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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
Exploration of the Ruwenzori
The Fishes of Uganda - I
British Administration in Lango District, 1907-1935
Fishery Research in East Africa
The Munsa Earthworks
The Flora of Kasilang Erony, Teso
Myth, History and Mourning Taboos in Lugbara
The Kingdom of Mpororo
Index to Volume 19 (1955)
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
tw i AS
. .. .
i~ I s
tdyitprp ta w-"is~
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
DR. W. H. R. LUMSDEN
DR. A. W. SOUTHALL
MAJOR B. G. KINLOCH, M.C.
DR. AUDREY I. RICHARDS, C.B.E.
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
Exploration of the Ruwenzori R. M. BERE
The Fishes of Uganda-I P. H. GREENWOOD
British Administration in Lango District, 1907-1935 DR. K. INGHAM
Fishery Research in East Africa R. S. A. BEAUCHAMP
The Munsa Earthworks E. C. LANNING
Notes on the Flora of Kasilang Erony, Teso
P. N. WILSON AND J. M. WATSON
Myth, History and Mourning Taboos in Lugbara DR. J. MIDDLETON
The Kingdom of Mpororo H. F. MORRIS
The Burial of Kabarega -
Bunyoro Grain Pits -
The Casting of Metals by Africans
The Imperial British East Africa Company Medal
D. N. STAFFORD
D. N. STAFFORD
D. N. STAFFORD
- H. B. THOMAS
Shafts in Buganda and Toro A. S. THOMAS
The Coming of the Banana to Uganda A. S. THOMAS
The Lwoo, Part 1ll. Clans (by J. P. Crazzolara) A. C. A. WRIGHT
Index to Volume 19 of The Uganda Journal -
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI
By R. M. BERE1
I. THE ANCIENTS
FROM earliest times, the ancient Mediterranean world was interested in the
source of the Nile and there was clearly much conjecture amongst the
geographers of those far off days, as frequent classical references show. As
explorers amongst the moderns, therefore, discovered one mountain after
another in central Africa, each discovery, in its turn, was heralded as the moun-
tainous source of the great river. When the German missionary, Rebmann, first
sighted Kilimanjaro in 1848, he thought that he had found the snows to which
the classics referred, as later did the discoverers of both Mount Kenya and the
Bufumbiro or Birunga (Virunga) volcanoes: these were all seen by European
explorers before the Ruwenzori. Claudius Ptolemy, writing in about the year
A.D. 150, was the first to make widely known to the western world that the source
of the Nile lay in great lakes fed by streams from a snow-topped mountain,
which he called the 'Mountains of the Moon'. His maps show the main features
of the Nile valley with considerable accuracy and the longitude and latitude
which he ascribes to his 'Mountains of the Moon' agree, in a remarkable degree,
with the position actually occupied by the Ruwenzori: this of course, in no way
applies to the other mountain masses of central Africa. This question is still
argued by some, albeit there is little reason to support those who hold that it
was not the Ruwenzori to which Ptolemy referred. The rivers that rise from
Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro do not flow into the Nile; the chain of the
Birunga volcanoes forms, in the Albertine Rift, the watershed between the great
river basins of the Nile and the Congo, so that part only of the drainage from its
heights flows to the Nile, whereas with the Ruwenzori the picture is entirely
different. The Ruwenzori range rises on the eastern side of the Albertine Rift,
and streams from its eastern, western, northern and southern flanks all ultimately
send their waters into the River Nile, by way either of the Semliki river or of the
great lakes, Edward, George and Albert.2
It is now, therefore, commonly accepted that Ptolemy's 'Mountains of the
Moon' are, in fact, the Ruwenzori. There had been mention of the snow-fed
sources of the Nile before his time and the Duke of the Abruzzi held that
Aristotle, in 350 B.C., when he wrote of the 'Silver Mountain' was the first to
mention the Ruwenzori. Even so, a hundred years before this, Herodotus, the
father of Greek ,history, had said that the Nile rose from a spring, fed by the
waters of a bottomless lake situated between two sharp-pointed peaks, Crophi
and Mophi. Dr. Noel Humphreys, picturesquely, associates these sharp-pointed
1 The substance of this paper was first published in the Alpine Journal (London) 58
(November 1952), and is reproduced here, with certain notes and corrections, by kind
permission of the Editor. The history of the range was subsequently brought up-to-date
by a further article in the Alpine Journal 59 (November 1954), by D. L. Busk (Further
notes on the Ruwenzori) with a section by the writer. The present paper could not have
been produced in its corrected form but for the researches of Mr. Busk, who has brought
to light much information of great interest, previously unknown, and we are all greatly
indebted to him.
2 This question is examined with great erudition in De Filippi's Ruwenzori (1908).
Terra Incognita 'BarditusM.
Ptolemy A.D. 150
Edrisi A.D. 1154
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 123
peaks with Mounts Emin and Gessi, which appear so when seen from the north,
and thus makes the lake between them the 'Abysmal Lake', and the source of
the Ruamuli the fountain of the Nile as known to the ancient world.
If additional evidence is needed we must turn to Arabic literature, for Arabic
writers in the seventeenth century compiled much information, from earlier and
partly legendary sources, as to the snows from which the Nile springs: these
sources include a manuscript left by the 12th century Arab geographer
Edrisi (Abu' Abdullah Muhammad) who placed the great lakes and the Jebel
El Qamar (Mountains of the Moon) with surprising accuracy. These tales
originated with the Sabaean Arabs who are credited, by certain authorities,
with the real discovery of the Ruwenzori: it was this, no doubt, that led Ptolemy
to make his remarkable deductions. They were an enterprising people and are
known to have travelled deep into the heart of Africa, so that it is not unlikely
that they reached as far as Lake Albert, from the southern end of which the
northern peaks of the Ruwenzori, seen as two sharply pointed summits, are
II. THE EARLY TRAVELLERS
Sir Henry Stanley was the first to proclaim to the modern world the existence
of the Ruwenzori, which he had seen during the course of the expedition (1887-9)
which he led for the relief of Emin Pasha, then isolated in the heart of Africa by
the Mahdist troubles in the Sudan. He claimed to have made the discovery him-
self on the 24 May 1888, but in fact two members of his expedition, Surgeon
Parke and Mounteney-Jephson3 had seen the snows a month previously on the
20 April when near the shores of Lake Albert. Although at the time they
reported their find to Stanley, he, in his book In Darkest Africa, dismisses it on
the improbable grounds that they were looking in the wrong direction. On his
own first sight of the Ruwenzori snows he writes that his eyes were directed by
a boy to a mountain said to be covered with salt. Without realizing it, he himself
had seen the range on a previous expedition twelve years before,4 when he
reached the escarpment above Lake George, as also had the Italian, Romolo
Gessi, whilst making the first circumnavigation of Lake Albert also in 1876.
During his first expedition in 1864, when he had discovered the existence of
Lake Albert, Sir Samuel Baker had seen the great mass of mountains to the
south; but, naming them 'The Blue Mountains', a name also found in Arabic
literature, he had failed to appreciate the importance of the great natural feature
that he had observed. Baker was, however, the very first European to set eyes
upon the Ruwenzori.
But we will not quarrel with Stanley, or deny him the right to have had the
highest mountain named after him, for to him we owe the first knowledge that
here was a range of snow mountains; and to him, also, we owe the name
'Ruwenzori', one of many names that he thought the people of Ankole and
3 See T. H. Parke, My personal experiences in Equatorial Africa (1891); and H. B.
Thomas, Ruwenzori and Elgon-Footnotes, Uganda J., 2 (1934-5), 249.
4 See Stanley, Through the Dark Continent (1878); and F. Lukyn Williams, Early
Explorers in Ankole, Uganda J., 2 (1934-5), 196.
124 UGANDA JOURNAL
Toro had told him. Actually and most appropriately, the word means 'the place
whence the rain comes', being derived from the Lunyoro prefix ru- (proper to
ranges of mountains, rivers, or indeed, anything long) and enjura or enzhura
meaning 'rain'. The word was transcribed by Stanley as Runzori; hence Ruwen-
zori. Today it seems impossible to trace any truly native name either for the
massif itself or for the individual peaks, since the Bakonjo, who inhabit the
lower slopes, give names only to rivers and to individual places, such as caves,
camping or hunting grounds, which they know and which are of value to them.
It is, in fact, far more probable, that the inhabitants of the surrounding country
should have had a name for the Ruwenzori as a whole than that the Bakonjo
should do so, for indeed it was practically their whole world. 'Gambaragara' is
sometimes used by the people of western Ankole to describe the land in the
Ruwenzori region and at his first sight in 1876 Stanley seems to have been told
that he was looking at "the Great Mountain in the country of Gambaragara".5
This name may derive from the expression Gamalaga gafumba biri, meaning
'the great leaf in which the clouds are boiled', surely the most expressive and
perhaps the true native name for the Ruwenzori massif.
After his first sight of the snows, Stanley was compelled to return to the
Congo, but reached Lake Albert again in the following year, during the course
of which he spent nearly three months in the Ruwenzori region, passing
down the western slopes of the massif and getting frequent views of the snow
peaks. While this journey was being made, a member of his party, Lieutenant
W. G. Stairs climbed to a height of over ten thousand feet up one of the western
valleys, probably the Luzilubu, and so became the first European to see anything
of the Ruwenzori at close quarters. He estimated the height of the snow peak
which he approached at 16,600 feet, but he did not think it to be the highest
point in the range: this, the first of many climbs in the Ruwenzori took place in
June 1889. Stanley reached Zanzibar in company with Emin Pasha in December
of that year. Emin, however, could not stay away from the land of the great
lakes, and June 1891 found him camped on the banks of the Semliki river, this
time at the head of a German expedition, with Dr. Franz Stuhlmann as his
companion.6 Stuhlmann climbed up the Butagu valley, at the present time the
most commonly used of the approaches from the west, to a height of 13,326 feet
to the south of Mount Mugule, and so gained the first near view of the snows,
but even so did not recognize the presence of glaciers: at the highest point
reached, he left a bottle and the place in now known as Campi ya Chupa, or
'Camp of The Bottle'. G. F. Scott Elliot, the naturalist, was next in the field.
In 1894 and 1895 he made a series of excursions into the mountain by way of
the Butagu, Ruimi, Mubuku and Namwamba valley: but he got no higher than
had Stuhlmann and the results of his expedition were primarily of botanical
We are now, however, passing away from the days of the early African
5 See Early Explorers in Ankole, Uganda J., 2 (1934-5), and Geographical J., 69 (1927),
530. I first heard of this expression from the late R. W. Maling, an old Toro resident. The
probable meaning is 'that which strains the eyes' or 'that which glistens'.
6 See Emin Pasha in Central Africa (1888); Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Africa
(1894); and Die Tagebiicher von Dr. Emin Pascha (1916-27), the two last by Stuhlmann;
also De Filippi Ruwenzori, pp. 10 and 20.
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 125
explorers and the names which, henceforth, are found to be associated with the
opening up of the Ruwenzori are those either of local residents or of well-known
mountaineers. The country near the base of the massif was reasonably well
known and European soldiers, officials and missionaries were, by this time,
living within sight of the mountains. It is not, therefore, surprising to find that
the next excursion to the higher slopes was made by a member of the Uganda
administration on what was no more than a holiday trip, and that he left no
record other than that which is to be found in his unpublished diary. This was
Captain Claude Sitwell, D.S.O., who went up the Namwamba valley in July
1898.7 Starting from Kilembe he reached the snows in three days, without
encountering any remarkable difficulties. His brief notes make pleasant reading
when compared with the sombre utterances of most of the travellers of this
period. Of the way up we read, "very pretty country, plenty streams to cross.
Had to leave cows other side of river as banks were too steep for them"; and at
the highest point reached, "got up to snow, but could not reach top as there was
sheer rock and no road". Working out his route as best one can from such brief
notes it seems that he followed an old native hunter's track, leading from the
Namwamba river to the Ibanda rock shelter at the head of the Kurugutu valley
and climbed some way up the rock peak of Rugendwara (13,899 feet), on which
snow often lies, and which is still unclimbed.
At this time, and in fact until the Duke of the Abruzzi's expedition of 1906,
there was a remarkable degree of confusion as to the true topography of the
range and its correct height, some estimates even suggesting, somewhat wishfully
one fears, that the highest summit approached twenty thousand feet. In the
spring of 1900, J. E. S. Moore went up to the head of the Mubuku valley and
so became the first to reach the glaciers, the existence of which had not
previously been recorded, or, apparently suspected: even Dr. Stuhlmann, who
had got quite close to the snows on the west side of the range and took a photo-
graph which shows the glaciers clearly, did not realize their presence. Moore
climbed some way up the Mubuku glacier and reached the crest of one of the
ridges on Mount Baker.
This climb, showing as it did that the Mubuku route gave easy and relatively
quick access to the glaciers and that the snow line on the Ruwenzori was com-
paratively low for an equatorial mountain, provided the impetus for a series of
similar expeditions. None of these was of any real importance as they added
little material information to the somewhat scanty knowledge of the massif,
then existing, and this, to a remarkable extent, applied to all subsequent parties
until that of the Duke of the Abruzzi in 1906. Now that we have full knowledge
of the topography of the Ruwenzori it is easy to comment on the lack of enter-
prise shown at the time, but the conditions then were very different from those
that we find today, and it was no easy matter to persuade the porters to move
into country that was unknown to them. However, had any of these parties
walked up the easy slopes of Hamugoma to the Freshfield Pass, a matter of
little more than an hour from the point at which they took to the glaciers, they
would have found the key to the main problem. We can pass, therefore, with
7 Sitwell's manuscript diary is in the Secretariat Library at Entebbe; see note by H. B.
Thomas, Uganda J., 11 (1947), 61.
126 UGANDA JOURNAL
but brief comment the activities of the parties that immediately followed.8 After
Moore, and in the same year 1900, three parties followed his route up the
Mubuku: these were Fergusson, who should have been Moore's companion;
Stephen Bagge, of the Administrative Service then stationed at Fort Portal;
and, in September of that year, Sir Harry Johnston with W. G. Doggett and
Wallis Vale. Sir Harry took a number of excellent photographs and made a
series of lovely sketches, some of which were published in his book The Uganda
Protectorate, in which there is a wealth of valuable information on the flora and
fauna of the region, as well as of its native inhabitants. Unfortunately it was Sir
Harry who was responsible for the exaggerated estimates of the height of the
Ruwenzori, carried away, perhaps, by a patriotic and wishful desire to find in
British territory a peak higher than the summit of Kilimanjaro, which was
within the then German East Africa.
In the following year another officer of the Protectorate Service, W. H. Wylde,
took the same route and reached roughly the same point as had Moore before
him. There was no activity in 1902, but in January 1903 the Rev. A. B. Fisher,
a missionary stationed at Fort Portal, and his wife went up to the Mubuku
glacier.9 Mrs. Fisher, thus, became the first woman to visit the Ruwenzori snows
and, indeed, in those days, it was a remarkable journey for a woman. They went
up to the snows again in 1906 and their local knowledge was of great value to
some of the later expeditions. We must move, now, once again to the western
slopes for in 1904, the Swiss geologist, Dr. J. J. David ascended the Butagu
valley. Such accounts as he left of his expedition are, to say the least, extremely
nebulous and it is difficult to ascertain the point which he reached. He claimed
to have attained a pass on the main watershed at a height of 16,400 feet and if,
indeed, he did so, he must have climbed up the West Stanley glacier to the col
between the Moebius and Alexandra peaks where there is a small point some-
times known as David's Rock, and so have been the first to see the great ice plain
of the Stanley Plateau: it is unfortunate that he left such meagre records.
In 1905, for the first time in its history, a party of really experienced moun-
taineers visited the Ruwenzori: these were D. W. Freshfield, President of the
Alpine Club in 1893, and possessor of a long record of Himalayan exploration
as well as of climbs in the Alps and elsewhere, A. L. Mumm, also a well-known
mountaineer, and the distinguished guide, Moritz Inderbinnen of Zermatt.10
They were, however, no more successful than their predecessors, merely reach-
ing a point on the ridge of Mount Baker near to that attained by Moore. Having
been unfortunately advised, they chose the month of November for their attempt
and, encountering exceptionally bad weather even for that inauspicious month,
were, almost literally, washed off the mountains by floods. Three months later,
in January 1906, Herr Rudolf Grauer, a member of the Austro-German Alpine
Club, with two members of the Church Missionary Society stationed in Toro,
H. E. Maddox and H. W. Tegart, both of whom had been up the glacier in the
previous year, made the first ascent of any of the peaks, albeit a most minor one.
8 See To the Mountains of the Moon (1901), by J. E. S. Moore; The Uganda Protec-
.torate (1902), by Sir Harry Johnston; and De Filippi (op. cit.).
9 See On the borders of Pigmy Land (1905), by Ruth B. Fisher; Extracts from Mengo
Notes, Uganda J., 12, 185; and De Filippi (op. cit.).
10 See Alpine Journal, 23 (1906-7).
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 127
Following the route of their predecessors they reached on 18 January the
summit ridge of Mount Baker and climbed a small rock peak, which they
named after King Edward, but which is now, more appropriately, called Grauer
Rock. Studying the accounts of these climbs, as well as that of Wollaston which
will be described immediately, the reason for the topographical confusion
becomes more apparent. In the first place it was thought that there were but
four separately identifiable mountains, whereas, in fact there are six distinguish-
able groups above the snow line and, secondly, parties reaching the summit
ridge of Mount Baker, when looking northwards across the upper Bujuku
valley towards the peaks we now call Speke, Emin and Gessi, seem to have
thought that they were looking down the western slopes of the range towards
the Congo forests. There was a variety of reasons for this confusion of which
bad weather and almost zero visibility were the most serious, but the complica-
tion was clearly increased by a laudable and natural insistence on trying to
identify the peaks by a series of native names, which we now know do not exist
Duwoni, Kiyanja and Ngombwimbi are better sounding names than Baker,
Stanley and Speke but they are not identifiable as individual features of the
Ruwenzori range. The rivers, rock-shelters and camping grounds have fascinat-
ing descriptive vernacular names which, fortunately, can be retained and we
must content ourselves with these.
At about the same time as the first ascent of Grauer Rock on Mount Baker
was being made, the first British Museum Expedition to visit the Ruwenzori
arrived from England and established its base at Mihunga in the Mubuku
valley, at an altitude of some 6,000 feet. This was not primarily a mountaineer-
ing party, its objects being research into the flora and fauna of the range; but,
fortunately, amongst its members was A. F. R. Wollaston, an experienced
mountaineer," who took the first opportunity possible to make an attempt on
the high peaks. On 16 February 1906 he reached the top of Grauer Rock,
in the company of R. B. Woosnam and R. E. Dent, members of the same expedi-
tion; but this is to anticipate, for Wollaston was not the first member of this
party to go up to the snows. Woosnam, with M. Carruthers, took a camp to
Bujongolo in the upper Mubuku valley, late in January and from this point
followed Grauer's route to the watershed. Woosnam cut forty or fifty steps in
the Mubuku glacier with his hunting knife and then walked up easy snow to a
point near the base of a black rock on the ridge, where he found a tin containing
the names of Grauer's party: he had what he described as a good view to the
Congo side. On 17 February, the day following their ascent of the rock,
Wollaston and Woosnam got away early from Bujongolo, and instead of follow-
ing the previous day's route kept on the right (north) of the Mubuku, moving
towards the peak that they describe as Kiyanja, and after climbing over easy
ice and snow slopes they reached the lower of the two summits that Johnston
had thought of as the highest of the range. Then, and without difficulty, they
ascended the higher of the peaks: this was, in fact, the first ascent of the
Wollaston Peak (15,286 feet) of Mount Baker and the climbers realized, of
course, that they were not on the highest point of the range, although they did
11 See From Ruwenzori to the Congo (1908), by A. F. R. Wollaston, whose Letters and
Diaries have also been published (1933); and De Filippi (op. cit.).
128 UGANDA JOURNAL
not get a clear view, which would have enabled them to sort out the muddled
topography of the Ruwenzori.
Wollaston comes into the picture twice more; in May he left the expedition
for a few days in order to meet the Duke of the Abruzzi at Fort Portal and give
him the valuable information that he had been able to collect about the moun-
tains; while in August he tried to make his way up the Butagu valley from the
west. This attempt was a fiasco, albeit not of Wollaston's making; for when
leaving his second camp at about ten thousand feet, he received a message to
say that the escort which the Belgian officers at Beni had insisted should
accompany him had been attacked by armed tribesmen, one soldier having been
killed and five wounded; and so, on a brilliantly clear day, he had to descend
and extricate the escort from a predicament which seems to have been largely of
its own making. In a letter he wrote, 'it was impossible to take photographs as
we were dodging spears and arrows all the time. In fact it was a sort of running
fight for the three days back to Beni'. This is the only recorded instance of
hostility from the inhabitants of the Ruwenzori region and seems to have been
a result of the stupidity of the officer in charge of the escort, which was allowed
to camp in the villages, cut down food crops, loot the huts and, as if this was not
enough, shoot the village cow.
III. THE DUKE OF THE ABRUZZI AND DR. NOEL HUMPHREYS
But before this there had been the great Italian expedition and the Ruwenzori
was no longer terra incognita.12 The Duke of the Abruzzi came out with a
formidable team: he himself was a mountaineer and explorer of the highest
order and his party included two well-known Alpine guides, Joseph Petigax and
Cdsar Ollier with, as porters, Joseph Brocherel and Laurent Petigax. Oilier and
Brocherel were not strangers to East Africa for they had acted as guides to Sir
Halford Mackinder in 1899, when he had made the first ascent of Mount Kenya.
There were also Vittorio Sella, perhaps the most accomplished of all mountain
photographers, Umberto Cagni, who was to be principally responsible for the
survey work, Roccati, in charge of the scientific side and Dr. Cavalli Molinelli
as medical attendant; twelve Europeans in all, a formidable team quite on the
Himalayan model. We need not concern ourselves with their journey out from
Naples, their reception at Entebbe or their walk to Toro, and we may start to
follow their movements only after they had established a base-camp at Bujon-
golo (12,461 feet), the rock shelter in the upper Mubuku valley used by most of
the previous parties: this they did on 8 June 1906, taking a light camp up to the
edge of the glacier on the following day. By 6.30 in the morning of 10 June the
Duke and his two guides were on the terminal ridge of Baker, at the base of
Grauer Rock. There was perfect visibility so that, immediately and for the first
time, the whole range was visible and its main topographical features, for so
long a mystery, became apparent. This half hour of clear weather at the start of
the expedition was the explanation of the rapid and complete success that
favoured them throughout and which enabled such an excellent map to be
made, as they had reached a point from which all the high peaks can be seen.
12 Filippo de Filippi's Ruwenzori is the official account of this expedition which is also
described in the Alpine Journal, 23 (1906-7) and the Geographical J., 29 (1907).
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 129
They were looking down to Lake Bujuku and saw the importance of the long
Bujuku valley, so that they realized that the peaks at the heads of the Mubuku
valley were not on the main watershed, as all previous parties had imagined.
The Duke and his guides left Grauer's Col, the point which they had first
reached, after but a short stay, and traversing the high ridge of Mount Baker
climbed without difficulty to the two peaks of Edward and Semper. From the
Edward Peak, he was able, for the first time to see the Freshfield Pass and the
valley, which is in fact the upper Butagu, which divides Mount Baker, on which
he was, from the highest point of all on Mount Stanley. Returning to Bujongolo
the party was held prisoner by rain for three days, during the course of which
however Sella had followed the Duke's tracks to Grauer's Col and turning in
the opposite direction along the ridge had made the first ascent of Moore Peak
and had also climbed Wollaston. On the 15th, the Duke, with Petigax, Ollier
and Brocherel made the first crossing of the Freshfield Pass and camped along-
side the lower of the two Kitandara lakes. The next two days were spent in
relaying loads up the valley and by the evening of the 17th, the party had
crossed the Scott Elliot Pass and established a high camp on the ridge over-
looking the Elena Glacier on Mount Stanley and opposite the two southern-
most peaks, Elena and Savoia, of the central group: the higher summits were
not visible from their camp, now always known as 'Ridge Camp' (14,817 feet).*
Starting before dawn on the 18th, they reached the ice plain of the Stanley
Plateau at 6.30 a.m. and had a clear view of the twin peaks, the lower of which,
Alexandra, was ascended in an hour without any serious difficulty. They waited
for an hour and a half to get a really clear sight of the higher Margherita but
without avail, although it was not entirely hidden, and eventually decided to
take the shortest and most direct route, which is also the most difficult, and
therefore descended the steep slope to the Pass. Crossing the great crevasses in
the gap they took the direct line and, with Petigax leading, cut up the practically
vertical ice to Margherita, a way through the cornice being found by means of
a short ice chimney: before midday they stood on the highest point of the range.
After a day of rest in their tents at Ridge Camp they returned to Alexandra on
the 20th, finishing off the day with a traverse of the Elena and Savoia Peaks.
