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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Title Page 1
Title Page 2
Table of Contents
Table of Contents 1
Table of Contents 2
Notes on Contributors
Index to Volume 22 (1958)
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
The Uganda Journal
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
VOLUME 22, No. 2
Uganda's Cotton Industry-Fifty Y
The Karasuk Problem -
The Bayaga Clan of Western Ugani
The Early Life of Rwot Isaya Og'
A Century of Muhammadan Influe
Witchcraft and the Supernatural
The Caves of Mount Elgon
An Association between Mites and
Oedipus in Alur Folklore
A Burial Site at Mweya, Toro
The Karamojong and the Suk
The Cairns of Koki
The Kenya History Society
James Martin. His Medals
The Identity of the Bachwezi
Shafts in Buganda and Toro
ears back A. R. MORGAN
da J. K. BABLIHA
vangguji, M.B.E. M.J. WRIGHT
nce in Buganda, 1852-1951
T. W. GEE
A. G. Nh. VAN EYKEN
C. D. OLLIER AND J. F. HARROP
Carpenter-Bees T. R. ODHmAMBO
A. W. SOUrTHALL
E. C. PLANNING
SIR JOHN GRAY
H. B. THOMAS
H. B. THOMAS
H. B. THOM~AS
E. C. PLANNING
E. C. PLANNING
A. T. MATSON
The British in Mombasa 1824-1826 (by Sir John Gray) H. B. THOMAS
Insect Life in the Tropics (by T. W. Kirkpatrick) P. E. S. WHALLEY
The Chiga of Western Uganda (by May M. Edel) P. W. E. BAXTER
Mary Kingsley-A Victorian in the Jungle (by Olwen Campbell)
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
INDEX TO VOLUME 22 of The Uganda Journal
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Price Shs. 15 (15s.)
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1958-59
His Excellency Sir Frederick Crawford, K.C.M.G., O.B.E.
Dr. H. F. Morris
The Hon. Secretary
The Hon. Treasurer
The Hon. Editors
The Hon. Librarian
Dr. W. Elkan
Mr. H. S. S. Few
Mr. J. S. Kasirye
Mr. E. Kironde
Dr. A. W. Southall
Mr. G. Wright
Corresponding Secretary at Mbale:
Corresponding Secretary at Masaka.
Corresponding Secretary at Tororo.
Mr. B. Kirwan
Mr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
Mr. D. K. Marphatia
Mr. R. J. Mehta
Mr. C. N. Mukuye
Mr. P. Tamukedde
Dr. H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
Mrs. K. M. Trow ell, M.B.E.
Mr. NM. Barrington Ward
Dr. C. Ehrlich
Mrs. NM. M. Wallis
Mr. J. C. D. Lawrance
Dr. E. NM. Chenery
Mr. M. D. Ross
Hon. Legal Adviser
Mr. C. L. Holcom
Mr. F. Lukyn Williams
: Mr. E. C. Lanning
Dr. W. H. R. Lumsden
H.H. Mutesa 11, Kabaka of Buganda Sir John Milner Gray
R. A. Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa IV, Mr. E. B. Haddon
C.B.E., Omukama of Bunyoro Mr. H. B. Thomas, o.B.E.
Lord Twining of Tanganyika and Professor A. W. Williams
Godalming, G.C.M.G., M.B.E.
Sir A. R. Cook, C.M.G., O.B.E. 1945-46
Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E. 1946-47
Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., LL.D. 1947-18
Mr. H. Jowitt, C.M.G. 1948-50
Sir H. R. Hone. 1950-51
K.B.E., M.C., Q.C. 1951-52
Mr. J. Sykes, O.B.E. 1952-53
Mr. N. V. Brasnett
Captain C. R. S. Pitman, 1953-54
r. S. ., D.S.O., M.C. 1954-55
hMr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins 1955-56
Mr. R. A. Snoxall 1956-57
Dr. K. A. Davies, C.M.G., O.B.E. 1957-58
Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
Mr. B. K. Mulyanti
Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins. O.B.E.
Mrs. K. NI. Trowell, M.B.E.
Dr. W. J. Eggeling
Dr. G. ap Griffith
Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, w.p.
Professor A. W. Williams
Sir J. B. Hutchinson.
Mr. J. D. Jameson, O.B.E.
Dr. Audrey I. Richards, c.e.E.
Dr. H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
Mr. D. K. Marphatia
Mr. M. Barrington Ward
Mr. G. P. Saben
Secretary: Mrs. M. M. Wallis
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
J. C. D. LAWRANCE
Dr. E. M. CHENERY
(assisted in England by H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.)
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY HEADLEY BROTHERS LTD
IO9 KINGSWAY LONDON WC2 AND ASHFORD KENT
Uganda's Cotton Industry-Fifty Years back
The Karasuk Problem -
The Bayaga Clan of Western Uganda
The Early Life of Rwot Isaya Ogwangguji, M.B.E.
