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|Charles Chaille-Long's mission...|
|Emandwa initiation in Ankole|
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|An inventory of Kiganda foods|
|The necessity of the useless in...|
|Mutala survey of Bujenje (Kisonga),...|
|The diaries of Emin Pasha - Extracts...|
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|Notes on contributors|
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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
Charles Chaille-Long's mission to Mutesa of Buganda
Emandwa initiation in Ankole
The moving frontier of British imperialism in Northern Uganda 1898-1919
An inventory of Kiganda foods
The necessity of the useless in African education
Mutala survey of Bujenje (Kisonga), Bunyoro
The diaries of Emin Pasha - Extracts IX
Acholi concept of fate - Woko, Wilobo and Ru-Piny
Notes on contributors
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
Won 0 m
tt,' AS A
AN RUt (W
-W K Wl
ka 5 fik, 4
Mr. W, S. Kajubi,
Sl erl''. Mrs, M, Macpherson
-luuon Iremufo P-Marsh
"66 j4on. TJbr4 i n Mr. J. MvhW, 0,BA
tl."M, ROXIOW Mr. A. Ogot
L. Dixon Mr. A. 14:Russefl, Ncna., 1) S C
K.'K.'Gavo. M. Senkaft'*g,
Dr w Wl%,Bj$6p"
Hon, Pe4surgr. Mrs. J. F&ih
Mrs A. E. k
-pr. M. Posnan'skl
W A TreAt6j,(C6-qpeq)
ffvh Librarl` Mr. A. kLqved4
ws'.Co(Nor Btos. & C&
,66rfeYp'O"ng Secretary bt M* F. C
Sit YohnW'i fltj;Grgy
$Oftka of Bvganda' Mr F_ B HaOdon
Winyi,'Gaf41)4 Mr. H. B. Thomas, WB4
C,0,Ojm'Vkamaof.13"yoro Professor A. W. Wffltams, 6BF.
wijaini'fTatigaz)yikaLad.:'.' Mr.*i I., wa
A ok, ..-494 -49 Dr W J'
aland,,Q-J3,t, A W50 Dr. G. ap (itiffith
Hunter; C.BX., WO-51 Rev. Yr., F. 1, Caft",W F
46,witt,` cm-G, 1951-52 Professor A. W_ WiWapo c.
'Ho Z 05-53',W1,4-:04
lie; K.CM(I, K's. -t
.i53 t54. 10r. a"Jameson, 0-TI.E.
W4 C. Pitman, C Ait 1055 Dr, Audrey 1, RAards, c.a.ja.
"WC 1955-56 Rev. Dr. 14. C-Jrowell, oRIE
'&W-Xulub CBx, K57 Mr. D. K. M4rphatia,'mnJL
M5 '1957-58 Mr. M Barrirtgon Ward
.AA. Sno;lu 1958-59 Dr. H. F. Morris
All CMCj, OXXII'- 1959-60 Professor A, W. gotth#ll t
"o,'H, E. Ilopkins, 196(61 Mr, J. C. D! Lawrance
X11 M. Tmwell, K&4. 196J'-O; Mr. B. Z R:. Kjrvan, MJT
1?62-64, Mr, W :S Kajubi
Mr. ci.x. NIJr. G.
!:t J _11
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
J. K. ALMOND
W. A. TREMBLEY
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1964-65
The President of Uganda, His Excellency Sir Edward Mutesa, K.B.E.
Dr. M. Posnansky
The Hon. Secretary
The Hon. Treasurer
The Hon. Editors
The Hon. Librarian
Mr. C. H. M. Barlo\
Mr. J. L. Dixon
Mr. R. K. K. Gava
Messrs. Cooper Bros.
Dr. W. B. Banage
Mr. W. S. Kajubi
Mrs. M. Macpherson
Mr. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E.
Mr. P. Marsh
Mr. A. Mayanja
Mr. R. J. Mehta, O.B.E.
w Mr. B. A. Ogot
Mr. A. H. Russell, M.B.E., D.S.C.
Miss M. Senkatuka
and Mr. S. C. Grimley
retary: Dr. W. W. Bishop
asurer: Mrs. J. Bevin
tors: Dr. J. K. Almond
Mrs. A. E. Luck
Dr. M. Posnansky
Mr. W. A. Trembley (Co-opted)
rarian: Mr. A. J. Loveday
Hon. Legal Adviser:
Mr. C. L. Holcom
Corresponding Secretary at Mbale: Mr. R. F. Clarke
H.H. Frederick Mutesa II, K.B.E., Sir John Milner Gray
Kabaka of Buganda Mr. E. B. Haddon
R. A. Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa IV, Mr. H. B. Thomas, O.B.E.
C.B.E., Omukama of Bunyoro Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
Lord Twining of Tanganyika and Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E.
Godalming, G.C.M.G., M.B.E.
1933-34 Sir A. R. Cook, C.M.G., O.B.E.
1934-35 Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E.
1935-36 Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., LL.D.
1936-37 Dr. H. Jowitt, C.M.G.
1937-38 SirH. R. Hone, K.C.M.G,, K.B.E.,
1938-39 Mr. J. Sykes, O.B.E.
1939-40 Mr. N. V. Brasnett
1940-41 Captain C. R. S. Pitman, C.B.E.,
1941-42 Mr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
1942-43 Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins
1943-44 Mr. R. A. Snoxall
1944-45 Dr. K. A. Davies, C.M.G., O.B.E.
1945-46 Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins, O.B.E.
1946-47 Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
1947-48 Dr. W. J. Eggeling
1948-50 Dr. G. ap Griffith
1950-51 Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, W.F.
1951-52 Professor A. W. Williams,
1952-53 Sir J. B. Hutchinson, C.M.G.,
1953-54 Mr. J. D. Jameson, O.B.E.
1954-55 Dr. Audrey I. Richards, C.B.E.
1955-56 Rev. Dr. H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
1956-57 Mr. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E.
1957-58 Mr. M. Barrington Ward
1958-59 Dr. H. F. Morris
1959-60 Professor A. W. Southall
1960-61 Mr. J. C. D. Lawrance
1961-62 Mr. B. E. R. Kirwan, M.B.E.
1962-64 Mr. W. S. Kajubi
Mr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
Mr. B. K. Mulyanti, O.B.E.
Secretary: Mrs. J. Bevin
Mr. G. P. Saben
CHARLES CHAILLE-LONG'S MISSION TO
MUTESA OF BUGANDA - - - EDWARD A. ALPERS 1
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE - - -Y. K. BAMUNOBA
and F. B. WELBOURN 13
THE MOVING FRONTIER OF BRITISH IMPERIALISM IN
NORTHERN UGANDA 1898-1919 - - J. P. BARBER 27
AN INVENTORY OF KIGANDA FOODS - - F. J. BENNETT,
A. A. MUGALULA-MUKIBI, J. S. W. LUTWAMA
and G. NANSUBUGA 45
THE NECESSITY OF THE USELESS IN
AFRICAN EDUCATION - - - - E.B. CASTLE 55
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE (KISONGA),
BUNYORO- - - - - - A.R. DUNBAR 61
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS IX
EMIN PASHA IN EQUATORIA, 9 JANUARY TO
28 FEBRUARY 1888 & 7 APRIL 1888 Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY 75
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE-WOKO,
WILOBO AND RUN-PINY- - - - OKOT P'BITEK 85
DIVINERS FOR THE ABAGABE - Recorded by Y. K. BAMUNOBA 95
MACDONALD'S EXPEDITION TO THE
NILE 1897-1899 - - - - A.T. MATSON 98
Nguni und Ngoni: eine Kulturgeschichtliche Studie
(by Hans Stirnimann) - - - JOSEF GUGLER 103
A Selection of African Prose
(compiled by W. H. Whiteley) MARGARET MACPHERSON 103
Africa in Time-Perspective
(by Daniel F. McCall) - - - J. E. G. SUTTON 106
Man, Nature and Disease
(by Richard Fiennes) - - - F. J. BENNETT 107
The Historian in Tropical Africa
(edited by J. Vansina, R. Mauny and L. V. THOMAS H. HAWES 108
SOCIETY NOTES - - - - - - - 112
AHMED BIN IBRAHIM-THE FIRST ARAB
TO ARRIVE IN BUGANDA - - - J. M. GRAY 113
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1964-Compiled by BRYAN W. LANGLANDS 115
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS - - - - - 133
Uganda Journal, 29, 1 (1964) I-11
CHARLES CHAILLE-LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA OF BUGANDA
by EDWARD A. ALPERS
At a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, held early in 1875, the
chairman stated that Charles Chaill6-Long's expedition to Uganda, which
resulted in Europe's discovery of Lake Kyoga, "was one of the most romantic
and extraordinary stories of African travel he had ever heard".1 The mission
to Mutesa of Buganda is, indeed, a great adventure tale. It is also, however,
a subject that has been the source of considerable controversy and questioning,
centering on Chaill6-Long's claim that he concluded a treaty with Mutesa
on July 19, 1874. Chaill6-Long's memoirs concerning that mission bear little
relationship to his actual accomplishments in Buganda. From the time he left
Equatoria, in 1875, until the publication of his autobiography, in 1912, Chaill6-
Long's numerous accounts of his entire Egyptian service grew increasingly
inventive, primarily as a result of his tremendous ego, aided by advancing age.
Sir John Gray and Georges Douin both noted the discrepancies concerning
the mission to Mutesa in Chaill6-Long's publications, especially in his auto-
biography, but others have, unfortunately, taken Chaill6-Long's word at
face value.2 The purpose of this paper is to assess Chaill6-Long's publications
concerning his mission to Buganda and his motivations for falsifying the
evidence contained in them. At the same time, it seeks to establish the facts of
Born in 1842, at Princess Anne, Maryland, U.S.A., Charles Chaill6-Long
came from a well-established family of more than adequate means. When the
Civil War began, most of his comrades in a local militia enlisted in the Con-
federate Army; but his father compelled him to join the Union Army. There
he served faithfully, if without particular distinction, until the end of the war,
rising to the gentlemanly rank of captain. Afterwards, he knocked about for
several years, finding difficulty in adjusting himself to peacetime and anxious
for adventure. A wartime acquaintance had aroused in him an "ardent desire"
to go to the Middle East; and in 1869, with the recall of the French Military
Mission in Egypt and the Khedive Ismail's decision to enlist veteran officers
of the American Civil War to reorganize his outdated army, the opportunity
for which Chaill6-Long had hoped arose.3 His application was accepted by
the Egyptian Ministry of War, and in the spring of 1870 he was in Cairo with
several of his fellow officers, where he alleged that they were told that "the real
and immediate object of our employment was nothing less than to strike a
blow for the independence of Egypt and to sever that country from the tyranny
of the Turkish yoke." It was truly a romantic cause, one which obviously
But Egyptian independence was clearly unattainable at the time, and
Chaill6-Long never served its cause; in fact, his first four years of duty in the
Egyptian army were routine and uneventful. The reasons for this state of
affairs are twofold: in the first place the American was endowed with neither
2 UGANDA JOURNAL
outstanding talent nor special training. Consequently, his "abilities" lent them-
selves to a variety of humdrum jobs. Secondly, it seems that Chaill6-Long's
rather inflated opinion of himself made him a very difficult man with whom to
work, so that his superior officers tended, at best, to ignore him. His assignments
during these years seem to reflect the efforts of the War Department to keep
him constantly moving and out of the way. Chaill6-Long believed, however,
that he was a born fighting man. Thus none of the posts that he filled at this
time gave him any hope for the recognition which he desired as a self-styled
man of action. He was restless when he first went to Egypt and his initial years
of duty there only served to increase his eagerness to perform great deeds.5
Chaill6-Long's first assignment was a routine surveying expedition in the
desert, which he performed satisfactorily. The next two posts which he filled
were similarly mundane, but a possible adventure finally arose in the fall of
1871, when "vague rumours" circulated that disaster had befallen the Egyptian
expedition led by Sir Samuel White Baker in Central Africa. The Khedive
ordered the organization of a relief expedition in October, Chaill6-Long claim-
ing that he was "designated to command the troops."6 Douin's authoritative
account of this affair, however, proves that Chaill&-Long's implication that
he was in charge of the expedition from the beginning is biased and false.7
Douin states that the plan was to relieve Baker by an expedition which was
to embark from a point on the east coast of Africa, ending up in the region of
the Great Lakes, and also to establish friendly relations with the various tribes
in the area. Indecision prolonged the preparations, and in a note from General
Charles Pomeroy Stone, the Egyptian Chief of Staff, dated January 14, 1873,
the plan was altered to include Chaill6-Long: "Lieutenant-Colonel Chaill6-
Long and Commander Mason were designated to leave on an expedition, and
the former to go about collecting gifts intended for Mutesa, king of Uganda."8
This expedition was eventually abandoned, however, when it was learned that
Baker and his company were safe, and Chaill6-Long returned to yet another
routine command, being placed in charge of the first three sections of the
General Staff of the Egyptian army, in Cairo.
By early 1874, then, having spent nearly 4 dull and disillusioning years in
the Khedivial army, Chaill6-Long was ready to respond to any opportunity
that would offer him even the slightest possibility of adventure and renown. The
appointment of Charles George Gordon as Baker's successor in the southern
Sudan presented precisely that opportunity.
The nature of Gordon's mission was clearly defined: he was to continue
his predecessor's work in Equatoria, but with one important exception. His
mission "did not contemplate either as a primary or as a secondary object, the
'annexation' of new territory; and in this light it was only and rightly under-
stood by Gordon."9 Gordon was to confine himself to suppressing the slave
trade and to establishing communication with the Great Lakes to the south.
In fact, the "no conquest" principle was stipulated by Gordon, who received
assurance of its acceptance by Ismail in late 1873. Gordon wrote: "The Khedive
pointedly told me that he did not want to annex territory-he wished to open
the country to put down the slave-hunters,"10
The Khedive's final word to Gordon was particularly important in view of
Chaill&-Long's mission to Mutesa:
The last point which remains for me to touch upon is relative to your relations with
the chiefs of the tribes which are located around the lakes. My only recommendation on
this point is that to avoid all actions which may frighten and alienate them, you must do
everything to earn their confidence. I
CHAILLE LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA 3
The instructions to the new Governor-General of Equatoria made it apparent
that it was his duty to complete the work begun by Baker, that is, to consolidate
the fragmentary authority of Egypt in that territory, rather than to conquer
new regions. It was assumed, according to these instructions, that the an-
nexation of the southern Sudan had been completed.
It was, however, the Khedive's ultimate goal to control the country around
the headwaters of the Nile. As Douin, who puts it best, states:
One sentence is able to sum up the colonial work of the Khedive; he wished to make the
Nile an Egyptian river, to annex to his country all the territory of its basin and to bend
the people who live there under his law.1"
Nevertheless, the claims made by Chaill6-Long that Ismail gave him secret
instructions, unknown to Gordon, to conclude a treaty with Mutesa of Buganda,
are completely untrue.
Any mystery that surrounds these circumstances and conditions of Chaill6-
Long's appointment to Gordon's staff can be laid to the flagrant misrepresent-
ation of reality to be found in the works of the American, especially those
appearing after the publication in 1884 of The Three Prophets, in which the initial
spurious version was set forth.13
On February 18, 1874, Gordon wrote to his sister that "An American named
Long [Chaill-Long], a colonel in the Egyptian army, has asked to come with
me, and if I can I shall take him."14 The remainder of the history of Chaill6-
Long's appointment to Gordon's staff is contained in two official documents,
both of which were issued from the combined office of the Ministry of War and
the Bureau of the Chief of the General Staff on February 19, 1874. The first is
addressed to Gordon from Prince Hussein, the Minister of War, who writes:
"Your request, dated yesterday, for the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel
Long as your Chief of Staff was given to me. This officer will be placed at your
disposal for the service indicated" after having 24 hours in which to settle his
successor to his current post. The second is a Special Order issued "By order of
His Highness the Prince, Minister of War," and signed by General Stone.
It reads: "Lieut.-Colonel Long of the General Staff is designated as Chief of
Staff to Colonel Gordon and will report in person to Colonel Gordon for
orders."15 Naturally, an official copy was received by Chaill6-Long.
In Central Africa, the London edition of which appeared in 1876, Chaill&-
Long wrote: "In the twenty-four hours preceding departure [from Cairo on the
morning of February 21, 1874] the writer had been designated, by request of
Colonel Gordon, as Chief of Staff of the Expedition," which is, strictly speak-
ing, the truth.16 In the version of 1884, he embellished this account considerably.
The culmination of the process of falsification appears in the completely dis-
torted narrative which can be read in his autobiography. According to The
Three Prophets, Chaill6-Long says that on the night of February 20, 1874, he
received the following note from Gordon:
My dear Chaill6-Long: Will you go with me to Central Africa? Come to see me at once.
Chaill6-Long then wrote:
Truly, Egypt is a country of the improbable, and where the unexpected always hap-
pens! I had entered the Egyptian army ... to combat for the independence of Ismail
Pacha ... With the exception of a few months of very pleasant service ... at Alexandria,
my service was purely nominal. I obeyed with precipitation the unexpected invitation.
It was the work of Kismet!
He said he hastened to meet Gordon, who told him:
The Khedive spoke to me about you today. You speak Arabic and French. I make yon
chief of staff; you shall command the entire Soudanieh army. I don't want the bother of
soldiers, this must be your work. You shall have the rank of pasha ... Will you go ?17
4 UGANDA JOURNAL
In the first place, it is unlikely that Gordon ever sent such a note to Chaille-
Long since the American had already expressed a desire to accompany him, at
least two days previously. It is far more probable that Chaill6-Long, obeying his
orders from Stone, searched out his new commanding officer. Clearly, there was
no "unexpected invitation." In the second place, even if we grant that Gordon
did speak with the Khedive on February 20, it is of no especial consequence, as
Chaill&-Long's orders had been issued on the previous day. Finally, although
Gordon understood his mission to be of a non-aggressive nature, he was not
about to divest himself of the command of his troops. Gordon, of course, had
no power to bestow the rank of pasha on Chaill&Long, whose claim must be
regarded as sheer fancy. Hesseltine and Wolf, relying on this account, claim that
the American's ability "to speak Arabic fluently" made him "an ideal man" to
accompany Gordon. Chaill6-Long made it clear, however, that even when he
was in Buganda, four months after his appointment to Gordon's staff, "I spoke but
little Arabic."'8 But his acknowledgement that he was terribly anxious to accept
the position is consistent with those factors which, as has been shown, influen-
ced his decision to approach Gordon.
In his autobiography, fiction reigns at the expense of fact. In a further re-
finement of his fable, Chaille-Long wrote that Gordon instructed him to see
Ismail at the Abdin Palace at 8 a.m. the next morning, which would place the
audience on the day of their departure from Cairo, February 21, 1874. This was
impossible, however, since for a full day before his departure Chaill-Long was
occupied with the task of establishing his successor to his former post on the
General Staff. He therefore moved his nocturnal meeting with Gordon back 24
hours, placing the meeting with the Khedive on the morning of February 20.
The ridiculous orders which Chaill6-Long claimed were given to him by Ismail
at this meeting prove unquestionably that Chaill6-Long was lying:
You have been chosen as his [Gordon's] Chief of the Staff for many reasons. Chief
of these, to guard the interests of the Egyptian Government. An expedition is being or-
ganized in London under command of a pseudo-American, named Stanley, ostensibly to
succour Dr. Livingstone, in reality to plant the British flag in Uganda. Go to Gondokoro,
but lose no time in making your way to Uganda; anticipate the London expedition, make
a treaty with the King of Uganda, and Egypt will owe you a debt of everlasting grati-
A brief examination of this completely fictitious charge reveals that no such
expedition was being contemplated in London; that Stanley, a naturalized
American citizen, was in Ashanti at the time; and that the death of Livingstone
was common knowledge by late February, 1874.20 In addition, as will be de-
monstrated, the mission of Chaill6-Long to Buganda was an unpremeditated
spur-of-the-moment affair. His motivation in creating this set of orders, with
which he became more obsessed as he grew older, was to add greater eminence
to that mission, and to impress the world with the heroic feats of his youth.
On February 21, 1874, then, Gordon and Chaill&-Long left Cairo together,
arriving at Gondokoro, the main garrison of the Equatorial Province, early in
the third week of April. Shortly thereafter, they received an embassy from
Mutesa. Accompanied by troops from the Egyptian station at Fatiko, it bore
ivory and "various articles of the manufactures" of Buganda to Ismail, and it
expressed the Kabaka's desire "to be on friendly terms" with Egypt.21 There is
reason, however, to suspect that this friendly overture was a ruse, and that the
real purpose of the embassy was to ascertain just how much of a threat was
posed, at that moment, by the Egyptian administration in Equatoria to the
independence of Buganda.22 But Mutesa's probable motivation in this matter
CHAILLE LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA 5
was unknown to Gordon, who merely saw, in compliance with his orders, an
excellent opportunity to initiate the establishment of good relations with the
most powerful of the African lacustrine kingdoms. Chaill6-Long wrote: "The
night previous to his departure [April 20, 1874], returning to Khartoum,
Colonel Gordon indicated to me his desire that I should visit M'tesa, present
him gifts, and reconnoitre the country."23
Despite the fact that it was the beginning of the rainy season in what is now
the southern Sudan and northern Uganda, so that travel would be rendered
considerably more difficult, preparations were made for an immediate departure.
Chaill6-Long gathered his supplies and the presents for Mutesa from the mea-
gre stores at Gondokoro and assembled his tiny company. Since the American
was advised by the chief Kiganda emissary against taking any considerable
number of soldiers, "as it would displease M'tesa," he chose only two ex-
perienced Sudanese soldiers.24 On the day of departure, April 24, Chaill6-
Long "wrote hurried letters" to Gordon announcing that he was leaving, thus
discrediting the dramatic story he relates in his autobiography, where he alleges
that he had to resort to trickery in order to escape from Gordon and set off on
his "secret" mission.25
The journey itself was notable only in that it was accomplished under the
worst conditions of weather. In addition to heavy rain, illness and various
annoying delays prolonged the march to such an extent that Chaill6-Long did
not reach Rubaga, Mutesa's capital, until June 20, 1874.
Following a day's rest, the American had his first audience with the Kabaka.
Chaill6-Long described this particular meeting with Mutesa innumerable times,
yet the facts have never once been essentially altered. Indeed, what occurred
there so shocked Chaill6-Long that exaggeration or falsification were probably
deemed unnecessary to impress his readers. Chaill-Long was seated to the left
of Mutesa. Through an interpreter, he extolled the virtues of his host and told
him that he had come on behalf of Gordon, who wished to become a friend to
Mutesa. This was met with great satisfaction from the court, and Chaill6-Long
was honoured by a number of the Kabaka's warriors. Then, on a slight motion
from the ruler, 30 people were immediately executed as further testimony to the
importance of the visitor, so he supposed; and, just as suddenly, the audience
was ended. Chaille-Long records that he was disgusted with this barbaric dis-
play and that the members of his company were petrified by it.26 He, too, must
have realized how tenuous his position was at Rubaga, even if he does not admit
it in print. Sir John Gray points out that Mutesa specifically designed the mass
execution to impress this point upon Chaill6-Long and not to honour him.
Normally, executions were never held in the presence of Mutesa, but always in
some secluded place. Gray adds further that "It is significant that the only
Europeans who were regaled by Mutesa with these appalling holocausts, were
both of them emissaries of the Khedive."27
Whatever his personal fears, Chaill6-Long did not let the day's events deter
him from his self-appointed mission. On the next day he was back at Mutesa's
palace, presenting his case. He argued that Mutesa, being a great prince,
deserved the splendour and luxury which his position justified. By trading with
the Khedive, Chaill6-Long continued, all the benefits of royalty which were not
present at Rubaga would soon be carried to him in exchange for his ivory.
When Mutesa asked him to go to war for him against his bitter enemy, Kabare-
ga, the American emissary replied that he would first have to consult Gordon,
and implied that such aid would be contingent upon Mutesa's agreeing to shift
6 UGANDA JOURNAL
his trade in ivory from Zanzibar to Egypt.28
Chaill6-Long was bed-ridden from June 23-25 with fever and dysentery.
Although his ill health continued throughout his stay at Rubaga, whenever he
was able to move about he was at Mutesa's side. On June 26 Mutesa showed
him around the capital, at which time he records that "We discussed the relative
advantages of the route for trade from his country, comparing that of Zanzibar
with that of Gondokoro."29 Similarly, when the Kabaka offered him a consider-
able amount of ivory, Chaill6-Long advised him to send it to Gondokoro to
Gordon, who would trade with him for it. From June 27-29, Chaill6-Long was
again confined to his bed, but on June 30 he returned to see Mutesa, this time
with a new proposal.
In a lengthy and heated conversation with the Kabaka and his ministers,
Chaill6-Long tried to overcome the strenuous opposition which he met to his
suggestion of returning to Equatoria by way of the river, instead of merely
retracing the overland route by which he had come. His motivations were not
necessarily personal, although it would be foolish to deny that he was eager to
complete the missing link in the Nile chain. His primary consideration was that
one of the objects of the present Egyptian administration in Equatoria was to
place steamers on Lakes Victoria and Albert. The practicability of such a goal
could only be determined if it were definitely known that the river was navigable
from Lake Victoria to Lake Albert. Since this was precisely that part of the
Nile which was still unexplored, Chaill6-Long understood it to be part of his
mission to discover it. Eventually, he gained Mutesa's consent to his proposal
after, if not as a result of, presenting the following argument:
I told M'tesa not to fear that he would be held responsible for my death, in case it should
occur on the river; but that should I not return by that way, the Pacha at Gondokoro
would be very angry, and Kaba-Rega would become a great man, while nobody would
speak of the great M'tesa in the future.30
From July 1 until his departure for Lake Victoria, Chaill6-Long saw Mutesa
on only 3 more occasions. For the remainder of the time, either the American
was ill or the rains were so unseasonably heavy that he was unable to set off for
the lake. On July 6 he talked further of the trip to the lake and of the river route.
Three days later he bade farewell to Mutesa and prepared to leave for the lake,
only to be driven back by the rain. On July 12, Chaill6-Long wrote: "I went to
pay my final farewell to M'tesa."31 At last the American left for Lake Victoria
on July 14; after two days there, which he spent making observations of its
geography, he returned to Rubaga. (It may be noted here, incidentally, that he
was the first European ever to sail on the waters of the greatest African lake.)
Having rested the remainder of July 16, then, Chaill6-Long spent the next two
days in preparation for his final departure. He received Mutesa's greetings, but
did not see him at any time during these days. Still unwell, Chaill6-Long set out
from Rubaga for his destination of Urondogani, the point of Speke's farthest
penetration down the Nile, at 8 o'clock in the morning on July 19, 1874.32
In recognition of these circumstances, it is impossible to believe, as Chaill6-
Long asserts in almost all of his later accounts of the mission to Buganda, that
he concluded a treaty with Mutesa on July 19, 1874, The question to which we
must address ourselves now is whether Gordon's chief of staff ever obtained any
such treaty, or agreement, from Mutesa, and if so, when. Only after proving
the probable existence of such a document can we progress to the more familiar
discussion concerning the nature and effect of it.
Chaille-Long wrote about his mission to Buganda on three different occasions
in 1874, and all three assert that some sort of agreement had been reached
CHAILLE LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA 7
between the writer and Mutesa. In his itinerary, he wrote:
M'tesa, at my request, called Ide [his dragoman] to him and addressed a letter to
the Khedive in which he acknowledged himself a Vassal ofEgypt, asking at the same time
protection and the means and aid necessary for constructing the houses and palace,
with sketches of which I had acted on his imagination.33
No reference is made, however, to the date of the letter, but we may tentatively
assign it to one of the three meetings of Chaill6-Long and Mutesa held between
July 6 and July 12.34 Writing from Gondokoro to the "Geographical Society of
London" on October 20, 1874, two days after his arrival from Buganda, he
stated: "I succeeded in gaining his [Mutesa's] consent to all my propositions."
Later on in the letter he added: "I had closed the road to Zanzibar, and had
received assurances of M'tesa that all ivory should pay [sic] to Gondokoro."35
Here again, no date is mentioned in connection with Mutesa's "assurances."
Finally, in a letter to Richard Beardsley, United States Consul-General in
Egypt, written from Khartoum on November 7, 1874, Chaill6-Long wrote in
commenting upon the approval of his plans to navigate the Nile:
M'tesa [Mutesa], whom I had convinced of the importance of its navigation, suc-
cumbed only when his objections were met by the promise of a greater future to him, in
the easy exportation of ivory. I had already his promise, and his action also to that end,
in closing the road to Zanzibar, thus securing for the government at Gondokoro, Colonel
Gordon, a monopoly of ivory.36
From this statement we could deduce that the agreement was signed on
June 30, 1874.37 But the facts are too few to permit such a definite statement. A
more suitable inference would be that the treaty which Chaill6-Long claims he
concluded with Mutesa on July 19, 1874, was actually a letter, or some other
informal document, signed by the latter on any of four possible dates: June 30,
July 6, 9, or 12, 1874.
The conditions under which Chaill6-Long induced Mutesa to assent to this
agreement are not revealed in any of his writings. Nevertheless it may be doubt-
ed whether Mutesa was unaware of the meaning of the paper which he signed,
and far more likely that he fully understood its intent and wished to turn aside,
temporarily, Egypt's ambitions in Buganda, hoping that the letter would
satisfy them.38 Ide, Mutesa's interpreter, was a native of Zanzibar; and, as such,
his interests were undoubtedly anti-Egyptian, since it was the aim of Egypt to
divert the ivory trade of Buganda from Zanzibar to Gondokoro. He had,
therefore, no reason to conceal the true content of the proposed agreement
from the Kabaka. Mutesa's own hostility to Egyptian encroachment on his
territory would also have made him suspicious of any proposal made by an
emissary of the Khedive. Moreover, throughout Chaill6-Long's stay in Buganda,
Mutesa flaunted his kingdom's independence in the form of a national flag
which was always displayed next to the Egyptian banner.39 In view of these
conditions, it is probable that Chaill6-Long was simply outwitted by the wily
Chaill6-Long has distorted the significance of the concordance as well. The
Kabaka believed that he stood to gain nothing by the agreement and never
carried out its conditions; as a result, it was a worthless scrap of paper. Chaill6-
Long, on the other hand, repeatedly claims that the 'treaty' was "an instrument
which was the basis of a diplomatic note to the powers of the Khedive [sic],
announcing the annexation of the entire Nile Basin to Egypt."40 The note to
which he refers here is a circular issued by the Egyptian Government on May 6,
1876. Its basis was not, however, Chaill6-Long's fruitless document, but the
result of another misleading note.41 The ivory trade between Buganda and
8 UGANDA JOURNAL
Zanzibar continued to flourish; Egypt was left with an empty promise, her
position in Buganda no more influential than before.
It is unfortunate that this document has disappeared, for without it we can-
not hope to establish definitely all the facts surrounding it. In 1892 Chaille-
Long wrote that "after many searches made in the ministries" of the Egyptian
Government, he was unable to discover his 'treaty,' suggesting that it was
destroyed along with many other documents "representing fifteen years of
work executed by my colleagues on the general staff, French and American,"
in a fire that was caused by a drunken officer of the British army.42 In view of
Chaill-Long's antipathy toward the British, such an explanation cannot be
considered reliable.43 Among the secondary sources, only Zaghi notes its loss,
which he says occurred mysteriously during "the epic of the Anglo-German
negotiations for the delimitation of their respective spheres of influence."44
Zaghi does not indicate his source for this statement. There is, then, always
room for the belief that no such agreement was made, that it was all Chaill6-
Long's invention. Nevertheless, the three affirmations of the document's existence
which he made in 1874, especially those in his itinerary and in the letter to
Beardsley, seem to suggest that the opposite is true.