We need not follow the rest of this expedition in such detail, except in so far
as it is necessary to show how completely they covered the highest part of the
range. From Ridge Camp the Duke and his guides descended into the Bujuku
valley, climbed up to the Stuhlmann Pass and camped near the twin lakes below
the Speke Glacier; from this camp they made without difficulty the first ascent
of the Vittorio Emanuele Peak of Mount Speke. They then continued north-
wards along the western slopes of Speke, crossed the Cavalli Pass and climbed
Umberto, the highest of the three peaks of Mount Emin, retracing their steps to
their camp at the foot of the Freshfield Pass, where on 1 July they rejoined the
rest of the expedition, which had certainly not been idle. Sella had made the
ascent of two of the peaks of Mount Luigi di Savoia (Stairs and Sella), had been
to the top of Mount Baker on several occasions and had twice been up Alexandra
as well as making the first ascent of Moebius. As a result of these climbs, and
The present Ridge Camp has been sited just above that of the Duke; its altitude has
been determined as 14,858 feet (Uganda J., 15 (1951), 74).
130 UGANDA JOURNAL
of his determination not to be put off by bad weather, he was able to take a mag-
nificent series of photographs and panoramas. Cagni, having measured a base
line at Bujongolo, had achieved a remarkable degree of success with the survey
for which he was responsible, and in order to get this done had been up to
Grauer's Col on Mount Baker, had made yet another ascent of Alexandra and
had twice climbed the difficult rock peak to the north-east of Bujongolo that
bears his name. Roccati had meanwhile made a valuable geological examination
of a considerable part of the area of the high peaks. The main body of the
expedition descended the Mubuku valley from Bujongolo by the route which
they had used on the ascent, but the Duke, with Petigax and Ollier, once again
moved round to Bujuku with a few porters. On their way down the Bujuku,
which they ultimately followed to its junction with the Mubuku, they turned
north up the Mijusi valley and climbed both the peaks of Mount Gessi so to
round off the work of this amazingly successful expedition, carried out as it was
on the grand Himalayan model. The main problems were all solved and the
Ruwenzori had found its proper place on the map of Africa.
Nothing further of importance took place for twenty years when Dr. Noel
Humphreys paid the first of a remarkable series of visits to the range. As we have
seen the Duke of the Abruzzi had used the technique of most detailed prepara-
tion and the highly elaborate expedition, with no expense spared. Dr.
Humphreys approach was entirely different: he worked with a few companions
or sometimes even alone and his organization was on the most spartan lines,
with an amazing absence of paraphernalia. Even so he achieved results, as great,
perhaps, as those of the expedition that we have just described.
Dr. Humphreys took up two expeditions in 1926, the first in February and
the second in July.13 On the first, E. H. Armitage and D. Stedman Davies were
his companions and, apart from a second ascent of Speke, it did not produce
remarkable mountaineering results. However, several attempts were made on
Mount Stanley, not only by the plateau route but also by way of the eastern
ridges directly from Bujuku, whilst the possibility of reaching the Col between
the twin peaks from the west was also noted. The northern plateau was crossed
for the first time and after traversing the Roccati and Cavalli Passes the party
descended into the Congo, ultimately reaching Fort Portal by way of the
Bwamba Pass on the northern spur of the range. The second expedition took
place in July and on this Dr. Humphreys was accompanied by E. H. Armitage,
N. F. S. Andrews, R. T. Wickham and George Oliver and they made straight-
away for the Duke of the Abruzzi's Ridge Camp overlooking the Elena Glacier
on Mount Stanley. The Stanley Plateau was reached on eight successive days,
without the weather being clear enough to allow an attempt on the twin peaks.
On the ninth day, however, their remarkable persistence was rewarded and
skirting the base of Alexandra they climbed on to the main east ridge of
Margherita and this they followed to the summit, a difficult cornice having to
be negotiated before they got on to the ridge. From the top of Margherita they
retraced the original route to Alexandra, thus achieving the second ascent of
the twin peaks, though not of course of the lower summit itself, which had been
previously climbed several times by the Italians. They then climbed Speke,
13 See Alpine Journal 39 (1927) and Geographical J., 69 (1927).
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 131
including the first ascent of Johnston and the lesser summit overlooking Bujuku,
to which they gave the name of 'Trident Peak', crossed the Scott Elliot and
Freshfield Passes to a camp on Hamugoma, from which they climbed the
Edward and Semper Peaks on Baker as well as the Stairs and Sella Peaks of
Mount Luigi di Savoia. They descended finally by way of Bujongolo and the
Mubuku valley. In 1926, also, the American ornithologist, Dr. James P. Chapin,
spent several months on the Ruwenzori studying the flora and fauna of the
western slopes: he climbed alone to a height of 15,400 feet on Mount Stanley.
In order to complete the picture at this stage, brief reference should be made
to the visits made by various French and Belgian naturalists, of which there
have been a number. The first of these was M. Alluaud who went up the
Mubuku valley with his wife in 1909.14 Then came the Belgian botanist,
J. Becquaert, whose name is now identified with one of the most frequently
seen of the lobelias. He led an expedition up the Butagu valley in 1914, the
route also followed by Humbert (who, incidentally, reached the top of Mugale,
14,700 feet) in 1929, and M. and Mme. Lebrun in 1930. For many years now
the western slopes of the Ruwenzori have been included in the Parc National
Albert and this is the approach regularly used from the Congo side.
Dr. Humphreys returned to Uganda in 1931 as Medical Officer and Surveyor
to the Air Survey Company that was making an air photographic survey of the
basin of the White Nile for the Egyptian Government. He arranged as part of
his contract to make two flights over the mountains and thus brought to bear
on the Ruwenzori the most modern method of exploration, namely, that of
following up in detail on the ground what had previously been observed from
the air.15 The first flight over the range was made on 13 December 1931, in a
Gipsy III de Havilland Puss Moth with a ceiling of 16,800 feet, the pilot being
P. W. Lynch Blosse. They flew over the Scott Elliot Pass at the ceiling height
for the plane, when an air current shot them up to 18,400 feet, which height
they were able to hold sufficiently to allow them to fly over the top of Margherita
itself. They flew round each of the snow mountains in turn and backwards and
forwards over both the northern and southern plateaux, so definitely proving
that there were no snow mountains other than those already known. They
discovered in this flight some twenty unrecorded lakes, including the remarkable
chain of eight lakes in the upper Nyamagasani valley and, of course, for the
first time an overall picture of the whole range was revealed to them. Dr.
Humphreys describes the Ruwenzori as 'an elliptical peneplain-deep valleys
radiating from the centre'. One further flight was made ten days later.
Excellent photographs were taken on this occasion and it may here be appro-
priate to mention two further series of flights over the mountains. In 1935
R. U. Light flew over the Ruwenzori during the course of a long air tour which
covered much of Africa and some of his excellent pictures have been published
in his book Focus on Africa. In 1953 magnificent air photographs were taken
by Harward and MacLachlan in the course of an air survey.
In 1932, Dr. Humphreys followed up his observations from the air by a series
14 See Hautes Montagnes D' Afrique, by Dr. Ren6 Jeannel (Paris Natural History
Museum, 1950), pp. 36-7.
15 See Geographical J., 82 (1933).
132 UGANDA JOURNAL
of no less than five expeditions on foot, throughout all of which he not only
carried out a survey of the country traversed but also collected plants and
specimens which were sent to England. The first of the expeditions took place
during February and March with George Oliver as his companion. They went up
the Bujuku and Bukurungu valleys, made the second ascent of the lolanda Peak
of Mount Gessi, Humphreys actually completing the ascent with a broken arm,
and descended by way of the Lamia which was traced from its source on the
ridge between Mount Gessi and the Portal Peaks. In April, Humphreys started
alone but was later again joined by Oliver. Leaving the Mubuku, they entered,
for the first time, the Kurungutu valley, from the upper end of which they
climbed a new peak between Stairs and Sella on Mount Luigi. They then crossed
to the headwaters of the Namwamba and after spending several hours on top of
a lesser summit saw the way to the Weismann Peak, the highest point of Mount
Luigi di Savoia, and this they climbed for the first time, without difficulty, on
17 April. They then explored down the valley of the Nyamagasani, visiting the
eight lakes seen from the air, climbed the prominent Watamagufu returning,
with some difficulty, across a high pass to the west of Mount Luigi di Savoia and
so by way of the Freshfield Pass to the Mubuku. These two expeditions were
perhaps those of the greatest importance and included the principal follow-up of
the observations made from the air.
In June and July, Dr. Humphreys returned alone, choosing on this occasion
an entirely new line of approach, namely the watershed to the north of the river
Ruimi, which gave an easy though perhaps not particularly direct route to the
snows. The headwaters of the Ruamuli were explored, an unclimbed peak on
Mount Emin, Okwetegereza, the 'Waiting Peak', was climbed, and yet another
new route was traversed on the way down-the ridge between the Lamia and
Ruamuli rivers. During July and August he joined the Belgian expedition,
based on Mutwanga in the valley of the Butagu and which will be described
later, and, in company with members of that expedition, made an ascent of the
Margherita Peak of Mount Stanley from the west. The month of October saw
Humphreys' last visit to the Ruwenzori and on this occasion Harry Tumner,
A. J. Rusk and F. R. Jackaman were his companions: they struck weather of
exceptional cold and severity but succeeded in making the second ascent of the
Umberto Peak on Mount Emin by a new and difficult route. During the course
of his seven expeditions, Dr. Humphreys made a remarkably complete examina-
tion of the range and supplied much missing detail which has been added to the
map produced by the Italian expedition of 1906; his work added greatly to our
topographical knowledge of the range.
IV. THE MODERNS
1932 was altogether a remarkable year on the Ruwenzori for in addition to
the expeditions just described and the Belgian expedition, E. E. Shipton and
H. W. Tilman paid the range a visit.16 This was in the month of February and
during the course of two weeks based on the rock shelter above Lake Bujuku,
they made the third ascent of the Margherita Peak of Mount Stanley, the third
16 See Alpine Journal, 44 (1932); also Shipton, Upon that Mountain (1943), and
Tilman, Snow on the Equator (1937).
Gateway to the Ruwenzori. The Portal Peaks
Photo by A. H. Firmin, A.R.P.S.
Photo by A. H. Firmin, A.R.P.S.
Alexandra and Margherita from the Stanley Plateau
Photo b, A. H. Firmin, A.R.P.S.
The Kitandara Lakes looking towards Mount Luigi di Savoia
*, -.. ... .: ,.
.,' 5 ::. f
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 133
ascent of Mount Speke and the first ascent of the north face of Mount Baker, a
climb that proved to be fully up to the traditional standard of difficulty associ-
ated with north faces, a severe complicated rock climb on steep rock, often wet
and frequently moss-covered. Before climbing Margherita they camped for a
week on the Stanley Plateau, spending several days wandering around in the
fog without even being able to see the twin peaks. The Belgian expedition,17
already mentioned, was organized in the grand manner, as many as five hundred
porters being used, and an immense quantity of baggage and equipment being
moved up and down the mountain. The expedition was led by Count Xavier de
Grunnes1 and included the well-known Alpine guide Joseph Georges, of La
Forclaz in Valais, known as 'Ie Skieur'. The principal mountaineering results
were two new routes up Mount Stanley from the west, one of which led to the
previously unclimbed Albert Peak, as the north-west shoulder of Margherita
is called, and the first ascent of the Kraepelin Peak of Mount Emin. Addition-
ally a good new route was made up the east wall of the Elena Peak on Stanley,
and Speke was climbed from the north-west. By the end of 1932, a year that
ranks with 1906 in the annals of Ruwenzori exploration, most of the major
features were known.
The exploration which has been carried out subsequently can be passed over
more rapidly. There was a British Museum Expedition in 1935, organized
primarily for collecting purposes, but which also made an ascent of the Weis-
mann Peak of Mount Luigi di Savoia from the south, pioneering a new approach
to the snows by way of the lovely Nyamagasani valley and the string of lakes
discovered by Dr. Humphreys when flying over the range in 1931: a party also
followed the Namwamba river from Kilembe to its source. A detailed account
of this expedition was published in Patrick Synge's Mountains of the Moon
(1937). During the few years which preceded the war there was considerable
activity and three expeditions were made to the Ruwenzori which had impor-
tant results from the mountaineering standpoint, opening in fact a new era in the
range: these were the Cameron expedition of 1938, the German expedition of
1937-38, and the Polish Expedition of 1939.19 During the first of these, Miss Una
Cameron, with two guides20 from Courmayeur, made a number of climbs includ-
ing the difficult ascent of Mount Baker from the Scott Elliot Pass: she did not
climb Margherita, which has not yet been climbed by a lady. The German
party also climbed Mount Baker from the Scott Elliot Pass by a more direct
route of much difficulty and suffered the discomforts of a stormy night spent in
an ice cave on the summit ridge. It may be well here to mention that later, in
1953, A. H. Firmin* and P. Neylan traversed the whole ridge of Mount Baker,
which they reached in the first instance by a gully above Lake Bujuku. The
17 See Alpine Journal, 45 (1933), and Le Ruwenzori (1937), by Count Xavier de Grunne
as well as the Bulletin du Club Alpine Belge for October-December 1952.
18 Count de Grunne was killed in Belgium during the war whilst acting as a leader of
19 The results of these expeditions were entirely unknown in Uganda until 1954, when
Mr. D. L. Busk's researches in the library of the Alpine Club and elsewhere in Europe
brought them to light. These have now been published in the Alpine Journal, 59 (1954).
20 Edouard Bareux and Elis6e Croux.
We record with deep regret the recent death of Mr. Arthur Firmin in Nepal, where
he was joint leader of the Kenya Himalayan Expedition. He was fatally injured in a fall
on 16 May 1955. Three of his superb mountain photographs accompany this article (EDs.).
134 UGANDA JOURNAL
German expedition also made a severe route up Margherita from the north:
they reached the summit in the late afternoon, carried on to the Albert Peak,
where they spent a stormy night, and on the following day completed the diffi-
cult traverse to Alexandra, eventually reaching their base at Lake Bujuku by
way of the Scott Elliot Pass, a tough and daring performance.
The Polish expedition of 193921 made the first ascent of several lesser peaks
at the head of the Nyamagasani valley, climbed both peaks of Mount Gessi,
and made the important first ascent of Margherita by the north-east ridge, which
they climbed throughout its length from the Stuhlmann Pass. This expedition
was of a high order of difficulty and nothing was known of it when in 1945, an
unsuccessful attempt was made on a similar route,22 nor in 1953, when a South
African party climbed the upper section of this ridge. The two Polish climbers
concerned were Messrs. Bernardzikieweaz and Pawlowski. In 1943, three other
Polish climbers, J. de Golcz, Michael Makowski and Jevry Skolowmoski found
themselves in Uganda, working on the establishment of refugee camps and in
June of that year managed to make a hurried visit to the Ruwenzori.23 They
made the first difficult ice climb on the range, ascending Alexandra directly
from Bujuku through the ice-fall and s6racs of the formidable East Stanley
Glacier. Golcz, the leader, was a member of the famous French club, the Groupe
de Haute Montagne.
The South African party mentioned in the last paragraph, consisted of R.
Forsyth and R. F. Davies and they had a very successful trip in February 1953,
their most important climb being this north-east ridge of Margherita. Owing to
the vegetation they wisely did not attempt this ridge from its lowest point, but
traversed onto it at the lower glacier level after camping near the two small
lakes from which Golcz's 1943 route began. These lakes although now usually
spoken of as the Polish Lakes, were actually named "the two Irenes" after the
wives of two of the three members of the Polish party who were still in German-
occupied Poland. Forsyth and Davies followed the ridge directly to the top of
Margherita without undue difficulty in good weather and this route is one
which deserves to become popular with climbers. Shortly before this D. L.
Busk24 arrived from Addis Ababa with the objective of investigating, with
A. H. Firmin, certain discrepancies he had noted on the map in the region of
the Savoia Glacier and the peaks at its head on Mount Stanley. The interesting
discovery was made that the Savoia Glacier did not have its origin on the Savoia
Peak but was divided from it by an independent glacier basin, which in fact
gives origin to the prominent hanging glacier seen across the Elena Glacier
from Ridge Camp, and beyond this were two, as yet, nameless peaks. In keeping
with the earlier tradition on the Ruwenzori, these peaks were given the names
of Elizabeth and Philip and the glacier basin that of Coronation Glacier:
Elizabeth, the higher, was duly climbed and Philip fell to H. A. Osmaston, who
also climbed two other unnamed peaks in the same region, in February 1954.
21 Account published clandestinely during the war in Taternik, organ of the Polish
22 See Alpine Journal, 55 (1945-6), and Uganda J., 10 (1946).
23 See Alpine Journal, 54 (1943-4).
24 See A (pine Journal, 59 (1954), and article by D. L. Busk in Geographical J., 120
o P AKRAEPELINK
EMIN E /0
A U ,IOLANDA 0) 0 KIHUMA
jiluba CaOv PORTAL
Vr C4t ,Vf PEAKS M
-.o/ BAKER "
SL U I O -VITTORIO EMANU- LE
0O, K OOA O
MUGULE 4o\, DALEX4 9 '
wAS5MESO 0 1 M--, 0 oo us
530 SKETCH MAP OF CENTRAL PART OF THE RANGE
Scale of Miles
.. U -4 G 1 0GI S ,4.*
1Main Ro4k Rides Peaks
Drawn b H ARR, Land and Survey Department, ntebbe- -
from information supplied by R.M.BERE Un-named Glaciers are sFaly referred to by the name it 0t
E I SE L IGIon which they lie
EXPLORATION OF THE RUWENZORI 135
The Portal peaks are perhaps the most prominent feature of the range as seen
from Fort Portal and the east; they were so named by Sir Harry Johnston after
Sir Gerald Portal's brother, Captain Raymond Portal, and because he viewed
them as 'awful portals of the snows'. Until 1942, none of the interesting peaks
had been climbed, although Dr. Humphreys had called attention to their possi-
bilities when passing along their west flank in 1932, whilst tracing the Lamia
from its source. Three separate expeditions have since visited them and the
three principal summits have now been climbed. The first was in October 1942
when R. N. Posnett and the writer25 climbed the southern peak Rutara from the
east by way of the long ridge that leads down to the Mubuku valley; in the event
no difficulty was found as a result of the fortunate discovery of a break in the
final cliff at a most unlikely point. In January 1945, Dr. A. J. Haddow, who has
made a series of most interesting expeditions including the ascent of a new peak
on Mount Luigi di Savoia26 and further explorations in the Kurugutu valley,
climbed the central of the Portals from the Bukurungu valley with J. R. C.
Spicer and J. C. Bugher. Starting from the same point the late Dr. R. G. Ladkin
and the writer made the first ascent of Kihuma, the highest Portal, in June of the
same year.27 Thanks to some preliminary work by Haddow and some detailed
surveying of his own, P. H. Hicks, who had the rare good fortune to find him-
self on the top of Gessi on a clear day, has made a good map of the Portal Peaks
and been able to correct some errors which the Duke of the Abruzzi's map con-
tained in regard to this part of the range.28 In January 1947, Haddow and
Professor Eric Holmes climbed Kinyangoma,29 the peak above Bigo, which is
incorrectly shown on the earlier maps as the Southern Portal, with which peaks
it has, in fact, no connection.
To conclude this survey of the exploration of the Ruwenzori, mention must
be made of the scientific expedition led by Professor W. Q. Kennedy of Leeds in
1952. This followed a geological reconnaissance made in 1951, and was a joint
undertaking by the British Museum, the Geological Survey of Uganda and
other scientific bodies, arrangements being made to co-ordinate results with a
Belgian expedition operating from the Congo at the same time.30 Little new
ground was covered, although it is worthy of record that during the course of
the glaciological investigations I. R. Menzies and R. Bergstrom lived for five
consecutive weeks at an altitude of 15,000 feet on Mount Stanley. Other journeys
have been made, a few new climbing routes have been found and attempts have
been made at others, but these do not as yet qualify for a place in this account
25 See Alpine Journal, 54 (1943-4), and Clinmbers Club Journal, 1944.
26 The named peaks are Weismann climbed by Humphreys in 1932, Sella and Stairs
by the Abruzzi expedition of 1906. There are two other unnamed peaks on Mount Luigi
di Savoia, the lower of which lies between Sella and Stairs and was also climbed by
Humphreys in 1932 (Geographical J., 82 (1933), 491). The other and higher which lies to
the west of Stairs was climbed by Haddow on 28 January 1947: it appears to be that which
is mentioned on page 168 of De Filippi's Ruwenzori as the fourth peak of Mount Luigi.
27 See Alpine Journal, 55 (1945-6), 259.
28 See Alpine Journal, 56 (1947-8), 17; P. H. Hicks, The Portal Peaks of Ruwenzori,
Geographical 1., 108 (1947), 210; and R. M. Bere and P. H. Hicks, Ruwenzori. Uganda 1.,
10 (1946), 84.
29 See Bulletin of the Mountain Club of East Africa No. 5. December 1947.
30 Attached to this expedition for a time was R. Tissieres, Swiss Alpinist, who made a
number of good climbs from the west, including a new route on Elena.
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
of the history of the opening up of the range. The authorities of the Parc
National Albert have developed a series of rest camps in the Butagu valley,
while the Mountain Club of Uganda has put alpine huts in the Mubuku-Bujuku
valleys so that, from either direction, approach can be made to the high peaks
in reasonable comfort. And so the Silver Mountain of Aristotle, the Fons Nilus
of the ancient world, has lost its mystery. First seen by the early explorers of
central Africa; approached but not mastered by Stuhlmann, Johnston, Fresh-
field and others; finally explored and climbed by the Duke of the Abruzzi, Dr.
Noel Humphreys and the many others who have contributed to our knowledge
of the geography and topography of the range and the means of access to it, the
road to the high places of Ruwenzori now lies open to all who wish to take it
and know how to appreciate it.
THE FISHES OF UGANDA-I
By P. H. GREENWOOD
East African Fisheries Research Organization
THE fishes of Uganda have been subject to considerable study. Apart from
many purely descriptive studies of the fishes themselves, three reports have
been published which deal with the ecology of the lakes in relation to fish and
fisheries (Worthington (1929a, 1932b); Graham (1929)). Much of the literature
is scattered in various scientific journals, dating back to the early part of the
century and is difficult to obtain in Uganda. The more recent reports also are
out of print and virtually unobtainable. The purpose of this present survey is
to bring together the results of these many researches and to present, in the light
of recent unpublished information, an account of the taxonomy and biology of
the many fish species which are to be found in the lakes and rivers of Uganda.
Particular attention has been paid to the provision of keys, so that most of the
fishes may be easily identified.
It is hardly necessary to emphasize that our knowledge of the East African
freshwater fishes is still in an early and exploratory stage of development. Much
that has been written is known to be over-generalized, as conclusions were
inevitably drawn from few and scattered observations or specimens.
From the outset it must be stressed that the sections of this paper dealing
with the classification and description of the fishes are in no sense a full tax-
onomic revision although many of the descriptions are based on larger samples
than were previously available. No changes have been made in the nomencla-
ture as at present accepted but, where personal observations indicate that
changes may have to be made, notes to that effect are included.
Before describing the species of fish individually, some attempt must be made
to view the East African ichthyofauna in geographical and historical perspec-
tive. Each of the five major lakes in Uganda contains numerous endemic fish
species; that is to say, species which are found only within clearly circumscribed
geographical limits. In a majority of cases the geographical unit is a single lake
or lake basin. Not only is the number of these endemic species notable, but it is
at once apparent that the lakes differ widely in the numbers of endemic species
occurring within their boundaries. A further peculiarity is the absence from
certain Uganda lakes of fishes which occur in many other parts of Africa. Lates
spp. (Nile perch), Hydrocyon spp. (Tiger fish) and Polypterus spp. exemplify
this chequered distribution. All three genera occur in Lake Albert and are
widely distributed throughout tropical Africa (including Lakes Tanganyika and
Rudolf), but are absent from Lakes Edward, George, Kyoga and Victoria.
Further examples are provided by the genera Mormyrops, Hyperopisus,
Barilius, Auchenoglanis, Malapterurus, Heterobranchus, Distichodus and
Citharinus which are all widely distributed in Africa, but likewise missing from
138 UGANDA JOURNAL
all the Uganda lakes except Lake Albert. The fishes of Lake Albert as com-
paled with those of other Uganda lakes are outstandingly of genera widely dis-
tributed in Africa. Also fewer endemic species occur in Lake Albert than in the
other lakes. There is, however, evidence of greater uniformity in earlier geologi-
cal periods in the fish fauna of the area occupied by the modern lakes, at least as
regards genera. For example, fossils from the lower Pleistocene (Kaiso) deposits
on the shores of Lake Edward, show conclusively that the genera Lates and
Hydrocyon were then present there; similar fossils also occur in Kaiso deposits
on the shores of Lake Albert (Fuchs (1934); White (1926)). Going even further
back in time, the fossil record shows that Lates and Polypterus lived during the
Miocene in the area now occupied by Lake Victoria (Greenwood, 1951b).
The history of Uganda's lakes is intimately bound up with the earth move-
ments which contributed to the formation of the Rift Valleys. Prior to their
formation, Uganda was drained by a series of east-west flowing rivers which
ultimately emptied into the Congo (Wayland, 1931). It was probably from these
rivers that the present lakes were first populated. Little is known of the fishes
which inhabited the rivers of that period.