A Century of Muhammadan Influence in Buganda,
Witchcraft and the Supernatural
The Caves of Mount Elgon
An Association between Mites and
Oedipus in Alur Folklore
A Burial Site at Mweya, Toro -
The Karamojong and the Suk -
The Cairns of Koki -
The Kenya History Society
James Martin. His Medals
The Identity of the Bachwezi
Shafts in Buganda and Toro
Eugen Wolf -
C. D. OLLIE
A. R. MORGAN
M. J. WRIGHT
T. W. GEE
SG. M. VAN EYKEN
R AND J. F. HARROP
T. R. ODHIAMBO
A. W. SOUTHALL
E. C. PLANNING
SIR JOHN GRAY
H. B. THOMAS
H. B. THOMAS
H. B. THOMAS
E. C. PLANNING
E. C. PLANNING
A. T. MATSON
The British in Mombasa 1824-1826 (by Sir John Gray) H. B. THOMAS
Insect Life in the Tropics (by T. W. Kirkpatrick) P. E. S. WHALLEY
The Chiga of Western Uganda (by May M. Edel) P. W. E. BAXTER
Mary Kingsley-A Victorian in the Jungle (by Olwen Campbell)
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
INDEX TO VOLUME 22 of The Uganda Journal
UGANDA'S COTTON INDUSTRY-FIFTY YEARS BACK
By A. R. MORGAN, O.B.E.
MUCH has been written about the development of the cotton industry in
Uganda, and Mr. Ehrlich's recent article in the Uganda Journal (21 (1957),
162) together with the fact that Uganda is this year commemorating the
50th anniversary of the start of the industry, have combined to inspire me to
place on record some memories which fill gaps in the history of those early days.
These memories date back to a period when, under the dynamic personality
of the then Governor, Sir Hesketh Bell, the administrative officers and chiefs,
with little or no technical assistance, had already established cotton as the main
economic crop of the Protectorate.
Some are no doubt still alive who shared those happy times with me and
if their eyes happen to light on these reminiscences they will perhaps be able
to fill in some details which after a lapse of fifty years, have faded from my
The period covered is that immediately prior to the birth of the Agricultural
Department and leads up to the establishment of that department on a firm
basis. To explain my small part it is necessary to go back to the month of
March 1908, when I received a letter from the Colonial Office, the gist of which
was as follows-
"The conditions of the appointment provide for your employment as
Cotton Inspector for a period of two years . with salary at the rate of
250 per annum for the first year and 300 per annum for the second year...
free first class passage . free furnished quarters . free travelling expenses
S.. free medical attention . necessary to proceed East Africa by D.O.A.
steamer leaving Marseilles 21st instant."
This letter was the outcome of an application in response to a notice displayed
in The Liverpool Cotton Exchange advertising a vacancy for a young man with
a good knowledge of cotton for appointment as Cotton Inspector in Uganda.
As a junior cotton salesman I had completed my apprenticeship some time
previously and so felt qualified to apply for the post. Strangely enough at no
time during subsequent interviews was I able to obtain any information as
to the nature of the duties involved, but I was informed that I would get some
excellent yachting on Lake Victoria! As it had always been my intention to
go overseas should the opportunity offer, I was prepared to take much for
granted and leave the outcome in the lap of the gods. In the event the gods
have been kind to me.
In passing it may be of interest to consider the scale of pay prevailing at
that time. Living was comparatively cheap and local produce extremely so,
but to a newcomer the 'chit' system could be a dangerous trap. If one found
the local store account mounting up too rapidly, as frequently happened, the
answer was to take a spot of local leave and a fourteen-day elephant licence.
The latter cost only Rupees 30 (2) and allowed for the shooting of two
elephants. Ivory at that time was fetching Rs. 7.50 (shs. 10) a pound, so that
108 UGANDA JOURNAL
a fifty-pounder was a great help to the exchequer and Allidina Visram who
had perhaps cashed your post-dated cheques and in any case bought the ivory
The date of sailing allowed inside of one week to get through a medical
examination in London, find some kind friend to lend me some money, collect
the necessary kit (including one very large sun helmet!) and catch the ship at
Marseilles. These things I managed to do, with a few hours to spare and a few
golden sovereigns remaining in my pocket, but to this day I have never dis-
covered the reason for such indecent haste. It would not be possible today,
but passports, inoculations, travellers' cheques and all the other paraphernalia
of modern travel had not been thought of at that time.
After an uneventful but interesting voyage, the German liner Prinzregent
arrived off Mombasa at sunrise on a morning early in April and never before,
or since, have I seen anything more beautiful than that first glimpse of Mombasa
from the sea. It was only equalled by the snow-capped peaks of Ruwenzori,
seen at sunrise from the Hima River camp, but that is another story.
The only passenger vessels then running between Europe and Mombasa were
German (D.O.A.) and French (M.M.). It was not until October 1910 that the
Union Castle Line started a new service via Suez and this was opened by the
Guelph on which I travelled on my first leave, trans-shipping to the Norman at
Having been met at Mombasa by the Uganda Coast Agent, things were
made very easy for me. We landed from the ship in small boats and I was
soon on a 'two-man-powered' trolley making slow but steady progress between
rows of stately mango trees to the one and only Cecil Hotel, managed at that
time, if memory serves, by an Armenian named MacGeorge.
The train for Kisumu left the following evening and, acting on local advice,
I collected a supply of tinned provisions, drinks, and a case of kerosine oil
for good measure. This was stowed away with my personal baggage in the
compartment as in those days the question of excess baggage was no problem.
At a later date the Railway Authorities came down very heavily on this
practice, much to our annoyance!
