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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Table of Contents
Kingship, archaeology and historical myth
The correspondence of Dallington Maftaa
The founding of Mbale
The banana in Uganda 1860-1920
Changes in the extent and the distribution of cultivation in Uganda 1952-1958
On the bats of Uganda
Uganda bibliography 1965
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
The Uganda Journal
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
VOLUME 30 T 1966
ARTICLES \ Page
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORICAL T NSKY I
THE CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTA HNGRAY 13
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE M. TWADDLE 25
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 1860-1920- B. W. LANGLANDS 39
CHANGES IN THE EXTENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF
CULTIVATION IN UGANDA 1952-1958 D. N. McMASiER 63
ON THE BATS OF UGANDA F. A. MUTERE 75
AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE ON A SURVEY OF THE
SESE ISLANDS B. M. FAGAN AND L. LOFGREN 81
CHAILLE LONG'S ALLEGED TREATY WITH MUTESA-SIR JOHN GRAY 87
GEORGE WILSON AND DAGORETTI: KINANJUI'S ACCOUNT A. T. NIATSON 91
A PRELIMINARY NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF CLAN
AND BORORIET AMONG THE SOUTHERN GROUPS OF THE
SEBEI-SPEAKING PEOPLES J. M. WEATHERBY 93
FAKIH IBRAHIM, MUSLIM ULEMA H. B. THOMAS 97
A BREVIARY OF AFRICAN ROYAL LITURGIES N. Q. KING 98
UGANDA'S POISONOUS SNAKES: FURTHER OBSERVATIONS ON
FEEDING HABITS B. N. WAKEMAN 101
A NOTE ON INTERSPECIFIC RESPONSE TO A
FLEDGELING'S CALL AMONG SUNBIRDS A. W. R. MCCRAE 104
African Saint (By A. Luck) J. MaNB 107
Fraser of Trinity and Achimota (By W. E. F. Ward) H. B. THOMAS 108
They built for the future (By M. Macpherson) W. B. BANAGE 110
Railways and development in Uganda(B% A. M.O'Connor)C. R. FRANK III
Die Sozialwissenschaftliche Erforschung Ostafrikas
(By A. Molnos) M. R. DOORNBOS 114
Ancient African Kingdoms (By M. Shinnie) -M. POSNANSKY 115
Praise poems of Tswana chiefs (By I. Schapera) D. RUBADIRI 116
Great Britain and Ghana : documents of Ghana history
(By G. E. Metcalfe) O.W. FURLEY 117
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS AND CORRIGENDA 80
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1965 Compiled by B. W. LANGLANDS 119
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Price Shs. 15!-
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1965-66
The President of Uganda, His Excellency Sir Edward MULesa. K.B.E.
Dr. W. B. Banage
The Hon. Secretary
The Hon. Treasurer
The Hon. Editors
The Hon. Librarian
Dr. J. K. Almond
Mr. J. L. Dixon
Messrs. Cooper Bros. & Co.
Professor S. J. K. Baker
Mr. R. K. K. Gava
Mr. S. C. Grimley. M.B E.
Mr. W. B. Hudson
Mr. W. S Kajubi
Mr. F. X. Katete
Mrs. M. Macpherson
Mr. P. M. Mutibwa
Mr. M. B. Nsimbi
Miss M. Senkatuka
Mr. M. 0. Buluma
Mrs. ). Benm
Mr. B. W. Lanplands
Mr. A. \V. R. McCrae
Dr. M. Posnansky
Mr. W. A. Trembles
Mr. A J. Loveday
Hon. Legal .4dviiser
Mr. R A. Counihan
H.H. Frederick Mutesa II, K.B.E..
Kabaka of Buganda
R. A. Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa IV,
C.B.E., Omukama of Bunyoro
Lord Twining of Tanganyika and
Godalming. G.C.M.G., M.B.E.
Sir John Milner Gray
Mr. E. B. Haddon
Mr. H. B. Thomas, O.B E.
Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E
Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.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. Jonill, C.M.G.
1937-38 Sir H. 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.a.s.
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 Griffilh
1950-51 Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, %%.r.
1951-52 Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
1952-53 Sir J. N. Hutchinson, C.M.C., F.R.s.
1953-54 Mr. J. D. Jameson, O.B.E.
1954-55 Dr. Audrey 1. Richards, C.B.E.
1955-56 Rev. Dr. H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
1956-57 Mr. D. K. Marphatra, 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, O.B.E.
1961-62 Mr. B. E. R. Kirwan. M B.E.
1962-64 Mr. W. S. Kajubi
1964-65 Dr. M. Posnansky
Mr. S. W Kulubya, C.B.E.
Mr B. K. Mulyanli, o.B.E.
Secretary: Mrs. J. Bevin
Mr. F. P. Saben
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
VOLUME 30 1966
B. W. LANGLANDS (Editor)
J. CHAPLIN P. J. NKAMBO-MUGERWA
A. W. R. MCCRAE M. POSNANSKY
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Copyright Uganda Society 1966
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORICAL MYTH -M. POSNANSKY 1
THE CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA -SIR JOHN GRAY 13
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE M. TWADDLE 25
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 1860-1920- B. W. LANGLANDS 39
CHANGES IN THE EXTENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF
CULTIVATION IN UGANDA 1952-1958 D. N. MCMASTER 63
ON THE BATS OF UGANDA F. A. MUTERE 75
AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE ON A SURVEY OF THE
SESE ISLANDS B. M. FAGAN AND L. LOFGREN 81
CHAILLE LONG'S ALLEGED TREATY WITH MUTESA SIR JOHN GRAY 87
GEORGE WILSON AND DAGORETTI: KINANJUI'S ACCOUNT A. T. MATSON 91
A PRELIMINARY NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF CLAN
AND BORORIET AMONG THE SOUTHERN GROUPS OF THE
SEBEI-SPEAKING PEOPLES J. M. WEATHERBY 93
FAKIH IBRAHIM, MUSLIM ULEMA H. B. THOMAS 97
A BREVIARY OF AFRICAN ROYAL LITURGIES N. Q. KING 98
UGANDA'S POISONOUS SNAKES: FURTHER OBSERVATIONS ON
FEEDING HABITS B. N. WAKEMAN 101
A NOTE ON INTERSPECIFIC RESPONSE TO A
FLEDGELING'S CALL AMONG SUNBIRDS A. W. R. McCRAE 104
African Saint (By A. Luck) J. MBITI 107
Fraser of Trinity and Achimota (By W. E. F. Ward) H. B. THOMAS 108
They built for the future (By M. Macpherson) W. B. BANAGE 110
Railways and development in Uganda (By A. M. O'Connor)C. R. FRANK 111
Die Sozialwissenschaftliche Erforschung Ostafrikas
(By A. Molnos) M. R. DOORNBOS 114
Ancient African Kingdoms (By M. Shinnie) -M. POSNANSKY 115
Praise poems of Tswana chiefs (By I. Schapera) D. RUBADIRI 116
Great Britain and Ghana : documents of Ghana history
(By G. E. Metcalfe) -O.W. FURLEY 117
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS AND CORRIGENDA 80
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1965 Compiled by B. W. LANGLANDS 119
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Price Shs. 15/-
Uganda Journal, 30, 1 (1966) 1-12
KINGSHIP,, ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORICAL MYTH
Presidential address delivered on 19 January 1966
By MERRICK POSNANSKY
The Kingdoms of Uganda have for the past hundred years been a foca
point of interest to historians and anthropologists. The attention focused on
the Kingdoms, as on other centralized states in Africa, has unfortunately
created an inbalance in the evidence available to both historian and archaeolo-
gist and led to an overemphasis of the importance of the role of the centralized
state in African history. The origin of the Kingdoms has exercised the particular
attention of the culture historian. The early visitors and writers from Spekel
onwards saw the rise of the Kingdoms as undoubtedly due to northern in-
fluences, probably Hamitic invaders, though the role of Egypt was always
stressed particularly by Johnston who wrote "the influence of Egyptian civili-
zation profoundly affected Negro Africa."2 Seligman,3 who concentrated on a
combination of language, economy and physical morphology, enshrined in
academic trappings the Hamitic myth which has lasted until the present day and
was restated in a modified form as late as 1963 by Huntingford4. The Hamitic
Myth quite plainly regarded "the civilisations of Africa" as the civilisationss of
the Hamites", "the great civilising force of black Africa from a relatively early
period." Gorju5, as a modification of this myth, linked the origin of many
of the Interlacustrine peoples, and particularly the ruling groups, quite firmly
with Ethiopia and it is tempting to see in the views of some of the early mission-
aries the origin of the oral tradition which derives early kings or peoples
More recently, Father Crazzolara6 in his three volumes on the Lwoo has
introduced the idea of the Nilotic Lwoo being the progenitors of Kingship.
Ogot7 has reviewed the substance of the Hamitic myth and the Nilotic origin of
the interlacustrine states and come to the conclusion, partly following the lead
given by Evans-Pritchards and Lienhardt9 (in their studies of the Shilluk),
that the Kingdoms were not introduced institutions but were "only consolid-
ated either under .. (Nilotic) .. rule or in defence against them."10 Murdock
in his monumental study of the whole of Africa's culture history" substitutes
Cushites for Hamites and sees in the earthworks of Western Uganda and the
Kingship of Buganda comparisons with Sidamo earthworks and Kafa Kingship.
The Cushite he sees as both pre-Bantu and pre-Nilote. A further study of Africa
as a whole has led Oliver and Fage in their Short history of Africa to define the
'Sudanic' state as a superstructure erected over village communities of peasant
cultivators rather than as a society which had grown up naturally out of them"
with "the ideas of ancient Egypt, percolating through the Meroitic filter" as
"the basic element of the 'Sudanic' civilization."12
The purpose of this paper is to review this welter of conflicting opinion and
to decide which, if any, theory is based on fact and fits the Uganda situation.
Central to the whole controversy is whether divine-type Kingship (or Sacral
rulership, Sudanic Kingship or African despotism, which are but variants of
2 UGANDA JOURNAL
the same theme) developed independently at different African centres under
the same or varied circumstances or whether there is, as Murdock puts it "a
mental blueprint of a despotic political structure, transmitted from generation
to generation as part of traditional verbal culture, and always available to be
transmitted into reality."13 If there is such a blueprint, was its origin Ethiopia
or Egypt and were its transmitters Hamites, Nilotes, Cushites, or some other
unnamed people? The question of origin raises the problem of defining the
role of the Nile Valley civilisations in African history.
Up to now the bulk of evidence used for theorising on the problem has been
linguistic, anthropological (both physical and social), historical (both orally
transmitted and written), the comparative analysis of political institutions and,
in the case of Murdock, a comparative study of agricultural economies. On the
whole the archaeological evidence has been ignored or looked upon only as of
secondary importance in supporting a theory formulated on the basis of other
approaches. The excuse of the present writer in trying to pose questions for
which we may never have the answers, is to add the findings of archaeology to
the arguments previously employed. The Nubian campaign, initiated by the
urgency of rescue operations consequent upon the erection of the Aswan High
Dam, has recently thrown new light on the later developments of civilisation
in the Nile Valley.14 Dates are now also being released from excavations initiated
by the Uganda Museum as part of the Uganda Iron Age Project15 which add a
fresh interest to arguments concerning the builders of Bigo.
It is to Nubia that we have to look for the earliest contacts between Egypt
and Africa to the South. The discovery of negroid burials dating to the tenth
millennium B.C. indicates that Nubia was very much a racial as well as a
cultural contact zone. Research in Nubia has demonstrated that rather than the
influence of Egypt being unbroken, following its extension of administrative
control to the south after 1500 B.C. the influence of the African hinterland of
Nubia was perhaps more pervasive than that of Egypt. The pottery of the
Meroitic period (?300 BC 310 AD) resembles more closely that of the Group
C pastoral folk (2500 BC) than that of the preceding Napatan Egyptian whilst
there is a surprising technological continuity from the Meroitic, through the X
Group wares, to the Christian Nubian period of the eighth and ninth centuries
AD.16 Detailed study of physical remains17 from various cemeteries dating to
the period of upheaval, between the decline of Merod and the period of the
establishment of the Christian Kingdoms, also indicates continuity. Previously
the assumption of many of those who derive the origin of divine Kingship from
Egypt is that Meroe fell to attacking barbaric hordes and that the survivors fled
to the west carrying with them the Egyptian ideas of Kingship and that these
ultimately resulted in the rise of the Sudanic Kingdoms of West Africa.1s
There is no need though, if influences have to be spread, to link them necessarily
with the fall of Meroe since at their peak the successor states of Christian
Nubia stretched as far west as Darfur'9 and possibly as far south as the Nuba
mountains (120 N).
Fairman20 has suggested that Ancient Egypt was a conservative society and
that "African social customs and religious beliefs were the root and foundation
of the Egyptian way of life." Taking the sacred marrigae of Horus and Hathor
as an example he concluded that several strands are closely synthesised. One,
connected with Osiris and earth fertility, probably owed its ultimate origins to
southwestern Asian prototypes though the other strands suggest underlying
pastoral ceremonies which could indicate a possible "common climate of custom
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH 3
and belief" from which both Egypt and later African societies were to draw.
This posing of the possibility of African origins of Egyptian Kingship does not
eliminate the problem but heightens it. It is often assumed that there was one
stereotyped version of Egyptian divine monarchy, it is important however to
realise that the institution of monarchy was constantly in process of adaptation
to changing circumstances and practically every feature of divine-type mon-
archy from a large number of examples can be paralleled in 3000 years of
Egyptian development. Westcott21 has shown the weakness of direct deriv-
ations from Ancient Egypt in relation to modem West African, Akan and
Yoruba, societies and has indicated the effect of the demand for an ancieni ped-
igree in creating such contacts.
Though Nubian continuity and the African basis of Ancient Egyptian
Society can thus be inferred it does not mean that the contacts between the
Nile Valley and other parts of Africa should be minimised. The expeditions to
Punt, which probably refers to the Horn of Africa, from Middle Kingdom (2600-
2100 BC) times, and the dispersal of the ideas of agriculture across to west
Africa in the same millennium are evidence of the antiquity of such contacts.
Occasional trade items from the Nile Valley dating from the first and second
millennia A.D. have been found in West Africa whilst Ethiopian abuna were
appointed from Alexandria throughout the Medieval period. By the thirteenth
century however, it was Kanem and Bornu which were expanding eastwards
towards Darfur22. But one of the greatest tangible contributions of the Nile
Valley civilizations has often been considered to be that of iron-working via
Meroe. The archaeological evidence is perhaps here at variance, in that iron is
not in abundance, even in Meroitic grave contexts, until the end of the first
millennium B.C.,23 whereas iron working is found at Nok in Northern Nigeria
by the third or fourth century B.C. and in Rhodesia by the second century
A.D.24 The serious possibilities of iron working being brought by Red Sea
traders to Ethiopia and thence conveyed to East Africa cannot be overlooked;
nor can the possible role of the Indonesians or other Indian Ocean seafarers in
conveying iron-working to Rhodesia. North African contacts via the Ghadames-
Ghat Sahara route, attested from prehistoric chariot drawings2s, may have
provided the origins of the West African Iron Age since iron was used in and
traded from North Africa as early as the middle of the first millennium B.C.
The absence of the highly distinctive Meroitic pottery in West Africa or any-
where outside a fairly restricted area of the middle Nile26 provides further
reason to believe that the direct contribution of Meroe to sub-Saharan Africa
has been overstressed.
The argument in support of the link with Egypt is that there exists a "sub-
stratum" which can be recognized after a long passage of time in the "form of
scattered survivals among people now differentiated thoroughly in respect of
culture, language and race." If there is this substratum it would not show every
feature of the progenitor society but would be distinguishable by the recognition
in a given society of "preponderant integrating factors".27 The difficulty of
reconstructing such a substratum is that it is composed of varying elements
drawn from different quarters at different times, which means that any over-
riding hypothesis of African history is subject to weakness since elements from
quarters other than the "blueprint" cultural source can quickly be shown
by critics of the given hypothesis and the links in time from the progenitor to a
society demonstrating the "significant survivals" can rarely be demonstrated
4 UGANDA JOURNAL
The survivals in East Africa which have normally been thought of as signi-
ficant are traits of Kingship, cattle cults, earthworks and building in stone,
physical resemblances of present day peoples to past peoples and isolated
elements of language which are often shown to refer to cattle or Kingship. The
origin of Kingship has depended solely on where the origin of these traits has
been placed. Physical resemblances, cattle and Kingship had been the main
considerations of Seligman; isolated language traits and Kingship had been the
concern of Wright28; monuments and Kingship the main interest of Murdock;
and Crazzolara has concentrated largely on language. Within Uganda can be
found divine-kingship, cattle-cults, earthworks and items of language which are
totally foreign to the language groups in which they occur. A survey of the
origins of all these features reveals much about the cultural influences affecting
the development of Uganda's present day Kingdoms.
The Kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro and Ankole have royal dynasties
which vary in length from eighteen to twenty two generations.29 They were
preceded, according to the oral traditions of western Uganda, by the three
generation rule of the Bacwezi. In Buganda, where the Bacwezi legends are
weak, the present dynasty was preceded either by several local dynasties, the
mythical Kintu, or was an offshoot of the Bunyoro royal house. According to
Crazzolara,30 the Bacwezi were the first Lwoo movement. He based his con-
clusion on such linguistic evidence as the mpako royal names of Bunyoro-
Kitara, the term Bacwezi which he believed was derived from the widespread
Lwoo Cwaa clan of northern Uganda and the southern Sudan, and various
names used for objects and customs associated with royalty by the Baewezi
which were subsequently transmitted to the successor state of Bunyoro-Kitara.
Oliver31 interprets the Kingdoms of Bunyoro and Buganda with their Babito
dynasties as the result of the Lwoo movements and as the direct consequence of
the break up of the large Bacwezi Kingdom. The Hinda dynasties of southern
Uganda, such as Ankole, are interpreted as the result of a defensive consolid-
atory response to the Lwoo movement and the establishment of the Babito King-
doms. What is quite obvious is that, in whatever theory is accepted, the Lwoo
movements acted as a catalyst to state development and the Babito Kingdoms
had certain closer contact with the northern Lwoo than the southern Kingdoms.
These links are seen in the legends of Isimbwa marrying the daughter of the
'Lango' Labongo, the northern soothsayers foretelling the doom of the Ba-
cwezi, the disappearance of Cwa Nabaka (the second Kabaka of Buganda)
and the burial of the first three Bakama of Bunyoro in Acoli country, the use of
coronation mounds and the use of a Nilotic word Kale in ekikale the Bunyoro
word for a royal enclosure.
The Lwoo influence was thus important but the degree of importance
largely depends on the interpretation that is given to the Bacwezi. To Wrigley33
the Bacwezi "never existed except in the minds of men" and "their makers",
the Bahima, "had little to do with the making of Biggo." He further contends
that there was once a "large loose-jointed Bantu Kingdom" which broke up on
the impact of the Lwoo. Wrigley offers no chronology for this Kingdom.
Oliver34 on the other hand accepts the Bacwezi as a parent dynasty breaking up
on the impact of the Lwoo as described in the traditions with each of the
successor kingdoms, particularly Ankole and Bunyoro, claiming direct descent
from the parent dynasty. The Bacwezi he sees as the makers of Bigo and the
other earthworks and the date as probably the fifteenth century35. The present
writer, on the basis of the traditions, would date the Bigo culture at 1350-1500
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH 5
A.D. and would also accept the correlation of the Bigo culture with the Bacwezi.36
The excavations at Bigo in 195737 and 196038 have greatly clarified the pro-
blem and it is possible to describe a Bigo 'culture' with some certainty and
suggest that the Bigo culture was the work of people akin to the present day
Bahima. The principal features of the culture which allow these suggestions to
be made have only slowly become evident. The pottery which characterises the
Bigo culture has been described elsewhere in detail39 but a brief description is
perhaps necessary here. The pottery forms40 at Bigo and several other large
sites, such as Mubende and Kibengo4l, consist of spherical bowls, jars, shallow
basins and footed dishes decorated with roulette patterns made by knotted-
grass rollers. Less frequently, decoration also includes an haematite slip applied
around the rim (internally) or as vertical zones on the exterior. The forms and
decoration are distinctive enough for the distribution of the Bigo culture to be
tied fairly closely to the short grass country of Western Uganda which has a
rainfall largely under 35 inches per annum and stretches from south of the
Kagera as far north as the Kafu. Large earthworks situated in undulating
country are also a feature of the culture. These normally have a central hill and
in several cases, like Kibengo and Bigo, are located on a river. Bigo, with its
ditch system of over six and a half miles, was clearly not primarily defensive
though could be termed defendable and its inclusion of good grazing in the
meadows of a Katonga tributary indicates that its makers intended that it
should be able to protect large herds of cattle.
Bigo was the largest site. Nearby on the Katonga are the two smaller earth-
works of Kagogo and Kasonko and ten miles to the south the former 'reservoir'
and village site of Ntusi42. The scale of the earthworks undertaking43 at Bigo,
where the ditches in some places are more than fifteen feet deep and are cut into
solid rock, suggests rulers with a firm control over a relatively large manpower,
such as would be possessed by a ruler of a centralised state. At the centre of
Bigo an enclosure bank, originally more than ten feet high and now partly
destroyed, has been interpreted as a royal enclosure44 (orirembo) of the type that
survived in Ankole, Rwanda and Karagwe until the late nineteenth century.
This supports the further suggestion that Bigo was the capital of this state
whilst the other earthworks could have been centres of subordinate chiefs.
At Bigo the sheer size, its location to include meadow lands, the numerous gaps
in the outer ditch together with the enclosures of the inner trench system, and
the finds of large amounts of cattle bones clearly indicate Bigo was the capital
of a pastoral kingdom situated over western Uganda. It would seem from the
paucity of finds and the absence of house sites that the inhabitants could only
have lived in flimsy huts, such as are still used by pastoral folk and who most
probably made more use of wooden vessels and calabashes than of pottery. The
occupation was of a short duration as no thick layers of habitation debris such
as food remains, hearths and broken pottery, were found.
Radio-carbon dates from three different structural features of the central
enclosure area of A.D. 1370+90, 1450+300 and 1505+70,4 reinforce the view
that the occupation period was short and provide a date for that occupation of
around 1350-1500 A.D. The date is identical to that for the Bacwezi worked
out from the traditional history. The short occupation fits in with the three
generation rule of the Bacwezi who were pastoral rulers. The Hinda Kingdoms
to the south have orirembo enclosures at the centre of their kraal capitals. We
know from the history of Ankole that the Abagabe considered themselves the
direct heirs of the Bacwezi; and the form the capital sites took,4 and the
6 UGANDA JOURNAL
continuity of that form from the Bigo prototype, would support their contention.
It is amongst the pastoral Bahima, who formed the aristocracy of Ankole,
and their neighbours in Karagwe and southern Bunyoro that the Bacwezi
tales are strongest. Further support for this association can be seen in the pre-
sence at Ntusi of clay hearth kerbs decorated with rouletted patterns which are
similar to the undecorated kerbs of even the simplest Hima hut today. Wrigley
dismissed the Bahima as the makers of Bigo because of their present pastoral
life and "light cultural luggage"47 but there is every indication that the Lwoo
had even less material culture. Nor does question of the possession of iron arise
as a decisive factor since iron working in Uganda predates Bigo and weapons
in the form of arrowheads have been found in contexts dating to several hundreds
of years before Bigo.4 The scarcity of iron in the southern Sudan and the use
by such people as the Dinka of spearheads of bone, horn and wood49 would
indicate that the Lwoo themselves were probably not characterized by the
control of the best supplies of iron as Wrigley suggested.
Bigo was abandoned because of the movement of peoples from the north.
The ditch system was neglected and the orirembo mutilated to build a large
flat-topped mound. The newcomers stayed a shorter time than the original
builders but left behind them a clue to their origin in distinctive arrowheads,
barbed on opposite faces of both edges of a square tang, which are at present
only found amongst the Madi of Northern Uganda. This small fact adds some
slight support to Father Crazzolara's recently expressed view that the Lwoo
were really only part of a larger Madi movements0. Mounds occur also at
Kakumiro, Budo and Fashoda and could perhaps be associated with Nilotic
customs of royal accession.
Thus the archaeological evidence suggests that a Bahima Kingdom existed
before the Lwoo movement. If this contention is correct it is important to decide
from where to derive the Bahima. They have previously been called Hamitic
and marked on maps as such but for this description there is no evidence. The
Bahima speak the Bantu languages of the people they move among, their
traditions and songs handed down from generation to generation are also in
Bantu forms. The Bahima established a kingdom in western Uganda (including
a large part of what is now western Buganda) because that was the area best
suited to a pastoral life. Physically the Bahima are negroes and no tests, of which
but a few, unfortunately, have been made, have shewn blood groups or other
biochemical data which mark them off significantly, in a quantative sense, from
the Bairu. Yet they are different in superficial physical appearance, with their
tallness, slimness and more aquiline facial features; a fact which was com-
mented upon by most of the early explorers and writers and summed up by
Johnstons5 in such terms as "the Bahima have the figures and proportions of
Europeans", or "Gala-like negroids," with the inference that they came from
the northeast. One may however think of the strongly marked physical differ-
ences between Bairu and Bahima as due to nutritional and social factors rather
than necessarily inferring a folk movement from the Horn of Africa. Living
predominantly on a high protein diet and with definite physical features socially
preferred in marriage, it is probable that both the forces of natural and social
selection have operated to produce the physical differences so apparent two
generations ago to the first European writers. A similar process has been ob-
served in Rwanda and Kivu by Hiernaux52 amongst Batutsi and Bahutu,
whilst the effect of a high protein diet in inducing extra height is a widely
observed phenomenon amongst groups migrating in time or space to situations
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH 7
where a better diet is attainable.
Though there is no evidence of the movement of the Bahima into western
Uganda, the Ankole cow which they now herd was certainly an immigrant. It
is currently suggested53, though without much solid evidence, that the Sanga
variety of cow, to which those of western Uganda belong, originated in the
Ethiopian highland area as a cross between the Asiatic Bos indicus (humped
zebu) and the longer established humpless long-horned cattle. The arrival of
these cattle does not of necessity mean the movement of large numbers of
people nor is it certain that their movement from a possible Ethiopian highland
source area was direct rather than via the southern Sudan. It is just as possible,
as has been inferred by Payne,54 that the southern Sudan has also to be consider-
ed as part of the general region for the emergence of the Sanga. The same variety
of cow is found in Rhodesia and its arrival there may be dated on the evidence
of Iron Age cattle figurinesss to the latter part of the first millennium A.D.
From the same general source area as the cattle, and as uncertain in date,
probably came the idea of the use of the roulette in pottery decoration. This
simple motif, though now employed for an infinite variety of designs, still
characterises the pottery of the larger part of East Africa. It was first found in
Renge pottery of Rwanda, the Bigo pottery of Uganda and the Lanet Wares of
Kenya (Class C of Sutton).56 These three classes post date the earliest proven
Iron Age pottery, the dimple-based ware, and presumably date from the early
part of the second millennium A.D. The pottery is found initially associated
with pastoral peoples and could have accompanied the cattle movement.
A further index of contact from the north which has been discussed is the
idea of building in stone. The variations in construction techniques from
Ethiopia to Kenya, Kenya to Tanzania and Tanzania to Rhodesia demon-
strated by the writer from Kenya,57 and by Sassoon from Engarukass represent
agricultural societies coping with difficult environments which demand the
maximum use of limited agricultural land and rainfall, to which is added in
several cases the problem of the clearance o f stone from steep hillsides. The cairns
of East Africa have also been thought59 of as a possible connection with Ethio-
pia and have lent some support to the Megalithic Cushite theory of Murdock.
This assumption largely depends on the pre 'Nilo-Hamitic' populations having
a Cushitic language, which is as yet far from proven. It also depends on various
cultural and social traits, such as circumcision, being indigenous to a certain
zone and passed to neighboring people like the Bantu Kikuyu and Bagisu
and to the Nilo-Hamitic Masai and Nandi and not brought in by them. The
view is also based on the assumption that the cairns are found in the pre-
dominantly bush country of the rift valley and highland zones of Kenya and
Tanzania. Similar cairns are however found in a much wider area and in
differing ecological zones, particularly in the region west of the Nile in the
Bahr-el-Ghazal, where the Bongo cairns have recently received attention60
and in the Lake Victoria area of Uganda in Kooki and Mengo districts6.
The cairns of the southern part of the Sudan, described many years ago by
Evans-Pritchard62 and Seligman63, would be just as appropriate parallels to those
of western Kenya or Engaruka as those of the Ethiopean areas. Seligman illust-
rates the squatting circles of the Lotuka-speaking tribes and illustrates a Leria
circle6 which are remarkably similar to the Poret or elders' 'quiet discussion'
circles of certain of the Kalenjin tribes.65
If the origins of the material and archaeological aspects of the culture of the
Kingdoms of western Uganda cannot be accurately delineated the sociological
8 UGANDA JOURNAL
and political aspects present even greater problems. The Kingdoms were
clearly influenced by the northern movements but it is apparent that some
centralised organisation preceded them. The Shilluk succession of Reths on no
account amounts to more than fifteen generations66 and cannot be considered
as the prototype for the Uganda Kingdoms. The fact that certain features are
held in common by the Shilluk and the Uganda Kingdoms can be interpreted as
being due to the effect of certain pressures and cultural influences on both
groups. The use of terms like Ret, Kak and Ker which are in common use over a
very wide area, may well be derived originally from the Meroitic but it is im-
possible to trace direct lines of derivation. It is probable that as individual
sacral rulership systems are studied in detail several complexes with similar
traits will be distinguished. One of these complexes may well comprise the
southern Sudan but it has to be remembered that it is probably to this same area
that we have to look for developments which later resulted in the expansion of
certain of the tribal groups, falling within the old Nilo-Hamitic label, which
are characterized by societies without rulers.
Too much can be made of similarities in customs. The many aspects of
cultural divergence discernible in the universal approach to culture history;
such as pyramids and sun-cults in the Americas, regicide in Polynesia, the ritual
significance of fire in non-monarchical states, sexual aspects of fire-making,
arrows fired into the air for rain making in Bulgaria and ritual incest in the
South Seas which any cursory perusal of Frazer's "Golden Bough"67 and similar
encyclopaedic anthropologies can reveal, should warn against the dangers of
isolating even a few traits in tracing the origins of divine Kingship. Many of the
traits of Kingship would appear to have a purely functional purpose. The link
with rain-making is one of these and it would be difficult to prove that this is
Egyptian and not a legitimate reaction of an agricultural society in an area
where rain is undependable. The fact that arrows are fired in different directions
in both ancient Egypt and Bunyoro has been taken by Oliver6' as almost con-
clusive proof of the Egyptian origins of divine-kingship but it is only one
picturesque (and possibly symbolic) feature of Kingship and cannot out-weigh
the fundamental differences. The secrecy surrounding the ruler is a measure
of ensuring that the status and person of the ruler is maintained and the my-
stery surrounding death provides against a struggle for power breaking out
immediately on the death of a king. Many absolute features of the Kingship of a
state like Buganda were only developing as late as the nineteenth century and it
is difficult to distinguish between traits that were original and those that may
have been adopted during the subsequent twenty generations. The marriage
of the king to his sister, besides being found in the Nile Valley civilisations, also
occurs in the tales of origin of many Bantu peoples such as the Akamba69 and
in certain kingship groups as in the Kingdom of Mwenemutapa where it is
possible to date its inception.70
Ogot7l has suggested that the important question to answer is not what is
the origin of divine Kingship but "what were the circumstances or factors .
which produced the attitude of mind which regards Kingship as divine?" The
circumstances producing kingship amongst the Shilluk and in Bunyoro he
suggests were the "presence of certain economic, political and military factors".72
He follows Oberg73 in suggesting that the arrival of the Bacwezi, an organised
minority group of Bahima, resulted in the first Kingship74. In the popular
traditions of western Uganda the Bacwezi are always spoken of as being very
different to the Bahima because of their fair skins (sometimes even said to be
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH 9
white) and tallness which could be an indication that they were in fact an im-
migrant minority. This is a satisfactory explanation but one which cannot be
proven. If eventually the archaeologists discover a sequence of demonstrable
pastoral sites with a sequence of roulette-decorated pottery in which the Bigo
forms suddenly appear and then disappear it may prove possible to say that the
Bacwezi an immigrant minority. So far this is as impossible as demonstrating
where the Bahima came from, if at all they came from anywhere, or saying
from where the political organisation of the Bacwezi should be derived. The
large structure (or structures)7s5 discovered by Shinnie in his 1957 Bigo excav-
ations would appear to predate even the earthworks themselves and indicates
from the post-holes a large construction which is a unique feature of the site
and one which conceivably may hold a clue to the origins of centralised govern-
ment within the area.