Worthington (1954b) has suggested that the early history of the pre-rift, east-
west flowing rivers was such that considerable interchange of fishes could have
taken place across their more-or-less closely connected headwaters. Thus, it is
not unreasonable to suppose that at first the lakes were populated by similar
complexes of fishes. The basic similarity in the fish faunas of the Nile, Congo,
and Niger, may be considered as evidence of contacts between these systems at
an early period. It may also indicate that the fishes of the pre-rift river systems
were fundamentally of the same complex, which may be geographically named,
from its recent distribution, Nilotic. What few fossils have been found would
seem to strengthen this argument (see above; also Greenwood (unpublished)).
The Pliocene and Pleistocene (together of about 11,000,000 years' duration)
were critical phases in the development of the present-day lakes and the evolu-
tion of their fish faunas from the more widely distributed African species which
first colonized them. In East Africa during this period there was considerable
volcanic activity and earth movements were intense. These disturbances,
together with phases of extreme rainfall and aridity, must have affected consider-
bly the general topography, the sizes and the drainage systems of the lakes.
Once spatial isolation had been effected by these agencies, the stage was set for
the evolutionary processes which have led to the development of fish faunas
peculiar to the several lakes and river systems.
The fishes of different lakes may be isolated by various natural barriers which
efficiently prevent the interchange of species, even though the lakes may be inter-
connected. Predominant amongst these physical barriers are" the Murchison
Falls, which isolate the Lake Victoria fishes from those of Lake Albert and the
Nile, and the Semliki Rapids which though less spectacular nevertheless
separate the Lake Edward and the Albertine-Nilotic faunas. On the other hand,
although the Ripon Falls do provide some degree of separation between Lakes
Victoria and Kyoga, their efficiency is, or has been, less marked; there are only
slight differences between the faunas of the two lakes (Tables I and II).
In Uganda's larger lakes, the majority of the endemic species belong to the
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 139
Cichlidae, a family which includes Tilapia and Haplochromis. This most inter-
esting family has long attracted the attention of ichthyologists and students of
evolution, and as a result there is a considerable body of literature dealing with
the evolutionary aspects of the numerous cichlid 'species flocks' found in the
different lakes. (For summaries see Worthington (1954a); Brooks (1950); Green-
wood (1951a)). It will suffice to mention here that, from the viewpoint of specific
predominance, Lakes Edward and George (with 20 endemic cichlid species)
and Lakes Victoria and Kyoga (with 58 endemic cichlid species) can be classi-
fied as 'cichlid lakes'.
FAUNAL RELATIONSHIPS OF THE FISHES OCCURRING IN THE LARGER UGANDA
Because of the excessive endemic speciation of the Cichlidae, faunal relation-
ships can only be determined with certainty from the non-cichlid fishes and so
discussion will first be confined to non-cichlid species.
Lake Albert. With only two exceptions, all the non-cichlid species (37) occur-
ring in Lake Albert are found also in the Nile (Table II) and, although sixteen
typically Nilotic genera are absent, there is a greater number of Nilotic genera
in Lake Albert than in any other Uganda lake. Thus, if one compares the
number of Nilotic genera and species in Lake Albert with the numbers present
in the other lakes, it is apparent that the fish fauna of Lake Albert must be
classified as Nilotic. As such, it has relationships with the faunas of Lakes
Rudolf and Tana.
Lakes Victoria and Kyoga. In Lakes Victoria and Kyoga, there are slightly
more endemic than non-endemic non-cichlid species (58 per cent endemism;
Table II). Also, the number of typical Nilotic genera which are absent is almost
twice the Lake Albert number. Of the twenty non-endemic species, eight are
Nilotic and twelve East African in distribution. If percentage endemism is con-
sidered, together with the distinctiveness of endemic species, then the fishes of
Lake Victoria constitute a faunal type, the Victorian. The ultimate derivation
of these fishes in most probably Nilotic.
Lakes Edward and George. Worthington (1954b), on the basis of the affinities
of endemic species, includes the fishes of Lake Edward in the Victorian category,
but this relationship is only obvious when the Cichlidae are included. Non-
cichlid species are not so readily classified. The percentage endemism of Lakes
Edward and George (20 per cent) is low in relation to that of Victoria (58 per
cent). Of the fifteen non-endemic species, eight are Nilotic but five of these eight
Nilotic species do not occur in Lake Victoria. Divergence from the Nilotic
assemblage of genera is indicated by the absence of four genera besides those
which are absent also from Lake Victoria.
When the Cichlidae are considered, a somewhat different picture is obtained.
The Lake Albert Tilapia species are with one exception Nilotic. The exceptional
species, T. leucosticta Trewavas, occurs otherwise only in Lake Edward. In
contrast, four of the five Lake Albert Haplochromis species are endemic, the
fifth species having a fairly wide distribution in east and north Africa.
The cichlids of Lake Victoria are unique among those of Uganda lakes. Both
140 UGANDA JOURNAL
species of Tilapia are endemic; fifty-eight endemic Haplochromis are known,
and five of the six non-endemic Haplochromis have a relatively narrow range
of distribution. In addition, there are four endemic genera allied to Haplochro-
mis. This complex species flock undoubtedly deserves the status of a type fauna.
Most Lake Edward cichlids are related to Lake Victoria species. The Tilapia
species, however, are found also in the Nile or in a single instance in Lake Albert.
Although nineteen Lake Edward Haplochromis are considered endemic, their
close affinity to similar species in Lake Victoria cannot be denied (Greenwood,
1951a). Furthermore, four Haplochromis species and one related genus occur-
ring in Lake Edward are otherwise only known from Lake Victoria and the
small Koki lakes. Thus, although the percentage endemism is high (71 per cent;
Table II), the cichlid fauna does not warrant the separation of a Lake Edward
NOTES ON THE SUPERFICIAL ANATOMY OF FISHES
To avoid circumlocution in the keys and descriptions, it is desirable to give
some notes on the superficial anatomy of fishes and the terms used.
Length. Two measures of length are used: First, total length-measured from
the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail fin, and second, standard length-
measured from the tip of the snout to the junction of the body and tail fin
(Fig. 1). Standard length will be used exclusively in the description of genera
Terms used to describe the general body form are self-explanatory.
Head. The posterior boundary of the head is formed by the bony operculum;
this bone is the largest element in a series of four bones which together form the
gill cover (Fig. 1). The head length is measured, with the mouth closed, from the
tip of the snout to the posterior edge of the operculum, but excluding opercular
spines if these are present.
In fishes, the jaws consist of a number of separate bones, viz. the paired pre-
maxillae and maxillae in the upper jaw, and the paired dentaries in the lower
jaw (mandible). In most of the fishes described below the premaxillae are the
predominant elements in the upper jaw, the maxillae serving as levers for open-
ing and protruding the mouth. When the mouth is shut, the premaxilla lies
immediately below the upper lip, the maxilla lying above and at a slight angle
to it. The greater part of the maxilla is covered by the pre-orbital bone, only
its hindermost tip being visible.
Protractile and non-protractile jaws are recognized. The former term describes
jaws which can be protruded and expanded away from their position at rest;
non-protractile jaws are those which cannot be so protruded.
The premaxillae and dentaries carry teeth, except in the family Cyprinidae
(Carps). The number and form of teeth show considerable variation within the
The eye diameter is measured from the anterior to the posterior rim of the
orbit. The inter-orbital width is the least distance between the upper orbital
margins. Lying between the lower margin of the orbit and the maxilla is a
flattened bone, the pre-orbital; the pre-orbital depth is measured from the orbit
across the greatest depth of the bone (Fig. 1).
LATERAL UNE SCALES
PRE'OP RCULL M
OPERCUI UM VNT
S PEC ORAL FIN
ELVIC FIN ANAL FIN CAUDAL FIN
Sketch showing the more important counts, measurements and characters used in the keys.
142 UGANDA JOURNAL
The nostrils appear as small openings lying in front of the eye and are an
important character for distinguishing between the Percomorph families Cich-
lidae and Anabantidae. Unlike the nostrils in higher vertebrates, those of fishes
do not open into the mouth, but lead into a blind sac containing the olfactory
organs. An important exception is the lung-fish (Protopterus aethiopicus
Heckel) in which there is a passage connecting the external nostrils and
The gills, carried on bony gill arches, lie in the posterior part of the 'throat'
and can be examined by lifting the operculum. In most of the fishes described
here, only the first four gill arches carry functional gills, the fifth arch being
variously modified often bearing well developed teeth, the pharyngeal teeth.
Gill rakers sometimes afford important characters for distinguishing closely
related species. The rakers are small bony projections on the anterior part of
*each gill arch. Inter-digitation between the gill rakers of adjacent arches pro-
vides a sieve-like mechanism which serves the double function of retaining food
and protecting the delicate gill filaments from coarse objects passing out with
the exhalent respiratory current. When counting gill rakers, only those lying
below the angle between the upper and lower parts of the first arch are included.
Fins. Fins may be paired (the lateral pectoral and the ventral pelvic fins), or
unpaired (the vertical, dorsal, anal and caudal fins). Structurally, a fin consists
of a membrane supported by a number of rays, which can be either simple and
spinous, or branched and soft. When describing fins, the number of rays is
expressed as a formula, in which roman numerals denote spines, and arabic
figures the number of rays. Thus, 'dorsal fin XVI, 8' means that the fin has
sixteen spines followed by eight soft, branched, rays.
The positions of the paired fins, particularly the pelvics, afford important key
characters. When the pelvic fins are situated between the pectoral and anal fins,
they are described as being abdominal in position. Pelvic fins are said to be
thoracic in position when situated immediately below the pectoral fins. The
position of the pelvic fins reflects an underlying skeletal difference; the pelvic
girdle is attached to the pectoral girdle in fishes with 'thoracic' fins, but is well
separated from the pectoral girdle in those fish with 'abdominal' fins. The terms
used to describe the shape of the caudal fin are self-explanatory.
Special mention must be made of the fins in the Lepidosirenidae and Polyp-
teridae. In the former, supporting rays are not visible externally, so that the fins
appear to be without rays. The paired fins in this family are unique amongst
living fishes, being composed of a central, articulated axis which is flanked, at
least in the pectoral fin, by short rays borne 6n one margin; consequently, the
external form is that of an elongate and narrow filament with a variably
developed membrane along one margin. The dorsal fin of the Polypteridae is
distinctive; it is in the form of several separate, flag-like, finlets each composed
of a spine with several small rays attached near its dorsal tip (Fig. 2). The pec-
toral fins of Polypterus show several anatomical peculiarities which need not be
described, except to note the well-defined, arm-like peduncle connecting the
membranous fin to the body.
An adipose dorsal fin, present in the families Characidae, Citharinidae, and
in certain cat-fishes, has the general appearance of a fin but, with very few
.."". .. ,., -. ... ,*
Polypterus senegalus. (a) Ventral view of head, showing the characteristic gular plates and
the pectoral fins. (b) Lateral view; both X (Drawn by W. C. Lewis, after Boulenger.)
144 UGANDA JOURNAL
exceptions, is without supporting rays; it is in fact merely a flattened sheet of
fatty tissue, covered by skin.
Scales. Excepting in the Lepidosirenidae (lung-fishes) and in the Polypteridae,
scales are of two morphological types, cycloid and ctenoid. Cycloid scales have
the exposed, visible surface, smooth, whilst ctenoid scales are covered with
minute denticulations which make the scale rough to the touch. A simple test
for the presence of ctenoid scales is to rub one's finger gently along the fish's
flank, from tail to head; if the scales are ctenoid, the fish will feel rough. How-
ever, it is always advisable to check this character by the appearance of the
scales under a low-power lens.
A longitudinal series of scales on each flank is pierced by small pores and
appears as a distinct but narrow line; this is the lateral line scale series. The
number of scales in the lateral line series is often of importance in separating
closely related species. Beneath these perforated scales lies a series of sense
organs which are in contact with the exterior through the pores in the scales.
The scales of the lung-fish Protopterus (Lepidosirenidae) are small, thin and
deeply embedded in the skin. Thus, unless examined closely, the fish appears
scaleless. On the other hand, the scales of Polypterus (Polypteridae) are thick
and bony, with a glistening, enamel-like, surface.
SYSTEMATIC LIST OF UGANDA FISHES
The scheme of classification here adopted is essentially that of C. Tate Regan
Order: DIPNOI (Lung-fishes)
Family: Mormyridae (Elephant-snout fishes)
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 145
Family: Characidae (Tiger-fishes)
Family: Citharinidae (Moon-fishes)
Family: Cyprinidae (Carps)
Sub-order: Siluroidea (Cat-fishes)
Family: Malapteruridae (Electric cat-fishes)
Family: Cyprinodontidae (Mosquito-fishes)
Sub-order: Percoidea (Perch-like fishes)
Family: Centropomidae (Nile perches)
146 UGANDA JOURNAL
Family: Anabantidae (Climbing perches)
Family: Mastacembelidae (Spiny eels)
KEY TO THE FAMILIES OF UGANDA FISHES
(NOTE on the use of keys. In this key, some of the more obvious external characters&
are presented as a series of contrasting couplets, one or other of which will be applicable
to the fish being identified. A fish is first examined to determine the form of its fins, which
are contrasted in the first pair of couplets. One of these couplets leads straight to the
family of Lepidosirenidae: the other is followed by a figure in this instance 1. The figure
indicated to which pair of couplets (numbered in the left-hand margin) one next proceeds.
Having located these, it is then necessary to eliminate one possibility; the number associ-
ated with the other group of characters then shows to which succeeding pair one must
proceed. This procedure is repeated until a group of characters associated with a family
Subsequent keys will be of a similar type.)
Paired fins expanded, not filamentous, with distinct rays supporting
the membrane; dorsal, anal and caudal fins separate (except in the
family Mastacembelidae) 1
Paired fins slender and filamentous; dorsal, anal and caudal fins
1 Dorsal fin not divided into a series of separate finlets; scales present
or absent; when present, thin and overlapping 2
Dorsal fin divided into a number of separate finlets, each composed
of a spine with several rays supporting the membrane; scales thick
and bony, rhomboidal in outline Polypteridae
2 Scales present
Scales absent, circum-oral barbels present and well-developed (Sub-
order Siluroidea) 3
3 Rayed dorsal fin present 4
Rayed dorsal fin absent, well-developed adipose dorsal fin present
4 Dorsal fin short 5
Dorsal fin long, extending almost to the caudal fin Clariidae
5 Anal fin short, with 6-10 branched rays, equal to or somewhat
shorter than the dorsal fin 6
Anal fin long, with 54-70 rays Schilbeidae
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 147
6 Dorsal fin with the first ray spinous 7
Dorsal find with the first ray soft Amphiliidaef
7 Mandibular barbels not branched Bagridae
Mandibular barbels branched Mochocidae
8 Anal fin without spines. Ventral fins abdominal in position, without
spines and usually with more than five rays 9
Anal and dorsal fins with spines supporting their anterior portions.
Ventral fins (when present) thoracic in position, with one spine and
five rays 13
9 Jaws with teeth 10
Jaws without teeth Cyprinidae
10 Adipose dorsal fin absent 12
Adipose dorsal fin present 11
11 Teeth fine and slender Citharinidae
Teeth large and fang-like or, if short, with stout bases and three-
pointed crowns Characidae
12 Opercular bones hidden beneath skin; no scales on the head; caudal
fin forked, mouth not protractile Mormyridae
Opercular bones not hidden beneath skin; scales present on the
head; caudal fin rounded; mouth protractile, oblique. Dorsal surface
of head flattened Cyprinodontidae
13 Ventral fins present 14
Ventral fins absent. Soft dorsal and anal fins confluent with caudal;
spinous part of dorsal fin represented by numerous separate spines.
Body eel-like Mastacembelidae
14 Dorsal fin undivided. Lateral line divided posteriorly into upper and
lower portions 15
Dorsal fin deeply notched, so as to give the appearance of two fins,
the anterior part completely spinous, the posterior with one spine
and several rays Centropomidae
15 One nostril on each side of the head. Edge of operculum smooth
Two nostrils on each side of the head. Edge of the operculum
SYSTEMATIC DESCRIPTION OF SPECIES
Polypterus Geoffr., 1802.
Since only one species of this genus occurs in Uganda waters, a combined
description of the genus and species can be given.
Polypterus senegalus Cuvier, 1829.
Bichir (English); Mtonta (Lugungu); Otell (Alur).
Polypterus senegalus is immediately recognizable by the form of its dorsal
fin which is composed of 8-11 separate finlets, each consisting of a single spine
with several articulated rays supporting the membrane. The first finlet is widely
separated from the tip of the pectoral fin. Further diagnostic characters are the
thick bony, rhombic scales, with an enamel-like covering, the paired gular plates
148 UGANDA JOURNAL
which lie between the rami of the lower jaw, and the distinct, scaly peduncle of
the pectoral fins. In young fish, there is developed a true external gill which lies
immediately behind and above the operculum.
Coloration: Adult fish, uniform olive-grey, almost khaki. Boulenger (1909) states
that very young fish are conspicuously marked with dark longitudinal bands,
which disappear at an early age.
Size: The total length of the largest recorded specimen from Uganda was 42 cm.
Distribution: Uganda; Lake Albert, Victoria Nile below the Murchison Falls,
Albert Nile. Elsewhere; Lake Rudolf, the White Nile, the Senegal, Gambia and
Niger and Lake Chad. During the Miocene (about 25,000,000 years ago)
Polypterus occurred within the Lake Victoria basin. Fossil remains of the genus
have been found in the Kavirondo Province of Kenya (Greenwood, 1951b).
Biology: Surprisingly little is known of the ecology of P. senegalus. From exist-
ing records it would appear to live in the marginal regions of lakes and rivers,
particularly where there is emergent vegetation. Likewise, there are few data
on the food of this species; in the few specimens examined (length range
30-50 cm.) fish and small frogs apparently predominated as food.
Budget (1901) records P. senegalus as ready to spawn during the rainy season,
July to September, but nothing is known as to the place or mode of spawning.
Since cement glands-which secrete an adhesive mucus-occur on the head of
larval fishes, it would seem likely that the young are attached to submerged
Polypterus is of no economic value, but has excited considerable scientific
interest. When first described, the Polypteridae were placed in the order
Crossopterygii, an ancient group which has attracted great interest recently
through the discovery of a living representative, the Coelacanth, Latimeria.
Further research on the Polypteridae, however, has revealed that the resem-
blances between Polypterus and the Crossopterygii were only superficial;
Polypterus appears to be more closely related to another fish group of great
antiquity, the Palaeoniscoidea. The Palaeoniscoids are thought to be near the
ancestor of all modern bony fishes.
The anatomy and skeleton of Polypterus, show a combination of archaic and
specialized characters. The air-bladder which in most bony fishes functions as
a hydrostatic device, in Polypterus serves also as an accessory respiratory organ.
Bibliography: Boulenger (1909); Bridge (1904); Daget (1950); Worthington
Protopterus Owen, 1839.
A single species, P. aethiopicus, occurs in Uganda.
Protopterus aethiopicus Heckel, 1851. (Fig. 3.)
Lung-fish (English); Mamba (Lunyoro, "Swahili"); Lut (Jonam, Lango).
Description: Body elongate, sub-cylindrical, the tail pointed and confluent with
the long dorsal and anal fins. Dorsal fin originating at an equal distance from
occiput and vent, or nearer the latter. Pectoral and pelvic fins slender and fila-
mentous. There are no individual teeth in the jaws, the dentition consisting of
upper and lower tooth-plates, in the form of sharp cutting ridges. Scales, thin
Protopterus aethiopicus, lateral view, Xi. (Drawn by W. C. Lewis, after Boulenger.)
150 UGANDA JOURNAL
and deeply embedded in the skin; 55-70 scales can be counted in a longitudinal
series from immediately behind the head to above the vent. Ribs, 37-40 pairs.
True external gills occur in young fishes, but are usually absent in fishes over
15 cm. length.
Length: The largest recorded specimen was seven feet (2 m.) long; most indi-
viduals caught by commercial fishermen are in the size range 100-130 cm.
Coloration: Dark slaty-grey above, yellowish grey or pinkish below; often with
numerous dark spots or flecks on the fins and body. The sensory canals on the
head and body are conspicuously outlined in black.
Distribution: Uganda; Lakes Victoria, Nabugabo, Albert, Edward and George,
the Victoria and Albert Niles, small streams and swamps associated with the
major rivers and lakes; it is apparently absent from Lakes Nakavali, Kachira
and Kijanebalola. Elsewhere; the Nile, the Sudan, Lake Tanganyika, Katanga,
Biology: As the common name implies, Protopterus breathes by means of well-
developed, paired lungs, as well as by its rather degenerate gills. In fact it would
seem that, except in the youngest stages, these fishes are entirely dependent on
atmospheric oxygen, since Protopterus kept in aquaria are asphyxiated if pre-
vented from rising to the surface. In Lake Victoria on calm days large numbers
of fish may be seen surfacing to breathe. The movements following surfacing
are characteristic; the fish remains with the snout protruded for some seconds
before flipping the greater part of its tail out of the water and plunging down-
Passing mention may be made of the known aestivating habits of Protopterus,
although dormant lung-fish encased in their mud-cocoons have not been
recorded from Uganda or neighboring territories. With the onset of a dry
season, and before the exposed mud has hardened, the fish burrows into the
mud to a depth of between six inches and two feet. There it coils itself into a
sac-like enlargement at the bottom of the burrow. This enlargement is lined
by a capsule of hardened mucus secreted from glands in the skin. The fish is
protected from extreme dehydration by the copious mucus secretion which fills
the capsule. Breathing is apparently effected through a funnel-like opening in
the chamber, one end of which is inserted into the fish's mouth. Although mud
cocoons have not been found around the lake shores, despite fairly intensive
searches (Poll and Damas, 1939; Poll, 1946) it seems probable that Protopterus
living in isolated and temporary bodies of water may pass the dry-season in this
manner. Some attempts to induce aestivation in laboratory-kept fishes have
In Lakes Victoria, Nabugabo, Kyoga, Albert, Edward and George,
P. aethiopicus occur most abundantly in the shallow inshore regions, especially
in the vicinity of swamps, but they have been seen occasionally in deep water.
As the lung-fish must surface for breathing at fairly frequent intervals, depth of
water is probably an important factor determining its distribution within a lake.
In Lake Victoria, young P. aethiopicus from 5-30 cm. long are very common
in the matted roots of papyrus (Graham, 1929 and personal observations),
although Poll and Damas (1939) record that in a similar habitat in Lake Edward
(the large papyrus swamps at the mouth of the Luka River). "La recherche
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 151
fut vaine". In Lake Kyoga, Worthington (1929a) records that "the lung-fish is
present throughout the swampy lakes and rivers, but was not observed to be
nearly so abundant as in the shallow gulfs of Lake Victoria".
Food: Numerous references to the food of P. aethiopicus indicate that molluscs
(both gastropods and bivalves) predominate in the diet. Small fish are also eaten
-Haplochromis and young Clarias, Synodontis and Bagrus (Graham (1929);
Worthington (1932); Poll (1939); unpublished records of East African Fisheries
Research Organization). Poll (1952) lists crabs among the food of P. aethiopicus
in Lake Tanganyika.
Breeding: The breeding sites of P. aethiopicus are found in the margins of
swamps. The male fish prepares a crude nest by cleaning an area within the
rooted vegetation, and later guards the eggs and young. A full account is given
by Jackson (1916). Graham (1929) suggests that young lung-fish pass through a
quiescent period, buried in the matted papyrus roots. The duration of this period,
and the age at which it is entered, are still unknown. There is no positive
information on breeding seasons of the Uganda lung-fish. By inference from the
gonadal state of adult fishes, and from the occurrence of young amongst the
papyrus roots it may be inferred that breeding occurs most frequently during
the rains (Graham (1929); Poll (1939)).
Economic Value: The economic importance of the lung-fish in Uganda waters
is considerable, but varies from lake to lake. In Lakes George and Kyoga-
particularly Lake George-it forms an important element in the fisheries
(Uganda Government, 1947-53), whilst in Lakes Victoria, Edward and Albert,
the species contributes only slightly to the total catch. By destroying fish already
caught in gill-nets, lung-fish may be of indirect importance, although much of
the damage attributed to them may actually be caused by otters.
Protopterus, like Polypterus, is a living representative of a fish group which
attained pre-eminence during the Palaeozoic (about 300,000,000 years ago). The
Crossopterygii, with which this fish is classified, are of particular interest to the
student of evolution as from them the terrestrial vertebrates apparently arose.
Broadly speaking, the Crossopterygii are divisible into three major orders, the
Dipneusti (lung-fishes), Coelacanthini coelacanthss, represented by a single living
species, Latimeria chalumnae Smith), and the extinct Rhipidista. It is from the
last order that terrestrial vertebrates are ultimately derived. Although the living
lung-fishes retain many characteristics peculiar to the now almost extinct order
Dipneusti, they must be considered as a relatively specialized end-point in
evolution. Anatomically and osteologically, Protopterus shows considerable
divergence from the typical bony-fishes. Special mention may be made of the
well developed lungs and the consequent specialization of the blood-vascular
system, which foreshadows the condition found in the Amphibia; the almost
completely cartilaginous skeleton, particularly the incomplete vertebrae and
persistent notochord; and the urino-genital system, which like the blood-
vascular system, approaches the amphibian level of organization.