After two nights on the train and feeding at dak bungalows en route we
arrived at Kisumu on the Sunday morning and drew up on the jetty, alongside
which the Clement Hill was moored. We sailed some hours later and arrived
at Entebbe the next morning. In contrast to Mombasa the beauty of the place
did not fit in one bit with my pre-conceived notions of what 'Darkest Africa'
should really look like and I felt that this was indeed a happy introduction to
Uganda. My immediate difficulty however was to convince somebody that I
was indeed the young man with a good knowledge of cotton. The days of air
mails had not yet arrived and the papers concerning my appointment had come
by the same ship as myself. They would not therefore be cleared and dealt
with until the following morning. My troubles were solved by the Transport
Clerk, Gore-Pelham by name, introducing me to that well-established local
institution and trader, Bertie-Smith with whom he was living. They very kindly
put me up for the night and during the course of the evening sold me a large
revolver which I was too terrified ever to use!
UGANDA'S COTTON INDUSTRY-FIFTY YEARS BACK 109
The next morning I reported to the Secretariat and was instructed to report
to M. T. Dawe, Officer-in-Charge of the Botanical, Forestry and Scientific
Department. Dawe returned from safari that day and immediately took me to
stay with him in his delightful bungalow in the Botanic Gardens. He left
Uganda finally in October 1910 to take up a post in Mozambique and later
went to Bogota in South America.
Although nothing was said, it was soon apparent that my training in the
Liverpool Cotton Market had little relation to the duties which were now to
be required of me and I awaited developments with some interest. If Dawe
had any misgivings he politely concealed them and broke the ice by taking
me on a short safari in Bulemezi District. On our return he arranged for me to
spend some time on a cotton-seed farm at Sunga on the Bukakata-Masaka
Road. This was one of two centres which he had brought into being, the second
being at Namenage in Busoga where I also spent some time. Both places were
managed by locally engaged Europeans and the object was to try out and
multiply new varieties of seed which had been introduced through the good
offices of The British Cotton Growing Association. Two other small stations
were opened by me later, one at Mwera in Busuju District and the other at
Mukoko on the Kampala-Masaka Road. Both were in charge of native headmen
who had received some training at one or other of the farms previously referred
to. Experiments in times of sowing and planting distances were carried out at
all four centres, but the main purpose at that time was to increase the supply
of pure seed from the varieties which showed the best results.
My safari to Bulemezi with Dawe was done on a borrowed bicycle, but
when going to Bukakata en route to Sunga seed-farm I travelled on the William
Mackinnon, known locally as the 'Willie Mac'. The skipper was Commander
Frank Dugdale. From Entebbe we called first at the Sese Islands to take off
the last of the White Fathers and their followers, who were being evacuated
because of sleeping sickness on the islands.
The demand for seed was now increasing rapidly. Hitherto imports had been
confined to a consignment of Egyptian seed introduced by the Government in
1903 and to a shipment of seed mostly of American varieties brought in at
much the same time by the Uganda Company. A ton of American seed was
also imported by Government in 1907. But it was not possible to provide
sufficient from the newly imported varieties alone; neither had it been possible
to maintain control once the seed had been distributed. The result was a mixture
of all varieties. The need was urgent and a temporary distributing centre was
established in the old Baraza house at the foot of Namirembe Hill, close to
Lugard's Fort. Seed was collected in bulk from The Uganda Company's ginnery
on the other side of the Nakivubo swamp, some hundreds of natives were
employed at a wage of ten cents a day and all the seed was hand-picked before
distribution. The object of this rather crude method of selection was to eliminate
any Egyptian seed, as reports from Liverpool had shown that the American
varieties were producing the best results and Uganda lint was then selling
at a premium of 2 pence a pound over American 'Middling'. The separation
of the two varieties of seed was quite a simple matter as the Egyptian types
carried a black naked seed, whereas the American varieties had a covering of
110 UGANDA JOURNAL
light green fuzz. In addition to the newly introduced varieties, it is possible
that cotton was also being grown from seed which had been brought to Uganda
by Emin Pasha's followers, as in the Precis of Information concerning the
Uganda Protectorate published in 1902, it is stated that "Cotton grows wild,
or half wild, in many places, and is, to some extent, cultivated . chiefly on
the sites of Emin Pasha's former settlements". Much earlier Speke and Grant
had also reported having seen cotton growing wild.
On completion of the seed distribution in Kampala the next few months
were fully occupied touring in the cotton-growing areas, mainly in Buganda;
passing on to the native growers the lessons learned at the seed farms. These
were confined to instruction on planting distances, the economical use and
filling of blanks, and thinning. It took some time to convince the growers of
the necessity for thinning down to one plant at each seed hole, and only
experience could teach them that the young seedlings would not survive if
These tours were all done on foot, the free 'travelling expenses' being the
usual allowance of porters. Although in later years the method of transport
varied as time passed on-donkey, bicycle, motor-cycle and finally motor-car,
in that sequence, there was much in favour of the early foot-slogging safaris
from every possible angle. The courtesy and kindness of the chiefs was at
times almost embarrassing. To be met by the Saza Chief and his followers
at his district boundary was the common custom. Then in procession to the
rest camp where the traditional gifts of chickens, eggs and bananas were
produced. On leaving the camp, here again the chief saw his guest to the
boundary, there to be handed over to the care of the chief of the adjoining
district. Amongst those whose names are still vivid in my memory are Paulo
Mukwenda of Singo, Ham Mukasa of Kyagwe and Yokana Kitunzi of Gomba,
the latter two being English-speaking. In the Eastern Province Baganda Agents
were stationed in the more backward areas. They did splendid work and were
a tower of strength to the Administration, both in fostering agricultural develop-
ment and in the general routine of administrative practice.