Although Egypt never benefited from the ivory trade of Buganda, Chaille-
Long's mission to Mutesa was considered to be a success at the time. Gordon
noted that "His [Chaill6-Long's] discovery of the water passage between
Urundogani and Foweira [where Chaill6-Long left the Nile, to continue over-
land towards Gondokoro] is of great importance."45 Its existence greatly en-
couraged the Governor-General's hopes for fulfilling the Khedive's goal,
embodied in his orders to Gordon, to open the Great Lakes to commerce and
navigation. Chaill6-Long had proved that the water route to Buganda was
passable, and that the prospect of placing steamers on Lake Victoria was
physically possible. In addition, although Mutesa was actually no more favour-
ably disposed to Egypt than previously, he had treated the American in a
reasonably friendly manner, a fact which gave Egypt cause to entertain hope
for the future and encouraged Gordon to dispatch Linant to further Chaille-
Personally, Chaill6-Long could point with pride to the fact that he had
discovered Lake Kyoga. He was also one of the few Europeans to visit and to
describe Mutesa of Buganda. Yet, as was so often the case concerning Chaille-
Long's exploits in Africa, the exaggeration and blatant distortions which
characterize his later writings bear little resemblance to the facts of his actual
accomplishment. The mission to Mutesa of Buganda, including the discovery
of Lake Kyoga, was the crowning achievement of Chaill6-Long's Egyptian
service; indeed, of his life: that it never brought the recognition which was so
necessary to him was a bitter disappointment. By embellishing and falsifying his
later accounts of his years in the Khedivial army, especially the trip to Mutesa,
Chaill6-Long sought to compensate himself for what he was certain was the
CHAILE LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA 9
1. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 19 (1875), p. 109.
2. J. M. Gray, Mutesa of Buganda, Uganda Journal, 1 (1934), p. 30; G. Douin, Histoire du
Rdgne du Khddive Ismail (Cairo, 1941), 3, part 3a, p. 89, note 3.
3. Charles Chaill6-Long, My Life in Four Continents (London, 1912), 1, p. 12.
4. Ibid., 1, p. 17.
5. See William B. Hesseltine and Hazel C. Wolf, The Blue and the Gray on the Nile (Chicago,
1961), p. 151.
6. Chaill6-Long, Life, 1, p. 54.
7. Douin, op. cit. (Cairo, 1938), 3, part 2, pp. 88-96.
8. Ibid., 3, part 2, pp. 94-95. Charles Pomeroy Stone (1824-1887), a veteran of the Union
army in the Civil War, served as Chief of the General Staff of the Egyptian army from
1870 to 1883. In this position he supervised the surveying of the Sudan by the American
officers in the Egyptian army, and in 1877 the General Staff published its "Great Map"
of Africa. Alexander McComb Mason (?-1897), a veteran of the Confederate navy,
served with the Egyptian Government from 1870 to 1885. He was acting Governor-
General of Equatoria in 1876-1877. In the latter year he made a thorough reconnaissance
of Lake Albert, and discovered the Semliki River. Richard Hill, A Biographical Dictionary
of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (Oxford, 1951), pp. 346-347 and pp. 233-234; Dictionary of
American Biography (New York, 1929), 18, p. 72; J. M. Gray, The Diaries of Emin
Pasha-II, U.J., 25 (1961), pp. 168-169, note 3.
9. M. F. Shukry, Equatoria Under Egyptian Rule (Cairo, 1953), p. 28.
10. Shukry, The Khedive Ismail and Slavery in the Sudan, 1863-1879 (Cairo, 1937), Appendix
A, Document No. 4 (Gordon to Count Ludolf, Alexandria, December 20, 1873), p. 7.
11. Ibid., Appendix A, Document No. 3 (Instructions donnees f Monsieur le Colonel Gor-
don, Cairo, February 12, 1874), p. 6. Copy enclosed in Stanton to Derby, Cairo, Feb-
ruary 24, 1874. F.O. 78/2342. This copy of the Khedive's orders to Gordon is dated
February 16, 1874.
12. Douin, op. cit., 3, part 3a, p. ix; italics in original. Cf. Richard Hill, Egypt in the Sudan,
1820-1881 (London, 1951), p. 107; William Wing Loring, A Confederate Soldier in
Egypt (New York, 1884), pp. 254-255.
13. Chaill6-Long, The Three Prophets: Chinese Gordon, Mohammed-Ahmed (El Maadhi),
Arabi Pasha (New York, 1884).
14. George Birkbeck Hill, Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, 1874-1879 (London, 1881), p. 3.
15. These documents may be found among Chaill6-Long's papers in the Library of Congress
(Washington, D.C.), Box No. 2, in a folio marked "General Correspondence, 1874 &
16. Chaill6-Long, Central Africa: Naked Truths of Naked People (New York, 1877), p. 1.
17. Chaill6-Long, Three Prophets, pp. 27-28.
18. Hesseltine and Wolf, op. cit., p. 151; Chaill6-Long, Central Africa, p. 94.
19. Chaill6-Long, Life, 1, pp. 67-68.
20. Bernard M. Allen, Gordon and the Sudan (London, 1931), p. 93; see Chaill6-Long,
Central Africa, p. 108, where he notes Stanley's part in the Ashanti campaign. I was
unable to obtain any contemporary Egyptian newspapers, and the British Consular
Reports for 1874 contain no references to Livingstone's death. However, the telegram
wired from Aden by Captain Prideaux, Her Majesty's Acting Agent at Zanzibar, an-
nouncing the death of Livingstone, was released to the press on January 27, 1874. This
news must have reached Cairo by late February of the same year. Acting Agent, Zan-
zibar, to Granville. F.O. 84/1399.
21. Provinces of the Equator: Summary of the Letters and Reports of His Excellency the
Governor-General, Part I-Year 1874 (Cairo, 1877), p. 5.
22. In 1860, Mutesa lifted the embargo on foreign traders entering Buganda, which had been
in effect for the past decade. His decision was influenced by the fact that he feared the
intrusions of the Khartoum slavers in the north and was anxious to secure a friend in
Zanzibar. Baker noted the following incident, which occurred in 1870: "The Arab
envoys of Abou Saood [Abu Saud, head of the leading trading firm in Equatoria] had been
treated like dogs by the great M'tesa [Mutesa], and they had slunk back abashed, and
were only too glad to be allowed to depart." After they left, Mutesa sent an embassy to
Zanzibar with orders to try to enter into an alliance with the Sultan. It returned in two
years, unsuccessful. In 1872, Mutesa had sent a large body of troops to help his arch-
rival, Kabarega of Bunyoro, to repel the forces of Baker from that country. When it was
learned that Kabarega had repulsed Baker already, the leader of the Baganda expedition,
10 UGANDA JOURNAL
a native of Zanzibar, made friendly overtures to the Egyptian party. But it should be
noted that this move probably was made with an eye towards leading Baker into a trap,
for Mutesa was primarily concerned with the repulse of the Egyptian Government from
Central Africa. No other threat could have induced him to think of joining hands with
Kabarega. In September, 1875, over a year after Chaill6-Long had left Buganda, Gordon
still described Mutesa as "fearing Egypt immensely and capable of anything to avoid
annexation." J. M. Gray, Uganda Jl., 1 (1934), pp. 25, 28-29, and Sir John Kirk and
Mutesa, Uganda Jl., 15 (1951), p. 3; Sir Samuel W. Baker, Ismailia: A Narrative of the
Expedition to Central Africa for the Suppression of the Slave Trade (New York, 1875),
pp. 184, 466-469; Gordon to Stanton, en route to Makdde, nine miles south of Moogie
Station, September 21, 1875, Sudan Notes and Records, 10 (1927), p. 17.
23. Provinces of the Equator, Appendix I, p. 37. The quotation comes from the itinerary kept
by Chaille-Long, which is the most reliable source of information concerning the mission
to Mutesa. This itinerary constitutes Appendix I (pp. 37-80) in Provinces of the Equator.
24. Ibid., p. 38.
25. Ibid., p. 39; Chaill6-Long, Life, 1, p. 88.
26. Ibid., 1, pp. 93-94; Chaill6-Long, Central Africa, pp. 106-107.
27. Apparently, Mutesa was particularly anxious to drive home this point to Chaill6-Long,
for on July 6, seven "spirit guardians" (balubaale) of Lake Victoria were executed in
Chaill6-Long's presence, in order that Mutesa's men could take Chaill6-Long far out
onto the lake, the American stated. Provinces of the Equator, p. 61. The other Khedivial
emissary was Ernest Linant de Bellefonds, in the presence of whom Mutesa blew off the
head of one of his wives with a gun presented to him by Stanley. J. M. Gray, Uganda Jl., 1
(1934), pp. 33-34.
28. Provinces of the Equator, pp. 58-59.
29. Ibid., p. 59.
30. Ibid., p. 61.
31. Ibid., pp. 62-63. Cf. Chaill6-Long, Central Africa, pp. 124-135.
32. Provinces of the Equator, p. 74. In a memorandum compiled in the Egyptian Ministry of
War regarding a telegram sent by Chaill6-Long from Khartoum on 1 Chabon [Sha'ban]
1291, i.e. November 11, 1874, it is stated that on July 19, 1874, Mutesa told Chaill6-Long
that Lieutenant Cameron "was then at Ujiji." Enclosed in Stanton to Derby, Cairo,
November 13, 1874. F.O. 78/2342. In Provinces of the Equator, Chaill6-Long omitted any
mention of this communication from Mutesa. As Cameron was, in fact, at Ujiji in both
February and May, 1874, it is quite possible that Mutesa received news to this effect
through one of his caravans to Unyanyembe and relayed it to Chaill6-Long. In Central
Africa, p. 36, Chaill6-Long perverted this incident considerably, stating that the embassy
from Mutesa to Gondokoro, which led to Chaill6-Long's mission, carried "letters to Sir
Samuel Baker,from Lieutenant Cameron, announcing the death of Livingstone at
Ujiji." In the first place, Livingstone died near Lake Bangweulu, not at Ujiji. Cameron
did, however, send a letter to Baker, as well as two to Mutesa, in August, 1873, in reply
to a letter from Baker to Livingstone which a caravan "belonging to M'tesa, chief of
Uganda" had brought to Unyanyembe, where Cameron was at the time. But it was not
until October 20, 1873, that Chuma, Livingstone's "faithful follower," reached Cameron
and gave him Jacob Wainwright's letter announcing Livingstone's death. Cameron im-
mediately despatchedd a messenger to the coast" with this news, but did not send one to
the north. Verney Lovett Cameron, Across Africa, 1, pp. 153-154, 164-166, 237, and 308-
316. So if Chaill6-Long did see Cameron's one letter to Baker, that letter could not
possibly have contained news of Livingstone's death. In any case, as has been suggested
previously, Chaill6-Long must have heard this news in Cairo, in February, 1874. Finally,
if Mutesa did speak to Chaill6-Long on July 19, this fact does not affect the dating of
Chaill6-Long's "treaty" with Mutesa. See below, note 36.
33. Provinces of the Equator, p. 62; italics in original.
34. Ibid., p. 62. Chaill6-Long's references to the letter appear at the bottom of the page in a
"Note by Col. Long," with no connection to anything which precedes it on the page.
Since the page includes entries in his itinerary dated from July 6 to July 12, we may sur-
mise that it was drawn up at one of the 3 meetings held with Mutesa during this time,
i.e. July 6, 9, or 12.
35. P.R.G.S., op. cit., p. 108.
36. United States Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United
States, 44th Congress, First Session (Washington, D.C., 1875), 2, p. 1329. In the Egyp-
tian Ministry of War memorandum compiled from Chaille-Long's telegram from Khar-
toum on November 11, 1874, it is again stated "that the route between Uganda and
Zanzibar is actually broken off, that all the trade in elephants' teeth of Uganda makes
CHAILLE LONG'S MISSION TO MUTESA 11
its way to Egypt by way of Gondokoro, and that this route is not troublesome," although
there is no mention of any agreement between Mutesa and Chaille-Long to this effect.
Enclosure in Stanton to Derby, Cairo, November 13, 1874. F.O. 78/2342.
37. The first sentence of this quotation refers to Chaill6-Long's meetings with Mutesa on
June 30, 1874, at which time permission to navigate the Nile was granted to the American.
The second would imply that the agreement in question had been concluded sometime
before Mutesa decided to let him go. Such an assumption would, however, preclude the
possibility that the concord was settled between July 6 and 12, 1874. Furthermore, since
negotiations were still tentative on June 26, the only meeting between Chaill-Long and
the Kabaka previous to June 30, the conclusion would have to be that the document was
signed on June 30, 1874.
38. Cf. J. M. Gray, Uganda Jl., 1 (1934), p. 31; Kenneth Ingham, A History of East Africa
(London, 1962), p. 120; and D. A. Low, The Northern Interior, 1840-84, in Roland
Oliver and Gervase Matthew (eds.), History of East Africa, 1 (Oxford, 1963), p. 341.
39. See Chaille-Long, Central Africa, p. 96, for a drawing of this flag. In Provinces of the
Equator, p. 52, Chaill6-Long describes the flag as consisting of "a white ground of 12
inches wide from the staff, 36 inches red, bordered with [sic] three pendant strips of
monkey skin, of long hair."
40. Chaill]-Long: The Nile Valley from the Delta to the Great Lakes, supplement to Harper's
Weekly (December 21, 1889), p. 1026; cf. L'Egypte et ses Provinces Perdues (Paris,
1892), pp. 24-25; Chaill-Long's Work on the Nile, Bulletin of the American Geographical
Society, 36 (1904), pp. 346-347.
41. The circular appears, in translation, in Shukry, Khedive Ismail, Appendix B, Document
No. 5, p. 12. Early in 1876, Gordon sent one of his officers, Nuehr Agha (Nur Aga), to
establish Egyptian troops at two posts on Lake Victoria and the Victoria Nile. Nuehr
Agha, before occupying these posts, asked Mutesa for his permission to do so, as ordered
by Gordon. The Kabaka responded by inviting the Egyptian officer and his force of 160
men to establish themselves at Rubaga, which the latter did. In the meantime, news of the
Egyptian penetration into Buganda had already reached Cairo and had formed the basis
of the Government's circular of May 6, 1876. Soon afterwards, however, Gordon, now at
Foweira, learned that in reality Mutesa had successfully immobilized the Egyptian unit
and that its survival depended solely on the good will of the Kabaka. This news was
immediately relayed on to Cairo, and the circular was consequently withdrawn. It was only
due to the efforts of Emin Pasha that Mutesa was finally induced to release the captive
troops. Shukry, Equatoria. pp. 106-114 and Letter No. 175 (Gordon to Khairy Pasha,
Foweira, August 13, 1876), pp. 352-354; Richard Gray, A History of the Southern Sudan
1839-1889 (Oxford, 1961), pp. 118 and 136.
42. Chaill6-Long, L'Egypte, p. 25.
43. Chaille-Long's hostility towards England was aggravated by the fact that British geo-
gi aphers tended to discount his claim to a place among the front rank of the explorers of
the Nile, and by their refusal to designate Lake Kyoga by the name that its discoverer
called it, viz. "Ibrahim," after the Khedive Ismail's father. Many of Chaille-Long's later arti-
cles are defences of his right to be reckoned among those who contributed to man's
knowledge of the Nile. He also wrote extensively condemning England's policy in Egypt,
in the Sudan, and in Uganda. See: Les Sources du Nil: Le Probleme africain, Soci6t6
normande de G6ographie, Bulletin de l'annee 1890, pp. 34-62; La decouverture des
sources du Nil-lettre de M. le Colonel Chaille-Long Bey... a M. Bonola Bey, secr6taire-
gen6ral, Bulletin de la Societe Khediviale de Geographie, Ser. 3 (1891), pp. 539-545;
Le Colonel Chailld-Long-Bey en Egypte, Conference faite sous le patronagede l'Alliance
Francaise, April 3, 1895 (Poitiers, 1895); England in Egypt and the Sudan, The North
American Review, 168 (1899), pp. 570-580; The Uganda Protectorate and the Nile Quest,
and Chaill6-Long's Work on the Nile, Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 36
(1904), pp. 52-54 and pp. 346-352; Lake Ibrahim: A Protest and a Decision, B.A.G.S.,
40 (1908), pp. 17-18; The Part of the Nile which Colonel Chaill-Long Discovered,
B.A.G.S., 51 (1909), pp. 222-224.
44. Carlo Zaghi, Gordon, Gessi, e la Riconquista del Sudan (1874-1881) (Firenze, 1947),
p. 149, footnote 113.
45. G. B. Hill, op. cit., p. 55.
46. The previously cited memorandum from the Egyptian Ministry of War said of Chaill6-
Long "that King Mutesa has received him with respect and cordiality." Enclosure in
Stanton to Derby, Cairo, November 13, 1874. F.O. 78/2342.
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 13-25
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE
by Y. K. BAMUNOBA and F. B. WELBOURN*
Initiation into a cult connected with spirits of the legendary Cwezi dynasty
seems to be widespread in the Hima kingdoms of Uganda and Tanganyika.
Coty (1955) and Beattie (1957 and 1961) have described it respectively among
the Sumbwa and the Nyoro. In the former case it is a secret society. In the latter,
while retaining some of its traditional relation to clan and lineage organisation,
it has become predominantly an individual cult and is increasingly concerned
with immigrant spirits bearing no genealogical relation to the Cwezi. Beattie
outlines four connected themes in the Nyoro rite, which he finds also in Cory's
1. Initiation sets the cult members permanently apart from the uninitiated
in respect to possession. The assumption of a new personality is enacted in
symbols of birth and death. It is reinforced by special regalia, food taboos and
a secret language.
2. Initiation is conducted in secret, in the total absence of non-initiates
This aspect has perhaps been reinforced by prohibition on the part of both
government and mission.
3. An initiate acquires new social obligations and rights, symbolised by
the use, to describe relationships within the society, of terms taken from kin-
ship and marriage.
4. Initiation confers a ritually dangerous condition, which has to be re-
moved by ritual sexual intercourse.
The possibility that these themes recur in Ankole must be considered in the
account which follows. It was obtained from a group of Iru in the central
kingdom of Nkore. It cannot be assumed that it is valid either for Hima or
for other parts of the present Ankole. It was obtained largely from women who,
having been themselves initiated in the past, have joinedthe Revival (Balokile)
movement within the Church of Uganda. But one informant was a Christian
old man, who had been chief initiator in many ceremonies in the past: two
others were pagan men. Christians are taught to regard traditional spirits as
'Satan'; and there is therefore an initial resistance to speak of them at all.
Moreover, their connotation within the Church may yield a tendency to em-
phasise their maleficent aspects. But one of the remarkable features of the
Revival, to be found in this particular community in Ankole, is a freedom
both from fear of traditional spirits and from shame at the traditional prohibi-
tions. With the active encouragement of the local catechist (to whose assistance
we owe a very great debt), members of the congregation spoke freely of their
experiences to their Nkore interviewer. For the benefit of his English co-author
* Based on field-work done by the former at Kigando-Kaihangara Gombolola Kanoni,
Ibanda county, during two vacations of 1963.
14 UGANDA JOURNAL
they spontaneously suggested that they should enact an initiation ceremony;
and they engaged in group discussion with him which appeared to be wholly
free of inhibitions'. It is therefore to be hoped that this account is relatively
free of Christian hesitations and interpretations.
The non-empirical beliefs of Nkore include the automatic consequences of
violating clan totems or breaking the taboos which, variously, attach to men,
women and children; the power of the curse; witchcraft; and divination which
may take a number of forms. They become personalised in Ruhanga, emandwa
and ancestral ghosts (emizimu)2. This article is concerned primarily with
emandwa. But it is necessary to put them in context by a brief reference to the
other two categories.
Ruhanga3 (-hanga, create, set in order) has three titles, each of which is
integral to his being, though there is no suggestion (as is sometimes said)
that he is conceived in Trinitarian terms. He is Nyamuhanga (Creator), Rugaba
(-gaba, give), Kazooba (Eizooba, sun-having the qualities of light and heat).
He is above all things, invisible, omnipresent, moving like the sun across the
whole earth. He creates all things-especially life, the embryos of men and
animals and the seeds of plants. He gives new life, the blessings of worldly
attainment, the daily needs of every man. He causes the sun to shine by day
and the moon and stars by night. He imposed totems, taboos and the causes
of shame (ebihemu)4, which are integral to all personal relationships among
Nkore. He preserves peace; and it is customary to draw his attention to all
important activities. For instance, before making an offering to emandwa the
officiant dips omuhambo5 in beer and, waving it to all points of the compass,
Egyi n'enyaweera This is Vernonia;
Amaka gangye geere Let my home be as white as it.
Ogu n'omuhiingura This is Bersama;
Guhiinguze egyika May my house be spared.
Ogu n'omuzibira This is Cardiospermum;
Ozibire abangyizi Keep away my enemies.
Ebi n'ebyawe Nyamuhanga These are yours, Creator,
Neiwe Rugaba And yours, O Giver
Neiwe Kazooba And yours, Lord of the sun.
Kampe obugyingo O give me life
Unlike emandwa and emizimu he is never destructive or maleficent. He is
responsible neither for misfortune nor for death, although in the last resort
he has created all causes. If all means fail of dealing with misfortune, it is said,
'Leave it to Ruhanga'. He will be given credit if misfortune ceases; but the
normal assumption is that the situation is hopeless. He never intervenes directly
in human life. The order, which he has created, may be thrown out of balance
-a totem may be violated. But the consequences are automatic, impersonal,
like the swing of a pendulum restoring equilibrium. It is not possible to speak
of offending him, or to feel guilty towards him.
Emizimu, on the other hand, are actively malevolent and appear to conform
to Stenning's (1962) description of them as the disciplinary, malevolent and
pessimistic aspect of Nkore religion. They are, he says, quick to punish bad
actions but do not reward good ones.6 Our information is that the ghost of
any member of the household (eka) who has died unattended, or for whom the
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE
proper funeral rites have not been completed, may cause misfortune to its
living members. This includes the ghost of a stranger who died unattended
within the homestead. A woman's ghost may cause sterility in other women of
the household. The ghost of a child, who died through its mother's carelessness,
may kill her other children, or cause her sterility, still-births or abortion. In
general, any of the following symptoms may be attributed to the activity of
ghosts: sudden sickness, states of dissociation or milder conditions of talking
or behaving strangely, sickness or abortion in domestic animals, failure of
lactation in cows. Some ghosts may require attention for up to three generations.
In any case of misfortune, a diviner (omuraguzi) is consulted. Indeed, it
may be considered necessary to consult more than one till a majority diagnosis
is obtained. Divination may be by means of a grasshopper (entondo), millet,
seeds of a pumpkin, omuhuuki,7 cowrie shells, the guts of a chicken, amulets,
or a special type of emandwa to be described later. In certain cases of illness the
diviner may instruct the patient to obtain appropriate medicine from omufumu
(herbalist). But in all illness, or misfortune of any kind, a non-empirical cause
must also be treated. It may be witchcraft; and a herbalist will then be asked
to employ magic which dilutes the spell. It may be a ghost, specified by the
diviner, to which an appropriate offering must be made. Or it may be emandwa,
demanding either an offering from an existing initiate or the initiation of a
new member of the household.
Cwezi spirits are called emandwa. Their personal names are Kagoro, Kyo-
mya, Mugasha, Murindwa, Ndahura and Wamara.8 Each lineage (ekibunu)
is traditionally attached to one emandwa, each of which is therefore responsible
for a number of different lineages not necessarily of the same clan. Each house-
hold has dealings with three-those attached to the clans of the father, the
paternal grand-mother and the mother. These are, respectively (and using,
as commonly, the plural forms), emandwa ezeera, eziragura and ezobukuratire.
Their positive functions are to ensure co-operation between members of the
household in such activities as sowing millet, to guard the life and well-being
of the household and to ward off other emandwa who may wish to do it harm.
In certain cases, two emandwa may be known to be antipathetic; and, in that
case, marriage between members of the households concerned is forbidden.10
On the other hand, they require regular offerings; and, if these are not made,
the emandwa may show their displeasure in a number of ways: e.g. sudden illness
such as headache or fainting; yaws and ulcers; madness and fits; accidents
to members of the household; thinness; various diseases of children; family
misunderstandings and quarrels; failure of crops with resultant famine; sterility
or failure of lactation in cows and goats; still-births and abortions among
women of the household.
Stenning (1962) thinks that, among Hima, emandwa represent the permissive,
benevolent and optimistic aspect of Nkore religion, being responsible for the
good things which happen to their devotees. They are thus contrasted with
the malevolent emizimu. But, while his valuation of emizimu appears to be
upheld in the particular Iru community under study, the foregoing account
of the activities of emandwa suggests that they were anything but solely bene-
volent. Moreover, whatever the orthodox account of their benevolent functions
and of the regularity with which offerings were made to them, the impression
is that extraordinarily little attention was paid to them until they caused trouble.
This might extend even to a failure to replace, at his death, the accredited
16 UGANDA JOURNAL
officiant within a household. Lienhardt1 suggests that 'Ghosts (thus) reflect,
for those they visit, the relations which the latter have had with them in life
and still have with them in the conscience and memory'. This suggestion certain-
ly seems to be borne out by the brief account of Iru ghosts given above. It
may be well to test it in relation to emandwa seen as in some way reflecting
relationships with those from whom they are inherited. While the emandwa
of father and grandmother are likely to reflect direct relationships, that of the
mother is more likely to reflect a relationship with her father, from whom she
brought it into her new home.12
A child's relationship with his father remains always one of reserve. For a
child to sit on his father's stool is to show that he wishes his father's death.
Boys showing disrespect for their fathers would be fined and cursed. When
they wished to proclaim themselves, by smoking and shaving, as men, it was
through their paternal uncles that permission was obtained; and, even as grown
men with families, they remained subject to their fathers until they themselves
had been initiated into the emandwa cult. Even after initiation a son would
continue to show proper respect for his father, in fear not only of the shame of
failure but of the father's curse and the possible maleficence of his ghost.
Disrespect could be atoned by the gift (among the Iru) of a goat and two pots
of beer, (among the Hima) of a bull for slaughter. Girls, of course, were subject
at every point, first to their fathers and later to their husbands.
A grandfather (whether paternal or maternal) is tatenkuru ('my old father')
and, in a joking relationship which leads to considerable intimacy, he refers
to his grandson as 'my younger brother' and his grand-daughter as 'my wife'.
Children owe no particular obligations to their grandfathers. But they must
show the respect due to men entitled to impose discipline, may not mention
their grandfathers' personal names and are taught to fear the possible con-
sequences of ghostly interference. In general, there is intimacy, respect and
The paternal grandmother is mawenkuru ('my old mother'). She is supposed
to look after her grandchild in infancy, while the mother is busy with house-
work; and, as a result of continuous contact, the child often grows more fond
of her than of any other member of the household. In a joking relationship,
again yielding close intimacy, a grandson is 'my husband' and a granddaughter
'my husband's wife'. But for the child to mention her name is a shame (ekihemu)
which may lead to the child growing a hump. Despite the intimacy, respect
is expected; and the grandmother's ghost may-as any others within the
household-revenge neglect during life.
It will thus be seen that, while there is intimacy in two of these relationships,
there is frustration latent in all. It would not be surprising if the emandwa
in each case reflected the human relationships. If their primary function is that
of sustaining life and order-which is, after all, the primary function of the
father as well as the grandparents-they represent also the destructive elements
in these relationships. With the emizimu they are in strong contrast with Ru-
hanga, whose sole concern is with order and who seems to reflect the child's
primary experience of his mother.'3
Although more than one member of a household may be initiated into the
emandwa cult, it is recognized that one at least must be properly accredited;
and, on his death, he must be replaced. It is possible that a successor may be
chosen before his death.14 But, failing this, cowries from his head-band15-
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKLE 17
one for each of his children-are placed in a pot made during the week following
his death. The pot is placed, mouth downwards, either on his grave or close
to an omuko tree, where it might remain till one of the household fell ill. After
advice from a diviner that the illness was due to neglect of the emandwa, either
the sister or the eldest daughter of the deceased fetched the pot, the cowries
were distributed to his children, and the diviner was again consulted as to which
of them should be initiated. Further advice was required as to which initiated
agnatic relative should be asked to act as omutende or kyatura (sponsor). A
similar producedure would be followed whenever misfortune overtook the
household; and advice, if it was emandwa-directed, might be that the accredited
initiate was neglecting his regular offerings. In that case the appropriate ritual
would be conducted. Alternatively it might be that one of the household
emandwa was demanding yet another initiate; and he and his omutende would
again be indicated by the diviner.
The first step is for the sponsor to introduce the candidate to emandwa.
A bracelet of white beads is put round his left wrist; and the sponsor spends
the days before the ceremony in teaching him how to behave during the cere-
mony itself and to know some of the secret emandwa vocabulary. It is integral
to the ceremony that the candidate should not know what is going to happen
next, and that the detailed instructions which he receives during initiation should
genuinely arouse fear or shame. Instruction at this point is therefore limited
to the obligation of absolute obedience to those already initiated and to the
points at which the novice's response must be accurate. The emandwa voca-
bulary has been discussed by both Cory and Beattie. In Ankole the detailed
words are different; but they seem to fulfil the same purpose, and to have
the same origin, as those used in the Sumbwa and Nyoro Societies.
On the eve of the ceremony, the sponsor arrives with a group of initiates,
each wearing the headdresses appropriate to his own three emandwa, shaking
gourd rattles (orunyegye), singing and bearing the emandwa (i.e. the headdress
which has been prepared for the candidate). At the door of the candidate's
house they say, Muzigurire itahe ('Open for them to enter'). Many relatives,
not necessarily intiates, also come, bearing ample food and beer. There is
feasting, dancing and singing in an atmosphere of great excitement. Those
present also cry like hyenas, squeak like bats or rats and imitate many other
animals. They may threaten to kill the candidate. He is dressed in barkcloth
and his body is smeared with ghee to make his skin smooth like that of a baby
(omwerere). He is teased, made to sit on people's laps and, in general, expected
to behave as a baby.
On the following morning the sponsor, accompanied only by other initiates,
drives the candidate, as a cow to the slaughter, out into the bush to an Erythrina
tree (omuko) which, in the emandwa vocabulary, is called omurinzi'6. They carry
axes, knives, spears, banana leaves, cooking pots, fire and the bundle of herbs
called omuhambo17. On arrival at the tree omuhambo is tied to it and remains
in position until after the initiation is complete, when it taken back to the house
and laid on the new shrine to be constructed. Leaves are then spread on the
ground. The candidate is stripped naked and made to lie down as for slaughter.
The company sharpens its weapons and threatens him with them. Some cry
like lions or hyenas and demand his flesh to eat. The candidate cries for fear;
and he is then beaten and laughed at. The beating, at this as at other points in
the initiation, is severe and probably draws blood. Although it is the sponsor's
duty to moderate the severity of the candidate's experience, it is not unknown
for some weeks to be spent in recovery.
18 UGANDA JOURNAL
He is now offered the chance of redeeming himself with a grasshopper,
which he is expected to slay and serve in equal portions to the whole company
who fetch leaves of Erythrina for dishes. This being impossible, he is again
beaten and laughed at. He is seriously interrogated as to why he has killed a
cow which did not belong to him; and then he is pushed about with threats.
One of the bystanders offers to help in return for a reward. In despair the
candidate may offer a cow, a wife or a goat. The 'helper' then falls to the ground
as though dead. The rest of the company fall on top of him and raise him up;
and he dishes out blades of grass to further scornful laughter and singing.
The candidate is next told to dig out with his teeth a piece of root of Erythrina.
A further task is to sing a totally new song. Failure at any point is rewarded
with laughter and beating; and, throughout the ceremonies of this day and the
next, the company dances, sings, shakes rattles and feigns possession, while
the candidate is thrown from one to another to the rhythm of the song. At no
point is it pretended that actual possession is experienced.
As a climax to the ceremonies of the first day the headdresses appropriate
to the emandwa of his father and paternal grandmother are placed on his head.
The songs sung at this point are proper to the particular emandwa concerned.
The company then returns to the house, singing, dancing and feasting far into
the night. The candidate may not eat any hot food, lest his emandwa become
On the following morning the candidate is led once more to the Erythrina
but this time without pretence of slaughter. A hole about six inches deep is
made with the butt of a spear, a blade of grass is placed at the bottom and he is
instructed to take it out with his teeth. His mouth fills with earth; but failure is
inevitable; he is beaten and laughed at. As with the grasshopper on the first day,
a 'redeemer' shows how easy it is to pick any blade of grass as though it came
from the hole. He falls down as dead. The candidate is instructed to heal him
and is again beaten and jeered at for his failure. He is told to laugh like a hyena
and to do any other laughable action which may occur to the bystanders.