Bibliography: Boulenger (1909, 1916); Poll (1939, 1946, 1952a); Poll and Damas
(1939); Jackson (1916); Graham (1929); Worthington (1929a, 1932b); Bridge
(1904); Young (1950); Uganda Government (1947-1952); Johnels and Svensson
(1954); Trewavas (1954).
Distribution of families of fishes in the five major Uganda lakes. A=absent. For each lake the
number of genera within a family is given, followed below by first, the number of non-endemic
species belonging to the various genera, and, second, the number of endemic species, indicated
by the suffix 'e'. Lakes Victoria and Kyoga are considered together and species indicated 'e'
occur in both lakes; those endemic to Lake Victoria are suffixed 'eV', and those known only
from Lake Kyoga 'eK'. Figures for the Cichlidae are provisional until taxonomic studies on all
five lakes are completed. The table is compiled from the data of Graham (1929), Worthington
(1929a, b; 1932a, b), Trewavas (1933,1938), Poll (1939) and from reports of the East African
Fisheries Research Organization.
Lakes Victoria Lakes Edward Lake
Family and Kyoga and George Albert
Lepidosirenidae .. Genus 1 1 1
Species 1 1 1
Polypteridae .. .. Genus A A 1
Mormyridae .. .. Genera 4 1 5
Species 2+4e+leV+leK 2 7
Characidae .. Genera 1 A 3
Species 1+le 5
Citharinidae .. .. Genera A A 2
Cyprinidae .. .. Genera 4 2 4
Species 5+lle+3eK 4 5
Bagridae .. .. Genera 1 1 2
Species 1 +1eV 1 3
Schilbeidae .. .. Genera I A 2
Species 1 2
Clariidae .. .. Genera 1 1 2
Species 5+le+leV 4 2
Mochocidae .. .. Genus 1 A 1
Species 2e 3
Amphiliidae .. .. Genus A 1 A
Malapteruridae .. Genus A A 1
Cyprinodontidae .. Genera 3 1 1
Species 2+1eV 2+2e 1 or 2
Centropomidae .. Genus A A 1
Cichlidae .. .. Genera 3+4eV 4+le 2
Species 6+14e+43eV+2eK 3+20e 5+4e
Anabantidae .. Genus 1 1 A
Species 1 I+le
Mastacembelidae .. Genus 1 A A
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 153
Analyses of data of Table I.
Lakes Victoria and Edward and Albert
Families 12 9 14
Genera 19 9 26
Endemic genera Nil Nil Nil
Species 48 20 37
Endemic species 28 4 2
endemism 58 20 5
Genera 6 5 2
Endemic genera 3 1 0
Cichlidae .. Species 64 28 9
Endemic species 58 20 4
endemism 90 71 44
Distribution of fishes in the small lakes of Uganda. Worthington's investigation (1931), and subsequent collections
indicate that there are no indigenous fishes in Lake Bunyoni; of the three Tilapia species introduced, only one,
T. nilotica, has apparently survived. The fishes of Lake Nabugabo are essentially those of Lake Victoria, from which
the lake was separated by a sand-spit of recent geological age. The table is compiled from the data of Worthington
(1929b), Trewavas (1933), Uganda Government (1947, 1948), and of collections made by the East African Fisheries
Research Organization and by Makerere College Biology Department (1954).
Family Lake Kacira, Nakavali Lake Nabugabo Lake Bunyoni
Lepidosirendiae .. Absent Protopterus aethiopicus Absent
Mormyridae .. .. Absent Gnathonemus longibarbis Absent
Characidae .. .. Absent Alestes nurse Absent
Cyprinidae .. .. Absent Barbus sp. Absent
Bagridae .. .. Absent Bagrus docmac i Absent
Clariidae . Clarias mossambicus Clarias mossambicus Clarias carsoni (introduced)
C. werneri C. werneri
Schilbeidae .. .. Absent Schilbe mystus Absent
Mochocidae .. .. Absent Synodontis afro-fischeri Absent
Cyprinodontidae .. Aplocheilichthyspumilis Absent Absent
Cichlidae .. .. Tilapia nilotica (introduced) Tilapia esculenta Tilapia nilotica (Introduced)
T. esculenta (introduced, T. variabilis T. nigra ,, ,,
Lake Kijanebalola only) Haplochromis spp. (1+3 Haplochromis spp.,,,,
Haplochromis nubilis endemic)
Mastacembelidae .. Absent Mastacembelus victoria Absent
154 UGANDA JOURNAL
Boulenger, G. A. (1909-1916). Catalogue of the fresh-water fishes of Africa. 1-4.
Brooks, J. L. (1950). Speciation in Ancient Lakes. Q. Rev. Biol., 25, 158-60.
Bridge, T. W. (1904). In "Fishes, Ascidians, etc.," Cambridge Natural History,
London. (2nd edition, 1932.)
Budget, J. S. (1901). On the breeding habits of some West African Fishes. Trans.
zool. Soc. London, 16, 115-32.
Carpenter, G. D. H. (1920). A Naturalist on Lake Victoria. London.
Copley, H. (1952a). The game fishes of Africa. London.
(1952b). The Tilapias of Kenya Colony. E. A. Agric. J., 18, 30-34.
Daget, J. (1950). Revision des affinites phylogenetiques des Polypterides. Mem. Inst.
Franc. Afr. noire, No. 11, 1-178.
East African Fisheries Research Organization (1950 et seq.)
Annual Reports. Nairobi: East Africa High Commission.
Fish, G. R. (1955). The food of Tilapia in East Africa. Uganda J., 19, 85-9.
Fuchs, V. E. (1934). Geological work of the Cambridge Expedition to the East
African lakes, 1930-31. Geol. Mag. London, 71, 108, 147 and 157.
Graham, M. (1928). Tilapia esculenta. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10,) 2, 209.
(1929). The Victoria Nyanza and its fisheries. A report on the fishing
survey of Lake Victoria 1927-1928. London: Crown Agents for
Greenwood, P. H. (1951a). Evolution of the African cichlid fishes; the Haplochromis
species-flock in Lake Victoria. Nature, 167, 19-20.
(1951b). Fish remains from Miocene deposits of Rusinga Island
and Kavirondo Province, Kenya. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist.,
(2), 4, 1192-1201.
Jackson, Sir F. (1916). African lung-fish. 1. E. Afri. Ug. nat. Hist. Soc., 5, 3.
Johnels, A. G., and Svensson, S. 0. (1954). On the biology of Protopterus annectens
(Owen). Ark Zool., 1 (2), 7, 131-64.
Lowe, R. H. (1955). Species of Tilapia in East African dams, with a key for their
identification. E. A. Agric. J., 20, 256-62.
Norman, J. R. (1928). Two new fishes from Lake Victoria. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist.,
(10), 2, 104.
Percy, Lord Richard, and Ridley, M. W. (1955). On a few fish from Bwamba.
Uganda J., 19,96-101.
Poll, M. (1939). Poissons. Exploration du Parc National Albert, Mission G. F. de
Witte (1933-1935). Fasc. 24, 1-81.
(1946). Revision de la fauna ichthyologique du Lac Tanganika. Ann. Mus.
Congo, C. Zool., (1), Fasc. 3.
(1952a). Poissons non Cichlidae. Exploration Hydrobiologique du Lac
Tanganika (1946-1947). Inst. roy. Science nat. de Belgique, 3,
(1952b). Notes sur les Cyprinodontidae du Mus6e du Congo beige; deuxibme
parties: les Aplochlilichthyini et les Lamprichthyini. Rev. Zool. Bot.
Poll, M., and Damas, H. (1939). Poissons. Exploration du Parc National Albert,
mission H. Damas (1935-1936). Fasc. 6, 1-73.
Regan, C.T. (1921). The Cichlid fishes of Lakes Albert, Edward and Kivu. Ann.
Mag. nat. Hist., (9), 8, 632.
THE FISHES OF UGANDA 155
Regan, C. T. (1922). The Cichlid fishes of Lake Victoria. Proc. zool. Soc., London,
(1929a). "Fishes, Selachians, etc." in the Encyclopaedia Britannica;
(1929b). New cichlid fishes from Lakes Victoria, Kioga and Albert.
Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10), 3, 388.
Regan, C. T., and Trewavas, E. (1928). Four new Cichlid fishes from Lake Victoria.
Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10), 2,224.
Trewavas, E. (1928). Descriptions of five new Cichlid fishes of the genus Haplo-
chromis from Lake Victoria. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10), 2, 93.
(1933). Scientific results of the Cambridge expedition to the East
African lakes, 1930-1.-II. The Cichlid fishes. J. linn. Soc.
(Zool.), 38, 309-41.
(1938). Lake Albert fishes of the genus Haplochromis. Ann Mag. nat.
Hist. (1), 1, 435-49.
(1954). The presence in Africa east of the Rift Valleys of two species of
Protopterus, P. annectens and P. amphibious. Ann. Mus. Congo
Tervuren, in-4, Zool., 1,-Miscellanea Zoologica H. Schouteden.
Uganda Government (1946 et seq.). Annual Reports of the Game and Fisheries
Department. Entebbe, Govt. Printer.
Wayland, E. J. (1931). Summary of progress of the Geological Survey, Uganda.
Worthington, E. B. (1929a). A report on the fishery survey of Lakes Albert and
Kyoga. London: Crown Agents for the Colonies.
(1929b). New species of fish from the Albert Nyanza and Lake
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(1932a). Scientific results of the Cambridge expedition to the East
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(1932b). A report on the fisheries of Uganda. London: Crown
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(1954a). Speciation of fishes in the African lakes. Nature, 173,
(1954b). "Fresh water organisms" in A discussion on the problems
of distribution of animals and plants in Africa. Proc.
linn. Soc., London, 165, Pt. 1, 68-74.
Young, J. Z. (1950). The life of vertebrates. Oxford.
(To be continued)
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT,
By K. INGHAM, M.C., M.A., D.PHIL.(OXON.)
THE pursuit of Kabarega, Omukama of Bunyoro, in the late 1890s, first
brought the Uganda Protectorate authorities into contact with that people
of mixed origins who now bear the name of Lango. But it was ten years more
before any attempt was made to extend British administration across the Nile
into Lango District. A number of Banyoro who took part in the final expedition
against Kabarega in 1899 eventually settled, along with some of the Omukama's
former supporters, on the northern bank of the Nile between Kwibale and
Akokoro.' But these immigrants were fugitives from British administration
rather than pioneers of orderly government and they led a precarious existence,
always threatened by Lango attacks. Again, the shiftless groups of Banyara
and Baruli who gained a foothold on the southern fringe of the Namasale
peninsula in the closing years of the nineteenth century brought little with them
but their bad habits. A more promising herald of Protectorate authority was the
Muganda general, Semei Kakunguru, who, shortly after the capture of
Kabarega, invaded the Namasale peninsula and set up a number of posts at
Bululu, Kele and Akabo. Before he had time to achieve anything further, how-
ever, the Protectorate Government ordered him to withdraw. He left behind
him a Munyara from Bugerere, Musabira, who, relying mainly on the fire power
of his Sniders, maintained a hold on the country round Bululu until he was
killed in struggle with the Lango in 1903. Musabira was succeeded by a relation,
Kazana, who, from his base at Kele, was able to gain considerable influence
over the Kumam, a Nilo-Hamitic group inhabiting a part of the Namasale
peninsula and subject to frequent raids from their northern Lango neighbours.2
In 1907 the Protectorate Government decided to open a station at Bululu, and
Kazana at once placed himself and his achievements at the disposal of the
British authorities. From that time British administration can be said to have
made a beginning in Lango District. Kazana was permitted to carry on very
much as he had been doing before the arrival of the new authority, administer-
ing justice among the Kumam and in cases involving his Banyara followers. The
main difference was that henceforward murder cases were to be tried by the
District Officer and all important decisions were to be referred to him for con-
firmation. In 1909 further posts were established at Dokolo, Ekwera and Kangai
and also at Awelo on the Namasale peninsula and in the same year a station
was opened at Ibuje (Kibuji) further to the west. In this way the advance into
Lango District was prosecuted from two sides at once, and, as an indication that
civil administration had truly arrived, a poll-tax was collected among the Kuman
in 1908. But the establishment of government stations was far from being a
final achievement, especially where, as in the cases of Dokolo, Ekwera and
Awelo, a small military expedition had been a necessary prelude. The new
authorities might meet with whole-hearted co-operation from some influential
1 J. H. Driberg. The Lango, p. 34. London: T. Fisher Unwin. 1923.
2 Ibid., p. 35.
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT, 1907-35 157
person in the vicinity of the post as they did from Okelobong in the west; but
equally to be expected was the whole-hearted opposition displayed by Okelo-
bong's neighbour, Twali, who played a murderous game of hide-and-seek with
the district administration in the swamps of the Nile and Tochi junction until
finally captured at dawn by a District Officer who had made a four and a half
hour journey through the darkness by canoe.3 Even eighteen months after
government stations had been opened among the eastern Lango the lawless
character of the people made it necessary for the District Officer to tour the
country protected by a strong escort of police.4
The foundations upon which to build a uniform and effective system of
administration were completely lacking. Few British officers could be spared
for the task and the Lango themselves admitted no wider loyalty than that
which they owed to their village communities and recognized no greater
authority than the war leaders who came to the forefront of affairs only during
the annual cattle raids on neighboring villages. Even the hereditary authority
to be found among the clan leaders of the Acholi was absent from the traditions
of the Lango. It was perhaps as well for the peace of mind of the officers who
were called upon to deal with such unpromising material that a system was
already being evolved by the Protectorate authorities to deal with situations of
this sort; as well too that sociologists as yet knew too little about Lango institu-
tions to allow them to cast doubt upon the validity of the policy. It was a system
based upon experience rather than theory. Indeed, in so far as theories entered
into the scheme of things they were based upon false premises. The fact was
that the constitutional arrangements made in Buganda tended to confuse the
ideas of the British administrators of the early twentieth century. Lugard had
not yet converted his experience in Buganda and Northern Nigeria into a
political theory of indirect rule but English opinion, even outside Buganda,
found it hard to accept the idea that African tribes could exist without auto-
cratic hereditary chiefs.5 Furthermore, it seemed both just and economical to
make use of the traditional authority of those chiefs wherever they were prepared
to promote British policy. Buganda, it is true, had no system of hereditary
chieftainship, but it had what was still better, from the point of view of a
Protectorate Government intent on introducing peace and order, namely, a
hereditary overlord in the Kabaka. Without any conscious hypocrisy the British
authorities had been able by means of the 1900 Agreement and through the
minority of the Kabaka, to retain the facade of traditional government while
creating the framework of a civil service consisting of chiefs and councils of
chiefs whose appointment was very much subject to British control, and whose
legal powers were far greater than they had ever been before the advent of the
British Protectorate. It was this pattern of administration, wrongly described
as the Kiganda system, which the British authorities, lacking any obvious
alternative, had decided to introduce to fill the political vacuum beyond the
Nile. Chiefs were to be created where hitherto they had been unknown and to
3 Palango District Diary 1909 and 1910, passim.
4 Bululu District Annual Report 1910-11, p. 1.
5 It is interesting to note how the view persists. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry
into the Disturbances in Uganda during April 1949 gives the impression (p. 11) that the-
non-hereditary system of chiefs in Buganda is a diversion from the African norm.
158 UGANDA JOURNAL
ensure that the Buganda model was satisfactorily followed, they were to be
supervised by Baganda agents for an initial period. That the agents achieved
such a great measure of success and popularity must be attributed almost
entirely to their administrative talents. For the system they were called upon to
introduce must have been almost as novel to them as to the Nilotic and Nilo-
Hamitic peoples whom they were required to instruct.
Kakunguru, it is true, had used Baganda agents to control the areas which he
brought under his control. But it would be inaccurate to think of these sub-
chiefs as falling into the same category as the agents employed by the Protector-
ate Government in Lango District whose task was primarily that of skilled
mechanics called upon to create an administrative machine and then to with-
draw when it was in running order.
To put the scheme into effect was far from easy, mainly because prospective
chiefs were not readily forthcoming from among the restless and disunited
Lango communities. Promotion to chieftainship seemed to offer little reward in
return for the universal unpopularity likely to result from enforcing government
orders to provide labour and collect taxes and from attempting to introduce
peaceful conditions of life among people lacking any tradition of communal
responsibility and regarding peace as desirable only when they were on the
weaker side. The Kuman of the south-east were the first to be subjected to the
experiment since they had had longer experience of foreign administration. In
April 1909 the area under Kazana's control was divided into ten units each
under the direction of a Munyara Katikiro, or agent, responsible to Kazana.
Further progress was then held up while some 40,000 Kumam moved under
government supervision from the over-crowded lake shore to the former no-
man's-land separating them from the territory of their rivals, the Lango. By
March 1910, however, Kumam chiefs had been appointed in each of the ten
localities under the guidance of Kazana's agents. Some regret was expressed by
the Protectorate authorities that Banyara rather than Baganda agents were
being employed in this area but history had dictated this arrangement and there
was every intention to introduce Baganda agents in other part of the District.
Among the Lango the supply of chiefs and sub-chiefs seemed greater in the
west than in the east. In the former area two men, after indifferent beginnings,
showed evidence of genuine ability. They were Odora and Arum who became
chiefs of Kwania and Maruzi Counties respectively. They contrasted sharply
with each other in character and they had risen to eminence by different routes.
Odora originally won for himself in pre-administration days an uncertain posi-
tion and an undesirable prestige among the southern Lango by means of fire-
arms supplied to him by the Protectorate Government. In 1911 he was placed at
Aduku with power over that centre only but the withdrawal of the Baganda
agents from the surrounding country so that they could be employed elsewhere
made it necessary to extend Odora's sphere of authority southward to the shore
of Lake Kwania. This move was viewed with some misgivings by the acting
District Commissioner, E. L. Scott, for Odora was a parvenu, flamboyant in
character, much addicted to pomp and ceremony and maintaining his position
mainly with the aid of rifles and ammunition.6 But with the exception of an
6 Lango District Annual Report 1911-12, paras. 43-4.
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT, 1907-35 159
adverse report on his work in 1915 Odora showed himself capable of profiting
from European tuition and of avoiding any abuse of the authority granted him
by the Protectorate Government. Eventually old age and a not unnatural
inability to progress at the rapid rate of the times produced a gradual decline in
his efficiency and he retired, somewhat reluctantly, in September 1927. He died
on 10 November 1931.
Arum was already a man of some prominence at Ibuje before British adminis-
tration was extended to Lango District, but he gained in strength and authority
by the establishment of a government station at Ibuje in 1909. E. L. Scott
described him in English terms as being of a sturdy yeoman type, respected by
his associates and owing to his newly acquired official status little more than the
strength and support to rule by methods naturally his own.7 As his authority
and experience grew, additional areas were placed under his control and he
acted as tutor to promising young men sent to him from other parts of the
District.8 He continued to do good work until old age impaired his abilities and
he died, still in office, in August 1930.
The passing of Odora and Arum from the Lango scene marks the end of that
preliminary period when war leaders became the leaders of their people in
peacetime and when personality still contrived to transcend the limits which the
development of a civil service threatened to impose. These men were in many
ways exceptional. Leaders of their quality were not easily found in other parts
of the District. It was partly for this reason and partly because of the innate
divisions of Lango society that in the opening phase of British administration
the main emphasis was placed upon developing strictly local administrative
units. It was then left to the ubiquitous activities of the District Officers to pro-
duce the necessary semblance of a united district. Barazas presided over by the
District Officers on tour acted as courts of justice and centres for the explanation
of government policy. But this spasmodic imposition of the new order needed
to be replaced by something more continuous. It was here that the so-called
Kiganda system of administration was to serve its turn. By the introduction of
the Kiganda system the Lango were introduced to a new word embodying a new
idea. That word was Lukiko, or council. The first step, then, was to build a
substantial Lukiko house at every centre in the District within the walls of which
the idea was to take shape. Simultaneously, a Lukiko was appointed in each
locality consisting of the local chief or chiefs who had been nominated by the
Government and of other leading characters in the neighbourhood. The lukikos
met at least twice a month, and were presided over by the most able member.
In their administrative capacity they acted as deliberative and executive coun-
cils. In their judicial capacity they were authorized to try civil cases and petty
criminal cases between natives of their area. In Kyoga, Kwania and Maruzi
counties they were supervised by Kazana, Odora and Arum, respectively, or by
their local Katikiros. Elsewhere they were under the supervision of Baganda
agents appointed by the Government. The Katikiros and agents had no judicial
powers and, except in cases of extreme emergency, no executive powers either.
Their function was simply to advise the chiefs. Their importance, however, far
7 L.D.A.R. 1913-14, para. 100.
8 L.D.A.R. 1916-17, para. 83.
160 UGANDA JOURNAL
exceeded their statutory authority. On the one hand the weakness and indiffer-
ence of some of the chiefs required the stiffening powers of the agents to ensure
that judgements were fairly given and efficiently enforced. On the other, the
chiefs who revelled in their new and unaccustomed authority had to be
restrained from turning disciplinary action into an excuse for a looting expedi-
tion. The popularity of the agents reflects great credit upon the manner in which
they carried out these different tasks.
Even under the agents' unflagging attention, for which they were deservedly
praised by the Protectorate Administration, the chiefs found it difficult to carry
out their obligations among a people unaccustomed to obedience and sometimes
resentful of the new and artificially created authorities. Unfortunately the agents
had to be withdrawn far too soon from areas only recently introduced to the new
system of government because their services were required in newly occupied
areas. In March 1913, the effect of this premature withdrawal was to be seen in
the manner in which a number of lukikos immediately ceased to exist effectively,
so that the areas under their control were only saved from relapsing into their
original chaos by the frequent visits of overworked District Officers. On the'
occasion of those visits the lukikos revived briefly, the chiefs swore to assist in
controlling their localities, but then wisely refrained from coming together again
until summoned by an Administrative Officer lest their meeting should dissolve
in blows. Both the efficient working of the local lukikos and the anticipated
introduction of county lukikos emphasized the need for men of strong character
to direct the affairs of the Lango.
The responsibility which rested upon the District Officers was enormous.
Apart from the frequent need for enforcing the decisions of the lukikos,
administrative officers on tour were required to hear appeals from the lukikos'
judgements except among the Kumam where this duty was carried out by
Kazana. Not surprisingly, in view of the novelty of the procedure, the majority
of convicted persons did in fact appeal. Fortunately for the position of the
lukikos in the future the District Officers usually found themselves able to
uphold their judgements and the Lango population reluctantly allowed the great
possibilities which had seemed inherent in the right to appeal to fade away.
Two further factors complicated the situation. In 1913 there was a sudden
and astonishing increase in cotton cultivation and over 1,421 tons were sold in
the District compared with only 190 tons in the previous year. This was largely
due to the construction of the Busoga Railway which was opened as far as
Kakindu in 1912 and reached Namasagali in 1913. With this improvement in
communications there was opened up a prospect of boundless prosperity for
the Lango as a result of cotton planting. But already, in 1913, the Kumam, who
were the first to benefit from this new source of easily gained wealth, were
beginning to suffer from the evil effects of disturbing economic and social prob-
lems at a time when the government was laboriously striving to teach them the
principles of orderly behaviour.9 This was a problem that the whole District
would have to face.
The second factor which tended to increase the difficulties faced by the
government officials was the rapid extension of the area under administration.
9 L.D.A.R. 1913-14, passim.
E R U T I
SCALE OF MILES
5 0 A 10 1 20
Drawn by A,B.Serubiri 1955.
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
In 1910 the opening of a new post at Nabieso, half way along the northern shore
of Lake Kwania, had brought the two original Districts of Bululu and Palango
into direct contact. On 1 August 1911 the two Districts were amalgamated and
Lango District came into being with its temporary headquarters at Nabieso. The
permanent site for the District headquarters was expected to be somewhere
further north in a situation more central to the Lango as a whole. With a view
to securing that site a company of King's African Rifles was posted at Ngetta
Hill on the extreme northern border of the administered area in September
1911, and in August 1914 the administrative headquarters was moved from
Nabieso to the neighbourhood of Ngetta Hill at Lira.