About six months had now passed since my first arrival in the Protectorate
and it was as Acting Superintendent of the Cotton Department that I took
up residence in Kampala. This new department came into being somewhat
inconsequently and without any flourish of trumpets. The 'staff' consisted of
myself and my interpreter Leo Mukasa. For the greater part of the following
year and until the arrival of P. H. Lamb in August 1909, I make the modest
claim that I comprised in my own person all that existed of the nascent Cotton,
soon to be the Agricultural, Department.
Lamb's initial appointment was that of Assistant Superintendent of Cotton
Cultivation, but soon after his arrival he was re-designated Chief Agricultural
Officer and it was at that stage that the Agricultural Department was established.
Lamb left Uganda early in 1912 to take up the appointment of Director of
Agriculture, Northern Nigeria, and was succeeded by S. Simpson, who remained
as Director until 1928.
In October 1909, Tyrell Bruce and L. E. Knollys arrived on first appointment
as Assistant Superintendents of Cotton Cultivation. Both were qualified
Forerunners of Uganda's cotton industry.
Staff of the Botanical, Forestry and Scientific Department, 1908.
Batey C. G. Gowdey A. R. Morgan
Government (Entomologist) (Cotton Inspector)
M. T. Dawe
J. L. Innes-Lillingston
An early cotton market in Busoga.
UGANDA'S COTTON INDUSTRY-FIFTY YEARS BACK 111
agriculturists and worked mainly in the districts as Field Officers. They were
joined by L. Hewett in July 1911 and he was later appointed Deputy Director
Bruce raised and commanded the Baganda Rifles in the German East Africa
Campaign. He was invalided home about the end of 1916. On regaining his
health he joined the Machine Gun Corps and was killed in France in 1917.
A fine comrade, his death was a great personal, as well as a public, loss.
Knollys left the service early in 1913 and rejoined the Administration some
years later. Before leaving the Agricultural Department however he had left
his mark in the Bugisu District of the Eastern Province in the form of coffee
nurseries at many villages along the Manafwa Valley. The area was not suitable
for cotton and owing to the dense population only very small plots were
available for crops other than food. In due course it fell to my lot to supervise
the laying out of plots and transplanting of the mature seedlings. Thus came
into being the first hundred acres of the now thriving Bugisu coffee industry.
Behind these operations was the personal influence of the then District
Commissioner, Percy Perryman, without whose support no progress could have
been made. His influence with the Bagisu, whose language he spoke fluently,
was quite outstanding. It may be difficult for those who only know the Bagisu
of today to appreciate their backward condition at that time. They had only
recently discontinued the playful habit of rolling large boulders down the
hillside paths as the D.C. made his way up to collect the taxes, and Perryman
always delighted to tell the true story of the chief at Bukigai who uprooted
all the coffee plants from a plot of which I had previously supervised the
planting. When called over the coals he explained that at full moon the plants
had been seen dancing around and he had quite enough witchcraft in his village
without introducing new ideas! The Bagisu were however a friendly and
cheerful people and a safari in the lovely foothills of Mount Elgon was always
something to look forward to.
As has been noted the cotton seed in general distribution at this period was
very mixed, but strangely the price realized in the Liverpool market was, on
the whole, satisfactory, and compared favourably with that realized for similar
types of American growth. It would seem therefore that the seed, though mixed,
was gradually becoming acclimatized and was developing a character of its own.
Meantime it had become obvious that in looking to the future steps would
have to be taken to maintain and improve quality by systematic selection and
gradual bulk production of improved varieties, but it was not until October,
1911, that a specialist officer in the person of R. G. Harper was appointed
to pioneer this important work.
A site for the first experimental station was selected at Kadunguru, near
Bugondo in the Teso District. It would be an understatement to say that this
location left much to be desired, both from a health and amenity point of view.
Harper's job was firstly to build himself a wattle and daub hut to live in
and then to work out how to make a monthly allowance of 12 10s. cover all
expenditure on labour, etc. for the opening up of the station. His 'scientific
equipment' consisted of an aluminium comb graduated in inches for combing
out staple, one medical balance for calculating lint percentages, and one large
112 UGANDA JOURNAL
steel-trunk in which to safeguard seed and lint samples from damage by rats
and ants. It was under those conditions that he carried out the work at
Kadunguru for the next five years, during the latter half of which he was
accompanied by his wife. In 1915 he contracted a. very serious attack of enteric
fever and it was then decided to transfer the work to Soroti where medical
and other amenities were available. Much useful work had been done at
Kadunguru, but the operative word throughout had been-improvisation. A
small station was opened about three miles from Soroti early in 1916 but the
results obtained were disappointing. Notwithstanding this setback one of the
selections made by Harper, to be known as variety 'N17' was discovered and
segregated. It gave such good results in wider distribution that it was still being
grown successfully in the Busoga District in 1950.
On the conclusion of the first World War the financial position gradually
improved and in June 1919 funds were provided to continue selection work on a
more appropriate scale and under better conditions generally. Two new sites
were selected, one at Serere in the Eastern Province and the other at Bukalasa
Harper started work at Serere towards the end of 1919 and although perma-
nent bungalows, offices and stores were not completed until three years later,
considerable work was carried out on the development of the plantation and
during the next few years it was firmly established as the main cotton experi-
mental station. He remained in charge until his retirement in 1928.