He is told to choose any person of the opposite sex and have public intercourse
with her (or him, if the candidate is a woman). Refusal out of shame is met with
ill-treatment for disobedience. The attempt to carry out the instructions is
punished for immorality. The candidate is then instructed to abuse, first, his
father and mother and, next, any of the bystanders. Refusal again carried the
penalty of disobedience and compliance the punishment due for a shameful
The candidate is now adorned with the headdress of his mother's emandwa
and is expected to fall down as though possessed. The sponsor has instructed
him in the proper behaviour at this point, and the 'possession' is known by all
to be feigned. On being raised, he is given a large stone to swallow. He cannot
do so and is made to swallow instead a tiny stone. This, in the emandwa voc-
abulary, is ibanga. He must never reveal what he has done during initiation; and,
if he is asked to do so, he should reply simply, ibanga'8. At this point he is given
a special emandwa name to mark his achievement of membership in the society.
It is usually of a scurrilous or shameful character and is never mentioned out-
side the society, even in his own family. Examples are :-
Kabwa Kaiba (male only) The dog that steals
Oshomboora Wantubu The thief whose penis has no foreskin
Omufu Wantubu (female only) The corpse with no foreskin
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE 19
Okuna One who is often shy
Ekisigazi Kyarutemba Babisi A gigantic boy who rapes immature girls
Bagatekyehi? Where should dung be cooked?
Bushaija Bwengwe Leopard's penis
Rutahigurwa The immovable man
Rutahanikirwa Cunning and Greedy
Gujwire Omugundu Trouble follows trouble
Now he is tested in his knowledge of the emandwa vocabulary and will
suffer punishment for ignorance. Finally, a spear is stuck point upwards in
the ground. He is instructed to climb up it and stand on the tip. Failure is used
as the occasion to say that, if he is ever asked to reveal the secrets of emandwa,
he should ask his interlocutor first to perform this feat.
Late in the day the company returns, singing and dancing, to the house.
The candidate behaves as a child. Mucus drips from his nose. He collects
pebbles and tries to build with them, climbs walls, carries bananas on his back
and grinds sand as though it were millet. He sits on people's laps, pretends that
he cannot talk, goes about naked and puts almost anything in his mouth (e.g.
he may dip food into ashes and then eat it, or lick the nose of a dog). On the
following day he goes round the village, accompanied by another
initiate carrying a basket, and begs food at every house. It is forbidden to
refuse his requests; and wise householders, warned of his coming, hide what
they do not wish to lose.
The initiate is himself emandwa; and it is now necessary for his sponsor to
instruct him in the proper performance of the cult. Each of his three emandwa
require a shrine (endaaro), which may be no more than a space cleared at the
foot of an appropriate tree, spread with enyaweera and other leaves. In each are
placed spears and vessels for food and beer. That for the father's emandwa is in
front of the house and has a bark cloth tree surrounded by prickly pear. The
grandmother's emandwa is placed by the main vertical member at the rear of the
hut; and in it is planted omugoshoora. The mother's has omugorora usually in
the banana plantation immediately behind the house.
Children and others were forbidden to beat uncultivated ground with sticks,
for this might awaken the emandwa from their sleep. If a family continued in
good health and fortune, the tendency was to neglect their emandwa and to let
sleeping dogs lie. But orthodox teaching expected:
1. The dedication of each third day (mwizuzo) to the emandwa. Women
might do pottery and weaving; but there was no work in the fields; and the men
attended beer parties. Hima men went to sing, drink, roast beef and wrestle
under euphorbia trees.
2. Each new moon the officiant, with the rest of the household, visited
the shrines, carrying food, beer and a drink made by mixing ashes with water
(this is especially favoured by emandwa). With prayer and choral singing he
first called Ruhanga's attention to his offering and then addressed the emandwa:
'I am Kabwa Kaiba. Drink this beer'. After further singing, he said: 'Since I
have fed you, settle down and be at peace'. This was repeated at each shrine in
turn. If a bull or a goat was offered, it was strangled at the shrine and skinned.
Blood was sprinked on the shrine and some pieces of meat were left there.
The rest of the meat was taken to be eaten by members of the household. All
food given to emandwa must be cool (obuhoro), lest they become 'hot'.
20 UGANDA JOURNAL
3. On special festivals (Ramagashani) the officiant made omuhambo.
He led the household several times round the house in a litany, calling out the
name of each shrub in turn and the people answering (e.g. Enyaweera: 'May
our homes be purified').
4. If a patient's illness was diagnosed as being due to emandwa, it might
suffice to make a special offering at the shrine of the emandwa concerned, with
specific prayers for his recovery. The efficient would first (if necessary) tidy up
the shrine. He lit a fire and ritually killed a goat; and then he prayed :-
See, emandwa ezeera (eziragura, ezobukuratirel9),
If you have made this child sick;
See the goat you always receive;
See, I have lighted a fire for you;
See your child;
Let him be healed so that he may care for your things;
Let our home be peaceful
At home he rubbed the patient with medicinal herbs as advised by the her-
balist and repeated the treatment as often as he had been instructed. If he did not
recover, other diviners would be consulted until a successful treatment was
prescribed, or the case had to be 'left to Ruhanga'.
In more serious cases, the emandwa might demand the initiation of the patient
himself. In the case of serious illness, of a pregnancy, or of a very young child,
a symbolic initiation might be given, to be followed by the real thing when the
patient was sufficiently recovered or sufficiently old. The patient was introduced
to the shrine with the prayer :-
If you are emandwa ezeera, or eziragura, or ezobukuratire,
Release this child
See, I have lighted a fire for you.
See, I have given you beer and food.
Eat and be content.
Meanwhile, the child will prepare himself.
He will be initiated;
And he will give worship and offerings to you.
For now, if you do not heal him
Who will prepare the feast,
The feast of initiation for you?
Let him go free, spare him.
He is going to work for your feast;
He knows now that you are making a demand of him.
He will fulfil your demand;
And you will be satisfied.
After this prayer, the officiant and his patient were reassured and the ini-
tiation would take place in due course.
5. When an enemy army was approaching a village, a person might make
a vow (okusiga) to his emandwa, 'If you keep me safe from my enemies, I will
give you a bull'. A similar vow might be made to ensure safety on a journey.
If the emandwa played his part, the vow would be fulfilled (okusiguura) by the
offering of a bull in the usual way at the shrine.
6. At seed-time, emandwa would be invited to accompany his ward to the
field. Otherwise, it would destroy the crops. At harvest, the first-fruits were
dedicated to the emandwa. Otherwise, death or illness would befall. A goat of
the household herd was given to the emandwa and must be replaced if it died,
or was killed. Attentions such as these were essential, if the goodwill of the
emandwa were to be ensured.
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE 21
It is now possible to re-examine Beattie's themes in terms of the Iru cult.
1. Initiation sets the cult members permanently apart from the uninitiated
not in respect to possession (which does not occur in the Cwezi cult proper)20,
but in respect to priesthood within a particular household. The assumption of
a new personality is enacted in the symbols of death, redemption and behaviour
as a child. (It is to be noted that child-like characteristics are adopted both
before and after the initiation; and there appears to be no enactment of birth as
such). There are no food taboos except the fiction that emandwa (not their
human agents) do not eat hot food. The new personality is reinforced by special
regalia, a secret language and a name used only within the society. Moreover,
the initiate himself becomes emandwa21. In view of the large numbers who,
traditionally, were initiated into the Cwezi cult: in view also of the fact that
a married man with children could not set up an independent household until
he had been initiated, it is tempting to see emandwa initiation as originally a
coming-of-age ceremony applicable to all Nkore. But this is ruled out by the
facts that children might be initiated and that adults might try to avoid it.
2. Initiation is conducted in secret, in the total absence of non-initiates. This
aspect has certainly been re-inforced by prohibition on the part of Church
and Government. Emandwa regalia cannot safely be worn in public; and all
the ceremonies described in the foregoing account are nowadays conducted at
night. The extent to which the need for secrecy is modifying the traditional
cult is suggested by one shrine, seen by both the authors, where pots for all
three emandwa were kept under the same tree, well out of sight behind the
house 22. It has to be asked whether prohibition may, in fact, make, out of a cult
which appears to have been of positive social value in terms of the old culture,
a secret activity acquiring all the undesirable features attributed to witchcraft in
the European middle ages.
3. An initiate acquires new social obligations and rights. As priest to his
household, he is responsible for preserving proper relations with the emandwa.
As himself emandwa, he may be called upon to initiate others. There is no evi-
dence of the use of kinship terms within the society.
4. There is no evidence that initiation confers ritual danger. While, in the
Nyoro and Sumbwa rites, ritual sexual intercourse takes place in order to re-
move this danger, the Nkore rite appears to use the suggestion of sexual im-
propriety as a means of moral instruction. The pronounced use of shameful
situations throughout the rite may be related to the importance attached to
shame, as a sanction of behaviour, in society at large. At the same time, the
severe punishment may be related to unconscious guilt, so that the rite induces
a catharsis of both guilt and shame, leading to conscious awareness of a new
While the cult, as so far described, has clear significance within traditional
social structure, there are other emandwa who-traditionally as well as in re-
lation to contemporary individualism- more clearly serve the needs of indi-
viduals and are not included in the activities of the Cwezi cult. Some are tradi-
tionally associated with disease (e.g., Kahumpuri, of plague)23 or with particular
professions (e.g., Ryangombe24 or Rushoma, spirits of hunters). Others are
more recent immigrants, of which Nyabingi and Mungu are perhaps the most
interesting. Any of these may be acquired by paying a suitable fee to an existing
medium; and they involve possession in the orthodox sense. They confer special
powers on diviners.
22 UGANDA JOURNAL
Nyabingi is said to have originated in Karagwe. He became famous in
Kigezi25 during the early part of the present century, when his followers were
involved in wide-spread action against the chiefs. Initiation into the cult seems to
be promoted more by the desire for the prestige which it confers than by any
immediate material need. One who desires 'to become Nyabingi' consults an
existing medium (Nyabingi) and asks to become omugirwa (disciple). He is
instructed to build a small hut, in which medium and novice will live alone
during the initiation. On the appointed day, other mediums of the same cult
bring Nyabingi to the house, where there is heavy eating and drinking and ex-
cited dancing. Before they depart, Nyabingi chooses a member of the disciple's
family, whose task is to smoke a pipe each night during the initiation.
Nyabingi's own room is clean and spread with enyaweera and eyojo26. In it
are a pipe, to be touched by none but Nyabingi or the disciple, a gourd, a
calabash of beer and a copper rod, used as a weapon. Nyabingi loves nothing so
much as to smoke and to drink beer; and it is largely by smoking that the state
of possession is induced.
During the initiation period, any visitor to the homestead must be intro-
duced to Nyabingi by the disciple, who announces the visitor's name and place
of residence. Any member of the household, who wishes to pay a visit elsewhere,
similarly reports to Nyabingi before departure and after return. Cows, goats,
sheep and other property of the household are introduced to him through the
disciple and nothing must be taken out of the homestead without his permission.
If beer is brewed, he is presented with a full jar. Before members of the house-
hold retire to bed, they pray to Nyabingi, kneeling and clapping their hands. If
they are sick, they mention their complaint. At all other times, in the presence of
Nyabingi, they are expected to remain silent. If a definite consultation is asked,
he retires into the inner room. The hut is in darkness; the disciple speaking
through his nostrils, answers in Nyabingi's name; and the whole hut is said to
When the initiation is complete, there is feasting, dancing, singing and shak-
ing of rattles. The disciple has himself become Nyabingi. Henceforth he will
not only be able to initiate others but will receive the respect due to one who is
in direct contact with emandwa. Nyabingi becomes the chief emandwa of the
homestead. Although the activity of the Cwezi emandwa is still recognized, no
action towards them, and no consultation of a diviner, is initiated without
prior reference to Nyabingi.
Finally, Mungu is of special interest. This is the Swahili name for the one God.
He is said to have entered Ankole via Rwanda and Mpororo-that is to say,
along the Arab trade route. While, in the case of most non-Cwezi emandwa,
it is possible to be a medium of more than one, Mungu insists that all signs of
relation to other emandwa should be destroyed before he agrees to accept an
initiate. It seems clear that, in terms acceptable to traditional culture, the
Jealous God of the Old Testament has thus found his way into Ankole. It is
an achievement which the Christian Church might well examine closely before
it dispenses altogether with the old ways.
Some Cwezi songs
1. On the eve of the rite-arriving at the house
Muzigurire itahe (3) Chorus: E-e-e27 Open for them to enter
Zabanda emihingu (2) They are jumping over the hurdles28
Chorus: Mbu mbu (a sound like a hyena to tease omwerere).
E-e-e Zabanda emihingu They are jumping over the hurdles
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE
Keereere na Kairengye
Karogoro omukono gwa Nyanga
2. During the rite
Emandwa nya bwerere E-e-e
Yakunira aha ibanga E-e-e
Emandwa nya bwerere E-e-e
Ekakire ekaramire E-e-e
Ekakire engoma yamwe E-e-e
Yakunira aha ibanga (3) E-e-e
Nkakitenga na kiboona E-e-e
Ekyamukaibanye okubandwa nkabandwa E-e-e
Yakunira aha ibanga
Emandwa nya bwerere (2)
Yakunira aha ibanga (2)
Oncweere akasya ndebe
Akangye naiju nkazongoize
Yakunira aha ibanga
Keereere na Kairengye
Kagorogoro omukono gwa Nyanga
Yakunira aha ibanga
3. At the end of the rite
Ekinyina kyogumwana (2)
Keereere and Kayirengye
Karogoro the arm of Nyanga29
They are jumping over the hurdles
Emandwa the baby
Has been shy at the rite
Emandwa the baby
Let him be healed and prosper
Let your suppliant be healed
He has been shy at the rite
I sought and found
That both my husband's wife and
should be initiated31
He has been shy at the rite
Emandwa the baby
Has been shy at the rite
Twist the neck for me to see32
I twisted mine before I came here
He has been shy at the rite
Keereere and Kairengye
Kagorogoro the arm of Nyanga
He has been shy at the rite
E-e-e The baby's placenta33
E-e-e Has grieved the mothers
It has grieved the mothers
4. On the return journey to the house at the end of the rite
Orairegye, mama E-e-e Good morning, mother
Orairegye bambe omugyendera haiguru Good morning, dear, you who travel in
Bambe nakutona abagyendera haiguru Dear, look, I have seen those who
batakwatiriire travel in space unsupported.
Chorus: Hee-hee-hee-hee (beating the ground rhythmically with their fists)
5. Either at the rite or at the house
Rugona, Rugona, Rugonerera, enimi yaizinga (2) Rugona, Rugona, Rugona, the jungle
Entebbe ze zamakune The marks on his body for decoration
Rugona enimi yaizinga Rugona the jungle bull
Nezawe zokuremeera You have failed to manage your cows
Zatemba orugo niitaaha They have jumped over the hurdles to
enter the pound
Rugona enimi yaizinga. Chorus: Hee-hee-hee- (as before) Rugona the jungle bull
Two Prayers to Ruhanga
These were recorded from Hima but are used also among Iru.
1. Offered by the chief wife of the household, early in the morning before
others had risen. Hanging over the hearth was a dry spray of omwetango
('prevention'). This was shaken so that pieces fell into the fire and gave a pleas-
ant smell. Then the woman squeezed leaves of omuhiire (good fortune) and
sprinkling the juice onto the fire, she said :-
Nshekye obuhiire Let me smile in good fortune
Abaana bangye bashekye obuhiire Let my children smile in good fortune
Eka yangye eshekye obuhiire Let my home smile in good fortune
Tingira kindya ekyabandi I do not eat what is not mine
Tingira ekinkwaata ekya mugyenze wangye I do not steal my neighbour's goods
24 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mba ndaasha I always wish good health to others
Tingira kinyaga I am never in debt
Owanyanga antura busha He who hates is unjust
Nyowe nsheka obuhiire I am always smiling in good fortune
2. Offered to Ruhanga by women whose husbands were at the wars:-
(a) Aihukye nabo Let him be saved with them
Ahande nabo orutogye Let him stand firm with them
Akuubane nabo Let him struggle with them
Atabaarukye nabo Let him return from battle with them
(b) Nabaabatwara Whether they capture them
Nababareeta Whether they bring them home
Nabacumitana Whether they stab each other
Ohurure obeho Come and see them
J. H. M. Beattie (1957), 'Initiation into the Cwezi Spirit Possession Cult in
Bunyoro', African Studies, 16, 150-161
J. H. M. Beattie (1961), 'Group aspects of the Nyoro Spirit Mediumship Cult',
Rhodes-Livingstone Journal, 30, 11-38
H. Cory (1955), 'The Buswezi', American Anthropologist, 57, 923-952
D. J. Stenning (1962), communication to B. K. Taylor, The Western Lacustrine
Bantu (Ethnographic Survey of Africa)
1. For instance, they not only told him to do up his fly-button, but asked searching questions
about the existence of Cwezi in Europe. The Cwezi were said to be fair-skinned; and it
would be only natural to suppose that they were of European extraction.
2. Emizimu is used to describe ancestral ghosts in the abstract; abazimu (the personal
plural of the same root) when they are active. Certain classes, e.g. hunters, also had
amahembe (horns) which served much the same purpose as emandwa
3. Ruhanga is clearly the same as Muwanga in Buganda, the latter probably being derived
from the former. See note 15 in Uganda Journal, 26, 181 (September 1962).
4. Ebihemu seems to be in a different category from totems and taboos, the violation of
which, whether it is made public or not, brings automatic punishment in the form of
sickness or death. The violation of ekihemu (e.g. for a woman to eat goat's meat) brings
no such automatic punishment. What is feared is discovery, possible expulsion by her
husband and the shame of being laughed at by other women. Nobody really believes the
rationalisations (e.g. that a woman who eats goat's meat will grow a beard like a goat).
5. Omuhambo is a bundle of herbs, each signifying a particular virtue; enyaweera-purity;
omugorora-peace-; omusinga-victory; omurinzi-preservation; omurokora-sal-
vation; omugoshoora-fruitfulness; orubingo-chasing away; omuhanga-creativity;
omuhiingura-sparing; omuzibira-prevention. It is wdiely used on religious occasions.
For botanical names of plants see separate list.
6. Stenning's account is based on a Hima community. He specifies the following emizimu
as especially active :- father, elder brother, father's brother, father's mother and father's
7. See glossary of plants.
8. All are listed by Beattie (1961). Cory (1955) has Wamara and Ngasha (= Mugasha in
Ankole; Mukasa in Buganda).
9. 'White', 'black' and 'those who follow'. Some months after the marriage, a newly-
married couple went to visit the bride's father for the rite of okukwata efuka (holding a
hoe). Both holding the handle of the hoe, they dug a hole in which they placed seeds of
millet, omuriri, pumpkin and beans. At the same time they brought a sheep with which to
'buy' the bride's father's emandwa. This was taken to the new home in the form of a
cowrie shell from the father's headdress. It was kept safely; but it played no further part
in the home till a child of the marriage acquired it through initiation. Together with the
emandwa they took a goat or a sheep as a present from the bride's father to the groom's
emizimu. Beattie has ezeera for Cwezi emandwa and eziragura for others.
EMANDWA INITIATION IN ANKOLE 25
10. Although the two emandwa may be antipathetic in one part of the country, they may be
on perfectly good terms in another.
11. G. Lienhardt (1961), Divinity and Experience, 154.
12. See note 9 supra.
13. Cf. E. H. Erikson (1958), Young Man Luther, 257 ff.
14. Or 'her death'. Although the masculine pronoun is used throughout, initiates are at
least as likely to be feminine. In the case of Nyabingi (see infra), the majority are feminine.
15. Each initiate has three headbands (made of leather or barkcloth decorated with cowrie
shells)-one for each of his emandwa; and each emandwa is represented by a different
pattern of headband. The particular headband used at the funeral ceremony is that of
the deceased's father's emandwa, of which the central shell was inherited from the father.
16. It is central also to the Sumbwa rite.
17. See note 5.
18. In colloquial Nkore wayata amabanga means 'you have done something shameful'
(amabanga is the plural of ibanga).
19. If the cause has been diagnosed as a ghost, the ghost in question is addressed. In this
case, the patient must himself be present at the shrine.
20. Further comparative work is required to investigate this difference from Cwezi cults
21. Cf. Nyoro: spirit=emandwa; initiate=omubandwa
Ganda: spirit =lubaale; initiate =mulubaale
22. At Kazi, on the shore of Lake Victoria nine miles from Kampala, is a Nkore house
with the unmistakable relics of shrines for emandwa ezeera and ezobukuratire. They
appear to be disused.
23. In Buganda, Kawumpuli (of plague) and Ndawula (of smallpox) are mythologically
sons of kings.
24. Ryangombe is cited by Cory (1955) as central to the Sumbwa rite.
25. M. M. Edel (1957), The Chiga of Western Uganda, esp. 148-157, J. M. Gray (1960),
'A History of Ibanda, Saza of Mitoma, Ankole', Uganda J., 24, 176 ff.
26. This is widely used as a floor-covering in Nkore houses.
27. Eee='yes'. In singing it is long drawn out.
28. The door of the cattle pound is closed with hurdles. For cattle to jump over them shows
that the cattle are out of hand. The suggestion here may be that the emandwa are eager
to enter their new initiate. In song 5, the entrance has been effected. But there must also
be a glance forward to the point when the novice himself is led as a cow to the slaughter.
29. It is not known who these four persons are.
30. This is a high-pitched cry of ecstasy.
31. i.e. two wives of the same man are initiated at the same time. This is a most unlikely
32. Twist the neck sharply from side to side as in dancing.
33. The placenta, in Iru imagery, symbolises the whole of the birth trauma.
34. i.e. Europeans in aeroplanes. This symbol must be of a recent origin.
35. okugona='to roar' or 'to snore'. The roaring 'bull' of the jungle is the lion.
PLANTS MENTIONED IN THE TEXT
oru-bingo Pennisetum purpureum
omu-gorora (=omu-ramura) Dracaena steudneri
omu-goshoora Verbena officinalis
omu-hanga Maesa lanceolata
omu-hingura Bersama abyssinica
omu-hiire Physalis minima
omu-huuki Lantana trifolia
omu-ko (= omu-rinzi) Erythrina abyssinica
e-nyaweera Vernonia smythiania
omu-rokora Ritiginia beniniensis
omu-singa Hibiscus fuscus
e-yoja Londetra kagerensis
omu-zibira Cardiospermum grandiflorum
Uganda Journal, 29, 1 (1965) 27-43
THE MOVING FRONTIER OF BRITISH IMPERIALISM
IN NORTHERN UGANDA 1898-19191
J. P. BARBER
In 1898 British administration in Uganda was confined to the four Kingdoms
of Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole, the district of Busoga, and to a line of
stations along the supply route from Mombasa. The great stretch of country to
the north, between the Nile and Lake Rudolph, was completely unadministered
and largely unexplored, but British interests became focused there during the
French attempt to gain a foothold on the Nile which culminated in the Fashoda
incident.2 To frustrate the French, and also to contain Ethiopian expansion,
Lord Salisbury had, in 1897, ordered Major J. R. L. Macdonald to lead an
expedition to the Nile from East Africa. Macdonald was instructed to confirm
British claims between the Ethiopian border and the Nile, as far north as the
10 N, either by establishing posts, "or it may be sufficient to take the pre-
ferable course of retaining the allegiance of the chiefs by presents and the grant
of the British flag".3 Salisbury was prepared to extend British commitments,
but the commitments were to be kept to the minimum required to deny the area
to foreign powers. In the event, Macdonald was caught up in the mutiny of
Sudanese troops in Uganda, and it was not until May 1898 that his depleted
and weary expedition marched north. Macdonald led one column via Kara-
moja and Latuka, in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the Nile and link up with
Kitchener's Anglo-Egyptian troops, who had taken over Macdonald's original
role of confronting the French at Fashoda, while Captain H. H. Austin led
another column to Lake Rudolph. Austin and Macdonald signed treaties with
the tribes on their route. While Macdonald's columns were making these
treaties Ernest Berkeley, the Commissioner in Uganda, due to a complete mis-
understanding with Macdonald, sent a separate expedition to contact Kit-
chener. This expedition followed the Nile from Bunyoro into territory previously
controlled by Emin Pasha and his Egyptian troops. The leader, Major C. G.
Martyr, was told "to reconnoitre and make treaties with local chiefs as far
north as Fashoda".4 The Sudd halted Martyr short of Fashoda and Kitchener,
but he established a line of military posts on the river.
Macdonald's and Martyr's expeditions had been sent solely to confirm
British strategic interests against a rival European power, but in doing this,
Macdonald by his treaties, and Martyr by his posts, had extended British com-
mitments and had opened two possible lines of administrative advance north
from Uganda. Macdonald drew up a scheme to retain control of his treaty area
by means of a military patrol, but Salisbury, while confirming the treaties,
refused to sanction the patrol.5 Martyr's work bore more immediate fruit for
his military posts were retained and formed into the Nile Military District.
This was the situation that Sir Harry Johnston inherited in July 1899 when
he was sent to Uganda as Special Commissioner to re-organise the Protectorate.
28 UGANDA JOURNAL
He was specifically asked to consider the future of the area between the Sudan
and the administered portions of Uganda.6 Johnson wrote that his aim was to
establish "an Administration over the Uganda Protectorate economical yet
efficient".7 What did this mean in the north? Were the military posts along the
Nile, which were outside the gazetted area, simply to frighten away intruders or
were they the foundation for an administrative expansion? What was to be
done with Karamoja,8 Macdonald's treaty area, which stretched from Elgon to
the Ethiopian mountains? If there was to be an administrative expansion, how
far north was Uganda's responsibility to stretch? Johnson faced these pro-
blems with characteristic energy. To him economy and efficiency meant a
policy of expansion: to extend the Uganda boundaries as far north as practic-
able within his concept that the dominant trade route must be via the railway
to Mombasa and not down the Nile. He looked north and saw great grazing
lands, potential mineral wealth and herds of wild animals, especially elephant,
that would bring new wealth to the Protectorate. Johnson considered that
Uganda should assert its rights to this wealth and also extend its borders to
protect the northern tribes from adventurers and freebooters. "His Majesty's
Government should realise", he wrote "that, if they attach any importance to
securing the whole of the basin of Lake Rudolph for the British sphere of in-
fluence, within which it lies by international Agreement, we should not leave
these countries open to the enterprises of European adventurers".9 He sought
permission to extend the Uganda boundaries by proclamation to the 5 N, and
west across the Nile into the Lado Enclave,10 but the Foreign Office, fearing
Belgian and Ethiopian reactions, would not sanction such a bold assertion."
Johnson, however, considered that, as far as the northern boundary was con-
cerned, (i.e. the 5 N between the Nile and Lake Rudolf) Macdonald's treaties
had given him the authority to annex the territory to Uganda.'2 Johnson's as-
sumption of power was confirmed in the 1902 Order in Council, which did not
lay down geographical limits for the Protectorate, but stated that it consisted
of various Provinces and Districts: Johnston's Provinces and Districts.
It was not enough merely to stake out this vast new claim, for Johnston's
whole case was based upon the assumption that the claim could be worked and
worked at a profit. He was determined to extend the administration so that
administrative frontier would coincide with the new territorial frontier. He
divided the north between the Nile, Rudolph and Central Provinces. From the
Nile stations he encouraged Delme Radcliff6, the military commander, to
extend his power to the east. Delme Radcliffe was constantly on the move
east of the Nile, exploring and making contact with new tribal groups. In July
1900 he reported that he had "explored 900 square miles of the district, opening
it up to trade etc. and bringing several hitherto unknown chiefs into direct
relations with us."13 He also planned to build stations and divide the new areas
into administrative units.'4 In the north-east he established a remote station in
the Ribo Hills north of Lake Baringo which "I hope", he wrote "will be the
the beginning of an advance of the Administration towards Lake Rudolph".5
He planned to place a fort north of Elgon to control the Arab slave and ivory
traders and to open up the country for administration. Johnson's final ad-
ministrative thrust was to encourage Kakunguru, the great Muganda agent,
to confirm and extend his powers in 'Bukedi'.'6
One of the principal objects of Johnston's appointment to Uganda had been
to reduce the heavy British grant in aid which had attracted so much criticism
from the Treasury and in the Commons. Johnston was therefore always cons-
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 29
cious that his policy must be defended not as imperial adventure, but as a
sound business proposition. When a Turkana attack was made upon the Ribo
post which necessitated a punitive expedition, Johnston wrote that he had
opened the post because Baker, the Officer in charge, had reported that the
surrounding country was of great commercial value, and that "if I should decide
that the country controlled by Mr. Baker's post is not of any exceptional
value to us ... I shall withdraw the post."17 When he urged Delm6 Radcliffe
to move east from the Nile posts, he also urged him "to gather in a certain
amount of tribute".18 He wrote of the possibilities of gold north of Lake Ru-
dolph and of coal on Elgon.
With Johnston's disappearance from Uganda in 1901 the expansionist
policy in the north ended. Frederick Jackson, the acting Commissioner, was
told by a Foreign Office that had trembled at Johnston's boldness: "As a guide
to your general policy, Lord Lansdowne would wish you to bear in mind that
efficiency and economy will both be promoted by concentrating the available
staff at important centres rather than by its dispersal over a number of isolated
and undermanned stations. No new outposts should be created without special
authorization from the Secretary of State."'9 Johnston's criteria of "efficiency
and economy" were accepted but they were to be achieved not by expansion,
but by concentration on the areas that were already administered and whose
resources were known. This was confirmed in the instructions given to Colonel
Hayes Sadler, the new Commissioner: "In the opinion of His Majesty's Govern-
ment it is not desirable to push too quickly amongst tribes in outlying districts
who have little to offer at the present in the way of commerce, and who have not
yet become accustomed to the sojourn of the white men in their midst".20 Under
Sadler the administration in the Nile Province was confined to the immediate
neighbourhood of the river. Sadler reported: "We have not yet attempted to
establish posts in the large tract of country eastwards from the Nile to Lake
Rudolph."21 The post north of Lake Baringo was withdrawn, and far from
expanding Uganda's responsibilities in the north east, a large section of eastern
Uganda was transferred to British East Africa (B.E.A.). When the new boundary
was finally settled along the Turkwell River from Elgon to Lake Rudolph, all
the Suk were placed in B.E.A. but the Turkana were divided, leaving two-
thirds of the tribe in Uganda. Nor had Kakunguru made much impression on
the north. Near Mbale his work was the foundation for a rapid spread of direct
British administration, but to the north among the Lango, Kakunguru never
obtained a firm hold. When he was retired to Mbale in 1902 all that remained
of his work was a post on Kaweri Island in Lake Kyoga, under Musabira, a
Munyara government agent.
Sadler's policy was later described by Hesketh Bell as "merely keeping
open the waterways and as little interference as possible with the wilder tribes
of the interior".22 Even along the river there was less activity than had been
anticipated, for the Nile was not developing as an alternative route to the
Mombasa railway. Sadler reported that the trade through Gondokoro was
"insignificant", and that the Nile Province was the most backward part of the
Protectorate because of its distance from headquarters, the difficulty of com-
munication, and the "poverty and primitive character of its people who still
feel the effects of the rule of Emin Pasha's mutinous soldiers followed by the
Dervishes".23 But despite the lack of progress the northern territory was nomi-
nally British, and while it might be possible to forget this in London or even
in Entebbe, officers in neighboring districts felt a very real responsibility
30 UGANDA JOURNAL
for the affairs of the unadministered area. During the early days of the military
stations along the Nile, requests had been made for protection by the inland
tribes. Delm6 Radcliffe reported in January 1900 that Ogok, a chief from the
Tarangole Mountains, had claimed protection because of the treaty he had
signed with Macdonald,24 and Radcliffe considered that his brief included the
prevention of fighting among the inland tribes. Requests for the extension of
the 'Pax Britannica' continued to come into the civil stations which replaced
the military posts (Nimule, where the Sub Commissioner resided; Wadelai
and Gondokoro, which were manned by collectors). From the stations irregular
tours were made among the unadministrated tribes. These contacts convinced
many local officers that British administration should be extended and their
reports put pressure on the central government to this end. Two other factors
drew attention to the north. These were, Ethiopian intrusions into British
territory, and the activities of the ivory traders and hunters. They were not
new problems, both Macdonald and Johnston had been conscious of them,
and they re-appeared in Sadler's time. Despite repeated attempts by the British
Government the boundary between Ethiopia and the British territories in
the south was unconfirmed. In many ways this suited the Ethiopians, who,
according to Sir Charles Eliot, "are not a stationery element, but are flowing
southwards with a fairly rapid aggressive advance".25 This flow, across a border
that was no more than a red line on Foreign Office maps, consisted of trading
groups in search of ivory and slaves, and bands of soldiers sent by border
chiefs to extend their territorial claims and to search for loot. At the beginning
of 1904 a British prospecting expedition met one of these bands of soldiers
west of Rudolph. The Ethiopians had raided the Turkana for cattle and slaves
(they had about 100 women and children captives), and claimed possession of
Dabosa and Dodoth, both of which were well within the British boundary
as drawn by Johnston.26 Following this report, and a report of fighting between
traders and tribesmen in Karamoja,27 Sadler decided to establish a military
post north of Elgon at Manimani, but Lansdowne at the Foreign Office vetoed
this and instead sent a protest to Menelik, one of many sent during this period.28
According to the British representative at Addis Ababa these protests were
of doubtful value, for the Emperor was not prepared to discourage the raids
and claims of the border chiefs, considering "that the more territory he can show
to be in Abyssinian occupation when the frontier is actually discussed, the
stronger will his position be"29.