The next extension of the administered area took place early in 1915 when
communications were established with Chua District to the north and the con-
struction of a road from Lira to the District boundary opposite Paranga was
put in hand. This involved taking in four or five small communities but finances
did not allow the complete extension of administration to the Moroto River in
1916 although the collection of a poll tax among the Lango for the first time in
1914 had provided a new and welcome source of revenue.10 It was, however,
some indication of the changing attitude of the Lango towards British adminis-
tration that the area north of Lira which in the past had borne such a bad name
welcomed the new authority with open arms. Doubtless this success was largely
due to the novelty of the situation, but at least it gave the new government an
opportunity to explain its purpose and demonstrate its methods before regrets
for the old order had time to spring up. Indeed, early in 1917 a deputation was
received from the Lango north of the Moroto asking to be brought under British
protection. The reason for this request proved on inquiry to be expediency rather
than any appreciation of the theoretical merits of European government. The
leaders of the deputation had recently been raided by Olong, the most powerful
war leader in the neighbourhood, and were, therefore, temporarily at least,
envious of the more secure life which could be led south of the river. They were
regretfully informed that it was not then possible to extend British administra-
tion further, but were invited to migrate southward into the administered area
if they wished to do so." A year later, in February 1918, the last of the Lango
were brought under Protectorate control. This further extension was made
possible in part by the excellent progress made in the area taken over during the
previous year. More important, however, was the need to deprive of a welcome
sanctuary those Lango who might seek to escape payment of the poll-tax which
was due to be collected for the first time in the area immediately south of the
In spite of the many problems faced by the new administration the most strik-
ing feature of this period was the speed with which a brawling, restless people
became accustomed to orderly government. The older men were the first to
appreciate the desirability of peace and order while the young men tended to
regret the passing of the golden age of cattle raiding. Yet inter-village fighting
quickly became a thing of the past and resistance to constituted authority was
10 L.D.A.R. 1914-15, paras. 35-6.
11 L.D.A.R. 1916-17, para. 79.
12 L.D.A.R. 1917-18, para. 68.
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT, 1907-35 163
rare. There were, it must be admitted, relapses when even the most reliable
chiefs behaved badly. In 1916, for example, it was found that the whole of the
Kumam area was engaged in the cultivation of bhang, if not at the instigation of
the chiefs at least with their connivance. Even Kazana himself, to whom the
regulations relating to bhang were well known, came under suspicion, for culti-
vation of the drug was more extensive in the vicinity of his own headquarters
than at any other centre in the county.13 Similarly, the theft of Kumam cattle
continued to be a favourite pastime among the Lango of south Dokolo, and
might indeed be regarded as a point of honour if it was likely to involve violence.
There were complaints that the agents were exercising so great an influence
that the chiefs were prevented from developing their talents. There were com-
plaints on the other hand that too few young Lango men were coming forward
to act as chiefs and allow the agents to be transferred elsewhere. It was also
murmured that Kazana had wielded power so long that he was jealous of the
ability and growing wealth of the young Kumam chiefs to whom in the past he
had been both conqueror and protector. But it was clear that advances were
being made on every hand. Towards the end of 1915 native courts similar to
those already in existence in certain other parts of the Protectorate were
appointed in the counties of Kyoga, Kwania and Maruzi under the 1911 Courts
Ordinance. The counties of Koli and Atura followed suit in April 1917. These
courts comprised the court of the county chief and the courts of the sub-chiefs
of each centre in the county. Elsewhere in the District the more informal lukikos,
with judicial functions and powers similar to those enjoyed by the native courts,
continued to sit regularly as before, hearing and deciding with varying degrees
of skill the disputes of the people under them. Appeals from both the officially
constituted courts and also from the lukiko courts were heard by District
Officers on tour and records were kept of these proceedings. As a result, although
the efficiency of the newly constituted native county courts to some extent
relieved the pressure of dealing with original jurisdiction, revisionary and
appellate work became an increasing burden to the administrative officers. In
the year ending the 31 March 1917, for example, cases falling under these two
headings which required the attention of touring officers, numbered 4,611.14
The setting in which all these developments were taking place was singularly
unpropitious. The outbreak of war in 1914 did not seriously affect Lango
District until nearly three years later, although it had an immediately adverse
effect upon the cotton trade and resulted in. a scarcity of trade goods in general.
But though belated, the effects were none the less severe. In 1917 recruitment
for the Carrier Corps dislocated work in Kyoga County for two months with
little benefit to the war effort since the majority of the 3,313 carriers provided
were returned as medically unfit. Simultaneously, attempts to recruit for the
K.A.R. produced riots of a more or less serious character in a number of other
areas. In August 1916, an epidemic of small-pox broke out at Namasale and a
new epidemic was started less than a year later in Koli and Atura by medical
rejects from the K.A.R. Depot at Bombo. Swiftly the District became a prey to
the disease and the situation was not improved by the fact that the 5,651 vaccina-
13 L.D.A.R. 1916-17, para. 76.
14 L.D.A.R. 1916-17, para. 32.
164 UGANDA JOURNAL
tions performed in an attempt to stem the outbreak were found to have been
carried out with a spurious imitation vaccine made in Nairobi, which only
succeeded in discrediting the whole process.15 To complete the tale of medical
misfortune, it must be added that earlier in 1917 infected carriers had brought
a serious epidemic of meningitis to the counties of Dokolo and Kyoga. The year
closed in the same atmosphere of tragedy owing to a famine in the northern
counties due to excessive rain at harvest time followed by a swarm of locusts
and drought which ruined any attempt to plant an emergency food crop.
In spite of these setbacks progress in the development of an administrative
system continued uninterruptedly. Native courts were set up in 1918 in Dokolo
County, so long notorious for its endemic crime and disorder, in Eruti County
and in two centres in Moroto County. The organization of all these courts, with
the exception of those in Kyoga County, continued to be largely embryonic,
however, mainly because of the absence of any true sense of a unity of purpose
among the various chiefs of which they were comprised. With a view to regular-
izing the system it was decided on the 31 March 1919, to instruct all county
chiefs to hold a county court or lukiko at fixed centres once a fortnight for the
purpose of hearing appeals, disseminating county orders and collecting general
county news.16 The chiefs were quick to appreciate what was required of them
and the new scheme had an invigorating effect, not only upon the county courts
but also upon the sub-chiefs' courts below them. These latter bodies were, in
fact, beginning to prove of great value both as courts of original jurisdiction in
cases affecting natives of the District and also in investigating serious crimes as
a preliminary to their being referred to a higher tribunal. Such was the progress
made throughout the District that county courts were urged to follow the
example of Kumam County in drafting local legislation.
It had been the custom, almost since the District had been first established,
for the District Commissioner to hold an annual baraza. In 1919 it was decided
to strengthen the position of the administration by creating a Council of Rwodi,
or county chiefs, which should meet quarterly as a deliberative and consultative
body, presided over by each Rwot in turn. At these meetings the chiefs would
report on the general condition of the District and discuss any laws suggested
by the county courts. The final result of the discussion would then be brought
to the District Commissioner for his consent or refusal. In this way it was hoped
to impress upon the chiefs the need for united action while at the same time
creating a set of useful laws applicable to the whole District and drawn up by
the Lango themselves.17
A further attempt to introduce a higher degree of efficiency into the adminis-
trative machine met with qualified success. From the earliest years of the
District the services of Indian and Goan clerks had proved invaluable. It was
intended, however, that native African clerks should occupy the posts for which
they were fitted by their education and with a view to the training and improve-
ment of native court clerks a school was opened at the District Headquarters
on the 8 October 1921. From a purely professional point of view the results
is L.D.A.R. 1917-18, paras. 11-12.
16 L.D.A.R. 1918-19, para. 81.
17 L.D.A.R. 1919-20, para. 86.
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT, 1907-35 165
were good. But official enthusiasm was temporarily dimmed when it was dis-
covered that the clerks, headed by the schoolmaster who was himself a senior
clerk, were using their status as students as a ground for evading payment of
The proclamation of 13 June 1924, concerning native courts in the Eastern
Province, gave statutory judicial authority to the informal councils of Rwodi in
Lango District by authorizing the establishment of a district native court in
permanent session as a court of appeal from the county court. After some years
of experiment, however, it was found necessary in 1931 to strengthen the court
by arranging for only half the Rwodi to sit at a time, on a fair territorial basis,
every second month, instead of the assembly's being rendered ineffectual by the
inconvenience of permanent sessions.19 Meanwhile, the supervisory activities of
the administrative officers in matters of justice had accumulated steadily and
the situation seemed particularly gloomy in 1925 when the Chief Justice of
Uganda expressed the opinion that there was not sufficient judicial work in the
District to justify the periodical visit of a whole-time magistrate. Fortunately,
however, the District Magistrate of Mbale District commenced monthly visits
to Lira in May of the following year.
Behind this apparent progress rumblings of doubt began to be heard in the
1920s. The situation was best summarized by Captain A. E. 0. Black, who was
in charge of the District from 1926 to 1928. Touring by overworked District
Officers had been neither as extensive nor as intensive as the officers themselves
would have wished, he pointed out. As a result, chiefs had been left far too much
on their own at a stage when they urgently required guidance, support and
control. In addition, the obligation of peasants to give free labour to the chiefs,
a custom unknown before the advent of British administration, had for some
time been an excessive burden and a source of discontent to the peasantry them-
selves as well as a lively temptation to the chiefs to act despotically. In the
meantime the increasing wealth of the District, mainly derived from cotton
cultivation, had introduced a veneer of material civilization which tended to
give the administrator an erroneous impression of the capacity for change
inherent in the Lango population. The economic expansion of the District had,
nevertheless, created a new situation requiring a different approach on the part
of the administration, one for which, regrettably, the old chiefs were ill-adapted
either by training or character.
To these cumulative problems Black had no solution to offer. He was reluctant
to suggest the removal of the old chiefs, even if any replacements had been forth-
coming, which both he and many others doubted. Many of these old men had
contrived to exercise an effective, although occasionally a too despotic, control
over their people and their role, even in a changing world, could never be filled
by an ill-trained clerical type of administrator. Black, therefore, built his hopes
of converting the old type of autocrat into some semblance of a disinterested civil
servant upon the introduction of salaries in place of the right to compulsory
labour. The depression of the early 1930s made it necessary to revert for a time
to the partial use of peasants' labour because a large proportion of the people
is L.D.A.R. 1922, para. 17.
19 L.D.A.R. 1931, para. 95.
166 UGANDA JOURNAL
was unable to pay the commutation fee, but by December 1933 the chiefs' right
to free labour was entirely abolished.
In the meantime, however, a more serious list of accusations against the
administration of Lango District had been compiled. On 23 February 1934,
Captain J. E. T. Philipps, M.C., who had become District Commissioner in
August of the previous year, addressed an indictment of the conditions existing
among the Kumam and in Dokolo and Kwania Counties to the somewhat appre-
hensive Provincial Commissioner, Northern Province. Some years previously,
Philipps had served in Teso District where he claimed to have discovered a
colourful array of scandals concerning the chiefs' treatment of the peasants, and
as early as 1927 he had conceived the idea that similar conditions existed at least
in the adjacent counties of Lango District. When he took charge of that District
in 1933 he immediately undertook investigations among the Kumam, letting it be
known that he was prepared to hear the grievances of the lowliest even if the
highest were incriminated. His inquiries, he claimed, revealed a carefully woven
network of nepotism, corruption and ill-treatment.20 The administrative offices
were all filled by relatives of the County Chief from sub-chiefs down to inter-
preters and junior-clerks. The will of the County Chief prevailed in every native
court and even in the District Court, which had the power to imprison for two
years, the junior members were rarely consulted. Appellants were frequently
ill-treated and witnesses were bullied to extort confessions. Tax gathering took
place with a maximum of arbitrary extortion. Local regulations were frequently
a dead letter because the chiefs themselves were the main offenders against them.
For all these abuses there was no means of redress since the chiefs were in control
of the administration of justice at every level. Moreover, to cover their misdeeds
they had developed a useful vocabulary of official jargon concerning progress
which hid from the District Officers, themselves overwhelmed by reams of irrele-
vant returns, the fact that the chiefs spent more time in pursuing their own
interests than in carrying out their administrative duties.
Philipps' analysis of the causes of these alleged evils is deserving of attention
even if to more modern readers his use of certain political terms is confused.
Although his fulminations were somewhat exaggerated, his criticisms are not
without relevance to present day problems of district administration in Uganda.
In the first place he refers to the system of administration introduced by the
British into Lango District as that of Indirect Rule yet immediately discloses
the complete absence of what might well be regarded as two of the main
ingredients of that system, namely, the retention of existing authorities and the
maintenance of the indigenous legal system. The British-made chiefs, he asserts,
enjoyed an undreamed-of security of tenure and at the same time needed no
specifically local knowledge to assist them in their judicial functions since most
of the cases they tried were either offences against government regulations or
civil cases for which sentences were becoming increasingly standardized by
district legislation. Yet there is no doubt that, at the time of its introduction into
Lango District, the Protectorate authorities regarded their administrative system
20 Report to the Provincial Commissioner, Northern Province, on the conditions in Lango
(Kumam) including the counties of South Kwania and Dokolo, by Capt. J. E. T. Philipps,
M.C., dated 23 February 1934.
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION IN LANGO DISTRICT, 1907-35 167
as the best and, what was then more relevant, as the most practical substitute for
what is now known as Indirect Rule rather than as the direct opposite of that
principle. What is more, even allowing for the incubus of corruption by which,
according to Philipps, the system was oppressed in the 1930s, it had successfully
provided that substitute. For it had beyond doubt created a body of indigenous,
autocratic, though not hereditary, chiefs, exercising an authority which, if not
traditional, was tending to be regarded as such. And that body had proved a
fairly satisfactory instrument for the introduction of peace and order which was,
after all, of more immediate interest to the Protectorate Government in the first
three decades of the century than blind conformity with any political theories.
Difficulties have undoubtedly arisen now that attempts are being made to replace
some at least of the chiefs' power (which in forty years has become very deeply
rooted) by that of more democratic authorities in accordance with the recom-
mendations of the Wallis Report of 1953 on African Local Government in
Uganda. It might even be argued now, perhaps, that the early twentieth century
administrators were too precipitate in creating a new caste of chiefs among the
Lango rather than searching for and developing a more traditional if extremely
rudimentary form of administration and justice through the medium of councils
of elders. But it is extremely doubtful if such a policy was ever practicable.
Missionaries might be content to accept existing conditions and either build
upon them or work to overthrow them. But ultimately the missionaries' message
is to individuals. Governments of their very nature are wholesalers. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the Uganda Government, faced with the task of
administering a large and primitive country and possessing a minimum of
resources, should have chosen such a well-tried and economical method. The
main cause for regret now, perhaps, in view of the former political void among
the Lango, is that the Protectorate authorities of the early twentieth century
were unable to recognize that they were in fact imposing a form of direct rule in
Lango District. Had they done so, and openly admitted it, it might have been
easier at some later date to regulate the position of their own civil servants
which is what, in spite of their title, the chiefs were. It is true that Lango District
could not be dealt with without reference to the administrative policy adopted
in other Districts in the Protectorate. But a similar policy would probably have
been equally applicable elsewhere, outside the Agreement Districts.
In the 1930s, however, such questions had not arisen and even Philipps him-
self, after condemning the creation of a caste of chiefs separated by a great social
gulf from the inarticulate peasantry, admitted that his only contribution to the
settlement of the problem consisted of a number of suggestions for reforms of a
purely administrative character. And those suggestions were not all relevant.
For, as F. H. B. Sandford, District Commissioner of Toro, pointed out when
confronted by Captain Philipps' report, the criticisms of the latter officer might
equally well be levelled against the administration of Toro District. But the
errors of the chiefs were far more often due to inexperience, incompetence or
to an unwillingness to stir up trouble for themselves than to a deliberate delight
in acting oppressively.21
The Provincial Commissioner considered it advisable, however, to accept
21 Letter to the Provincial Commissioner, Western Province, dated 24 April 1934.
168 UGANDA JOURNAL
some of the proposals which Captain Philipps had made. He reduced the powers
of the native courts in order to bring them into line with the powers exercised
by similar courts in the Nilotic areas. Then, since the replacement of dismissed
chiefs would have been impossible, he transferred a number of Rwodi to other
counties so as to break up the family groups which Philipps claimed had begun
to monopolize authority in each locality. Wisely, however, he refrained from
the wholesale transfer of sub-chiefs recommended by Philipps, preferring to
await the report of the incoming District Commissioner before undertaking
such a drastic step. In order to place a check upon any future corruption the
Provincial Commissioner did however, recommend that chiefs should not
necessarily be appointed in the area where they were born or had their home
except in the case of the lowest grade of village headman who should be a local
man appointed on the recommendation of the inhabitants of his own village.22
Further measures included the abolition of county jails since the District was
considered not yet to be ready to administer them. Court fees were reduced to
allow the poorer peasants easier access to justice and it was suggested that as an
experiment in certain counties persons holding no official position should be
appointed as members of the courts to represent the better educated and more
advanced sections of the population. Township courts, abolished in 1929, were
re-introduced as it was considered that the Lango chiefs had not reached the
stage of development where they could justifiably be given judicial powers over
the heterogeneous collection of Africans who worked in the towns. Finally, the
District Commissioner was asked to submit a list of forms which could be
dispensed with as being unsuited to the needs of his District at that time.
These changes, although limited in character, caused considerable upheaval
in the District. The poll-tax decreased while there was a proportionate increase
in crime.23 It was thought advisable, therefore, to avoid new developments of
a major character while the people were settling down, and the rapid succession
of three District Commissioners in 1934 confirmed the wisdom of this decision.
But by 1935 it was becoming abundantly clear that even the limited measures
taken in the previous year had been too drastic. The transfer of chiefs in par-
ticular had upset the administrative machinery of the District to an unfortunate
extent, for some of the chiefs had been placed in counties where the language
was quite unknown to them. So it was decided to reverse some of the changes, a
step which, in spite of the scandals alleged in 1934, seemed wholly acceptable
to the peasantry. And, as a final indication that affairs were back to normal,
proceedings were begun for the formation of a Lango Native Council to con-
sider matters of major importance concerning native customs and customary
I should like to acknowledge my great indebtedness to the Uganda Govern-
ment for giving me access to official reports and tour books.
22 B. Ashton Warner to the Chief Secretary, dated 8 March 1934.
23 L.D.A.R. 1934, para. 96.
24 L.D.A.R. 1935, para. 122.
FISHERY RESEARCH IN EAST AFRICA
By R. S. A. BEAUCHAMP
East African Fisheries Research Organization
THE problems to be investigated when studying a fishery cover a range of
subjects as great as that covered by the combined sciences of agriculture
and animal husbandry. These two sciences, although they overlap, can by
definition be limited, one to the study of plants and the other to the study of
animals. No such limits can be set to the science of fishery research which
includes the study of both plants and animals.
Man has, by various means, taken fish out of the sea and out of streams and
lakes for a hundred thousand years. Only recently did it occur to him to study
these fish in detail-their way of life and the food they eat. We are told, how-
ever, that cave man initiated the science of agriculture when he selected, and
stored for planting, seeds that he discovered grew into plants useful to him as
food. For many thousands of years, therefore, there has been an applied science
of agriculture and for nearly as long one that may be considered the precursor
of animal husbandry.
A lack of background is perhaps partially responsible for the multitude of
misconceptions which surround the modern science of fisheries, but probably
a more significant source for these misconceptions is the fact that until very
recently man has considered the harvest drawn from the sea or from the local
river or pond as a 'perquisite', a fortunate addition to his diet which he has not
laboured to produce. Like anything that is obtained without too much effort, it
was relatively unappreciated. However, once fish ceased to be a casual addition
to the diet and became an essential constituent their capture became a serious
business and, furthermore, the means of earning a livelihood. Fishing ceased to
be a casual pastime, though among anglers it survives as such to the present day.
When fish became an important element in man's diet greater efforts were
required to bring in amounts sufficient to meet the demand. The demands
increased as human populations increased and it soon became apparent that the
fisheries of the world could not be considered as inexhaustible reserves of food.
It became necessary to study the existing stocks of fish, their rate of reproduc-
tion and the supply of food available to them. Thus fishery research was born
as the child of necessity. Man, however, rarely learns from his predecessor's
experiences; thus every new fishery is treated as yet another widow's cruse until
from bitter experience it is found to be otherwise. We have seen this happen in
Every fishery and every method of fish cultivation presents problems peculiar
to itself, hence the need for research all over the world. Though much effort has
been expended on the study of marine fisheries, very little work has been done
on inland fisheries, no doubt because they have usually been considered to be of
relatively little value. This of course does not apply to East Africa. The Fishery
Departments of the three East African Governments and the Lake Victoria
Fisheries Service have collected a considerable amount of evidence, which need
not be repeated here, to show how valuable are the fisheries in this area, yet even
170 UGANDA JOURNAL
so, considerable efforts are being made to augment existing supplies derived
from natural sources by growing fish in ponds and dams.
Probably fish husbandry in inland waters originated with the Chinese who fed
grass to fish in ponds. These particular fish grow well on chopped grass and the
partially digested food excreted by them affords food for other species. Excreta
from all these fish add to the plant nutrients in the water, and stimulate the
growth of plankton, on which yet other species of fish live. Thus the Chinese
evolved a fish farming technique, as yet unexcelled, using a complex of five or
six species of fish. Some attempts have been made to imitate the Chinese method
of fish farming, but lack of attention to detail, and the application of the method
in other areas using unsuitable fish, have frequently led to unsatisfactory results.
More experience and a closer study of the problems involved can certainly be
expected to lead to the development of methods of fish farming suited to par-
Only within the last two hundred years has any attempt been made to con-
serve the stocks of fish in natural waters. Such attempts have usually taken the
form of legislation restricting the fishing effort and were first applied to marine
fisheries. At a later date it was deemed necessary to carry out research in order
to decide whether the legislation imposed was likely to have the desired effect.
Subsidiary research was also initiated with the aim of deriving the maximum
value from the fish caught. The need to prevent waste of valuable food led to the
technical science of fish processing and preservation. The results of this form
of research are widely applicable, that is to say, the same methods can be used
in any part of the world. The various methods used for preserving fish by drying,
salting, smoking, canning and freezing, are well known and efficacious; the
same applies to the various methods for making fish meal, either from whole
fish or from the waste products after filleting, gutting, etc. These methods of
preserving and preparing fish can be used successfully by any who are interested.
No doubt some new methods remain to be discovered, but these discoveries are
only likely to be made by the specialist laboratories working on this subject.
Only rarely is it possible for research to discover new untapped sources of
fish, because the industry has usually found them first and, making the most of
the immediate opportunity, depleted the stocks and reduced the future potential
of the fishery. The East African Fisheries Research Organization has however
been fortunate in this respect and has been able to indicate the existence of
certain populations of fish which are as yet unexploited.
The general state of a fishery can be determined empirically by studying the
records of fish caught by fishermen, but these records must have been kept for
several years before they will show how the populations of catchable fish are
being affected. It is equally important to have at the same time an estimate of the
fishing effort year by year. From these data a value for the fish caught per unit
of effort can be derived; this value can give an indication of the density of the
population, and the change in numbers that is occurring. The significance of the
conclusions reached depends on how comprehensive the records are. It is
obvious that records obtained from one or two landings around a lake are of
less value than records obtained from a great many such landings. The Lake
Victoria Fisheries Service has provided data of the utmost value. The pity is
FISHERY RESEARCH IN EAST AFRICA 171
that no comparable inter-territorial service was started immediately after the
excellent survey carried out in 1927 by Michael Graham. Michael Graham's
report was published in 1929 and conveyed a clear warning of the dangers of
over-fishing Lake Victoria, and in particular the Kavirondo Gulf. This warning,
which was given in good time, has to all intents and purposes been ignored, and
there is little doubt that the fishery has continued to decline. The only reason
why the position as regards the supply of fish is not at the moment more acute
is because the fishing effort has been increased to keep pace with the declining
stocks of fish. In other words, it now requires more fishermen using more nets
to bring in the same number of fish as could previously be caught by fewer men
with less equipment. The present policy which allows an ever-increasing num-
ber of nets to be used on the better fishing grounds is likely to lead to a situation
which it may be no exaggeration to describe as disastrous. The introduction of
nylon and terylene nets which are more lethal than the flax nets will no doubt
hasten the process. As explained, the study of fishery statistics gives an empiri-
cal estimate of the state of a fishery but provides little information beyond indi-
cating the apparent effect of the industry on the naturally occurring populations
of fish. It would be of little value to the fishing industry if the matter were left
solely in the hands of statisticians.
The officer engaged on research requires to know a great deal more about the
fisheries than can be deduced by a statistician from the records of the fish
caught. He needs to learn as much as possible about all the natural factors that
affect the abundance or otherwise of the fish. Without some knowledge of these
factors, it is unlikely that he will be able to give advice of much value to the
industry. At best he can make suggestions which could equally well have been
made by the operators of the industry or by the statistician. These deductions
are liable however to very serious errors, if made without reference to natural
phenomena that may be affecting the fish more than is the industry.
While investigating these natural phenomena any research organization must
initiate and continue to make its own special observations on the populations of
fish that make up the fishery. It cannot rely solely on information derived from
commercial catches; these are made by professional fishermen who must
attempt to set their gear where they believe they are most likely to catch fish.
The research organization is not content to know where most of the fish may be;
it must know, or at least attempt to find out, the limits of the fishing grounds.
This means that it must set its nets not only in those areas where fish are known
to be, but also in areas where results, from the point of view of the fisherman,
may be remarkably disappointing. However, the research officer, who is trained
to record all his catches together with other relevant data, can derive useful
information from an empty fishing net.
A great deal of effort must also be expended on catching small immature fish,
in order to trace their life history and to discover their habits. A fish during the
course of its lifetime frequently occupies a variety of habitats in the sea or lake
in which it lives. The Tilapia of Lake Victoria serve well to illustrate this point.