Enough has been said to indicate that the foundations of the Uganda cotton
industry had been well and truly laid before the outbreak of World War I and
truth compels me to assert that the main credit for this should go to the
Administrative Officers of that period. It would be invidious to mention names
but the picture would not be complete without passing reference to the staff
in the Eastern Province known affectionately as 'Spire's Gang'. Fred Spire was
a forceful and much respected pioneer Provincial Commissioner who insisted
on hand-picking his officers, who responded by demonstrating that they were
a corps-d'elite. As a result administration in the Eastern Province was main-
tained at a high level of efficiency and cotton production flourished.
It is difficult for those who left the country many years ago to appreciate
the amazing changes which have taken place in both the social and economic
spheres. The Uganda resident of today no doubt accepts tarmac roads, multi-
storied buildings, water at the turn of a tap, and pull-chain sanitation as normal
amenities, but for such of us 'old stagers' as are still in circulation I feel
confident that the 'good old days' will never lose their place among our happiest
THE KARASUK PROBLEM
By J. BRASNETT
j HE region known as Karasuk is legally part of Kenya, but under an
I administrative agreement made in December 1931 between the Governments
of Kenya and Uganda it is now administered as part of the Karamoja District
of Uganda and comes under the District Commissioner at Moroto. This region,
with an area of approximately 1,800 square miles, is bounded on its eastern
side by the Suam-Turkwell river to the foot of the Turkwell Gorge and from
there by the base of the Turkana Escarpment as far as Moroto Mountain. On
the west the official inter-territorial boundary skirts round the base of the
'Chemerongit or Northern Suk hills as far as the Kunyao river from which
point it follows roughly the watershed between the Turkwell river system to
the east and the Kilim or Greek river to the west. The inhabitants are members
of the Sulk.tuibe, the majority of whom have moved into the area during this
century either from West Suk or from the Baringo region. Karasuk now
'comprises the greater part of Upe County which is the one Suk county in
Karamoja District and which has its headquarters at Amudat on the main
Kitale-Lodwar road. The Suk in Uganda still maintain close contact with their
fellow tribesmen inK enya and constitute an entirely alien and hostiIF element
Upe County, particularly its southern plains to the west of the Turkwell
river, was for some time an area of conflict between the Karamojong and
Suk tribes, although the scene of the clashes has steadily moved westwards
so that now it lies on the western borders of Upe, well within Uganda. However
the Karamojong formerly used much of the Karasuk area, watering their cattle
'in the Turkwell and in the water-holes along the base of the Suk hills which
'they shared with the Suk in fairly recent times. The Suk have maintained a
,constant westerly pressure and have pushed the Karamojong back so that now
quite a large area of Uganda is included within Upe County and three out of
the five Upe divisions have their headquarters in Uganda itself. They have
taken over considerable stretches of country which was formerly regarded by
the Karamojong as dry weather grazing and which they frequented regularly
although they did not perhaps fully utilize.
Though both the Karamojong and the Suk are Nilo-Hamitic tribes and both
are pastoral people, yet they are entirely alien to one another and there are wide
'differences in their languages, customs and social structure. The Karamojong
are part of what Gulliver calls the 'Karamojong Cluster' and are ethnically
,closely related to the Turkana, Iteso and to many other smaller tribes in the
;same group, while the Suk are closely related ethnically and linguistically to
the Nandi, Kipsigis and Elgeyo, and are part of the ethnological group of the
iSouthern Nilo-Hamites. Relations between the two tribes are hostile and have
been so for many years, this traditional hostility being manifested every year,
r \"-.-. DEJURE BORDER
--- DE FACTO BORDER
/ = ROADS
FIG. 1 The Karasuk Region.
THE KARASUK PROBLEM 115
in the dry season and early rains, by inter-tribal cattle raiding, often leading
to fighting and murder.
The Suk are said to have originally been an entire agricultural people
living in the western end of the Cherangani hills and in the Sekerr MWisif.Ti
this region they were safe from their more warlike and aggressive pastoral
neighbours such as the Masai and Turkana. This was pre-1860 and about this
time they are traditionally supposed to have raided the pastoral Samburu who
had been decimated by disease, so that the Suk were able to steal their cattle
and lay the foundation for their eventual emergence as a cattle people. However
the Samburu and Laikipia Masai quickly retaliated and in a series of large
raids drove many Suk north over the river Turkwell into the Chemerongit or
Northern Suk hills where they took refuge. Some Suk remained in these hills
but the majority made their way south again. Thereafter they were generally
preyed upon by their more powerful neighbours, Samburu, Masai and Kara-
mojong. They had obtained stock and were developing to some extent the
characteristics of their pastoral neighbours, and at about this time they adopted
the Turkana-Karamojong type of head-dress, yet they still remained confined
almost completely to the hills. Thus during the closing years of the last century
the Suk were still essentially a hill tribe and although they had crossed over
the Turkwell they lived only in the Chemerongit hills and had not spread
down into the plains west of the hills and the river Suam.
The Karamojong on the other hand were and are essentially a pastoral tribe
who claim to have come from the area round the Apule river in the region
immediately north of Moroto Mountain and to have spread from there over
the Karamojong plains, driving the original inhabitants into the hills. The
Tepeth tribe living in Kadam, Moroto and Napak mountains are said to be
the remnants of these people. Theyfollowed a system of seasonal transhumance,
movingingihe dry season to their grazing ground situated well away from the
main manyatta areas in Pian, Matheniko and Bokora. There is no way of
gauging the exact extent of Karamojong grazing grounds since they were no
doubt elastic and depended on the year and the availability of water and
grazm~fgn t there can be no doubt that the Karamojong ranged over a very
large area and it seemspossible that they extended as far south as the foothills
of Mount Elgon. They laid claim to the plains west of the Suam-Turkwell'
river and also the waterholes in the western side of the Chemerongit hills.