In conclusion one can only say that the whole question of the origin of
Kingship is, and will be, purely a matter for speculation. Archaeology has so far
only succeeded in indicating the lack of supporting data for most of the sweeping
theories which derive Kingship from one common source. Though even in-
direct links with Egypt or Merod may have been slight, nevertheless, it is im-
portant not to minimize the cultural reservoir effect of the area of the Nile to the
south of Nubia in the present Sudanese provinces of Upper Nile and Bahr-el-
Ghazal, which can be termed for the want of a better simple description, the
"Nile Pool". This is the region from which the Nilotes emerged and where the
Shilluk still live. It lies between the Sidame region of Ethiopia on the east and
the Nile-Congo watershed on the west. From this region cultural contacts have
been maintained with West Africa by way of the 'Yam Belt' of Murdock.76
For East Africa it can be said that the Nile Pool area, received influences from a
large number of sources and like a reservoir it passed streams of cultural
influence to the south as well as to the east and west. Kingship itself would
appear to be as old as the Bigo culture. The first makers of the centralised state
were probably the Bahima or at least a ruling dynasty of Bacwezi. The advent of
the Lwoo movements in all probability was contemporaneous and may have
affected the development of the Bacwezi state. The Bacwezi state was short-
lived and split into successor states, the northern strongly under Nilotic in-
fluence, the southern carrying on many of the practices initiated by the Bacwezi
though with both groups strongly defending their rights as heirs apparent.
Even the southern Kingdoms, from the evidence of Bacwezi names and certain
details of the Bacwezi traditions in Ankole, were not enitrely uninfluenced by
the developments taking place to the north of them. It is likely that the Lwoo
movements were not as dramatic as they have been made out to be but may have
been preceded by increasing pressures from the Nile Pool area from the twelvth
or thirteenth century A.D. onwards, when the forces of Islam were beginning to
push down the Nile valley into the area from Egypt and from West Africa via
the Congo-Nile watershed. These pressures may have been evidenced by a form
of 'shunting' action in which the Madi, as suggested by Father Crazzolara,
may have been initially important in northern Uganda. These first movements
may also have provided the loosely-knit pastoralists who had themselves
derived their cattle and pottery from the north, with the stimulus to centraliz-
It is undeniable that the Nile Pool area was influenced indirectly fron.
Ancient Egypt but is was also influenced from other quarters. It was not the
'Sudanic civilization' which finally flourished in Uganda, or even a Meroitic
10 UGANDA JOURNAL
filtration of that civilisation, but something which was rooted as much in the
environment and economic possibilities of Western Uganda as in the influences
seeping down from Nubia. Uganda in its turn provided a fusion of the older
and presumably loosely-knit Kingship of the Bacwezi and the newer Kingship
of the Babito which it transmitted south into Tanzania and possibly westwards
into Rwanda and east into Busoga. The contemporaneity of the Kingship of
Mwenemutapa in Rhodesia and the lack of material culture links between
East Africa and the Rhodesian-Katangan areas would indicate that Uganda
cannot be regarded as a 'staging post' for the transmission of the idea of
'Sudanic Kingship' further south. There, other factors, such as the well-attested
trade from the Indian Ocean seaboard as early as the seventh or eight centuries
AD., served as the catalytic force towards the establishment of some form of
political centralization. In the same way in which the Nile Pool area provided
some of the major influences affecting the growth of the states of western Uganda
the area of Nubia to the north provided influences contributing the state
formation in parts of the Western Sudan. But in West Africa influences were
derived from elsewhere, particularly North Africa and as a result it was the
western-most states, such as Ghana, the furthest removed from the Nile, which
developed farther than the eastern-most. In the face of such anomalies and with
the large gaps in the evidence available it is premature to accept any single
hypothesis to explain either direct links between Uganda and other cultural
areas, such as Ethiopia and Meroe or the role of the Nile Valley civilizations in
the diffusion of political ideas and institutions.
1. Speke J. H., Journal of the discovery of the source of the Nile, 1863, p. 246.
2. Johnston, Sir H., Uganda Protectorate, 1902, p. 210.
3. Seligman, C. G., Races of Africa, 1930, passim.
4. Huntingford, G. W. B., The peopling of the interior of East Africa by its modern in-
habitants. Chapter 3 in The history of East Africa, Vol. I, 1963, in particular pp. 68-78.
5. Gorju, J., Entre le Victoria, L'Albert et L'Edouard, Rennes, 1920, pp. 50-55 and 125-127.
6. Crazzolara, J. P., The Lwoo, 3 Vols., Verona, Missioni Africane, Museum Combonianum,
7. Ogot, B. A., Kingship and statelessness among the Nilotes. Chapter in The historian in
tropical Africa, J. Vansina and R. Mauny, 1964, pp. 294-295.
8. Evans-Pritchard, E. E., The Divine Kingship of the Nilotic Sudan. Oxford, Frazer Lecture,
1948, pp. 36-37.
9. Lienhardt, G., Nilotic kings and their mothers' kin. Africa, 25, 1955, pp. 29-42.
10. Ogot, op. cit. p. 299.
11. Murdock, G. P., Africa: its peoples and their culture history. New York, pp. 196-7,
332 and 355.
12. Oliver, R. and Fage, J. D., A short history of Africa, 1962, pp. 44-52.
13. Murdock, op. cit. p. 37.
14. See in particular two articles by W. Y. Adams in J. of Egyptian Archeology, 50 and 51
1964 and 1965, on Post-Pharaonic Nubia in the light of archaeology. Private com-
munication from J. de Heinzelin about negro burials.
15. Annual Reports of the Uganda Museum, 1958-9, 1960 and 1961. The project was financed
in part by the Uganda Museum, the Government of Uganda, the British Academy, the
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropoligical Research and the British Institute of
History & Archaeology in East Afrca.
16. Adams, W. Y., An introductory classification of Meroitic Pottery. Kush, 8, 1964, pp. 169-
17. Personal information from W. Y. Adams on the University of Colorado findings. Kush,
18. Arkell, A. J., History of the Sudan, 2nd edition, 1961, p. 173.
19. ibid p. 191.
KINGSHIP, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH 11
20. Fairman, H. W. Ancient Egypt and Africa. Conference paper of the African Studies
Association of the United Kingdom held in Birmingham, September 16th, 1964, pp. 3-4.
21. Wescott, R. W., review of Eva Meyerowitz's The Divine Kingship in Ghana and Olumide
Lucas' The religion of the Yoruba in relation to the religion of ancient Egypt. J. of African
History, 2, 1961, pp. 311-321.
22. Arkell, A. J., The Medieval History of Darfur. Sudan Notes & Records, 40, 1959, p. 46.
23. Arkell, A. J., The Iron Age in the Sudan. Current Anthropology, 7, 1966, (forthcoming).
24. Private communication from R. Summers based on Carbon 14 date of 180 A.D. for
Gokomere ware associated with iron slag at Mabveni.
25. Lhote, H., The search for the Tassili frescoes, 1959, pp. 123-127. for exact route see map
facing p. 22.
26. Personal communication from W. Y. Adams.
27. Frankfort, H., Man, 49, no. 130, 1949, p. 95. To be fair to Frankfort he admits that the
"postulate of a Hamitic substratum is a matter of surmise."
28. Wright, A. C. A., reviews of J. P. Crazzolara's The Lwoo Parts I & It in Uganda J., 16,
1952, pp. 82-88 and 17, 1953, pp. 86-90.
29. Posnansky, M., The traditional history of the hereditary kingdoms of the western lacust-
rine Bantu and Rwanda. Papers of the 17 th Rhodes-Livingstone Institute Conference,
Lusaka, 1963, figure 2.
30. Crazzolara, J. P., The Lwoo people. Uganda J., 5, 1937, pp. 14-15.
31. Oliver, R. The history of East Africa, Vol. I., 1963, pp. 181-189. The Babito ascription for
Buganda has recently been challenged by Dr. M. S. M. Kiwanuka (Personal com-
32. Oliver, R. The traditional histories of Buganda, Bunyoro and Ankole. J. Royal Anthro-
pological Institute, 85, 1955, p. 115.
33. Wrigley, C. C., Some thoughts on the Bacwezi. Uganda J., 22, 1958, pp. 15-17.
34. Oliver, R., Reflections on the sources of evidence for the pre-colonial history of East
Africa. Chapter in The historian in tropical Africa, J. Vansina and R. Mauny, 1964, pp.
35. Oliver, R., Ancient capital sites of Ankole. Uganda J., 23, 1959, p. 52.
36. Posnansky, M., 1963 op. cit., and The Iron Age in East Africa, in The background to
African evolution, Vol. 11, W. W. Bishop and J. D. Clark, Chicago, 1966. See also, Pottery
types from archaeological sites in East Africa. J. of African History, 2, 1961, p. 188 (where
the suggested date was 1300-1500).
37. Shinnie, P., Excavations at Bigo 1957, Uganda J., 24, 1960, pp. 16-28.
38. Posnansky, 1960 op. cit. refers.
39. Posnansky, 1961 op. cit, pp. 188-190.
40. Previously described by E. C. Lanning (Uganda J. 24, 1960, p. 195) as painted
pottery, and by G. Mathew (Antiquity, 108, 1953) as Class B. & C.
41. Lanning, 1960 op. cit. pp. 183-197.
42. Wayland, E. J., Some notes on the Bigo bya Bagenyi. Uganda J. 2, 1934, pp. 24-27.
43. In order to erect the Bigo earthworks more than 200,000 cubic yards of earth and rock
were dug out (or at least 300,000 tons). Assuming modem manual excavation this would
have involved 1000 men for a year. This is greater than the more subjective approach of
Sir John Gray in the Uganda J., 2, 1935, p. 228 in which he suggested that two to three
months by a thousand men "to be an exceedingly liberal estimate."
44. Posnansky, 1961, op. cit. p. 187.
45. Prepared by Geochron Laboratories Inc. Nos.GXO. 519, 517 and 516.
46. The reliability of the later traditions is confirmed by a recent radiocarbon data of
1640 +75 AD (GXO. 520) from theoriremboat Bweyorere excavated by the writer in 1959
and previously assigned to the mid-seventeenth century (Posnansky, 1961 op. cit. p. 193).
47. Wrigley, op. cit. pp. 16-17.
48. Pearce, S. & Posnansky, M., The re-excavation of Nsongezi rock shelter. Uganda J.,
27, 1963, p. 92, fig. 6.
49. Seligman, C. G. & Seligman, B Z. Pagan tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, 1932, p. 9.
50. Crazzolara, J. P., The Madi role in the history of eastern central Africa, a lecture to the
Uganda Society December 15th 1965 and reproduced in cyclostyled form in the Report of
the 1965 Local History Seminar held at the Institute of Education, Makerere University
51. Johnston, op. cit., pp. 616-618.
52. Hiernaux, J., Dynamique evolutive du patrimoine hereditaire des populations du Kivu.
Bulletin des Naturalistes Beige, 41, 1960, pp. 468-481.
53. Payne, W. J. A., The origin of domestic cattle in Africa. Empire Journal of Experimental
Agriculture, 32, 1964, p. 98, fig. 1.
12 UGANDA JOURNAL
54. Ibid. p. 106.
55. The Zimbabwe Excavations 1958, Occasional Papers Number 23A of the National
Museum of Rhodesia, Salisbury, 1961, pp. 212-214, fig. 32.
56. Sutton, J. E. G., A review of pottery from the Kenya highlands. South African Archaeo-
logical Bulletin, 19, 1964, pp. 30-31.
57. Posnansky, M., The Iron Age in East and Central Africa; points of comparison. South
African Archaeological Bulletin, 16, 1961, pp. 134-6.
58. Sassoon, H., Private communication. A full interim report on the 1964 Engaruka ex-
cavations will be appearing in Azania, 1, 1966, (forthcoming).
59. Sutton, J. E. G., Azania, 1, 1966, (forthcoming).
60. Koneberg, A. & W. Wood carvings in the south-western Sudan. Kush, 8, 1960, pp.
61. Lanning, E. C., The cairns of Koki, Buganda. Uganda J., 21, 1957, pp. 176-183. Cairns
have recently been found by Miss M. Patz on a hill top in the Lugazi area (private com-
62. Evans-Pritchard, E. E., Megalithic grave monuments in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.
Antiquity, 9, 1935, pp. 151-160.
63. Seligman, C. G. and B. Z., op. cit., passim.
64. ibid-p. 9.
65. Sutton, J. E. G., describes such a feature amongst the Elgeyo at Tambach in an un-
published guide to an Archaeological Excursion in the Western Highlands of Kenya,
African Studies Programme, 1965.
66. Seligman, C. G., and B. Z., op. cit. p. 44.
67. Frazer, Sir James George, 1890, The golden bough.
68. Oliver and Fage, op. cit., p. 37, The Bunyoro arrow shooting is at the accession ceremonies
of an Omukama whereas the Egyptian practice took place at the festival of the sacred
marriage of Horus and Hathor.
69. Personal communication from D. Kamilu.
70. Abraham D. P., Chapter in The historian in tropical Africa, J. Vansina and R. Mauny, 1964
71. Ogot op. cit., p. 297.
72. ibid. pp. 295-296.
73. Oberg, K., The kingdom of the Ankole in Uganda. Chapter in African political systems,
E. E. Evans-Pritchard and M. Fortes, 1940, p. 128.
74. Ogot, op. cit., p. 295.
75. Shinnie, op. cit., p. 18.
76. Murdock, op. cit., p. 223.
Uganda Journal, 30, 1 (1966) 13-24
THE CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA
By SIR JOHN GRAY
Dallington Scopion Maftaa was born in about 1859.1 He had been rescued
from a slave ship and handed over to the care of the Universities' Mission to
Central Africa in Zanzibar, where he had been educated at the boys' school
at Kiungani. Before being engaged by Stanley it was reported that he "had not
been a great credit to the Mission".2 Stanley enlisted him for service in his
trans-continental expedition in 1874. He described him at that date as being "pro-
bably only fifteen, with a face strongly pitted with traces of a violent attack of
smallpox, but as bright and intelligent as any boy of his age, white or black".3
In Through the dark continent Stanley describes how in September 1875
during a campaign against the Bavuma he introduced Dallington to Mutesa so
that he "could translate the Bible into Kiswahili for him, and otherwise commu-
nicate to him what I wish to say. Henceforth, during the intervals of leisnre that
the war gave us, we were to be seen-the king, court, Dallington and I-eagaged
in the translation of an abstract of the Holy Scriptures. There were readers
enough of these translations, but Mutesa himself was an assiduous and earnest
student".4 When Stanley himself set out finally from Buganda on his journey
across Africa, he left Dallington behind to continue the instruction of Mutesa
in the Christian religion.
In his Basekabaka be Buganda Sir Apolo Kagwa refers to Dallington as
Delintoni Bafutawa.5 This second name is seemingly derived from 'Bafuta',
the name given to a bleached calico of Indian manufacture, but there is no
reason to think this version of the name is more correct than Maftaa. Sir Apolo
also gives his version of the circumstances in which Dallington remained behind
after Stanley's final departure from Buganda on his trans-continental journey.
According to him, Mutesa asked Stanley to leave Dallington behind, but Stanley
objected on the ground that Dallington was under a contract to proceed with
him. Mutesa t hentold Dallington to absent himself when Stanley set out on his
journey. Dallington accordingly did so. When Stanley was in Buddu he was
overtaken by a messenger carrying a present from Mutesa and on receipt thereof
Stanley agreed to give Dallington his discharge. This may be the true version
of the facts or it may be just a piece of palace gossip which came to the ears of
Sir Apolo when he was one of Mutesa's pages. Emin Pasha records in his diary
that on 10 August 1876, Dallington showed him the letter of discharge which
he had received from Stanley, but he gives no information as to its date or con-
tents. It is evident that Sir Apolo must have got his information at second-hand.
He alone gives Dallington's second name as Bafutawa.
According to Sir Apolo, when permission had been obtained for Dallington
to remain behind, Mutesa called the Zanzibari Masudi. Bafutawa then read
the First Book of Moses (Genesis), which Masudi wrote down in Arabic charac-
ters. When it had been thus written, "Mutesa tried earnestly to read it."
14 UGANDA JOURNAL
As the correspondence shows, circumstances led to Dallington's undertaking
the additional role of amanuensis in English in Mutesa's dealings with Gordon
and other Europeans. The last letter of 1880 was actually written by the C.M.S.
Missionary, Charles Pearson, but Dallington acted as interpreter between
Mutesa and Pearson regarding its contents. In all these letters (except that of
1880) the hand is undoubtedly that of Dallington as also in some letters is
the voice dictating to the hand. But in others the voice would appear to be that
of Mutesa and perhaps gives us some insight into his character.
As an entry in Emin's diary on 16 March 1878 shows, Dallington had at
that date asked Mutesa's leave to proceed with a proposed embassy to Egypt,
but that had been refused.6 The motive for this request is not apparent; it may
have been nostalgia, wanderlust, or a feeling of insecurity as a servant of a
capricious master. In any event he stayed on in Uganda until the arrival of the
first C.M.S. party. After their arrival he failed to give satisfaction to Mackay,
who described him as leading a "godless life, after all the teaching he got a
the Mission in Zanzibar". In 1881 he was given by Mutesa the kitongole chief-
tainship of Mutezi under Kago, the country chief of Kyadondo, and withdrew
from the service of the Church Missionary Society.7
The last letter refers to 1880. By this time Mutesa could draw upon the
C.M.S. Mission staff for a competent amanuensis for English letters and Dallingr
ton found his occupation gone. The reference to Mutesa awarding him a mino-
chieftainship is the last record of him. He may have died shortly afterwards,
for his name does not emerge in any accounts of the civil wars of 1888-9. In
1881 he could not have been more than twenty two years of age.
I have assembled below every letter known to me with which Dallington is
concerned. These letters are allowed to speak for themselves. As will be seen,
several of them were translated after receipt into French and German. The
originals of these appear to be no longer extant. The attempt to retranslate them
back into English may, in some instances, have attributed to them a somewhat
different purport and effect to that disclosed by Dallington in his mis-spelt and
In the presentation which follows all the writings of Dallington are set out in
small type and only those with which Dallington is associated have been treated in
this way, Quotations from other people have been placed in inverted commas and
the references to these are given in the notes at the end of the article. The sou-
rces for each of Dallington's letters are given in the notes which head each letter.
Reprinted from Anderson-Morshead, The History of the Universities' Mission
to Central Africa, p.112 and Correspondence..........................respecting the Slave
Trade 1879. Slave Trade No. 3 (1897), p.266.
Dallington to Edward Steere, Bishop of Zanzibar-23 April 1875
My dear Bishop, Let thy heart be turned to thy servant, and let me have favour in thy sight;
therefore send me Swahili prayers, and send me one big black Bible. I want slates, board,
chalk, that I may teach the Waganda the way of God. I have been teach them already, but
I want you to send me Litala Suudi, that he may help me in the work of God. Oh, my Lord
pray for me. Oh, ye boys pray for me. And if thou refuse to send me Litala Suudi send John
Swedi. Your honour to the Queen and my honour to You-Scopion, Alias Dallington Maftaa
-I am translating the Bible to Mtesa, son of Suna, King of Uganda. I was with Henry Stanley
CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA 15
together with Robert Feruzi, but Robert is gone with Stanley, but I being stop in Uganda
translating the Bible.
The second letter of Dallington's is one from Mutesa to Stanley. By the end
of January 1876 Stanley had abandoned his march towards Lake George owing
to the defection of the Baganda force under Sambuzi attached to his expedition
by Mutesa. In this letter Mutesa pleads, unavailingly, with Stanley to postpone
his final departure towards the Congo. It was received by Stanley when he was
on the banks of the Kagera River and was printed in Stanley's Through the dark
continent Vol. I p.448.
Mutesa to H. M. Stanley--30 January 1876
My dear Sir, H. M. Stanley,
What meant by his news that we see Sabadu coming without a letter in time ? He came first.
I asked him, "Where is the letter you brought?" So he answered me "The letter is my mouth;"
but I believed not his words. Then went I to the Sultan and told him these things. Then the
Sultan called Sabadu and asked him, "Where is the letter?" and he answered "There is no
letter." So he send him to Pokino-the Katekiro; but I who know in my heart that they have
been run away from you. So now he send others people instead of them, and he go to punish
Sambuzi. It is far better for you to waite for Waganda to take you to Mutanzige, because they
see that Sambuzi been punished, and all the others will obey the word of the king. I, Dallington,
the servant of wite men, I won't tell you lie, but I will tell you the truth. The Sultan (Mtesa)
is not bad. This letter I write it in a hurry, and send me two or three papers to write the last
Son of Sultan Suna of Uganda. January 30th, 1876
This letter, as here set out, is reprinted from the first edition of G. Birkbeck
Hill, Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, 1874-1879, pp.159-160, which also con-
tains a facsimile reproduction. The original letter is now in the custody of the
British Museum (Add. Ms. 52388, No. 1). This letter is also reproduced in
facsimile opposite p.68. Uganda J. 5 1937. It is written in pencil on two sides of a
brown coloured piece of paper. The reverse begins with the words "will I not
find the other road". At the foot is a note in ink in Colonel Gordon's hand-
writing saying "Received 8 March 1876-for Miss Gordon". It was evidently
written after Mutesa had heard of Gordon's occupation of Magungo and Mruli.
As the letter shows, Dallington had learnt during his residence in Zanzibar
that a person aggrieved by the action or decision of the British Agent in Zanzi-
bar could appeal to the British Governor of the Bombay Presidency. He was
also aware that such person might make a second appeal beyond the Governor
at Bombay, but was hazy as to where this otherr road" lay.
Mutesa to Gordon-6 February 1876
To Sir Canell Gorlden February 6th, 1876.
My Dear Freind Gorden hear this my word be not angry with Kaverega Sultan of unyoro.
I been head that you been brought two manwar ships but I pray you fight not with those Wa-
nyoro for they know not what is good and what is bad. I am, Mtesa king of uganda for if you
fight with governor if you fight with governor you fight with the king. I will ask you one thing
but let it may please you all ye Europeion for I say if I want to go to Bommbey if the Govern-
our and if the Governour of Bommbey refuse me to past/will I not find the other road therefore
I pray you my friends hear this my letter stop for a moment if you want to fight put ships in
the river nile take west and north and I will take east and south and let us put wanyoro in to
the middle and fight against them but first send me answer from this letter. Because I want to
be a freind of the English. I am Mtesa son of Suna king of uganda let God be with your Ma-
esty even you all Amen.
Mtesa king of uganda
February 6th 1876
16 UGANDA JOURNAL
This original of this letter was translated into French, and printed so in
M. F. Shukry, Equatoria under Egyptian rule, Cairo University Press, 1953,
p.331. My retranslation back into English may not represent entirely accurately
the purport and effect of the original.
Mutesa and Dallington to Gordon-24 March 1876
To Sir Colonel Gordon, My dear friend, I wish you good day. It is I M'tesa, King of Uganda
who sends you this letter. I wish to be the friend of the white men, Therefore, hear my words
which I say.
1. I want a priest who will show me the way of God.
2. I want gold, silver, iron and bronze.
3. I want clothing for my people and myself to wear.
4. I want excellent guns and good cannons.
5. I want to cause to be built good houses for my country.
6. I want my people to know God.
To Colonel Gordon, 26 March 1876
Look at this letter. It is true that King M'tesa wants to be a Christian as we are.
It is I Dallington Maftaa
I was with the Mission at Zanzibar and you know my master, Bishop Tozer. He has left
for England, but there is another in his place whose name is Edward Steere.
The King of Uganda is very good. It is true that he wants to be a Christian and to believe,
but there is nobody who can show him. He has sent two elephants' teeth and each speeks
to the other hereafter.
From M'tesa, King of Uganda, and Dallington, your servant.
26 March 1876.
As in the case of Letter 4 the original letter has been translated into French and
thence back into English. This is also reprinted from Shukry, p.331.
Mutesa to Gordon-26 March 1876
Oh! my dear Friend Gordon, Hear my word which I say to you. Come, let us join hands
between us. Let us together have two powerful countries. Let us stop the trade in slaves. It
is I, M'tesa, King of Uganda, Usoga and Karagwe. I am not one of the Mohammedans, I
myself want to be among the Christians and I want you yourself to come to me.
Do not give, do not make delay, but come faithfully,
As in the cases of letters 4 and 5 the original of this letter has been translated
into French and is reprinted from Shukry, p.333.
Mutesa to Gordon-3 April 1876
From King M'tesa, the greatest King of the interior of Africa, 3 April, 1876.
This letter is from M'tesa, the greatest King in Africa. It is I M'tesa, King of Uganda,
Usoga and Karagwe. Listen then to my word which I tell you, Oh! thou European. I have
become your true borther, I am a Christian, only I have not yet been baptised.
I believe in God the Holy Father, Almighty, Creater of heaven and earth, and in the Lord
Jesus Christ, the only true Son of God, begotten of the Father before the creation of the earth.
He is God of God.
May your Queen be a mother to me and may I become her son. May her sons and daughters
be my brothers and sisters. It is I, M'tesa, King of Uganda. Formerly the Mahommedans temp-
ted me saying that Mahommed was the first and last of good people, but we find this is not
the truth but a lie. May we both be united. Oh! Colonel Gordon, listen to this letter which says
Oh! God, let there be peace between England and Uganda. Oh! may England be joyful always.
Oh! Colonel Gordon, come quickly to me, and, if you do not come, at least send one of your
white men, who you have with you, I want the reply to this letter to be printed.
May God be with the Queen, May God be with your Majesty and I beg you to send me paper,
ink and pens, because all my paper is finished.
CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA 17
This letter has also been translated into French and is reprinted from Shukry,
p.332. The letter is not dated, but its approximate date would seem to be the
beginning of July 1876, when Nuehr Agha had set out from Rubaga to find
Gordon and to confess to the true state of affairs there. The following entry was
made by Emin at Mruli in his Diary of 11 July. "Arrival of Mutesa's people with
two soldiers bringing mail from Nur Aga. He has been three months with
Mutesa, having set up his small posts in Bulondoganyi and Cossitza. The soldiers
were being badly treated and had nothing to eat. (Later)-Their chief Matandi
by name was told by Mutesa to go to the Pasha and hand over two letters written
in English in a wonderful style full of references to the Trinity, in which he asks
us to allow a clergyman to come from England".8
From the contents of the letter it may perhaps be inferred that part of the
cajolery which had induced Nuehr Agha to station his troops at Rubaga was
that Mutesa had said that he preferred Egyptians to Europeans and did not want
the latter to enter his kingdom. He was now anxious to let Gordon and his com-
patriots know, before they met with Nuehr Agha, that the truth was exactly
the reverse of what he had given Nuehr Agha to understand.
Mutesa to "all the English" with Gordon (n.d.)
To all the English who are with Colonel Gordon.
Oh! all the men of England, hear what is said in this letter, for I am M'tesa, King of Uganda.
I will tell you the truth, because I am a King and will not lie. Because I am on your side.
If at times I say I do not want white men, it is in order to pretend, because if I always say it,
others will say why does M'tesa want white men and does not ask for us.
Therefore I say in my heart I will receive in secret the English letter. Therefore I pray you,
listen my friend (sic) to what I say. Send a letter to England and tell them that M'tesa wants
one of the priests of England.
But you yourselves come here and quickly so that I can tell you all that I have in my heart
and then you can go to England with joy.
May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the
Holy Ghost be with us all always. Amen.
From M'tesa, King of Uganda, son of Suna.
Oh! Colonel Gordon, I will tell you the truth. I M'tesa tell the truth. I do not want your
people, but I want you yourself to come, you yourself to me, or that you will send one of the
white men you have with you. But I do not want Hammed Effendi9 because he belongs to
Islam. I have nothing more to say, but look after yourself.
Letter received by Emin on the day of his arrival at Rubaga and reprinted
from the Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J. 25 (1961) p.5.
Mutesa to Emin-27 July 1876
To my Dear Friend!
I thank be to God for bringing you home safely. Therefore I send Chambalango my chief
to see you how do you do and thank be to our Lord Jesus Christ to be thy shield
Copies of this letter were inserted in duplicate in the pages in Emin's diary.
The documents had been written with a lead pencil on yellowish pieces of paper.
The words appearing in italics are omitted from one of the two copies.
Otherwise they are in ipsissimis verbis. See the Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J.
25 (1961) p.7.
Mutesa to Emin-28 July 1876
My Dear Friend hear what I say I am a Christian and be thou Christian first I was the
Mohammedeens and find it is all lie and now I am away from them I am among the Christian-
18 UGANDA JOURNAL
tys and I had the wite man but I myself arsk the people that how is among the Christian but I
my self am Christian. From Mtesa king of Uganda.
The following copies of correspondence have been inserted in Emin's diary
and both the letter from Dallington and Emin's reply are set out by Emin in
German. They are reprinted here from the translation in the Diaries of Emin
Pasha. Uganda J. 25 (1961) p. 10. Subsequent correspondence shows that Mutesa
had conceived a great liking for Emin. He may therefore not have authorised
the writing of this letter by Dallington who consequently had to come and retract
Mutesa and Dallington to Emin-4 August 1876
My dear friend! I want you to tell me the truth as to whether you are one of the Turks and
not a white man I asked the Pasha for. He writes to me that he has sent you to me and I
thought at first you were the white man I wanted. But you have denied persistently that you
are a Christian and I must therefore ask you to tell the truth as to whether you are a whiteman
and confirm it by oath.
From Mutesa king of Uganda and Dallington Scopion Mouftah.
Emin to Mutesa
"You asked His Excellency the Pasha to send a distinguished white official.
His Excellency has sent me, as the letters and presents I have brought and hand-
ed to you prove. If I have failed in my mission, or said or done anything that
displeases you, you need only complain to His Excellency the Pasha. If you require
a Christian official, please write about it and probably one will be sent."
On 11 August 1876, Gordon wrote from Foweira to his sister a letter re-
porting his arrival there that day and that he had found there Nuehr Agha
bringing news of the debacle of the Egyptian troops at Rubaga" Thereupon
Gordon wrote to Dallington as follows:-12
"Foweira 12 August 1876
I have received your letter and will send on the one you wrote to the Bishop.
I am coming to Mrooli, and then, I will try, and come on to Mtesa. Tell Mtesa,
not to be afraid, for I am a man, who does not wish to hurt anyone, and that
I will help him to learn civilization.
Mr. Dallington Maftara C. G. Gordon"
The original of this letter has recently come to light in the archives of the
C.M.S. in London among certain of the Mackay papers13 It had doubtless been
handed by Dallington to Mackay. It is also referred to in Emin's diary, for on
20 August 1876 he recorded that "I was given two letters from the Pasha, one
for Dallington, and one for the Sultan. In these dated at Foweira 12/8........
In the letter to Dallington, he promises he will help him to civilize Mutesa;
he will be very surprised if he sees the cilivized Dallington"'14
Dallington's reply to Gordon is reproduced below, it is taken from Shukry
Dallington to "Sir Colonel Gordon"-19 August 1876
I have received your letter but I will ask you one thing why will you call me Sir I am only
your strength and I am only a servant to you for the English when they save us with Arab and
the English brought the boats Arabs and brought us to the her M.S. Daphiney.15
Therefore I pray you call me not Sir because I am only a slave of your and be not afraid
and say that King M'tesa is bad no Sir not so because M'tesa wants only english I Dallington
CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA 19
I will tell no lie but true and just therefore my Lord I pray you call me not Sir because the
English save me from the Arab shall the slave call his master as the slave no sir not to me but to
the others M'tesa truly he is a King of Africa and he is a good man too. Come let us crown him
with gold and silver because he use to say let the Queen of England be my mother and I be a
son to her, because being one Church that is the Church of Christ.
From your servant Dallington.
The following letter from Mutesa to Gordon was evidently in reply to
Gordon's letter of 12 August 1876, already referred to and is reprinted from
Mutesa to Gordon-23 August 1876
To my Dear Friend.
0 my dear Gordon come let talk mouth to mouth I have received your letter it is futfull
of goods words I therefore am a King of Uganda, and Unyoro, Karagwe and Usuwi it is
I M'tesa who spoke this words come to me quick that I am see you come let us shake hands
together in the day of which I will see birthday for gladness,
From M'tesa King of Uganda.
The following letter is also reprinted from Shukry, p.363.
Dallington to Gordon-23 August 1876
To Sir Colonel Gordon.
I have received your letter but I will ask you one thing why you call me Sir I am only your
slave I am only your servant when the English save us they brought their boats without the
English where would I get this name Dallington no Sir call me not Sir I been tell King me M'tesa
all your words and he tolled that he marst not come with many man he marst come only with
ten men therefore I pray you call me not Sir.
From Dallington your Servant.
The following extracts from Emin's diary explain how the next letter came to
be written. The letter itself is reprinted from Shukry, pp.363-364. "24 August.
Dallington appeared, scratched himself for a little time and then went away.
He must have received a good education from Stanley. According to Idi, Nur
Aga is on the way with 30 men and will arrive here in three days."