Sadler also paid attention to the activities of the ivory traders. When,
in 1904, he visited Mbale which had been built up by Kakunguru as an im-
portant entrep6t for the north east, Sadler made arrangements "to exercise
some control over the trade in the Karamoja country, where the traders had
for long been allowed too free a hand, destitute as that country is of any sign
of our authority".30 He instituted a system of passes, demanded security from
traders and closed all roads into Karamoja except the main route from Mumias
via Mbale. How this control was to be exercised once the traders left the station
was not made clear, for certainly Sadler had no intention of extending the
administration. Even of the Sebei, close to Mbale on the northern slopes of
Elgon, he commented: "It will be some years before they come under ad-
ministration; in the meanwhile they are best left severely alone".30 Without any
authority to ensure their implementation the new traders' rules could have no
effect. Sadler in fact admitted the government's inability to control the area.
"Such traders", he wrote "as proceed to Karamoja country, which is outside
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 31
the range of our effective control, must do so at their own risk".31
Although under Sadler administration in the north was confined to the Nile,
an eastward extension was not completely ruled out. Sadler's reports referred
to the time when the notoriously unhealthy Nile stations could be left behind,
he kept three companies of troops in the Nile Province, and occasional tours
were made through the unadministered region by administrative officers.
George Wilson, who acted as Commissioner in the interregnum between Sadler
and Hesketh Bell, had first hand experience of the Nile Province and was
among the local officers who considered that administrative expansion was a
moral obligation and an expedient policy. He proposed a "military promenade"
through the unadministereed territory as a preliminary to closer administration,
and arranged to move the stations from the banks of the Nile eastwards into
the interior.32 When Hesketh Bell, the new Commissioner paid his first visit to
northern Uganda in the middle of 1906 Wadelai had already been abandoned
and Fatiko established as a new station. But Bell's visit altered all this. He was
singularly unimpressed by northern Uganda, describing it as a country "with
little or no promise of successful development" in which he could not think
"of a single product that might be grown . which would pay for the cost
of its carriage to the seaboard". He decided to withdraw Fatiko because "the
further we push our active authority into those wild regions eastwards of the
Nile, the more rapidly will our responsibilities grow and we would probably
find ourselves, a few years hence, committed to the proper government of a
vast territory reaching to the very borders of Abyssinia, the commercial value
of which would never pay for one tithe of the cost of its administration". He
thought that the resources of the Protectorate should not be frittered away
"on inadequate efforts in outlying Provinces" but concentrated "in the more
favoured localities, where the soil is excellent, the people industrious and the
country full of promise". He decided therefore that in the north the adminis-
tration should be confined to a radius of 20 miles from the banks of the Nile,
that no responsibility should be accepted for tribes further inland, that the
troops at the Nile stations should be withdrawn, and that the administrative
status of the stations should be lowered from a Province to a District.33 Not
everybody agreed with Bell's "to him who hath shall be given" policy. Wilson
continued to support administrative expansion. In a minute to Bell dated
December 1907 he wrote: "I am personally disposed to advocate the assumption
of our responsibilities whenever we can, believing delay to be simply a waste
of time. This is heresy, I know, so I seldom give voice to the opinion".34 In
1910 the D.C. Nimule in listing the reasons for the difficulties he had experienced
gave pride of place to the withdrawal of troops in 1907 and the abandonment
of any pretence to administer the hinterland, as he thought that both these
steps were seen by local tribesmen as signs of weakness.35
Bell was the strongest exponent of the Foreign Office's 1902 policy of
concentration and the strongest opponent of Johnston's policy of expansion.
Johnston and Bell did not differ over aims, "economy and efficiency", but to
Bell the north offered heavy expenditure without any reward. Not only did he
dismiss its commercial value but he saw that Johnston's northern expansion
had more than territorial implications. It had brought into the Protectorate
a group of tribes whose organisation and customs were completely different
from the Bantu kingdoms that formed the core of Uganda. The Uganda Protec-
torate had been built upon an alliance between the British and the kingdom
of Buganda, and, as the Protectorate had spread, so the Buganda system of
32 UGANDA JOURNAL
government had been spread both by the British and by Baganda agents, in
what Andrew Roberts has called "Buganda sub-imperialism"36. The Buganda
system of 'lukiko' (chiefs' council) and 'civil service' chiefs at county, sub
county and parish level offered a uniform system for the whole Protectorate
and was an ideal instrument at a time when the number of British officers
was strictly limited. It was the model for the whole Protectorate, even the Nile
Province. Wilson wrote: "The main principle of policy in the Nile Province
is briefly, the encouragement of rule through the native chiefs, and the Public
Baraza system".37 Spire, another administrative officer, reported: "A Bari
Native Council has been constituted last December. The establishment of this
Native Council will bring the chiefs into a more approximate parallel position
with the Lukiko of Uganda (i.e. Buganda) and will supersede the method
adopted here of settling at the Collector's office minor differences between
natives".38 But the Buganda system was a completely new political structure
for the 'stateless societies' of the North. Bell posed the question: "Could this
system be extended to the unadministered north in 1906 with economy and
efficiency?" His answer was an emphatic "No". "The natives", wrote Bell
"unlike those of Uganda (Buganda) and Unyoro (Bunyoro) are apparently
unwilling to submit to domination by chiefs. There are no powerful local author-
ities through which we might transmit our directions, and every group of
families seems to live independently and to be more or less at variance with
That the government could afford to play the reluctant colonizer was a
reflection of the economic and political weakness of the northern tribes. No
tribe had an effective central organization, which made it powerful enough
to capture the attention of the British. The tribes were seen neither as potential
threats to established interests nor as potential allies to share the burden of
administrative expansion. Even Johnston had envisaged expansion in terms
of territory and territorial wealth rather than in terms of alliances with tribes,
while to Bell the tribes presented no more than an administrative problem
that would involve the British in endless, petty squabbles while an administra-
tive system was being imposed upon them.
Bell's policy of administrative concentration was clear, but even he could
not ignore the north completely. It was the old problem of the ivory trader
that caught his attention. Because a Swahili trading party had been massacred
by the Dabossa, A. G. Boyle the Provincial Commissioner Eastern Province,
cancelled all trading licences for Karamoja as from 1st January 1908.40 Boyle's
decision met with opposition not only from the traders but from the government
officers at Mbale. Cubitt, an Assistant Collector, protested that the ivory
trade prepared the tribesmen for future administration, it was the basis of all
wealth in the Mbale area, and revealed British interests to the Ethiopians,
and "by closing Karamojo the loss to the Government Revenue would be
enormous-Export Duty alone on ivory for 1906/7 amounting to nearly Rs.
30,000". Ormsby, Collector, supported him although he admitted that there
was no control over the slaughter of elephant and that Karamoja was "a safe
retreat for all the criminal scum".41 Both officers proposed that the traders'
activities should be controlled by a touring officer. After receiving a deputation
from the Mbale traders, Hesketh Bell agreed to reopen the trade provided
touring officers were appointed and stricter laws applied.42 The laws were made
but, because of staff shortages, the tours were not instituted. The traders who,
theoretically, could only purchase male ivory from tribesmen who were supposed
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 35
to have built up large stocks from elephants that had died naturally or been
hunted by traditional tribal methods, continued their activities unhampered
The policy which since 1900 had given the ivory traders and hunters a virtu-
ally unrestricted run was severely criticised by a later Governor, Frederick
Jackson. In 1910 he wrote: "I consider as deplorable, the conditions of affairs
now existing in these parts (i.e. north of Elgon) ... It cannot be pleaded that
it was unknown that such a condition existed, nor is it possible to support the
assertion that the traders were confining themselves to a war of extermination
against the elephants . many of the traders are stirring up strife amongst
the natives and assisting one tribe against another in order to share the loot ...
No efforts were made to stop such a class of traders from entering the country.
SOn the, contrary, they were allowed to do so and received permits at Jinja and
Mbale, the inference being that so long as a considerable revenue was derived
from the illicitly obtained ivory, it was no one's business to stop it".43
There had been a well established 19th century trade in ivory from northern
Uganda to Khartoum and to Zanzibar. With the establishment of the Nile
stations in 1899 the focus of the trade moved from the river to the area north
of Elgon where Ethiopian traders illegally supplied firearms for ivory. A high
proportion of these guns were precision breach loaders, whereas previously
the Arabs had traded inefficient muzzle loaders.44 The guns were used both on
elephant hunts and in tribal wars.
The Uganda Government may not have known the full extent of the tribal
fighting or destruction of elephant in the north, but there was undeniable
evidence that all was not well. To mention a few examples: As early as 1900
Johnston reported that the destruction of elephants was "shocking",45 and
was gravely concerned at the activities of the traders. In 1903 T. Grant, an ad-
ministrative officer, reported that European and Swahili traders were taking
part in tribal raids.46 In 1906 H. Rayne, a police officer, made a full report
which was read by Hesketh Bell, of the unlawful activities of the Swahili traders
in the Turkwell area.47 In 1908 Lieutenant C. E. Fishbourne wrote that the
tribes raid "each other quite impartially ... All the country lying west of Lake
Rudolph and for some distance south is continuously swept by raiding bands
of Abyssinians."48 Jackson was probably correct in assuming that the govern-
ment turned a blind eye to the lawlessness because of the importance of ivory
as a source of trade and revenue in the period before cotton dominated the
Uganda economy.49 Cubitt had warned that to close the Karamoja trade would
be to kill the goose that was laying the golden egg. In 1910 the D.C. Nimule
wrote that he understood that no steps had been taken against traders for "fear
that it (ivory) would be taken to the Sudan and the government would thereby
loose Export Duty at Kampala",50 but he thought ,correctly, that the major
part of the ivory was being smuggled out to Ethiopia and the east coast without
duty being paid. The government's policy of viewing the north as a source of
revenue without undertaking the responsibility of administration was a financial
failure. The elephants were virtually shot out in a decade but the fortunes
from the ivory went to individuals and not to the government. By 1911 the D.C.
Mbale reported that the Swahili traders were convinced "of the folly of sinking
any more money into so speculative a venture as a Koromojan safari . .
A legacy of debts is about all that remains of what used to be a profitable
and flourising business".51 From this "flourishing business" the government
inherited a country which had lost one of its greatest assets, the elephant, and
34 UGANDA JOURNAL
was torn by tribal wars in which the traders and their firearms played a pro-
1910 was a turning point in the government's attitude to the north. The
first signs of a break in the old policy came in Lango district. Government
stations had been established among the Lango at Bululu in 1907 and at Ibuji
(Kibuji) in 1909.52Although this constituted an extention of the administered
area the stations were on the banks of the Nile and Lake Kyoga and therefore
complied with Hesketh Bell's policy, but at the beginning of 1910 Boyle, who
was acting as Governor, reported that information from District Officers
showed "that the description of the country by Sir H. Bell (i.e. that it was
unsuitable for economic development) is incorrect so far as this part is con-
cerned." Boyle. considered that the districts should be developed "seeing that
it promises to furnish in exportable produce, considerable traffic"53 and he
obtained the Secretary of State's approval to extend the administration all
over Lango. On 1st August 1911 the two river districts of Bululu and Palango
were amalgamated into Lango District with a temporary headquarters at
Nabieso. A company of K.A.R. was posted at Ngetta Hill, where the civil
administration moved in 1914.
There were other important developments in the north in 1910. In July
the D.C. Nimule reported that large numbers of firearms were being smuggled in
from Ethiopia via Karamoja,54 In the following month the Governor ofB.E.A.
informed the Uganda Government that his administration had been extended
to the Turkwell River, embracing the Suk and southern Turkana.55 He wanted
to know what Uganda intended to do about the constant border tribal fighting.
The Secretary of State, Lord Harcourt, telegraphed to say that he was against
any extension of the Uganda administration, but despite Harcourt's misgivings,
the Uganda government sent two patrols to investigate the situation. P. S. H.
Tanner led one to Dodoth, while another, under T. Grant, went to the Turkwell
border area. The reports of these two officers confirmed the very worst fears.
Tanner, who arrested 30 Ethiopians discovered that there was a thriving ivory
and firearms trade between Ethiopia and Karamoja. He estimated that each
year about Rs. 250,000 worth of ivory was being taken into Ethiopia. The
firearms that came in return were used both in the destruction of the elephant,
and tribal raiding. "I found", he reported, "that the whole country was in an
extremely lawless state, raiding, looting and killing among the tribes being a
very ordinary occurence."56 Grant also confirmed that there was heavy raiding
on the border.57 Further gloom was added by another report from Nimule.
"During one tour in the central Acholi unadministered area" wrote the D.O.
"I personally saw 500 firearms, a large number of which being Grass rifles...
Relying on their rifles the Acholi war parties numbering sometimes 2000-3000
strong have now created a reign of terror in the country to the east".58
Tanner's concern about the Ethiopians was not confined to their ivory
trading for he heard rumours that Dejaz Beru, who was at Maji, made claims
to rights over Dodoth and Didinga. The rumours then took substance. Even
while Tanner was on his patrol a Swahili trader handed to the D.O. at Mbale
a letter from Henry Darley, a private trader and sportsman. Writing from Maji
on 10th August 1910, Darley said, "Dejaz Beru has just arrived here from
Addis Ababa with orders from the new King to raid and hold the country as
far as Wei Wei (in the Suk Hills). Manimani to be his main camp. He starts
14 days hence from now. I went and interviewed him yesterday. He tells me his
orders are explicit. He has with him 2,200 men mostly armed with Grass rifles".
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 35
"Please God you are ready" was Darley's final dramatic note.59 The large force
reported by Darley was not seen by any British officer, but that there was
something in his report is confirmed by information from Wilfred Thesiger,
the British Plenipotentiary in Addis Ababa. Thesiger confirmed that Dejaz
Beru claimed Dodoth and Turkana and he warned the Uganda Government
that the only way to remedy the situation was to administer the border districts.60
What the reports of 1910 and 1911 revealed was not only the seriousness
of the tribal fighting and the failure of the Uganda government to control
the ivory trade, but they also revealed dangers to British interests both from
the Ethiopians and from the tribes. Although still divided in their organisation,
the tribes could, with their firearms, present a formidable danger to any future
extension of the administration. F. A. Knowles, the P.C. of the Northern
Province wrote, "The matter is of the utmost importance as there is little
doubt that in the near future a considerable force will be necessary to deal
with these natives . the position becomes more dangerous every day, unless
prompt measures are taken to deal with the situation at once".61 Stanley Tom-
kins, the acting governor, took these prompt measures by appointing a touring
officer for Karamoja and Turkwell, south of 3 N to control the traders and
"enter into relations with an endeavour to control the tribes", while north
of this area, he organised a patrol to move between the Nile and Rudolph
to prevent the Ethiopian trade in ivory and guns. When Jackson returned he
supported Tomkins' proposals in the despatch in which he attacked earlier
government policy towards the traders.62 But on one important issue Jackson
altered Tomkins' instructions. Jackson was not satisfied, merely to supervise
the traders. He decided that "as a beginning to a solution I have prohibited
the issue of any further permits (i.e. trading permits) and permits hitherto
granted or issued are being withdrawn or cancelled". He regarded the traders
as a bad influence and a source of evil. Obviously the traders had been behind
the lawnessness of the north, but with the extension of British control and super-
vision there appears to be no reason why lawful trade could not have prospered.
Jackson's decision was extraordinary, but at least he had the excuse of sitting in
the Governor's chair when the full impact of the northern situation was revealed.
What was more extraordinary was the way in which his successors continued
the policy. For many years sections of northern Uganda were completely
sealed off to trade.63
After the first tours by the two patrols organised by Tomkins, Jackson merged
them into one composed of K.A.R. troops with H. Tufnell as the Political
Officer.6 The tasks of the force, which later became known as the Northern
Garrison, were, "(a) Opening up of that portion of the Protectorate with a
view to future administration: (b) The prevention of inter-tribal raids and feuds;
(c) The stopping of gun running and illicit trading."65 Across the grass plains
of Acholi and Karamoja District the British were working in terrain ideal for
disciplined armed forces and their success was rapid. By the beginning of 1913
the country south of the 4 N and as far as the Karamoja/Turkana escarpment
was under control. In November 1911 Jackson, who was not content to leave
the north to military control, extended civil administration eastwards from the
Nile to embrace a block of territory bounded by the river, the 4 N and 33 E,66
but even this decision reflected the different attitude which the British adopted
to the northern tribes than had been adopted to the Bantu groups. Jackson's
extension of administration was an extension over a territorial block not over
a tribal group, although it so happened that the Acholi occupied most of the
36 UGANDA JOURNAL
block. The remainder of the Acholi were brought under civil administration
in 1913 when the Chua District, with its headquarters at Kitgum, was extended
eastwards to the 34 E.67 Jackson also wrote, "I anticipate being able to extend
the civil administration considerably towards the end of the current year",68
presumably into Karamoja District, but because of the man power shortage
occasioned by the war, this was not done and Karamoja District remained
under the control of the Northern Garrison. Within the areas of civil adminis-
tration the ban on trading was lifted.
The extension of control had been rapid, but it had been based not upon
co-operation between the tribes and the British, but depended rather on respect
for the superior British strength, either as a source of protection, or as a force
that could not be resisted. Tufnell, as Political Officer, had the dual tasks of
aiding the military forces and laying the foundation for future civil administra-
tion. He negotiated with tribal or village groups to try to obtain peaceful
acceptance of British control. He had to find porters and food for the military,
to make roads, to persuade outlying tribal groups to concentrate near the roads
or military posts so that they could be controlled and also offered protection
against their traditional enemies. He met all the problems foreseen by Bell: weak
chiefs and tribes with no central organisation, so that to persuade one village
to accept British control peacefully was no guarantee that the next village
would not offer resistance. Tufnell contrasted his situation with that in the
remainder of the Protectorate. "These tribes", he wrote "are not like tribes
previously dealt with . in every other part of the Protectorate it has been
found possible to enlarge the sphere of administered area by peaceful methods"69.
In the beginning a D.C. with a handful of police had been able to control large
areas, but this was not the case in the north. To deal with the fierce and often
heavily armed northern tribes, Tufnell said that military force was necessary.
Once started there was no end to the responsibilities, for a tribal group brought
under control had to be protected from its neighbours. The only efficient way
to do this was to control the neighbours, and so on until the British dominated
The civil administrators who followed Tufnell into the Acholi districts
encountered similar problems to his own, but these problems were not confined
to the Acholi. They had already been faced by the administrators of the Nile
District, and indeed, were common to the early administration among all the
northern peoples. The civil administrators first had to ensure that law and
order were maintained and that the petty inter-tribal raids and squabbles of the
past were eliminated. But in addition to this they had to show clear signs of
progress: new roads and stations, the growth of trade, the creation of a form-
alized legal system based upon tribal customs, the collection of tax, implying
the introduction of a money economy which was usually achieved by encourag-
ing the planting of cotton. The British officers, who were wedded to the idea
of introducing as much of the Buganda system as was practicable, and were
too few in number to practise direct control, sought agents to carry out their
instructions. The ideal agents were powerful local chiefs and so the intro-
duction of administration heralded a hunt for chiefs, but the majority of the
northern chiefs were not powerful and were far from the ideal tool for British
imperialism. They varied greatly in the number of people who owed allegiance
to them, in the amount of power they exercised, and in their willingness to
co-operate with the British, and few, if any of them, were interdependent.
Occasionally a powerful and effective chief, such as Chief Fadhmulla of the
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 37
Alur, would emerge, but more often the British, who made no provision to
pay these chiefs, had to accept chiefs who were neither powerful nor reliable.
The exasperated D.C. at Nimule reported: "The District is full of so called
'Sultanis', 'Sheiks' and 'makungu' and one would imagine that with such high
sounding titles these chiefs are people with authority and intelligence con-
siderably above the average but with very few exceptions that is not the case.
If I have occasion to complain to a chief that he has not had the road kept
in order or has not sent the porters asked for his invariable reply is "my mak-
ungu won't obey me", if the makungu are asked why they don't obey the chief
their answer is "my people won't obey me".70 The British were in fact, asking
the chiefs to undertake administrative and executive functions for which there
was no precedent in their tribal organizations. Some administrators became so
exasperated that they took unto themselves duties which were normally the
responsibility of the chiefs. In 1912 Postlethwaite advocated that, because of
the inefficiency and illiteracy of the chiefs, the only successful method of tax
collection among the Nilotic tribes was direct collection by district officers
(D.O.s). For a time this was adopted for the tribes near the Nile. In January
1913 it was noted that tax collection from the Bari had improved considerably
because Weatherhead had collected it himself.
Three stages can be distinguished in the development of rule through
chiefs in Northern Uganda. At the first stage, outlined above, the British
whose authority was only being established, had to accept what chiefs they
could find, and accept a low standard of performance, sometimes undertaking
themselves the normal duties of the chiefs. But, as British authority became
more firmly established, so the D.O.s were able to take a stronger line. Chiefs
who were unco-operative or incompetent were deposed to be replaced by more
compliant men. At this second stage the chiefs leaned heavily upon the British.
Support, if necessary by police or military action, was afforded to the chiefs.
Attacks upon them were severely punished, as was shown at Gulu in June 1914
when four men were publicly hanged for the murder of chief Okellomwaka,
while four others who had threatened chief Olia, were sentenced to two years
imprisonment and twenty-four lashes. The district monthly report stated that:
"This is most satisfactory and should be a means of putting stop to any re-
occurence of intimidation towards loyal chiefs." So, in alliance with the British,
a new caste of chiefs emerged, sufficiently powerful to exercise the new functions
imposed on them by the imperial authority.
The third stage of the growth was reached when the chiefs, with clear control
over their people, were able to stand on their own feet. Although still reliant
upon the British for their position, their interest coincided so closely with those
of the imperial power that there were few areas of conflict, and interference
by D.O.s was much less obvious. At this stage the chiefs had their own courts,
made appointments and dismissals among themselves and supported each
other if the authority of their position was threatened. The symbolic change
to the last stage can be seen within a few months in Gulu District. In February
1916 the D.C. reported that he had personally installed a chief 'on his chair',
as this was important for the chief's prestige, but by July the D.C. reported
that "a deputation consisting of the leading chiefs then proceeded to Pajas
and installed 2nd grade chief Otor Lamogi... It is reported that the installation
was carried out before a large gathering and was well received".71 All stages
of the process may be seen taking place at once according to the progress made
in the different districts. In the same month, July 1916, that the D.C. Gulu
38 UGANDA JOURNAL
reported the installation of a chief by his fellow chiefs, the D.C. Chua reported
that he, personally, was weeding out useless chiefs and installing useful ones
in their place, while the D.C. West Nile, who was still at the initial stage,
reported that one of his major chiefs, Mulla, was most unsatisfactory but that
it would be impolitic to try to depose him.
The system of administration by chiefs was created rapidly but not painlessly.
Often, in the early stages, the British took punitive action against unco-operative
chiefs, while those who co-operated often found themselves opposed by their
tribe, and some lost their lives in carrying out the instructions of their new
imperial masters. Probably the greatest trouble came in Lango, where the British,
in an attempt to overcome the initially difficult period of using weak chiefs,
relied heavily upon Baganda agents and their armed followers. There was constant
friction between the tribesmen and these agents, which resulted in considerable
bloodshed on both sides. The British were caught in the dilemma of wanting to
preserve the degree of control afforded by the agents, but not having enough
D.O.s to supervise the agents' work closely to prevent the friction with the local
tribesmen. But even in districts where agents were not used so extensively,
the British and their chiefs frequently met resistance. For example, in Acholi
District there was a serious rebellion among the Lamogi in 1912,72 and in Chua
there were constant skirmishes with the hill tribes, before they were forced
to live on the plains, and in 1917 serious anti-chief riots.73 However, despite
this resistance, the most marked characteristic was the speed with which the
D.O.s only not brought their areas under control but started peaceful develop-
ment. In 1912 Lango produced its first cotton crop, 190 tons. By the following
year production leapt to 1,421 tons, and in 1914 the Lango paid their first tax.
The British were able to spread their control across northern Uganda
because of superior military power, and the fear that this power produced as
time after time the tribesmen were defeated in what was to them a series of
major wars, but which to the British were only skirmishes. But there was more
to it than that. The peace created by this military superiority gave the D.Os'
and their chiefs opportunity to lay the foundations of peaceful progress. Tribal
feuds and fighting came to an end, a system of law and administration was
created, cash crops and trading facilities introduced, and a cohesion was given
to the major tribal groups. After the initial period of imposed power the British
and their chiefs were able to rule during the 1920's, 30's and 40's with the
full acceptance and support of the northern tribes.
After the rapid spread across the northern plains in 1911 and 1912 the
British, however, met with much tougher resistance in the north eastern mount-
tains and the Turkana desert, where the terrain helped the guerilla tactics of the
tribesmen and hindered the troops. Even when the small mountain tribes of
the Nangiya, Logire and Teretania ranges had been subdued, the two most
powerful tribes, the Didinga and the Turkana, remained untouched. Their
fierce raids against neighboring tribes made them a perpetual menace. In
June and July 1913 a large punitive expedition was sent against the Didinga
which resulted in the death of 166 tribesmen and the capture of 2,037 cattle
and 1,660 goats, which were paid as compensation to tribes previously raided
by the Didinga.74 No attempt was made to follow up the expedition with ad-
ministration. A similar pattern emerged with the Turkana, for while punitive
patrols were made into their country, the officers of the Northern Garrison
were told that "no attempt is to be made at present to introduce administration,
nor should the Government be committed to any promises of protection.
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 39
The main object is to impress upon the Turkana that any raids by them on
tribesmen whom the Government have undertaken to protect, will be punished
by immediate reprisals undertaken by the troops"75 This was hardly a satis-
factory foundation for mutual understanding. There was a persistent idea
among British military officers that if"a sharp lesson" (i.e. a punitive expedition)
was once given to the Turkana, they would settle down peacefully. The idea
was based upon experience with other tribal groups, but failed to appreciate
the Turkana's particular position. In the territorial stalemate imposed by
colonialism, the Turkana had been caught in a desert, but they were surrounded
by desirable grazing grounds. Their natural instincts were therefore to apply
constant pressure against their neighbours, not just for loot, but for water
Between 1910 and 1913 a large tract of country and a large number of tribes
been brought under control but the first waves of enthusiasm to extend civil
administration to the whole northern territory, and in particular the difficult
mountain and desert areas, were fast ebbing away. Already Jackson's proposal
that a Provincial Commissioner should be appointed for the Rudolph Province
had been rejected.76 In January 1913 Colonel G. Thesiger suggested that in
the area controlled by the Northern Garrison the Government's objective
should be no more than to prevent tribal raid's and that the administration
should temporarily be combined under the senior military officer. Jackson
accepted the proposals but still held out the hope of extending civil adminis-
tration to Karamoja District in the following year.77 Under the military ad-
ministration a ring of posts at Madial, Lokutas and Moroto, was placed
around the peaceful tribes to protect them from the Didinga and Turkana.
As Uganda had spread its tentacles, negotiations had taken place with the
Sudan Government which were to result in the complete reshaping of the north.
On the death of King Leopold in 1909 the Lado Enclave, on the west bank
of the Nile, had been handed over to the Sudan. The southern portion of the
Enclave faced Uganda, and so, based upon recommendations, which R. O.
Collins has said, had as their principal object "to bring the terminal points of
the frontier on either side of the river opposite one another",78 the Uganda
and Sudan governments agreed upon a transfer of territory, whereby Uganda
acquired the southern portion of the Enclave, while the Sudan received a large
slice of northern Uganda. The transfer of territory was confirmed on 1st
January 1914. The new boundary, which was a compromise between major
geographical features, tribal limits and administrative convenience, did not seri-
ously affect the tribes brought under effective Uganda administration but did
reshape the north as laid out by Johnston. There were particular problems to be
faced in the Lado Enclave, the new West Nile District, as Weatherhead, the first
District Commissioner, discovered. He reported that the Belgians during their
occupation had only administered a small section of the Enclave, while the
remainder had been left to elephant hunters. On the withdrawal of the Belgians
and while negotiations were proceeding with Uganda, the Sudan had not
introduced any form of administration and the chiefs who had co-operated
with the Belgians had been attacked by their fellow tribesmen. When Weather-
head started his administration he found distrust" and the persistent idea being
that we shall only occupy the country for a time, as other administrations, or
that the officers were merely a glorified band of elephant poachers who would
pass on very shortly".78 The doubt about the permanence of the regime was a
problem that all the British officers working on the upper Nile had to face.
40 UGANDA JOURNAL
Tribes which had known Baker, Emin Pasha, and the Belgians on the west
bank, and had seen them all disappear, were very sceptical about British claims
that their regime was there to stay. In fact Weatherhead was fortunate not to
have another serious setback in this direction, for at the outbreak of war it
was decided to postpone the administration of the West Nile District, and it was
only on Weatherhead's personal appeal that he was permitted to continue his
work in the district.79
In the north east of Uganda the advent of war brought an end to thoughts
of administrative expansion. The Northern Garrison was withdrawn, and con-
trol of Karamoja District and Turkana passed to a small police force, which
gave the Turkana and their Ethiopian allies an opportunity to intensify their
raids. The raids varied in size from bands of three or four spearmen to well
organised groups involving hundreds of tribesmen, many of whom were armed
with rifles. Despite troop reinforcements from Sudan, the raids continued.
In 1915 a large punitive expedition was launched against the southern and
central Turkana, but even after this raids continued from the north. By 1917
they had reached alarming proportions with pitched battles between British
and Ethiopian troops.80 The British suspected that the Ethiopians backed by
German agents, were making a concerted effort to annexe British territory.
At Lomogol an Ethiopian chief, Apara, had established his headquarters.
Major Rayne reported: "He had been administering our territory (in his own
way) . He has introduced money and clothes and actually collects hut tax
at the rate of 2 dollars for each Turkana per year".
In 1918 another punitive expedition was sent, this time against northern
Turkana.81 But obviously punitive expeditions by themselves were not enough.
All Turkana would have to be administered. Since 1910 B.E.A. had adminis-
tered its section, south of the Turkwell. The problem now was, who would
take responsibility for the larger group living north of the river in Uganda?
As early as August 1911 Tufnell and Partington, the D.C. at Ngabotok, had
appreciated the dilemma of the division of control. "We agreed", wrote
Tufnell "if this tribe is to be administered it would seem best that they should
be administered either by East Africa or else entirely by Uganda".82 This prin-
ciple was never disputed, but difficulties arose over which of the Protectorates
should accept the responsibility. After the 1915 expedition B.E.A. had estab-
lished a post at Lokiriama on the Tarash River, but no formal transfer of terri-
tory was made. In 1919 Edward Northey, the Governor of East Africa, raised
the problem again, suggesting not only that all Turkana should be administered
by one government, but that Karamoja District, Suk and Turkana should
be grouped together as one administrative unit. In a meeting between Northey
and Coryndon, the Uganda Governor, to discuss this proposal, it was finally
agreed that the Suk and all the Turkana should be administered by B.E.A.,
but that Karamoja District should remain in Uganda.83
The vacillation about the administration of the Turkana was not created
by a spirit of aggrandisement: quite the reverse. A district which Tufnell
described as "a burning desert of sand and stones with hardly a blade of grass
anywhere", and inhabited by a people whose migratory habits are forced upon
them by the scarcity everywhere of grass and water", was not an attractive
proposition for either government. It was simply a case of which Protectorate
could least afford to ignore it. "The simple fact is", states a minute in the
Entebbe file, "that the Turkana are a perfect nuisance to the East African
Protectorate, and that Government would willingly hand over to Uganda the
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 41
whole of Turkana and Suk (who are involved in the question) if Uganda would
undertake their effective administration".84 This opinion is borne out by the
stand taken by Northey at the vital meeting in May 1919. It was only after he
had failed to persuade Coryndon to accept the responsibility that he reluctantly
agreed to undertake it, and even then he insisted that Uganda should provide
some of the troops for what he regarded as a purely defensive burden. The
key factor was probably that the Turkana raids were forcing the Suk, with
their large herds of cattle, south into the Trans Nzoia 'white farming' area.