The Karamojong claim as recorded by C. A. Turpin is that in the second half
of the nineteenth century they had their manyatta areas in the Mogoth hills,
round Moroto Mountain, along the Lokichar river and near Matany hill while
their dry weather grazing extended to the Turkwell, the Chemerongit hills and
to the slopes of Elgon. Originally the area between Elgon, Kadam and the
Chemerongit hills was said to have been occupied by a tribe known as the
Oropom who are reputed to have been similar to the Karamojong in language
and culture, but they were either driven out or absorbed by the Karamojong
who took over the region. During this period the Karamojong indulged in raids
and counter raids with the Nandi to the south and in one such raid the Nandi
penetrated as far as Kapchok hill but were beaten back. The Karamojong
claim to have had thousands of cattle watering on the Turkwell in the dry
116 UGANDA JOURNAL
season and they also made use of the waterholes in the valleys of the
Chemerongit hills such as Sasak, Weiwei and Chuchwa. They admit that there
were Suk living in these hills at this time but claim that they were only in
the eastern section and did not penetrate westwards to the plain. This was
the situation when the Karamojong suffered a series of crippling blows to their
stock which was their main source of food and wealth. There were apparently
three successive epidemics of disease which decimated the Karamojong herds
in 1876, 1887 and 1894. It is not very clear what diseases these were but the
last appears to have been rinderpest and the tribe lost 90 per cent of their
cattle from their effects, while the crops suffered badly in 1895 from locusts
and in 1896 from drought. Added to this in 1896 the small stock also suffered
from disease probably sarcoptic mange so that the disaster was almost complete
and, without stock and suffering from famine, they were reduced to hunting
game and collecting wild fruit. The Pian, Matheniko and Tome clans moved
down to the Turkwell plains making camps at Kacheliba, Tentapus and Lokales
among other places. Here they hunted game and trapped elephant, trading the
ivory for stock with Swahili and other traders until eventually their herds
recovered and once again they were able to water their stock on the Turkwell
during the dry season. They say that the Suk retired to the hills with their stock
and were thus able to avoid the worst consequences of the cattle disease.
The above is a broad outline of the historical claim advanced by the
Karamojong to the plains west of the Turkwell and some confirmation for this
story can be found in the accounts of early travellers including Sir F. J. Jackson
who met a party of Karamojong in 1890 near the Turkwell and remarked that
they lived entirely by hunting. Also the members of Macdonald's expedition
to Lake Rudolf met a few Karamojong when they camped on the Turkwell
in 1897 and later that year, in Karamoja south-west of their Turkwell camp
they came across Karamojong who were dependent for their food on hunting
the collection of wild fruits such as tamarinds. 'Karamoja' Bell, the elephant
hunter, who travelled widely in Karamoja during this period paid his guides
and helpers in stock and also bartered stock for ivory. Karamoja was an
important source of ivory and no doubt the Karamojong were able to replace
their lost herds fairly quickly by barter. There seems to be little record of events
during the period prior to the World War I, although some settlers from the
Kenya Highlands came down to Karamoja to trade for cattle and the Karamo-
jong apparently raided well into Kenya and on one occasion in 1906 came within
six miles of Hoey's Bridge, south of Kitale.
The Suk during this period were acquiring stock, slowly transforming them-
selves into a pastoral tribe and moving down to the plains both to the Nzoia
river in the south and the Turkwell in the west. By 1907 according to Mohamed
bin Abdulla, a Swahili follower of Sir F. J. Jackson, the Suk had reached the
Turkwell and though there was no fixed boundary, the Suk and Karamojong
lived relatively peacefully on opposite banks of the Turkwell with only
occasional raids taking place.
In 1914 Kenya opened an administrative post at Kacheliba on the west bank
of the Turkwell, and legally within the then Rudolf Province of Uganda, and
from this point they administered the West Suk-as distinct from the Baringo
THE KARASUK PROBLEM 117
Suk-and the Southern Turkana while Karamoja was still under semi-military
administration by Uganda. The District Commissioner, Kacheliba, records in
a letter in February 1916 written to C. A. Turpin of the Uganda Police who
was Acting District Commissioner, Karamoja, that the Suk and Karamojong
were living on the Turkwell alongside each other and that there were "a number
-of Karamojong" within an easy day's march of Kacheliba. However, in July
1916 Crampton (District Commissioner, Kacheliba) complained to Turpin that
a large party of Karamojong had crossed the Kanyangareng and raided into
the Suk hill murdering three Suk in the raid.
In October 1916 Crampton and Turpin were instructed by their respective
SGovernments to prepare joint recommendations for the line of the inter-
territorial boundary between the Suk and the Karamojong. From the start there
,4 was disagreement between them and for some years the boundary remained
Sas a bone of contention between the two District Commissioners. Sometime
Sin 1914 when he first came to Kacheliba, Crampton is said to have demarcated
" a line between Suk and Karamojong which passed approximately across the
south-eastern slopes of Mount Kadam but this could never have been effectively
enforced and he did not press strongly for inclusion of this area in West Suk.
