Vocabulary. Among many Acholi elders I have consulted, mention must
be made of Ladit Nekodemo Latigo of the C.M.S. Gulu. Mr. Latigo is well known to the
readers of the Acholi Magazine for his interesting accounts of inter-tribal wars in ancient
times. He was a won-paco at Gulu at the time of the Rebellion and helped to settle the
Lamogi when they were removed from Guruguru to Gulu. This list would be incomplete
without mention of Jerolamo Lubai who is himself a Lamogi. At the time of the Rebellion
he was a young man and was not only an eye witness, but actively participated in the war
against the government.-A.B.A.]
Lamogi is one of the many clans of the Acholi tribe. Long before the coming
of Emin Pasha and Major Delm4 Radcliffe and up to 1912 the Lamogi people
inhabited the Guruguru districts in the west of West Acholi. Their territory
extended immediately to the east of Albert Nile and as far east as longitude
32 9' E. Northwards it extended as far as 30 N. adjoining the Pabo, Parabongo
and Madi countries. In its southwards expansion it stretched as far south as
latitude 2 42' N. The neighboring territories were occupied by the following
clans. To the south and south-west there were the Alero, Bwobo and the Paira
clan of Ogom Anaka. The Patiko territory lay to the east, and to the north there
were the Pabo and Parabongo clans. The last two were very close kinsmen to
the Lamogi people. To the extreme north-west were the people of East Madi.
The Madi belong to a group of Sudanic peoples and the Lamogi tradition claims
that their ancestors came from this tribe. The claim would seem to be true for
by the neighboring Acholi clans they are often referred to as Madi. Although
they no longer speak Madi, yet they have some identical customs and manners,
for example the extensive use of arrows and bows in warfare.
The district inhabited by the Lamogi as well as the adjoining districts of the
north and north-west present a rugged and mountainous appearance. The
mountains are mostly outcrops of granitic rocks which stand isolated from one
another in a north-west trend. They were, however, important to the tribesmen
in that they contain many caves. The caves and their environs were copiously
provided with good springs and adjacent rivers. The caves and the springs
combined, offer very good shelters to any people who wish to defy the govern-
1 This essay was awarded the Arts Research Prize at Makerere College in 1952.
THE LAMOGI REBELLION 1911-12 167
ment. The most important of these rocks and caves were those of Guruguru
mountain with its surrounding hills. It was to the Lamogi people a fort impro-
vised by nature. Most of the Lamogi at this time inhabited the land near Palee
and Amora mountains. These two mountains are included in the Guruguru
At this time in 1911 the territory to the west and north-west of Aswa river
now known as West Acholi was entitled the Nile District. The District included
the clans of West Acholi, Madi east and west of the Nile, and a strip of land
in the southern Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The district headquarters were up to
August 1912 at Nimule and an Assistant District Commissioner resided at
Gulu. There were no good roads and bridges, and travelling was very slow
and difficult. The district headquarters was like a garrison with a few police as
a body guard of the solitary officer inhabiting it.
OUTSIDE INFLUENCES BEFORE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PROTECTORATE
Speke and Grant were the first European explorers to set foot in Acholi
territory. For years before their arrival, however, Acholi land was already
infested with people of foreign origin. These people were the Galla tribes of
Abyssinia, and Sudanese Arab traders, and these were followed by Swahilis
from the East Coast.2 Their chief occupation in the country was trading in
ivory and slaves.
The presence of these people had an important bearing upon the natives of
Acholi land. Although one must admit that there was no tribal cohesion of
any sort yet it can be said with equal truth that the presence of these undesirable
foreigners created a new and unhealthy atmosphere. There were tribal wars
and even wars among clans of the Acholi tribe. But such wars were not so
devastating as those which occurred after the foreigners had arrived in the
country. These competed for the favour of the powerful clan chiefs to enable
them to carry on their trade successfully. They were never in numbers large
enough to contribute an effective threat to the natives. Nevertheless, they knew
what they were doing and could very easily entice the native chiefs with such
articles as kanzus, beads and ear-rings to support them in their designs. They
did not begin with catching and selling people, but in the early stage they
interested themselves with the collection of ivory, leopard-skins and hides.
The second stage and perhaps the most important, came sometime after
1880 when these people introduced trade in firearms. Large numbers of rifles
and muzzle-loading guns were imported by Swahili gun-runners. The natives
soon learnt the advantage and the superiority of guns over the spears and arrows
to which they were accustomed. The desire to acquire such a powerful weapon
grew rapidly among the people. It placed the possessor in an awe-inspiring
position and very often gave him undeserved ruling power. To own a gun
therefore not only became a matter of family pride and ambition but was also
regarded as a safeguard from covetous neighbours. but these guns were very
costly and they could either be purchased with ivory, slaves or large numbers
of cattle, goats or sheep. Few people could afford to have ivory and, as the
2 See editorial note at the end of this article.