The only way to prevent this was to eliminate Turkana pressure. Coryndon
commented that the decision had been taken because B.E.A. had "always
been more closely connected with Turkhana than Uganda, and because the
Southern Turkhana and Suk tribes are closely bordering the Trans Nzoia
district which is already under white settlement".85
With the Turkana settlement the main outline of northern Uganda was
complete. There were still some boundary issues to be solved: that with East
Africa on the Suk/Karamoja border,86 and the transfer of the block of territory
around Madial to the Sudan, but these were adjustments to the pattern, not
major changes. In 1921 the finalsection of the north, KaramojaDistrict, was
brought under civil control.
The extension of British control across northern Uganda was a hesitant
and timid piece of colonization. The policy centred around the dispute between
those who were for administrative expansion and those who favoured con-
centration upon the Bantu areas of the Protectorate. It was the concentratesr"
and notably Hesketh Bell, who, backed up by the British Government, domi-
nated policy after Harry Johnston's departure. This resulted not only in a
restriction of the administered area, but eventually to the transfer of large
tracts of northern Uganda to neighboring British controlled territories.
When the decision came to extend control across the north in 1910 and 1911,
it came because the north could be ignored no longer. Much of the lawlessness,
tribal fighting and ivory poaching that forced the decision can be laid at the
feet of 'the concentrators' who had not been prepared to accept the respon-
sibilities inherent in Johnston's northern expansion.
1. This article is based principally upon the Entebbe archives, which the Uganda Govern-
ment kindly permitted me to use, and on notes and advice given to me by Dr. Anthony
Low of the Australian National University.
2. A great deal has been written about the Fashoda incident-see, for example, W. L. Langer
"The Diplomacy of Imperialism" Chapter XVI, and R. Robinson and J. Gallagher
"Africa and the Victorians".
3. FO 2/144 Salisbury-Macdonald 9/6/1897.
4. FOCP 7400/84 Berkeley-Martyr 7/7/1898.
5. E/A (Entebbe Archives) A 35/1 Bertie-Johnston 31/1/1900.
6. FOCP 7402 Salisbury/Johnston 1/7/1899.
7. FOCP 7867 Johnston-Lansdowne 10/7/1901.
8. 'Karamoja' was used as a general name for the whole area. When reference is made to
the existing district it will be written as 'Karamoja District'.
9. FOCP 7405 Johnston's Preliminary Report 27/4/1900.
10. FOCP 7405 Johnston's-Salisbury 1/2/1900.
11. FOCP 7405 Francis Bertie-Johnston 19/4/1900.
12. FOCP 7405 Johnston's Preliminary Report 27/4/1900.
42 UGANDA JOURNAL
13. FOCP 7675 D. R.-Johnston 6/7/1900.
14. FOCP 7405 D. R.-Johnston 25/1/1900.
15. FOCP 7405 Johnston's Prelimary Report 27/4/1900.
16. Sir J. Gray 'Kakunguru in Bukedi' Uganda JI., Vol. 27 No. 1, 1953
17. Johnston-Salisbury 6/1/1901
18. EA A5/10 Johnston-Radcliffe 14/5/1900
19. FOCP 8767 FO-Johnston 27/8/1901
20. Af. No. 7 (1901) Cmd 671 Instructions to Sadler 28/1/1902
21. Af. No. 7 Sadler's report 31/3/1903
22. E/A 50/1906 Bell-S. of S. 13/9/1906
23. Sadler's report 31/3/1903
24. FOCP 7405 D.R.-Johnston 25/1/1900
25. E/A A24 Item 4 Eliot-Lansdowne 17/7/1903
26. E/A A24, Item 4 J. Blick-Sub Comm. Naivasha 19/2/1904
27. E/A A24 Item 4 Sub-Comm Naivasha-Commissioner Entebbe 12/2/1904
28. E/A A24 Item 4 Lansdowne-Commissioner Uganda 22/2/1904
29. E/A A24 Item 4 G. Clark-F.O. 15/12/1903
30. Af. no. 7 Cd. 671 Sadler's annual report 31/3/1904
31. Karamoja District Archives, Moroto-report dated June 1903
32. A synopsis of Wilson's actions is contained in Bell's report to S. of S. E/A 50/1906 of
33. E/A 50/1906 Bell-S. of S. 13/9/1906
34. E/A 1667/1907 Wilson-Bell 23/12/1907
35. Bari monthly report October 1910
36. A. D. Roberts "The sub-Imperialism of the Baganda" Journal of African History III,
37. E/A A8/3 Wilson-Fowler 22/11/1904
38. Bari District Annual report 1904/5
39. F. K. Girling in his book "The Acholi of Uganda" (H.M.S.O. 1960) echoes Bell's judge-
ment. "The very nature of Acholi political organisation was unsuitable as a tool of British
administration" (p. 109)
40. E/A 1667/1907 P.C/E.P. Dept. Commissioner 27/10. 1908
41. E/A 1667/1907 Cubitt-Dept. Comm. 12/12/1907 and Ormsby-Dept. Comm. 24/2/1908
42. E/A 1307/1909 Bell-Dept. Comm. 10/8/1908
43. E/A 19/1911 Jackson-S. of S. 4/7/1911
44. See R. W. Beachey "The arms trade in East Africa in the late Nineteenth Century"
The Journal of African History Vol. III 1962 No. 3.
45. FOCP 7405 Johnston-Sir A. Hardinge 26/3/1900
46. Karamoja District Records
47. E/A 1294/1906 Rayne-Sub. Comm. Mumias 17/12/1906
48. Moyes Bartlett "The Kings African Rifles (1956) p. 234
49. Figures given in Annual reports show that for 1904-5 ivory was the largest single export
item (24,331) and in 1905-6 (26,541) and 1906-7 (24,331) the second largest to goat
skins. No indication is given of the districts from which the ivory was obtained, but the
reaction of local officers indicates the importance of the north. For an account of hunting
in northern Uganda at this time see W.D.M. (Karamoja) Bell "The Wanderings of an
Elephant Hunter" and "Karamoja Safari.."'
50. E/A 106/1910 D. C. Nimule-C.S. (Chief Secretary) 15/9/1910
51. Mbale District Annual Report 1910/1911
52. See Ingham "British Administration in Lango District 1907-1935" U.J. vol. 19 no. 2
Sept. 1955, and Wright, "The Early Life of Rwot Isoyo Ogwangguji, M.B.E." U.J. vol. 22,
no. 2, Sept. 1958.
53. E/A 50/1906 Boyle-Crewe 4/1/1910
54. E/A 71/1910 D.C. Nimule-C/S/ 14/7/1910
55. E/A 1049 Gov. B.E.A.-Gov. Uganda 22/8/1910
56. E/A 71/1910 Tanner's report dated 22/12/1910
57. E/A 1049 Grant's report dated 13/2/1911
58. E/A 106/1910 D.C. Nimule-P.C. Hoima 15/2/1911
59. E/A 145/1909 Darley-Gov. Uganda 10/8/1910
60. E/A 87/1908 Thesiger-Gov. Uganda 15/3/1911
61. E/A 106/1910 P.C./N.P.--C.S. 27/3/1911
62. E/A 19/1911 Tomkins-S. of S. 13/3/1911 and Jackson-S. of S. 4/7/1911
63. E/A 1307-1908 deals with this subject and contains the government's unerring refusals
to trade in the closed area.
FRONTIER OF IMPERIALISM IN NORTH UGANDA 43
64. E/A 2364 C.S.-P.C./E.P. 16/1/1922
65. E/A 2364 Memo by Lieut. Col. L.E.S. Ward 11/11/1912
66. E/A 106/1910 Jackson-S. of S. 7/7/1911
67. E/A 2364 C.S.-P.C./N.P. 19/4/1913
68. E/A 2364 Jackson-S. of S. 8/5/1913
69. E/A 2364 Tufnell (memo) dated 16/1/1912
70. Nimule District Report 1909/10
71. Gulu District Monthly reports
72. Adimola 'The Lamogi Rebellion 1911-12' U.J. vol. 18. no. 2 Sept. 1954
73. E/A 4513 P.C./N.P.-C.S. 7/4/1917
74. E/A 2364 Cpt. W. T. Brooks-Adj. 4 K.A.R. 8/8/1913
75. E/A 2364 Notes by Lieut. Col. L. E. S. Ward to Northern Garrison Officers 9/4/1913
76. E/A 2364 C.S.-Treasurer (Minute) 22/6/1912
77. E/A 2364 Thesiger-Governor 30/1/1913 and C.S.-Governor (minute) 10/3/1913
78. Collins 'Sudan-Uganda Boundary Rectification 1914' U.J. vol. 26, no. 2 Sept. 1962.
Details of the agreed boundary and the division of tribes are given in this article.
79. West Nile Annual Report 1914-15
80. Moyes Bartlett pp. 440-442.
81. Collins, "The Turkana Patrol, 1918" U.J. vol. 25, no. 1. March 1961
82. E/A 2119 Tufnell-P.C./E.P. 10/8/1911
83. E/A 2364 Northey-Gov. Uganda 1/4/1919 and Gov.-C.S. (minute) 11/6/1919
84. E/A 2364 A.C.S.-C.S. (minute) 9/4/1919
85. E/A 2364 Governor-C.S. (minute) 11/6/1919
86. Brasnett "The Karasuk Problem" U.J. vol. 22, no. 2, 1958
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 45-53
AN INVENTORY OF KIGANDA FOODS
by F. J. BENNETT, A. A. MUGALULA-MUKIIBI, J. S. W. LUTWAMA
and G. NANSUBUGA
In Buganda, many attempts are being made to change the people's food;
some of these, for example the attempts by commercial advertising, are purely
for economic reasons in order to stimulate into being a market for imported
or locally manufactured foodstuffs, but others are the result of dissatisfaction
with the present food habits of the Baganda. Medical personnel have been
concerned with the high incidence in Buganda of Kwashiorkor-a form of
malnutrition in children which usually occurs between the ages of 1-3 years in
the period of very rapid growth. This disease is due to a deficiency of protein
in the diet of a child otherwise obtaining a reasonable amount of calories in
the form of carbohydrates-a situation commonly occurring at weaning when the
child stops breast feeding and starts a diet predominantly of plantain (matooke).
Other factors however, are also important; the presence of infections such as
tuberculosis, whooping cough and diarrhoea, and parasites (hookworm,
malaria, roundworm), the degree of maternal deprivation and emotional
disturbance at weaning, and the age of weaning. Realisation of the basic nutri-
tional deficiency has led to hasty value judgements, misconceptions and misin-
terpretations; that all the Baganda are on a poor diet; that plantain is a bad
food, that the Kiganda diet is restricted in range and needs urgent modification,
that more vitamins are necessary and so on. Many of these assumptions are
made by non-medical personnel without the technical knowledge to assess that
they are either incorrect or but half-truths. A fair statement of the present
position might be that first there is no evidence of gross malnutrition in adult
Baganda and that the adult diet is satisfactory, and second, that the nutritional
basis of Kwashiorkor, the food requirements of young children and the nutri-
tional value of existing foods are not generally known to most Baganda women
and consequently optimal use is not made of available protein foods for young
Many voluntary organizations and also workers in the Ministries of Health,
Agriculture and Community Development have been teaching women to grow
new foods and to prepare new dishes and some schools have also been doing
this with the aim of widening the girls' diet knowledge, food ideology and habits.
Some of these attempts at guided change have been building on old established
practices using local foods and local cooking methods but others, sometimes
by design but regrettably sometimes due to lack of information break new
ground and offer to the people new foods, new tastes, new recipes, new methods
of cooking and even new agricultural practices.
The aim of this paper is to provide a baseline against which such efforts
at radical change might be evaluated and also concise data from which the
programmes of adaptation can be formulated. For this purpose a check list
of foods used by the Baganda and a summary of the main dishes and their
methods of preparation has been prepared from information gained by inter-
viewing people and by reference to existing sources.
OF KIGANDA FOODS
The ground stem (Enkolo)
used formerly to be eaten
in times of famine.
Used for beer
Mutere when dried.
Tubers and leaves eaten.
Tubers and leaves eaten.
Used as porridge (obusera)
Mainly used for beer (also
Used by some modern
families as bread-often
purchased as such.
Leaves also eaten.
Berries boiled, dried in the
sun, finally smoked to make
them crisp, are then chewed.
Oil used for cooking.
Big berries called Nganda.
Used as spinach or vege-
Milk powdered or
OF KIGANDA FC
Nnakati or Nakasugga
Used as spinach or vege-
eaten as leaves
When young--can be either
eaten dried or fresh.
mainly eaten by obildren
Very important in Kiganda
traditions and medicine.
All fruit eaten raw when
ripe-mostly by children.
(sometimes) not eaten by
women, though this taboo
is disappearing in towns.
Boiled before use.
Not used in pregnancy.
(Jelliffe and Bennett, 1961).
Fish (Greenwood Mormyrus kannume
Wild birds, e.g.
Large fr e-living
Insects which live
in banana stem
Protopterus aethiopicus Emmamba
Used to flavour tea.
Not eaten by pregnant
The lungfish-not eaten by
families of the Mamba clan.
Small fish fried on racks
and eaten whole.
fresh, dried, smoked, salted
Not eaten by women.
-do- Served on special
occasion, e.g. marriage.
Dried meat (dried against
(?) not eaten by women.
Eaten raw, cooked or sun
Eaten by children.
Supposed to cure bed-wet-
ting and eaten by children
for this purpose.
PREPARATION OF KIGANDA DISHES
1. PLANTAIN (matooke). The plantain is the staple food of the Baganda
and is eaten daily, preferably at every meal. It must be served on all special
occasions and is the food considered best for visitors, the sick and children.
Omuwumbo. (Described in greater detail by Rutishauser)3. Several hands of
plantain are peeled, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The slower the
cooking the better (often this process takes an hour) and then the packet is
removed and pressed with the hands to form it into one solid lump. It can be
eaten at this stage, but for a superior dish (e.g. for guests or special occasions)
it is resteamed over a very small fire (okuvoobeza). Food remaining after the
evening meal is always wrapped in banana leaves and then pushed into and
covered with hot ashes (okuvumbika eggolu). If the hot ashes cool rapidly
and do not last through the night the lump will become hard. By next morning
it has a hard outer layer with an appetising taste and smell that is very much
appreciated by children. It can be eaten with salt or sauce.
Akatogo. This is a mixture of beans and plantain. The beans are boiled first
as they take longer to soften, then after peeling them the plantain is added
and the two boiled together for three-quarters of an hour. Ghee, pepper, salt
INVENTORY OFI KIGANDA FOODS 49
and onions can be added to improve the flavour. This dish formed the basis
for Jelliffe's'0 suggested ettu pastes for infant feeding.
Amatooke amasulemu. Peeled matooke is boiled with water and then ghee, salt
and onions are added for flavour. This method was used when in a hurry.
In towns where banana leaves are not abundant, it is used more frequently
especially among the poorer class. Some people boil the matooke and then
mash it up to make it resemble the muwumbo type.
Ebigomba. This dish is made, during times of famine, from preserved dehyd-
rated plantain. The process also removes the unpleasant taste of the mbidde
banana from which it is prepared. The beer plantains (mbidde) are pealed
and dried, pounded and sometimes sieved to give a fine flour (mutere). This
flour is mixed with boiled water into a stiff mass and then wrapped in banana
leaves and steamed, to warm it, for 20 minutes. Ebigomba is usually eaten with
a fish sauce. Occasionally beans are also mixed into this dish.
Empogola. Busy bachelors cannot usually be bothered with the process of pre-
paring omuwumbo and may resort to steaming the matooke unpeeled. Before
the meal it is peeled and salted.
Gonja preparation. Occasionally Gonja are prepared as empogola but more
usually they are peeled and the sap on the surface hardened by placing them
near a fire. They are then pushed into and covered with hot ashes and more
charcoal is heaped on top in order to cook them for approximately 20 minutes.
This method applies to ripe Gonja and it is especially liked by children. Gonja,
when over ripe, is also eaten by children without cooking. Occasionally Gonja
are steamed and served with plantain but they are never served alone.
Amenvu. This refers to ripe plantains which can be prepared as omuwumbo
additional to and after the main meal, as the Baganda do not combine sweet
and salt dishes in the same course.
Omubisi. Banana juice is made from peeled ripe Mbidde or Ndiizi and this is
done by squeezing with a particular type of grass until the juice comes out.
Modern families boil this juice before giving it to a child.
2. SWEET POTATOES (Lumonde). Sweet potatoes are the second most
important food and are used when bananas are in short supply.
i. As with the plantain the sweet potatoes are peeled, washed and steamed
until soft (approximately 30 minutes-depending on the quantity). With
young and tender potatoes or very small potatoes the peeling is omitted.
This dish is usually eaten with a sauce or vegetables.
ii. Roasting in ashes-peeled or unpeeled.
iii. Boiling with beans.
iv. Omugoyo. This is a mixture of beans and sweet potatoes. It is used occasion-
ally in the family meal because of the time taken to prepare it.
PREPARATION. Dry beans are soaked overnight and then boiled. When
nearly cooked the prepared potatoes are placed over the beans and steamed.
When the beans and potatoes are cooked they are mashed separately with
a wooden spoon and then mixed together, put into leaves and reheated.
This forms one dish. It is eaten with a sauce. Sometimes dried mbidde
plantain (mutere) is added for flavouring and this makes an additional
v. Kasodde is a dish prepared in Buruli from dehydrated potatoes in a manner
similar to Bigomba.
50 UGANDA JOURNAL
3. CASSAVA (Mawogo or Muwogo). This is a low status food which is grown as
a famine reserve crop and only used when other food harvests are poor. Cassava
is cooked either by steaming or boiling with beans, or roasting. Sometimes it is
peeled and cut into slices and dried to make a flour.
i. The roots are peeled, washed and steamed in banana leaves.
ii. Roasted in the ashes-peeled or unpeeled.
iii. Boiled with water and salt added.
iv. Cut into small pieces and boiled with beans, then salted and other ingre-
dients such as ghee and onions added.
v. Peeled cassava is peeled, dried in the sun, pounded and then sifted till a
fine flour is produced. This flour is mixed with hot water to give a solid
mass called Akatta. Occasionally this is cooked further by steaming in
banana leaves. This dish is eaten preferably with a fish or groundnut
These dishes have never been very popular with the Baganda as cassava
is generally regarded as a famine food and is only eaten when "real food"
i.e. matooke is not available. Baganda eat steamed cassava with either ground-
nut or fish sauce.
These are prepared by steaming (preferably unpeeled except Nandigoya)
in banana leaves, usually without initial washing because the soil imparts a
flavour. This steaming may take as long as an hour depending on the type of
yam. The steamed yam is peeled before eating and should not be dipped into a
salted sauce or vegetable as this is believed to interfere with the fertility of the
subsequent crop of yams.
i. Steamed in banana leaves.
ii. Roasted over a flame. This is often eaten cold as a snack between meals.
iii. Sometimes dried maize is fried in sesame oil. This is a very modern imi-
tation of making popcorn. More usually maize is roasted in a non-oiled
pan, salt having been added beforehand. Roasted dried maize is often
mixed with roasted groundnuts and sesame and given to children as tuck
for boarding school.
iv. Dried maize is ground, sifted and mixed with hot water into a stiff paste
which is then steamed for half an hour and then eaten, preferably with
v. Porridge or gruel. Usually made from purchased, sifted or whole maize
flour. Sometimes nursing mothers eat this gruel as they believe it increases
the flow of breast milk.
This is becoming widely used in Buganda although it is not a local crop.
Townspeople use it frequently and even peasants in the country use it on occa-
sion as an addition to plantain. Certainly at every feast rice is served. It is
prepared by boiling in a large amount of water or steamed in small amount
of water in a small pan which is put on the main steaming pot with other items
of food. Rice is usually eaten with meat stew or groundnut sauces.
i. When they are fresh and newly removed from the ground they are washed,
salted and steamed. The shells are cracked open as they are eaten. Some-
times they may be shelled before steaming and in this case ghee is added.
INVENTORY OF KIGANDA FOODS 51
ii. Dried groundnuts are shelled, pounded and the flour mixed with boiled
water to form a sauce or soup. Other ingredients e.g. onions and salt are
added. The sauce is often very dilute if there are insufficient groundnuts
and many guests.
iii. Sometimes this pounded flour is steamed until soft and then water is
added until a sauce-like consistency is obtained. Pepper and salt are added.
To produce a special flavour they may be roasted first before pounding.
Sometimes this paste is added to greens, fish, dried boiled beans or dried
iv. Groundnuts are also eaten roasted and sometimes mixed with roasted
maize and sesame.
Grasshoppers and termites are usually eaten roasted or steamed and mixed
with hot water and salt (and perhaps other ingredients too) to make a sauce
(wings and legs having been removed from the grasshopper before roasting).
They can also be dried. Other insects are usually eaten by children roasted or
heated in the ashes to remove hairs. A sauce of Ekipooli is made from pounded
termites which had first been steamed and dried.
i. Beans are steamed, pressed together and homogenised and water, salt
and other ingredients are added to make a sauce.
ii. They are boiled in water and salt and onions or other ingredients are
added and they are served as a stew.
iii. Young beans still in their pods are steamed and then eaten with salt after
the pods have been removed.
iv. Dried beans are not very popular and are usually served as omugoyo
having been soaked overnight before cooking.
10. EGG FRUIT, SPINACH AND OTHER LEAVES
These are steamed, softened and added separately to ground nut sauce to
give it different flavours. They can also be used as vegetables when steamed
and even made into a sauce by themselves. Salt is usually added before eating.
Most green vegetables are added to the cooking pot when the main dishes
are nearly done-a packet of vegetables being slipped into the leaves covering
the main plantain dish. The cooking time for vegetables is therefore very short
-about 15 minutes.
Traditionally not eaten by women.
ii. Raw (rare).
iii. Fried with oil and onions.
iv. Mixed with tender pumpkin leaves or groundnut flour and steamed in
clean, hole free, young banana leaves which add their own flavour. This
dish is specially liked by young children.
v. Pushed into hot ashes after being wrapped in fresh banana leaves. Removed
after bursting and then shells removed and contents eaten with salt.
Fresh meat (Ennyama embisi) is prepared preferably by steaming it in a
young banana leaf (oluwombo) with water, salt and onions added. In town
52 UGANDA JOURNAL
where banana leaves are difficult to obtain the meat may be cooked in a pan
known as a bokisi-often with a piece of banana leaf added to give a flavour.
CHICKEN OR POULTRY
Quick roasting over open flame and then steamed in young banana leaves
(mpombo). Meat is seldon given to small children who are, however, given the
On the whole very few people have enough milk for their families. When
it is available it is usually used in tea only. All fresh milk has to be boiled before
use. Condensed sweetened milk seems to be used more than fresh milk or dried
powdered milk. It is important to understand that milk plays no part in the
present preparation of food by the Baganda. It is not used in cooking. It will
be interesting to see how this food, which will become increasingly available
in Uganda, can be incorporated into traditional Kiganda cooking.
14. DEHYDRATED LEAVES
The young Mpindi bean leaves are picked, left to wither overnight, steamed,
dried in the sun and then pounded, sifted, packed in banana fibre and stored
in dry places. When required it is mixed with cold water and salt is added to
make a sauce. This dried product is usually prepared in anticipation of scarcity
of vegetables. It can also be added to groundnut sauce or cherry tomato
sauce to improve flavour.
A variety of mushrooms are used for sauce when they are obtainable.
There is a certain kind known as Obutiko-Obubala which is very important
in the life of the Baganda. It is served on special family occasions such as in
the sauce which a girl's mother serves to her on the eve of her wedding day.
The housewife always has a supply of dried butiko to use whenever she feels
the occasion demands.
16. SALT SAUCE
In times of complete lack of vegetables a mixture of salt and cold water
is used as a sauce.
Fish is prepared as a sauce by boiling it to soften and adding salt and
other ingredients, such as onions and tomatoes.
Dried fish is often boiled with groundnut sauce-the dried pieces first having
been soaked in water for some hours.
Lung fish are not eaten by members of the lung fish clan. Enkeje is des-
pised as an inferior fish but is eaten with vegetables by pregnant women as it
is believed to assist delivery.
The most characteristic feature of Baganda cooking is the steamed staple
prepared in a banana leaf packet. Sauces to go with the staple are prepared
from meat, fish, groundnuts, beans and vegetables in varying combinations.
The Baganda, however, also have a repertoire of mixed dishes where staple
and protein are compounded together and it is these which should be exploited
most in efforts at nutritional improvement or as a basis for further innovations.
INVENTORY OF KIGANDA FOODS 53
The actual methods of cooking are hygienic and economical and under existing
circumstances would be hard to improve. Unfortunately a lot of the different
varieties of food crops which used to be grown in large quantities in Buganda
have now been displaced by cash crops.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
Descriptions of Kiganda foods have previously been provided by Roscoe
(1911) and by Rutishauser (1962, 1963) who dealt with the food ideology and
with the main staples and sauces. Agriculture in Uganda has been described
by Tothill (1940) and McMaster (1962) who give descriptions of most of the
main food crops. A very full description by Bakaluba and Serunkuma of foods
in Uganda exists in Luganda. Some of the nutritional implications of the food
beliefs and customs have been described by Jelliffe and Bennett (1961) and
Bennett (1964). Attempts to make more use of traditional methods in preparing
suitable children's foods to prevent Kwashiorkor have been started by Jelliffe
(1962). The nutritional value of these foods has been analysed by Chatfield
(1949), by Platt (1957) and by Bredon (1961) whose tables can be consulted.
1. Bakaluba and Serunkuma. Emmere Y'Omu Uganda. Ministry of Education MS.
2. Bennett, F. J. A Muganda Housewife's Day and its Health Implications. Makerere
Journal, 9 (1964).
3. Bredon, R. M. (1961). Chemical Composition of some foods and feeding stuffs in Uganda.
Prepared for the Scientific Committee on Human Nutrition Protein Supplies Conference
Animal Health Research Centre, Entebbe.
4. Chatfield, C. (1949) Food composition tables for international use. F.A.O. Nutritional
Studies 3. United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, Rome.
5. Greenwood, P. H. The Fishes of Uganda. Uganda Society, Kampala (1958)
6. Jelliffe, D. B. and Bennett, F. J. Cultural and Anthropological Factors in Infant and
Maternal Nutrition. Fed. Proc. March (1961) 20, No. I Part III. Suppl. No. 7 185-187.
7. Jelliffe, D. B., Martin, C., and Nansubuga, G. Ettu Pastes. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. (1962)
8. McMaster, D. M. A Subsistence Crop Geography of Uganda. World Land Use Survey
Occasional Paper No. 2 Geographical Publication Ltd. London, 1962.
9. Platt, B. S. Tables of Representative Values of Foods commonly used in Tropical
Countries. Med. Res. Council Spec. Report 253. H.M. Stat. Office, London (1957).
10. Roscoe, J. The Baganda. MacMillan, London 1911.
11. Rutishauser, I. H. Food and Nutrition in Buganda. J. Trop. and Geog. Med. June (1963)
15, 2 138-147.
12. Rutishauser, I. H. The Food of the Baganda. Uganda Museum Occasional Paper, 6.
13. Tothill (Edited by) Agriculture in Uganda. O.U.P. (1940).
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 55-59
THE NECESSITY OF THE USELESS IN AFRICAN EDUCATION
by E. B. CASTLE
A distinguished African sociologist has said that 'education is primarily
concerned with what sort of persons people become'1 (K. A. Busia. The Chal-
lenge of Africa. 1962, p. 92). He is discussing the theme that education cannot
be successful if conceived only in terms of utility. I want to develop this theme
not on any educational principles derived from ancient and modern European
ideals, but on views Africans have of themselves, and of the sort of persons
they would like to become. I have tried, therefore, to discover what Africans
mean by 'the African Personality', what it is that their poets, novelists, philo-
sophers and politicians are attempting to present as the supremely African
characteristics that make Africans different from, say, Europeans. If there is
something both special and good about the 'African Outlook' (Dunduzu
Chisiza's phrase) then it is important for the spiritual growth and emotional
stability of African children that these qualities should be cultivated in African
schools by African teachers.
Tom Mboya gives the politician's view that 'what the new African person-
ality is meant to convey is that you can be as good as anyone, even though
you are essentially a product of an African culture,' He attributes the qualities
of patience, generosity and humour to Africans, not exclusively of course but
as dominant characteristics. This does not get us far. Dunduzu Chisiza em-
phasizes above all that his people are communally minded, not individualistic,
a characteristic symbolized by the beer-drink 'from the same pot and the same
drinking stick'. And he extolls the relishablee obsession' of music, dance and
rhythm, a unity in which Africans have no peers:
'We have war dances, victory dances, stag dances, remedial dances, marriage dances,
dances for women only, mixed dances, dances for the initiated only, dances for the
youth-but all indulged in with ecstatic abandon. We nod our heads, rock our necks,
tilt our heads and pause. We shake our shoulders, throw them back and forth, bounce
breasts and halt to intone our thanks to Him who ordained that we be alive. We rhyth-
mically hefty shake our rear ends, our tummies duck and peer, our legs quick march,
slow march, tap dribble, quiver and tremble while our feet perform feats. "Dance!"
What a world of emotions that wordcalls forth in us!'2 (Tom Mboya, Freedom and After.
1963. p. 229-230).
The concept of Negritude has been developed by intellectuals in French
Africa as a revolt against the superior attitude of France towards African
cultures. Leopold-Sedan Senghor is its chief protagonist. Like Chisiza he dis-
tinguishes Africans by the common psychic traits of his 'heightened sensibility
and his strong emotional quality.' Again, these can hardly be regarded as
uniquely distinguishing traits. But Senghor goes further: 'Negritude is quite
simply the complex of the values of civilization in the African world. It is not
racialism, it is culture, it is the present state of affairs comprehended and
mastered so as to apprehend the cosmos by living in harmony with it.' Thus
Africanism must share in the creation of world civilisation; it is not a weapon
for the demagogue who will Africanize and racialize for political ends; it does
not preach reversion to pagan cults or present all things African as good and
56 UGANDA JOURNAL
all things European as bad. This is not African at all-merely political dema-
In a striking lecture on Senghor's philosophy to the All African Christian
Conference at Salisbury in 1963, the French missionary P. D. Fueter made a
further scrutiny of Negritude. Many of us at the conference doubted his diag-
nosis, but I believe now that it fits the facts so far as I can see them. The African
way of life, he said, might be described as participation in the totality as con-
trasted with western thought which is based on the different conception of the
atomization of the totality. Africans participate in their visible and invisible
universe; the western mind fragments and analyses the physical world right
down to the atom. The African Outlook seeks to integrate these two attitudes
in its attempt to 'apprehend the cosmos by living in harmony with it', Hence,
the African says 'we will accept the successes of technology, but we will not
give up our participation in the whole of humanity; we must be grateful for
insulin and penicillin but also for our ancestral values.' In this Senghor is
supported by Busia who agrees that Negritude, although requiring further
clarification and refinement, is a 'quest of Africans for recognition as equals
in a world-wide brotherhood of man', an echo of Senghor's 'J'ai voulu tous les
hommes freres.' When to these abstractions we add the facts of African social
attitudes which are common throughout African societies, namely the emphasis
on the kinship group and on the dead as a living part of the family, we begin
to arrive at a view of what is intrinsically African.
What then is the essence of being African? Seeking to epitomize the salient
features claimed for the African Outlook in the above discussion, I come to
the following three-fold answer: to be African is to believe that
1. Man is other Men (a Bantu proverb)
2. Man and his past are one.
3. Man and his natural world are one-in harmony.
What has all this to do with education? African tribal education was
essentially a preparation for life in a sense that school education today is no
such preparation. This training took the form of the type of instruction we
associate with apprenticeship-working with and watching the skilled elder.