This is hardly surprising when it is realized that a large part of the Pian section
of the Karamojong had their manyattas in the region south-east of Kadam,
,o and Turpin, in his handing-over report dated 31 October 1919, gives the
following figures for the number of adult males of the Pian section living in
the area-Paripari 124. Katabok 40, Lokales 146, Karita 67, Napocheret 186
and Ngelechom 239. It is interesting to note that all these places are now
included within Upe County and that the nearest Pian manyattas are about
,twenty miles away. However, Crampton wanted the boundary to follow the
Kanyangareng River southwards to the area of Amudat and from there to go
to the eastern slopes of Kadam and southwards to Greek river. Turpin on the
other hand suggested a line along the base of the Chemerongit hills to the
Kan angareng river, down the latter to its confluence with the Turkwell and
-u the Turkwe11 T)Mitount Elgon. Crampton remarks on this difference of
oplimon a urpin relies on the undoubted historical claims of the Karamo-
jong in former years whereas he himself considers that the position of the
tribes as foun-T-n the ground should be the governing factor. It seems likely
that this is a fair statement of the position but that, although the Suk had at
this time crossed the Turkwell, Crampton was greatly over-estimating the extent
of Suk movement. It must not be overlooked that this is a large and remove
area inhabited by two nomadic tribes to whom the idea of a hard and fast
boundary_ is_ entirely_, alien. In these circumstances it is not surprising
that there was a clash of views on this matter. Chidlaw-Roberts, Turpin's
successor, also took the view that Crampton's suggested border was unworkable
and unfair to the Karamojong as it would deprive the Matheniko and Tome
sections of much of their dry weather grazing and cut off the Southern Pian
from the rest of the tribe. It is very hard to form any clear picture of the extent
to which the Suk had migrated west of the Turkwell in the period 1916-1922
owing to the conflicting views expressed by the District Conmmissi-o-ners con-'
cerned but there is no doubt that the Suk were being pressed on all sides while
118 UGANDA JOURNAL
at the same time their stock was increasing in number and Karamoja presented
the easiest outlet for Suk expansion. Jn the early years of thecenturthe
direction of Suk expansion had been not only north and west towards Karamoja
but also southwards to the Nzoia river. This movement south, which was
characteristic not only of the Suk but of other tribes particularly the Turkana
and Samburu was halted by the advent of European settlement in the Trans-
Nzoia region. The Suk had formerly used the grass-lands in Trans-Nzoia up
to the Nzoia river as dry weather grazing but they were moved out to make
way for farms in this area and so their only remaining outlet was the plains
of Karamoja. At the same time the ban on the sale and export of stock from
Suk, owing to quarantine regulations which began to be effectively enforced
during this period, further increased the number of stock within the district so
that the Suk found themselves caught up in a vicious circle. The increasing
stock population exhausted the land; the district was unable to support the
stock and it was therefore inevitable that the Suk should try and spread into
any available grazing land. Karamoja on their western border provided the
obvious solution, an area of good grazing which was reasonably well watered
by.the Turkwell and Kanyangareng rivers and which was only used by the
Karamojong themselves during the dry season.
Added to these incentives for westward movement, in October 1918 a series
of large-scale raids launched by the Turkana,(an extremely aggressive tribe
who had not then been brought under any form of civil or military administra-
tion," drove the Suk out of the Chemerongit hills and theey crossed the
Kanyangareng to seek refuge in the area to the east of Mount Kadam. By
SDecember of the same year they had exhausted the pastures on thenliorth-east
Sof Kadam and asked the Karamojong if they could graze along the Kilim
(Greek) river but this request was refused by the Karamojong and as a result
) of their refusal the Suk attacked them in the Kilim area, killing a total of 24 men
and women in three separate incidents. The Karamojong retaliated by killing
eight of the Suk who withdrew after this exchange. Some Suk tried to
return to the Nzoia region but were evicted by the District Commissioner.
West Suk, and returned to the Chemerongit hills. This is the first record of
inter-tribal conflict arising out of disputes over grazing and it set a pattern
for the future relationship between the two tribes. Previously, although there
had been inter-tribal raiding, it appears to have been restricted to spear blooding
and normal cattle raiding but hereafter all such raids have a wider basis, namely
the natural reaction by the Karamojong to Suk expansion into their traditional
grazing grounds. Raiding and counter-raiding took place throughout 1919 until
on 18 March 1920 a joint 'peace baraza' between the two tribes was held at
Kacheliba attended by the respective District Commissioners, Captain Chidlaw-
Roberts and Juxon Barton, at which presents, offers of friendship and binding
oaths were exchanged. The baraza was confirmed and strengthe~ied-by another
in October of the same year also held at Kacheliba which led the Administrative
Officers concerned to express the hope that the inter-tribal hostility had ended,
and for a few months this appeared to be possible. It seemed that a friendly
feeling had sprung up between the two tribes but in May 1921 the raiding
started again and continued at a greater pitch than before: 25 May, 1 Suk killed
THE KARASUK PROBLEM 119
and 220 cattle stolen; 22 November, 4 Karamojong killed; 2 February 1922,
-2Suk women killed; 18 March, 1 Karamojong killed; 27 March, 1 Karamojong
killed; 15 April, 2 Sebei and 1 Suk killed. In all in 1922 at least 16 Karamojong
and 11 Suk were killed and so it continued into 1923.