"28 August. Nur Aga arrived in the meantime and brought me an unpleasant
and impertinent letter from the Pasha. According to it I must go back to Fatiko
and Dufile and to Lado to receive instructions for making stations........ Nur
Aga had orders to take Fakih with him which would certainly be very dis-
agreeable to the Sultan."
"29 August. Nur Aga and Mohammed Effendi appeared with letters in
English from the Pasha, which under a semblance of truth and lies demanded
leave for us to depart."16
Mutesa at Nabulagala to Gordon-29 August 1876
To Sir Colonel Gordon.
Oh Lord our heavenly Father King of all Kings Governor of all things power no creature
able to resist to whom it belongsth justly to punish sinners and to be merciful to them that
truly repent. Save and deliver us we humbly beseech thee from the hands of our enemies;
abate their pride assuage their malice and confound their devices that we being armed with thy
defence may be preserved ever more from all perils to glorify thee who art the only giver of all
victory through the merits of the only Son Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
Oh my Dear friend Gordon forget me not I have give all your soldiers and I never want your
soldiers but I want you yourself to come to me.
Oh God let there be peace between England and Uganda and you been tell me not to buy
Zanzibar's powder what I shall I do for me hands is empty therefore I pray you to give me
20 UGANDA JOURNAL
powders and guns and I been heard that you been toled Ikanagruba and send to him that all
the guns which you got is for King M'tesa come let us be two powerful Country from King
M'tesa son of Suna King of Uganda.
On 30 August Emin sent word to Mtesa of his intention to depart with Nuehr
Agha, as Gordon had ordered him to return. The following letter is reprinted
from Suukry, p.364.
Dallington (Mutesa) to Gordon-30 August 1876
To My Dear Sir Colonel Gordon.
I have receive your letter you tell me that I may tell the King that since little time you are
going to Cairo and I been received the letter to the King as you wrote and he say shall the Eng-
lish live me along this day what evil have I done to the English or what evil have they done to
me bath they rob ed my Kingdom. No oh Colonel Gordon live me not along I pray you and you
said that anot her Pasha is coming, I do not know him but want you Gordon. Have you heard
that Stanley been killed in Uganda? No but I trust with gifts and friendship. Have you heard
that an Arab been killed? No but with merchand to buy and to sell I will shed no blood of a
stranger in my land and King M'tesa said that if that another Pasha that is coming is has and
English if he is an English let him if he is an Turkish do not let him come I have nothing to do
with E gypt for Egypt is by its self and Uganda by its self.
I have nothing to do with Egypt and I been send Settanda to you.
I am good friend to all English men.
The next letter is also reprinted from Shukry, p.359. On the day it was written
Emin and the Egyptian garrison left Rubaga en route for Mruli. On the letter
is a note by Gordon that "M'tesa seems to have got hold of Lady Baker's paper.
I have none. Ibrahim whom M'tesa asks for, is the Musulman Ulema, whom
I have withdrawn, for M'tesa seems very hazy to which creed he will adhere."
Mutesa to Gordon-31 August 1876
To my Dear Friend Colonel Gordon.
I have give your men Nuehr Agha and Ahmed Effendi, Zakii Ibrahim,17 and Hakim, and
all is coming they are in the way but I want Hakim best than all, and I say in my heart that if
I say to Nuehr Agha he will refuse to give him to me I mean to say that you are my friend and
if you call me your friend every things you want to me I will give you and I will give you all
you want and let all your soldiers go away and I will give you a thousand Waganda to go before
you and I am your friend truly but I beg one thing if you give me the wish which you got the
only thing I beg you if you give me Hakim.18
From M'tesa Son of Suna King of Uganda.
Although the next letter bears no date, its contents show that it must be of
the same date as number 16. It is also from Shukry, p.362.
Mutesa to Gordon-(n.d.)
Hamed Emin Effendi and Hamed Faki17 all of them I been give all your people take them
all my saying Hamed Emin Effendi will tell you but I am nothing to say.
I been give any more your men Hamed Emin Effendi he is very good man. Send all is want
to do he tell you.
The bearers of this letter were more than two months on the way and the
letter reached the missionaries only a day or two before letter number 19. The
note from Dallington himself was written on the back of the letter from Mutesa.
Both letters are printed in the Church Missionary Intelligencer, 1878, p.122.
CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA 21
Mutesa to C.M.S. Missionaries at Ukerewe-10 April 1877
To my Dear Friend.
I have heard that you have reached Ukerewe. So now I want you to come to me quickly.
I give you Magombwa to be your guide, and now you must come to me quickly. This letter
from Mtesa, King of Uganda, written by Dallington Scopion Maftaa, April 10, 1877.
Dallington to C.M.S. Missionaries at Ukerewe
To my dear Sir,
I have heard that you are in Ukerewe, and this king is very fond of you. He wants English-
men more than all. This is from your servant,
Dallington Scopion, April 10 1877.
Acting on the advice of Speke's companion, Colonel J. A. Grant, the Nyanza
Sub-Committee of the C.M.S. had recommended that in the first instance a
mission station should be established at the capital of Rumanyika, King of
Karagwe, and feelers should thence be put out to ascertain whether Mutesa
was really willing to let Christian missionaries establish themselves in Buganda.
In accordance with this advice it had been decided to leave their companion
T. O'Neill to finish constructing a dhow at Ukerewe, whilst Shergold Smith
and C. T. Wilson proceeded first of all across the Lake to Karagwe, where
Wilson for the time being should remain whilst Smith would, as soon as possible,
proceed to Buganda to ascertain the prospects of a Mission at Mutesa's court.
The result of the letters 18 and 19 was to head the two missionaries off from
Karagwe and to induce both of them to proceed to Buganda.
They accordingly set sail in the Daisy on 25 June 1877, a day or two after
receipt of these two letters. This letter was also printed in the Church Missionary
Intelligence, 1878, p.122.
Mutesa to C.M.S. missionaries at Ukerewe--(n.d.)
My second letter to my dear Friend Wite Men. I send this my servant that you may come
quickly, and therefore I pray you come to me quickly, and let not this my servant come without
you. And send my salaam to Lukonge, King of Ukerewe, and Thaduma Mwanangwa of Kageye
and Songoro. This from me, Mtesa, King of Uganda.
This letter refers to Emin's second visit to Mutesa's court. The reason for
this visit was because Gordon had instructed Emin to make his way through
Buganda to Karagwe and thence to Ruanda and Lake Tanganyika and thus to
fill certain gaps in Stanley's explorations during his first trans-continental
journey. The letter is taken from Diaries of Emin Pasha. UgandaJ. 26, (1962) p.77
Mutesa to Emin Effendi-12 December 1877
To Dr. Emmin Affendi,
December 12th 1877.
I have resived your letter and that I have prepaar a place already an every place you come
stop two days each. I am true your well wisher.
From Mtesa king of uganda.
December 12 1877.
Emin reached Mutesa's capital on 18 December 1877. As he records in his
diary, he received letter 21 on 19 December and not on the date given. It is
copied here from the Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J., 26, p.77.
Mutesa to Emin Effendi-20 December 1877
To Dr. Emmin Affendi,
My dear friend thank be to God that you have reach safely and I rite this letter. I am truly
Mtesa King of Uganda. December 20th, 1877.
22 UGANDA JOURNAL
On 30 December, 1877, the Rev. C. T. Wilson learnt that Shergold Smith,
who had returned to Ukererewe in order to assist T. O'Neill in the building of
a dhow, had together with his companion been murdered by the inhabitants of
that island. He decided to proceed to the south of the Lake in order to inquire
into the tragedy. He left Rubaga on 2 January 1878, and sailed from Entebbe
two days later.19 Emin who was at Rubaga has recorded that on 3 January 1878
"Miftah came early with several small gourds as a present for me, but also
asked for writing paper. Tanda has been deputed to go as ambassador to England
by way of Zanzibar and Miftah is writing to Dr. Kirk and (U.S.A.) Consul
Webb at Zanzibar to receive him. Mr. Wilson is supposed to have left yesterday
with the return caravan of four persons (natives of Zanzibar)".
A further entry in the diary on 5 January 1878, records that: "Tanda, who
I had not yet seen, came to see me. He is being sent as an ambassador to England
and say he is going with a large company to Zanzibar, but will go thence by
himself. His preparations are finished and he will set out in the next few days.
He is also commissioned to make an alliance with Seyyid Barghash of Zanzibar".
From the foregoing it would appear that this missive to Queen Victoria
was hastily penned so that it could be sent to overtake Wilson for transmission
to Zanzibar, where it would appear to have come into the hands of the Sultan.
Eventually the envoys to Queen Victoria left with Wilson by way of the Nile
in June 1879.
The original letter is now in the possession of Mutesa's great-grandson,
Mutesa II, Kabaka of Buganda.
Mutesa to Queen Victoria-4 January 1878
Rubaga Uganda 4th January, 1878
To Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria,
I wrote this letter to reminded you that I and my people we wants to make friends with
England that the things of Uganda to England and things of England to Uganda.
But I do no not like to make friends with Khedives because I was mohamedans at first but
now I am to Christian Religion.
May God of Our Saviour Jesus Christ established our kingdoms and let Him only be our
helper and let no gods prevail against him.
from Mtesa king of Uganda.
January 4th 1878.
The next letter is recorded in the Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J. 26
Mutesa to Emin Effendi-28 February 1878
To Dr. Emin Effendi February 28th 1878,
I have seen your letter, that you want to go to your country. And Now I am collecting things
for to let you go.
From Mtesa King of Uganda
Emin received the next letter on his way back to Mruli on 31 March 1878
and records that. "I at once replied that, if our soldiers had attacked Kabarega,
they were probably provoked. If Mutesa wished to identify his interests with
Kabarega's he can do so but he will be held to account of his scheming. As
for sale and barter, he knows quite well that I am not a trader. He can send
his people to Mruli where they will find enough to sell and barter"20
CORRESPONDENCE OF DALLINGTON MAFTAA 23
Mutesa to Emin Effendi-27 March 1878
To Dr. Emmin Effendi,
First you went to Kavarega and you went to make peace with him and you telled him he is
not go fight any more and when come from Kavarega to me your soldiers went to fight with
him why and you better tells all your troops to stop to fight with Kavarega and if they fight
with Kabarega you are fighting with me and you are friend to nobody. I do not like to fight to
any body I want peace only and if you want to sell anything I shall bye them.
From Mtesa son of Suna King of Uganda. March 27th, 1878.
This is the last letter with which Dallington was associated and even this
was written by C. P. Pearson, with Dallington only translating. In a covering
letter of the same date to Colonel Gordon, Pearson says, "I also advised him
to write to Gordon Pasha and Dr. Emin Bey expressing satisfaction at what had
been done and (sic) cementing a friendship between them.
The Chiefs expressed their pleasure at what had passed and the King,
Chiefs and Arabs paid me many compliements.
Mtesa asked me to write the letters for him and I promised to do so.
The letters sent to you are the outcome of his own mind. Mufta translated to
me and I wrote down."21
Letter 25 is from a footnote to page 160 of Birkbeck-Hill (op. cit)
Mutesa to Gordon-22 January 1880,
Rubaga Uganda 22 January 1880
To His Excellency Gordon Pacha,
Governor General of the Soudan &c.
I am very glad that you have taken your soldiers out of Unyoro, and now I write this letter
to you to send my compliments and friendship, with some presents, by my servant Kasingi,
as follows-Two leopard skins; Two dressed skins; Two other dressed skins with hair on;
Two earthenware jars. Two Waganda knives; Two dusekkes (Pipes); Two bead collars; Two
Mhugnos (Pipes); Two pairs of Waganda Shoes. And I ask you to end me the following things:
One large elephant gun-the same as the one I sent to Khartoum to repair. I send you the
cartridge to show the bore 'No. 8'. Also one ladle to melt lead with, and one bullet-mould for
the same gun. Also a large looking-glass, some red woollen cloth, some madapolam (Indian
native calico), and some gold and silver lace. You sent me some time since the saddle and
bridle for a horse; I have no horse, and would thank you if you would send me one. Also lease
a silver seal with my name 'Mtesa' engaved upon it. I also wish very much to see some gold
money; will you send me some English sovereigns, French Napoleons, and one five dollar
gold piece and two gold dollars.
With many salaams,
I remain your good friend,
Written by C. P. Pearson, at Mtesa's dictation, Church Missionary Society.
1. The name Dallington was evidently acquired from the Reverend Cyril A. Alington, one
of Bishop Tozer's colleagues in the early days of the U.M.C.A. mission at Zanzibar.
How he acquired the name Scopion is a mystery. Was it a nickname anglice "scorpion"?
The name Maftaa would likewise appear to have been a nickname and equate with the
Swahili word 'mafuta' (of Arabic origin) meaning oil or grease. This may have been
the name by which he was known at the time when he was handed over to the care of the
U.M.C.A. at Zanzibar.
2. Anderson-Morshead E. M. The history of the Universities Mission to Central Africa,
London, 1909, p.112.
3. Stanley H. M., Through the dark continent, London, 1878, Vol. I, p.76.
4. Ibid. Vol. I p.322.
5. Kagwa, Sir Apolo, Basekabaka be Buganda 2nd Edition.
6. See translation of Emin's Diaries, Uganda J. 26, (1962) p.88.
7. Thomas H. B., Jacob Wainwright in Uganda. Uganda J., 15, (1951) p.205.
24 UGANDA JOURNAL
8. See the translation of Emin's diary, Uganda J., 25 (1961) p.4.
The following extracts from that Diary are reprinted in Uganda J. (Ibid) are relevant:
"24 July. In the afternoon a messenger came from Mtesa with two complaints in writing
in bad English against Nur Aga with the request to send him somewhere else, and then
he will grant all other claims. 26 July. ..................Nur Aga will come by another way (sc.
from that taken by Emin on 16 July) with his rear guard of 100 men."
9. Hamed or Mohammed Effendi was Nuehr Agha's lieutenant who was left in command
of the Egyptian force at Rubaga when, in July-August 1876, Nuehr was absent, having
gone to report to Gordon at Foweira.
10. On 10 August Dallington visited Emin, accompanied by other people to explain that
Mutesa wanted neither Arab nor Turks, but only French or English. Emin told him to
apply to the Consul-General, Zanzibar. Dallington also showed Emin his letter of dis-
charge, signed by Stanley, and also Stanley's letter to the Daily Telegraph. He also asked
Emin for paper, pen, ink etc. (Uganda J. 25 (1961 p. 10).
11. This letter to his sister was not included in Birckbeck Hill (op. cit.) but is to be found in
the British Museum (B. M. Add. Ms. 51293 f.210).
12. C.M.S. ref. Ace. 72F. 8.
13. In the Harrison request. Mrs. Jessie Harrison was Mackay's sister.
14. Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J. 25, (1961) p.11.
15. It would appear therefore that Dallington was one of the fourteen boys received into the
U.M.C.A. mission school from H.M.S. Daphne as is recorded in the U.M.C.A. Zanzibar
diary for 28 November 1868.
16. The Diaries of Emin Pasha, Uganda J. 25, (1961) p.11.
17. The Zakii Ibrahim referred to in this letter and Hamed Faki of letter 17 seem to be the
same person; perhaps Zakii is Shukry's misprint for Fakii. See the Note by H. B. Thomas
in this issue of the Uganda Journal.
18. Hakim is Arabic for 'doctor' and clearly refers here to Emin Effendi.
19. Wilson C. T. and Felkin R. W. Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan, Vol. I, pp. 114-117.
20. For Emin's visit to Kabarega in 1877 see Uganda J. 25 (1961) pp. 149-170.
21. B. M. Add. Ms. 52388, No. 2.
Uganda Journal, 30-1, (1966) 25-38
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE
By MICHAEL TWADDLE
There is a common assumption that away from the Coast there were no
towns in East Africa before the coming of Europeans as colonial rulers at the
end of last century and that the towns which have been founded since are pri-
marily the products of European political and economic initiative.' Indeed, the
authors of the East Africa Royal Commission 1953-1955 Report went so far as
to say that the organisedd concentrations of huts" which existed in the Lacustr-
ine region of East Africa in the pre-colonial period were merely "temporary
growths which bore no resemblance to the permanent urban centre as we know
it today". Towns, they stated, were European creations.2
The purpose of this paper is not to suggest that the royal capital sites of
pre-colonial Uganda may properly be called towns, for this has been done al-
ready by two distinguished contributors to previous numbers of this Journal.3
What it attempts to do is to suggest by one brief case-study that even during the
colonial period of East African history "European initiative" was not the only
decisive or important factor in the founding of towns, that urban growth in
East Africa during this period was a much more complicated process than a
simple series of conditioned reflexes to the coming of the Europeans, and that
the study of East African urban origins is thus a subject deserving more serious
attention by historians.4 For Trade did not always blindly follow the Flag when
new colonial stations were opened by European officials. Sometimes the Flag
was compelled by circumstances to follow Trade; sometimes European activity
in East African town life was a consequence, rather than a cause, of urban
growth. This paper attempts to analyse some of the historical processes involved
in the founding of one particular 'colonial' town in Uganda where the European
urban presence happened to follow local African and Asian initiatives. What is
really needed, of course, is a whole range of such studies, upon the basis of
which an elaborate and balanced typology of East African towns by their mode
of origin could be constructed, before any useful remarks can properly be made
on the respective relations of Flag and Trade in urban growth. What is offered
here is a series of remarks in answer to a particular question about the urban
origins of Mbale, the capital of the eastern region of modern Uganda, in the
hope that it may provoke other, more profound questions, about the urban
origins of other 'colonial' towns in East Africa by other historians. The particular
question considered is: What were the various factors which led to urban growth
At the start of 1902, the year in which Mbale was founded, the land on which
Mbale now stands was merely one part of a narrow belt of no-mans-land dividing
the Bagisu clans who lived on the western slopes of Mount Elgon from the
diversity of peoples which occupied the eastern basin of Lake Kyoga. A Euro-
pean missionary who passed rapidly through the area early in the year dismissed
it in a few words in the printed record of his travels -"a long wilderness of
scrub inhabited by elephants".5 Another European who visited the place at
26 UGANDA JOURNAL
about the same time called it simply "a dreary waste".6 An African soldier who
arrived in February recorded a similar verdict in an unpublished manuscript.
It was, he wrote, "a small and fearsome place swarming with wild animals"
(kaali ka ntiisa olw'ensolo enkambwe ezaalingamu)7. In other words, it was a
region of waste land, uninhabited and unoccupied, a place disputed not only
by the Bagisu and Bagwere but also by the Iteso and the Karamojong. The
Baganda who came to Mbale during 1902 called it simply Kalungu (a small
deserted area)8. Nevertheless, geographically it had several obvious attractions
as the potential centre of a dense human settlement. As regards site, it was an
area of empty lowland but comparatively dry and fairly close to perennial
sources of drinking water; and that this latter factor was important to the first
inhabitants of Mbale is evidenced by an explicit reference in another manuscript
written by one of the first African settlers: "We were fortunate as regards water:
we had a good supply from the rivers which run down from Nkokonjeru".9
The site also had wider geographical attractions arising from its situation
commanding one of the very few clear and dry routeways connecting the regions
to the north of Mount Elgon with those to the south; lying between the Nama-
tala swamp and the Nkokonjeru escarpement. Even so, the factors which first
led to Mbale becoming the site of a dense human settlement were not primarily
geographical; one was principally historical, the other a question of diet.
The 'historical' factor concerned the fate in 1902 of Semei Kakungulu, the
Muganda general who largely on his own initiative had conquered the greater
part of "Bukedi" (east Uganda), in the three preceding years, and whose career
was first summarized by Mr. H. B. Thomas in a pioneer article in an early number
of this Journal.10 By 1901 Kakungulu had completed most of his conquest and
had been installed by his followers as 'Kabaka of Bukedi' with a royal capital
at Budaka in Bugwere, where he built a large and impressive Kibuga made with
mud. He was also recognized by Protectorate officials as an 'Assistant Collector'
of their government. But early in 1902 Kakungulu was relieved of this office
and ordered to move to Lango. The reasons for this were rather complex."
In the previous October, the Protectorate authorities had decided to send a
British official to assist and observe Kakungulu in the administration of Bukedi,
and the particular official they decided to send was W. R. Walker, who was due
for transfer from Busoga because of disputes with a European superior and a
local chief.12 Walker, an alcoholic and a man subject to morbid depressions,
quickly quarrelled with Kakungulu, and their succession of quarrels are vividly
remembered by those of Kakungulu's followers who are still alive. The most bit-
ter dispute concerned the flagstaff. Who had the right to fly the Union Jack at
Budaka; Kakungulu, the native 'Assistant Collector' and former leader of the
Abangereza in Buganda, or Walker, the representative and official Englishman ?13
There was an almost equally bitter quarrel over the collection of hut tax.
Walker hastily concluded that Kakungulu was being deliberately unco-operative,
and he gave his reasons for this opinion in a letter to William Grant, the Sub-
Commissioner of the Protectorate government at Jinja, in his own peculiar
I have heard from more than one source that the Baganda advise the Bukedi not to pay
to me the Hut Tax (that is to a European)-then the Mzungu will leave the country and
the Kakunguru will have peace, that our Kabaka is your master or chief. These words
I have no doubt are inspired at a Likiko [sic] (the inner council at which no outsiders are
Grant, too, was annoyed with Kakungulu at precisely the same time as he
received Walker's complaints. For he had just got hold of some information
THE FOUNDING OF MABLE 27
about what he considered an unduly extravagant shopping list for a wide range
of expensive consumer goods, which included orders for a throne (entebe enungi
eyekitibwa), a bicycle (akagali), a typewriter (tepulaiti) and an instrument which
he assumed to be a phonograph (ekyuma ekikwata edobozi), all of which had
recently been ordered by Kakungulu. How could Kakungulu afford to purchase
such luxuries if there was-as he claimed to Walker-insufficient money in
Bukedi to provide revenue for hut tax? Like Walker, Grant resorted to a
conspiratorial explanation of his suspicions: Kakungulu had "some private
source of revenue".15 He complained to Frederick Jackson, the Acting Commi-
ssioner of the Protectorate government at Entebbe. It so happened that Jackson
was also irritated with Kakungulu because he had been hearing all sorts of
rumours from the Baganda Regents during the last year, and had just receive
information that Kakungulu had written the Regents a rude letter in which hd
stated that since he was now King of Bukedi he was at liberty to invite to Bukedi
anyone he pleased.16 Grant and Jackson met to decide what to do, and they
agreed on an elaborate stratagem to bring Kakungulu to his senses and restore
the delicate balance of Protectorate power in Eastern Uganda. Immediately
on his return to Jinja, Jackson reported to the Foreign Office in London,
Grant was to write a letter to Kakungulu
and inform the Kakunguru that he had just paid me a visit, that I knew nothing of his
appointment as King, that he was quite mistaken in imagining that he was King, that he
had no right to give land to his people that belonged to the natives of the country; that
such land would not be acknowledged by the Government as belonging to any of his
followers; and that he must withdraw all his people from the eastward of a place Budaka
and return with them to the vicinity of Lake Kioga. when it is known amongst the
Kakunguru's followers that he is not their King, but only holds the same rank as a County
Chief in Uganda, and that he has no authority to give them land, large numbers of them
will return to Uganda, through fear of losing the estates which have already been allotted
to them. 17
By these means, Jackson hoped, Kakungulu could be de-throned as Kabaka
and brought to a more sober knowledge of his official limitations.
But Kakungulu did not react according to plan. After receiving the letter
and conferring with his principal chiefs he decided to accept his official removal
from his Kibuga at Budaka without armed resistance, but resolutely refused to
move to Lango. Instead he asked for a grant of land at Budaka or between
Naboa and 'Masawa' on which to settle with his followers.18 Rather than move
westwards, he preferred "to retire".19 This was certainly not the decision ex-
pected by either Grant or Jackson, but, once it had been made, they accepted it,
because they could do little else. For to refuse would have been to provoke another
rebellion in Uganda, and another rebellion would have made them both very
unpopular in London as well as being extremely difficult for their weak govern-
ment to suppress. Nor should one underestimate the danger of rebellion at
this time. Rebellion was something Protectorate officials had to live with in the
early 1900s and the thought of it was constantly in their minds, as a careful
perusal of their official correspondence reveals; rebellion was also publicly
discussed by Kakungulu and his followers, both after Walker forbade Kakungu-
lu to fly the Union Jack and after they received Grant's letter of dismissal, as
several of Kakungulu's biographers mention and his surviving followers
testify2O Also, a land grant must have seemed a reasonably cheap form of
settling compensation for an impoverished Protectorate administration. As a
first offer, Jackson suggested a grant of 8 square miles, assuming that Kakungu-
lu would still want to act as the official counterpart in Bukedi of a Saza Chief in
Buganda, even after his deposition as a Kabaka.21 But when Kakungulu asked
28 UGANDA JOURNAL
"to retire" and requested a larger grant of land, Jackson appears to have
decided to cut his losses by offering him 20 square miles and discontinuing his
official salary.22 This Kakungulu accepted, after checking that the allotted land
would all be his personal private property.23 He received the formal deed of
ownership from Grant on 16 March 1902.24 By this settlement Kakungulu
certainly lost a number of his followers, as Grant and Jackson had predicted,
as well as losing his official salary. But he himself remained a Kabaka, and his
political power in Bukedi was still considerable.
Exactly where the land grant was to be taken up was left to Kakungulu's
discretion. The only condition made by the Protectorate officials appears to
have been that, if possible, the choice should be restricted to small deserted
areas of land (obulungu).25 Kakungulu sent out several parties to inspect various
sites around Kumi and on the Bukedi plains. The reason he chose Mbale in
preference to the other sites he considered seems quite clear. It was a joint de-
cision taken by him in company with his chiefs:
Kakungulu asked the chiefs 'On which of these small areas of empty land shall we build ?'
All the chiefs agreed (to build) on this place because it was near the plantain trees. 'Where
shall we buy plantains if we go to the other places ?'26
The decisive factor was diet. Mbale had the clear advantage over the more
northerly sites inspected in being close to sources of Amatooke, the staple diet
of the Baganda; it was situated within the banana-growing area of East Africa.
Nor should the decision of Kakungulu and his Baganda to choose Mbale
for this exclusive reason be considered surprising. Kakungulu and his men
were mostly warriors and it is a well-known fact that the efficiency of Baganda
as soldiers deteriorated rapidly outside the plantain zone of East Africa.27
Moreover, the Abakungulu themselves had the private knowledge of their own
military ineffectiveness in Lango in the previous year to remind them of the
importance of the diet factor in a most emphatic manner.
In the same month as the Baganda chose Mbale as their site, they began to
construct their settlement.28 First they erected 'big European tents' (ewema
enene ezekizungu) for Kakungulu and his principal chiefs, as well as others
made with americani sheets and bark cloth from Busoga for themselves.29
Then they set about building a more permanent settlement, and gradually a
pattern began to emerge. The largest house was naturally the one built for
Kakungulu. It is difficult to get any exact idea of its architectural proportions
from oral memories today, and unfortunately no photographs of it seem to
have survived, but it was by all accounts an extremely large building. One
informant remembered it roughly as being, "big, longish, but not roundish.
It had reeds round it like the Lubiri (at Mengo). Inside there were seven huts
as well as the very large house."30 This house provided the focus of the settlement:
the houses of Kakungulu's chiefs appear to have been built around it in a regular
succession of concentric circles, and the roads inside the settlement radiated
from it. As another informant remembered: "There were roads converging on
Kakungulu's place like (the spokes of) a bicycle wheel. The chiefs lived around
Kakungulu and their shambas extended outwards."31 The oral sources recorded
stress that this settlement pattern was largely determined by strategic consider-
ations. Defence, rather than any conscious imitation of the royal capital of
Buganda, is said to have been the most immediate consideration in the minds of
the builders.32 Even so, the settlement at Mbale seems to have been remarkably
like Mengo in physical appearance.
It was also similar to Mengo economically. Ettooke was the principal crop
grown, and it was intensively cultivated. The Europeans who visited Kakungulu
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE
SKETCH MAP OF MBALE c. AUGUST /904-
Compiled by -U. Rawhins, K A R
.BAKO D- -
Rol//lg Coun.ry, 1 / tharoughly Cuivated, dense papal tton
efe \ A t in herds and /focs.
d y *' To MUMJAS
1 c e r
and H 4 lo
/ in pace
Adapted from map in Public Records Office FO 2/929, by kind permits con o
H- M S O, London.
30 UGANDA JOURNAL
during 1903 were all amazed at the extent of cultivation and the rate of develop-
ment. William Grant reported to the new Commissioner at Entebbe:
What was once a dreary waste is nor flourishing with gardens, teeming with life. Good
wide roads have been cut, rivers have been bridged and embankments made through
marshy ground, all at his [Kakungulu's] expense and for the public use.33
Bishop Tucker of the CMS, who visited the settlement in July described it to his
Home Committee with a certain chronological exaggeration:
We were altogether surprised at the appearance of this place. Only two years had passed
by since Kakungulu had settled down on what was little better than a wilderness, and lo!
we found ourselves surrounded by gardens, well cultivated and well kept; houses, too,
had sprung up on every hand, most of them well built; broad roads intersected the whole
countryside-one of them running right through the settlement from the chief's en-
closure to the traders' quarters reminded us of the main road in Mengo.34
In his autobiography he had to resort to Biblical language to express his ad-
miration.35 The traders mentioned by Tucker appear to have been answerable,
in the first instance, to a Muganda market-master appointed by Kakungulu; in
the first volume of Kakungulu's Diary, for instance, there is an entry for 18
May 1903 which states: "We have given Sale Kamya the market and he will
give 20 Rupees every month."36 There were several kinds of trade for the market
master to supervise. In the first place, there was straight-forward bartering for
food with local tribes. When the Baganda were first building their settlement at
Mbale they bartered beads and hoes with the Bagisu clans of Nkokonjeru for
food and wood, and to pay for these temporary food supplies and building
expenses Kakungulu placed an order with Asian traders at Kisumu for a large
consignment of beads, and apparently 600 porters were required to move them
from Jinja to Mbale, after they had been brought across Lake Victoria.37 The
prices for food varied. According to one source, the price of a cluster of bananas
was two beads in February, rising to five or six in March since even the pro-
cesses of bartering followed the law of supply and demand.38 And after the
construction of their settlement was complete, they continued to barter for
additional supplies of plantains, providing sweet potatoes (Lumonde) in ex-
change; these were previously unknown to the Bagisu of Nkokonjeru, the people
with whom the Baganda at Mbale most frequently traded.39 There was also a
fairly considerable trade in cattle with surrounding tribes. The Iteso of Bukedea,
for instance, remember having to send cattle to Kakungulu at Mbale before
1904.40 The trade seems to have been large enough to attract a considerable
number of Baganda and Somali cattle-dealers to the Mbale area, though the
rumours which reached the Protectorate authorities at Entebbe, by way of the
Regents in Buganda, about its vast proportions were themsleves grossly ex-
aggerated.41 Nor should the early trade in cattle at Kakungulu's settlement at
Mbale be considered as a purely economic phenomenon. Slaughtering cattle to
provide food for feasts was often as much a matter of public prestige and
private enjoyment as economic advantage. As an elderly Etesot, who had himself
worked as a personal servant for Kakungulu at Mbale soon after Kakungulu
had moved from Budaka, testified: "The Baganda like their meat very much.
They used to have to kill cows and goats to eat at Kakungulu's house almost
every day."42 Thirdly, there was probably some elephant-hunting and ivory
trading by Baganda in the immediate vicinity of Mbale. In 1903 Kakungulu
himself organised a large caravan to trade and hunt for ivory in the regions to the
north of Mount Elgon under Isaka Nsiga, one of his principal lieutenants.43
This caravan penetrated into what is today southern Ethiopia.
The ivory trade also attracted Swahili traders to Mbale, people whom
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE 31
Kakungulu and his followers called Abalungana.44 The immediate environs of
Mbale itself were, of course, rich in elephant. There were also elephants living
above the forest line on Mount Elgon; and there is evidence that very soon
after the Swahilis and Arabs came to Mbale they started to trade hoes for ivory
with bands of young Bagisu warriors who hunted elephants with poisoned
spears near Sipi on the northern slopes of the mountain. For a large tusk the
Bagisu might get as many as a hundred hoes, which would then be divided
among the five or six hunters who actually killed the elephant.45 Nevertheless,
the great attraction of Mbale for these Swahili traders was the proximity of
'Karamoja', the area to the north of Mount Elgon with seemingly endless
stores of ivory. This was the place, it was rumoured, where Karamojong chiefs
even fenced their stockades with ivory, there was so much of the stuff.46 Before
the founding of Mbale by Kakungulu in 1902, Mumias in Nyanza was the ad-
vance base of the Swahilis dealing in the Karamoja trade. But soon after the build-
ing of Kakungulu's settlement, Mbale came to rival Mumias as a centre for
the ivory business, as a place where caravans were financed and equipped and
where the ivory of returning caravans was purchased and then exported.