The fertilized ova of Tilapia are retained in the mouth of the parent for a
certain period. During this time the parent fish does not feed but seeks shelter
in swampy areas within the littoral region. The young fish after leaving the
172 UGANDA JOURNAL
parent's mouth remain in these areas for a variable length of time. The period
spent in the swamps is determined, it seems, partly by the time taken to reach a
certain size, which itself is determined by the amount of suitable food available,
and partly by other factors, such as the rainfall (which may cause 'foul' water
from adjacent deoxygenated papyrus swamps to invade the Tilapia 'nurseries'
and cause the young fish to move out into open water). In the more open water
these small immature fish feed near the surface; afterwards they tend to feed at
a greater depth. On reaching full sexual maturity they seek particular areas in
the lake where conditions are suitable for the making of nests; these breeding
grounds are distinct from the brooding grounds and 'nurseries'. The life histories
of the two species of Tilapia in Lake Victoria are not yet fully known, but the
East African Fisheries Research Organization has contributed considerably to
knowledge of this subject. However, we may seek comfort in the fact that much
still remains to be learnt about the life histories of many common fish in Europe;
for example, even now, little is known of the life history of the salmon between
the time it leaves the rivers in which it is spawned and the time when it returns,
as an adult.
Once the life history of a fish has been sketched, at least in outline, it is
necessary to discover what food is eaten throughout the course of its life. Fish
change their feeding habits as they grow, and the food of young fish may be
quite different from that of the adult fish; during their lifetime they may require
a succession of different foods. Accordingly, the abundance of a fish may be
determined by the supply of some particular food required at some particular
stage of its life history.
At every stage in its life a fish is liable to attack from predators; these may be
other species of fish which eat either the eggs, alevins or adults, or other animals
such as otters, crocodiles and birds. The abundance of any one of these predators
may be a factor of great importance in determining the number of fish that will
Parasites may destroy fish or reduce their reproductive potential. They may
be fungi, such as those that grow on fish eggs, protozoa that sterilize fish by
damaging their gonads, or worms that ruin the appearance or palatability of the
flesh. There are many organisms, besides the common fish lice, which live para-
sitically on fish. It would be unwise to neglect the possibility that, quite apart
from epidemics, a measure of control of the density of fish populations may be
exercised continuously by parasites.
It must be fully appreciated that the aims of fishery research are not satisfied
merely by descriptions of the habits and life histories of fish, their food, pre-
dators and parasites, however complete. The significance of these various
findings must be assessed in terms of their effect on the total population. If
mortality due to predators is high and the survival rate due to a lack of food
low, one needs to know which is the more significant and what causes the
abundance of predators and the shortage of food. Thus it becomes necessary to
study, as far as possible, the whole biological environment and then assess which
features are of particular importance. This assessment is perhaps the hardest
task of all, and of course can be done adequately only after a vast amount of
data has been collected.
FISHERY RESEARCH IN EAST AFRICA 173
Though some assessment regarding the significance of one's findings must be
made as one goes along, it is as well to realize that, human nature being what it
is, each new discovery will strike the investigator as being something of par-
ticular value. He must therefore be prepared, as new information is acquired, to
relegate some of his previously cherished ideas to a back place. This is inevit-
able, and particularly so when exploring regions from which little information
has been collected, and where there are no continuous records of the conditions
obtaining previously. Past records are of inestimable value, as they indicate the
nature and degree of change that may occur with time and for a variety of
reasons. Without some such knowledge it is easy to make completely erroneous
deductions and assume that present conditions are caused by, for instance, over-
fishing, when in fact they really are the result of periodic fluctuations in the
numbers of fish brought about by quite other circumstances.
Populations of animals never remain the same for long; this should be borne
in mind particularly when there is a lack of any specific information on the
subject. The only records concerning the lakes of East Africa, which have been
kept continuously for a reasonable number of years, are records of lake levels.
These show a regular periodicity, which was once thought to be related to sun-
spot cycles; this correlation broke down in recent years but there are no doubt
certain events that affect the weather in a way that causes a period of relatively
dry years to be followed by a period of years in which the rainfall is either above
the average or evaporation is below the average rate. It is not intended to imply
that biological changes do actually follow these periodic changes in lake level;
they may, but there are no data to support the idea or to refute it. Changes in
lake level do affect the fertility of a lake; they also disturb conditions in the
littoral region where many fish live and where the Tilapia go to brood their
young, so it is not improbable that these cyclical changes in the weather do have
some effect on the fish. However, excluding such external effects, it is likely that
considerable changes occur in the population of both plants and animals in the
lakes perhaps due in the first place to some minor shift in the balance between
the food supply and the number of consumers, which in turn may affect the
number of predatory animals or parasites; thus a process of change may be
initiated which may pursue its course for a number of years and then revert
gradually to the original condition. Such changes may be described as reversible
There are other changes that occur in lakes which may be described as
irreversible and are expressions of the process of lake evolution or gradual
ageing. All lakes, however they may have been formed in the first place, owe
their individuality primarily to the nature of the surrounding countryside. Drain-
age from the catchment area carries into the lake silt and minerals in solution;
the nature of these determines the biological character of the lake as expressed
by its contained flora and fauna. The entire flora and fauna then undergoes a
gradual change which is brought about as a result of their own activities. This
change tends towards a condition of increasing fertility; in the larger lakes this
process is slow and therefore probably not of any immediate significance, but in
the smaller lakes and in dams and reservoirs it may proceed extremely rapidly;
so rapidly that the entire life of such a body of water may be completed in a
174 UGANDA JOURNAL
few decades or less. This is an experience which may cause some inconvenience
to the builders of dams, fish farms and reservoirs.
So far this account has skimmed rapidly over a few of the zoological problems
that are included in the science of fisheries, many more must be omitted alto-
gether. But, before passing on to the more fundamental aspects of fishery
research, reference must be made to the invertebrate fauna which inhabit fresh-
waters. These animals play an important part in determining the numbers of
fish that live in lakes. Crustacea are the principal food of the ndagaa of Lake
Tanganyika (Stolothrissa tanganyicae (Regan) and Limnothrissa miodon
(Blgr.)) and they form part of the diet of many other fish. Insect larvae are the
main food of Mormyrus and of many other fish. They are also a very important
element in the diet of young fish belonging to many species that eat entirely
different food when adult. Molluscs form the food of several species of fish and
are themselves vectors of diseases which affect fish, cattle and men.
All animals, vertebrate or invertebrate, depend ultimately on plants for their
food. The saying that "all flesh is grass" is just as applicable in the waters of the
world as it is on land. Yet some people have shown surprise when told that
botanical subjects are included in fishery research programmes.
The populations of animals that can live in a lake are dependent absolutely
on the quantity and nature of the plants growing in it. It is therefore of the
greatest importance to know as much as possible about these plants. They range
in size from minute organisms that comprise part of the ultra-small plankton
(nannoplankton) to the higher plants that form the swamps around the lake-
shore. From the fishery point of view, the more important plants are probably
the algae which form the phytoplankton, but all the plants occurring in various
habitats play some part in the life of fish.
The majority of fish depend only indirectly on plants for their food; that is to
say, they eat other animals, crustacea, insects, molluscs or other fish, that feed
on plants. In East Africa however the most important fish economically are the
various species of Tilapia, all of which are herbivorous. Some species feed on
the phytoplankton, whereas others feed on aquatic weeds. In this respect these
fish present a less difficult problem than most. They also present a problem of
especial interest, because they are closely related by their food to those basic
factors which determine the fertility or infertility of the lakes in which they live.
Fertility can be measured in terms of dissolved substances contained in the
water, in the same way as one may describe a soil as being fertile because it
contains plenty of plant nutrients, phosphates, nitrates, lime, potash and other
essential substances. Fish cannot, of course, grow in a simple solution of chemi-
cal substances; the basic chemical fertility of the water needs to be converted
into plant material on which fish and other animals may feed. Light is necessary
for plant growth, so a chemically fertile water will support a high density of
plants only if it receives sufficient light. In a lake only the surface waters are
illuminated, so only near the surface can the essential work of converting simple
chemical substances into organic matter be carried out. Fertile water which
remains at the bottom of a lake is no more productive than the rich soil lying
on the floor of a dense forest is productive of undergrowth. The water near
the bottom of a lake tends to be chemically fertile because it receives nutrients
FISHERY RESEARCH IN EAST AFRICA 175
which are released from the mud by decomposition. It is necessary to know
something about the way this water is moved from the bottom to the surface.
This study of water movement is called hydrology and can be described as a
kind of aquatic meteorology. The realization of the potential chemical fertility
of a lake depends very largely on whether the hydrological conditions are
favourable and cause water from the bottom to be transferred to the surface. In
some lakes conditions of thermal stratification or layering often exist which
prevent such mixing of the water, with the result that their productivity is con-
siderably less than it would otherwise be.
The following quotation from The Sea Around Us by R. L. Carson describes
how fertile water from the seabed, if brought to the surface, affects the ocean
fisheries. "Some of the world's largest fisheries are dependent on upwelling. The
coast of Algeria is famous for its sardine fisheries; the sardines are abundant
here because upward streams of deep, cold water provide the minerals to support
astronomical numbers of diatoms. The west coast of Morocco and the south-
west coast of Africa are other sites of extensive upwelling and consequent rich*
ness of marine life. There is an amazingly abundant fish fauna in the Arabian
Sea near Oman and on the Somali coast near Cape Hafun, both occurring in
areas of cold water rising from the depths. Upwelling around the island of South
Georgia, east of Cape Horn, makes this one of the world's centres of whaling.
On the west coast of the United States the catch of sardines is sometimes as
much as a billion pounds in a year, supporting one of the largest fisheries in the
world. The fishery could not exist except for upwelling, which sets off the old,
familiar biological chain; salts, diatoms, copepods, herring." Essentially the
same principles hold in a large lake as in the oceans, though everything occurs
on a much smaller scale. Somewhat similar water movements in Lake Victoria
probably explain the presence of greater numbers of certain fish along the
southern coast than occur along the northern. The same sort of quantitative
difference is found between the fish fauna of the southern and northern ends of
both Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa. These differences would seem to be an
expression of one of the effects produced by the south-east trade winds on these
There are some hydrological problems which are to some extent peculiar to
lakes, for instance the development of very marked thermal stratification and
the seiche movements that occur between layers of water of different density.
These, as already indicated, have a marked effect on the productivity of a lake.
Without some knowledge of these water movements it would not be possible to
understand the considerable fluctuations which occur in the chemical composi-
tion of the water and in the abundance of plankton.
It may perhaps be permissible in this review to raise one issue that is appar-
ently of no immediate economic significance, namely the ancient history of the
East African lakes as revealed by the fossil records. Some of the more recent
fossils are of great interest since they show that within the existing lake basins
remarkable changes have occurred in the fish fauna. Among the more recent
fossils there are specimens, belonging to the same species as occur today, which
-are far larger than any found at the present time. This may indicate that there
has been a decline in the fertility of these lakes, and this decline may have been
176 UGANDA JOURNAL
brought about partly as a result of man improving his technique as a fisherman.
The fertility of a tropical lake may be reduced considerably by removing fish
from it, no doubt these lakes have been fished by man for some thousands of
years and probably during that time his numbers and the number of fish he has
caught have on the whole been steadily increasing. It is curious to think that we
have some information regarding the fish fauna in Lake Victoria from recent
fossil remains, but no subsequent data till the beginning of the present century.
Carson, R. L. (1951). The Sea Around Us. London: Staples Press.
Graham, M. (1929). The Victoria Nyanza and its Fisheries. A Report on the Fishing
Survey of Lake Victoria, 1927-28. London: Crown Agents for the Colonies.
THE MUNSA EARTHWORKS
By E. C. LANDING
THE Munsa earthworks are near Kakumiro Township in Mubende District,
Buganda Province.' They lie within the cluster of earthworks which is strung
out from Bunyoro into Masaka District and as far as the south bank of the
Kagera River, in Tanganyika.2 The most northerly of these known encampments
are the trenches at Kihyoka in the Bugoma Forest, south-east of Lake Albert.3
The Munsa encampment lies roughly equidistant between those trenches and
the Bigo group of earthworks on the south bank of the Katonga River.
The attention of the late A. D. Combe of the Geological Survey Department
was drawn to 'ancient earthworks in Mubende' in 1921. (Combe later mapped
the Bigo earthworks.)4 He made some enquiries in 1924.5 According to the
descriptions then given to him, there was an outer trench (said to be several
miles in circumference) as well as cross trenches dividing up the enclosed area.
There is no record that he ever visited the Munsa site. Subsequently, there were
other reports concerning these trenches and it was suggested that they stretched
over a very great distance.6
Since April 1952 I1 have paid a number of visits to the site. My objectives have
been to determine the extent of the trenches and to compare them with the other
known earthworks within the general area.
Following the interrogation of many old natives at the site and the completion
of a traverse, I am satisfied that the trenches extend for no further than shown
on the accompanying plan. Early reports, that they extended for countless miles,
are explained by the local man's inability to judge distance and his vague gesture
of pointing to the horizon, merely to denote 'a long walk'. My investigations
have also established the fact that the 'scattered' trenches were connected and
were part of a single system based on a rock stronghold.
The Lunyoro name Munsa means literally 'in the trenches'. Today a portion
of the earthworks lies within a Native Anglican Church Plot and as a result the
pastorate and all the African homesteads within the area have adopted the
name of 'Munsa'. The greater part, however, lies in parcels of mailo (privately-
Around the stronghold, in all directions, the landscape is broken by hills
surmounted by rocky outcrops. The nearby hills, about 4,400 feet above sea-
level, rise some 400 feet above the level of the nearby swamps and undulating
countryside. The earthwork system lies within a circle of hills through which
flows the River Katerere, which is also called Kiye. This is a small river, choked
1 Lat. 0* 49' 30" N.; long. 31" 18' 00" E. For map see Sheet-Africa North A-36-T
(Mubendi); scale 1: 250,000; War Office 1911. The area was covered by a Royal Air Force
Survey, 1952-ref. 82/105, prints 5118 and 5119: Directorate of Colonial Surveys.
2 See Lanning (1953a), pp. 51-62.
3 See Lanning (1954a), p. 37.
4 See Wayland (1934), pp. 21, 23.
5 See Combe (1924); unpublished notes in records of Geological Survey Dept., Entebbe.
6 See Snoxall (1946), p. 45
178 UGANDA JOURNAL
with papyrus, which varies in width from 50 to 200 yards. The encampment lies
on the south bank of the Katerere, close to its confluence with the River Lwogya.
On the north bank of the Katerere the ground rises steeply to the bush and
forest-clad hills to the north.
The distinctive group of granite rocks on which the system is based is known
as Bikekete. It is within a quarter of a mile of the bank of the Katerere (Fig. 1).
The rocks, piled one against another, form numerous small shelters at different
levels. In the north this natural stronghold is well covered by the river but to
the south and on both flanks it has the protection of deep trenches. The excava-
tions seem to have developed from an initial trenchline (trench A) dug close to,
the rock centre, to an inner trench (trench B) and then to the major excavation,
an outer earthwork (trench C). The outer earthwork sweeps in a great semi-
circle for nearly l miles, from the head of a tributary of the Katerere, the
Kyeju, on the east, to within a few yards of the Katerere itself on the west, of
The innermost trench A, sited as if to protect the entry into the maze of
tumbled rocks, is in places easily distinguishable; it is 10 feet deep and 15 feet
wide. Together with the Bikekete rocks it is encompassed by, and also con-
nects with, what appears to have been an extensive earthwork, the inner trench
B. In places this earthwork is still well defined; elsewhere it is almost or com-
pletely unrecognizable. Trench B is cut into the high ground on the east flank
of the rock centre in sloping ground covered by bush. From there it overlooks
an arm of the outer trench C which lies above the Kyeju. The excavation then
sweeps southwards in a large loop to close in on the rocks again on their west
The outer trench C completes the system, enclosing the whole area on the east
and south and partially on the west; on the west there is a break of nearly a
quarter of a mile, where the streams Kyebumba and Lwabuwuka coming from
the east, join. The terrain in the gap is marshy even during the dry weather.
During the two wet periods of the year the streams flow freely, often flooding
the area to a depth of several feet.
The area contained within the system is undulating with scattered small out-
crops of rock. Streams flow between the inner and outer trenches. There is,
however, sufficient rock-free soil to allow quite extensive cultivation. It appears
that the entire site has been occupied for many generations; portions of the
trench lines have disappeared by the effect of the cultivator's hoe and by subse-
quent erosion. Numerous discarded querns also give proof of past occupation.
These are to be found on the surface in some profusion, mainly within the inner
trench B. Many potsherds have been recovered from the soil of land at present
cultivated and are also to be found where cultivation ceased long ago and the
land is now covered with bush. Parts of the site are still farmed, including parts
of fast-disappearing trench. Elsewhere, thick bush and tall elephant grass make
progress laborious and the trench lines almost invisible.
Where the trenches are least spoiled by the effects of the elements or the
attention of man, the depth varies between 10 and 15 feet and the width from
-"- RIVER KATERERE OR KIYE -"
S" PLAN OF MUNSA EARTHWORKS
BURAL PIT 0 Scale oFeet
,' ........ c .. .
\* "-" ,
_q.KYE BA- UABUWUKA STREAMS 0 /
"I C L O LEGEND
EDUCED OM CROSSINGS ORGNAL
TRENCV C 0
REDUCED ROM 'HE ORIGINAL
E.C L. 1954
Sketch map of the Munsa earthworks.
THE MUNSA EARTHWORKS 179
6 to 10 feet. There is no trace of any ramparts. Whilst not so extensive and
elaborate as the Bigo earthworks7 some 50 miles to the south, the Munsa system
has some features in common with that larger encampment. Both are sited on
the south bank of a river, each has a well-positioned keep, though that of Bigo
is less intricate and only comprises what appear to be man-made mounds; the
dimensions of the trenches are to all intents and purposes identical.
Conflicting legends about the direction of early tribal movements in the area
raise the question of the exact purpose for which the Munsa earthworks-as
well as the others-were originally needed. In particular, the movements of the
Bachwezi,8 a group of people of whom knowledge has been preserved in the
legends of Bunyoro, Buganda and Ankole, deserve attention. These tribal move-
ments should be borne in mind when trying to estimate the strategical
importance of the Munsa earthworks. It is open to consideration whether the
earthworks (a) were established as a bridge-head prior to a move southwards,
or (b) constituted a defence against attack from the north, or (c) developed, in
a northward movement from the south, as a marshalling point, or (d) merely
evidence the existence of people whose custom it was to live behind or around
a defended position. The cluster of small perimeter camps to the north can be
fitted into any one of these hypotheses.
From local tradition there is little doubt that the earthworks were used in
proto-historic times as a central place of refuge during sporadic enemy sorties
from the south-east. There are occupation sites, south of Munsa and up to two
miles distant, whence it is likely that families would have moved inside the
protective trenches with their cattle at the raising of an alarm.
Trenches A and B appear to have been sited for defence. Trench A, at the
foot of the slopes of the Bikekete rocks, is more likely to have been sited as a
'dry' moat to the stronghold than as a control for cattle. On the east flank of the
rocks, trench B overlooks the small valley of the stream Kyeju. The stronghold
rocks afford ideal look-outs; an excellent view to the south can be had from
many perches so that the whole encampment could have been kept under close
The south and west sections of the outer trench C, far removed from the
operational centre, were probably added last of all. It is here that the greatest
portion of trench is preserved. Whilst the depth and width of this trench must
have been a deterrent to raiders, they would also be adequate for the control of
There is no evidence of trenches north of Bikekete, between the rocks and
the river. There is also no sign or knowledge of trenches dug along the opposite
bank in the vicinity. I would, therefore, conclude that the original builders came
from the north and were concerned solely with what lay ahead of them, in the
The toppled rocks of Bikekete form some ten small shelters and one cave.
7 See air photograph, Mathew (1953), plate III; Cole (1954), plate 16.
8 See Oliver (1953), p. 135.
180 UGANDA JOURNAL
These have been the home of man since early times. The cave, with three means
of access, lies roughly in the centre of the rocks, above two levels of shelters. In
the floor deposit I have found numerous undecorated sherds at depths of from
21 to 3 feet. Marshall9 has reported finding a number of microliths, scrapers and
points, along with two smooth undecorated potsherds, all at a depth of one foot
in the floor deposit of one of the shelters. Outside the shelter he found, on the
surface amongst loose rock debris, an unfinished hand-axe.10 Many other
surface finds point to the more recent history of the shelters and show that they
had been occupied up to the beginning of the present century; the floors of the
shelters are littered with broken pottery; the blade of an iron spear" and the
bowls of clay pipes"- 12 have been recovered.
No systematic excavations have as yet taken place at Munsa. The only pottery
available, with the exception of that noted above,13 has been gathered from the
surface from areas disturbed by cultivation. Two sherds with a punched
design12 are almost identical to a sherd excavated at the Mubende Hill site.12
A similar type of punch marks, though with a slight variation in design, is found
in surface sherds from Bigo.1 So far these sherds form the only link in pottery
between Munsa and other sites in Western Uganda.
Other surface finds reveal that at one time the area within the inner trench B
was occupied by blacksmiths. Also, two bone mallets similar in type to the
wooden mallets used in bark-cloth making have been recovered, one from a rock
shelter and the other from trench B.
From the foregoing it is probable that the earthworks have evolved through
at least three different stages though, of course, no final conclusions can be
drawn without excavation. These stages may well have been: (a) the occupation
of the rocks (Bikekete) by early man; (b) the safeguarding of this rock centre by
a defensive ring of trenches excavated during a later occupation; (c) possibly a
final development of the whole stronghold as a place large enough to harbour
cattle-owning people, not only those living on the spot, but those, too, from
adjacent areas south of the outer earthworks.
Present inhabitants of the area and neighbourhood can throw no light on the
origin of the encampment. Local tradition is silent on those denizens or invaders
who must have exploited the rock centre by turning it into a stronghold, and
who later dug the extensive trenches. There is but one glimmer in the dark of
the past, namely the oft-repeated mention of a powerful personage, apparently
A connexion with the Mubende Hill site, which is 22 miles south of Munsa,
would be of some importance since it is held traditionally that the Bachwezi
king Ndahura had his capital on that hill.14 If such a link existed it would
associate Munsa with the Bachwezi traditions.
Also traditionally associated with the Bachwezi are such centres as Masaka
9 See Marshall (1952).
10 Personal communication. Specimen in museum of Geological Survey Dept. Entebbe.
11 Uganda Museum, Kampala.
12 Private collection, E.C.L.
13 Investigation (1954) of a farmer's freshly-dug pit latrine, close to the south side of
trench A, produced animal bones and sherds bearing roller patterns, from a depth of
3 ft. 4 in.
14 See Nyakatura (1947), p. 33.
Bikekete River Koaterere
to by E. C. Lanning
Bikekete (the central rocks) from Trench C, above the head of the Kyeju.
Photo by E. C. Lanning
The beer-hole and Bikekete.
THE MUNSA EARTHWORKS 181
Hill5 on the north bank of the Katonga river and, to the south of the river, the
great earthworks of Bigo, with its satellites Kagago and Kasonko, as well as the
extensive middens of the Ntusi settlement.16 Tradition amongst local inhabitants
is far stronger in the south of the general area than in the north. This possibly
explains the fact that the names of the Bachwezi leaders are strongly associated
with sites south of and including Mubende Hill whilst the association of names
is not to be found to the north. Munsa and the other eleven smaller earthworks
which lie to its north are all, if in some cases a little vaguely, linked with the
name of this Kateboha.
Very little is known of Kateboha. Tentative enquiries in neighboring
Bunyoro have, as yet, produced no further information. In central and north
Mubende some people believe him to have been a captain of the Bachwezi whilst
others say he came to the area, with his idea of entrenched camps, after the
disappearance or absorption of those people. Whatever the period of Kateboha,
whatever his connexion with these encampments, tradition, though shrouded in
uncertainty, is strongest at Munsa. It is related that he used the rocks at Bikekete
mainly as a retreat in times of stress. Below the rocks and south of the trench A
are two holes in an almost flat slab of granite from which it is said Kateboha
used to drink his beer of a peaceful morn.17 Marshall has described the larger of
the two holes (Fig. 3) as an 'apparently artificial hole which, although following
the line of a series of cross joints, appears unlikely to be a natural erosion
North of these 'beer holes' and close to trench A, a circular depression, some
10 feet in diameter, is just distinguishable. Here, according to an aged informant
who in his youth was told by his father, there was a deep pit wherein lay the
bones of many people who had been killed long ago. The informant associates
the pit with Kateboha. According to local opinion it could have been a pit for
the disposal of the bodies of victims of some powerful chief.
There are many other sites in the neighbourhood which are also connected
with Kateboha's name. In the northern end of Semwema Hill, a large 'boiler
plate' a mile away from the earthworks, there is a large rock shelter which is
particularly linked with his name. Inside, a flat slab of stone is shown where, it
is related, Kateboha sat at the head of his councillors. But unlike most tradi-
tional figures nothing is known of his arrival or departure nor of his people,
whilst of his death there exists only one, rarely-told, tale.
South of Munsa there are numerous granite hill tops, Semwema Hill being one
of many. All of these are riddled with shelters and provide evidence of their
use by man up to modern times. At the foot of the southern tip of Semwema,
there are plentiful signs of past occupation. Here potsherds partly decorated
with red paint have been found. Decorations vary, the paint having been applied
(i) in streaks as a finger smear, (ii) in daubs and (iii) on the outside and inside of
rims. The similar use of a red paint, but on better executed samples, is to be
15 See Lanning (1954b), pp. 24-9.
16 See Mathew (1953), p. 214.
17 See Ggomotoka (1950), p. 86.
182 UGANDA JOURNAL
found on sherds recovered from the surface at Ntusi settlement. Sherds
decorated as at (i) above have also been recovered from Bigo. At Mubende Hill
sherds coloured not only in red but either in black, brown or blue have been
excavated. From the Semwema site, too, the major portion of a large clay vessel
has been unearthed; the pot is similar in shape and dimensions to the Mubende
Hill vessels A and C.18
Although only slender evidence is available it is sufficient to show a similarity
in the design of encampments. The pottery resemblances also cannot be over-
looked. However, in my opinion, Munsa was not merely one of many similar
sites, but a key point and its strategical importance may well be comparable to
that of the earthworks of Bigo.