It was an exercise in participation in which a child's whole personality was
engaged. It included not only simple manual skills but the inculcation of
communal values and engagement in emotionally-satisfying ritual activity,
song, music, rhythm and dance. This initiation into a way of life, limited and
imperfect as it was, has been replaced by desks, paper and words; and teachers
have replaced the elders as mediators of knowledge and values.
But the old education is not viable today. It would not prepare the young
generation for modern life. The content of education has changed and must
change. But the concept of the purpose of education need not change. There
was never a better definition of the aims of education than that it should be a
preparation for life-as long as we know what 'life' should be. We seem'thus
to have arrived at the following position: if the new African Outlook cannot
be expressed by a return to outdated traditionalism, if it exists only in so far
as it shares in the total of world civilization, then Africans will accept the
technologies of the west without relinquishing their specifically African heritage.
In education they will relinquish much of the content and manner of the tribal
training, but they will retain the general concept that education is a prepara-
tion for life. They will accept the necessity of the useful, as most of them clamour
to do in the race to match economic growth with investment in manpower;
NECESSITY OF THE USELESS IN AFRICAN EDUCATION 57
but if they are to stay African they must accept also the necessity of investment
in the 'useless'.
Bearing in mind the three ways in which African personality has been
most prophetically expressed-oneness with Man, with his Past and with
Nature-it is possible to make at least tentative suggestions about the essential
'useless' part of an African's education. By what means do we develop-
refine, clarify, exemplify, make real and operative in personality-the highest
and most enduring and creative elements in African tradition? How is this
to be done in the rudimentary but basic society of the school? It will not be
by preaching or ideologizing, but by creating school situations and school
activities which are samples of the values to be encouraged. What these values
are it is for Africans to decide. As an observer on the touch-line I suggest that
the 'useless' side of education should include at least the following ingredients:
1. A type of education in which the children's sense of community is given
full play-as contrasted with a situation in which little individuals, at little
desks, with little books, learn in isolation for useful School Certificates.
This means the emergence in every teacher's mind of the concept of the
school as a community of people, old and young working with and for each
other. The governing attitudes of the school community will be cooperation
and responsibility; it will be a little world where smooth emotional growth is
ensured by participation in satisfying activity, individual and social; where
discipline is derived not from authoritarian repression but from the acceptance
of personal obligation for responsible behaviour. This little community will
also work in close relationship with the big community, its neighbourhood.
2. The cultivation of manual, artistic, musical, literary, vocals, dramatic,
rhythmic skills that are rooted in African experience. There are those who
believe that such activities are frills irrelevant to the education of a nation.
They will not, of course, add a cent to the national income, but it is through
them that a people finds its soul and its voice. A culture grows from a people's
sensitivity and awareness and enjoyment of life, from what ordinary people
as well as the highly gifted make out of the tissue of their language and their
surroundings. We do not still reverence the ancient Greeks because they were
all artists. They were not all creators, but they developed the capacity to
appreciate good and beautiful things, which is one hallmark of a people's
quality. They made the most of what they had got. The exuberantly creative
talents of African children are as yet barely tapped, as has been proved by those
few schools and teachers who have given children the freedom and encourage-
ment to express themselves in paint and clay. The growing point of a child's
creative gifts is his innate urge to use his fingers and imagination in the material
and familiar life of his home and neighbourhood, on the slow cycle of the
shamba and the vivid life of the market, on the intimate domesticities of home
and the variety and colour of the countryside. But a valid aesthetic culture
will not arise out of constrictions imposed by teachers' views on what is African
art. It will emerge only in freedom, and the capacity to appreciate will be formed
only through the child's experience of joy in his own feeble creations. We
must give them the tools and leave them alone, except for instruction in the
use of materials. Elimo Njau said the last word about this in advice to this
pupils: 'Do not copy; copying puts God to sleep'. I have a gloomy memory of
seeing a child laboriously copying a drawing of a fish on the blackboard. It
would have been educationally more profitable if he had been eating a fish
instead of drawing one from a copy of a copy.
58 UGANDA JOURNAL
But if the African Outlook is to share in a wider civilization it cannot
deny itself that participation in the achievements of other cultures which takes
the form of appreciation. If Man is other Men then the achievements of other
men are ours too. No better instance of the universality of literary culture has
been given than in the French poems of Diop and Senghor and in Nyerere's
Swahili translation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Art in all its manifestations
is one. But it begins in the felt need to start production at home. There was a
very pertinent comment on this subject in the September 1964 issue of Chem-
chemi News, the organ of the Chemi-chemi Cultural Centre, Nairobi:
'There is a good deal of foggy thinking in people who like to talk of the "African Person-
ality" as something that can only be understood in terms of those traditional elements
in our cultures they are eager to see "preserved" or "conserved". This notion not only
conjures up the uninspiring image of canned peaches or pickled mangoes or stuffed
exhibits in a glass cage, but also dangerously suggests that the impact of an aggressive
Western culture on us does not help define African culture. For instance, some of the
new elements that the African has absorbed from outside are painting (as the expression
of an individual rather than a group attitude), creative writing and the techniques of
theatre. These media are no less part of our culture simply because they are not part of
our tradition. The fact that the idioms of our music have been popularised by new in-
struments and stage performance does not make such music less African.'
3. The third need is to establish an organic relationship between children
and the wonders and resources of their physical environment. So much of our
schooling is exclusively verbal. Four dimensional children, born into a three-
dimensional world, are projected into the two-dimensional school of book and
blackboard. The rich round world is viewed in the flat, from the pages of a
book instead of in the pulsing life of growing things. Concentration is on the
diagram in the book rather than on the thing the diagram represents. A two-
dimensional diagram, necessary as it is for formal instruction and analysis,
is not a flower or a bird or a mountain, it is not the real thing. The intricate
structure and beauty of living things can only be understood through the total
use of our senses in active response to stimulus. So engrained is the view that
knowledge must come from a book that I have known students resent the use
of any other method of presentation: 'Why have the maize flower on the bench;
there is a good diagram on page 139.' And so the names of birds, animals,
flowers, grasses and trees, once taught by fathers in the field, are disappearing
from the African vocabulary. This is a great loss if, to quote our philosophers,
'Africanism' is to 'apprehend the cosmos by living in harmony with it.' There
is need, then, for teachers to present in simple but scientific form the order of
nature around the school, and for children to discover their place in it by feeling
it in the round.
We have here, then, an interesting situation: the concept of Negritude
demands that teaching should no longer be based exclusively on the written
and spoken word; this view is supported by the best modern educational opin-
ion; but African teachers, and particularly African parents and students,
demand furiously that it should be so based, and they view with suspicion
attempts of western teachers to lift them out of the verbal rut. Thus, while
'Africanism' by its very nature demands a most desirable type of education,
Africans foolishly demand a poor type of education, turning their eyes away
from their own wisdom in a misunderstanding of what constitutes the 'useful.'
4. Finally, all these needs of childhood should be fulfilled in activity, in
which children engage their bodies, minds and imagination in a constant
sequence of challenge and response to their human and physical environment.
NECESSITY OF THE USELESS IN AFRICAN EDUCATION 59
Most African children are too passive; and so their rich world passes them by
and remains a dark unknown. This is largely due to their infant experience
in the meagre life of the peasant home, where play, toys, pictures have no place
amidst the austerities of poverty. The school must supply what the home can-
For the last half century Africa has been looking westwards into a world
described by Emil Brunner as a world of
Wealth without responsibility
Power without reverence
Freedom without bonds.
The penetration of the sacred by the secular has gone very deep in the western
world; in Africa secularization is not merely the taking over of mission schools
by secular governments but the casting out of reverence from African life.
This too would be a betrayal of a specially African value, nourished by respect
for ancestors and preserved by respect for the aged-the reverential view of the
unity of existence. Africans have so much capacity for reverence; beautifully
illustrated by a story told by Trevor Huddleston, bishop of the 'bush' diocese
of Masasi, Tanganyika: A group of boys had walked fifteen miles through the
arid bush to ask his advice about a scout troop; they were hot, dusty and thirsty
and asked first for a drink. This he provided. Each boy drank on his knees.
He asked them why. 'It is for thanksgiving' they said. It was more than thanks
for the bishop's response to a common human need; it was also a reverential
expression of unity with the divinity that watched over both the giver and
recipient of blessings.
We return to Dr. Busia's dictum that 'education is primarily concerned
with what people become'. If education is an investment in manpower then it
must be conceived as an investment in the power of man to pursue purposes
higher than his immediate economic interests. In the end education is a 'valley
of soul-making' in which the teacher of both useful and useless things says
to his pupils 'Do not look at me; look where I am looking.'
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 61-74
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE (KISONGA), BUNYORO
By A. R. DUNBAR
In Uganda in the 1930's considerable alarm was felt by the Protecto-
rate Survey Committee about soil deterioration and erosion in the
agricultural parts of the country. In order to be sure of the facts a series of
detailed surveys were made in small areas representing the typical agricultural
communities in the different districts. The unit selected was that known in
Luganda as a mutala (plural mitala). This means literally a hill or ridge, usually
bounded by swamps, and has come to mean a group of people living on such
a hill or ridge who recognize a single mutala chief, the lowest grade in the ad-
ministrative hierarchy. Thus a mutala is the smallest administrative unit.
Each survey followed a similar plan in which every taxpayer living on the
mutala was interviewed and his answers to a number of agricultural questions
were recorded. In addition all the plots cultivated by the taxpayer, together
with any plots resting at the time of survey, were measured, usually by pacing,
and their approximate acreages ascertained. Other details of interest were
The agricultural officers were instructed to select mitala in each district
representing areas where population was sparse, balanced or dense. This was
not always possible though 19 surveys were done in the mid 1930's and 15
of these? were published.'
The sample was too small to be statistically analysed, or even averaged,
to ascertain what was happening in Uganda. Also the approach to a survey,
the questions asked and the method of recording depended to a large extent on
the individual agricultural officers. Nevetheless the results could be applied to the
large agricultural area of which the mutala was typical and proved valuable in
formulating policy. Initial observations could be made, by comparison, on
on the relative productivity of land in different parts of Uganda and on the
effect of various farming systems on soil fertility and crop production. Later
the different agricultural systems were related to the different levels of nutrition
in order to assess the general health of the peasant population.
The second world war and its aftermath meant that agricultural officers
were too busy to repeat or to undetake additional surveys and it was not until
the 1950's when interest in them was renewed. Students readingfor the diploma
in agriculture at Makerere University College spent a year at Serere Experiment
Station doing practical work and it was though beneficial for them to undertake
mitala surveys. As a result one survey was repeated in Teso,2 and anew survey
was undertaken.3 Students at Bukalasa Farm Institute also took part in mitala
surveys. With the appointment of E. Williams as Director of Agriculture in
1960 instructions were given to repeat the surveys done in the mid 1930's in
order to find out what changes had occurred over a period of roughly 25 years.4
As part of this exercise Bujenje, now known as Kisonga mutala in Bunyoro
was surveyed in 1961 and the results recorded in 1962.5
62 UGANDA JOURNAL
It is thought that a summary of the main agricultural, economic and social
changes that have occurred in the 25 years from when the survey was first
done by R. K. Kerkham in 1936 6 would be of interest to the general reader.
DESCRIPTION OF THE AREA:
The area surveyed consists of four ebyalo (hamlets), Kyagwanyi, Katugo,
Kiryanseka and Kisonga, which come under the control of one mukungu or
mutongole chief (village headman). In 1936 these four hamlets comprised the
mutala, or in Runyoro bukungu or butongole, but by 1961 the chief was res-
ponsible for two additional hamlets, Isagara and Kihole, but these were not
included in the survey. The mukungu chief is one of the sub-chiefs in mumyoka's
muruka (parish) of mumyoka's gomborra (sub-county) in Bujenje saza (county)
of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara.
The mutala lies about 12 miles from Masindi on the road to Hoima. On
two sides the rivers Ntoma, about 3,500 ft. above sea level, on the east and
Kabega, on the south, form the boundaries. These rivers are permanent streams
running through wide swamps. The hills Isagara, 4,354 ft., and Rukukura
form the northern and western boundaries.
The soil has been classified as No. 23 Kitonya Catena with the dominant
soil type being a dark red clay loam, occasionally laterized, of medium to high
productivity.7 On the sides of the hills the soil is sandier and is suitable for cotton
and finger millet. On the lower slopes and in the river valleys the soil is heavier and
is suitable for bananas, coffee, maize and tobacco, but cotton does not grow so
well on it. There are five patches of thin, stony land unsuitable for cultivation
The vegetation communities relate to the woodland climax type H.4.
Terminalia glaucescens, Albizia zygia, Beckeropsis uniseta, Hyparrhenia rufa
fire climax tree savannah or savannah woodland.8 The existing vegetation has
been modified by man's activities.
The mean annual rainfall is just over 60"9, well distributed in two seasons,
the first from April to June and the second, usually heavier, from August to
November.10 The long, hot, dry season lasts from December to March and a
cool, dry season occurs in July, but rain may fall during these months. As a
result there are two planting and harvesting periods each year. In 1961 the rain-
fall in September, October and November was well above average.
The day temperatures are moderate, the shade maximum varying between
The pattern of agriculture falls under the Plantain-Robusta coffee systems
with cotton as the main cash crop."
The main Hoima-Masindi road passes through the middle of Katugo
from which tracks passable by lorries in the dry season go to Kyagwanyi
and Kisonga. At Kisonga a track skirts Sogyo hill to Kiryanseka whence it
continues to the Bujenje-Budongo road. A track from Kiryanseka direct
to the main road was under construction in 1961.
People: 1961 1936
(a) Total number of taxpayers .. .. .. 110 78
(b) Total number of families .. .. 133 88
(The word family is used in the sense of a
(c) Total number of adult males .. .. .. 145 101
(d) Total number of adult females .. .. 124 130
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE 63
(e) number of children capable of work .. .. 8 84
number of children incapable of work .. 169 94
Total number of children .. .. .. 177 178
The difference between taxpayers and families is due to some households
not having male heads, for instance widows and deserted wives living in-
dependently. The difference between taxpayers and adult males is accounted
for by exemption from taxation on such grounds as old age, infirmity or sick-
ness. The decrease in adult females compared to 1936 is due to the greater ease
with which unattached women can leave home to seek employment or to live
with men elsewhere. Though the number of children has hardly altered compared
to 1936, a much higher proportion are regarded as incapable of work. Most
children now go to school and are not expected to work on the land. Some
children, usually the girls, assist their parents during holidays and on Saturdays
and Sundays during term time but the assistance is casual. Children attending
school have therefore been classified as incapable of work. In 1936 nine of the
adult males were porters from West Nile. In 1961 13 of the adult males were
from West Nile and five from other districts, the remainder of the inhabitants
being Banyoro. Compared to 1936 the occupations of the adult males in 1961
were more varied and required greater skill. The percentage of full time farmers
fell from 62% in 1936 to 54% in 1961.
With the introduction of graduated taxation the taxpayers were extremely
loath to disclose their sources of income and during the 1961 survey it was not
possible to obtain the detailed figures recorded in 1936 when poll tax was paid.
After the taxpayer interviewed had given his estimate of his total annual in-
come the figure was revised by the mukungu chief and the agricultural assistants
who companies the writer.
Average income per taxpayer .. .. Shs. 434/- Shs. 117/-
Average income per family .. .. 367/- 104/-
Total amount of taxes collected .. .. 4,005/- 1,911/-
Compared to 1936 the average income per taxpayer and per family has
increased little more than three times. It would seem that this has hardly kept
pace with inflation. Yet if the standard of housing is taken as an index of pro-
sperity then living standards have increased as approximately 75% of the houses
were of the grass "beehive" type in 1936 and only 8 % in 1961. On the contrary
the total disclosed income in 1961, Shs. 47,741/-, is on the low side but it is
about 10% of the taxes collected which is the usual level of taxation. In 1936
the total disclosed income was Shs. 9,881/- but tax collection amounted to
Shs. 1,911/- which meant that approximately 20% of the income was collected
as tax: an exceptionally high level of taxation.
The high figure of income per taxpayer does not give a fair representation
of the general level of prosperity in the area as a large part of the income is
made by a few people often in paid employment elsewhere. A number of
people still live in abject poverty.
The efficiency of the graduated tax assessment in so far as it relates to those
with large income is in doubt.
64 UGANDA JOURNAL
Income per head: Percentage of total
Shs. Oto Shs. 100 22.3%
Shs. 101 to Shs. 200 29.6
Shs. 201 to Shs. 300 12.9
Shs. 301 to Shs. 400 6.4
Shs. 401 to Shs. 500 11.2
Shs. 501 to Shs. 1000 7.4
More than Shs. 1000 10.2
This may be compared to the graduated poll and education tax assessment.
Total exemption from tax .. .. .. 9.3 %
Partial exemption from tax .... .. 0.9
Shs. 21 .. .. .. .. .. 4.5
Shs. 38 .. .. .. . . 70.4
Shs. 50 . .. 7.4
Shs. 72 .. .. .. .. .. 4.7
Shs. 84 .. .. .. .. .. 2.8
It can be seen that just over 10% of the taxpayers have an annual income of
over Shs. 1,000/- but less than 3 % of them are assessed at the highest graduated
Cattle .. .. .. .. 6 19
Goats .. .. .. .. 313 216
Sheep .. .. .. .. 6 19
Fowls .. .. .. 790 532
The number of cattle and sheep in 1961 compared to 1936 has fallen pro-
bably due to trypanosomiasis in cattle and worm infestation in sheep. The
numbers of goats and fowls have kept pace with the increase in human popu-
lation. The cattle on the mutala are owned by one man. Most households,
with the exception of the poorest, possess some goats and a few fowls.
The cattle are kept overnight in an open kraal made of posts and barbed
wire. The calves are kept in a room in the owner's house and in the early morning
are led out to be tied near their mother's heads. The cows are milked and then
the calves are allowed to suckle the milk remaining. The calves are then taken
back to the house. The cattle stay in the kraal until 9.30 a.m. when the herdsman
takes them to graze. The calves are tethered near the house during the day
though in the dry season they return to the house at midday. The cattle are
taken to water at 1.0 p.m. After this they return to the kraal or sometimes
remain in a shady place until they start to graze at 2.0 p.m. They are brought
back to the kraal at 6.0 p.m. and the calves are brought to their mothers to
suckle. The calves are taken to the house at 6.30 p.m. where they remain for
the night. The cattle remain in the kraal until the next day.
There was considerable reluctance by most people to disclose the exact
number of goats and sheep for fear of their tax assessment being increased.
The goats and sheep are kept in the owner's house overnight and in the early
morning they are tied in the compound. About 11.0 a.m. they are tethered to
graze and after two to three hours they are tethered in a fresh place; this may
be repeated if the grazing is short. About 6.0 p.m. they are brought back to
the homestead. The kids are allowed to suckle having remained about the house
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE 65
all day. The lambs on the other hand accompany their mothers to the grazing.
About 7.0 p.m. the goats, sheep, kids and lambs are confined to the house.
Some people have separate houses for goats and sheep.
Most fowls are kept overnight in special houses raised from the ground.
In the early morning they are released and they remain free all day until darkness
when they return to their house. A few people give food and water to their
poultry. Some fowls and hens with chicks are kept in the kitchen overnight.
Most hens lay a clutch of between 11 and 13 eggs three times a year.
Animal manure is little used and if it is, it is usually placed on the coffee
and bananas near the homestead.
LAND UNDER CULTIVATION
The total area of cultivable land was estimated in 1936 to be 1,691
acres. From an aerial photograph taken in December 1960 it was calculated
to be 1,417 acres.12 The total area under cultivation in June 1961 was 253
acres and in November 1961 it was 340 acres, the latter figure being higher
beuse of the large acreage planted to cotton in the second rains. In August
1 193 acres were under cultivation. The total acreage of cultivable land rest-
ing was 1,164 acres in June 1961 and 1,077 acres in November 1961 compared
to 1,498 acres in August 1936. Thus the ratio between the total area under
cultivation and the total area of cultivable land resting was approximately as
August 1961 .. 1: 7
June 1961 .. 1 4'
November 1961 .. 1: 3
Compared to 1936 the ratio has been approximately halved. This was
due to an increase in population and also to an increase in the acreage culti-
vated per taxpayer.
In 1936 one of the indices of comparison to see if the areas surveyed were
underpopulated, balanced or overpopulated was the proportion of resting
land to land under annual crops. The figures for 1936 and 1961 are given below:
Total acres Acres of Acres of Acres
Date under permanent Annual resting
cultivation crops crops
Aug. 1936 .. .. 193 69 129 1,498
June 1961 .. .. 253 86 167 1,164
Nov. 1961 .. 340 100 240 1,077
Date Proportion Classification
Aug. 1936 .. .. 11.6:1 Underpopulated
June 1961 .. .. 7.0:1 Balanced
Nov. 1961 .. .. 4.5:1 Balanced
If the proportion was less than 2:1 it would be classified as overpopulated.13
The total area under, or suitable for, forest including non-agricultural
land was estimated to be 724 acres in 1936. By calculation from the aerial
photograph it was 1,150 acres in 1960. This acreage included swamps, low
lying land and river gullies, 399 acres; hills and rocky out-crops, 519 acres;
forest, thicket and swamp thicket, 213 acres; roads and main tracks, 19 acres.
Details of cultivation
Mixed cropping is common in the area. This made the recording of crop
acreages difficult and a standard system had to be followed. Where two or
66 UGANDA JOURNAL
more crops were growing at the same time and it was probable that the yield
of each would be less than it would have been if the crops were growing by
themselves then the area was divided between the two or more crops. If one
of the crops was interplanted in the other crop or crops without a reduction
in the yield of the major crop then the area of the major crop was recorded
as its acreage and of the interplanted crop or crops as the acreage interplanted.
Both added together gave the total acreage under a particular crop. Subsequently
this was divided by the number of taxpayers to give the acreage per taxpayer
The complete tables will be found as an appendix. A summary is given below:
Acreage Acreage Total
of crops interplanted acreage
1st Rains crops 1961 .. .. 253 54 307 3
1st Rains crops 1936 .. 193 5 198 2
2nd Rains crops 1961 .. .. 340 193 533 5
2nd Rains crops 1936 .. .. 189 75 264 3
The acreage cultivated in both the first and second rains per taxpayer has
increased due to an increase in the planting of cotton, cassava, beans, sorghum
In general it can be said that the crops, whether they are for sale or for
domestic consumption, are related to the immediate needs of the cultivators.
The extent of the acreage under a particular cash crop is largely determined
by the price obtained in the previous year and thus fluctuations tend to be
biennial, for example when little maize was planted prices were high so the
following year much maize was planted with the result that prices were low.
The next year little was planted and prices rose again.
No fixed rotation is followed but it was possible by observation to determine
the most common sequence of croping.
In 1936 it was as follows :
1st Year Ist Rains Tobacco
2nd Rains Cotton interplanted with beans
2nd Year 1st Rains Sim-sim
2nd Rains Finger millet or sorghum
3rd Year 1st Rains Pigeon peas or cassava
2nd Rains Rest under grass.
In 1961 it was as follows:
1st Year 1st Rains Cotton interplanted with beans
2nd Rains or maize
2nd Year 1st Rains Finger millet interplanted with sorghum and maize
2nd Rains Sim-sim or cotton interplanted with beans
3rd Year 1st Rains Ground nuts interplanted with maize or Finger
millet interplanted with sorghum and maize
2nd Rains Cassava interplanted with beans or maize.
The land fell down to grass under cassava and after the cassava was harvested
rested under grass until required again. Sweet potatoes were grown in separate
small plots sometimes interplanted with beans and maize.
A comparison between the sequence of cropping followed in 1936 and
that followed in 1961 indicates the replacement of tobacco by cotton as the
main cash crop and the addition of groundnuts and maize for which markets
have become available.
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE 61
Only four plots of tobacco comprising 1.51 acres were cultivated in 1961
compared to 45.3 acres in 1936. The first reason for this is that the area is no
longer the centre of tobacco growing. When tobacco was first introduced to
Bunyoro in 1927 as a cash crop it was widely grown by the Banyoro but many
found the work too laborious and tedious and employed West Nile porters,
mainly Lugbara, to do it for them. The Lugbara soon learnt to grow tobacco
on their own account in the Waki valley hence the acreage cultivated by the
Banyoro declined.14 A second reason is that, in terms of the work involved
and the returns received, more money is obtainable from cotton, coffee, maize
and the sale of beer, brewed from sweet bananas 55.3 acres of cotton were
planted in 1936 and 140.70 acres in 1961.
Comparing the acreages per taxpayer under the first rains crops in 1936
and 1961 the differences based on the 1936 figures are as follows :-
Little change: Increase: Decrease:
Bananas Cassava Tobacco
Sweet potatoes Beans Sim-sim
The reason for the decline in tobacco has already been discussed. The de-
crease in sim-sim as a crop is probably due to the fact that oil known as "sim-
sim", but actually derived from cotton seed, is available for sale in the local
shops. Also the introduction of the bunch type of groundnut, with more re-
liable and heavier yields, has been at the expense of sim-sim, though it was not
until 1955 that the groundnut acreage in Bunyoro exceeded that of sim-sim.15
The increase in cassava is due to the insistence of every householder having
a famine reserve plot. Though the agricultural bye-laws are not rigidly enforced
as far as the I acre specified is concerned, presence of some cassava indicates a
readiness to comply with instructions. The increase in beans may have been
the result of propaganda to make people eat more beans to improve the protein
content of their food but it is likely that beans just became a more popular
item of the diet. The increase in sorghum was because in 1960 a small crop
was harvested. A steady demand for sorghum for brewing exists and as a result
prices were high in the early part of 1961 thus stimulating people to sow sor-
gum. Maize has increased in acreage because over the years it has became a
direct cash crop and also an indirect one because maize flour is used to make
kwete beer. Finger millet is grown to a greater extent in the first rains.
The banana and sweet potato acreage per taxpayer has remained steady
though a detailed examination of the bananas grown may have revealed a swing
from cooking to beer making types. Under the agricultural bye-law every house-
holder should have not less than I acre of sweet potatoes.
Comparing the acreages per taxpayer under the second rains crops in 1936
and 1961 the differences based on the 1936 figures are as follows :-
Little change: Increase: Decrease:
Pigeon peas Cotton Finger millet
The decrease in finger millet was because encouragement has been given by
the Agricultural Department to growing it in the first rains. Finger millet used to
68 UGANDA JOURNAL
follow tobacco in the cropping sequence and as tobacco declined so did finger
millet. As a result of cotton planting finger millet is increasingly becoming a
first rains crop. Maize, too, was by 1961 planted to a greater extent in the first
The increase in cotton was due to higher prices and a greater return for the
amount of work involved, at least in terms of peasant agriculture where the
actual cost of production is not calculated, compared to tobacco. The increase
in cassava has already been discussed. Since beans are invariably interplanted
with cotton the increase in the cotton acreage per taxpayer is reflected in a
similar increase in the bean acreage.
The pigeon pea acreage per taxpayer has remained constant.
The acreage under coffee was 5.0 acres in 1936 and in 1961 about 12.0 acres.
This reflects the interest taken in coffee during the 1950's when prices were high.
The reason for the discrepancy in the first rains acreage 13.64 and the second
rains acreage 12.21 in 1961 was that with a fall in prices some plots were aban-
When the acreage cultivated per household is considered it is found that the
larger family does not cultivate so great an area per head as does the smaller
family. The smaller (and in many cases this means the poorer) families mainly
grow all the food which they consume whereas the larger families (and in many
cases this means the richer families because the householder has an alternative
source of income) are able to buy food from elsewhere. This indicates a move-
ment from the subsistence economy practised in 1936, when there was a pro-
gressive increase in acreage as the size of the family grew bigger, to a cash
economy with a subsistence element.
In general the land is still cultivated by hand but the wealthier people are
able to hire tractors for the first and second ploughings either from private
tractor owners or from the Special Development Section of the Agricultural
Department. In 1961 a private tractor ploughed 6 acreas and the Agricultural
Department's tractor 2 acres on the mutala.
During the first rains 10 hired porters were employed on agricultural work
on nine holdings because one householder employed two porters. These re-
ceived between Shs. 35/- and 40/- a month. Banyoro do not like to work for
other Banyoro so most of the hired labour are Alur or Lugbara. The Banyoro
employed as porters prefer to work on the roads or on neighboring European
or Asian owned estates.
Peasant agriculture cannot be understood unless the social life of the
community is also considered. The mukungu chief in 1961 had been chosen
in open ballot by show of hands of all the adult males on the mutala. He suc-
ceeded his father who had been previously head of one of the hamlets comprising
the mutala. The mukungu chief is in the lowest grade of paid Bunyoro Kingdom
Government chiefs. Under the mukungu chief are the hamlet heads, unpaid but
excused certain obligations. They are chosen by the people in the hamlet for
their good characters and qualities. In 1961 two out of the four hamlet heads
were sons of former hamlet heads. The hamlet head is also chairman of an
orukurato rw'enzarwa or orukurato rw'abatahi (informal local tribunal), which
settles minor disputes so that the mukungu chief, and thus the Bunyoro Kingdom
Government, is not involved.
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE 69
The land is owned by landlords who may, or may not, live on their ebibanja
(private estates). They regard these as being virtually freehold but they do not
have the power to charge their tentants rent. This right to such private estates is
shown by, either a certificate of occupancy or the registration fee receipt. The
Protectorate Government suspended the issue of certificates of occupancy in
1949 because of certain abuses in the system but applications for certificates
of occupancy have continued to be submitted and to be registered. The receipt
for the registration fee is regarded as evidence of ownership. Often hamlet
heads are also landlords of basigire (deputies) of absentee landlords. In 1961
the land on the mutala was owned by 11 landlords and occupied by 118 tenants;
the number of tenants per landlord varied between 14 and none. Though land-
lords do not receive rents from their tenants they retain the right to a portion
of the edible white ants collected or the game killed on their private estates.
They receive gifts from their tenants, such as fowls, beer, bunches of bananas,
but these days respect from their tenants is lacking. Nevertheless most Banyoro,
especially if they have achieved a position as a chief or official in the Bunyoro
Kingdom Government, desire to have a private estate because this implies
Tenants do not wish to move to areas unoccupied by private estates or to
obtain their own private estates elsewhere because their fathers, grandfathers
and ancestors have lived and died on their holdings.
Each mutala used to be occupied by a particular clan but in the past sixty
years the clans have been scattered and no marked primacy attached to any.
On the mutala 38 clans were noted and of these the Basita with 27 members
was predominant. Some clans were only represented by one person. (This
refers to the clan of the head of the household).
In the early morning before going out to work people drink tea, usually
with sugar but without milk, and they eat cooked cassava, roasted groundnuts
or roasted bananas. About 1.0 or 2.0 p.m. a hot meal of sweet potatoes, finger
millet, cooking bananas or cassava is eaten, usually with a thick vegetable sauce.
In the evening about 8.0 or 8.30 p.m. a hot meal of cooking bananas, finger
millet or sweet potatoes is eaten, usually with a thick vegetable sauce. Finger
millet may be mixed with cassava flour. Meat is eaten on Saturdays and if
any remains on Sundays. Meat is sometimes eaten on Wednesdays. Wednesday
is market day. Fish is not available. Salt is bought at the shops. About 80%
of the people buy tea and sugar. Some educated women, hitherto debarred by
taboo, have started to eat fowls and eggs but usually these are consumed by the
DIVISION OF LABOUR:
The work of land preparation, sowing, weeding and harvesting varies
according to the wealth of the head of the household. The rich man
employs porters to cut the grass, to remove tree stumps and to burn.
Then he hires a tractor to plough the land. After the second ploughing, porters
are employed to prepare the land for sowing. The head of the household, his
wives, family and porters sow, weed and harvest together. The man with a
little money employs a porter for the first and second diggings. He, his wife and
possibly the porter sow, weed and harvest together. The poor man cuts the grass
and burs it. He and his wife dig the land with hoes. They sow, weed and harvest
Men and women
work together with the following exceptions :-
the women do all the work,
the women weed and harvest but the men thresh and the
the women weed and harvest but the men build the
drying racks and place the bundles of sim-sim on them;
the women thresh and winnow,
Vegetables: the women do all the work,
Water: the women fetch water,
Firewood: the women fetch firewood,
Baskets: the women make baskets for prepared food,
Cooking: the women cook,
Washing: the women wash clothes,
Building: the men build.