By 1904 Mbale was an established centre for this trade, and it was being
patronised by important Swahili and Arab dealers, like Omar Mohidin and Idi
bin Shero, who had previously used Mumias as their base, as well as traders
in the business from Kampala, like Mohomed Bakar, and European hunters
like W. D. M. Bell.47 Mbale was not only geographically closer to the sources
of ivory in Karamoja; it was also a place with fewer official restrictions. At Mba-
le the traders were all 'protected' by Kakungulu, to whom they appear to have
paid some sort of commission. At Mumias, an official station of the British
colonial government, they had to answer awkward questions about female and
immature ivory the most valuable varieties) to European officials, as well as
having to pay British taxes.48 Mbale thus had several attractions as a centre for
the ivory trade.
Another factor which probably attracted non-Baganda traders to Kakungu-
lu's settlement was the size of the potential retail market. Though a considerable
number of his followers seem to have deserted him for more attractive patrons
in Buganda after his official removal from Budaka, the size of his following
still had to be reckoned in thousands; one missionary visitor in 1904 put it
at from 2,000 to 3,000.49 Simply because of its size, it must have been a great
attraction to traders. Moreover, Kakungulu's followers were not only nume-
rous, they were also the more acquisitive type of Baganda, and especially
may this have been so of those who remained with him after his move to Mbale
for why else would they have joined him in the first place? Hence they are more
likely to have been interested in acquiring exotic new consumer goods. Some of
Kakungulu's followers were rich enough by the time they settled at Mbale to
buy some very exotic new goods. One elderly Muganda interviewed, who had
been among the hundred or so most prominent chiefs of Kakungulu at Budaka,
when asked about his financial condition after Kakungulu had moved to Mbale,
replied: "I was now a rich man. I had many cattle, and I just retired. I had
over 500 cows and 16 wives."50 Moreover, there was the prize of Kakungulu's
personal account to be competed for; a man who could order 600 loads of
of beads from Kisumu was a man not to be missed. In the event, it appears to
have been divided between at least three traders. One was a certain 'Ramazani'
a Persian trader who appears to have first come to Mbale in 1903 from Kampala.
That he personally profited from Kakungulu's patronage is evidenced by the
32 UGANDA JOURNAL
long shopping list noted on an end fly-leaf of the first volume of Kakungulu's
Diary.51 Another trader who profited by the Kakungulu connection was
Allidina Visram, the Ismaili merchant with trading connections around the
Indian Ocean as well as all over East Africa.52 On 27 December 1904 Kakungulu
bought cloth from Visram's Jinja agent for 349 rupees; on 31 December he
made a deal with the Visram firm to build him a permanent house for 8,500
rupees, and he paid 4,900 rupees as an advance payment in the following
month.53 Kakungulu also seems to have had an account with De Souza's of
Entebbe, for an entry in his Diary for November 1904 notes that he had asked
Mahomed Bakar to pay 131 rupees for him into his account with this firm at
that place.54 Kakungulu's purse was a prize which many traders could compete
for. But the average run of the retail trade at Kakungulu's Mbale must have been
of a much more pedestrian nature. An elderly Muganda interviewed, who was
not one of Kakungulu's most prominent chiefs when he moved to Mbale,
remembered the Mbale agent of Allidina Visram selling cloth, rice, salt and
metal cups and plates to Baganda for rupees; the actual prices charged appear
to have been about half a rupee for a small cup, a whole rupee for a large cup
and a whole rupee for a yard of cloth; these were also the prices of the other
Asian and Arab traders who came to Mbale soon afterwards.55 Nevertheless,
this humble trade, multiplied a thousand times, could hardly be called in-
significant. It must have been almost as compelling an attraction to traders as
the Karamoja ivory trade. Indeed, when in the middle of 1903 the Protectorate
authorities granted Kakungulu a special licence to go to Karamoja, while
refusing to grant similar licences to the non-Baganda traders at Mbale, the latter
protested strongly to Walker, the Assistant Collector at Budaka. Walker ad-
vised them to send a deputation to Entebbe to interview the Commissioner.
But they refused this suggestions: "Ramzan the Persian", wrote Walker to
Grant, "says he has only just arrived from Kampala, the others cannot leave
their shops at Mbale." By going to Entebbe in other words, they might lose
their retail customers to rival traders. They decided to send a letter to Allidina
Visram instead, asking him to intercede on their behalf with the Protectorate
authorities at Entebbe56.
Possibly there were also other factors which attracted Arab and Asian
traders to Mbale. Perhaps some of the Abalungana who had traded with Kaku-
ngulu and his Baganda at Budaka came to his settlement at Mbale in the hope
that there might be an illicit, but extremely lucrative, traffic in firearms, as
there had been at Budaka. A more probable reason why many of the Budaka
traders followed Kakungulu's followers to Mbale was the existence of indebted-
ness. In Kakungulu's Diary, for instance, there is an entry for 22 April 1902,
noting that Kakungulu had agreed to stand surety for Yawasi Musoke, a
Muganda who was doubtless one of his followers though he is not remembered
by any of those who survive, who was indebted to a mulungana at Mbale named
'Chakali'.57 Doubtless there were still other factors attracting traders to
Kakungulu's settlement at Mbale, which historians will never discover. But even
if it were possible to compile a complete catalogue of Mbale's attractions
to traders, this would not of itself provide a complete explanation of why so
many traders decided to settle at Mbale in 1902 and 1903. Nor, if it were com-
bined with an appreciation of the wider geographical situation of Mbale and an
analysis of the economic structure of Kakungulu's settlement, would it provide a
complete answer to the problem of why traders came to Mbale exactly when they
did and in such large numbers. For by the beginning of 1904 the trading bazaar
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE 33
in Mbale was the largest in Uganda, outside Entebbe and Kampala.58 For a
complete understanding of why traders settled at Kakungulu's Mbale, we also
need to know something about the wider context of economic change in East
Africa at this time. We need a greater knowledge of the developing pattern of
trade-routes in western Kenya and eastern Uganda in the early 1900s, as well
as an appreciation of Mbale's particular attractions.
Generally speaking, most of the non-Baganda traders came to Mbale by
two routes. One was the overland caravan route from Mumias and Kisumu, a
passage which had been pioneered by Swahili and other Coastal people in the
1880s.59 This was the way opened up by the Swahili trading 'frontier' which had
been moving steadily westwards throughout the 19th Century. By the early
1890s coastal people were already trading in the Mbale area, as well as to the
north and east of Mount Elgon.60 In one sense, their settling at Mbale after 1902
was simply their next logical move, for by the late 1890s Mani Mani (near the
modem site of Moroto Township) had replaced 'Savei' on the northeastern
slopes of Mount Elgon as their economic bridgehead, and they needed an adva-
nce base to do for Mani Mani in the 1900s what Mumias had done for Savei
in the 1890s.61 Their settling at Kakungulu's Mbale seems to have been as much
determined by the regional nature of their trading connections with Karamoja
as by the particular local attractions of trade. Kakungulu's settlement was also
strategically situated for the Asian traders who came in such considerable
numbers to Mumias and Kisumu in the early 1900s, largely as a result of the
building of the Uganda Railway. It would be unhistorical to propose too neat a
causal relationship between the construction of this railway and the coming of
Asian traders to Mbale; the railway, after all, did not reach Kisumu until Dec-
ember 1901 and was not in full operation until the middle of the following year.
Besides, Asian traders seem to have been generally at least a year ahead of
the railway construction gangs in their movements.62 But the important point
here is that, though the railway was not yet in full operation by the beginning
of 1902, the gap between the railway and Lake Victoria had almost been closed,
and this is the factor the Asian traders avidly exploited to their own advantage.
In March 1902 William Grant noted in a letter to his superior at Entebbe that
Mbale "would be a most convenient place for traders when once the route from
there to Mumias is opened up"; by October in the same year he could report,
with a certain degree of understatement, that "trade is steadily increasing be-
tween Kisumu, Mumias and Masawa".63 Asian traders also came to Mbale by
way of Jinja and Budaka along the good, wide road which Kakungulu had built
over the Namatala swamp towards Terinyi. It was along this "splendid broad road
that a CMS missionary discovered early in 1902 a "little settlement of Indian
traders" at Budaka.64 By October 1902 they had all moved on to Mbale. William
Grant reported crisply: "practically no trade at Budaka now. The traders have
moved up in direction of Mbale, where the Kakungulu is settled and are
establishing themselves by degrees there".65 These, then, were the two main
trade-routes which directly affected Mbale's early growth. Their convergence
on Kakungulu's settlement in 1902 was the stimulus for urban growth at Mbale.
By 1904, the trade frontiers of Swahili, Arab and Asian traders had moved
on into Teso country and to the borders of Lango-to Kumi, Serere and Bululu.
Mbale became not only the site of a concentrated African settlement and the
advance base of traders dealing in Karamoja ivory, but also the communications
centre of a newly developing region. It was now, as a visiting missionary com-
mented, an important route centre:
34 UGANDA JOURNAL
Several important trade routes converge on Mbale ... an excellent road connects Mbale
with Jinja to the southwest. A caravan route, very far from excellent, connects it with
Mumias to the south. Caravans to and from Mbale to the northeast pass through Mbale,
laden for the most part with ivory. And to the northwest a caravan route passes through
Serere and Bululu to the Nile Province: so that for trade purposes Mbale is a natural
In the same year as this was written, Mbale became a Protectorate government
The decision to make Mbale the site for an administrative station was taken
in January 1904 by the new Commissioner of the Protectorate government,
James Hayes Sadler, after a personal visit to eastern Uganda. Sadler was most
impressed with Mbale. "Here," he reported to the Foreign Office in London,
one seemed to find oneself back again in the civilization of Mengo or Toro. Neatly dressed
Baganda welcomed us along the road, and on all sides were flourishing plantations and
substantially-built grass-roofed houses. .. Mbale is an important position. It is ... the
centre of a Baganda civilization, and it is situated on the route from Mumias to the
Karomojo country. The Kakunguru's place is on a hill somewhat resembling Mengo,
and half a mile to the east, and connected with the former by a continuation of the Jinja
road, is another small hill where some twenty-five Indians and Greek traders, besides
Swahilis, have their shops in a Bazaar running both sides of the road ... Mbale ... is the
natural trade centre of the district, and where all the traders have their shops.
Budaka, on the other hand, the existing Protectorate station, seemed a very
The station consists of two wattle and daub houses, originally built by the Kakungulu
when this place was his headquarters, and some dilapidated Police lines, all enclosed
in a boma. The site is a bad one, it is neither liked by Europeans nor natives, and seems
only to have been chosen as a station because the Kakunguru had already erected some
buildings and left them standing when he moved on to Masawa.
Sadler accordingly decided to move the Protectorate station for Bukedi to "the
better and more convenient site" at Mbale.67 The Flag, in other words, was to
Sadler gave two reasons for his decision in his official letter to London re-
porting the move, one stated explicitly, the other implied. "Steps have been
taken," he wrote, "to control traders and travellers in the unadministered
districts north of Mount Elgon, and it will now be possible to exercise some
control over traders dealing with the Karomojo country".68 These "steps"
included the institution of an elaborate system of passes for traders entering
Karamoja through Mbale, after a certain security had been extracted from them
by the local Protectorate official.69 The first official need was not so much
to initiate trade at Mbale, as to control it. William Grant's safari to Karamoja
in the preceding November had demonstrated clearly a Protectorate official
posted at Mbale would be able to raise more revenue from taxes than one loca-
ted at Budaka.70 Besides such financial reckoning, Sadler seems to have had
another reason for moving the Protectorate station to Mbale, which though not
stated openly in his despatch is nevertheless clear enough to those willing to read
between the official lines of his letter: he moved the station to Mbale in order to
control Kakungulu. In the words of P. W. Perryman, a later Chief Secretary of
the Protectorate, "Mbale was first occupied as a site (for a Protectorate station)
in January 1904, not (only) because there were a very (large number of) traders
there, but because Kakunguru had moved there from Budaka and it was nece-
ssary for the DC to be on the spot to watch him".71 In November 1903 William
Grant had written to Sadler a careful letter in which he suggested that Kakungu-
lu be re-appointed to Protectorate government service. This was clearly because
Kakunguru's political influence in Bukedi had continued to exceed that of W. R.
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE 35
Walker, the accredited local representative of the Protectorate administration.72
"His influence is great," wrote Grant, but" he could be of immense assistance
to the Collector.... if judiciously employed".73 Sadler himself noted, a month
later, that wherever he went in Bukedi with Kakungulu, the local people paid
their respects to Kakungulu before they saluted His Majesty's Commissioner.74
Clearly something had to be done to bring the official situation into line with
local realities, some political adjustment had to be arranged. In his letter to
London Sadler mentioned his solution to this problem, though he exhibited
marked diffidence about describing its cause:
I reinstated the Kakunguru in his position as Saza, under the Assistant Collector, making
him responsible for the collection of hut tax over his own people, but giving him strict
injunctions that he was not to have anything to do with hut tax collections outside his
settlement unless desired to do so by the Assistant Collecter, under whose orders he was
And Sadler was careful to appoint a new man to be Assistant Collector at
Mbale; Walker was conveniently sent on leave overseas. Kakungulu himself
regarded this "reinstatement" as a confirmation of his position as a Kabaka,
but that is a story outside the scope of this paper. What should be emphasized
here is that his "reinstatement" in 1904 was historically connected with Sadler's
decision to move the Protectorate station for Bukedi to Mbale. The Protectorate
Flag, as it were, was still attempting to replace Kakungulu's.
The founding of Mbale is thus a story with several layers of significance.
Politically, there is the spectacle of a handful of British officials of an African
Protectorate administration being forced by circumstances to incorporate within
their structure of government a man whom they might legitimately consider
their enemy but whom they could not afford to ignore. In the economic sphere,
there is an example of spontaneous development by African and Asian traders
operating outside their own indigenous areas, and of European officials frantically
attempting to control forces which appeared to be beyond their control. Meth-
odologically, it demonstrates the possibility of reconstructing an outline of the
origins of an East African town which grew up outside the area of direct
European administration in the early colonial period. This exercise will need
to be repeated several times before there is sufficient material to answer
questions concerning the real origin of East African towns. At least in the
example of Mbale the East African Royal Commission view that "as new
areas were brought under European administration, headquarters were set
up which were the origin of many of the larger towns of East Africa today"
does not apply. After a balanced typology of East African towns by
their mode of origin has been constructed, it will be possible to turn
to other problems of urbanization in which historians should be interested.
1. This paper, which is a small by-product of a larger study of historical change in eastern
Uganda during the early colonial period, could not have been written without the kind
help of Mr Ibrahim Ndaula, the Municipal Agent of Mbale, in locating both informants
and manuscripts. I am also deeply indebted to Professor Roland Oliver for commenting
on the paper in draft and for much other advice.
2. London, HMSO, 1955. Cmd 9475. p.200.
3. P. C. W. Gutkind. Town life in Buganda, Uganda J. 20, 1956, 1956, p.37; Roland Oliver,
Ancient capital sites of Ankole, Uganda J. 23, 1959, p.62.
4. This is not to denigrate the recent work of sociologists and urban geographers on urbani-
sation in East Africa. Indeed the most impressive piece of urban history to emerge from
East Africa in recent years is perhaps Dr. Gutkind's The Royal Capital of Buganda
36 UGANDA JOURNAL
(The Hague 1963), a study of the colonial administrative history of Mengo in general
and of the office of Omukulu w'Ekibuga in particular by a sociologist. It is merely to say
that so far historians have not contributed significantly to this subject.
5. C. J. Phillips, A holiday tramp into Bukedi, Uganda Notes, May 1902.
6. William Grant to Entebbe, 13 November 1903. Entebbe Secretariat Archives (ESA,)
7. Temuteo Mwebe Kagwa, Kakungulu Omuzira Omuwanguzi (Kakungulu the Conquering
Hero), MS in 2 parts. Part 2, p.28.
8. The surviving Abakungulu still use it as a synonym for 'Mbale'. It also appears exercising
a similar function in all the extant Luganda MSS.
9. Paulo Bazonona Kagwa, Kakungulu Omuzira wa Uganda (Kakungulu the Hero of
Uganda), MS c. 1932 probably dictated by Temuteo Mwebe Kagwa, p.57 and now on
microfilm at Makerere College Library. This is a rather free translation.
10. H. B. Thomas, Capax Imperii-The story of Semei Kakunguru, Uganda J. 7, 1939,
11. Some of these reasons are given by Sir John Gray in his recent article, Kakunguru in
Bukedi, Uganda J. 27, 1963, pp.46-47. The account which follows is based upon my own
reading of the evidence.
12. William Grant to Entebbe, 24 October 1901, ESA, A 10/2.; W. R. Walker to Entebbe,
14 December 1900, ESA A/10/1; Entebbe to H. M. Tarrant, 5 January 1901, ESA,
13. This particular dispute between Kakungulu and "Kiboka" (the nickname attached to
Walker by the Baganda) is usually the first topic mentioned in a first interview with one
of Kakungulu's followers. It is mentioned in the second volume of Kakungulu's auto-
biography, where the record makes clear that this quarrel caused him emotional distress
as well as political irritation. This MS is now on microfilm at Makerere College Library.
On 5 January 1902 Grant sent a telegram to Entebbe (ESA A/10/2) asking for advice,
and received the following reply: "While Walker is at Budaka he is in charge and there-
fore flies the flag. When he leaves Kakunguru as Collector flies Union Jack". Jackson to
Grant, 7 January 1902, Telegram. ESA A/11/2.
14. "What occurred in baraza in connection with Hut Tax Bukedi", Memo by Walker,
3 January 1902, encl. with Grant to Entebbe, 21 March 1902, ESA A/10/2.
15. Grant to Entebbe, 6 January 1902, ESA A/10/2.
16. Jackson to FO, 24 January 1902. FO 2/589. Public Record Office (PRO).
17. Ibid. 'Uganda' in the quotation is, of course, the modem 'Buganda'.
18. Grant to Entebbe, 3 February 1902, Telegram. ESA A/10/2. 'Masawa' should be identi-
fled with 'Masaba', the Lugisu name for Mount Elgon. At this time 'Lango' included
what is today the Kaberamaido section of Teso District, the area to which Kakungulu was
specifically asked to move.
19. Grant to Entebbe, 5 February 1902, Telegram. ESA A/10/2.
20. The danger of rebellion when Kakungulu was ordered to move from Budaka has been
mythologized by European oral tradition into a story about Walker having instructions
to remove Kakungulu at the beginning of his appointment at Budaka. It is purveyed
by the secondary sources written by Europeans, including Sir John Gray (op. cit
p.47), the most recent writer. It is quite wrong: it simply inverts cause and effect.
21. Jackson to Grant, 3 February 1902, Telegram. ESA A/1ll/2.
22. Jackson to Grant, 5 February 1902, Telegram. ESA A/11/2.
23. Jackson to Grant, 6 February 1902, Telegram. ESA A/11/2; Grant to Entebbe, 6 Feb-
ruary 1902, Telegram. ESA A/10/2.
24. This deed is in the possession of the Kakungulu family, and was seen through the good
offices of Mr. Ibrahim Ndaula.
25. This fact does not emerge clearly from Protectorate correspondence (e.g. in files A/10/2
and A/11/2, ESA) but is emphasized strongly in interview evidence.
26. Oral account by Salimu Mbogo, recorded on 3 August 1965 at his home at Amusi
ekyalo, Kachumbala, in Teso District. His actual words were:
Kakunguru n'ebuuza abaami nti Abange obulungu buno tunaazimbako ?......................Abaami
bonna bakirizza nti Akalungu kuno kubanga kumpi n'ebitooke. Ebitooke tuligulawo bwe
tuligenda mu bulungu buli? I am grateful to Mr Jasper Bamuta for transcribing
the tape-recording of this interview.
27. See the remarks of R. W. Beachey on this topic in Uganda J. 28, 1964, p.112.
28. As well as Grant to Entebbe, 21 March 1902, ESA A/10/2, see the MS Diary of The
Revd W. A. Crabtree, the CMS missionary at Nabumali at the time. In an entry for
THE FOUNDING OF MBALE 37
26 February 1902 he notes: "saw Kakunguru's place". This Diary is in the possession
of Dr. T. M. Richards, and was seen by her kind permission.
29. P. B. Kagwa, op. cit., p.57.
30. Interview with Salimu Mbogo, 18 October 1963 at Amusi. This was one of my first
interviews, and I only recorded the instantaneous translation of his words provided by
Mr. Samuel Njuba, my interpreter at the time.
31. Interview with Sedulaka Kyesirikidde, 27 March 1964, at his home at Kasawo ekyalo,
Bukoba, Kyaggwe. Mr. Samuel Njuba also acted as my interpreter on this occasion.
33. Grant to Entebbe, 13 November 1903, A/10/3, ESA.
34. A. R. Tucker, A journey to Mount Elgon and the Bukedi country, n.d., MS in CMS
Archives in London, G3/A7/1904a, and substantially reproduced in Church Missionary
Intelligence, April 1904, p.260.
35. Kakungulu had indeed made "the wilderness and the solitary place to rejoice and blos-
som as the rose". A. R. Tucker, Eighteen years in Uganda andEast Africa, Vol. 2, p.316.
36. Kakungulu Diary, Vol. 1, p.23. The two volumes of this Diary (1901-1904, 1904-1913)
are in the possession of the Kakungulu family and were seen through the kindness of
Mr. Ibrahim Ndaula.
37. P. B. Kagwa, op. cit., p.58.
38. Grant to Entebbe, 21 March 1902, A/10/2, ESA.
39. P. B. Kagwa, op. cit., p.58. "............Abagishu bali tebamanyi Lumonde": The Bagisu
were ignorant about sweet potatoes. The Lugisu word for sweet potatoes is "Mabonde"
40. Interview with Eria Emokoor, 28 April 1964, at his home at Bukedea in Teso District in
Luganda. Mr. Samuel Njuba acted as interpreter.
41. See, for instance, Jackson to Kakungulu, July 1901, draft, and following in A/11/1 & 2,
42. Interview with Eria Emokoor, 28 April 1964.
43. Boyle to Entebbe, 4 July 1904, A/24/4, ESA, enclosed an extended report on this ex-
44. Thus mentioned in Kakungulu Diary, Vol.1, p.21, and so called in interviews with sur-
45. Interview with Saulo Nangera, 16 February 1964, at his home at Buginyanya, North
Bugisu. His grandson, Mr. Pascal Muloni Salira, interpreted for me from Lugisu.
46. Thus H. G. Dillistone to CMS Committee, 9 December 1911, CMS Archives, G3/A7/
1912a. There is an attractive description of Karamoja at this time in J. P. Barber, Kara-
moja in 1910, Uganda J. 28, pp.15-23.
47. Mohidin and Shero both made Mbale their base until 1911, when Mohidin moved back
to the Coast and Shero migrated to Maji in southern Ethiopia; soon after 1902 Bakar
established a branch at Mbale and soon afterwards moved to Mbale himself, where
he lived until he died; 'Karamoja' Bell is mentioned as using Mbale as his base in the
Kakungulu Diary, p.19, in an entry for 21 September 1904: Bwana W. D. M. Bell Om-
uzungu gwetwasanga wano nasitula okugenda Koromojo.
48. The important point here is not the existence of official duties and restrictions, but the
places where they could be enforced or evaded.
49. Thus J. J. Willis in his travel article, The Eastern Province, from Mengo to Masaba,
Uganda Notes, November 1904. Bishop Tucker (note 34) gave his estimate as "something
like a thousand Baganda"; this is perhaps the only occasion of which Bishop Tucker
may be said to have been guilty of under estimating a statistic.
50. Interview with Samwiri Tekiwagala, 20 August 1965, at his home at Nkoma ekyalo,
Nakaloke, Bugisu. Mr. Jasper Bamuta acted as interpreter.
51. Kakungulu Diary, Vol.1, pp.190-191.
52. Allidina Visram deserves a separate study to himself. So far we have only a few brief
scholarly remarks by C. Ehrlich in The economy of Buganda, Uganda J. 20, 1956, p.21
and Cotton and the Uganda Economy, 1903-1909, Uganda J. 21, 1957, p.175, and in
History of East Africa, Vol.2, (Oxford 1965) pp.408-409.
53. Kakungulu Diary, Vol.2, pp.58-60.
54. Ibid., Vol.2, p.38.
55. Interview with Salimu Mbogo, 18 October 1963.
56. Walker to Grant, 16 July 1903, Eastern Province Archives (EPA). What is left of this
archival collection is now (December 1965) kept in a room in the Prime Minister's
Office at Entebbe, completely unsorted.
There is, of course, an alternative explanation of the Mbale traders' behaviour: they may
38 UGANDA JOURNAL
not have taken Walker very seriously.
57. Kakungulu Diary, Vol.1, p.11.
58. Sadler to Foreign Office, 27 February 1904, accompanying his longer despatch of the
same day describing his visit to Eastern Uganda, FO 2/856, PRO.
59. J. Thomson Through Masai land, (London 1885 ed.), p.506.
60. C. W. Hobley Notes on a journey round Mount Masawa or Elgon, Geographical J. 9,
61. On the Karamoja ivory trade in the 1890s and early 1900s, see Jackson to Entebbe,
1 October 1902, A/27/5, ESA; Hobley to Entebbe, 7 September 1903, end. "Notes on
Koromojo" by W. D. M. Bell, A/27/5, ESA; Sadler to FO, 2 December 1903, end,
Grant to Entebbe, 10 November 1903, FO 2/737, PRO.
62. See, for instance, Church Missionary Intelligencer, Feb. 1902, p.127; Ibid., Sept. 1902,
p.689; Crabtree to CMS, October 1901 and 5 April 1902, CMS Archives G3/A7/1902a.
63. Grant to Entebbe, 21 March 1902 and 7 October 1902, A/10/2. ESA.
64. W. Chadwick, From Bukedi, Uganda Notes, August 1902; H. St Gait "Road Report"
encl. with Sadler to FO, 27 February, FO 2/856. PRO.
65. Grant to Entebbe, 25 October 1902, A/10/2, ESA.
66. J. J. Willis, op. cit. (note 49).
67. Sadler to FO, 27 February 1902, FO 2/856. PRL. An edited version of this report was
later published in the Geographical J. for June 1904: see also FO to RGS, 6 May 1904,
FO 2/864. PRO.
68. Sadler to FO, 28 July 1904, FO 2/858.
70. Besides the references already listed (notes 58, 61, 67 & 68) see Grant to Entebbe, 7
October 1902, A/10/2, ESA. where Grant argued strongly in favour of an official post
at Mbale "for several reasons, first and more important the question of revenue".
71. P. W. Perryman, "Precis and notes on abandonment of Mbale station", Memo. date
13 January 1923, Secretariat Minute Paper 885/1910-28 series, ESA.
72. This is implied in several of the letters which passed between Walker and Grant in 1903
in EPA; and it is quite clear from a collection of oral evidence, in a random sample,.
among Bagisu and Bagwere made in 1965.
73. Grant to Entebbe, 13 November 1903, A/10/3, ES A. (my italics.)
74. Sadler to FO, 27 February 1904, FO 2/856. PRO.
76. The new Assistant Collector was A. H. Watson.
Uganda Journal 30, 1 (1966) 39-63
THE BANANA IN UGANDA-1860-1920
By B. W. LANGLANDS
In the last issue of the Uganda Journal a brief note was included concerning
the history of maize in Uganda. This topic is part of a wider interest in agricul-
tural and dietary change in Uganda which itself can be seen in relation to a
growing interest in the recent history of agriculture in Africa stimulated by
studies from the Food Research Institute at the University of Stanford1, direc-
ted by Professors Johnston and Jones. McMaster in his book on the geography
of subsistence crop cultivation in Uganda2 makes frequent and interesting
comments on recent changes which have taken place to produce the pattern of
distribution which he mapped for 1958. The history of crop cultivation is not a
major part of his study; and although numerous speculations concerning the
the mode of arrival of various crops into East Africa have been made3, little
has been written on the changes in agriculture which have taken place in the last
hundred years. The purpose of this review on bananas is to supplement that on
maize in the last number of the Uganda Journal4 and to prepare the ground for a
similar survey of cassava and sweet potatoes. From this survey of the literature
concerning Uganda in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early part
of the twentieth century a better picture of the agricultural distributions of that
time may be conceived, and may serve as a foundation for a more detailed study
of subsequent changes, such for instance as is proposed for the study of bananas
by C. M. Good of the department of geography of the University of Chicago.
For this study of the distribution of bananas fifty to a hundred years ago a
number of limitations must be recognized. Although a wide range of the relevant
published material has been studied there are some relevant works which are not
available in Uganda and it is also possible that some relevant references in the
works consulted may have been missed. It is possible that a more thorough
scrutiny of the material could provide a greater precision in detail; but at the
same time sufficient of the general pattern of banana distribution emerges
from these notes for the outline to be clear. A second limitation arises from the
nature of the material; although mention may be made in the records of the
travellers of the occurrence of particular crops and of the general nature of
agriculture in particular locations, very few such references give any indication
of how extensive the cultivation was and it is virtually impossible to reconstruct
anything of a quantitive nature either in terms of production or of area. A
third limitation also arises from the nature of the material; early records of Uga-
nda do not relate to all parts of the territory equally, nor do they concern the
various parts of the country for the same time. Thus although records for Bu-
ganda, Bunyoro and Acholi are numerous and date back to the 1860's, for other
places such as Teso, Lango and Kigezi records are fewer and scarcely exist for
for the period before 1910.5
Interest in bananas arises from the fact that after the introduction of the
crop to the Lake Victoria zone of south Buganda and south Busoga many
centuries ago the crop has come to dominate the food habits of this area and
40 UGANDA JOURNAL
seems to have spread from there to other parts of the country during the past
hundred years. The Konjo, Amba and Gisu were also predominantly banana
eaters by the end of the nineteenth century; but there is no definite evidence that
they obtained the crop from the north Lake Victoria zone. It is also fairly
evident that very little banana cultivation took place amongst the non-Bantu
peoples in the last century, but it has been spread to them in a small way since.
This provides an example of a new food crop being introduced into a different
social system and into a climatic situation which is not ideal. In eastern Uganda
the situation would seem to be that banana cultivation has existed for some time
but that the area under bananas has increased and there is now a more important
role for banana in the diet than formerly. The purpose of these notes is to see
how extensive the central area was fifty years and more ago; to try to assess
how much cultivation took place in western Uganda at this time and what the
existing agricultural system was that has since been modified by banana culti-
vation; and to examine the degree to which bananas were absent from the north
and east and how banana has come to be introduced in these areas. The present
situation for banana cultivation has been adequately covered by McMaster
in his book and in the Atlas of Uganda. These notes aim to carry one stage
further the understanding of how these distributional patterns have come into
South and Central Buganda
As in the study of mize, a useful beginning point for a distributional analysis
is the appendix to Speke's account of the first traverse of Uganda in which
Grant summarises the botanical finds of this expedition. Here Grant provides
the information that Musa sapientum provides "the staple food of the countries
one degree on either side of the equator, acres of land being covered with its
groves.... at 2N they cease to be grown".6 Unfortunately no very clear des-
cription of the agricultural system in Buganda is given; but it is clear from the
number of references to presents of plantains and of occasions on which "pombe'
or "plantain wine" was consumed that the central parts of Buganda traversed
by these explorers were dependent largely upon bananas. In the report of Speke
bananas were mentioned frequently from Karagwe, Masaka and central
Buganda.7 Grant added little to Speke's account, but again a dependence on
bananas in central Buganda was revealed.8 The fullest early account of agri-
culture in Buganda was given by Stanley in 1875 in a description of a typical
cultivation plot as one in which "grow large sweet potatoes, yams, green peas,
kidney beans.... field beans, vetches and tomatoes. The garden is bordered by
castor oil, manioc, coffee and tobacco plants. On either side are small patches of
millets, sesamum and sugar cane. Behind the house and courts and enfolding
them are the more extensive banana and plantain plantations and grain crope
which furnish his principal food, and from one of which he manufactures his wine
and from the other his potent pombe. Interspersed amongst the bananas are the
umbrageous fig trees from the bark of which he manufactures his cloth. Beyond
the plantation is an extensive tract left for grazing for the common use of his
own and his neighbours cattle and goats".9 This gives a fairly clear picture of the
predominating role of banana, and of a wide range of supplementary foodstuffs.