It is evident that the encampment at Munsa has much to tell of that past period
in East African history of which so little is known. Many sites throughout Africa
are deserving of early attention but, it is felt that the Munsa site deserves a high
priority. A thorough investigation is needed here as well as at the important
sites of Mubende Hill, the Bigo earthworks and Ntusi settlement. Extensive
fieldwork at these sites might well contribute greatly to the closing of the gap in
our knowledge of the 'dark ages' of East Africa.
The compilation of these notes has been greatly facilitated by the co-operation
of Mr. J. Spire (County Chief), and the chiefs and people of Bugangadzi County.
My thanks are due in particular to Messrs. A. Nsubuga, Eria Kirigasaki, C. S.
Busulwa and J. Kalibala for their generous help in the field at all times.
Cole, S. (1954). The prehistory of East Africa. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin
Ggomotoka, J. T. K. (1950). History and legends of the Rocks of Kakumiro and of
some other places in the sazas of Mubende. Uganda J., 14, 85-7.
Lanning, E. C. (1953a). Ancient earthworks in western Uganda. Uganda J., 17,
Lanning, E. C. (1953b). Some vessels and beakers from Mubende Hill, Uganda.
Man, 53, 181-82.
Lanning, E. C. (1954). Earthworks in Uganda. Antiquity, 28, 37.
Marshall, K. (1952). An archaeological reconnaissance in northern and eastern
Mubende District. Unpublished report in records of Geological Survey Dept.,
Mathew, G. (1953). Recent discoveries in East African archaeology. Antiquity, 27,
Nyakatura, J. W. (1947). Abakama ba Bunyoro Kitara.
Oliver, R. (1953). A question about the Bachwezi. Uganda J., 17, 135-37.
Snoxall, R. A. (1946). Some Buganda Place-Names. Uganda J., 10, 43-53.
Wayland, E. J. (1934). Notes on the Biggo bya Mugenyi. Uganda J., 2, 21-32.
18 See Lanning (1953b), p. 283.
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO*
By P. N. WILSON AND J. M. WATSON
THESE notes form part of the report of an agricultural survey of Kasilang
Erony, Tira Etem, Serere Ebuku, by those staff and students of the Faculty
of Agriculture, Makerere College, who were resident at Serere Experimental
Station in 1953. The survey was based upon similar agricultural surveys carried
out under the direction of Dr. J. D. Tothill in 1935-1939. In particular, the area
is the same as that surveyed by J. M. Watson of the Department of Agriculture
in 1937. It is indicated in the text which sections of these notes are taken from
Watson's unpublished report.
GEOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE AREA
Kasilang Erong is situated between lat. 1 32' and 1 34' N. and long.
330 33' and 330 36' E. The Erony occupies an area of some 5-8 square miles,
and crosses the Soroti-Mbale main trunk road between mileposts 67 and 69.
In relief, the Erony forms the letter 'T', the higher portions of the area being
represented by the strokes of the letter; the land falls away from the vertical
stroke which, running north and south, roughly bisects the Erony. This central
ridge, itself part of an extensive ridge stretching from Soroti to Kateta, forms
the watershed of the Bugondo and Agu arms of Lake Kyoga and is followed by
the main trunk road. The highest point of the Erony is Kasilang Hill, a granitic
outcrop, with an elevation of approximately 3,600 feet.
Except in the north-east, the Erony is more or less surrounded by minor
swamps which dry up during long dry seasons. The southern boundary is a
small tributary of the River Kalere which flows eastwards to enter the Agu
Swamp in the neighbourhood of Mukura, while the western and northern
boundaries are marked by two small tributaries of the River Matab, which
flows into Lake Kyoga opposite Lale Port.
THE VEGETATION OF KASILANG
The Erony may be divided into three parts:
(1) Open Grassland, interspersed with open bush. Now mostly cultivated;
that which is not cultivated is heavily grazed by cattle and goats.
(2) Woodland and Closed Scrub. Mostly covered by thick scrub, but a little
has recently been cleared for cultivation; that which is not cleared is
grazed only by goats.
(3) Marsh and Swamp. Used for watering cattle; also provides swamp graz-
ing for cattle during the dry season.
The vegetation is typical of good agricultural land during a period of rest.
The following is a list of the grasses which were found (A Abundant; C Com-
mon; L Local; R Rare; frequencies determined by two separate observers
Part of the record of the Kasilang Survey carried out by the Faculty of Agriculture,
Makerere College, May and September 1953.
R When young eaten by stock.
Stems used for making beer-
A Drought-resistant bottom
Forms dense ground-cover.
Much liked by stock.
C Difficult to eradicate from
newly opened land.
Edowan A Commonest weed of first-year
resting land and of cereal
Ekodeit; akono A Good pasture-grass. Grows in
pure stands. Much liked by
cattle. Used for calf-feeding.
Seeds harvested for sale to
Serere Experiment Station.
Ekode C Common weed along paths
and on poorer resting land.
Acipa; enyimo A Common weed along paths
and on poorer resting land.
Emuria A Flourishes around abandoned
kraals. Drought resistant.
Good grazing grass. Provides
good soil cover and prevents
erosion. Difficult to eradicate
from land newly opened for
Emuria C As above. Peasants do not dis-
tinguish between these two
Ewudmondu C Weed with inflorescence
similar to finger-millet. Grain
eaten during severe famine.
A Common weed on poor, dry
L Found near swamps. Useful
grazing grass when young.
L Troublesome weed in finger-
millet. Sometimes said to be
a 'reversion type' of Eleusine
coracana. Close vegetative
resemblance to finger-millet
makes it impossible to weed
it from a stand of finger-
millet before flowering.
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO
Ateso Name Frequency
Common on resting land pre-
viously cultivated for a long
L Common weed in finger-
millet and on early resting
L Common weed of cotton.
A Abundant on cultivated and
resting land and open grass-
land. Palatable to stock.
Marked early seasonal growth.
A Common weed once used for
tattooing young girls by skin-
puncture with the stalks.
C When young palatable to
stock. Used for thatching
granaries when Imperata
cylindrica is unavailable.
A Good pasture grass. Used for
thatching. Milk containers
used by Bahima are crudely
-sterilized by the smoke from
this grass when it is slowly
burnt in specially made
'smoke-pots'. The smoky
flavour imparted to the milk
is relished by Bahima.
C Good grazing grass. Occa-
sionally used for thatching
but too brittle for good
A Best thatching-grass. Used for
weed of cotton.
L Common on rocky outcrops.
Used as binding-grass for the
mud walls of granaries.
L Common weed of finger-
millet and first-year resting
Abundant on resting land and
in cereal crops. Grass used in
tribal customs such as healing
and rain-making ceremonies.
Tied in a garland round the
head as a cure for headaches.
Inflorescence used for making
A Common on poor resting
land where it provides a use-
ful bottom-grass for grazing.
A Common in open grassland
and on old resting land. When
young provides good fodder
R Used as the framework for
A Weed of poor soils and early
C Tall grazing grass present on
old resting land.
A Common weed of arable and
resting land. Palatable to
stock but does not produce
much bulk. Used for making
C Two varieties found, one with
bluish and the other with
green foliage. Used in the
treatment of open wounds.
Inflorescence used for making
L Weed of cultivated land
specially bananas and finger-
millet. Ashes used for cook-
R Good fodder grass. Ashes of
inflorescence used for cook-
C Abundant on heavily grazed
land especially near kraals.
Common weed of third-year
resting land. Eaten when very
young by stock, but rapidly
forms coarse, unpalatable
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO 187
The following list of herbs, including the majority of the common plants
associated with cultivated or resting land, is mainly taken from Watson. There
has been no opportunity for checking the identifications. Nomenclature is
mainly after Hutchinson and Dalziel (1927-36). Whenever possible an Ateso
name has been given. Watson stresses that such names are not similar through-
out the District, and they vary more than the vernacular names of grasses and
trees. Linguistic variations between north and south Teso are very common,
and as some residents of Kasilang come from each of these divisions there is a
considerable variability in the nomenclature even within the confines of one
Erony. The same vernacular name is sometimes applied to two or more species;
thus emoto may refer to Striga hermonthica and S. asiatica or to Celosia
argentea, genera which are similar only in that their flowers form reddish spikes.
Specific Name Ateso Name
Oruetom Found growing in colonies.
Waltheria americana Egweret
Hibiscus cannabinus Malakang
Hibiscus sabdarrifa -
Sida cordifolia Egweret
Sida grewioides Egweret
Urena lobata -
Weed of early resting land.
Common on pathways.
Weed of arable land and early
Weed of newly opened land.
Weed of newly opened land.
Weed of early resting land.
Weed of arable land.
Weed of early resting land.
Common in open bush. ,
Weed of arable land.
Weed of third-year resting
Weed of arable land.
Common near compounds.
Locally known as the 'Teso
Wild form of simsim.
Climbs among stands of
Used as hedges for com-
pounds. An exotic.
Ekoropoto Present near rocky outcrops.
Common near compounds.
Weed of early resting land.
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO
Specific Name Ateso Name
Found near rocky pools.
WOODLAND AND CLOSED SCRUB
Special woodlands of the Erony are found in the south-east corner of Kasilang
and in the southern region of Kasilang Hill. The first woodland is known as
Egirigiryoi (Acacia campylacantha), and consists mainly of tall Acacia trees and
Tamarindus indica. The second area may be better described as dense impene-
trable bush, some 15 to 25 feet in height. The dominant species is Ziziphus
abyssinica, and it is this thorn, known to the Iteso as Esilang which lends its
name to the whole Erony.
Most of the trees in the list which follows are used for building-poles and
firewood. Very few trees are sufficiently erect in their habit of growth for use as
timber. In many cases the fruits of the trees are edible. The classification used
is after Eggeling (1951) and Dale (1953).
Specific Name Ateso Name
Lannea kerstingii Etiti Used for timber and firewood.
Favoured for use in stool-
making because of its resist-
ance to termites. Lepers are
said to die if beaten with
sticks of this tree.
Lannea stuhlmannii Egarai An unidentified parasitic
plant commonly found onrthis
tree is used to guard kraals
against evil charms. Used for
Rhus natalensis Ewaya Burnt for charcoal. Building
poles. Edible fruits.
Rhus vulgaris Ewayu Provides good tooth-brushes.
Sclerocarya birrea Ejikai Building poles. Fruits eaten
Annona Ebolo Edible fruits. Sometimes used
chrysophylla for building houses and
kraals. Parts of epiphytes
growing on this tree are worn
under clothing to ward off
Cussonia arborea Ebusibusi
Bark separates cleanly from
wood and is used for making
pipes for sucking fruit-juices.
Edodol Root-extract or leaf-extract
used to heal eye diseases of
Emiti Thought to be introduced by
Baganda. Popular tree for
Enyitet Provides straight, hollow
walking sticks used for carry-
Epapai Fibres used for tying and
Epeduru Fruits and leaves made into a
sauce for eating with finger-
millet porridge (Atap). Species
protected by the Forest De-
Emus Water extract of leaves used
as a purgative.
Ekuloin Building poles and firewood.
Ekimeng Provides good handles for
Ekuworo Building poles and firewood.
Ekoboi The name of one of the com-
munitiestof Kasilang,'A kaboi',
is derived from this tree.
Resistant to termites. Root-
extract administered to cattle
as a cure for East Coast Fever.
Eryecho Used for building-poles and
firewood. Chewing the bark
is said to cure diarrhoea.
Epopong Used for making live hedges
round kraals and compounds.
Cooking-salt obtained from
ash. Latex said to cure gon-
orrhoea when taken orally.
Elachasi Firewood. Water-extract of
leaves if rubbed into cuts on
the skin is supposed to pre-
vent the action of evil charms.
Hymenocardia acida Eteregu
Loganiaceae Strychnos innocua Ekwalak-
Hard-wood used in making
handles for axes and hoes.
Amido Bark-extract used to treat
sores due to scabies.
Used for building-poles, fire-
wood and toothbrushes.
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO
Acacia seyal ..
Moraceae Ficus brachypoda
Firewood. Fruits edible.
Engosorot Used in construction of
kraals. Water extract of bark
used to treat sores. Some
clans believe that the tree
Esiepet Dancing-sticks and spear-
handles made from this tree.
Frequently grows round ant-
Ekaikai Building-poles and firewood.
Elilyoi Root-extract used for treating
abscesses in men and cattle.
Eputon Building-poles and firewood.
Root-extract used for treat-
ment of gonorrhoea.
Egirigiryoi One of the predominant trees
at Kasilang. Building poles.
Ekisim Building and firewood. Leaf-
extract washed over the face
is said to cure headaches.
Mixed with an extract from
Piliostigma sp., the same
medicine is used to treat
Eterir Provides fibres for binding
twine. Used in making kraals.
Root-extract given to cows
which fail to expel the after-
Ebatat Firewood. A few trees pro-
vide wood straight enough for
Etekwa Building and firewood. In
some parts of Teso used for
Eboliboli Used for making live hedges
Emidit Fruits edible. Children use the
sticky latex from this tree for
trapping birds. Provides fibre
Ebiong Fibre used for rope making.
Ebule Provides poles for supporting
bases of granaries.
Ekuboi Fruits eaten in times of
Pregnant women of the Ipiya-
tok clan are forbidden to enter
houses built of this tree. It is
also believed that children
develop sores if they touch it.
Etudole .. Root-extract used to diagnose
and cure leprosy.
Emalere Building poles and firewood.
Ekoroi Used for kraal-making.
Smoking pipes made from
branches. In Karamoja, agri-
cultural tools are made from
old wood of this tree.
Eusuk Root-extract or flower-extract
used as an embrocation for
pains in the chest.
Ekunguru Fruits are used for making
vegetable butter which is
mainly home-consumed. In
past the 'butter-nuts' were
sold to Asian traders. Drums
are carved from the trunks.
Ekeroi Used to make wicker-work
Eparis Provides fibres for use as
twine, sometimes used for
Eweld Edible fruits. Bark used for
EXOTIC TREES AT KASILANG
This is the most common exotic species in the Erony.
Most taxpayers have owned some Cassia trees at one
time or another. The commonest source of supply of seed-
lings would appear to be from existing trees, but it is
reported that Kasilang Erony was originally planted with
seedlings obtained from the Cassia plantation in Atira
Erony, adjacent to Kasilang. Very few peasants obtained
their seed direct from Forest Department nurseries. The
trees grow to a height of 40 feet when properly spaced,
and provide very useful, long, straight poles greatly
valued for building purposes.
This is the second most common exotic tree of the area.
It was introduced by Baganda settlers who planted rough
avenues along the paths leading to their homes. It com-
monly grows to about 30 feet in height. It is valued for
building, when it is particularly useful for making the
roof-framework of houses.
THE FLORA OF KASILANG ERONY, TESO
This species grows to about 30 feet. It is suitable for
building-poles due to its small number of branches. It is
said to be stronger than either C. siamea or M. platycalyx.
In one compound were found about thirty mvule trees
(Chlorophora excelsa), but this tree is rarely planted at
Kasilang. Toona ciliata trees were observed in two com-
pounds; their origin was unknown.
Almost every taxpayer possessed 'pole-trees' either near
his present home or in the compound of some abandoned
home some distance away. Of the 222 taxpayers at
Kasilang, 108 (49 per cent) had pole trees of some sort
growing in their compounds at the time of the September
The planting of citrus trees is uncommon. Only 37 tax-
payers had one or more citrus trees growing on their
holdings at the time of the survey. Of these 37 taxpayers,
35 grew pole-trees as well, only two taxpayers planted
citrus alone. Nearly all were orange trees, only 5 lemons
being counted. Grapefruits were not found.
The mango tree is said to have been introduced into Teso
by the Baganda. Its dense, short, habit of growth results
in very dense shade, and it is common to find goats
tethered under these trees during the mid-day sun. Sixty-
three taxpayers had mango trees growing in their com-
pounds; 54 taxpayers grew both mango and pole trees,
whilst 24 taxpayers grew mangos, citrus and pole-trees.
The compilation of these field notes has been made possible by a grant from
the Makerere College Research Fund, and by the willing co-operation of the
members of the Teso District Team and their field staff. The survey was carried
out by six Makerere students under the direction of Mr. P. N. Wilson; Mr. P.
Sibyetekerwa and Mr. J. Maina deserve credit for their special contributions to
the work, observations on grasses and trees, respectively. Finally, the authors
wish to acknowledge the help given by Dr. Margaret A. Keay, Makerere College,
in checking the manuscript.
Dale, I. R. (1953). A descriptive list of the introduced trees of the Uganda
Protectorate. London: Crown Agents for the Colonies.
Eggeling, W. J. (1951). The indigenous trees of the Uganda Protectorate. London:
Crown Agents for the Colonies.
Hutchinson, J., and Dalziel, J. M. (1927-36). Flora of West Tropical Africa. London:
Crown Agents for the Colonies.
MYTH, HISTORY AND MOURNING TABOOS IN
By JOHN MIDDLETON, D.PHIL.*
THE researches of Father Crazzolara (1950-54) and others into the history
of the peoples of northern Uganda, none of whom possess kings and court
genealogists as do the inter-lacustrine states, have had to rely on myth, genealogy
and legend. It is realized that genealogy is notoriously unreliable as a source of
historical data, since genealogies are used by the people to validate social rela-
tions as they are today; as these change, so do the genealogies which provide
charters for them. Historical accuracy as we recognize it is irrelevant in the con-
text of genealogies of clans and other descent groups of societies that lack
centralized political authority.(l) And the same is true, of course, of the myth-
ology of such peoples. An example is that of the Lugbara myths of the origin
of their society and the relationship between themselves and their neighbours.
The Lugbara of West Nile District and their eastern neighbours, the Madi,
are the only representatives in East Africa of the Sudanic-speaking peoples, and
belong to the Moru-Madi sub-group of the Eastern Sudanic group.(2) They
seem to have come from the north or north-west, and the myths of related peoples
indicate that they may ultimately have come from the area of Lake Chad. Other
members of this linguistic group live in the north-east Belgian Congo, the south-
west Sudan and French Equatorial Africa and extend to the Chad region today.
There is no doubt that the Lugbara and Madi are by origin, language and cul-
ture entirely different from the Nilotic-speaking peoples such as Acoli, Alur and
Lango. Their connexion with the western Bari speakers (of whom only the
Kakwa and Kuku are represented in Uganda, most of them living in the Sudan)
is less certain. Languages are unrelated, or at least not closely related, but there
is considerable evidence that an original Madi stock' was in places subjected to
strong Bari influence, and that the resulting amalgam forms the western Bari
speakers today-Kakwa, Kuku, Nyangwara, Fajelu and others. It is also well
known that there is a strong substratum of Madi in both Acoli and Alur.(3)
It seems that the Lugbara entered their present habitat in the West Nile
District of Uganda and the area near Aru in the Belgian Congo by two routes.
One was through what is now Kakwa and Keliko, the other through what is now
East Madi. Their own myths tell in great detail of this two-pronged migration,
with reference to places along the routes. They are not, however, an isolated
people, but one of a chain of ethnically related and culturally very similar
groups. In the east are the northern Madi of Madi Sub-district and the Sudan;
next to the west are the southern Madi (known as Madi Ndri and Madi Aivu) of
Madi County in West Nile District; then the various Lugbara groups; then Keliko,
Anthropological field research among the Lugbara was carried out during most of
the period from December 1949 to March 1952, and was assisted by the Worshipful
Company of Goldsmiths and the Colonial Social Science Research Council, London.
Almost all the period was spent in central and west Lugbara, with short visits to east
Lugbara, Madi and Kakwa. The material was written up with aid from the Wenner-Gren
Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York.
MYTH, HISTORY AND MOURNING TABOOS 195
Logo, Avukaya and others to their west and north-west, in the Congo and Sudan.
There are also the Ndu (usually called Okebu) and Bale (usually called Lendu),
to the south-west of Lugbara in the Congo. The cultures and social organiza-
tions of these peoples are very alike and boundaries between them are not clearly
marked; they shade off into one another. As much cultural diversity as that
between these peoples may be found within them as well-for example, between
the West and East Lugbara. Hut types, granary roofs, ornaments on baskets
and gourds, types of basket, pottery, women's knives and other features vary
every few miles. These and similar differences, and those of dialect also, are
found both within Lugbara and throughout the whole belt of Logo-Keliko-Lug-
bara-Madi peoples. Lugbara today call themselves Lugbara, as opposed to
non-Lugbara groups, but other distinctions are comparatively slight. Social
relations cross these cultural boundaries; people trade, marry, visit and fight
across them without hindrance. There may be topographical features which
mark a boundary, such as the Madi escarpment between the Lugbara and Madi,
but in most places the boundary is little more than a thinly populated stretch
of land, and in some, such as between parts of Lugbara and Keliko and Kakwa,
settlement and fields are almost continuous.
The Lugbara place all these groups in one system and also give an account
of their own mixed origin and twofold immigration into their present habitat in
terms of the concepts of High and Low people, speaking High and Low dialects.
They themselves speak two main dialects, Urule-ti, High Lugbara (literally,
'high speech') and Andrale-ti, Low Lugbara. High Lugbara is very close to
Keliko which can also be subsumed under Urule-ti, and Low Lugbara to
southern Madi, subsumed under Andrale-ti, and it is not easy for High and Low
Lugbara speakers to understand each other if from groups at all widely separ-
ated. Lugbara have myths which tell of a time when all men in the world spoke
a common language, but split up and wandered 'like ants' on the face of the
earth and learnt their present distinct languages and dialects. They are thus
aware that they are one of a series of closely related peoples and that their own
lack of internal cultural homogeneity is similar to that between themselves and
their neighbours. But nevertheless there is never any doubt to Lugbara that 'we
Lugbara' form a single cultural group which is relatively distinct from its neigh-
bours. The cultural diversity within their own society is expressed by them in
terms of High and Low People.
In a general sense Lugbara say that the speakers of High Lugbara are the
Urule'ba, High People, and those of Low Lugbara are the Andrale'ba, Low
People. High and Low People are distinguishable by dialectal differences; one
can draw a line on a map and say that to the west are High Lugbara, defined by
their speaking a High dialect, and to the east are Low Lugbara, defined by their
speaking a Low dialect. Even though the dialects shade into each other this
rough division could be made. But to make it in this way is to distort the
significance of the division for the Lugbara themselves.
In Lugbara the field of everyday direct social relations for any family is very
small. These are the relations arising from ties of kinship and intermarriage, of
trade and, formerly, of warfare. The largest indigenous political grouping is the
unit called by Lugbara suru, which I call a tribe; it is based on an agnatic clan.
196 UGANDA JOURNAL
Between tribes there was no way of settling disputes except by feud, whereas.
within tribes there was a mechanism for settlement-by discussion between the.
parties. Most marriages are between people of different tribal groups. Lugbara
economy was, and still is, extremely simple; in most ways a tribe is economically
self-sufficient, except that today a proportion of the men must leave their
country to work in southern Uganda for wages. There is little specialization,.
difference of wealth, internal trade or exchange. Thus a family knows very little
of groups living more than ten or twenty miles away from it. Groups at these
ranges are at the extreme limits of the field of direct social relations. A Lugbara
conceives the distribution of family groups around his own (living in localities
which are largely unvisited and unknown, although visible in clear weather on
the high flat Lugbara plateau) as a series of concentric circles. The nearest circle
includes those people of his own field of everyday social relations. Beyond that
is a ring of people who are sorcerers, beyond that people with attributes that are
the opposite of those possessed by the Lugbara themselves; they walk on their
heads, are cannibals and have characteristics that may be called 'inverted'.(4)
In another dimension Lugbara see their social field in topographical categories,
in which groups at varying spatial and social distance are collectively grouped
by reference to topographical direction. Thus there are the 'ba yia, 'the people
at the water' (i.e., the Nile)-the people to the east, the 'ba ayia-the people to
the west, and so on. Neither of these schemes of classification does much more
than provide ways of conceiving the composition and range of a small field of
social relations, within which the everyday activities of one's own family group
take place. In these schemes the full extent of Lugbara society is irrelevant since
they are concerned mainly with differentiating groups which are closely con-
cerned with one's own group from those that are not. There is a third dimension
in which Lugbara see their society at its widest range. It is focused on the hero-
ancestors, Jaki and Dribidu, who are associated with the two mountains Eti(5)
and Liru in the centre of the Lugbara plateau. Every lineage and family, of
whatever size, has its own genealogy going back ultimately to one of these
People say that the hero-ancestor of the High People, the Urule'ba, is Jaki or
Zaki. This is an axiomatic statement; Lugbara define High People by their being
descended from Jaki and by speaking High Lugbara dialects. Jaki was the son
of Yeke, who lived at 'Loloi' in the Sudan, before Lugbara society had come
into existence, and was about the third generation from Gborogboro, the first
man on earth. Yeke is usually said to have married two wives, Gbele from
Koboko in Kakwa, the mother of Jaki, and Dlada, who became the ancestress of
the Kuku and Bari. Jaki came to Lugbara country from the Sudan through what
is now Kakwa and his doings and wanderings, which I shall not detail here, are
associated with Mount Liru, in the north of the country near the Lugbara-Kakwa
boundary, on which he died and is buried.