A man without a woman in his household has to do the woman's tasks.
The sowing of finger millet, sim-sim and groundnuts may be done by
groups of men and women who sow each other's plots in turn. The owner of
the plot supplies food after the task has been completed. The women may
may winnow finger millet and sim-sim in a group.
The mutala has seven permanent springs but some women have to walk
as far as two miles to fetch water. Most homesteads are 3 mile or less from per-
manent water. Ample supplies of firewood and building poles are available
from the bush and forest. Seven potters work on the mutala but other local
industries, such as making iron goods or barkcloth, no longer exist.
Organized hunting by driving game into nets is done whenever wild
animals are found. All animals are hunted except elephant and buffalo which
are controlled by the Game Department.
In Bunyoro marriage is any sexual union between a man and a
woman which is, or may be, relatively enduring and it takes a number of forms
depending whether it is a church (ring), free or traditional marriage and whether
the formal approach and marriage payment have been completed. Most mar-
riages are monogamous though polygamy is still the ideal. In 1961 as far as
the married women on the mutala were concerned their marriage status were as
Traditional formal approach
Total . . . . . 91
Marriage partners may be chosen by the parents or they may choose them-
selves with, or sometimes without, their parents' consent. Young girls are
MUTALA SURVEY OF BIJENJE 71
increasingly taking matters into their own hands by achieving financial in-
dependence by growing cotton and so defying their parents or freeing themselves
from uncongenial husbands by repaying the dowry paid for them. Many wives
take the initiative in leaving their husbands and men in Bunyoro are perturbed
about the increased independence which women have gained as a result of
changed social and economic conditions. On the mutala wives have run away
from 11 husbands and three husbands have run away from their wives.
The range of marriage payment for the 35 traditional and the 14 ring mar-
riages varied between Shs. 30/- and Shs. 520/- with an average of Shs. 192/-.
The religion of the heads of the households on the mutala was as follows:-
Catholic .. .. .. 62
Protestant .. .. 40
Seventh Day Adventist .. 5
Muslim .. .. .. 4
Pagan .. 19
The preponderance of Catholics is because of a Catholic church and school
on the mutala.
Educational standards achieved by the heads of the households on the
mutala were as follows :-
None .. .. .. 73
Primary .. .. 48
Junior Secondary .. .. 7
Senior Secondary .. .. 2
11 radios were counted on the mutala.
72 bicycles were counted on the mutala. A bicycle serves as an
index of prosperity and status. A man who has a bicycle is someone. One
motor car and one motor cycle were owned.
In 1961 there were 10 traditional huts, one round hut and 119 rec-
tangular or square houses. In 1936 approximately 75% of the houses were
of the grass "bee-hive" or traditional. type. In 1961 only 8% of the houses were
of this type. The majority of rectangular or square houses had mud-and-wattle
walls, approximately having roofs of corrugated iron and 2 having grass
roofs. Kitchens were usually separate buildings. Latrines were built some
distance from the houses and kitchens. Three shops and two beer clubs were
built on the mutala.
Four types of beer are brewed on the mutala :-
Traditional banana (embire) beer Amarwa
Sweet banana (barwokole) beer Amarwa
Maize beer Kwete
Finger millet beer Amasohi
72 UGANDA JOURNAL
Beer may be brewed without permission for the Omukama (king), for a
marriage feeast or funeral. Before beer for any other purpose is brewed the
brewer must obtain a permit, price Shs. 3/-, from the sub-county chief. Beer
must be sold to carriers who must have an annual licence, price Shs. 50/-
to transport beer to the beer clubs. The proprietor of a club must obtain an
annual licence, price Shs. 150/-. Maize beer, however, may be sold direct by
the brewer to the beer club proprietor but finger millet beer may by drunk at
home by neighbours, friends and relations and need not be taken to a beer club.
The beer clubs open at 2.0 p.m. and close at 6.0 p.m.
Banana beer is sold at approximately -/40 cents a beer bottle (24 fl. oz.)
but prices vary according to supply and demand. Maize beer is sold in a small
calabash or tin, sesiko, about the size of a tin of condensed milk (14 fl. oz.)
at about -/20 cents. Spirit, waragi, distilled from any of these types of beer,
may be made secretly on the mutala and is sold at Shs. 3/- a bottle (28 fl. oz.).
It can be seen that the Bunyoro Kingdom Government derives substantial
revenue from the brewing industry which also provides many people with a
livelihood. The amount of money which must be in circulation to finance the
brewing, transporting and drinking of beer may account for the millions of
of shillings said to be buried in the soil of Uganda.
When mature, a bunch of traditional beer bananas (embire) is cut down,
split into two halves down the middle and placed in a covered pit for one day.
The pit is opened on the second and third days and is covered in the evenings.
On the fourth day the bananas are ready. Alternatively the bunch may be
placed in a covered stand over a fire for four or five days.
A shallow pit is dug, lined with banana leaves and cut grass (orusojo)
(Imperata cylindrica) is placed in the bottom. The bananas are peeled and
thrown into the pit. More grass is placed on top of them. A man, and not a
woman, must walk on top of the covered bananas after washing his legs.
After 1 to 1l hours water is mixed with the juice. A big pot (entigiro) or a hol-
lowed-out tree trunk (obwato), shaped like a canoe, is placed nearby and the
juice transferred to it. More water is added to the trampled bananas in the
shallow pit and the man walks on them a second time. The juice is again trans-
ferred to the big pot or hollowed-out tree trunk. Sprouted, dried sorghum
grains are roasted over a fire, ground and added to the juice. The brewer kneads
the ground sorghum into the banana juice. The container is then sealed with
banana leaves, grass and any other suitable materials. It remains sealed until
the fifth day. On the sixth day the fermented juice is examined to see if it is
ready. If not it is kept for another day. Neighbours may sample the beer and
give their opinion on it.
Sweet banana (barwokole) beer is made in the same way but since the in-
dividual fingers are small, pealing is laborious and is not done. Once the bananas
are over-ripe the skins split easily.
Maize beer (kwete) is prepared from maize meal which is usually bought
from a shop. The meal is mixed with water in a mortar pan (karai) and the mash
is placed in an open four gallon can (debbe) which is covered with leaves.
It remains covered for four or five days. Then the mash is cooked with water,
like finger millet or a stiff porridge, over a fire in the mortar pan. It is put in a
big pot which is placed near the fire. Germinated finger millet, which has been
dried and ground, is added. The next day the beer is examined to see if it has
fermented. If it is ready, boiling water is added and the beer is filtered through
an amerikani cloth bag into another vessel.
MUTALA SURVEY OF BUJENJE 73
Finger millet beer (amasohi) is prepared from finger millet seeds which have
been germinated, dried and ground. The meal is mixed with water and the mash
put into a four gallon can which is covered with banana leaves. After seven
days it is cooked in a mortar pan over a fire and dried in the sun. More ground,
germinated, finger millet is kneaded with water into the dried mash and placed
in a pot. The pot is covered for two days. Boiling water is added and the beer
allowed to cool. The beer is drunk through a long hollow stick (oruseke).
(1) Tothill, J. D. (ed.) (1938). Pt. I A Report on Nineteen Surveys done in small agricultural
areas in Uganda.
Pt. II Fifteen Agricultural Surveys selected from the above. Entebbe: Government Printer.
The unpublished surveys, and surveys done later, are to be found in the office of the
Commissioner for Agriculture, Entebbe.
(2) Wilson, P. N. & Watson, J. M. (1956). Two surveys of Kasilang Erony, Teso. Uganda J.
(3) Wilson, P. N. (1958). An Agricultural Survey of Moruita Erony, Teso, Uganda J.
(4) These surveys are to be found in the office of the Commissioner for Agriculture, Entebbe,
and probably in the agricultural office of the district, kingdom or territory concerned.
(5) Dunbar, A. R. (1962. Mutala Survey ofBujenje (Kisonga) Bunyoro District. Unpublished
typescript. Agricultural Office, Hoima.
(6) Tothill, op. cit., pp. 123-133.
(7) Harrop,J. E. (1960). The Soils of the Western Province of Uganda, pp. 41-43 and map.
Uganda Dept. Agric. Mem. Res. Div. Ser. 1, No. 6.
(8) Langdale Brown, I. (1960). The Vegetation of the Western Province of Uganda, p. 44
and map. Uganda Dept. Agric. Mem. Res. Div. Ser. 2, No. 4.
(9) Map-Uganda Mean Annual Rainfall. (1959). Lands and Surveys Dept. Uganda.
(10) Map-Uganda Mean Monthly Rainfall. (1958). Lands and Surveys Dept. Uganda.
(11) Parsons, D. J. (1960). The Plantain-Robusta Coffee Systems, pp. 18-27 and map 17.
Uganda Dept. Agric. Mem. Res. Div. Ser. 3, No. 2.
(12) Photograph No. 055 of Series 51 U G 6 dated 27th December 1960.
(13) Tothill. op. cit,. p. 9.
(14) the late A. J. Margach, personal communication.
(15) McMaster, D. N. (1962). A Subsistence Crop Geography of Uganda, p. 80 Bude: Geo-
graphical Publications Ltd.
1st Rains Crops 1961
Acreage Total Acreage
Acreage: interplanted: acreage: per taxpayer:
75.58 4.94 80.52 0.73
23.15 0.42 23.57 0.21
29.02 5.19 34.21 0.31
1.51 1.51 0.01
10.25 0.86 11.11 0.10
14.03 15.00 29.03 0.26
2.10 3.09 5.19 0.04
7.08 5.60 12.68 0.11
42.94 11.54 54.48 0.49
10.78 2.86 13.64 0.12
Not planted at time of measurement
11.20 1.10 12.30 0.11
22.30 0.33 22.63 0.20
0.64 0.05 0.69 0.06
0.34 0.07 0.41 0.03
2,37 3.19 5.56 0.03
253.29 54.16 307.45 2.78
74 UGANDA JOURNAL
1st Rains Crops 1936
Acreage Total Acreage
Crop: Acreage: interplanted: acreage: per taxpayer:
Bananas .. 58.8 3.2 62.0 0.795
Sweet potatoes .. 18.7 18.7 0.240
Cassava .. .. 10.6 10.6 0.136
Tobacco ... .. 44.9 0.4 45.3 0.580
Sim-sim .. .. 18.1 18.1 0.232
Beans ... 4.1 0.4 4.4 0.058
Pigeon peas ... 0.3 0.3 0.6 -
Sorghum ... 6.1 0.3 6.4 0.082
Maize .. 4.7 0.6 5.3 0.067
Coffee .. .. 5.0 5.0 -
Cotton .. .. 20.7 20.7 -
Groundnuts .... 0.5 0.5 -
Finger millet .. .. 0.2 0.2 -
English potatoes . .. 0.2 0.2 -
Onions .. .... 0.1 0.1 -
Others .. .. .. 0.4 0.4 -
Total .. .. .. .. 193.4 5.2 198.6 2.48
2nd Rains Crops 1961
339.60 193.43 533.03 4.817
2nd Rains Crops 1936
Acreage Total Acreage
Acreage: interplanted: acreage: per taxpayer:
58.8 58.8 -
... 5.0 5.0 -
55.3 55.3 0.709
18.0 18.0 0.231
13.1 1.3 14.4 0.185
... .. 4.9 0.1 5.0 -
es .. .. .. 16.6 16.6 -
7.4 9.1 16.5 0.212
2.1 9.1 11.2 0.143
4.3 53.4 57.7 0.740
... 0.8 0.8 -
.. 0.1 0.9 1.0 -
oes .. .. 1.2 0.6 1.8 -
... 0.6 0.6 -
... 0.7 0.7 -
188.9 74.5 263.4 3.83
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 75-83
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA- EXTRACTS IX
Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY
(These extracts from Die Tagebuecher von Dr. Emin Pasha, edited by Dr.
Franz Stuhlmann, vols. i, ii, iii, iv and vi (Braunschweig: Westermann, 1916-
27), have been translated and provided with introductory notes and comments
by Sir John Gray. They are planned to appear in The Uganda Journal as a
series covering Emin's first visit to Buganda in 1876, his visit to Bunyoro in
1877 and his second visit to Buganda in the same year, followed by such portions
of his later diaries as are relevant to Emin's contacts with the Uganda region
during the years spent as Governor of Equatoria until his withdrawal in 1889.
Extracts I to VIII have appeared in successive issues of The Uganda Journal,
commencing with Extracts I in Uganda Jl., 25 (1961), 1.-EDs.)
IX. EMIN PASHA IN EQUATORIA
9 January to 28 February 1888 and 7 April 18881
January 9, 1888. Monday. After hard work I found it possible to bring
affairs here so far to order, that at 6.24 a.m. we were able to set out from
Wadelai to proceed to the south in search of Stanley. The Khedive was as usual
fully loaded and in addition had a lifeboat with 40 ardebs of durrah. The
Nyanza carries travellers, soldiers and their effects and also has in tow a life-
boat with a little durrah, some ivory etc. From 7 to 7.30 we lay alongside the
bank at Fachora so that I could see my seedlings, which in these days I had
not found time to do. (In the evening the two steamers went aground on a
January 10. (An account of the measures taken to get the vessels off the
sandbank. The Khedive was not finally freed till 5.48 p.m., when it was found
necessary to take some food at Fancongo.)
January 11. (Unable to sail till evening and had to anchor at 9.30 p.m.
News arrived that a boat had upset with the loss of eight lives.)
January 12. The people here say the Baganda have again gone to war with
Kabarega. This last named has brought all his women and children to Anfina's
island and collected all his herds and property at Macongo. He himself is still
in the place where the work is being carried on. If this is true, it is hard to believe
the story of Amara that the people of Kabarega intend to proceed against us.
At any rate I will endeavour to get information by means of Casati. Songa,
the chief of this place, says Kabarega has concentrated all his property in An-
fina's land and has had all his boats conveyed from the Lake overland to the
river near the Murchison Falls. In the district of Runga-Magungu most of the
recent migrating Banyoro and Alur have settled. Under them many of Songa's
own people, who often used to send to him, have become subject to them.
Songa has a poor opinion of Kabarega's authority and sagacity. He would
be very pleased if I should combine with the raid of the Baganda into Bunyoro
and attack from here.
76 UGANDA JOURNAL
January 13. (Reached Tunguru at 7 p.m.)
January 14. (Nyanza's engines reported to have broken down.)
January 15. To my great astonishment Fadl, whom on 7 December 1887,
went with my last mail to Casati, appeared. He tells me that unexpectedly
Nyakamatura at Kabarega's special order has seized Casati and put him in
irons. All his property has been confiscated, including two mails from Buganda
for us and Stanley. His servants have likewise been put in irons. At the same
time Mohammed Biri has been robbed of his clothing and was put in irons.
He was later set free and with his family, property, ivory etc. was sent to the
King at Mruli. Casati and his servant have since been freed from their fetters
and put under close observation at Kibiro, where in the custody of Kabarega's
Banasura they have suffered greatly. An order of Kabarega has forbidden
the departure of vessels to the western shore ... They are now like wild animals
chased from village to village and a royal command has been given to refuse
to give them food and only once have they been able to purchase some beans.
They were to have been taken possibly to Rukara's place in Uliggi (near
Magungu) where they would have been killed. They are always fleeing by night
and have come back to the lake. After being three days without food, they had
at last heard from the negroes that I have arrived with the steamer and that
the sloop had met with an accident. They were now hiding in the long grass
by the lake. Fadl had stolen a boat and set out into the lake in her in the hope
of reaching us and bringing help for Casati and his people. He had asked Casati
not to go far from the place where he had left him and now asks me to bring
help quickly. He had left them yesterday afternoon and feared that hunger
might have overcome them and make it difficult for us to find them.
The steamer Nyanza was out of action. I accordingly at once unloaded the
sloop, took the necessary clothing for Casati-he was stark naked-and also
sufficient provisions and at 1.30 in the afternoon rowed in the sloop in order
to reach the steamer Khedive and, if she had got the wood fuel, to send her at
once to the east shore. At 3.30 we reached the steamer, which had towed the
sunken sloop a little nearer to the land, but was greatly hampered in the task
owing to the uneven nature of the lake bottom. I made them stop all work and
fix a fresh buoy, and went with all the people to the land so as to fell
in what at the distance appeared to be a large wood. There were a lot of withered
trees and fallen branches and we had a light task. Owing to the distance they
were from the loading place, and, as it became dark half an hour after sunset,
we had to stop work, before we had sufficient for our outward and inward
January 16, Monday. Although there was a slight breeze, the small waves
on the lake caused the steamer to roll in an unpleasant manner. Added to this
was the anxiety about Casati and his fate. Accordingly I was glad when
dawn appeared to go on land and fetch fuel. By 7.18 in the morning
our supply was sufficient. Accordingly, as I had all preparations made, we
set sail at 7.25 in the morning for the eastern shore. (On approaching the
eastern shore), the helmsman of the steamer, a Dinka well known amongst
us for his long-sightedness, called out to me to take a telescope and look at a
spit of sandbank which stretched out into the lake. He thought he could see
some people there. I at once accepted his advice and saw plainly three men,
who on nearer approach could be seen to be waving a flag. The whole ship's
company-I had taken 20 irregulars and several soldiers with me-became
excited. One guess after another was made concerning the small group, to whom
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS IX 77
we were quickly drawing near. Soon I saw another group of people on the shore,
apparently women. As I came nearer and signalled with the steamer's whistle,
I saw the flag being waved, I heard without difficulty that by a stroke of luck
we had found Casati and his people, after we had been prepared to make a
long search in boats and on land. At 9.52 in the morning I landed and congra-
tulated Casati on having been saved.
(Emin's men went on shore and found all the huts abandoned and the people
fled. At 12.13 p.m. the steamer set out on its return journey and reached Tun-
guru at 3.50 p.m.) Casati's story is very piecemeal. He is so debilitated by the
effects of his latest experiences that at times he wanders before he can find the
necessary words or can recall an important fact in our discussions. It is an illness
which a few days' care and rest will set right. No very clear or coherent picture
of events can be obtained. He has given the information already given by
Fadl and adds thereto that two mails from Buganda for us (containing private
letters for me from Gotha, also Hassenstein, Junker, England etc.), others for
Stanley, Captain Nelson etc. have been left behind with Casati's property,
that Mohammed Biri with all his property and likewise Casati's property has
been taken to Mruli. Casati had been aware long before of the attack that was
to be made upon him ...
The most important of all this news is that according to an Arab's report
Stanley has reached Luke, a district distant five or six days from the lake, where
Tippu Tib's people had recently made a raid. In his following there are 60 Suda-
nese soldiers from Egypt. I will sometime ask Casati to give me a memorandum
of all the foregoing news and make a translation thereof. His lost property
can be replaced, but I was sorry about all my lost letters from Europe.
January 17. Today I had a visit from Songa and told him the news about
Kabarega and made certain of his friendly disposition to me. Boki was also
here and I took the opportunity to inform him of the expected arrival of Stanley's
expedition and to be on good terms with us. Both promised to do so.
Casati has begun to lose his hesitant manner of yesterday, but is still un-
able to remember properly the news brought by the post from Europe.
January 18. (Stormy weather).
January 19. Kurshid Tamir, a Turkish soldier, who had been with Casati
as orderly, returned. He came to me and informed me that he had several
pieces of information to give me from Nyakamatura, Kabarega's governor
of Bugahya, but he wanted to tell it to me in private after we had got back to
Tunguru. Today Fadl came to thank me for his promotion and I took the
opportunity of asking him for certain pieces of information. I took down
verbatim the following translation of the Turk's story.
"When Casati was still a prisoner, Nyakamatura sent Maige to fetch me
and said to me, 'You can now go to Wadelai and nobody will hinder you on
the way. When you get there, tell the Pasha in the King's name that he must
not be angry. Kabarega has previously regarded him as his brother. But Casati
was often insulting in his own Divan, who said to him, 'I hope to see you as a
porter with a load on your head, when you will not be able to sit on the floor'.
Furthermore Casatihad intentionally distorted and falsified all messages and
news from Wadelai. To the King's oft repeated request that he would either
return to Wadelai or go to Buganda and let another come in his place he had
replied with scorn and ridicule and behaved as if he was the lord of the land.
He had conspired with the Baganda and wanted, like Baker, to hoist a flag
and annex the country, which things I (Emin) had never done at the time of
78 UGANDA JOURNAL
my visit. No other course was left to Kabarega but to take strong measures
to rid himself of Casati. And he wanted the Pasha to send another man in
Casati's place, who would be welcome to the King and to Nyakamatura."2
Kurshid adds that Nyakamatura willingly and dispassionately wanted this
replacement and has expressed his own opinion that this scandal could have
Concerning my lost mail, which had been lying with Casati for a whole
month, both agreed that Casati had been often asked to send it to me with
Fadl, but he had always refused to do so and explained that he would await
the arrival of a steamer.
January 20. (Khedive arrives with the refloated lighter).
January 22, Sunday. (Visit from the mother and sister of Kiza, the former
chief of Mswa, who had been put to death by order of Kabarega).
January 24. Yesterday, after sunset Chief Areja sent me a large calabash
of milk as a present. The messenger said Areja was being laughed at by the
negroes, because he had built huts for me and I had never come to him. He
would have come to me, but a wound in the foot prevented him ... He further
told me that a feud had broken out between the people of Chief Abara and those
of an underchief of Boki, named Abita (?). I have today ordered people to go
to Abara to collect our corn tax.
January 25. I have today finished the repairs of the steamer Khedive and
have begun those on the Nyanza. On Saturday I will make a trial trip and,
if the steamer can take the fuel, will on Monday set out on my voyage. Both
steamers and lighters will accompany me, and if God wills, bring Stanley and
his people here.
January 26. Yesterday towards evening I had a visit from Songa, whom I
wanted to inform me as to the languages of the southern end of the lake. He
had never been further to the south than Busongora and thought that that was
the boundary between Lur and Lendu speaking tribes. All along the shore the
principal settlers are Banyoro, who live by catching fish and sell their catches
to Lendu, who come from the mountains, in exchange for corn, simsim etc.
Songa also told me that here most people spoke Runyoro (dialect of Mwenge)
and at Mswa perhaps Lur and Lendu was mostly spoken, and that I would
need a double interpretation in order to make myself understood. It was in-
teresting to hear Songa's opinion of Areja, whom he described as a cunning
liar. In order to make himself appear great amongst the negroes, he is unwilling
to come here but expects me to visit him. Were it not for fear of us and his
apparent good relations with us, he would long ago have been driven out by
his own or Okusa's people. Songa tells me as regards these last named, when
they saw the attack on Dusiri and Lenou, they had got ready to make war and
in order to protect themselves from bullets, had made shields of iron, which
they set up in front of them in the earth. With the help of this ingenious dis-
covery they were convinced that they would be able to destroy us, as once during
a raid in a cleverly arranged ambush they had utterly destroyed Kabarega's
Banasura. Songa again said that little reliability could be placed in Areja and
compared him with his deceased brother Djanjya, who used to live near Songa
and whose reputation for good nature and ingenuity was so widespread that
presents of ivory were sent to him from far and away places, whereas Areja
was never seen by anybody. Finally Songa told me that recently a large number
of people with bag and baggage had crossed over to the east bank, where they
would be of some use to Kabarega besides being independent and able to
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS IX 79
establish themselves in small villages.
January 27. (Salt pans reported to exist near Boki's village of Panyamur).
January 28. (From Dufile it is reported that Kodi Aga is setting out on
Monday to collect the corn tax in the Acholi country).
January 30, Monday. (The Khedive sets out from Wadelai with a lighter
in tow and reaches Mswa. Chiefs are sending their contributions of corn).
January 31. Kabarega is reported to have sent 500 (number later reduced to
50) armed men to Kibiro to protect his salt factory).
February 2. (Steamer sent with 60 soldiers to Tunguru. Umma has arrived
on a visit.)
February 3. (Umma introduces his friend Jogerro to Emin).
February 4. (Jogerro makes a long complaint against the people of Mswa).
At three in the afternoon a mail came from Tunguru. The latest news is that
Kabarega's people have crossed over the river to the north of Magungu and
wish to make the attack in combination with the Acholi on Patiko. Conse-
quently the despatch of the steamer to the mouth of the Somerset, which lies
in rear of Kabarega's army, has taken place at the right time. I only hope that
our people will not be careless. On the other hand I want Kodi Aga to advance
from Wadelai and make it warm for the Acholi. In the meantime I have sent
an order to Dufile to evacuate Padibe, which is of no use to us, and to send
the garrison with all possible haste to us. This will make 40 men more and some
really good soldiers and brave officers. I have also written to Rejaf to obtain
some of the soldiers which have been sent there, but I do not think my appeal
will have any practical result. Above all things we must keep the road open
between Wadelai and here. I have written to Tunguru to say that in sending
the mail they must take good care that it is not captured on the way. Okello
and Boki are in any case unreliable.
February 6, Monday. I have questioned a man who has come from Tunguru.
He tells me that Songa has come to Vita and has told him that, according to
accounts given by the negroes that Kabarega's people have crossed the river
near Okello's village Panyigoro and collected all their people there. They
intend next to attack Tunguru and to destroy it. Songa advises Vita to postpone
his journey to the east for several days and await fresh news. The man I questioned
added that five days had elapsed since then and nothing had happened, and that
possibly the position was not very bad.
February 10. (Fresh mails from Tunguru, Dufile and Rejaf).
February 11. At midday I sent the boat which came yesterday from Tunguru
back there with an order to Vita to come here with the Khedive on Monday
so as to make an advance from here to the east.
February 12, Sunday. Today my old acquaintance chief Fangai from Lendu,
who had heard that I was here, came to visit me and brought with him the son
of another chief. Both appear to be in a relationship or a sort of half sub-
jection to Msongwa, i.e. Chief Jogerro, but the subjection appears to be very
lax and they do not appear to be much troubled by their chief.
February 14. Since I sent away the steamer with the people on board, I
have noticed that the Chief Umma working in conjunction with Chief Jogerro,
can take our station, especially if Kabarega keeps us occupied further to the
north. I have therefore ordered the night watch to keep a sharp lookout and
have personally supervised them so that both by day and night I have the
Just at midday came the dragoman Abdullah. There also came a man from
80 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mgundwa, whose land adjoins Mswa, belonging to Kiza's brother Kafira
and brings the news that soldiers have come to the south end of the lake.
The man was busy eating and recovering from his voyage but will come to me
with Kafira. So at last!
At 12.15 in the afternoon the steamer Khedive was sighted and dropped
anchor in front of the station. Despite my invitation Casati has not come.
Vita together with the people I sent to Tunguru were in full strength, but
unfortunately empty-handed. The steamer's delay was due to the fact that
Boki had sent to Tunguru to help him against one of his underlings. Boki
had sent Kolikia and Kato with this expedition. When they came to the village
they found the inhabitants had been warned long before. They had found time
to take their arms to a place of safety and over and above this had ambushed
the soldiers on their way, from which they only extricated themselves with
difficulty. Vita confirms my opinion that Songa is now most unreliable. My
friend Areja had likewise let it be said that he cannot deliver any corn and that
we must be content with what his people have already given. Chief Dussiri
has for his part killed chief Okussa and carried off all his cattle. It was this
Okussa who was said to have manufactured iron shields for protection against
bullets. Vita says the only one of the chiefs who occasionally sends us news
is Okello of Fanigoro. It is now time to give masters Songa, Boki etc. a lecture.
Soon after midday came the hero of the day. The present young chief of
the village and together with him Kafira, Kiza's brother, brought the man who
had come from the south. He is one of their people, who does not at present
live here, but lives in Muyanga and was two days on the way coming here.
He tells me that at the time that the people from Muyanga were visiting me
(4-9 February) he had gone to a mountain called Melindwa. There he heard
that the people of the south end of the lake had suffered a great loss in cattle
because recently Kabarega's people had made a raid and carried off many
cattle and more recently a party dressed in reddish brown clothes had come
from the south and built huts by the lake and settled there and furthermore
had acquired some cattle. These people were still there. Questioned, he had
not seen them and that all his information was hearsay. According to what he
had heard these people were of Magala (lying at the end of the lake and thought
of here as being the end of the world). He himself had not travelled as far as
this, but he had heard it said by people residing at Muyanga, that we were
expecting people from the south and he thought he ought to inform his village
chief. This news does not carry us much further forward but it will be a good
thing to make a journey to Magala. Stanley does not raid cattle, but this might
have been done by Tippu Tib's people, who have come there as the vanguard
of his march. It is certainly necessary to send people from here to Muyanga
and thence to Magala. Chief Kafira has promised me his services.
February 15-21. (Numerous complaints to Emin by local chiefs at Mswa
concerning the conduct of Shukri Aga).
February 22. The local chief, although young, has a very sensible idea.
He asks me to allow him to send some boys to school at Wadelai so that they
may learn to speak Arabic, if not to write it, so that there will be no need of
a dragoman at our interviews. I have naturally given my consent and told him
he may send six to eight boys, and I will, as in the case of Kabarega's boys,
assign houses for them.
February 23. Today I allowed wood and corn to be loaded into the steamer
as well as some ox-hides and other things necessary for the proposed voyage.
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS IX 81
I am now waiting for the post from Tunguru. From here Kafira and a second
man will accompany us as two interpreters and I hope to obtain other guides
for the south in Muyanga. Everything is in the best of order. Will we be able
to hear anything from Stanley?
February 24. News has been brought that the people who have come back
from Kibiro say that Kabarega has killed that man who was made a prisoner
with Casati-that is Mohamed Biri. I hope that this grievous news of this
embassy is not true. There seems to be no end to news today. At sunset the man,
from whom the news of Biri's death originated, is brought to me. He is a small
Chief of this place, named Arina. He disclaims responsibility for this informa-
tion and says he has only heard it as a rumour from his people. He then says
he has other news for me. After this mysterious introduction he tells me that
he himself has been told by people from Chief Mgundwa's land that many
soldiers have arrived further to the south and are still there. They are led by
five people of whom one is small and fat, and they are always asking about
us here and especially about me. They have made several raids and the people
are much afraid of them. He, my informant, offers himself to lead us as a guide,
if we wish to search for them. He knows the land very well. This with some
embellishments is the same information I have already received, as Stanley
certainly does not make raids. I have engaged Arima as a guide and he pro-
mises to take us to the place. After sunset Chief Umma suddenly arrives.
Songa has taken three of his (Umma's) zeribas and compelled the inhabitants
to become his subjects. I promise Umma that soon after my return I will
restore his zeribas and put everything in order.
February 25. Shortly before my departure there arrived the mail for which
we had been waiting from Tunguru with very mixed news. Casati is very ill,
as it would appear, of pneumonia. Chief Boki has sent his trusty Kolikia to
Tunguru and left word that Kabarega himself has now gone from Mruli further
to the west and wishes to return to Juaia, where many negroes have now settled.
Kabarega has in a most energetic manner reprimanded his governor Nyaka-
matura for his treatment of Casati and robbing him of his property and has
ordered him as quickly as possible to collect all these things so that they can
be sent to Casati. He, Kabarega had merely ordered that Casati should be
expelled from the land with his property and also Nyakamatura. I cannot say
how much of this is true and how much fiction. Boki wants to be on good terms
with both sides and in this respect is unreliable.
(Steamer sailed at 8.15 and finally dropped anchor at 6.35 p.m. at Kayansa
in the district of Baramo belonging to Chief Melindwa).
February 26. (Took wood on board and finally started at 9.15. Finally
anchored off Nyamasansi).
February 27, Monday. (Got in touch with Chief Mpigwa who showed
February 28. (Reached Kadongo in district of Kavalli-Kasenyi, where they
landed.) The Chief spoke of three Europeans with many people and much
baggage. They had come close to the lake, but had left it and settled in a banana
plantation and built huts there. He also said that they had inquired about us
when with Chief Katonsa further to the south, but he ended his account by
answering to my question whether they were far away by saying "all this story
happened over five months ago and nobody knows where the strangers are,
nor whether they are still there!"3
82 UGANDA JOURNAL
February 29. (Started on return voyage and reached Mswa on March 1.)
Richer in experience, poorer in hopes. So ends my first search for Stanley.