Another interesting early account was that given by the missionary Wilson in
1877, "The coast region of Uganda is the most fertile district that I have seen
in Africa. There, as everywhere through the equatorial belt the banana flou-
rishes; every village and every hut is surrounded by vast groves of this plant,
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 41
and on climbing some mountain in the more densely populated districts the
traveller sees all around him these broad tracts of pale green reaching far up
the sides of the hills".10 This pattern is described by various writers.11 12 13 14 15 16
The problem lies in determining over how wide an area this typical pattern existed-
The northern limit of 2N suggested by Grant would leave the whole of Buganda
within his banana growing limits but it is clear from all the early travellers
coming from the north that the main area of banana cultivation was not approa-
ched until within about thirty miles of the lake itself. This was indicated in
Wilson's account. Speke travelled further in Buganda than did Grant and from
his account it would seem that by a distance of about 30-40 miles north of the
present Kampala the country was predominantly grazing land and fewer
references were made there to bananas.17, 18
Eastwards from here to the Nile at Urondogani there was much heavy bush
country with a lot of game,19 "except in some favoured spots, kept as tidily as
in any part of Uganda, where plantains grow in utmost luxuriance". Along the
Nile, particularly southwards to Ripon Falls there were more banana groves.20
Shortly later in 1874 Chaille Long passed along the same route through central
Buganda and reported that Uganda from Rubaga to Urondogani "is a vast
banana forest".21 For most of the latter half of the nineteenth century the frontier
between Buganda and Bunyoro placed most of the northern third of the present
Mengo district of Buganda in Bunyoro. As this frontier zone was approached
from the south the incidence of banana groves lessened, but this in part re-
flected the lack of population in such a marcher zone and in part reflected the
pastoral occupance in some areas of this zone. But even so it is evident that
banana cultivation did occur in certain locations in this northern section.
Both Speke and Grant22 referred to bananas up to the border station of Kiwu-
keri (Speke) and Karee (Grant).
For the area of north Mengo, which in 1862 formed part of Bunyoro,
Speke claimed that "plantain gardens were frequently met";23 but Grant who
spent longer in this border zone stated that there was a banana shortage and that
"clearances for cultivation, generally fenced against wild animals, were few and
in the low grounds sweet potatoes, oolayzee and a few plantains were grown".24
Subsequent travellers to Buganda came in mainly from the north. Some of
these accounts gave a picture of rather more bananas in the area of north
Mengo than did Speke and Grant but it is probable that they came in by a route
slightly further west of Speke's so that it does not necessarily follow that there
was an increase in banana cultivation in the interval. Chaille Long journeyed
through Buganda in 1874 and wrote of "vast forests of bananas which extended
from Foweira south",25 and noted them particular south of the Kafu river,
where they became his only food. Emin Pasha came south in 1876 and recorded
banana groves at fairly frequent intervals from Mruli to Rubaga.26 In December
1876 Emin returned on a different route and recorded a considerable abundance
of banana produce at Mreko's in North Mengo and elsewhere nearer Rubaga.27
In extreme northeast Buganda near the confluence of the Victoria Nile
with Lake Kyoga Chaille Long found at least one location of banana cultiva-
tion in 1874.28
Subsequent events are difficult to trace in this area. An early missionary
worker claimed that "bananas were not cultivated very much till the country
became part of Uganda, but now there are some good plantations."29 The
42 UGANDA JOURNAL
political transfer took place late in the 1890's, and the change by 1903 may have
been the result of the establishment of political stability in what had been a
disturbed area. During the first half of this century the area carried a very low
density of population and may even have had a declining population. In the
last decade or two population has increased and with it banana cultivation has
been spread northwards by the Baganda.
In west Buganda, in what is now Singo county, the border with Bunyoro
was likewise further south than it is now. In this direction there was also a falling
off in the extensiveness of banana cultivation, but banana cultivation definitely
took place in south Singo to the Bunyoro border when Lugard and Colvile30
traversed this zone in the early 1890's. However the ratio of bananas to grain
crops in the diet changed in favour of grains as Bunyoro was approached "the
cultivation consists more of grain (millet, maize and wimbi) and beans, than of
the interminable bananas and roots (sweet potatoes, cassava, etc.) which form
the staple food of Uganda."31
At the most northern point of Singo reached by Lugard he wrote in his
diary for May 1891 lhat "the soil of Unyoro seems very rich black mould.
The endless bananas cease here, and only a few are to be seen. The people
live on more grain apparently, and already we have got some wimbi out of
the houses, and Mahindi, and Mtama are the common crops around. Also
large quantities of beans and of potatoes, also Dhal."31
Masaka and Mubende
Although bananas had certainly been a feature of the landscape and the
economy in the Masaka area from the earliest of records, the suggestion has
been made that in Buddu, the main county now of Masaka district, the people
were not as dependent upon bananas as was the case in the central area of
Buganda. Thus Cunningham, referring really to the situation in Buddu prior
to the late nineteenth century influx of Baganda into the area, wrote that the
initial "Banabuddu" inhabitants, some of whom survived, "were essentially
cultivators of the soil and had very little to do with the care of cattle, unless
when employed by the Bahima as servants. The staple food was millet. There
are some bananas, but different from Uganda, the banana takes only second
rank as a food crop. There are also heavy crops of sweet potatoes and beans."32
If this really had been the situation in Buddu, and there is no indication as to
Cunningham's evidence for it, it would seem that a change had already begun
by 1860, for the picture of the area from Speke and Grant was of a greater focus
upon banana already by then than this statement of Cunningham would suggest.
Indeed one of the few descriptions in Speke of the cultivation of bananas con-
cerned the vicinity of Masaka. "There was no want of food here for I never
saw such a profusion of plantains anywhere. They were literally lying in heaps
on the ground, though the people were brewing pombe all day, and cooking them
for dinner every evening."33 Whilst Grant, who came through Masaka district
on a slightly different route, also confirmed the presence of bananas on the Ki-
tangole (Kagera) and Katonga valleys.34 When later in 1875-1876 Stanley pene-
treted up the Katonga, banana cultivation continued at intervals as far as
Kawanga's which was then on the border of Buganda and Bunyoro3s and pre-
sumably somewhere now in south Mubende. But it is evident that banana cul-
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 43
tivation did not extend far west of this point for when Stanley entered what was
then south Bunyoro (and now south Mubende and southeast Toro) he noted that
"had we not been informed of the change, we should have recognized at once
the fact that we had entered into a new country, by the difference in the
construction of the huts, and in the vegetables which formed the principal
subsistence of the natives. While in Uganda bananas formed our principal food
.... throughout Unyoro our diet consisted of sweet potatoes and salt, varied
with such other vegetables as foraging could obtain."36
The second area of major banana production in the latter half of the nine-
teenth century was south Busoga; and represented an eastwards extension of the
south Buganda zone. Reports of people passing through south Busoga from
Peters and Jackson onwards, all emphasised the great extent of banana gardens
in this area and in some respects they provided a picture of a more complete
cover under banana for this area than was given even for south Buganda. The
normal route through Busoga to Buganda lay well to the south of the present
route via Bugiri and Iganga. The area which was so clearly described in these
accounts as being well populated and under continuous banana cultivation
subsequently became depopulated by famine, sleeping sickness and sleeping
sickness control operations so that the southern limits of Busoga represent a
substantial reduction in the area under banana. Although this reduction has
taken place in the south undoubtedly a greater amount of banana is cultivated
now in the central zone of Busoga, which, compared with the situation fifty
years ago, has undergone a considerable increase in population. As in Buganda,
the last fifty years had seen the expansion of banana cultivation into areas less
ideally suited for banana cultivation, but it is virtually impossible to compare these
changes with the nineteenth century pattern because there are very few explorers'
or early travellers' accounts in this area of central Busoga. The following analy-
sis of the accounts of early records describes the importance of banana in the
south, which was commonly looked upon as "the garden of Uganda."37, 38
The journal of the first European to enter South Busoga, Hannington,
offered nothing of interest on this matter; but the second visitor, Peters, in
1890, described Usoga as a "region of plenty" with "bananas after bananas."40
Very shortly afterwards Peters was followed by Gedge and Jackson who also
recorded "vast groves of bananas" and in Jackson's view Busoga was "far
superior to Buganda in natural wealth."41 In his subsequent book, Jackson
emphasised again the extent of bananas except for the no-man's-land between
the petty kingdoms.42 However, Lugard passing through Busoga later in the
same year, 1890, thought that Jackson had exaggerated the richness of Busoga43,
though he related the view of the Kabaka of Buganda that Busoga was the
"cooking pot" of Uganda without which his country could not exist. The
extreme south of Busoga was traversed from the line of the main route south to
Macdonald Bay in 1891 by Eric Smith who reported that "Usoga is a land of
bananas and plenty, and many friendly people whose chief accomplishment is
thieving. It is extensively cultivated, well wooded, but there are huge tracts of
country which are as yet wild."44 In the following year, 1892, Bishop Tucker
made the first of a series of missionary traverses westwards from Wakoli's
(south of Bugiri) and reported that "Busoga.... is a country of plantains and
bananas, with a good deal of forest land broken up here and there by rolling
44 UGANDA JOURNAL
hills and sluggish swamps"45 and for the same year near Wakoli's Ashe wrote
that "the country we were passing looked almost like a magnificent forest, so
thickly was it wooded with splendid trees; while each day we wandered on through
endless banana groves."46 Portal passed through in 1893 to record Busoga as
"a country entirely of banana groves, which took five days to get through" and
"miles and miles of bananas."47 Colvile in November 1893 was so impressed
with the fact that south Busoga was so "very fully brought under cultivation"
that Busoga must have more people than Buganda.48 In 1893 after some time
in Buganda, Decle passed through south Busoga and was impressed by the
"almost uninterrupted succession of banana plantations."49 Similar observations
were made in the British East African Handbook of 1893 ;5so in 1895 by Ternan ;51
in 1897 by Austin52, Sykess3 and Cook;54 in 1898 by Hall;ss and in 1899 by
Ansorge.56 For the very early years of the twentieth century similar statements
were made. Sir Harry Johnston recorded in his book that "banana plantations
grow everywhere in splendid luxuriance"57 and Cunningham, whose book came
out a year or two later mentioned the same "vast areas under banana cultivation"
and the area "densely wooded with banana groves."58
With Cunningham there is just the beginnings of a recognition that some
destruction was beginning, and thereafter all commentators devote their atten-
tion to contrasting the plight of the area from 1900 to 1920 with its former
For the period from 1890 to 1910 there are very few accessible comments
on the state of affairs in north Busoga; though there may be some unpublished
archival material and possibly something in the missionary magazines. Kirk-
patrick who was the first European to travel northwards through Busoga to
Lake Kyoga in 1899 commented on the area immediately to the south of the
lake that there was "a fairly thick population, and bananas; sheep and fowls
are plentiful and very cheap."59 It is probable, however, that this statement can
only be taken as referring to specialised locations in the north, since even
today generally north Busoga has little banana cultivation. Thus some bananas
were cultivated in the north; and early in the twentieth century missionary
establishments at Iganga and in central and north Busoga led to further in-
crease of bananas there.
South Buganda. and south Busoga in combination form the traditional
focus of banana cultivation; two other areas show some evidence of having
had a banana based diet established by the end of the nineteenth century.
These are the Ruwenzori-Semliki area of the Amba and Konjo peoples, and
the Mount Elgon area of the Gisu. It is difficult to calculate for how long these
had been established, and also impossible to tell whether banana cultivation was
conveyed to these areas from Buganda or whether it was introduced from else-
To take the situation of the Amba area first. Winter, who has made the main
anthropological studies upon the Amba, reckoned that "plantains formed the
basis of the diet, although even in pre-European times a large range of crops
was grown. Of the grain crops, millet was the most important followed by
maize. Sweet potatoes were grown in appreciable quantities.... In aboriginal
days the principal export from Bwamba was a type of flour made from dried
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 45
plantains, although maize and millet were also exported. In return the Amba
received fish and meat." Later the Amba took to the cultivation of rice for trade
and for local consumption, replacing millet as the chief grain so that millet
cultivation ceased entirely. Then in the 1940's the banana groves were destroyed
by a weevil and sweet potato and cassava production increased in its stead.61
The first Europeans to pass through Bwamba were those on Stanley's
expedition for the relief of Emin and they came through in 1889. At Ugorama,
at the north end of the Semliki valley and on the western slopes of Ruwenzori
(near the centre of the present Bwamba county) Stanley reported the abundance
of food in this region was one of the most remarkable features in it. Ten batta-
lions would have needed no commissary to provide their provisions. We had
but to pluck and eat. Our scouts reported that on every hand lay plantations
abounding in the heaviest clusters of fruit. The native granaries were full of
red millet, the huts were stored with Indian corn; in the neighboring garden
plots were yams, sweet potatoes, colocassia tobacco.... we could see that up
to 8000 feet of the slopes they were dotted with several scores of cultivated
plots and that crooked lines of ravines were green with lengthy banana groves,
and that upland and lowland teemed with population and food and other pro-
ducts."62 Slightly further south, at Bukoko the "groves seemed endless and most
thriving, and weighted with fruit, and tomatoes grew in prodigious plenty."63
Such comments are made for various points along the whole length of the
Semliki valley,64 and occasionally Stanley referred to the presence of wild
bananas.65 From the Semliki valley Lt. Stairs made the first partial ascent of
Ruwenzori and found bananas, maize and colocassia growing for the first 900
feet but above this point only beans and colocassia were grown.66 These records
of bananas in Bwamba at the time of Stanley's expedition were supported
by the other records of this expedition.67 Also a few years later Scott Elliot
wrote about Bwamba in the following terms; "In the low grounds of the Semliki
valley there is plenty of maize, millet and sweet potatoes, as well as numerous
patches of bananas. A large portion of the mountain valleys are covered with
plantations of bananas and the bark-cloth fig, but the main food seems to be
Arum and beans of various kinds, which may be seen even at 7000 feet."68
There seems, therefore, little doubt that the Amba area of the Semliki valley
and of the lower slopes of western foothills of Ruwenzori was a banana dominant
area by the end of the nineteenth century. This means that Roscoe's reference
to the Amba in 1920 must be regarded as inaccurate for he says that "the small
millet, bulo, was the principal food .... sweet potatoes, beans, peas and marrows
were also grown and of recent years plantains have been largely cultivated on
the lower mountain slopes."69
There is little doubt also that when the eastern side of Ruwenzori was first
penetrated the Konjo were already predominantly dependent upon bananas.
Scott Elliot was the first European to climb to any height on the east side of the
Ruwenzori in 1894. In an account of the crops grown by the Konjo he mentioned
the banana first; "Bananas are usually planted in the more sheltered valleys
and gentle slopes up to 6,600 feet.... Usually speaking these banana plantations
are covered by a dense jungle of weeds curiously distinct from those found in
uncultivated places. Many of these plantation plants are of American origin,
and I fancy most have accompanied the banana wherever it has been carried
by man. Sometimes, however, a good deal of care is taken, and in one place
46 UGANDA JOURNAL
I have seen a very considerable amount of irrigation going on. On the bare
slopes, and high up the valleys to nearly 7,200 feet, the cultivation usually
consists of beans, wimbi, 'hungry rice' and sweet potatoes; there are also in the
higher valleys quantities of edible Arum."71 Later, Cunningham stated that the
staple foods of the Konjo were bananas and sweet potatoes7l and Wollaston
gave further evidence in 1960 of irrigation for banana cultivation.72 These
reports would again indicate inaccuracy in Roscoe's brief study for he stated
that "the tribe was purely agricultural and their staple food was small millet,
bulo ....... Maize was grown to some extent" and potatoes and beans are
mentioned, but he make no reference at all to bananas.73
A second area outside the Lake Victoria zone with bananas established at
the end of the nineteenth century is the Mount Elgon area. However, some
uncertainty exists as to the date of the establishment of bananas here. The main
anthropologist to have studied the Gisu wrote that "the two staple food crops
cultivated by the Gisu are millet and plantains"74 but this referred to the condi-
tion in 1940. From the evidence of the early missionaries La Fontaine deduced
that "millet was the original staple and it has frequently been said that the
cultivation of plantains was actively encouraged by the early Ganda chiefs who
ruled the country in the first decade of this century." The main support given
to the idea that millet was the staple at the beginning of the century came from
Tucker who visited the area in 1903, but he relied upon an earlier missionary,
Crabtree. Tucker noted that the people on the spurs of Elgon cultivate the val-
leys but live on the heights and live "mainly on sweet potatoes and a small
grain called 'bulo'."75 For various reasons, little reliance should be placed upon
this opinion of Tucker.
This supposition that bananas have come into the Elgon area largely under
the influence of Ganda agents is incompatible with earlier observations of Hob-
ley and Macdonald. Hobley passed around the western side of Elgon in 1896
and Macdonald passed through with a military expedition in the following
year. On the western slopes near what he called Mount Busano, Hobley recor-
ded "luxuriant banana plantations with which all but the very steepest hills are
clothed from foot to summit"76, and a little further north towards the Sebei he
reported that the banana "grows in such profusion that large quantities ripen
and rot in the plantations ungathered." For the same area Macdonald in 1897
observed that "the western slopes are densely inhabited by numerous small
tribes of Bantu origin, who style their country Masawa. The cultivation is the
most luxuriant I have seen anywhere in Africa; the hillsides are one mass of
banana plantations, while in the well-watered valleys are extensive fields of
grain, sweet potatoes and beans."76 The work of Mr. Twaddle on the history
of the Mbale area confirms the fact bananas were grown by the Bagisu before
the arrival of Kakungulu, and from his observations elsewhere in this volume
of the Uganda Journal it will be noted that it was the very fact that bananas were
available here which encouraged Kakungulu to settle at Mbale in the first
Certainly in the early years of this century millet and bananas were both
important crops amongst the Gisu. It has probably been the case that bananas
have increased at the expense of millets and that some of this increase has been
the result of the influence of the Ganda agents under Semei Kakungulu, but
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 47
one must also accept the evidence presented by Hobley and Macdonald that
there was a substantial amount of banana present before 1900. It is also possible
that bananas were established earlier on the steep lower slopes and that millet
survived longer amongst those less influenced by contact with the Baganda on
the higher plateaus. The practice of combining millets and banana was normal
in the early twentieth century as is revealed in the writings of early missionary
travellers in the area. Thus Kitching who first went to the Elgon area in 1907
wrote that "like the Banyoro, the Bagisu combine the cultivation of plantains
with the growing of grain; they plant large areas with plantains, but as often
as not allow them to get over-grown with grass and weeds so as to be useless
for food production."77 For the same time Purvis noted that Gisu men cultivated
the cereals and women the bananas.78 Roscoe had also visited the area during
the course of his missionary work and summarised the situation as it was in
1915 in the following way, "Plantains are grown freely, but they are not so
prolific nor is their quality so good as in Busoga or Uganda, doubtless this is
due to the cold nights and the altitude.... It is perhaps well that the people do
not rely entirely upon these trees, but also grow small millet and sweet potatoes,
which enable them to have a supply of grain to fall back upon when their
plantains fail them.... Sweet potatoes are grown in large quantities to meet
any emergency, so that, should a crop of millet fail, the people are not left
with insufficient food. Their staple food is porridge and plantain boiled and
mashed."79 For a later work as the result of his Mackie Ethnological Expedition,
which in some respects is not a very reliable study, Roscoe observed that, "the
main crop, and now practically the only crop which is grown on the higher
was the small millet, bulo"80 but that "plantains of several kinds, some used
for food and some for beer, were grown, but the trees seldom bore well because
of the cold on the high slopes of the mountain. Now, however, that the people
have come further down towards the plains, the upper slopes are left for millet
and plantains are grown in the valleys."81
Macdonald's expedition crossed over the northern spurs of Mount Elgon
and established a camp on the Save Plateau. This is clearly within the Sebei
area of Mount Elgon, and Macdonald 82 and another of his officers, Austin, both
mentioned bananas in this area. Thus in November 1897 Austin wrote that the
Save Plateau was "thickly cultivated with bananas, Indian corn, mtama (or dura)
beans, pumpkins, yams, and various other foodstuffs."83 He also reported
bananas at various other areas of northern Elgon-Mbai and Muhasa. Hobley
in 1897, however, had thought that the Sebei depended principally on millet.84
Roscoe wrote in 1924 of the Sebei that "the chief food of the people was millet,
which was ground between stones and made into a thick porridge. Sweet
potatoes were boiled and eaten whole, as were also plantains, though the latter
might be baked in the embers of the fire."85
These references are significant ones, for if one is correct in interpreting them
as evidence of banana cultivation by the Sebei, then they provide the only
evidence of a Nilo-Hamitic group having bananas in the late nineteenth cen-
tury; and one of the few references to bananas amongst any non-Bantu at this
48 UGANDA JOURNAL
The role of bananas in the late nineteenth century economy of western
Uganda is more difficult to assess. There is plenty of evidence that bananas were
subsidiary to other foodstuffs, but bananas were certainly present in Toro,
Ankole and Bunyoro. One is faced therefore with the problem of assessing their
role in relation to other foodstuffs as well as in attempting to discover something
about the real distribution of the crop.
In the account of Masaka area and the Katonga river, it has already been
seen that at the time of Stanley's first visit in 1876 banana cultivation ceased by
the time that the present Toro boundary was reached. It has also been seen that
in western Toro amongst the Amba and the Konjo bananas were well established
by 1889. The following notes attempt to reveal the situation in the area in
between. Apart from the entry of southeast Toro by Stanley in 1876 and again
by his Emin Pasha expedition which touched Toro district in the extreme south-
west and south, European penetration did not begin in central Toro until the
1890's. From the Emin expedition bananas were recorded near Katwe Salt
Lake; at Buruli (near Muhokya), and at Chamlirikwa in Unyampaka on the
Ankole border.86, 87
Much of Toro was first visited in 1891 by Lugard but although he made
occasional reference to 'crops', 'cultivation' and 'fields' there is not a single
reference to any specific crop in his book.88 Early 1893 saw the furthering of the
establishment of administration in Toro with Portal's re-arrangement and supp-
lementation of Lugard's forts; but few of the records of this time gave a picture
of the agriculture. There were a few references to the cultivation of bananas in
southeast Toro in Raymond Portal's diary for April 1893, where he mentioned
them near Fort de Winton, together with sweet potatoes, which on the whole
seemed to be more plentiful.89
In 1894 Scott Elliot traversed a large area of Toro but apart from his refere-
nces to bananas on Ruwenzori and in the Semliki valley which have already
been noted he added little to our knowledge of the rest of Toro. It would seem
that cultivation only occurred in limited areas in those parts of Toro that he
passed through, though bananas were certainly known in central Toro near
Kasagama's capital, and at Makwenda's, which must have been close to if not
in the Konjo area. Also in the extreme south, in the Ruwenzori foothills near
Lake Katwe there were more90 Later in the 1890's the cultivation of bananas in
central Toro was confirmed by Lloyd at Butanuka, not far from Fort Portal,
and also at intervals westwards through Mwenge county along the main road
to Kampala.91 Of the situation in 1899 Grogan wrote from a position north of
Fort Portal that "the country, as usual in Toro, consisted of undulating hills
intersected by papyrus swamps, with a few banana plantations, very sparcely
populated."92 From the same expedition his companion, Sharp, was presented
with bananas along the route to Kampala from Fort Portal but "as we got
further away from Toro, the land of plenty vanished and water became scarce
and food was more difficult to procure."93 This distribution of bananas near
to the capital of Toro in the centre of the Kingdom, and at intervals along the
main road to the east is confirmed also by the early missionaries in Toro.94, 95
The missionaries provided some valuable comments on the changes in
agriculture then under way, for on the basis of a visit to Toro in 1896 Bishop
Tucker considered that "physically the Batoro are not a strong race. The poor
quality of their food, which consists mainly of sweet potatoes and a small grain
called 'bulo' is mainly responsible for their weak physique."96 The former de-
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 4)
pendence of the Batoro and Banyoro upon millets was also reported by the
Reverend Fisher in the following terms "the Batoro and Banyoro have neglected
the cultivation of their country. They certainly are not epicureans and are quite
content to feed on a small millet called bura year in and year out as it grows with
very little expenditure of toil, although it contains practically no nutritive qua-
lity."97 Later during their stay in Toro the Fishers noted the beginnings of change
"bananas are gradually springing up over the country, for the Batoro are emu-
lating the example of the Baganda in adopting the unsweetened banana called
'matoke' as their staple food. Formerly they lived entirely on bura, a small
millet which possesses a very low percentage of nutritive quality."98
Perhaps in the centre of the Kingdom the change may have been fairly
rapid; for by early 1914 a later traveller reported "all round Toro are acres and
acres of banana plantations.... this is the national food."99 It is, however,
worth recording that a much later visitor reported that millet was the staple
as late as 1936; though bananas, sweet potatoes and beans were also men-
Thus there would seem to be some evidence that Toro has changed from a
basically millet and sweet potato diet of the nineteenth century to one with a
widespread consumption now of bananas, and that this change was occurring
rapidly even in the early years of the present century. At the same time there
is sufficient evidence to indicate that bananas were certainly known and grown
in the previous century. Nor is the degree of dependence upon a banana diet
in Toro today easy to assess. There is a heavy concentration of banana cultiva-
tion in the vicinity of Fort Portal but for half of the district, including even the
Amba and Konjo areas, the proportion of the cultivated area under banana
is less than 10%, and no where is it above 20%. 11 McMaster places most of
Toro in a cassava zone in which a wide range of other crops (bananas, finger
millet, sweet potatoes and beans) play a secondary role.102 In general in this
area of western Uganda where bananas fulfil a less than dominating role in
the food crop economy, a high proportion of the bananas are of a beer making
variety, and so the effect of the change in agricultural use may not indicate
a change in the nature of the basic food to the same degree. McMaster does not
provide an estimate of the proportion of bananas which are for beer-making;
but Elspeth Huxley put the ratio at 60% in 1948.103 It is probable that in
keeping with other areas of western Uganda that this ratio has decreased in
For Ankole the pattern was much the same as for Toro, the decrease of
banana cultivation into the interior from Masaka and the Katonga valley has
already been observed; but undoubtedly there were specialised locations within
Ankole which have had a close development of bananas since the late nineteenth
century at least. One such area was the plain on the west side of Lake George
and Lake Edward where in 1876104 and 1889 Stanley mentioned "by Unyam-
pake East is intended the lake shore of Kitagwenda. The entire distance thence
to Katori in Ankori is an almost unbroken line of banana plantations skirting
the shore of the lake."105 But bananas were to be found even then at intervals
across the Ankole plateau at Kiburiga, Nyamatoso, the Namianja valley,
Viaruha and Mabona.106, 107 Visitors in the 1890's generally commented on the
difficulty of obtaining food in central Ankole,108 but this is understandable in a
predominantly pastoral area. Even in 1894 "vast banana plantations" were
50 UGANDA JOURNAL
found at Mabona.109 However, for the most part Scott Elliot was unimpressed
with the Ankole agriculture-"the country appears to be very poor; there are
only a few miserable huts, with scanty patches of sweet potatoes or beans,
scattered about on the hills at long distances. The best and most prosperous
settlements are along the sides of the few streams at the bottom of a valley,
where there are often great plantations of banana and a sufficiently strong
population to keep off visitors."110 The presence of bananas on the route through
central Ankole north of Mbarara to the Toro (Kitagwenda) border was con-
firmed for the early 1900's by Fisher,11 Fewer records exist for southern Ankole;
but from the writing of Delmd-Radcliffe who surveyed the Ankole-Karagwe
border in 1902 it would appear that bananas, though present in a very few
limited areas, played only a minor role in the economy in the south. For this
area of south Ankole he gave as a record of the agriculture "the natives in
Buddu, Ngarama, Ruampara and westwards cultivate sweet potatoes, ground-
nuts, beans, peas, manioc, a little maize and tobacco. Yams are extensively
cultivated south of the Kagera, but not north of the river. Bananas are little
cultivated to the west of the Ngarama and bark cloth trees coincide with the
cultivation of the banana. In Ruampara plants chiefly cultivated were sweet
potatoes, manioc, a small grain called talabun or wimbi and castor oil."112
This must have been the pattern for much of Ankole, which places it in a very
similar position to Toro. In 1900 Tucker described the food of the Hima in the
following terms; "their food is mainly a grain called bulo and sweet potatoes.
Bananas are to a small extent cultivated, but generally for the purposes of beer-
making.""13 It would seem that some of the increase of banana cultivation in
central Ankole can be attributed to the introduction of Ganda administrative
agents for Lukyn Williams is of the opinion that Mbaguta "was instrumental in
establishing the banana plantations round Mbarara in order to feed the Baga-
nda agents and helpers who came with the British."113a
The increase of the banana and a change from a millet based diet has been
accepted also by anthropologists who have studied this area. Thus Stenning wrote
of the Bairu section of the population in southwest Ankole; "in former times
these populations, the Bairu, cultivated small millet, the sowing reaping and
tending of which were accompanied by religious rites and magical operations.
Since about 1910, and in places much later, they were persuaded to take to
plantains as a staple food crop, and the thick dark green leaves of its
groves now seem, in many localities, to cover the hills completely. In addition
to plantains and millet, the peasants of these counties cultivate a range of sub-
sidiary food crops. Some of these like sorghum for beer, beans, peas, cow peas,
and one variety of maize, they claim to have cultivated from time immemorial.
Others, like cassava, sweet potatoes and soya beans and groundnuts have
been introduced in Protectorate times."114 Again, as in Toro, it seems that a high
proportion of the bananas grown in Ankole are for beer; with an estimated
80-90% of the bananas being for beer in 1939.115 Since then, and especially in
the last few years, eating varieties have increased considerably but the picture is
further complicated by the development of matoke growing in west Ankole for
cash sales in Kampala.
The situation in west Ankole in 1958 was that it constituted an important
banana growing area, and was certainly more fully under banana than was Toro.
McMaster includes it in an extensive zone of south Uganda embracing
also Buganda and south Busoga in which over 40 % of the cultivated area was
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 51
The central uplands of Kigezi form an extension of the banana zone of the
coterminous western Ankole hills zone today, but elsewhere to the north and
the south bananas only form less than 10 % of the area under cultivation. This
must represent a change since earlier in the century. The standard anthro-
pological work on the Ciga, published in 1957, but based on field work in 1933,
made no mention at all of bananas but seemed to place the focus of agriculture
upon finger millet production supplemented by peas, beans, maize and pota-
toes.117 However, most of Edel's field work was based on southern Kigezi
where because of its coldness, little banana is grown to this day. A similar
system of agriculture is described earlier by Roscoe.118 Even so for 1899 Grogan
mentions dwarf bananas near what is now the Ruanda-Kigezi border.119 From
information supplied by a local informant (Miss J. Babyeta) there is a general
belief in Ruzhtimbura county that bananas were introduced about 1912 by
Baganda administrative officials who first introduced beer bananas (embire) and
later introduced matoke (enyamyongo) and that these bananas were obtained
from the neighboring counties of Ankole.
It is probable that the areas of Kigezi now with a lot of bananas are areas of
relatively recent settlement and population expansion but that the main area
of Ciga settlement in the south remains with only a few bananas because alti-
tude renders the area unsuitable for them.
The status of bananas in Bunyoro is very difficult to determine. Nowadays
the central hill area has over 20% of its cultivated area under banana, but there
is less in the surrounding area. The diet is now dependent upon a wide range of
commodities including finger millet, cassava and sweet potatoes. It is virtually
impossible to determine whether bananas were grown more or less in the past
and whether or not they played a more important role in the diet. Bunyoro was
probably never as dependent upon bananas as Buganda; but they do not play
as important a role here today either. There is also plenty of evidence of some
interest in banana cultivation in the ineteenth century but at the same time sweet
potatoes have played an important part in the diet in the past and possibly
millet beer was consumed as well as banana beer. A big change during the twen-
tieth century has been the increase in the production of cassava. It is extremely
difficult to assess whether this has spread at the expense of banana and sweet
potato or whether banana has held its own. A further complicating factor in
the situation is that parts of Bunyoro lost population in the nineteenth century;
and north Bunyoro is now largely depopulated today in areas which in the last
century had important locations for banana cultivation. In the survey so far, the
fact that bananas became less ontinuous as Bunyoro was reached from Buganda
has been seen and some suggestion has been made that the Nyoro, like the Toro,
were dependent mainly on a millet and sweet potato diet. The following analysis
of the explorers' and early travellers' material suggests that extensive banana
plantations used to exist in some places if not continuously over large tracts of
Early evidence is particularly strong for north Bunyoro. At the time that
Speke and Grant passed through north Bunyoro in 1862 bananas were grown
and pombe from bananas was readily available near Kamrasi's capital at Mruli
(near the present Masindi Port) and continued from here intermittently along
the Nile until the Nile was crossed at Karuma Falls.120 At one point, Yaragoni's
52 UGANDA JOURNAL
on the Nile north of Mruli, the extent of banana gardens was sufficient to remind
Speke of Buganda.121 Although Grant also made some mentions of bananas,122
on the whole he seemed less impressed with banana cultivation in Bunyoro and
made at least one adverse comparison with Buganda for the area immediately
in the vicinity of Mruli-"We missed the shady plantain groves of that garden
of African neatness-Uganda. No fruit of any description is grown near the
palace. Coffee is bought fron Uddoo. The vegetables are pumpkin, sweet
potato and the grains sorghum, sessamum, ooleyzee and other ordinary varieties.