Dribidu is the hero-ancestor of the Andrale'ba, the Low People, who are
analogously axiomatically defined by their descent from him. His parents also
came from the southern Sudan but, whereas Jaki came through Kakwa, Dribidu
came via the Nile Valley and what is now East Madi and Acoli. He crossed the
Nile near Gimara and wandered through the east Lugbara country, in what is
The territory of the Lugbara and the neighboring tribes.
198 UGANDA JOURNAL
now Terego County. He is associated with Mount Eti, a few miles south-east
of Liru. He died there and is buried there. I have been shown his grave, on the
main peak of Eti, where his grave-stones, hut-post holes and the sherds of his
cooking pots are still visible; they are occasionally used in rain-making ritual.
This is not the place to tell of the wanderings and activities of the heroes,
which Lugbara relate at length and in immense detail. Both heroes found auto-
chthonous leper women and married them, then later moved about the country
begetting many sons by women whom they found living there. These sons were
the founders of the Lugbara clans of the present day. The two heroes are sig-
nificant in being the focal points of relationships between local groups, although
no myths tell of any sibling relationship between them; they are buried on their
respective mountains which rise side by side from the plateau. High and Low
People tend to subsume the other's hero-ancestor under their own as being the
ancestor of all true Lugbara and to ignore the importance of the mountain
associated with the other division's ancestor.
High and Low People are in no way political groups, but people having a
sentiment of cultural, linguistic and territorial closeness to those other local
groups which they consider to be of the same division. The divisions are defined
relatively; the west is associated with High People and the east with Low People;
the principle of the definition is that clans to one's west are High People and
those to one's east are Low People. In addition, clans north and south, if far
enough away to be beyond the range of direct social relations, are considered
likely to belong to the other division. A High Lugbara will wave his hand along
the horizon and say "Those people over there and those people over there are
all Low People; it is we and these people near us here and the 'ba ayia ('people
to the west') who are High People. But perhaps some others are High People
also, who can know all these things?" Although definition is thus partly a
function of social distance it is liable to directional or topographical bias, since
the 'ba ayia to the west are almost always High People and the 'ba yia to the
east are almost always Low People. If a group lives near the sacred mountain
associated with its division all those groups living anywhere near the mountain
will be considered to be of the same division; but a group that is far away from
its mountain may well say that the people living near the mountain belong to
the other division, since they are outside the range of direct social relations. It
is usually only the outside observer who sees any inconsistency here, but today,
with increased territorial mobility, Lugbara do see and attempt to overcome
contradictions. I once heard, for example, that Dribidu, the Low hero-ancestor,
died on Mount Liru. I was told this by a Low Lugbara who had travelled into
north-west Lugbara, where I was then living. There all groups claim descent
from the hero buried on Liru. Since my informant, being Low Lugbara, believed
that Dribidu was the ancestor of all true Lugbara it must therefore have been
Dribidu who was buried there. Groups who call themselves High Lugbara bury
their dead with heads in the direction of Mount Liru, while Low People bury
their dead with heads in the direction of Eti. Again it is only the outside observer
who sees the contradictions in this habit; they do not exist for Lugbara.
The two divisions include all Lugbara (and so all Lugbara society) irrespec-
tive of whether they are in one's social field or not. Besides giving each group its
MYTH, HISTORY AND MOURNING TABOOS 199
place in the total society the tradition enables Lugbara to place their society as
a unit within the cluster of peoples in the area. Lugbara say that Keliko, Logo,
Avukaya and Kakwa are High People and that Madi are Low People. Lugbara
are thus in the centre of the cluster of tribes.(6) Ndu and Lendu either do not
feature in this scheme or are Low People. The Alur, neighbours of the Lugbara
to the south, do not appear; it would seem that contact with them is compara-
tively recent and even now is not intimate. Lugbara society may be said to be
orientated north and north-west, towards the peoples with whom they share a
We see in this scheme the operation of a common principle. All groups of a
society can be related genealogically, a necessity to Lugbara ways of thinking.
The more distant socially the further back genealogically is the tie which relates
them, the closer socially, the closer genealogically the tie. The genealogical
knowledge of each group in Lugbara is specific to the group, since it covers
only those groups with which it is in a close social relationship and which
together form its field of direct social relations. These groups are always con-
sidered to be of the same division. Beyond the field of social relations little or
nothing is known of the genealogies of other groups. Thus the division into High
and Low People is a subjective and relative one and the distribution differs for
every clan in Lugbara. In this context a group's true ancestry is irrelevant. The
hero-ancestor of any group is defined according to its social distance from the
group that defines it, and not according to the genealogy accepted by its own
members, which in any case will probably be unknown to the defining group. It
is clear also that in this context social distance is equated more or less with
Besides the indefinite and relative division into High and Low People there is
a division of clans and lineages into two classes, which are known as Lu and
Ma'di, or sometimes as Lugbara and Ma'di.(7) The criterion for this division is
the possession or non-possession of a disease called onyu, the nature of which
varies from one part of Lugbara to the other. It is either a chest complaint such
as tuberculosis or a disease in which houseflies (for which also the name is
onyu) lay their eggs inside the skin of the head which causes a prolonged head-
ache. Neither onyu disease is mortal and both may be cured by the proper ritual
treatment. Groups called Lu are said to be onyu be, 'with onyu' and Ma'di are
onyu kokoru, 'without onyu'.(8) The situations in which the distinction is
significant are those of death; dancing and mourning rites are different for each
division. The groups are neither exogamous nor endogamous and they are
neither territorial nor political groupings. They have no ritual attributes or
powers analogous to those attached to the chiefs of the rain, people and land as
among the Bari-speaking peoples to the north of Lugbara.
Onyu is a condition in which the sufferer can pass sickness to other people
at certain periods when he is contagious. It is inherited in the male line, male
children being born with it; female children are not. The contagious period is
that of mourning for a spouse. A Lu man is in mourning-seclusion for three
months after the death of his wife. During this time he must eat and drink apart
from other people, and he carries a special beer calabash from which to drink;
he must observe certain avoidance taboos. The widow of a Lu man sleeps for
200 UGANDA JOURNAL
four days after his death in a small hut built outside the compound, her body
smeared in ashes, while his death dance is being performed; this hut is the
jo onyu tezu-the hut to wait onyu. Then she sleeps alone in her own hut in the
compound for four months; later she may go to her inheritor. The period of
seclusion in either case is associated with the dead person and not with the
mourner-in Lugbara four is the number always associated with males and
three that associated with females. But a widow is in mourning in this way only
if she has borne a child to her husband. Her own onyu division is irrelevant
but bearing a child changes her status from that of a new wife to that of a
mother of a child of her husband's lineage, and she then takes the onyu affilia-
tion of her husband. Ma'di do not observe this seclusion, and the widow of a
Ma'di man who was herself born Lu is not affected by the prohibitions associated
During the period the mourner is dangerous and can give onyu to all men,
Lu or Ma'di, and miscarriage to all women with whom he or she comes into
physical contact, direct or indirect. The corpse of a Lu person is always danger-
ous, especially to Ma'di. But neither Ma'di mourners nor corpses are dangerous
in this manner. In addition to different mourning customs and periods (Ma'di
are in seclusion for four or three days only) the two divisions have different
death dances and customs to do with corpses. For example, if a Lu man is
killed in battle his agnatic and uterine kin and his affines through his sisters
must find his corpse on the field of battle and throw blood from the body over
their heads and bewail. This is onyu kazu-to prevent onyu.
During the time a Lu mourner is in seclusion he or she is said to be onyu be-
with onyu. At the end of the period a widow throws earth at the brother or son
of her late husband whom she prefers as an inheritor; this is onyu 'be-to throw
the onyu (back to his people). She then goes through a purification ceremony, in
which a diviner (ojou) sprinkles the blood of a cock over the huts and fields of
the late husband's lineage, to prevent the onyu that the widow has 'thrown
back' from affecting the children of the lineage. The males of the group eat the
cock, to 'purify the home'.
All these rites and taboos are concerned with death. Death is the occasion for
the only elaborate ceremonial and ritual in Lugbara, in which many groups
assemble and perform rites and dance for days, even weeks and months if the
deceased was an important man. So the division into Lu and Ma'di plays a
large part in Lugbara social life, since it is at death that the only large gather-
ings of kin take place; death dances also attract neighbours from a wide area.
Except for markets there are no other occasions at which community ties are
regularly expressed on a wide scale.(9)
The division into Lu and Ma'di is not a territorial one. Lineages of each
division are intermingled although closely agnatically related lineages are always
of the same division. But their distribution is nevertheless orientated along an
east-west axis. To the west and north-west of Lugbara almost all groups are
Lu (Lu is also the name of an important clan in the far west, in the Belgian
Congo), while to the east and south-east almost all are Ma'di (the Madi people
are to the east, of course, and they themselves say that they are all 'without
onyu' whereas all Lugbara'to their west are 'with onyu'). It is chiefly in the
MYTH, HISTORY AND MOURNING TABOOS 201
central areas, in the counties of Ayivu, Vura, south Maraca, west Terego, south
Ahoho-Zaki and Nio (the last two in the Belgian Congo) that the distinction is
made spontaneously on many occasions and considered significant, and it is in
those areas that lineages of both onyu divisions are intermingled. Some clans
and lineages are Lu and others Ma'di. The division appears to be quite arbi-
trary, in that clans descended from the same hero-ancestors may belong to
different onyu divisions. However, the division is associated with the mountains
of the heroes: I have seen a Lu woman married to a Ma'di man standing in the
grass away from the homesteads lifting up her baby (who was Ma'di, without
onyu) and holding it out to the mountains in turn, saying Eti, e gbi mva dirini,
Eliru, e gbi mva dirini-"Eti, take this child, Liru, take this child". This was
to ensure that the child would never be taken by onyu sickness except as the
result of a breach of onyu taboos. In this way no taint of onyu could pass from
her to her child.
I suggest that the onyu division of clans and lineages does in fact coincide
with a division between clans of different origin. Its territorial distribution
would seem to indicate this, whereas that of High and Low People, which is
said by Lugbara themselves to reflect such a difference, is both too clear-cut to
be likely to be historically true and also varies with a group's position in the
whole territorial system. Whether it refers to a twofold immigration of the
Lugbara into their present habitat, as the myths of the heroes relate, or whether
it refers to a past overrunning of autochthons (Madi) by a single stream of
immigrants is impossible to tell and perhaps fruitless to consider.
It is significant that Lugbara do not account for the distribution of onyu
'historically', as they do that of the High and Low People. There is a myth
about it which is quite separate from those of the creation of the world, the
migrations of the heroes and their founding of Lugbara society; it is also uncon-
nected with genealogical tradition. It tells how it was once Ma'di who were with
onyu. A Lu man saw a Ma'di widow whose body was beautifully oiled; he
wished to marry her. He was told that she was in mourning for her late husband
and had oiled her body 'for onyu'. He offered bride-wealth for her and received
the onyu himself in her place. Since then Lu have had onyu and Ma'di have
been without it. There are variations of the myth but they are not significant
here. What is significant is the lack of connexion between this myth and those
of the origin of the Lugbara. In form it has certain common features of all
Lugbara myth; it tells of the introduction of a new social relationship into Lug-
bara society by giving it the opposite features to those it now possesses until it
became a part of Lugbara. It was originally Ma'di who had onyu; this is
analogous to the mythical 'inversion' which is characteristic of pre-social figures
of Lugbara myth, which I have already mentioned.
Lugbara see their society as consisting of groups with which they are in direct
or indirect relations, the social distance from any given group to other groups
.being expressed in genealogical distance. Thus groups that are socially distant
are considered to be related in the distant past and groups socially near related
recently. Descendants of one's own hero-ancestor are genealogically closer than
are those of the other. Thus, conversely, the descendants of the other hero-
ancestor should be socially more distant than those of one's own hero. Lugbara
202 UGANDA JOURNAL
use this correlation of social distance with relations that occurred in the distant
past to account for the relative distribution of High and Low People. Social
distance is closely connected to territorial distance, and the whole scheme
is focused on the position of one's group relative to the sacred mountains and to
a general east-west orientation.
But groups of different onyu division are scattered everywhere, as in fact
different Lugbara would seem to have immigrated and intermingled, especially
in the central areas. Such intermingled groups cannot be fitted into a concentric
scheme of socially and genealogically near or distant groups. In such a scheme
Lugbara groups which are distant socially can be placed far back genealogically,
but groups of opposite onyu affiliation (which maybe merely a metaphor for
expressing different true ancestry) cannot be fitted into the scheme in which
distinction is made by mythical ancestry. A group of different true ancestry
(different onyu division) might be socially extremely close and so would have
to be placed genealogically close if the onyu distinction were made in genealogi-
cal terms, as it would have to be if genealogies were true. This would lead to
confusion and contradiction. Therefore the origin of onyu is not put into the
same mythical framework and the division is given no genealogical connexion
at all. It is conceived as springing from an isolated event which has no place in
either mythical or genealogical tradition. The events in the onyu myth cannot
be attributed to any specific ancestor in any genealogy, nor do Lugbara relate
it to any of the mythical beings in the time before the foundation of Lugbara
society by the heroes and their sons.
We see the present distribution of groups as having a certain historical rela-
tionship which has brought them into their present relationship. For a Lugbara
the past is told by myth and genealogy and he sees the present distribution of
groups in terms of social distance from his own individual group at the centre
of its social field: it is this interpretation which leads to the elaboration of their
'historical' and genealogical myths. Thus the intermingling of historically
distinct groupings has led to inconsistency which can only be resolved if attri-
buted to an isolated event placed quite outside the historical and genealogical
(1) The writing down of genealogies, as is nowadays being attempted in an effort to
establish tribal 'histories', is, therefore, an absurdity and shows lack of understanding of
their social significance. I refer here to the genealogies of stateless societies such as those
of northern Uganda and not to those of the southern kingdoms, in which royal genealogies
play a different part from that played by clan and lineage genealogies. See Bohannan
(1952) for an example from West Africa of the ways in which genealogies are manipulated
in order to validate the existing organization.
(2) See Tucker (1940).
(3) See Crazzolara (1950-54). Nalder (1937), Tucker (1940), A. Hutereau (1922) and
others. I have done a very limited amount of work in Kakwa but can testify that there is
much cultural similarity between them and the Lugbara. Many clan names and myths of
origin are common to both tribes.
I shall not try to summarize the information dealing with the historical movements of
the Madi peoples. It is significant that there are many small groups who call themselves,
or are called by others, 'Madi', in this area, including the Keliko and groups to their
west and north-west. The Alur call all Lugbara 'Madi', I believe. The term may be one
applied to remnants of autochthonous groups by a people invading from the north-west,
but at present that can be little more than conjecture 'Madi' seem often to be to the east
of groups which so refer to them. which would be consistent with this conjecture.
MYTH, HISTORY AND MOURNING TABOOS 203
(4) See Middleton (1954).
(5) Called on maps Wati, which is the Alur form of the Lugbara Eti. Why a mountain
in the centre of Lugbara should be known officially by an Alur name I do not know.
(6) I am informed by Father Costermans, of Faradje, Belgian Congo, that a division
into High and Low People, Uruleba and Andreleba (sic), is found in Logo, Keliko and
Avukaya also. I was told in Moyo, in West Madi, that a term for the Lugbara to their
west is Logo'ba, the High People. But for the Madi the situation is different, since there
are no ethnically or linguistically related peoples to their east but only the unrelated
(7) The tribal name also should properly be spelt with the implosive d' ('d), but I have
kept the usual spelling for the people and used the 'd only for this division into Lu and
Ma'di. Some of the confusion in tribal nomenclature, in the use of the name Madi, may
have arisen from this division.
(8) These are in Vura dialect; other but similar terms are used elsewhere in Lugbara
and in Madi.
(9) There are certain rites to do with rainmaking that also affect the whole local com-
munity; but they are found only in northern Lugbara and are very sporadic in occurrence.
Bohannan, L. (1952). A genealogical charter. Africa, 22, 301-15.
Crazzolara, J. P. (1950-54). The Lwoo. Pt. I-Lwoo migrations; Pt. II-Lwoo tradi-
tions; Pt. III-Lwoo clans. Verona: Missioni Africane.
Hutereau, A. (1922). Histoire des peuplades de l'Uele et de l'Ubangi. Brussels.
Middleton, J. (1954). Some social aspects of Lugbara myth. Africa, 24, 189-99.
Nalder, L. F. (1937). A tribal survey of Mongalla Province. London: Oxford Univ.
Tucker, A. N. (1940). The eastern Sudanic languages. Oxford: Inst. African Lang.
THE KINGDOM OF MPORORO
By H. F. MORRIS
THE Kingdom of Mpororo which, for the short period of its independent
existence, comprised south-west Ankole, part of Ruanda and most of
Kigezi suddenly made its appearance towards the end of the 17th century and as
suddenly disappeared. Traditional accounts, which are of the scantiest, allow
for two Bakama only, Kamurari and Kahaya, and some do not even recognize
the former as an actual Mukama. Tradition does not satisfactorily explain
whence these rulers of Mpororo came. They and their fellow Bashambo, the
main clan to which all the leading Mpororo sub-clans belong, appear to have
originated from the south or south-west. They were, it seems, the last of the
periodic waves of Hamitic people to enter Ankole, the Bahima of Ankole proper,
with whom they are almost identical in appearance and language, having pre-
ceded them by several centuries. The kingdom they founded was of the pattern
usual for these parts of East Africa, that is, it had a pastoral Hamitic aristocracy
to whom the indigenous Bantu cultivators were subordinate. At its head was the
king, whose power was symbolized by his possession of a royal drum, and who
was ever shifting his headquarters as his herds were moved to fresh grazing. As
will be explained below, on Kahaya's death the kingdom split into fragments,
some of which remained semi-independent until the establishment of British rule.
Concerning the antecedents of Kamurari, the founder of the kingdom, all the
Bashambo clans are silent except the Benerugambagye, whose head gives the
names of six of Kamurari's ancestors, all of whom lived in Mpororo. The first,
significantly, was called Muntu and from him descended Kazi, Karagaire,
Muzora, Ntagu, Kinwa and Kamurari. Traditional accounts are fairly con-
sistent in agreeing that Kamurari and his brother Ishemurari entered what is
now the Ankole Saza of Kajara where they found the Amazon Queen Kitami
whose subjects were all women. From Kitami, whose death is ascribed to the
sting of a bee and whose spirit was later worshipped as Nyabingi, Kamurari
procured the drum Murorwa and control of the neighboring country. He took
for his wife Mikyera of the Beneishekatwa clan which he found in Kajara and
near Rwentobo can still be seen the bark-cloth tree which is said to mark the
site of the birth of their son Kahaya Rutindangyezi.
Under Kahaya, Mpororo extended its frontiers to include all Kigezi (except
the modern Bufumbira Saza) the Ankole Sazas of Kajara, Igara, Shema and
Rwampara (except the low ground south of the Rwizi River) and the northern
portion of Ruanda (Fig. 1). Kahaya had a large family, from whom the
important sub-clans of the Bashambo trace their origin, and its members
established themselves in various parts of his kingdom. One son only, Mafundo,
whose mother was a slave girl, was given a drum and the authority that went
with it. His territory was the important kingdom of Igara which lay across the
salt route to Lakes Edward and George. Many claim that Ruanda proper also
was subordinate to Kahaya who is said to have established the present dynasty
on the throne. It is stated that Kahaya gave Ruanda to his brother Kirima whose
son he undertook to bring up with his own family. While the boy was in Mpororo,
Kahaya by mistake lamed him by treading on his foot. Then, nicknaming him
THE KINGDOM OF MPORORO 205
'Kigyere' (omugyere, a foot), he sent him back to his father with the promise
that he would always support him against his enemies. There seems, however,
to be nothing in Ruanda tradition to support the idea of the subordination of
that country to Mpororo. The Batusi of Ruanda, though similar to the Bahororo,
are not the same people and have a different language. Furthermore, the pedi-
gree of the Ruanda Bakama, which gives twenty generations prior to Kirima
father of Kigyere, makes no mention of Kamurari, though, on the other hand,
the second and third Bakama have the names of Muntu and Kazi, which
correspond to those in the Benerugambagye pedigree.
Areas ruled by Bashambo clans in the second half of the nineteenth century.
In Kahaya's reign close relations were established with the neighboring
kingdom of Ankole; these followed a marriage in the time of Kamurari and
were later to result in the absorption in Ankole of a great part of Mpororo. The
Mugabe of Ankole, Ntare, later to be known as Kitabanyoro, at the beginning
of his reign (probably about 1700)1 visited in secret the kraal of Kamurari. When
I The fixing of dates can at best be approximate. Six generations separate Ntare Kita-
banyoro from Ntare ya Kiboga who reigned from c. 1874-1896. Allowing four generations
to a century would place Ntare Kitabanyoro in the early part of the 18th century. Accord-
ing to both Ankole and Bunyoro traditions, Ntare was a contemporary of Cwamali of
Bunyoro against whom he fought. Cwamali's grandfather Winyi II is said to have been a
contemporary of the Buganda Kabaka, Katarega, Kabaka Juko's father, whilst Cwamali's
son Kyebambe I was a contemporary of the Kabaka Kagulu, Juko's grandson. This
strongly suggests that Cwamali and Ntare were one generation after Juko. If, as is
generally accepted, the eclipse of 1680 occurred during Juko's reign, Ntare's accession
must have taken place about 1700.
206 UGANDA JOURNAL
the latter discovered who he was, he gave him two of his daughters, Kabibi and
Mukabandi, as his wives. Previously the Bagabe had always married into the
Batwa and Baitira clans and when Ntare returned with his Bashambo wives, he
met with considerable opposition. He was told that rain had fallen incessantly
since he had gone to Mpororo and that the royal drums had been sounding on
their own because of his marriage into a strange clan. The Bashambo women
are renowned for their beauty and from Ntare's time it has been customary for
Bagabe to choose Bashambo wives. The Mugabe Macwa followed his father's
example and married his first cousin Nkazi, Kahaya's daughter, and their son,
later the Mugabe Kahaya I, was brought up by his maternal grandfather.
Kahaya Rutindangyezi had a number of sons who, with their descendants,
are shown in the accompanying genealogical tree.2 They were, however, unduti-
ful and, before his death, Kahaya cursed them and buried the drum Murorwa
so that none of them should succeed him. To his grandson by his daughter
Nkazi, he left his name Kahaya and, though some portions of Mpororo continued
to maintain an independent, or semi-independent, position under Kahaya's
descendants, the kingdom in general, from then on, accepted either the Mugabe
of Ankole or the Mukama of Ruanda as overlord.
Igara, though in the Mugabe's sphere of influence, retained its independence
until the middle of the nineteenth century. Its rulers, the Benemafundo, had their
drum, Kihoza, and maintained the ceremonies normally associated with full
Bakama. The drums and other regalia still survive in a good state of preserva-
tion and are kept by the grandson of the last Mukama in the Gombolola of
Sabadu Igara (Fig. 2). Of the Igara Bakama, Kajuga is remembered as a tyrant
who tortured his subjects and seized their cattle. It is said that the name Igara
was given to the country in his reign on account of the number of people who
had been blinded by their king, the verb kwigara meaning to stop up or blind.
After the death of Kajuga's son, Katana, Igara came under the suzerainty of
Ankole. The Banyankole helped Namurenga to drive out his cousin Rutondo
and later when he proved intractable he was deposed and Rutondo brought
back. Rutondo's son Musinga was Mukama when the British Administration
was established. According to custom, Bakama should never meet one another
and so, when ordered to Mbarara to acknowledge the Administration and the
Mugabe, he committed suicide by disembowelment on reaching the border of
his kingdom. On hearing of the Mukama's death, his sister Kitunga went to the
royal kraal, close to the present Bushenyi Rest Camp, and ordered all the women
to hang themselves. Then she hanged Musinga's two sons, Mukotani and Kib-
wana, boys about ten and seven years old, and finally she hanged herself. For-
tunately, help came in time and the two boys were rescued alive. Mukotani was
then established as saza chief of Igara under the regency of his uncle and put
his mark to the Agreement of 1901. A few years later, however, a Muganda was
killed in the saza and Mukotani was held responsible and dismissed. His son is
now a Muruka chief there.
Shema came very early under the Mugabe's rule. It is said by some that it
was given by Kamurari as a wedding present when Ntare married Mukabandi.
Others say that Kahaya Rutindangyezi gave it to the Mugabe when his grandson
2 Six sons are given. It is said by some that Ruhiri was another son of Kahaya.
Photograph by B. E. R. Kirwan
The drums of Igara. Rwamyaniko, the hereditary keeper of the drums (left) is seen with
E. Rukunyu, the head of the Benemafundo. Mazima, consort to Kihoza, is the drum in
front of Rwamyaniko; to the right is the main drum, Kihoza. The undecorated drums are
attendant to Kihoza and Mazima.