April 7. Yesterday evening after sunset after six days' absence Matyera
returned from Boki with a bag full of news. In spite of his promises to the con-
trary he has delayed sending his boats to Nyakamatura from day to day.
People have come from Rokara to Boki and asked for news about us. Boki
has said that he will send a man to Kabarega on our behalf. They say as follows.
Kabarega's big chiefs have made a strong complaint about the treatment of
Casati and have told him that he leaves his own people and land to be plundered
by the Banasura and that through his stiff-neckedness he has involved them in
repeated wars with the Baganda, and has now made an enemy of us and in
the event of a raid by the Baganda must expect to be raided by us from here.
What does he himself want? Kabarega had then explained that he had never
ordered Nyakamatura to treat Casati in the manner in which he has. He had
specially given orders that Casati should be seized and brought with his pro-
perty to Mruli so that he himself could hear what Casati wished to do. When
the Baganda came, he had toldCasati that hemust return to Kibiro as Vita
had already done. Not only had Casati refused to do so, but he had hoisted
a flag, received the Baganda and done business with them. Since that time
Kabarega has been afraid that an attempt would be made on his life. All Casati's
property had been collected and stood ready to be sent. Kabarega had planned
to send a message to me to inform me that the property would be handed over
to any person who would receive it. First of all he wanted to be informed where
I was and what I was doing. Rokara first of all wanted Boki to send a man
to him and he would send him to Kabarega. In the first half of the new moon
the man could return thence with a message to me from Kabarega. Boki had
therefore yesterday sent his man and Rokara's man. I must confess that the
whole story appears suspicious. I rather think Boki is in a great hurry to become
reconciled to Kabarega.
Matyera further said that he had heard from Rokara's people that Biri
would be quickly sent to Buganda from Mruli with his goods, ivory and women.
God grant that it is so. Mwanga has sent to Kabarega to pay his ancient tribute
in salt. Kabarega has not sent anything He (Mwanga) had sent again and
wants to have salt. Kabarega has sent back the embassy without its having
achieved anything. The story about strangers in Ntare's land (sic. Ankole)
still continues. A lot of Arabs have come with their wares for Nyakamatura.
If all this is untrue, and only Mohamed Biri has escaped, it will be a great
relief to me.4
1. Chronologically, the entry of 7 April 1888, is out of place, but, as it relates back to the
story of Casati's captivity, it has been inserted in this portion of the Extracts. It may be
noted here that in his Emin Pascha Georg Schweitzer only gives two paragraphs to this
period in Emin's career. All reference to Casati is omitted. Felkin's English translation
of the book makes no additions thereto and is in places faulty.
2. In his Ten Years in Equatoria Casati gives an account of his arrest and captivity at full
length. He admits that Kabarega did send to Emin asking that he (Casati) might be re-
called as being a person non grata. He called it "this foolish, false and infamous message".
He admits that he did hoist the Egyptian flag, but says "there had been a great deal of
talk about that rag of a banner" and alleges that he hoisted it with Kabarega's consent
at the time of the invasion of Bunyoro by the Baganda ibidd. ii, 113-4). He complained
bitterly that Emin accepted all Kabarega's allegations as being true ibidd. ii, 140). There
is no corroboration of Casati's statement that Kabarega consented to the hoisting of
the flag. Kabarega must have recalled Baker's hoisting of that flag in Masindi in 1872
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS IX 83
and his claim to have thereby annexed Bunyoro to Egypt. Even supposing that Kabarega
did give any such consent, it must have been given most reluctantly and with considerable
mental reservations. Consent or no consent, Casati's act was tactless in the extreme and
invited Kabarega's hostility following as it did upon the fact that Casati was more or less
openly in correspondence with Kabarega's hereditary enemies in Buganda.
In Die Wahrheit uber Emin Pascha (Berlin, 1895) Vita Hassan gives the following
account of Casati's relations with Kabarega.
"Relations between Kabarega and this person (Casati) had lately become unspeak-
ably bad. Kabarega had more than once given him the advice either to follow Dr. Junker
to Buganda or to return to Wadelai. Casati preferred to remain in Bunyoro. General
mistrust and his blunt speaking raised further enemies for him, amongst whom was the
Zanzibari, Abder Rahman, who still further excited Kabarega's hatred of him. As the
king of Bunyoro saw, it was becoming impossible." ibidd. II, 127). Vita further tells us
that Emin informed him that "I very much fear it is too late, but in God's Name why did
he stay with this robber Kabarega when he saw things were not going well? And how
often have I written to him to go to Buganda or to come back here. Now he has his pig-
headedness to thank and who knows, whether if we still find him alive, he will not hold
me responsible for it and yet I am truly in no way responsible. First of all I never instructed
him to go to Bunyoro, and when he asked me to be allowed to go, I did so only because
I wanted to act in his own interest and with the object that he might return thence through
Buganda to Europe, as Dr. Junker had done. And when he wrote to me that his relations
with Kabarega were beginning to become strained, I exhorted him either to go to Buganda
or else to come back here" (Ibid. II, 129).
3. Stanley and his advance party had reached the shores of Lake Albert on 14 December
1887, but, as he was without any reliable news as to the whereabouts of Emin, he began
to retrace his steps on 17 December in order to bring up his main party, his store
of ammunition and boat. (In Darkest Africa, 299-320). Whilst he stresses the difficulties
under which he was admittedly labouring, he entirely failed to appreciate the
difficulties under which, as these Extracts show, Emin himself was labouring in trying
to keep up regular communication with the southern end of Lake Albert.
4. This was wishful thinking on Emin's part. By the time that this entry was made Biri
had been put to death and his merchandise had been confiscated for the reasons set out in
Vita Hassan's Die Wahrheit. He tells us that Biri arrived from Buganda with a large
number of goods and had in addition brought 14,000 percussion caps, which were to be
hidden with Emin Bey until his departure. Biri was accompanied all the time by a muto-
ngole of Kabarega who had instructions to watch him as closely as possible, Kabarega's
innate suspicions were so greatly increased owing to Biri's journey between the Equator
and Buganda and the exchange of presents between Emin Bey and Mwanga that he believed
that a conspiracy had been formed against him. In addition Biri did not disclose any
of the percussion caps to Kabarega, an act which by itself was sufficient to put him out
of favour with Kabarega. Despite all precautions the mutongole had seen the bags and
at once informed his master. This unexpected event cost the unfortunate man his life"
(op. cit. II, 123). For Mohammed Biri's career, see H. B. Thomas 'Mohammed Biri',
U. J., 24 (1958), 123-6.
Uganda Journal 29, 1 (1965) 85-93
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE-WOKO, WILOBO and RU-PINY,'
by OKOT P'BITEK
Professor Evans-Pritchard has presented Zande witchcraft as embodying
a mode of adjustment to strains and frustrations of everyday life of the Azande,
providing both an explanation of misfortune and a way of coping with the
situation.2 The Nuer and Dinka, on the other hand attribute misfortune and
sickness to spirits.3 Such beliefs tie up the loose ends of experience, and provide
acceptable ways of thinking about death and other crises and of coping with
the unknown and unpredictable, and so allaying anxiety and restoring con-
The dominant motif in Acholi religion is provided by the cult of ancestors,
and the numerous ghosts which possess the victims. The belief in spirits over-
shadow beliefs in magic.5 Members of a chiefdom gather at the chiefdom
shrine and offer sacrifices and prayer to avert dangers such as prolonged drought,
floods, famine etc. that threaten the chiefdom as a whole. There they pray for
victory in battle, and there they return for thanksgiving after a successful raid.
Members of a lineage erect a shrine in honour of an ancestor, to arrest his
anger, and appeal to him to intervene and divert any dangers that threaten
the lineage group. A diviner exorcises a vengeance ghost, cen, or any of the other
hostile ghosts from the head of the patient, who is then relieved of his afflictions.
But when all the medicines and blessings, when the prayers and supplica-
tions and rituals have failed, when the sufferings of the individual persist,
the Acholi resignedly cry Wilobo! or Woko! or Ru-piny! which for lack of a
better word, I tentatively interpret as Fate.
Renato Boccassino who held strongly, but in my view, erroneously that the
Acholi believed in a Supreme God called Lubanga or Rubanga wrote:
"Three words are in particular used with reference to this divinity; they are commonly
supposed to be the three other names for Lubanga, because earth and day come from
him. Others surmise that Wilobo, Woko and Ru-piny are sons, brothers or relatives
of Lubanga... "6
It is true that the Acholi refer to Woko, Wilobo and Ru-piny in kinship
terms. They say, Woko gin ki ominne Wilobo ki wodgi Ru-piny. The implication
is that they are all the same, they are of the same family, all bad, as they repre-
sent the sum total of human sufferings and misfortune. They are certainly
not the other three names of Lubanga, nor are they relatives to Lubanga in
the way suggested by Renato Boccassino, that is as the supposed high god of
the Acholi. I have, elsewhere, argued that the idea of a supreme being among
the Acholi and Lango is of recent Missionary introduction.7 But when Jok
Lubanga is considered in its correct meaning, that is, the ghost responsible for
the tuberculosis of the spine, then because this is one of the misfortunes that
afflict man, we may say, as the Acholi do, that Woko, Wilobo, Ru-piny and
Lubanga are related in some way. The Acholi say of a hunchback Lubanga
oturu kore, Lubanga has broken his chest, and when someone laughs at, or
shows disrespect, or does not render assistance to a hunchback or a leper whose
hands and feet are but stumps, he is thus rebuked:
Wek nyeero Wilobo
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
Stop laughing at (the works) of Wilobo.8
Wright wrote that these concepts may have some connexion with spirits:
"Lobo is earth, wi or wic-head of, (Query 'Spirit of' in this context?), I got
the impression of an Earth Spirit, but am in no position to generalise from my
still superficial knowledge. Woko is defined by Crazzolara as "The universe",
a kind of moving idea of the spirit of the outer World, against which man is
impotent". Piny literally means Earth and Rupiny the daybreak, when day and
sun (ceng) breaks (ru) out of the earth . Woko as defined by Crazzolara is
an idea hardly distinguishable from the more generalised meaning of Jok."
Wright called for an inquiry as to whether the Acholi practised sun-worship.9
The idea of Wi-lobo has nothing to do with spirits of ghosts. The Acholi
did not have such categories of earth spirits, nor did they classify their nume-
rous spirits in terms of 'spirits of the above' and 'spirits of the below', as did
the Dinka and Nuer. The phrase 'a kind of moving idea of the spirit of the
Outer World' is difficult to interpret, but in any case, Woko is not regarded
by the Acholi as a spirit. Similarly Ru-piny is not in any way connected with
sun-worship. The Acholi did not indulge in sun-worship, there were no centres
of the sun cult anywhere in Acholiland.
Wilobo is derived from the preposition wi, on, on top of, above; and the
common noun lobo, earth, soil, land, country. Literally Wilobo means on the
land, above the soil or earth. In the context we are discussing, Wilobo means
the state of being alive on the earth, being in this world and not under the soil,
dead and buried inside the stomach of the earth.
Woko means out, outside, in the open. In the context, like Wilobo, it means
being alive here on earth, not inside the tomb, dead. It also means coming out
of the womb, being born; and implies the problems of being alive. When an
Acholi resignedly cries Woko! or Wilobo! the contrastis between the peaceful,
quiet, dull existence of the unborn in the womb, or of the dead in the tomb,
with the turbulent adventures of the living.
A provocative ogodo song 10 tells the cowardly man to return back into his
Ye! Lalworo dok i meni!
Oh! Cowardly man return back into your mother's belly!
Kodi pa luming
Seeds of fools;
Kodi pa lugingi
Seeds of impertinent people
Lalworo ogengo ira yo ding!
The coward has blocked up my path completely!
Ngat ma yelo meya
Who-so troubles my beloved
Kelo lok ming
Brings stupid reasons;
Kodi pa luming
Seeds of fools
Lalworo ogengo ira yo ding!
The coward has blocked up my path completely!
Lalworo dok i meni
Cowardly man return back into your mother's belly!
A raid had been planned; but some of the men were cautioning too much
patience and careful planning and correct procedures etc. thus giving the
impression that they were somehow afraid. The battle-eager, fearless youths
impatiently wanted to proceed with the attack. They are described by the elderly
leaders as 'Seeds of fools' or 'Seeds of impertinent people', because they will
not listen to advice etc. The poetess, whose beloved's path is thus blocked
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE 87
completely by the old men's over caution, tells them to return back into the
womb back to riskless, unadventurous, existence, back to the safety and warmth
and peace of the belly.
Ru-piny means dawn, when the sun breaks through and drives away the
cover of darkness and night; and human beings are exposed to their numerous
adversaries. It is true that at night wizards and witches and sorcerers (lujogi)
roam abroad on their evil missions; dancing stark naked-their bodies covered
only in ashes; round other people's huts, planting dead frogs and disemboweled
lizards in the gardens and roof-tops of the people they desire to harm. It is
also at night that the army of fiends, gemo, which are responsible for deadly
plagues such as small-pox, odyer, chicken-pox, anyo, dysentery, etc. march
through the countryside, leaving in their wake much suffering and death."
But as the Acholi proverb goes, wor umu, the night covers up. At night the
entire family group sleeps in the stockaded homestead, the spears of the men
providing the necessary protection against attackers. The thatched roofs shield
away the rain and hailstones. The fire from the kitchen fire provides warmth,
and the smoke keeps away the mosquitoes. A normal night is a period of rest,
of peace and comfort in bed, children sleeping on their mother's bosoms, and
lovers resting their heads on their partners arms. Even nature is at rest. The
peace and quiet of the night is disturbed only by anti-social creatures such as
witches, and the evil owl, whose cry proclaims misfortune and ill-luck.
Dawn signals the day, the period when all nature is awake. When the cock
crows at dawn the Acholi interpret it as saying:
Maa wiya yo!
Mother, my head oh!
this is a cry of pain. It is at dawn that raiders storm into a homestead in an
attack, to kill, to steal the women and children and cattle. And at sun-rise the
family group scatters, each to his or her duty: in the field to dig, sow or weed
or harvest; to draw water from the stream; to tend the domestic beasts in the
wild pastures; to hew wood, poles for building, firewood for cooking; to collect
vegetables; to fish; on the hunting track; going on a journey etc. The individual
is exposed to a thousand risks and dangers: a snake lurking under a shrub on
the pathway; a wounded buffalo skulking in the valley; jealous childless women
ready with poisoned dishes; the man with lugaga (a kind of witchcraft medicine
causing aches all over the body); the evil-eye; all these and more await the
Wilobo and Woko personify, represent, are names for the problems, risks,
sufferings that the individual goes through during his lifetime. Ru-piny
personify those of each day. Wilobo and his brother Woko, and their son
Ru-piny. In a sense Woko and Wilobo have a similar meaning to the English
word world, as used in the expression 'How goes the world with you? or 'This
is the way of the world'.
Against Woko and Wilobo and Rupiny man in impotent. They kneel on
their victims and crush them. There is nothing you can do to prevent them
from carrying out their cruel schemes. There is nothing you can say about it
either. A childless woman, laughed at by her co-wives, despised by her husband's
clansmen, and neglected by the husband, sings the following bitter ogodo song:
Anyong wi yat calo winyo
I am squatting on a tree top like a bird
An calo ayo munyongo wi yat
I am like a monkey squatting on a tree top
An do! Wilobo ogungu koma
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
Oh! me, Wilobo has knelt on me
An awnc ango?
What can I say?
Ineno Wilobo ogungu koma
Behold Wilobo has knelt on me
Wilobo yelo wiya, Yeluyee!
Wilobo troubles my head, Oh!
A bird sitting on top of a tree is a target for the boys armed with bows
and arrows, sticks, stones or catapult. Because she is barren, because of this
misfortune, she says, she is being attacked from all quarters, the whole world
is against her. And like the monkey, that funny creature, she says, she is a
The next funeral dirge, hopelessly asks where one can find another brother,
to replace the dead one. The singer asks Wilobo to throw his brother back,
so that he may lift away his sorrows:
Omera, bola odwog do!
My brother (dead), throw him back please!
Wii! Maa yo!
Ooh! Mother, oh!
Can okwongo koma ma ka latin
Misfortune began on me from infancy;
Wilobo, Woko okelo ayela
Wilobo, Woko have brought troubles;
Kono anongo omera
I would now have a brother
Mukwanyo can yo, Wilobo!
Who would have removed my misfortunes, oh, Wilobo!
The next bwola song 12 tells of a young widow, who only recently was so
boastful, because she was the most loved in a polygamous homestead.
But now the man is dead.
Ceng pud bedo gikwed cware atena do!
She did sit with her husband, touching each other!
Laber par min Amoo
The beautiful one, of the mother of Amoo,
Yang yaare ayara ni en aye;
She did boast, she was proud that she 'was the one' (most loved)
Okwanyo can ma i koma do !
He had removed the misfortune from me, oh!
Latin Wilobo ogungu kome
Child, Wilobo has knelt on her!
Wilobo ogungu kome ye
O Wilobo has knelt on her, yes
Ceng pud bedo gikwed cware atena
She did sit close by her husband, touching each other!
The next bwola song hurls a bitter sarcastic laugh at a mother, throwing
her buttocks rhythmically as she walks in great pride; holding her head high
on account of her son, whom she sings has removed all her sorrows. Why did
she strut so proudly? Because she had hatched a boy.
Okwanyo can ma i koma yo !
He had removed misfortune from my body, oh!
Wi yoo! Laber woto yon, Layaa-na
Oh oh! The beautiful one struts, throwing her head, My beloved.
Okwanyo can ma ikoma do! Woko kelo ayela
He had removed misfortune from my body, yes; Woko has brought troubles.
Kona otoko awobi
Well well; she has hatched a boy
Min awobi woto kun takke
The mother of the boy struts, throwing her buttocks.
"Boast not thyself; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth"
so wrote Solomon the son of David13. The young widow who used to sit close
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE 89
by her husband and the bereaved mother who used to strut proudly on account
of her son, these two are not being accused or blamed by other people for their
one time stupid boasts. They are laughing at themselves, at their present predica-
ment. They compare what it used to be then, and what it is now: Then their
sorrows appeared lifted away; now Wilobo has brought the full weight on their
But when one is well off, when he or she is happy, those that are in pain
may think that they are being laughed at. Indeed there are some who appear
to rejoice at other's misfortune. Some of these who come to funerals only to
shed crocodile tears and only pretend to be moaning the dead have the following
dirge directed towards them: the core of which is that you never know what
the next Dawn has in store for you.
0 lukaka nyeru mono tunu
O clansmen you laugh a while;
Kadi wubedo li-kiny-kiny
Although now you shake mightily with laughter
Lukaka nyeru mono tunu
Clansmen you laugh awhile;
Kodi to mubino ni
The type of death that has come
Wang ca bino ki wan weng
The next day (season) it may come to us all;
Kadi wubedo li-kiny-kiny
Although now you shake mightly with laughter
Lukaka nyeru mono tunu
Clansmen you laugh awhile.
The Acholi say that sometimes Cock speaks to Ram:
Cock: Diki wang ca Romo neno pala
The day after tomorrow Ram will see (the butcher's) knife.
Ram: In kono ibidok kwene ki abila
And where will you escape (being slaughtered at the) shrine?
They also say that the monkey that is behind laughs at the tail of the one before
it. But its own tail will become the object of laughter the next day.
These Acholi concepts correspond to the ideas of Fate and Destiny, the
principal or agency by which events are unalterably pre-determined from eter-
nity. The belief in Necessity, Fate and Destiny exercised great influence in
Greek thought. There was a theory of feeling the truth about the universe,
whereby, every person or thing had his or its place appointed and function
fixed. Even Zeus himself and the other Olympian gods were subject. In the myth
of Er14 Plato tells of how the son of Armenius of the race of Pamphylia watched
ghosts of dead people choose their next lives. "It was a sight worth seeing to
behold the several souls choose their lives a piteous and laughable and amazing
sight also". All this took place before Necessity sitting on her throne, and assist-
ed by her daughters Lachesis, Clotho and Atropos. As each ghost entered
it was told to choose "the life to which it shall be bound by Necessity. The
responsibility is on him that chooses. There is none on God". As the ghosts
departed, each was given an angel to be a guard throughout his next life, and
to accomplish his choice.
The Epicureans who were materialists but not determinists repudiated this
theory of life. They argued that the legend of the Gods at least offers some faint
hope that we may prosper if we observe the rituals; but Necessity or Fate,
deaf to all entreaties, destroys all responsibility, makes praise and blame mean-
ingless, and leaves nothing under our control.15
90 UGANDA JOURNAL
The Nuer and Dinka call themselves mere ants before God. When a child
dies, or when lighting strikes a byre, or when a cow or ox in your herd dies,
they say that God has taken what is his own, and man should not complain.
"If you grieve over much God will be angry that you should resent his taking
what is his. Better be content, therefore, that God should do what he wishes ...
If you forget the cow God will see that you are poor and will spare you and your
children and your other beasts."'6 The Nuer seldom attribute death to the direct
intervention of God, but rather to the lesser spirits or natural circumstances.
However, the lesser spirits and the natural circumstances are regarded as
instruments of God.
Likewise, the Kalabari blame Tamuno, the personal creator. Sorcerers
and free spirits may kill a person, but death could not take place had not
Destiny willed it, and the personal creator brought it about. Of Tamuno who
joins the spirit and the body while it is still in the womb, they sing:
The Creator has brought trouble,
Creator greedy one
Kills, kills, kills
But does not bury.17
Ancient Jewish philosophers saw history, not as a meaningless succession
of events; but as a drama, in which God was both the author and leading
actor. Jeremiah Ch. 18 tells of how God shapes the destiny of nations as the
potter moulds the clay into a pot "as seemed good for the potter to make it".
The nations and their leaders, while they walk the world stage in boastful
pride, are but marionettes, who move in accordance with the way in which the
unseen hand of God moves or pulls the string. God's will dominated the entire
process of life.18
The striking difference between the Greek, Nuer, Kalabari and Jewish
ideas of fate, on the one hand, and of the Acholi, on the other, lies in the fact
that the notion of pre-determination, so much stressed in the others, is almost
absent in the Acholi concept of Fate. Destiny is that which is ordained, some-
thing destined to happen. Wilobo, Woko and Ru-piny do not stand for some-
thing unalterably pre-determined, nor for the powers or agencies responsible
for seeing that the destiny of the individual is accomplished.
This is consistent with, and further illustrates, the irreligious tendency of
the Acholi. If Destiny is that which is ordained, something pre-determined,
then there must be some power or agency, some principal or law, Necessity,
a God, a personal creator to ordain, to will it, and probably also to see it
accomplished. The Acholi had no High God, one who might pre-determine
the destinies of nations and will the fate of rulers that walk the world in boastful
pride, and also of their humbler subjects and his other creations; there was no
Supreme Being whose will or wishes, if or when questioned, would make him
Wilobo, Woko and Ru-piny are not deities, not divinities, not spirits,
not powers. They are not worshipped, no sacrifices are offered up to them.
And when someone cries, 'Wilobo!' he is not calling on anybody or anything,
he is not making a supplication or praying. Woko, Wilobo and Ru-piny are
mere names for the sum total of the sufferings and misfortunes of Man: blind,
deaf to entreaties, senseless, cruel. When the full weight of misfortune hits
an individual, the Acholi say "Woko has knelt on him". Good fortune, happi-
ness remove this weight. The words are descriptive of the sad situation, the
painful predicament of the sufferer,
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE 91
The following are common Nilotic proper names: Olobo (m), Alobo (f);
Lalobo (m); Lawoko; Woko-rac (woko is bad); Ru-piny.
These names are descriptive, and tell of the misfortunes that the family
had suffered before the children bearing these names were born: such as the
loss of a number of children etc. They have no religious connotations what-
soever. And, unlike the children with jok names, namely twins who enjoy
special religious privileges, these children are not treated in any special ways;
there are no special ceremonies at their births or deaths, no special taboos
or other religious prohibitions surround them.9 These names are of the same
order as the following: (Ocan (m), Acan (f) (can is misfortune); Olyel (m)
(lyel is tomb); Otoo (f), Atoo (m) (too is death); Ongom (m), Angom (f) (ngom
is earth, soil, indicating a number of deaths, and burials); etc.
Elsewhere, I have described how, when death occurs, the Acholi do not
turn to some ultra-human powers for help, for consolation. Death is not
sweetly interpreted as a gateway to some heaven, to eternal blissful existence.
It is faced squarely. The Acholi admit defeat, and in utter hopelessness, in
furious frustration sing:
Oh! if I could reach Death's mothers' homestead,
My daughter, I would make a long grass torch;
If I could reach Death's mothers' homestead
I would destroy everything utterly, utterly ... 20
We note that the mourner himself desires to visit the homestead of Death's
mother and wreak vengence. He does not appeal to a god to intervene, he does
not believe that the death of his brother was the wish or will of some creator,
to be accepted without question. Of course no one has ever been 'there' with
a long grass torch in his hand. But if he could, he "would destroy everything
When danger threatens the Acholi all they can to avert it, and to rid the
homestead of it. They have a complex of magico-religious beliefs and rites
as well as a stock of medical knowledge which diagnose, explain and interpret
the individual sources of misfortune and ill health, and provide means and way
of coping with the individual situations, in ways socially satisfactory and
acceptable. But when all these have failed, when the game of ritually acting out
their keen felt desires has produced no material changes in the situation,
at this level, the Acholi become thoroughly sceptical and irreligious, and prefer
to face the facts of life coolly and realistically. When your son dies you weep,
but amid tears, you declare "Well these things do happen; this is the way of
In his deep agony Job cried:
Let the day perish wherein I was born ...
Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb
Why did I not die from the womb
Why did I not give up the ghost
When I came out of the belly?
For now should I have lain still and be quiet
I should have slept;
Then had I been at rest .. 21
A Greek story tells of how a Phrygian king once captured the wise Satyr
Silenus, who was endowed with supernatural knowledge. The monarch put
to Silenus the question of questions: What is best and most desirable for men?
The Satyr remained silent for a long time.
But at last, to obtain his release, he replied with bitter laughter:
92 UGANDA JOURNAL
"Oh wretched race of a day, children of chance and misery, why do ye compel me to say
what is most expedient for you not to hear? What is best for all is for ever beyond your
reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. The second best for you, however, is
soon to die."22
Acholi religion is a this-worldly religion, a religion of abundant life and the
fullness of days. They never seriously concerned themselves with what was to
happen to them after life. They did not regard this life as insufficient, as an
ante-chamber to another, or a forerunner to some Utopia, nor did they regard
themselves as mere puppets, marionettes worked by strings, pulled hither and
thither by an invisible hand of some god. They took things as they were, the
storms and confusions, the advances and retreats, the alarms, despairs, suffer-
ings, misfortunes, victories, failures, laughter, success, contradictions and
contraries: all these constituted the Human Situation, Wilobo. They feasted
and enjoyed themselves when things went well with them, fought the sources
of misfortune and sufferings as best they could, using the tools they had. When
joyful, they saw and described life as light, not heavy. They say of a healthy
person, kome yot, his body is light. Human sufferings and misfortune were seen
in terms of overwhelming weight. Woko, Wilobo and Ru-piny are gigantic
weights that kneel on the victim and crush him or her. There in nothing much
you can do about it, nothing you can say either, for this is the way of the
Had an Acholi woman been present in the garden of roses where the Phry-
gian king interviewed the wise Satyr Silenus, she might have retorted:
O cowardly man
Return back into your mother's belly!
1. For a full description of Acholiland and Acholi social institutions, see F. K. Girling,
The Acholi of Uganda, London, 1950. See also, A. Butt, The Nilotes of the Anglo Egyptian
Sudan and Uganda, London, 1953.
2. E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft Among the Azande, Oxford, 1937. Ch. 4.
3. E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Nuer Religion, Oxford, 1956; Godfrey Lienhardt, Divinity and
Experience, The Religion of the Dinka, Oxford, 1961.
4. John Beattie, Other Cultures, London, 1964, p. 206.
5. Okot p'Bitek 'The Concept of Jok among the Acholi and Lango', Uganda Journal'
Vol. 27, No. 1. 1963.
6. Renato Boccassino 'The Nature and Characteristics of the Supreme Being among the
Acholi of Uganda', Uganda Journal, Vol. 6, No. 4 p. 195.
7. Okot p'Bitek op. cit.; See also A. L. Kitching, C.M.S. Annual Report 1904-5.
"One of the first things to be done was to reduce the language to writing. This task
was attempted with such success that by the middle of November a reading sheet,
one hymn, parts of morning and evening prayers, the first catechism and half of
St. Mark's Gospel had been rendered into the Gang (Acholi) language. This, however,
was not accomplished without difficulty, for the people have no word for 'God', or
for 'create', or 'Creator', and the Runyoro word 'Ruhanga' signifying God had to be
adopted (sic) for use. (my italics);
See also John Taylor, The Primal Vision, London, 1963, p. 89. and Fred. Welbourn
'Some Aspects of Kiganda Religion', Uganda Journal Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 172, and Foot-
8. J. P. Crazzolara, A Study of the Acholi Language, Oxford, 2nd impression (Revised)
1955, p. 417.
9. A. C. A. Wright, 'The Supreme Being among the Acholi-another view-point', Uganda
Journal, Vol. 7. No. 3, p. 134.
10. Ogodo is a women's dance, a circle is formed and the dancers move in a clockwise
direction. No musical instruments are used, for a full description, see R. N. Bere, 'Acholi
Dances', Uganda Journal, Vol 1. 1934.
11. Gemo the personification of plagues, are believed to be a whole army of dwanfs who
migrate by night from place to place. As they go through he homestead you can hear
ACHOLI CONCEPT OF FATE 93
pattering of their small feet, and the clattering of the half-gourds their women use for
shielding their babies on their backs; you can also hear their babies wail. They pause
by the hut and ask for red charcoal with which to light their pipes, but you do not give
them burning charcoal, you give black charcoal instead, you pass this through the gap
between the roof and the wall. You bite some of the charcoal, chew it and spit it out
saying, "Here is burning charcoal, pass in peace, our hearts are clean". As they go through
the village, when they find people with good and clean hearts, they pass in peace. But
when men and women have bad and unclean hearts, the village is visited with small-
pox, odyer, or chicken pox, anyo, or widespread dysentery. In their prayers to the an-
cestors the Acholi say inter alia;
The plagues that are coming
Let them pass far away!
12. Bwola is the chiefly dance, danced only on chiefly occasions, The men carry small drums.
For a fuller description see R. M. Bere. op. cit.
13. Proverbs. Ch. 27, 1.
14. Plato, The Republic, Translated by Dr. A. D. Lindsay; Everyman's Library. Bk. x. pp.
318-335. According to Zeno the founder of Stoicism God, Mind, Destiny, and Zeus,
are one thing. Destiny is a power that moves matter. Providence and Nature are other
names for it. His immediate successor Cleanthes of Assos wrote the following prayer:
Lead me O Zeus, and thou Destiny,
Lead thou me on.
To whatsoever task thou sendest me,
Lead thou me on.
I follow fearless, or, in mistrust
I lag and will not, follow still I must.
See Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, London, (Second Impression)
1947, pp. 279-280.
15. Gordon H. Clark, 'Helenistic and Roman Schools of Philosophy' A History of Philo-
sophical Ideas' Ed. Vergilius Fern, N.Y. 1950, p. 121.
16. E. E. Evans-Pritchard Nuer Religion, p. 13; Godfrey Lienhardt op. cit. p. 243.
17. Robin Horton, 'The Kalabari World View-an outline and interpretation' Africa, Vol.
32, No. 3 p. 205.
18. Samuel S. Cohon, 'Ancient Jewish Philosophy', in Vergilius Fern op. cit. p. 59.; The
Rt. Rev. K. Russell has kindly drawn my attention to the difference between Greek
and Jewish ideas of fate, and pointed out that with the Jews, man could also alter the
course of history:
Jeremiah Ch. 18; vs. 8, 10.
"If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent
of the evil that I thought to do unto them ... If it do evil in my sight, that it obey
not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them."
I am grateful to him also for having read the manuscript of this article and for his useful
19. Okot p'Bitek 'Acholi Twin Dance' forthcoming in Transition Kampala.
20. Okot p'Bitek op. cit.
21. Job. Ch. 3.
22. Quoted by W. Macneile Dixon, The Human Situation, Pelican Books 1954, p. 222.