The bread and porridge made from these grains are miserable; and butter being
scarce and no plantain to moisten the flour we had very poor fare."123 Grant
also claimed that most of beer was mwenge, a term which he applied to millet
beer, whereas Speke continued to refer to pombe which was more usually applied
to the banana brew of Buganda. Very shortly afterwards Baker entered north
Bunyoro via the Karuma Falls; for 1864 he made frequent reference to bananas
in this northeastern extremity of the country, especially near Karuma but also
at Kisoona which is further in the interior, away from the Nile.124 Even after
his journey across south Bunyoro to view Lake Albert he wrote that "through-
out the country of Unyoro plantains in various forms were the staple article of
food, upon which the inhabitants placed more dependence than upon all other
crops."125 Eight years later when Baker returned, the distribution of bananas
was much the same along the Nile and at Kisoona,126 except that raiding and
ancestral warfare after the death of Kamrasi had left the area generally impove-
rished so that "provisions are very scarce; the people have been fighting for so
many years that cultivation has been much neglected and the natives live prin-
cipally on bananas,"127 or that there was "nothing to be obtained in the whole
country but beans, sweet potatoes and plantains."128 Although att his time
Baker visited the Masindi area of central Bunyoro he gave little information
about the agricultural practice in that region, but he did provide a general
comment on Bunyoro as a whole; "the natives of Unyoro are very inferior in
physique to the Fatiko and this is the result of vegetable food without either
cereals or flesh. None of the general public possess cattle; thus the food of the
people from infancy, after their mothers' milk has ceased is restricted to plan-
tains and watery sweet potatoes."129 From 1877 Emin Pasha made frequent
visits to Bunyoro and covered much of the north between Mruli, Foweira,
Magungo and Masindi and frequently mentioned the presence of bananas.130
He described the Banyoro diet of the time as consisting "principally of vegetables
bananas, sweet potatoes, Helmia bulbifera, gourds, corchorus, purslane, etc.
All these are made into a porridge with ground sesame seeds, except bananas
which are plucked before they are ripe and roasted. Ripe bananas are seldom
eaten; they are used to make mwenge, an intoxicating drink. Eleusine corn,
finer grained and of a paler colour than that grown further north, is rubbed into
flour with hot water which removes its bitterness.... Durrah and eleusine are
mashed into a thick porridge and cooked with sesame,butter, honey or meat broth.
Manioc is eaten only in the south. Sweet potatoes are boiled in water,"131 and
of beverages in Bunyoro he wrote "Mwenge is prepared by mashing bananas
ripened artificially over a fire.... Corn is not malted here. The use of mwenge
is so universal in Unyoro, and particularly in Uganda, that I believe people
never drink water. The Wanyoro take enormous quantities of it, and even little
children drink it with the greatest delight."132, 133 Ten years later in 1887
Casati, who spent quite a long time in Bunyoro, gave a list of crops grown and
referred to bananas as "the staple food consumed by the people."134
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 53
During the 1890's, at the time of the Bunyoro Wars various accounts of
Bunyoro were made by visiting military personnel. Many of these accounts
indicated that at that time banana cultivation was widespread near Kabarega's
capital at Hoima 135 and over much of central and northern Bunyoro.136, 137,
138, 139 At the same time their dependence upon bananas must have been less
than that of the Baganda for the Banyoro "instead of courting starvation by
relying entirely on that favourite food of locusts, the banana, plant large quan-
tities of beans and sweet potatoes."140 The medical officer accompanying these
operations agreed with this, in that he wrote that Bunyoro was "not half such a
banana country as Uganda, far more grain is grown out here, millets of various
kinds, kaffir corn and several kinds of beans. As for sweet potatoes the place is
simply covered with them. They seem to grow almost wild."141
Later, at about the turn of the century when missionary interests started to
enter Bunyoro, accounts with a more important role in the diet upon millets
and sweet potatoes were made. The opinion of Fisher has already been quoted,
and this was confirmed by Kitching "the Banyoro use plantains to some exent
but prefer millets or potatoes, with semsem or other herbs as relishes."'42
In the light of these statements the description of the Banyoro given by Cunning-
ham in 1904 would seem to be out of line with other commentators of the time,
for he was under the impression that bananas still formed their staple food,
"several different kinds of cereal are cultivated among which may be mentioned
millet, maize, wimbi, and beans; sweet potatoes and cassava are also grown.
Bananas flourish in abundance in many places and form the staple food of the
This brings to a conclusion the discussion of the distribution of bananas in
the southern half of Uganda, where bananas seem to have been established in
in varying degrees in 1860. This also comprises the area of Bantu occupancy.
Those parts of Uganda not yet considered all lie in the non-Bantu north. Here
according to McMaster, in "all of Acholi and Karamoja, the lowlands of West
Nile and nearly all of Teso, bananas occupied only 1 %o or less of the total acrea-
ge in food crops in 1958. Throughout most of Lango and the West Nile plateau
the percentage was from 1 to 5."144 This is an area without a tradition of banana
growing or of eating or drinking the product of the banana. The problem to
consider in this discussion is when such banana cutivation as does occur was
To begin with the Alur of the southern part of the West Nile district and
across the border of the Congo; there is some evidence that bananas were
cultivated in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Although according to
Stanley the southern part of the west Lake Albert plains had no cultivation
in 1888 when he came with the Emin Pasha relief expedition,145 Mounteney-
Jephson reported for the same area that there were groves of bananas at Ka-
hama146 and further north at Magunga.147 Further north in the centre of Alur
country bananas were found in the ravines in the hills lying behind Mahagi
(Mt. Nyelear) according to Emin Pasha who penetrated Alur country first in
1879148 and were to be found in the slopes facing Mswa (near Mahagi) in
1895149, 150 and shortly later."'5 But from the description of agriculture amongst
the Alur given by Emin Pasha bananas were evidently of minor significance,
54 UGANDA JOURNAL
since after a list of corps grown he noted that "bananas are not found except,
perhaps, in the more sheltered side valleys."152 In 1904 Delmt-Radcliffe re-
ported that bananas were absent from the whole of Nile Province except in one
or two of the Alur settlements which then occurred on the east bank of the
Nile.153 Amongst these would have been included the administrative centre of
Wadelai which was located then on the east bank and which had bananas in
These references indicate that the Alur had a slight interest in banana cul-
tivation in the late nineteenth century, and since the Nilotic peoples are generally
assumed to have acquired their banana cultivation interests from the Bantu,
a question is posed as to the origin of this crop here. The plateau and hill area
at the southern part of the west Lake Albert area (Balegga), had a lot of banana
cultivation in the 1880's, 155, 156 and this may represent the eastern limit of
banana cultivation from the Congo forest area; or alternatively Alur cultivation
could have been derived from Bunyoro, since Bunyoro-Alur contacts had
existed for a long time.
Mention has already been made of banana cultivation at Wadelai, in the
Alur country at the southern end of the Albert Nile. There is further evidence
for this from an earlier source of Emin Pasha157 and Gessi15s for the time when
Wadelai was on the west bank Gessi also mentioned that it was grown even further
north on the Albert Nile, at Dufile'59 and Emin Pasha mentioned it at Bora in
what is now Madi country,160 and also beyond the present boundary with the
.Sudan. It was further reported just beyond the present boundary by Wilson161
in 1876 and by Junker 162 in 1879 and 1884. However, in all of these places it is
possible that the cultivation was confined to the area of the station established
by Emin Pasha and earlier administrative officers and may not necessarily be
taken as an indication that it was a standard element of the diet of the indigenous
Such slight cultivation of bananas as did occur along the banks of the Nile
must have been confined to the immediate vicinity of these administrative stations
for the few early reports of the interior of the West Nile did not make any
reference to bananas and the crop was not listed by Stigand who generally
provided good descriptions of the agriculture of those parts that hes travelled
through in 1912-1914.163 On the other hand the anthropologist who has studied
the Lugbara in greatest detail claimed that the "traditional crops are eleusine
(the staple) sorghum, simsim, various peas and beans, groundnuts, pumpkins
sugar cane, bananas and many other plants"'"1 though it is possible that by
"traditional" Middleton may have meant merely to refer to a time earlier than
the establishment of cassava and maize as important crops. The West Nile
district is included in McMaster's cassava zone but the Lugbara area of the
plateau has about 3 or 4% of its cultivated land at present under bananas.
The mention earlier of bananas at Dufile and Bora demonstrates that
bananas were known in Madi country at the end of the nineteenth century.
However when Speke and Grant and Baker passed through the interior of East
Madi in the 1860's they made no reference to banana cultivation in the area.
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 55
The first references to bananas in Madi were made by Emin Pasha who found
them on the Nile bank as already noted, and also at Faloro, an old slaving
centre and later military post in the centre of East Madi. Here he found them
in abundance, but claimed that they had been introduced from Wadelai, that
they thrived well but were not much eaten.165 He also mentioned them at Fabo
further south in East Madi.166
According to the maps of McMaster no bananas, or at least less than 500
acres of bananas, were grown in the Madi district (East or West) in 1958.
The sequence of events in Acholi is not unlike that of other areas of the north.
Quite probably there were no bananas here in the early 1860's for although Speke
referred to pombe he did not necessarily mean banana beer'67 whilst Grant
asserted that they "had entirely lost the plantain tree of Uganda."'1 Possibly
by 1868 some plantains were grown on the north bank of the Victoria Nile,169
but these were grown by displaced Banyoro rather than by Acholi; just as the
bananas later at East Wadelai were grown by Alur. The missionaries who began
to enter Acholi after 1900 and who provided comments on Acholi made no
references to bananas growing other than those at Wadelai.170, 171, 12 Fisher
in an interview very much later even claimed the responsibility of having in-
troduced bananas into Acholi early in the century.173
The situation in the late 1950's was that about 1000 acres only in Acholi
were under banana cultivation; but there may have been a slight increase since
then. It would seem that the crop was only introduced about sixty years ago
and that it has not spread very widely. Bananas are not mentioned in the standard
anthropological work on the Acholi.174
Few early travellers passed through Lango to provide descriptions of the
agriculture of the area in the nineteenth century. Only the extreme southwest
was passed through on route from the Acholi forts to the Nile and Emin
Pasha provided a brief description of the Lango and their cultivation in the
region of Fachora and Modo, immediately to the north of the present Atura.175
Emin, in fact, claimed to have introduced bananas at Fachora himself.176 South
Lango was penetrated by military operations in the late 1890's, and at least one
of these reports gave a list of the crops grown without mentioning bananas.177
Thereafter central and north Lango were not traversed until the establishment
of administration after 1910. The agricultural interests of the Lango in 1920
were described by Driberg in his anthropological study of the Lango. His
account of the role of millets in providing the main food and drink provided a
picture much the same as the situation today.178 The secondary interest of the
Langi in semsem may have lessened since 1920 as other crops, including cassava,
bananas and sweet potatoes have increased. Driberg considered that "previous
to their raids into Bunyoro the banana and sweet potatoes were unknown to the
Lango. The former has not found much favour, and although here and there a
tree is put in near a village the banana cannot be said to be cultivated."'79
This would place the introduction of bananas at about the turn of the century.
A later commentator on the history of crops in Lango wrote that "the first
food crops planted by the Lango were millets, pigeon peas, simsim, amola
(Hyptis sp.), malakwang (Hibiscus sp.), adura (Ceratotheca sesamoides), okwer
(a species of cucumber, Cucurbitaceae) alao (Critotalaria sp.) and otigo (Cor-
56 UGANDA JOURNAL
chorus sp.): it was some time before they began to eat groundnuts. Sweet
potatoes were introduced from Bunyoro in the reign of Kabarega. Cassava was
not known till brought by the Government in 1911,"180 but no mention is made
of the introduction of bananas. A view which is normally accepted is that
bananas were introduced into Lango by Baganda agents of the administration
after 1910. A report of two people who travelled through southern Lango and
Teso in 1912 provided a contemporary record of this development "their staple
food consists of the small red millet, supplemented by sweet potatoes. Bananas
which form the main dietary of the Baganda and Banyoro on the other side of
of the Nile, are not grown except at the forts of the Baganda agents, who have
also introduced the cultivation of cotton."181
In Lango in 1958 over 7000 acres were under bananas which was a greater
amount than in Acholi, but it still only accounted for about 1 % of the cultivated
area. Many of these acres were near Lake Kyoga where the first Baganda forts
had been established and where there has been a long contact with the Banyoro,
though about half were in the vicinity of the main administrative centre further
north at Lira.
Eastern Uganda, including Teso
The history of banana cultivation in east Uganda is difficult to trace because
nineteenth century records of the area are very few. The position in Busoga which
is administratively part of Eastern Province has already been considered; as
also has the situation on Mount Elgon. From either of these centres bananas may
have spread to those Bantu tribes occupying the corridor between the swamps
draining into Lake Kyoga, and Mount Elgon. The present situation amongst the
Gwere, Nyuli, Gwe and Samia is given in McMaster,182 but it is impossible to
tell for how long bananas have been important amongst them or whether the
presence of Baganda administrative agents may also have led to an increase in
these Bantu areas as well as into the non-Bantu parts. There seems some reasons
from the studies of Mr. Twaddle to believe that the Gwere have grown bananas
for a long time.
So far as the non-Bantu areas are concerned there is still little interest in
banana cultivation, and much that was said for Lango also applies to Teso.
Such few early records as there are provide lists of crops mainly millets, simsim,
and sorghum with lesser amounts of groundnuts and sweet potatoes; but with
no mention of bananas.183, 184, 185 The first European to vist south Teso from
across Lake Kyoga reported that the Wakedi (Teso) "keep cattle and grow
wimbi, matammeh, semsem, sweet potatoes and bananas."186 Although Kirk-
patrick made this statement of the Teso and although he recognized the Banyoro
and Kenyi (Wadope) as separate groups in the area it is possible that he had
observed the bananas at a non-Teso area. In any case it is most improbable
that banana cultivation then extended much beyond the lake shore. Banana
cultivation could have increased in parts of Teso as a result of Bunyoro in-
fluence in the 1890's and almost certainly did increase in the Lake Kyoga area
around the forts that Kakungulu and his Baganda agents established in the
first decade of the twentieth century. There is at least the record of one of these
agents, Eriya, being proud of his banana plantation in 1901.187 The increase of
bananas in Teso at this time was also undoubtedly due to Baganda catechists
at the C.M.S. and Mill Hill establishments. The amount of banana cultichation
in Teso is still very small; according to McMaster not occupying much more than
1000 acres and it gets no mention in the standard anthropological account.188
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 57
The position of bananas in Teso in the present century is of interest since it is
obvious that some increase has occurred and McMaster would probably include
Teso in his statement that the "banana seems still to be extending northwards.
The tendency for expansion is probably a general one in Uganda."'89 Yet
the indication from at least one pair of surveys in a sample area of Teso was that
less banana was grown in 1953 than in 1937,190 (though the total in each case
was small-59 acres as compared with 19.2 acres). This decline has been
accompanied by a doubling of the acreage under cassava.
Bananas have always been virtually non-existent in the Karamoja district
of northeast Uganda.
It is impossible to summarise this examination adequately. Banana cultiva-
tion has undoubtedly spread from the nineteenth century concentration in
south Buganda, south Busoga and Bugisu. The degree of change in Bunyoro
and Toro is also impossible to determine since there always has been banana
cultivation in these areas and the problem concerns the assessment of the role of
bananas in the diet of the people now as compared with the past. This assessment
is complicated further by the initiation of other changes in the diet such as the
increase in cassava consumption. There can be little doubt that in terms of
acreage of bananas there has been a very considerable increase in banana culti-
vation in west Ankole and central Kigezi; but the effect of this upon local
diets, and especially on food, as distinct from drink, is more difficult to determine
In the north and east of Uganda there has been a slight increase but total
amounts grown by the non-Bantu peoples remain very small. Also, although
some of these areas may have started growing banana in this century; in
some specialised locations the crop may have been known by the Alur, the
Sebei and perhaps even the Teso on Lake Kyoga in the nineteenth century.
Again it is necessary not to exaggerate the amount of the increase or dog-
matise on the reasons that have led to it. Thus, although it is very clear that a
considerable increase in banana area has taken place in central Busoga and in
neighboring Bantu areas of Eastern Province including Bugisu, this is the
result of a very great increase in the population and hence of the area of land
occupied. In some areas it may be true that banana cultivation has increased
with the increasing cultivation of cotton, which is the information that Mc-
Master presented to Professor Johnston ;191 but given the increase in population,
the banana acreage in the southern half of Eastern Province would have in-
creased regardless of the cash crop grown. Elsewhere, as already seen for Lango,
cotton and bananas may have been introduced together but the banana area
is still extremely small. These notes have also leant support to the general belief
that banana cultivation has spread with the introduction of administrative
agents from Buganda into other parts of Uganda. This is especially true of
Lango and Acholi but the total area concerned is still very small. The same may
be true of parts of eastern and western Uganda but the role of Ganda agents has
often been exaggerated. It is possible too, that the dispersal of Ganda mission-
aries may also have led to the dispersal of banana cultivation. In the west,
where the biggest increase has taken place, the increase has very largely been
the result of a preference for banana beer which developed after the introduction
of Ganda administrators. Another factor to be taken into account is that com-
pared with sown crops, bananas are very easy to grow and demand little of the
cultivators' time. This has undoubtedly meant that bananas can be grown and
58 UGANDA JOURNAL
still leave the cultivator plenty of opportunity for his cotton cultivation;
but it must also be recognized that cassava has some of the same advantages,
and the increase in cassava cultivation in Uganda has been more remarkable
and more widespread than the increase of bananas. By and large the distribution
of banana cultivation in Uganda remains as always strongly focused upon the
Bantu areas, though small amounts are grown by other peoples. The general
absence of bananas from the north and northeast may also be related to
environmental conditions since the presence of a month or two with a shortage
of water (even though the total rainfall may be 55 to 60 inches a year) means
that the banana grows less well than in the south. Conditions inhibiting its culti-
vation altogether only exist in the far northeast. This examination has also
attempted to draw attention to places such as south Busoga, north Bunyoro,
Bwamba and even perhaps Teso, where the cultivation of bananas may be less
now than at some former time. It is possible even that the extension of
bananas into northern Uganda in the 1930's was thwarted by locusts.
This study serves to emphasise some of the difficulties involved in tracing
relatively recent changes in crop distribution. Uganda offers a fascinating
field of study for the history of agricultural and dietary changes and this survey
of banana affords an example of the use of written records of the early European
travellers for the reconstruction of the distribution of a crop before the introduc-
tion of modern administration and the accompanying influence of agri-
cultural advisers. Similar surveys could be done of changes in the distribution
of maize, cassava and possibly of sweet potatoes.
1. See for instance, Masefield, G. B., Agricultural change in Uganda 1945-1960, Food
Research Institute Studies, 3, No. 2, May, 1962. Similar studies have been made for
Tanzania and for Ruanda-Urundi.
2. McMaster, D. N. A subsistence crop geography of Uganda, Bude, Geographical Publica-
tions, 1962, World Land Use Survey, Occasional Papers No. 2.
3. Of particular interest is D. N. McMaster's Speculations on the coming of the banana
to Uganda, in the Journal of Tropical Geography, 16, 1962 and the Uganda J., 27, 1963.
The Uganda Journal has published numerous articles on bananas and maize and W. 0.
Jones' Manioc has some speculations on the dispersal of cassava in East Africa.
4. Langlands, B. W. Maize in Uganda. Uganda J., 29, 1965, pp.215-221.
5. Langlands, B. W. Early travellers in Uganda 1860-1914, Uganda J., 26, pp.55-71
and the map on early travellers in the Atlas of Uganda, Department of Lands and Survey,
provide an introduction to the literature and to the routes traversed but do not deal with
travellers subsequent to those who initiated new routes.
6. Grant, J. A. in Speke, J. H. Journal of the discovery of the source of the Nile, 1863, p.648.
7. Speke, J. H. ibid., 1863, pp.266, 274, 280, 376 and 392.
8. Grant, J. A. A walk across Africa, 1864, pp.217 and 225-226.
9. Stanley, H. M. Through the dark continent, Vol. I, 1878, p.383. See also p.198.
10. Wilson C. T. and Felkin, R. W. Uganda and the Egyptian Sudan, Vol. I, 1882, p.145.
Wilson also provided a list of a large number of other crops grown with banana, p.159;
but this has already been quoted in the article referred to on maize in Uganda.
11. Schweinfurth, G. (Editor) EminPasha in Central Africa, 1888, p.34 (for 1877).
12. Harrison, J. W. The story of the life of Mackay of Uganda, 1891, p.106 (for 1879).
13. Ashe, R. P. Two kings of Uganda, 1889, pp.49, 128 and 206 (for 1880s).
14. Harford-Battersby, C. F. Pilkington of Uganda, 1898, pp.120-122 (for 1890's).
15. Decle, L. Three years in savage Africa, 1898, p.450 (for 1893).
16. Ansorge, W. J. Under the African sun, 1899, p.95.
17. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, pp.454-456.
18. Grant, J. A. op. cit., 1864, pp.246-250.
19. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, pp.458-459.
20. Speke, J. H. ibid., 1863, pp.460, 466 and 476.
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 59
21. Chaills Long C. My life in four continents Vol. I, 1912, p.103; and see also Chailla Long,
C. Central Africa: naked truths of naked people, 1876, pp.92, 95, 97 and 125.
22. Grant J. A. op. cit., 1864, pp.237, 242 and 243.
23. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, p.481.
24. Grant, J. A. op. cit., 1864, p.270.
25. Chaille Long, C. op. cit., 1912, p.9 and 1876, p.87.
26. Schweitzer, G. The life of Emin Pasha, Vol. I, 1898, pp.30-31, 53 and 62.
27. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, pp.34-35 (Mreko's in North Buganda), p.38 (Tama),
p.40 (Duero), p.41 (Kirembe), p.44 (Muamba's), and p.48 (Debatu, quite near to
Rubaga). Similar references are given for 1878 on pp.129 and 132.
28. Chaille Long, C. op. cit., 1876, p.161.
29. Leakey, Uganda Notes, 4, No. 5, May, 1903.
30. Colvile, H. E. Land of the Nile springs, 1895, pp.86 and 94, at Makwenda's (for 1893).
31. Lugard, F. D. The rise of out East African empire, Vol. II, 1893, p.132 (for 1891). For
the quotation from Lugard's diary see M. Perham (Editor) The diaries of Lord Lugard,
1959, Vol. II, p.165.
32. Cunningham, J. F. Uganda and its peoples, 1905, pp.61-62.
33. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, p.276.
34. Grant, J. A. op. cit., 1864, pp.199, 205 and 208.
35. Stanley, H. M. Through the dark continent, Vol. I, 1878, pp.423 and 429.
36. Stanley, H. M. ibid., 1878, Vol. I, p.430.
37. Wilson, G. in Hesketh Bell, Correspondndence relating to the famine in the Busoga
district of Uganda, London, H.M.S.O. Cd.4358, 1908, p.11 (for 1891).
38. Ternan, T. Some experiences of an Old Bromsgrovian, 1930, p.145 (for 1897).
39. Dawson, E. C. James Hannington: a history of his life and work, 1889.
40. Peters, C. New light on dark Africa, 1891, pp.342-350.
41. Ravenstein, E. G. Messrs. Jackson and Gedge's journey to Uganda via Masailand,
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 13, 1891, pp.204-205.
42. Jackson, F. Early days in East Africa, 1930, p.356.
43. Lugard, F. D. Reports by Capt. Lugard I.B.E.A.C. on his expedition to Uganda to Dece-
mber 1890, London, H.M.S.O., Africa No. 4, C.6555, 1892, p.102.
44. Thomas, H. B. Eric Smith's expedition to Lake Victoria, 1891, Uganda J. 23, No. 2,
Sept. 1959, p.142.
45. Tucker, A. R. Eighteen years in Uganda and East Africa, Vol. 1, 1908, p.221.
46. Ashe, R. P. Chronicles of Uganda, 1894, p.362.
47. Portal, G. The British mission to Uganda in 1893, 1894, p.213.
48. Colvile, H. op. cit., 1895, pp.31-32.
49. Decle, L. op. cit., 1898, p.467.
50. Handbook of British East Africa, including Zanzibar and Uganda, 1893, pp.144-148.
51. Ternan, T. op. cit., 1930, p.145.
52. Austin, H. H. With Macdonald in Uganda, 1903, p.88.
53. Sykes, C. A. Service and sport on the tropical Nile, 1903, p.15.
54. Cook, H. B. A doctor and his dog in Uganda, 1903, p.33.
55. Hall, M. J. Through my spectacles in Uganda, 1898, p.41.
56. Ansorge, W. J. op. cit., 1899, p.80.
57. Johnston, H. H. The Uganda Protectorate, Vol. 1, 1902, p.66.
58. Cunningham, J. F. op. cit., 1905, pp.110 and 120.
59. Kirkpatrick, R. T. Lake Choga and surrounding country, Geographical J. 13, 1899,
reprinted in UgandaJ. 10,1946, p.161.
60. Winter, E. H. Bwamba economy,1955, p.5.
61. Winter, E. H. ibid., 1955, p.6.
62. Stanley, H. M. In darkest Africa, Vol. II, 1890, p.247.
63. Stanley, H. M. ibid., 1890, Vol. II, p.250.
64. Stanley, H. M. ibid.,1890, Vol. II, pp.253, 255, 259, 260 and 296.
65. Stanley, H. M. ibid., 1890, Vol. II, pp.248 and 259.
66. Stairs, W. G. quoted in Stanley, H. M. ibid., 1890, Vol. II, p.258.
67. Parke, T. H. My personal experiences in equatorial Africa, 1891, pp.430, 433 and 434.
68. Elliot, G. F. S. A naturalist in mid-Africa, 1896, p.152.
69. Roscoe, J. The Bagesu and other tribes of the Uganda Protectorate, 1924, p.149.
70. Elliot, G. F. S. op. cit., 1896, p.111-112.
71. Cunningham, J. F. op. cit., 1905, p.267.
72. Wollaston, A. F. R. Fom Ruwenzori to the Congo, 1908, p.l11.
73. Roscoe, J. op. cit., 1924, pp.138-139.
74. La Fontaine, J. The Gisu of Uganda, 1959, p.14.
60 UGANDA JOURNAL
75. Tucker A. R. op. cit., 1908, Vol. II, p.279. La Fontaine gives the wrong page number
76. Hobley, C. W. Notes on a journey round Mount Masawa or Elgon, Geographical J. 9,
1897, p.180. Macdonald, J. R. L. and Austin H. H. Journeys to the north of Uganda,
Geographical J. 14, 1899, p.133. There is also a picture of bananas on west Mount
Elgon in H. H. Johnston, op. cit., Vol. I, p.53. I am grateful to Mr. Twaddle
for drawing my attention to Hobley and Johnston. He also provides the information
that the older inhabitants of the area do not attribute the introduction of bananas to
Kakungulu, though there is some reason to believe that Kakungulu's agents may have
introduced sweet potatoes.
77. Kitching, A. L. On the backwaters of the Nile, 1912, p.12.
78. Purvis, J. B. Through Uganda to Mount Elgon, 1909, p.342.
79. Roscoe, J. The northern Bantu, 1915, pp.165-167.
80. Roscoe, J. op. cit., 1924, p.13.
81. Roscoe, J. ibid., 1924, p.15.
82. Macdonald, J. R. L. and Austin, H. H. op. cit., 1899, p.133.
83. Austin, H. H. op. cit., 1903, pp.74, 124, 129 and 131.
84. Hobley, C. W. op. cit., 1897, p.192.
85. Roscoe, J. op. cit., 1924, p.57.
86. Stanley, H. M. op. cit., 1890, Vol. II, pp.314, 322 and 325.
87. Parke, T. H. op. cit., 1891, p.446.
88. Lugard, F. D. op. cit., Vol. II.
89. Portal, R. in Portal, G. op. cit., 1894, pp.342-345.
90. Elliot, G. F. S. op cit., 1896, pp.89, 92 (Makwenda's) and 133 (South Ruwenzori).
91. Lloyd, A. B. In dwarfland and cannibal country, 1900, pp.155, 179 and 216.
92. Grogan, E. S. Cape to Cairo, 1900, p.183.
93. Sharp, A. H. Chapter 16 in Grogan, E. S. op. cit., 1900, p.190.
94. Kitching, A. L. op. cit., 1908, p.42 (at Butiti).
95. Fisher, R. B. On the borders of pigmy land, 1905, pp.72 and 110(at the Namasole's
96. Tucker, A. N. op. cit., 1908, Vol. II, p.52.
97. Fisher, A. B. Western Uganda, Geographical J. 24, 1904, p.256.
98. Fisher, R. B. op. cit., 1905, p.45.
99. Blackburne-Maze, C. I. From oriental to occidental Africa, 1914, p.66.
100. Robeson, E. G. African Journey, 1946, p.124.
101. McMaster, D. N. Atlas of Uganda, 1962.
102. McMaster, D. N. op. cit., 1962, p.105.
103. Huxley, E. The sorcerer's apprentice, 1948, p.225.
104. Stanley, H. M. op. cit., 1878, Vol. I, p.439.
105. Stanley, H. M. op. cit., 1890, Vol. II, p.326.
106. Stanley, H. M. ibid., 1890, Vol. II, pp. 336, 343, 347 and 352.
107. Parke, T. H. op. cit., 1891, pp.452, 457 and 459.
108. Lugard, F. D. op. cit., 1893, Vol. II, p.280 (for 1891).
109. Elliot, G. F. S. Expedition to Ruwenzori and Tanganyika, Geographical J. 6, 1895, p.305.
110. Elliot, G. F. S. op. cit., 1896, pp.73-74.
111. Fisher, R. B. op. cit., 1905, p.134.
112. Delm6-Radcliffe, C. Surveys and studies in Uganda, Geographical J. 26, 1905, p.626.
113. Tucker, A. N. op. cit., 1908, Vol. II, p.233.
113(a) Williams, F. L. Nuwa Mbaguta, Nganzi of Ankole. Uganda J. 10, 1946, p.133.
114. Stenning, D. J. Coral tree hill, E.A.I.S.R. Conference Paper, June 1958, pp.1-2 (mime-
115. Purseglove, J. W. Banyankole agriculture, East African AgriculturalJournal 5, November
116. McMaster, D. N. op. cit., 1962, p.103 and Atlas of Uganda.
117. Edel, M. M. The Chiga of western Uganda, 1957, p.79.
118. Roscoe, J. op. cit., 1924, p.169.
119. Grogan, E. S. op. cit., 1900, p.179.
120. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, pp.496, 501, 506, 507, 514 and 560.
121. Speke, J. H. ibid., 1863, p.562.
122. Grant, J. A. op. cit., 1864, pp.307 and 313.
123. Grant, J. A. ibid., 1864, p.294.
124. Baker, S. W. Albert Nyanza, Vol. II, 1867, pp.39-40, 49 51-52, 62, 156 and 169.
125. Baker, S. W. ibid., 1867, Vol. II, p.170.
126. Baker, S. W, Ismailia, Vol. II, 1874, pp.136, 162 and 180.
THE BANANA IN UGANDA 61
127. Baker, S. W. ibid., 1874, Vol. 1, p.144.
128. Baker, S. W. ibid., 1874, Vol. II, p.152.
129. Baker, S. W. ibid., 1874, Vol. 1, p.150 The "Fatiko" are the Acholi.
130. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, pp.18, 21, 23, 25, 29, 51, 54, 55, 74, 76, 79-80, 111-112,
282 and 518.
131. Schweinfurth, G. ibid., 1888, p.74-75.
132. Schweinfurth, G. ibid., 1888, p.76.
133. Schweinfurth, G. ibid., 1888, pp.136, 283 and 285-286 give other references to banana
cultivation in north Bunyoro by Emin Pasha including a note that "bananas are a very
important means of subsistence but the principal article of food in North Unyoro is the
red-skinned sweet potato." (p.286)
134. Casati, C. Ten years in Equatoria, Vol. II, 1891, p.39.
135. Colvile, H. op. cit., 1895, p.117.
136. Colvile, H. ibid., 1895, pp.145, 153 and 155.
137. Thruston, A. B. African incidents, 1900, pp.132, 136, 145 (Magungo) and 154.
138. Vandeleur, C. F. S. Campaigning on the Upper Nile and Niger, 1898, pp.66, 80-81, 87,
90 and 104.
139. Vandeleur, C. F. S. Two years travel in Uganda, Unyoro and on the upper Nile. Geo-
graphical J. 9, 1897, pp.372-373 (on the Kafui).
140. Colvile, H. op. cit., 1895, p.115.
141. Moffat, R. U. Private correspondence. Makerere University College Manuscript
Collection. Letter No. 62, January 1894.
142. Kitching, A. L. op. cit., 1912, p.110.
143. Cunningham, F. J. op. cit., 1905, p.28.
144. McMaster, D. N. op. cit., 1962, p.41.
145. Stanley, H. M. op. cit., 1890, Vol. I. p.312.
146. Mounteney-Jephson, A. J. Emin Pasha and the rebellion at the equator, 1890, p.6.
147. Mounteney-Jephson, A. J. ibid., 1890, pp.425 and 427. The Magunga on the west coast
of Lake Albert is not to be confused with the Magunga in north Bunyoro.
148. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, pp.152 and 159.
149. Vandeleur, C. F. S. op. cit., 1898, p.51.
150. Teman, T. op. cit., 1930, p.197.
151. Ansorge, W. G. op. cit., 1899, p.208.
152. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, p.149.
153. Delm&-Radcliffe, C. op. cit., 1905, p.489.
154. Powell-Cotton, P. H. G. In unknown Africa, 1904, p.506.
155. Stanley, H. M. op. cit., 1890, Vol. II, pp.203, 230, 232, 237 and 239.
156. Parke, T. H. op. cit., 1891, pp.221, 235, 237 and 422.
157. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, p.142.
158. Gessi, R. Explorations, adventures and campaigns in the Sudan, 1892, pp.103 and 107-108.
159. Gessi, R. ibid., 1892, p.111. Bananas were also reported at Duffile by Mounteney-
Jephson, op. cit., 1890, p.82.
160. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, p.12 (for 1877).
161. Wilson, C. T. and Felkins, R. W. op. cit., 1882, Vol. II, p.73.
162. Junker, W. Travels in Africa, Vol. HI, 1892, p.404.
163. Stigand, C. H. Equatoria: the Lado enclave, 1923, pp.6, 10 and 30-31, for descriptions
of crops grown in the Lugbara area and adjacent parts of the West Nile.
164. Middleton, J. The Lugbara of Uganda, 1965, p.7.
165. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, pp.100-101 (for 1879).
166. Schweinfurth, G. ibid., 1888, p.105.
167. Speke, J. H. op. cit., 1863, pp.565-567.
168. Grant, J. A. op. cit., 1864, p.321.
169. Baker, S. W. op. cit., 1874, Vol. II, pp.31-32.
170. Kitching, A. L. op. cit., 1912, p.110.
171. Anon. Uganda Notes, March 1904, p.34.
173. Cook, A. R. Uganda Notes, August 1904, p.117.
173. Hunter, J. A. and Mannix, D, African bush adventures, 1954, pp.78-79; A. B. Fisher in
an interview with Mannix in 1950.
174. Girling, F. K. The Acholi of Uganda, 1960.
175. Schweinfurth, G. op. cit., 1888, p.288. A full quotation concerning the crops grown in
this area is given in the article on Maize in Uganda, Uganda J. 29, 1965.
176. Schweitzer, G. op. cit., 1898, Vol. I, p.246.
177. Vandeleur, C. F. S. op. vit., 1898, p.75.
178. Driberg, J. H. The Lango, 1923, pp.98-99.
62 UGANDA JOURNAL
179. Driberg, J. H. ibid., 1923, p.100.
180. Tarantino, A. Notes on the Lango, Uganda J. 13, 1949, pp.148-149. Kabarega had been
in exile in south Lango and south Teso in the mid-1890's.
181. Melland, F. H. and Cholmeley, E. H. Through the heart of Africa, 1912, p.224.
182. McMaster, D. N. op. cit., 1962, p.47.
183. Kitching, A. L. op. cit., 1912, pp.110-111.
184. Roscoe, J. op. cit., 1924, p.92.
185. Purvis, J. B. op. cit., 1909.
186. Kirkpatrick, R. T. op. cit., 1899, Uganda J. 10, (reprint) 1946, p.161.
187. Anon. Mengo Notes, Vol. 2, no. 2, June 1901, p.60.
188. Lawrance, J. C. D. The Iteso, 1957.
189. McMaster, D. N. op. cit., 1962, p.47.
190. Wilson, P. N. and Watson, J. M. Two surveys of Kasilang Erony, Teso, 1937 and
1953, Uganda J. 20, September 1956, p.189.
191. Johnston, B. F. in, Changes in agricultural productivity, a chapter in Economic transition
in Africa, edited by M. J. Herskovits and M. Harwitz, 1964, pp.151-178.
Uganda Journal, 30, 1 (1966) pp. 63-74.
CHANGES IN THE EXTENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF
CULTIVATION IN UGANDA 1952-1958
By DAVID N. MCMASTER
In this commentary upon a set of maps it is proper first to draw attention
to the uncertainties which reside within the geographical outline. A thematic
map, such as is used here, is as much a matter of judgement and selection as a
a table of figures or a statement in words. This needs stressing in view of the
nature of the data on population and agriculture which are incorporated.
In 1958 about 13 per cent of the total land area of Uganda was estimated
to be under cultivation. This general estimate conceals great contrasts from one
county to another in the use of land for agriculture (Fig, 1). The first map can
also be regarded as the result of agricultural changes in preceding years.
During work upon the agricultural geography of Uganda, I collected the agri-
cultural statistics by counties as fully as possible for the period 1952-1958.
I have discussed and qualified their validity elsewhere.' Within these limitations,
calculations were made of the land cultivated in 1952 and 1958. It has since
been possible to set these within the framework of African population changes
in the inter-censal period 1948-1959 (Fig. 3).2 There are random anomalies,
but the general relationships appear to justify presentation (Figs. 4-6) and
discussion in broad terms.
Fig. 1. Cultivated Land 1958
A larger, annotated version of this map is given in the Atlas of Uganda3
and it is instructive to consider it alongside the population density map in the
same atlas. The official methods used at county level in assessing acreages under
cultivation varied as between Buganda and the rest of the country; but in all
instances attempts were made to adjust the gross figures of acreages under crops
to take account of local practice in such matters as the use of perennial crops,
the retention of cassava in the ground, the interplanting of finger millet and
pigeon peas and so on. The estimates of "cultivated land" used here incorporate
these "correcting" formulae.
Fig. 2. Districts and Counties 1959, with the locations of official resettlement
schemes and mechanical cultivation centres
The boundaries shown are those used in this study. Where boundary changes
are known to have occurred between 1948 and 1959 this is also indicated by
the form of the line used to show the later boundary. An attempt has also been
made to take account of these changes in the handling of population and
acreage figures. The numbering of the counties is solely for convenience of
reference later in this paper. The tractor hire centres and official resettlement
schemes are shown when it is known that these had been initiated by 1959.
I have drawn on the work of others for the list and the location of these activi-
64 UGANDA JOURNAL
30, I E 32*E 3fE 341E
4 : I I I +%
.' . .
DISTRIBUTION OF CULTIVATION 1952-58 65
31*5 32 E 3W 341t 35W*
93 3 K
(-. .C** *** ."** 4
.*L '.. .i ( \ < ...- ._
C" *. -^-'/ A C H O.n L t I
'w ,e+ 1 ". "
4f r '" ', ".' 4 .. + '. .o ,
66 UGANDA JOURNAL
Fig. 3. Inter-Censal change of African Population 1948-1959
There was an eleven-year interval between Uganda's two post-war censuses.
That of 1959 is expertly reviewed in the official summary,6 which refers back
to the work of 1948. The bases are clearly inadequate for detailed, quantative
study of trends and in the two districts of Bunyoro and Karamoja the 1948
figures are no more than overall estimates. The present map is, however,
intended within these limitations to be mainly comparative, setting in their
context the areal variation within the country and setting population and cul-
tivation indications alongside one another,
The overall rate of inter-censal increase of population for Uganda has been
calculated at 2.5 per cent per annum. For this map the average annual per-
centage rate of inter-censal change was calculated for each county, taking this
change to operate at a compound rate. These calculations showed 31 counties
in which the annual rate of population increase was 3.0 per cent per annum
or more, 28 counties in which rates of increase between 2.0 and 2.9 per cent
pertained, and 34 counties in which the annual rate of increase was below 2.0
per cent or in which, in 3 counties, there was an inter-censal decrease in popula-
tion. The most rapid rate of increase, in Bugerere County(4), was 14.0 per cent
per annum; the most marked decline was 3. 1 per cent per annum in Nyabu-
shozi County of Ankole(51). [Numbers given in brackets are those by
which the counties are distinguished on Fig. 2.]
Figs. 4-6. Changes in the extent of cultivation, by counties, 1952-1958
It was now possible to compare the figures for population change with those
for change in cultivated acreage. The counties were arranged in descending
order of positive difference in percentage increase of acreage as against per-
centage annual change of population. It should be noted that the span of years
for acreage change is briefer than the inter-censal span, though it falls within
the inter-censal years. This could not be avoided and it must be assumed here
that this span was typical in regard to trend over the 11 inter-censal years as a
whole. A frequency distribution curve was drawn using these differences and
was found to be normal. The mean difference of acreage percentage above
population percentage was calculated arithmetically at 1.54. The inspection
and the draft mapping of these two sets of figures suggested that the indications
of increases in agricultural acreage were at least sufficiently in accord with
population changes to invite rational explanation. But there were also at least
a few counties for which the indications of the figures seemed most unlikely to
reflect the true state of affairs. Some adjustment was made for four counties to
which this applies (nos. 7, 22, 28 and 51).
It could be expected that the material under review would reflect general
increases in the amount of land under cultivation. The increasing demand for
subsistence for a larger population, the growth of desire for the income obtain-
able from cash crops, development of agricultural techniques and of new
crops suited to shorter growing seasons, poorish lands, and diminishing returns
from existing land are all factors which will act to increase the cultivated domain.
It could further be expected that in a country so largely dependent on agricul-
ture as Uganda the increase of population will show a general relationship to
the increase of cultivated acreage. Conversely, where in a given county such a
relationship diverges from the ordinary this circumstance invites enquiry.
The two groups of figures used here show the agricultural trend to be offset
positively in relation to the population trend. There may be a number of inter-
acting reasons for this, viz:
DISTRIBUTION OF CULTIVATION 1952-58 67
I ---------------------- a
< ; ** Jfl ^ -=' 3 ; : : : :
I OM I ES I
68 UGANDA JOURNAL
1. The differing methods used for calculating agricultural and population
percentages-the one at compound, the other at simple rate will con-
tribute somewhat to this effect.
2. The assumption made regarding the comparability of the time spans
may be wrong, though I doubt that this is a significant cause.
3. The effect probably partly results from the over-inflation of returns of
number of plots. It is know that drives to increase cash crop planting
which were vigorous during this period were followed by increased
planting figures from the local authorities, whether in fact there was
the equivalent increase of cotton in the ground or not. Naturally the
local administrations wished to appear creditably active and successful
in their prosecution of such official policy.
4. In part, though, the effect probably results from a real increase in the
efficiency of labour applied to the land. Cash incentives and mechaniza-
tion provide an increment of available labour, part of which is applied
to extensions of acreage at a greater rate than is prompted by population
Perhaps for the reasons just set out, the agricultural percentages run about
1.5 per cent above the population percentages over the whole range of the
county figures. This has been taken into account in the construction of the maps.
Fig. 4 shows the counties in which cultivation increased at over 5 per cent per
annum which was substantially above the national average of 4 per cent.
Fig. 5 shows counties in which cultivation increased at from 3-5 per cent per
annum or close to the average rate. Fig. 6 shows counties which increased at
less than 3 per cent per annum and substantially behind the national average
rate. On each map the counties are then sub-divided on the basis of the relation-
ship of population growth to the national average rate.
Fig. 4: Increases in cultivation exceeding 5 per cent per annum
To generalize, the counties distinguished fall into four groupings upon the
plateaus of Uganda: "outer Buganda"; the western uplands; parts of eastern
Uganda; and the "open north". Many counties were targets for migrants from
other areas-as in Bugerere (4), for which the exceptional rate of cultivation
extension of 16.7 per cent per annum was calculated. In the main these were
counties in which the former density of population was low or near the average,
and where new land was fairly abundant. Most of the migrations were spon-
taneous although some settlement schemes also exerted an influence, as m
Butembe-Bunya (27) and Kibale (74). Some migrants came from outside
Uganda, notably the movement of Vugusu into Sebei (36).
The five counties in which agricultural expansion is shown as outstripping
a below-average population growth are in eastern areas where cotton is the
dominant cash crop. It is probable that cotton cultivation both increased
the actual acreage and inflated the acreage returns. However, the three counties
in Teso District and West Budama (32), inhabited by the kindred Jopadhola,
are places in which ox-ploughing increased greatly during the 1950's. This
saving in hand labour may well be reflected in considerable extensions of
cultivation without a commensurate increase in man power. The number of
ploughs in Teso in 1958 was quoted at 50,880, which was more than in all the
remainder of Uganda.
Kyagwe (11), Oyam (75), Kilak (83) and Koboko (88) are the counties in
which the growth of population was at about the average rate while cultivation
DISTRIBUTION OF CULTIVATION 1952-58 69
! mI i
70 UGANDA JOURNAL
extended markedly faster. The first three had plenty of available land. In Kyagwe
and Kilak good land became available through the relaxation of sleeping
sickness regulations. Furthermore, in the period under review mechanical
cultivation centres of the Department of Agriculture operated in Kyagwe,
Oyam and Kilak, thus providing a limited increment of labour to help in the
opening of more land and in its management thereafter.
It is to be expected that the biggest category on Fig. 4 would comprise those
counties in which a high rate of agricultural expansion was paralleled by a high
opening of more land and in its management thereafter.
It is to be expected that the biggest category on Fig. 4 would comprise those
counties in which a high rate of agricultural expansion was paralleled by a high
rate of population growth. Each of the counties in which the rate of expansion
of cultivation exceeded 10 per cent falls into this category. These are "pioneer
fringes" of modem Uganda. People have been moving out from the central
parts of Buganda to the less-populous perphery, moving down from the flanks
of the Ruwenzori onto the alluvial lands of Busongora (73) and Bunyangabo (71),
made more accessible since 1956 by the railway to Kasese and by new roads.
Population has also been spreading out in Acholi. Communications are to-day
a vital influence. People will not move spontaneously in large numbers to rural
areas unless there is scope for the profitable cultivation of cash crops. But
sometimes the new routes partly precede, and thus stimulate, the settlement; and
sometimes they follow the people. It is rational that these areas do not show
large increments of cultivation over and above population growth. The effort of
clearing, rooting, establishing perennial cash and food crops is very demanding
of labour. So, also, is house building, social organization and the provision of
services. Bunyaruguru (49) stands somewhat alone, being a highland area of
difficult relief. It has attracted population on account of fertile volcanic soils.
The market for food crops and beer at Kilembe Mines and in the fishing villages
of Lake George and the Kazinga Channel have helped to offset the relative
Fig. 5: Mean increases of from 3 per cent to 4.9 per cent per annum
Since the counties depicted show circumstances near the national average
they need but brief treatment. In eastern Uganda they seem to be areas of mo-
derate to fairly close population density that have been filling up by natural
increase or by a combination of this with immigration, and have been extending
cultivation commensurately. The rate of population growth in Teso has been
markedly low but the influences of ox-ploughing and the inflation of cotton
acreages may account for the apparently greater gains in cultivation.
Fig. 6: Mean increases of under 3 per cent annum and mean decreases
Here one should seek to identify factors inhibiting the use of more land.
Existing pressure of rural population is one obvious factor. This goes some
way to explain the trends in southern Bugisu, northern Bukedi, Ngora (4)
Vurra (92) Ayivu (96) Ndorwa (67)7 andBufumbira (66). Labour migration is a
contributory factor in the districts of West Nile, Kigezi and, to a lesser extent,
Toro and Bunyoro also, especially since the migrants will include some of the
more active and vigorous elements of the population. In southern Kigezi there
were also calls on labour for soil conservation. Some migrants from West Nile
go to open land for shor tterm cash crop cultivation elsewhere.
DISTRIBUTION OF CULTIVATION 1952-58
I 0 F G U R
. .ir o y 4 ,,.6 o .t o,,,w t
CHANGES IN THE AREA
C OJTIES WI1H MEAN RATES
Of INCREA OF UlM 3.0 PER
C 0NT PERANtjM ANDCCoNTIES
Idow 2.0 pfn
3.0 P-cent ow W.
I 1 1 I I
DISTRIBUTION OF CULTIVATION 1952-58 73
Another factor in lagging and declining agricultural trends may be insect
attack upon crops or stock. In Mwenge (70), Kyaka (72) and Bwamba (68) the
bananas were badly affected during the 1950's by banana weevil. Extensions
in the range of the tsetse fly have exerted an influence in Kabula (14), Nyabushozi
(51), and also in Mwenge and Kyaka.
The inaccessibility of Buhweju (50) was probably largely responsible for
inducing a downhill drift of population. This re-introduces the factor of per-
manent migration. In this respect Figs. 6 and 4 are complementary. Planned
resettlement has been most developed in Kigezi, with settlers moving from the
the crowded southern counties of Bufumbira, Ndorwa and Rukiga (65) to the
the northern parts of the District and also into parts of Ankole and Toro.
Spontaneous outward movements from central Mengo and a movement south-
westwards within Busoga have also occurred.
The central counties of Mengo probably illustrate a complex inter-action
of various factors: limitations on land availability, declining soil fertility through
long periods of cultivation, the outward migrations, increasing employment in
non-agricultural activities in Kampala and the increasing use of land for non-
agricultural purposes. These circumstances are, however, disturbing unless
they become associated more vigorously than has yet been the case with the
intensification of agriculture in these counties of central Buganda.
In fact a general conclusion of this analysis must be that, despite the re-
commendations of the Agricultural Productivity Committee (1954), the areal
extension of agriculture during the 1950's continued to prevail over intensifica-
tion; and the spontaneous movements greatly outweighed sponsored settle-
ment schemes. For example, Belshaw (1963)5 estimates that a total of 75,000
persons were officially resettled in the period 1946-1962. This is well exceeded
by the spontaneous population influx and growth in the same period in Bugerere
county alone. This particular development stresses the significance of insect
control as a major factor in the trends under discussion. The control since 1952
of the voracious man-biting fly Simulium damnosum, which previously ranged
considerable distances and in large numbers through heavily vegetated country
from its breeding places in the upper 42 miles of the Victoria Nile has been
claimed as a vital step in opening up the contiguous areas of Bugerere and Bute-
mbe-Bunya; though others may lay more stress on the improvement of comm-
munications. There is room for interesting work tobe done in this area on the
motivations, mechanisms and patterns of agricultural settlement.
This paper has drawn attention to important shifts in land occupancy and
population trends during the 1950's. There is no reason to suppose that an
equilibrium has been reached. Uganda is not short of land for agricultural
expansion. In the period reviewed here decisions on where to expand were
largely the empirical response of many individual cultivators. Certainly govern-
mental decisions on the installation of communications and insect control
provided stimuli in some notable areas. By the early 1960's the recommendations
of the Productivity Committee of 1954 had borne fruit in Agricultural Depart-
ment surveys of soils, vegetation and farming systems covering virtually the
whole country. Very few African governments are so well equipped as Uganda
now is to obtain informed judgements of development policy in the less closely
settled areas with overall indications of land capability. Perhaps even more
important, these surveys also provide primary material on the question of inten-
sification in the use of land already cultivated. The importance of this was noted
74 UGANDA JOURNAL
earlier in the instance of central Buganda. To aid intensification the focus of
inquiry has already shifted significantly to more local study of agronomy and
agricultural economics. Uganda is not short, either, of examples of individual
enterprise. The whole history of the development of cotton and coffee growing in
Uganda stands well alongside that of cocoa in Ghana as exemplifying African
drive and investment in cash cropping. This paper has provided examples of
pioneering in new areas such as Bugerere and Busongora. Nevertheless the level
of enterprise in both agricultural expansion and intensification varies a great
deal as between regions and individuals. To continue its agricultural progress
Uganda has to harness initiative and create incentive. In this the closer study
of the differences in human response must parallel the study of physical potential.
1. McMaster, D. N., A subsistence crop geography of Uganda, Ph.D. Thesis of the University
of London, 1960, Chapter 3 and appendix 2. Fig. 1 is reproduced from the published
version, World Land Use Survey, Occasional Papers No. 2, 1962.
2. The inter-censal changes of African population have been calculated from the county
totals given in African population of Uganda Protectorate. Geographical and tribal
studies (East African Population Census, 1948), Nairobi, East African Statistical De-
partment, 1950 and General African census, 1959 Vol. 1, Entebbe, East African Statistical
Department for Uganda Government, 1960.
3. Atlas of Uganda, Kampala, Department of Lands and Surveys, 1962, pp. 44-45 and 34-35.
4. Symposium on mechanical cultivation in Uganda, Kampala, Department of Agriculture,
5. Belshaw, D. G. R., An outline of resettlement policy in Uganda, 1945-63, Proceedings of
the East African Institute of Social, Conference, June 1963, Kampala, Makerere College,
6. Uganda census, 1959, African population, Entebbe, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Statis-
tics Branch, 1962.
7. In June 1958 Ndorwa was divided into two counties, Ndorwa and Rubanda.
8. Report of the Agricultural Productivity Committee, Entebbe, 1954.
This paper owes much to assistance from a number of sources. A major debt of gratitude
is due to the Director and staff of the Uganda Department of Agriculture, whose help was
quite fundamental. I enjoyed ready access to records and statistics in all the district offices.
The travel and field research were supported by the former Colonial Economic Research
Committee and the Research Grants Committee of Makerere University College. The cost of
reproducing the maps has been borne by a generous grant from the Carnegie Trust for the
Universities of Scoltand, to whom the author and editors are grateful.
Uganda Journal, 30 1, (1966) pp. 75-79
ON THE BATS OF UGANDA
By F. A. MUTERE
Since the discovery of echo-location in bats by Spallanzani in 1794, interest
in their study has expanded. Today it is not only this concept of orientation by
sound which is still fascinating to scientists, but other aspects as well. These
include the breeding biology of bats, their general ecology and their ability to
act as potential reservoirs of viruses. Thus in 1933-34 J. R. Baker led an Oxford
University Expedition to the New Hebrides in the Pacific Ocean to study the
breeding patterns of bats and to compare the results with those of temperate
countries. This expedition demonstrated the existence of seasonalityin the breed-
ing of bats, as is the case with those occurring in the temperate countries.
In the United States a variety of bats including the notorious Vampire, Desmodus
rotundus Geoffroy, are known to transmit rabies and so have become important
from the standpoint of public health.
In Uganda, as in all tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world, the two
Chiropteran Sub-Orders Megachiroptera (fruit bats) and Microchiroptera
(insectivorous bats principally) are well represented. Studies of bats in Uganda
have been made recently by David Pye, Theo Jones, Henry Osmaston1 and by
the present author. The bats of western Kenya have been studied by J. G.
Williams. But much of this work is as yet unpublished. An analysis of the
author's own collection and of the published literature2 indicates the presence
of the number of species listed below and there may well be more.
Megachiroptera Microchiroptera Total
Families 1 7 8
Genera 7 12 19
Species 9 16 25
It must be emphasised that these figures are clearly not complete, since they are
based on only a few collections, and widespread collecting has not yet been
carried out over a sufficiently long period. Collecting-has so far been conducted
mainly on Mt. Elgon, at Serere, around Kampala and at Entebbe. A little
collecting has been done at Masindi, Fort Portal, Mweya, Kabatoro and near
Lake Nabugabo. Thus, much the greatest part of the country remains unsur-
veyed; nevertheless some interesting observations on the life of bats have been
made. Particular attention is given in the following comments to the Megachi-
Megachiroptera (Fruit Bats)
These are generally large with conspicuous eyes and both their first and second
digits terminate in a claw. This latter feature is peculiar to them and helps to
distinguish them from the Microchiroptera whose second digits do not terminate
in a claw. The Megachiroptera are almost exclusively frugivorous, feeding on
guavas, papaws, bananas, figs, mangoes, muvule and a wide range of other
fruits all of which must be ripe before they can be eaten; no insect or other
animal food is taken. It is chiefly the juice of the fruit that is sought but where
76 UGANDA JOURNAL
this cannot be extracted easily, as in the case of bananas, the pulp is ingested
whole, while the skin is rejected. After the fruit has been passed to and fro in the
mouth and as much of the juice as possible extracted, the rest of the fruit is
rejected. The rejects of such fruit as the muvule and figs are often easy to recog-
nise wherever they have been deposited. Often they are deposited a long way
from their origin so that the seeds become dispersed. Other items of food are
nectar and pollen, some of the fleshier parts of flowers or even the whole of large
and succulent buds. Large quantities of eucalyptus and muvule pollen, for in-
stance, have been found in the gut contents of the Wandegeya fruit bat or what is
more commonly described as the straw-coloured or yellow-haired fruit bat,
Eidolon helvum (Kerr). These can only have been ingested by taking a large
portion of the flowers as well. Through foraging of this kind there is the possi-
bility of these bats effecting cross pollination, which in West Africa has been
The largest fruit bat in Uganda is the Hammer-headed bat, Hypsignathus
monstrosus H. Allen. This bat has also been found in western Kenya, thus ex-
tending its hitherto reported easterly range in Africa.3 The adult male bat has a
wing span of about 100cms., and weighs about 300gms. so that the specific name
monstrosus is well deserved. It has fleshy and pouched lips covering the expanded
skull which is square-tipped in front (Fig. 1). The female is slightly smaller and
is not monstrous at all, its facial features having the normal appearance of other
fruit bats. In Uganda H. monstrosus has been collected at Entebbe and at
Makerere, but very little is known in this country about where it roosts, whether
it is gregarious, or what its breeding habits are. Captain Pitman describes this
bat at some length and says that its worst characteristic is its voice. He describes
the noise in the following way," It is an exasperating penetrating clinking, as if
pieces of broken crockery are being rapidly knocked together. It is a peculiar,
high-pitched note uttered with diabolical frequency at the rate of two or three
to the second when the brute really gets into its stride."4 An adult female
H. monstrosus was recently caught in a mist net at Makerere near a fig tree,
carrying a single young not more than two or three weeks old.
The best known Uganda fruit bat and second in size has already been
mentioned, E. helvum (Fig. 2). This is a highly gregarious species which forms
huge colonies in Kampala, Jinja and Mbale (Fig. 3). Such colonies are appa-
rently associated with human habitations. Colony sizes vary seasonally and on
dispersal they split into small groups which take up temporary roosts in different
places in the country. It is thought that such behaviour is related to the availabi-
lity of food. The adult bat weighs 200-250gms. and has a wing span of about
85cms. The two sexes are about the same size. Breeding is seasonal and synch-
ronised. In Kampala the bats are known to mate between April and June;
pregnancies are in evidence from October to February and March when births
take place, thus giving a gestation period of about four months. Delayed implan-
tation lasting about three months is exhibited between June and October thus
giving an apparent gestation period of seven months. A phenomenon of this
type has hitherto not been known or even expected to occur in the tropics.
Where it occurs in animals of temperate countries, such as with the European
badger and the roe deer, it appears that delayed implantation enables the spe-
cies to avoid the unsuitable wintry weather for births. The weather of Uganda
shows little variaton, but the rainfall of Kampala shows two peaks, a small one
in October-November and a higher one in April-May. Thus the delayed im-
BATS OF UGANDA 77
plantation in E. helvum occurs between the two rainfall peaks when it is relatively
dry and enabling the birth to take place before the main rains of April-May.
This state of affairs probably means that this is the period when maximum
survival can be ensured. Only one young is born to each adult female which,
unlike the adult H. monstrosus, does not carry its young outside the roost.
The young are weaned about one month after birth and it is the author's obser-
vation that before this weaning the mothers do not leave the roost. They appear
to be capable of doing without food for some time.
Of the rest of the Uganda fruit bats little is known. They can be listed in
order of size as, Epomops franqueti (Tomes), Rousettus angolensis (Bocage), Rouse-
ttus aegyptiacus Geoffroy, Epomophorus anurus Heuglin, Epomophorus wahlbergi
Sundervall, Micropteropus pusillus Peters and Megaloglossus woermanni Pag-
E. franqueti has been collected from Kabale forest (Kigezi), Entebbe and
Fort Portal. R. angolensis has been collected at Entebbe and in caves on Mt.
Elgon and on Ruwenzori.5 Rousettus is the only genus of fruit bat known to
echo-locate. Work is in progress at Makerere to elucidate the breeding biology
of R. aegyptiacus which is found in large numbers near Lake Nabugabo (Fig. 4).
This bat also occurs in caves on Mt. Elgon and in a cave in the Maramagambo
forest. The information obtained so far indicates a bimodal annual breeding
pattern, thus contrasting with E. helvum. Often the Epomophorine bats occur
in bushes, banana plantations, round the eaves of buildings or even in lofts.
In such places they roost singly (Fig. 5). Very little is known about their breeding
biology but it is thought that they may breed throughout the year, and thus
would add to the variety of fruit bat breeding patterns in the tropics. These bats
remain quiet wherever they roost, and among dry leaves such as may occur at
the tops of certain palm trees they are difficult to see as their colour matches that
of the dry leaves. E. anurus has been collected at Entebbe, Kampala, Kisubi,
Kajansi, Kabatoro, Bukalasa and Kabwangasi. M. pusillus is quite a small
fruit bat which can easily be mistaken for an insectivorous bat if size alone is
used as a criterion. It has been collected at Makerere and at Entebbe. Perhaps
the smallest fruit bat of all is M. woermanni, commonly called the Long-tongued
bat. It has an unusually long tongue which is specially adapted for feeding on
pollen and nectar, being more extensible from the jaw than in the majority
of fruit bats, and is narrower and more evenly tapering to a sharper point, while
the terminal quarter is covered with long thread-like papillae. The cheek teeth
are so reduced in size as to be barely functional. In Uganda this uncommon bat
has been netted in Mabale forest on the Kampala-Mityana road, and this re-
cord apparently extends the eastern limit of this bat in Africa.6
Bats and Viruses
Bats have been shown to be hosts of viruses and this is particularly so of the
Microchiroptera of which Sub-Order Uganda has over 16 species. However,
it is not known if all of these act as the hosts of viruses. At the East African
Virus Research Institute, Entebbe, a programme of work is in progress on
the isolation and epidemiology of viruses from the bats of Uganda. In the
1963-64 Annual Report of this Institute it is reported that material from over
1,022 bats belonging to at least 14 species has been processed for virus content.
Most of the work has been done on salivary glands, saliva itself, brains and
spleens. The work has led to the isolation of 14 strains, of which six identical
strains of a virus hitherto unrecorded from East Africa came from the saliva
78 UGANDA JOURNAL
of 456 Tadarida (Chaerephon) pumila Cretzschma. T. pumila is an extremely
common insectivorous bat occurring in immense numbers in the roofs of most
buildings in the country; for example from one roof of a two-storeyed house at
Entebbe, as a result of spraying by Rentokil Ltd., two large sacks of dead bats
were removed. This excluded those which escaped, which probably numbered
sufficient to fill another two sacks. This bat breeds throughout the year and it is
therefore not surprising that it should occur in such abundance in its chosen
Eight strains of virus have been isolated from the salivary glands of 291
Tadarida (Mops) condylura A. Smith, another common roof bat of this country.
This bat is much more robust and adults weigh from two to four times those of
T. pumila. Both species have been collected at Entebbe, Bukalasa, Kawanda,
Katalemwa and Kabatoro, the former alone at Kisubi and Iganga and the latter
alone at Fort Portal, Kikorongo and Paraa. No doubt both species could be
collected from almost anywhere in Uganda. The virus isolation rates of 6/456
and 8/291 respectively are considered to be exceptionally high.7 The fruit bats
on the other hand appear not to harbour any viruses naturally but such viruses
as are injected into them in the laboratory appear to be circulated for consider-
able periods when they might therefore be available for transmission should
effective vectors exist. No viruses have been isolated from the rest of the Micro-
chiroptera of Uganda which have been processed. Very little is known of the
biology of these, but studies of the distribution, breeding, behaviour and para-
sites of some of them are being undertaken at Makerere. These include Hipposi-
deros caffer ruber (Noack), a horse-shoe bat which is found in roofs and caves.
It has been collected from Kawanda, Entebbe, Sese Islands, Lolui Island and
Makerere. Others include further horse-shoes Rhinolophus fumigatus exsul K.
Andersen, Rhinolophus hildebrandtii eloquens K. Andersen and Rhinolophus
landeri lobatus Peters. All these are mainly cave-dwellers although they occur
in roofs as well.
The mode of transmission of the viruses mentioned above is still an out-
standing problem. One interesting line of investigation of this aspect entails
the study of bat parasites. Some of the common bat parasites include the wing-
less Nycteribiid flies, which live especially on fruit bats; fleas which occur es-
pecially on the roof insectivorous bats and ticks and Streblid flies, which occur
on the cave-dwelling Microchiroptera, especially the horse-shoe types. The
transmission of diseases by fleas and ticks is well documented, but the part
played by other parasistes is not known at all. So far no viruses have been
isolated from the Nycteribiidae which are found on E. helvum.
From these notes it will be evident that the bats of Uganda are receiving a
good deal of attention at present. Some of the work relates to the role of bats
as harbourers of viruses but a lot more pure research is being undertaken as
well. For instance attention is being directed to the system of echo-location
which some species demonstrate. Most of the Megachiroptera do not exhibit
echo-location, but those of the Genus Rousettus do have this ability and this
may be related to their custom of living in caves. It seems, too, that the sounds
of Rousettus are produced under the control of the hypoglossal nerve (presum-
ably by tongue-clicking) and emitted, with jaws closed, through the open cor-
ners of the mouth, whereas in the Microchiroptera the sounds are made in the
f.' : **
'" 7 *? ^ y
Fig. I Hypsignathus monstrosus H. Allen; the Hammer-headed bat.
Fig. 2 Eidolon helvum Kerr; the Straw-
coloured bat. Eating fruit of mvule tree (Chlo-
rophora excelsa). (H. A.Osmaston.)
Fig. 3 Clusters of E. helvum in the Kampala
roost, showing considerable damage to eucal-
yptus tree. (H. A. Osmaston).
Fig. 4 Rousettus aegyptiacus in a cave near Lake Nabugabo. A few are
in flight, but a greater number appear to be covering the wall of the cave
Fig. 5 Epomorphorus anurus roosting singly in a cage. The lowest bat is Rousettus angolensis.
White tufts of hair can be seen at the base of the ears of E. anurus, and the males have white
epaulettes which gives them their common name of epauletted fruit bats.
BATS OF UGANDA 79
larynx. However, much work on these subjects has recently been undertaken by
a team of people working under Dr. David Pye and the results of this work are
eagerly awaited. In a note of this sort one can only outline the basis of
current interest in the bats of Uganda and provide some information on what is
known of their distribution and their habits.
L. Osmaston H. A. Pollen and seed dispersal in Chlorophora excelsa and other Moraceae,
and in Parkia filicoidea (Mimosaceae), with special reference to the role of the fruit bat,
Eidolon helvum. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 44, 1965, pp.97-105.
2. See for instance Bere R. M. The wild mammals of Uganda London, Longmans, 1962,
pp.11-16. There is little for East Africa to compare with Rosevear D. The bats of West
Africa London, British Museum (Natural History); but it is understood that a check-list
of the bats of East Africa is being prepared by Dr. Harrison.
3. Ellermann J. R., Morrison-Scott T. C. S. and Hayman R. W. Southern African mammals,
London, British Museum (Natural History) p.47.
4. Pitman C. R. S. A game warden takes stock, London, Nisbet, 1942, p.249. See also H. L.
Duke in Uganda J. 1, 1934, pp.72-74.
5. In 1906 Woosnam found Rousettus angolensis "very plentiful in the lower valleys of the
Ruwenzori, but not seen above 6500 feet" (Transactions of the Zoological Society of
London 19, 1910, p.487). Likewise on Ruwenzori Woosnam reported Pipistrellus nanus
(Peters) up to 6000 feet. In addition to these references to the work of Woosnam, bats
collected from Theodore Roosevelt's journey from Lake Albert to Gondokoro are listed
in Hollister M., East African mammals in the United States National Museum, Smith-
sonian Institute, Bulletin, 99, 1918, pp.70-101. Information about Rousettas angolensis
on Mount Elgon is provided in Allen G. N. and Lawrence B. with field notes by Loveridge
A., Scientific results of an expedition to rain forest regions in eastern Africa Part III;
Mammals, Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard, 79, no. 3, 1936,
pp.44-55. In addition this source mentions Rousettus leachii (A. Smith), Rousettus lanosus
kempi Thomas and Epomophorous wahlbergi (Sundevall) on Mount Elgon; Laviafrons rex
Miller on Greek River; and Rhinolophus eloquens Andersen on Mount Debasien.
6. Rosevear D., op.cit., p.124.
7. E. A. Virus Research Institute Report, July 1963-December 1964. E.A.C.S.O., Nairobi,
1965, Work on bats, by various authors, pp.39-46.
Acknowledgement: The author acknowledges with gratitude the permission of Mr. H. A.
Osmaston to make use of his photograph of Eidolon helvum, Fig. 2.
80 UGANDA JOURNAL
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
Brian Fagan has been Keeper of Prehistory at the Rhodes-Livingstone Museum,
Livingstone, and specialised on the Iron Age of Zambia. At present he is director
of the Bantu Origins Project based on the British Institute of History and
Archaeology at Nairobi.
Noel King is the Professor of Comparative Religion and head of the department
of Religious Studies at Makerere University College.
Bryan Langlands is a lecturer in geography at Makerere University College
and has contributed to this journal previously.
Laurel Lofgren is a student of Professor J. Desmond Clark at Berkeley, Uni-
versity of California and is working on the Bantu Origins Project of the British
Institute of History and Archaeology at Nairobi.
Angus McCrae is medical entomologist with the Uganda Government, Depart-
ment of Medicine.
David McMaster is now a lecturer in geography at the University of Edinburgh
and had formerly spent many years at Makerere University College, and has
contributed previously to this journal.
Festo Mutere has worked for the Virus Research Institute at Entebbe, and is
now a lecturer in zoology at Makerere.
Merrick Posnansky was President of the Uganda Society in 1964-1965. He has
been Director of the Uganda Museum and Deputy Director of the British
Institute of History and Archaeology in East Africa, and is now the Director
of the African Studies Programme at Makerere University College.
Michael Twaddle is a research fellow of the School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London, and has spent two periods of research in eastern
Uganda studying Semei Kakungulu.
Barry Wakeman is the senior biology master at Mount St. Mary's College,
Namagunga, and is a graduate of Colgate and Indiana Universities.
John Weatherby after many years teaching in Uganda and studying the Sebei,
upon whom he has contributed previously, is now a student on the African Stu-
dies Programme of Makerere University College.
Once again it is necessary for the editors to apologise to readers and authors
for the large number of minor errors in the previous number of the journal,
Volume 29, number 2, and in particular apologise to Mr. Kajubi and Miss
Carter. In addition a few factual errors appear which should be corrected.
Mr. H. B. Thomas points out that there were six Europeans with Stanley when
he passed through Ankole-Mounteney-Jephson, Parke, Nelson, Stairs, Bonny
and Hoffmann (see Note 4, page 191). Miss Carter draws attention to the error
in referring to Mbogo as the uncle of Mutesa instead of as the brother of
Mutesa (page 194). The caption to the lower photograph to the Matson and
Sutton article should read "Northern bastion", (page 173). The prices of two
books in the review section also give misleading information in that Harambee!
should have been priced at 5 sh. (page 231) and Towns in Africa at 2 sh. 90 cts
(page 234). We regret any confusion which may have arisen and apologise to all
concerned. It is also regretted that letters 6, 7, 8 and 9 were omitted from
Appendix A of The Diaries of Emin Pasha-X. These will be printed with the
next instalment of these diaries in Vol.30 no.2 of the Journal.
Note. Sir John Gray expresses his regret that owing to the pressure of other work he has not
been able to finalize his translations of the remaining sections of "The Diaries of Emin Pasha"
in time for publication in this issue of the The Uganda Journal. He hopes to do so in two or
three more future numbers of the Journal.
Uganda Journal, 30, 1 (1966) pp. 81-86.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECONNAISSANCE ON THE SESE ISLANDS
By B. M. FAGAN AND LAUREL LOFGREN
This note is a brief report on the archaeological sites found during a reco-
nnaissance of the Sese Islands from the 15th to the 25th October 1965.1 Although
few traces of early Iron Age sites, the primary object of our search, were found,
some Middle Stone Age tools, a dense scatter of Late Stone Age implements,
and later Iron Age materials were noted.2 This note is intended to record their
presence and distribution on the islands.3
The Sese Islands are a group of fifteen major and numerous minor islands
on the western side of Lake Victoria (Lat. 0 10'--0040' S; Long. 32 00'-
32 40' E). Bugala, the largest of the islands, is separated from the mainland at
Bukakata by a channel 6 miles wide and about 60 feet deep. In former times the
islands supported a dense population of fishermen and farmers, but the sleeping
sickness epidemic resulted in the evacuation of the island early in the twentieth
century. Before the epidemic the islands were largely cleared of forest vegetation.
Today, however, most of them are only sparsely settled and dense forest has re-
established itself wherever the soil is deep enough. Patches of grassland survive
only where the soils are too thin to support forest growth. Also much of the
most densely populated area during the nineteenth century is now covered by
forest. Archaeological reconnaissance is necessarily limited and this survey was
confined to the non-forested areas. The major islands were traversed on foot
(Fig. 1); and the blank areas on the map are generally those covered by dense
forest growth or by swamp. The major islands not visited (Bubembe, Buyovu,
Bunjazi, Buyange, Buvu, Lulamba, Mpugwe and Funve) are either quite over-
grown or, in the case of Funve, too remote to visit with the resources at our
Middle Stone Age
A small amount of Middle Stone Age material, including flakes, tortoise
cores, and rough picks, was found on three of the islands; Bugala, Bukasa, and
Bubeke.4 Pebble choppers, which might belong to any period from the Middle
Stone Age or earlier to the present, were found on Bugala, Bukasa, and
Bufumira Islands (Fig. 2). None of the Middle Stone Age artifacts was found
in an archaeological context. They occur in exposed gravels along the
central ridges of the islands and, on Bukasa and Bubeke Islands, on the sur-
faces of old beach terraces. Middle Stone Age industries might be found in
primary context in some of the numerous caves with deep earth fill in the islands,
but there are no surface indications of this. Since it was not within the scope
of our project, these were not closely investigated.
Late Stone Age
A general scatter of Late Stone Age waste flakes, chips, small cores, and a
few scrapers in quartz was found on the more open hill-tops and ridges of most
of the islands visited; and was noted as particularly dense on the central portion
of Bugala Island around Kalangala. There are a great many caves on the islands,
only a few of which were visited since a recent rise in the level of Lake Victoria
Bu b ek e
M = MSA surface occurrences
,gS3p area surveyed
has submerged many and made others inaccessible. However, four caves on
Bugala Island, two near Kalangala and two on the southern tip of the island,
were seen. All are large water eroded caves in old cliffs of the lake; and are now
filled to within a few feet of the ceiling with coluvial wash and guano.
Since the soil deposit in the caves is quite deep, it is likely that these later deposits
cover earlier evidence of human occupation. Late Stone Age scatters were noted
on the talus in front of the two caves near Kalangala and on the floor of Kijo-
lolo, a large cave on Bunyama, the island immediately to the east of Bugala.
This cave has yielded small quartz flakes in association with brecchia. There are
traditions concerning the use of many of the Sese caves as temporary shelters
or places of refuge during the nineteenth century and in later times; and rock
shelters on several of the minor islands are still used by fishermen for semi-per-
One other object probably belonging to the Late Stone Age was found on a
hill near Kalangala in probable association with a large quantity of Late Stone
Age debitage. This is a stone of about 2 lbs. weight. It has a well-worn rubbing
surface with a pecked dimple in the centre. Subsequent to its use as a rubbing
stone it was grooved so as to secure a tied line, probably for use as a fishing
net weight. Also, there are indications that the corners of the stone were used
for battering (Fig. 3). This stone is quite unlike those used by the Sese fishermen
today, which are small unworked chunks of rock tied up in old pieces of net.
The most conspicuous remains of the Iron Age on the islands are several
minor earthworks and abandoned field systems on Bugala and Bubeke Islands.
On the north end of Bugala island is a small artificial system of ditches and emba-
nkments. The site of these earthworks is mentioned in local history as the scene
of important BaSese battles during the nineteenth century. On the southern end
of the island there are a number of rows of boulders and shallow ditches roughly
outlining six or seven rectangular fields of about a tenth of an acre each. About
two miles north of this is an old village site marked by the presence of two large
broken querns, a single well-worn rubbing stone, a few badly disintegrated
potsherds, and, nearby, several small abandoned garden plots outlined by
shallow embankments and a few piles of stones.
The ruins on Bubeke Island consist of three parallel rows of piled up stones
about 125 feet long and 50 feet apart, associated with piles of stones about 3 feet
high and 20 feet in diameter, which might be the result of clearing the fields for
cultivation. These are on the slope of a grass covered hillside to the south of the
centre ridge of the island. Above this, on the level top of the ridge, is a system of
shallow ditches arranged in no particular pattern, but which seem once to have
enclosed or separated patches of land. In the centre of these is a shallow basin
about 50 feet across and 2 feet deep, dammed at one side by a row of boulders, to
form what may have been a cattle pond. However, when visited in the middle
of the short rainy season the pond held very little water. No village sites were
found associated with this system, but a rubbing stone was found near the dam.
Since the present inhabitants know nothing of these ruins, it is likely that they
predate the evacuation of the islands in the early twentieth century.
Very few sherds were found on Bugala Island; and none on the other islands.
On the road about 5 miles north of Kalangala were found two rim sherds with
herring bone incised decoration (Fig. 4a, b). One is from a large open-mouthed
bowl, the other from a pot with an everted rim. Both rims have three bevels;
and both are made with a very sandy paste. These two sherds are similar in
A i--- In.
MIDDLE STONE AGE
A Pebblechopperin quartzi-
te from the Bwendero to
Mugoye road, Bugala.
B Disc core in quartzite from
the Mwangi to Kalangala
C Convergently flaked quar-
tzitic flake from Bwendero
to Mugoye road, Bugala.
LATE STONE AGE
Object from Sozi, Bugala.
FIGURE 4. POTSHERDS
Herringbone decorated fragment from the Mwangi to Kalangala road, Bugala.
Herringbone decorated sherd from the Mwangi to Kalangala road, Bugala.
Incised sherd from the Bwendero Mugoye road,Bugala"
Impressed sherd from the Bwendero to Mugoye road, Bugala.
Rimsherd with comb-incised decoration from the Bwendero to Mugoye road,
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
every way to the coarser dimple-based sherds found on Lolui Island, in the
northeastern corner of the lake. They are the only dimple-based sherds found
during the course of the survey. Sherds found associated with the village site
and along the road on the south end of the island are of rather different styles.
One sherd, a poorly preserved open bowl rim with a band of parallel incised
decoration, might not be out of place in a dimple-based collection (Fig. 4c).
Another sherd has a row of impressed decoration made with a stick or small
comb. (Fig. 4d). The remaining sherds, including the rims of two globular and
one open mouthed bowl, are all of large vessels with a regular covering pattern
of shallow comb incised grooves on both the inner and the outer surfaces. They
have a characteristic white to buff finish and a very coarse sandy paste. The open
mouthed bowl has a broad, flat rim (Fig. 4e). This style of pottery (known as
Entebbe ware) is also found on Lolui Island.
No iron slag was found on any of the islands; and no rock paintings, rock
gongs, or other signs of the early Iron Age were seen. The absence of iron slag
coupled with the rarity of pre-nineteenth century Iron Age remains suggests
that the islands were not settled by farmers until comparatively recent times.
The presence of Middle and Late Stone Age industries, however, suggests that
fishing peoples have inhabited the Sese Islands for a long time.
I. We are grateful to the chief of the Sese Islands for many kindnesses, and to the Ministry
of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism for a permit to cover our operations. Mr.
Godfrey Nyerwanire kindly drew figures 2-4. This research was carried out as part of the
Bantu Studies Project supported by the Astor Foundation and the British Institute of
History and Archaeology in East Africa.
2. The old system of Stone Age terminology, subsequently recommended for alteration by
the Wenner-Gren Symposium (no.29) of July 1965, has been used in this paper.
3. Detailed maps and notes, as well as our finds, are deposited in the Uganda Museum,
Kampala. These give full details of site locations.
4. Miss Anna Craven has recently found two handaxes near the Gombolola Chief's Head-
quarters on Bukasa Island. One of us (BMF) found a pick in the same area, as if the gravel
spread contains First Intermediate material.
Uganda Journa!, 30, 1 (1966) pp. 87-90.
CHAILLE-LONG'S ALLEGED TREATY WITH MUTESA
By SIR JOHN GRAY
In his article on Chaill/-Long's Mission to Mutesa of Buganda (Uganda J.
29, 1965 p.8) Edward A. Alpers says, regarding the written treaty which Long
alleges that he sent to Egypt in 1874, that "it is unfortunate that this document
has disappeared, for without it we cannot hope definitely to establish all the
facts surrounding it". In 1892 Long alleged in his L'Egypte et ses provinces
perdues, pp.24-25 that "after many searches made in the ministries of the
Egyptian Government", this treaty could not be discovered and that it and many
other documents "representing fifteen years of work executed by my colleagues
on the general staff, French and American" had been destroyed in a fire caused
by drunken officer of the British army. Alpers agrees that there is "always room
for the belief that no such agreement was made, (and) that it was all Chailld-
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 Beard-
sley, seem to suggest that the opposite is true."
Assuming for the moment that such a document once existed, Long says
(Provinces of the equator p.62, foot note) "M'tesa, at my request,
called Ide to him and addressed a letter to the Khedive, in which
he acknowledged himself a Vassal of Egypt" The three words
in italics are Long's. The letter is said to have been written in Arabic by a
Zanzibari, named Idi, and one would like to know what was the correct trans-
lation of the precise words in which Mutesa is alleged to have acknowledged his
vassalage. Arabic letters are often subscribed by the writer in terms of mock
humility of the same type as that of British government officials who subscribe
their letters to correspondents as having "the honour to be, Sir, your obedient
servant". Nobody would suggest that this subscription creates a contract of
service enforceable by the correspondent in law as master against the writer
as his servant. Similar reasoning would apply to any letter written by Idi on
behalf of Mutesa to the Khedive.
Alpers assumes that 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 between the writer and Mutesa and that therefore "we could
deduce that the agreement was signed on June 30, 1874". (op. cit. pp.6-7).
However, when we come to examine the three contemporary occasions upon
which Alpers relies, we find that they reduce themselves to two.
"On board steamer Bordine, near Gondokoro, 16th December 1874"
Long informs General C. P. Stone, Chief of the Egyptian General Staff that "in
obedience to the orders of His Highness the Khedive, transmitted through
Your Excellency by telegram" he encloses the journal of his itinerary to Uganda.
That itinerary was printed as an appendix to General Stone's Provinces of the
equator-summary of letters and reports-Part I-Year 1874. An introduc-
tory note by Stone shows that it was prepared for the press in September 1876.
On none of the pages of Long's itinerary is there any mention of any treaty or
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
other document signed by Mutesa. On p.62 thereof appears the footnote (cited
in full below), which Stone allowed to be printed without any comment. This
note may have been appended to the itinerary by Long at any time between
16 December 1874 and September 1876. It certainly cannot be deemed to have
been made and incorporated in Long's itinerary in 1874.
Turning to the other two documents written in 1874, one is a letter written
on 7 November 1874 by Richard Beardsley, U.S.A. Consul in Egypt. It mentions
the fact that Long had obtained from Mutesa "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" (Papers relating to the
foreign relations of the United States-First Session (Washington D.C. 1875,
2, p.1329). There is no mention therein of any treaty or any other written do-
cument. Beardsley's comment on the information supplied to him by Long is
that his actions had led to "the opening of the road between Uganda and
Gondokoro and the establishment of amicable relations between the redoubt-
able M'tesa and the Egyptian Government" (ibid.).
The third document referred to by Alpers is a letter written from Gondokoro
by Long on 20 October 1874, and addressed to "the Geographical Society of
London". In it Long announces that "I have induced Mutesa to close the road
to Zanzibar and, in the interest of Egypt's monopoly of ivory, to send his ivory
to Gondokoro" (Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 19, 1875, p.109).
Again, there is no allegation of any written agreement having been drawn up-
still less of any treaty with Egypt.
Here may be interpolated another document of 1874 relating to Long's visit
to Mutesa. It is dated 26 Ramadan 1291 (6 November 1874) and addressed by
Martin Hansal, Austrian Consul at Khartoum and Giegler Pasha, Engineer-
in-Chief of the Sudan Telegraphs, to the Khedivial Cabinet. It reports Long's
return from his visit to Mutesa and that "to-day the road from Uganda to
Zanzibar is interrupted and has since then only been practicable from Uganda
to Gondokoro and consequently the ivory trade can only be carried on to
Egypt by the single road from Uganda". Once again there is no mention of any
At a meeting of the Socidt6 de Gdographie de Paris on 21 July 1875, an
account by Long of his recent activities in the Sudan was given to the members
and later published in a Bulletin of the Society. This meeting took place twelve
months after Long bade his final farewell in person to Mutesa. Once again,
it does not record any treaty or any agreement concluded in writing between
In 1876 Long published in London his Central Africa: naked truths of
naked people. It contains a lengthy account of his journey to, at, and from
Mutesa's court, which is based largely on the facts set out in his itinerary as
published in Provinces of the equator, but on no page of the book is there any
statement suggesting that Mutesa concluded a treaty with Long until we come
to page 306 where we are told that "M'tesa, King of Uganda, has been visited
and the proud African monarch made a willing subject; and his country, rich
in ivory and populous, created the southern limit of Egypt."
In 1912 Long published in London My life in four continents. In it he tells
us that "upon my suggestion, General Gordon had sent in January 1875,
Ernest Linant de Bellefonds to reside as Egyptian Minister Resident at the
Court of M'tesa, King of Uganda". ibidd, Vol. 1, p.164). But examination of the
extant letters of both Gordon and Linant all go to show that they both regarded
Mutesa as a free and independent monarch. Long's very belated claim that he
succeeded by treaty in annexing Buganda to Egypt cannot be accepted as reliable
unless there is other corroborative and reliable evidence aliunde showing or
tending to show that this statement is in fact true.
In case it may be thought that certain subsequent events tend to corroborate
ex post facto Long's story of the alleged treaty, it may be deemed advisable to
set out in full the footnote by Long which which appears on p.62 of Provinces
of the equator. It reads as follows:-
"M'tesa, at my request, called Ide to him and addressed a letter to the
Khedive in which he acknowledged himself a Vassal of Egypt, 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.
He wished that priests might be sent to him, and lastly, begged for horses and
Col. Gordon subsequently sent to him fiki (priests). The carriage was sent
from Cairo by H. H. the Khedive on receipt of the letter from M'tesa which
I forwarded from Khartoum in November 1874."
On 5 and 7 May 1874, some six weeks before Long arrived at Mutesa's
court, Gordon addressed two letters to Khairy Pasha in Cairo. He reported that
he had reached Gondokoro on 16 April 1874, he had found there a party of
Baganda, who had brought with them two letters in Arabic addressed to the
Khedive, which he was forwarding. Mutesa "asked for some things. I have writ-
ten a letter to him and I have sent him gifts and I have expedited a telegraphic
despatch to His Highness the Khedive in regard thereto.... I have sent him
everything I could, but that is not much. I will send him later the donkeys, etc.
for which he asks.. He asks for a Sheikh so as to learn the Koran etc. etc."
"Gordon concludes the first of these letters by saying that "it is worth the trouble
of cultivating his (Mutesa's) friendship and to send to him a good Sheikh from
Cairo and a good present. He is the most powerful of three kings" in lacustrine
Africa. (Shukry, Equatoria under Egyptian rule, pp.145-151)
On 17 May 1874, Gordon wrote from Berber to inform his sister that "I am
sorry for it, but two Sheikhs are going to M'tesa to teach him the Koran, and
the Khedive wants twenty of his men sent down to Cairo" (Birkbeck Hill,
Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, 1874-1879, p.16).
On 29 August 1875, Gordon once again wrote to his sister, saying thas
"the Khedive, who was quite charmed with Long's account of M'tesa, is sending
up a gorgeous carriage for him, which I do not think he will ever get from me."
In its context, "Long's account of M'tesa" would appear to be his itinerary at
forwarded by him to General Stone on 16 December 1874, but it would appear
doubtful whether, when submitted to the Khedive, that itinerary had inserted
therein the footnotes appearing in that journal as published in Provinces of
At all events it is clear that Mutesa had asked for, and obtained, the promise
of being sent Muslim priests before Long ever reached Buganda. Such evidence
as exists is insufficient to serve as corroboration of Long's story as to the contents
of Idi's letter. It may indeed show that Long was assuming credit for having
taken the initiative for acts previously taken by others. If Long had not so
abundantly proved by his writings that he, as a witness, is not entitled to the
benefit of any doubt, one cannot accept his statement regarding the letter,
unless and until his statements in regard to it are proved by reliable evidence
aliunde pointing to the fact that beyond all reasonable doubt he is telling the
90 UGANDA JOURNAL
truth about this letter.
Alpers says regarding the letter embodying the alleged treaty that "it is
unfortunate that this document has disappeared" (Uganda J. 29, 1965, p.8).
He seems to accept it as being true 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".
By 1912 Long had begun to realise that his many self-contradictory writings
and other external evidence had led people to doubt many of the claims he had in
the past attributed to himself. In the circumstances, if his story of the treaty
were true, it would almost seem as if, despite his intoxication, this British officer
had some method and considerable malice aforethought when he set fire to the
the all important document upon which Long depended for the truth of his
story about the treaty with Mutesa. Whether or not this was so, the con-
flagration is alleged to have spread to the destruction of other documents
representing the activities over fifteen years of French and American officials
in the Sudan. We have no precise evidence as to what other documents he is
alleged to have destroyed, but we have voluminous evidence as to the documents
which escaped this alleged conflagration. It is so voluminous that it cannot be
set out in detail. I will content myself by referring to the extracts therefrom for
the crucial years 1874 to 1876, which are set out on pp.142-375 and 421-437 of
M. F. Shukry's Equatoria under Egyptian rule. They include letters of Long
himself, Linant de Bellefonds and many others as well as letters written by
Dallington Muftaa on behalf of Mutesa.
One may well ask what need is there of further evidence. The alleged treaty
has not "disappeared". Not for the first time Long has shown that his search
for self-glorification has made him utterly reckless of the truth. The alleged
letter never existed any more than did the drunken British officer who is alleged
to have destroyed it.
I venture also to correct Alpers in one other respect. He writes of the alleged
agreement as having been "signed on June 30, 1874" (Uganda J. 29, 1965, p.7).
In the course of many years of research into the history of Uganda I have had a
great deal of the extant correspondence of Mutesa-originals, facsimiles and co-
pies-through my hands. Most of these letters are in the handwriting of Mutesa's
one time scribe, Dallington Muftaa. In all of these the final subscription "I am
Mtesa, King of Uganda" or other words to the same effect are in Dallington's
handwriting. There is a letter, written in Arabic on 19 May 1882, to Dr Kirk,
British Consul at Zanzibar. It is subscribed "Written by his order by Maasood
Resalmin bin Suelim with his own hand". To it has been affixed a crudely cut
seal, which appears to contain the words "Sultan of Wuganda" (Proceedings
of the Royal Geographical Society, (New Series) 1884, p.89). That is the nearest
approach I have been able to discover of Mutesa's personal confirmation of the
contents of any letter written on his behalf and in his name.
Uganda Journal, 30, 1 (1966) pp. 91-92.
GEORGE WILSON AND DAGORETTI: KINANJUI'S ACCOUNT
By A. T. MATSON
Among the papers of F. G. Hall (1860-1901), the pioneer district officer
in Kikuyu, is an account taken down by Hall from Kinanjui, which goes far to
corroborate the sequence of the events of 1890-91, as elucidated by H. B. Thomas
in Uganda J., 23, pp. 173-177. There are, however, certain differences between
the two accounts, and Kinanjui's recollections fill in some of the details.'
According to Kinanjui, Wilson was left at Dagoretti (November 1890) with
190 men, about 80 of whom remained to accompany him when he evacuated the
fort (30 March 1891). Of the others, about 100 had gone down to the coast
and some had been killed. It seems that Wilson had been persuaded to send
80 men to Ruiru, where a certain Kamau had assured him that food could be
purchased in abundance. Instead of buying food, this party assisted Kamau
to recover stock which, so he claimed, had been looted from him by the Ruiru
people. The stock was brought back to the fort, but nothing further was done
by either side in this matter,
Some time afterwards, Wilson engaged 300 Kikuyu to go to the coast to
bring up loads. Although they were given advances of cloth, beads etc., nearly
all deserted when they were warned by the Kamba that, if they proceeded,
they would be killed. Only about 30 men, including Kinanjui, went on to
Mombasa. Wilson sent a Swahili and 13 Kikuyu to try to catch the deserters,
but when this party attempted to force the gate at Kicheka's village, they were
driven off with the loss of one Swahili. For this Kicheka paid a fine of 100 goats.
Shortly after, 7 Swahili, who had been sent to Machakos for nails, stole
a number of goats from Kamwingo Ngambo. Kamwingo responded by killing
5 of the looters. When the two survivors returned to the fort, Wilson retaliated
by attacking the neighboring villages but he spared those of Kinanjui and of
the other Kikuyu who had accompanied him to the coast. During these opera-
tions a Swahili caravan of about 130 men arrived at Dagoretti, and two of their
number were killed near the fort. Wilson, who was running short of ammunition,
decided to bury the company's goods in the fort and to march out of the station
. with the Swahili caravan. (This would be the retreat counselled by Gedge.)
On his way towards the coast, Wilson met Bateman, Kinanjui and a large
caravan under Sudi bin Suliman at Kikumbuliu.2 Wilson returned with these
reinforcements to Dagoretti, where he was able, with Kinanjui and Sudi's help,
to arrange matters with the Kikuyu.3 He rebuilt the fort in the same spot,
which Hall describes as "a very bad situation, as it is almost surrounded by
bush and the drinking water is out of sight of the fort."4 This ends Hall's record
of Kinanjui's story.
It may be remarked that "the some 30 men, mostly the refuse and sick of
the caravan"5, whom Lugard left with Wilson may have been reinforced by men
from the coast; or Wilson might have increased his garrison from passing
Swahili caravans. Kinanjui does not record the sacking of the station by Kikuyu
92 UGANDA JOURNAL
but he was absent when several of the events he described took place. Like
Gedge, he naturally stresses the role he played in the story, but he makes no
mention of Gedge's part in Wilson's decision to evacuate Dagoretti.6
Kinanjui's account of his own movements differs from that of Ainsworth,
who records that Kinanjui left Dagoretti with Wilson early in 1891, and returned
there with Major Eric Smith in April. The latter statement is obviously incorrect
as Smith was then in Uganda, and did not reach Dagoretti until 13 June 1891
on his way back to Mombasa. When Smith arrived at Dagoretti, Sudi was still
there; and on Smith's advice Wilson withdrew from Dagoretti for a second time.
Kinanjui's account is entered in Hall's handwriting as a separate, self-
contained item at the end of his 1894 diary. It may not, therefore, have been
taken down in 1894, but entered in the diary for that year as there was space in
the notebook in which the diary was written. It seems certain that Hall did not
record Kinanjui's account until at least three years after the events described
1. Kinanjui wa Wanugu (or Gathirimu), who was born of lowly stock about 1865 in the
Kiambu or Fort Hall area, came to the notice of the I.B.E.A. Company officers in Kikuyu
as a porter and later as a guide in punitive expeditions. After Wyaki's deportation in
1892, he became the leading ally of the Fort Smith officials whom he helped over mat-
ters of transport, food, information, land for the station and railway, and in their dealings
with the Masai, Kamba and hostile Kikuyu sections. Hall described him in 1894 as
"my Fidus Achates,. ...........who has always been loyal to the Europeans." he seems to have
hadno traditional leadership status, but he was "built up" by Hall, so that gradually
he acquired considerable wealth and influence. Gazetted under the Headmans'
Ordinance 18 March 1908; King's Medal 1922 for services in the war; died 1 March 1929.
2. Bateman had remained in charge at Machakos when Lugard moved forward on 4 October
1890, but there is no clear record of his next movements. He had left Machakos to the
charge of A. T. Brown some time before the retreating Wilson reached there with Gedge
on 2 April 1891. At Nzoi on 7 April, Gedge was visited by Sudi on his way up country'
and a week later, near Tsavo, he met Leith on his way to Machakos. But Gedge makes
no mention of Bateman, who might have been in Mombasa. Possibly, Kinanjui confused
Bateman with Leith.
3. Hall was able to confirm Kinanjui's account of the re-occupation of Dagoretti, since
Salim, who acted as interpreter in Wilson's negotiations with the Kikuyu, had become
4. When the station was rebuilt by McClellan in 1902, the site was moved from the Dagoretti
to the Niangare river. (Dagoretti Political Record Book in Kenya National Archives.)
An account, written in 1927 by C. J. W. Lydekker in this volume, states that Wilson
returned to Dagoretti with 30 more men; he refused help offered by the Masai, some of
whom "stood by in case of need"; he stipulated that the Masai should have free access
to Kikuyu for trade, but when he left the service, the station was evacuated again.
5. Lugard, F. D. The rise of our East African empire, 1893, Vol. I, p.385.
6. Lugard makes scathing comments on the behaviour of Bateman and Leith towards
Wilson, regarding them as largely responsible for Wilson's predicament over ammunition
supplies. He is also critical of Gedge's part in the affair.
7. The diaries of Lord Lugard, Ed. M. Perham, 1959, Vol. III, p.393. The Hall papers are
deposited at Rhodes House, Oxford. Ainsworth's account is in F. H. Goldsmith, John
Ainsworth, Pioneer Kenya administrator, 1864-1946., 1955, p.19. For Smith's movements
see H. B. Thomas, Uganda J. 23, 1959, pp.134-152.
The author is grateful to Mr. H. B. Thomas for his help in the preparation of this note.
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