Meanwhile the District Commissioners negotiated and discussed the inter-
territorial boundary, the basis of all such discussions being the border suggested
by Chidlaw-Roberts in November 1919-"from Mt. Riwa along the rocky
ridge forming the watershed between the Turkwell and Kiloko rivers which
terminates at Kogipie hill. Thence in a northerly direction along the western
foothills of the Chemerongit hills to the Turkana Escarpment". This was fairly
close to the present de jure boundary of Kenya and Uganda which was
promulgated when the Rudolf Province was transferred to Kenya by the Kenya
Colony and Protectorate (Boundaries) Order in Council, 1926, dated 1 February
1926. This boundary allowed the Suk an area which was undoubtedly far
greater than that which they had occupied ten years before and it also denied
the Karamojong access to the Turkwell water. However, in spite of these
concessions, Suk pressure was still maintained even across the new border and
from 1927 onwards trespass into Uganda by the Suk increased yearly.
Apparently conditions in Suk during the years 1923-1928 were very bad indeed,
the-drought being aggravated by an invasion of locusts and in these circum-
stances metresFpass was undoubtedly carried on with the tacit consent and
sympathy of the District Commissioners at Kapenguta. Itt is doubtful whether
thf~ ffold have been able to confine the Suk within their borders unless the
forces at their disposal had been greatly increased but it appears that they
made little attempt to do so. They were fully aware of the pressing need for
the Suk to graze into Karamoja, and trespass into Karamoja was constant.
In September 1927 steps were taken to regularize the position by allowing
the Suk to build their manyattas and bomas up to the border, grazing their
cattlein Uganda during theday on the proviso that they returned to Kenya
at night. In_ site of this_.coaession the Suk continued to trespass well into
Ugandaaas far as Cholol, Morunyang and Loporokocho and many other points
well on the Uganda side of the boundary. As a result inter-tribal raiding,
after a comparative lull from 1923 to 1927, once again began to assume serious
proportions, so that in addition to the regular police patrols the King's African
Rifles were called in to patrol the border in September 1928. In 1928 also, with
the building of a new road from Kitale to Lodwar, the District Commissioner,
West Suk, asked his Government to press for the cession to Kenya of the area
between the boundary and the road owing to the shortage of grazing in Suk-
a move which was strongly resisted by the District Commissioner, Karamoja,
who stated that the area in question was important dry-weather grazing for
the Pian and Matheniko who had already been denied access to the Turkwell
and who could ill afford to be deprived of any more grazing.
IC1929_the District Commissioner, Karamoja, and the District Commissioner,
West Suk, discussed the general implications of the Suk problem and agreed-
to request their respective Governments to consider, a reversion to the old
bounarifi Iy"alngi the riker Sum-Turkwell. As a result of these representations
and after some negotiation and discussion a meeting was held in Deecember
120 UGANDA JOURNAL
1931 between the Provincial Commissioner, Eastern Province, Uganda, and the
Provincial Commissioner, Turkana Province, Kenya, attended by their respec-
tive District Commissioners, at which it was agreed to recommend a reversion
to the Turkwell boundary. The primary reasons for this recommendatioi-were
to give the Suk access to grazing and water in Karamoja, to bring the administra-
tion of the border area between Suk and Karamojong under one administration
thus facilitating the control of inter-tribal raiding and lastly because of the
difficulty of recognizing and administering the 1926 boundary. It was suggested
that this should be given a trial of 2 or 3 years after which it could be
reconsidered. The Kenya Provincial Commissioner did not consider that it
was the ideal solution, as he was in favour of administering Karamoja, Turkana
and West Suk districts as a single province under Kenya or Uganda, but he
agreed that this reversion to the Suam seemed to be the best alternative solution.
At the same time he announced his intention of recommending to the Kenya
Land Commission which was due to sit in 1932 that a single province incor-
porating the three districts should be formed. The Uganda Government in
April 1932 also asked the Kenya Government to draw the attention of the
Commission to the lack of grazing available to the West Suk which was causing
embarrassment to Uganda. In June 1932 the Governments agreed i.tgiethe
Suam-Turkwell boundary a trial and during July and August this decision
was announced to the Suk. Thus Karasuk came under the Uganda Govern-
pment's administration in August 1932 and out of a total population in West
Suk of 28,000, some 7,800 were incorporated in Uganda, while 1,800 square
miles of a total of 3,300 square miles of West Suk were included in Karasuk.
The Kenya (Carter) Land Commission made no recommendation concerning
the 'pastoral' province suggested by the Provincial Commissioner, Turkana,
as it was outside their terms of reference, but they did suggest to the Kenya
Government that the matter be taken up with Uganda. This was done and
after the Provincial Commissioners, Eastern Province and Turkana Province
had submitted a joint memorandum on the subject it was rejected by Uganda
in 1935. The Governor of Uganda had given the Karamojong a firm under-
taking that they would not be handed over to Kenya and therefore it was not
practicable for Kenya to administer the proposed province and Uganda was
unwilling to take over the financial burden of the administration of Turkana.
The Land Commission did consider the Suk problem and their comments
show that they were fully aware of the position of the Suk: "We find it difficult
to speak with moderation of the enormous numbers of stock which the Suk
have been allowed to accumulate and the problem thereby created is extremely
serious" and it follows that "in all four divisions of Suk the natives own several
times more stock than are essential for their needs"-two comments which
show clearly the basic reason for Suk expansion into Karamoja.
Thus with the taking over of Karasuk by Uganda and with the abolition
of the border between the Karasuk and the Karamojong the former were able
to spread further west and settle in areas which had been used by the Karamo-
jong, particularly in the Karita area and it is during the few years after 1932 that
the Suk settlement in Upe County reached its present limits. An attempt was
made to prevent further emigration from West Suk to Karasuk and to allow
THE KARASUK PROBLEM 121
only those Suk who had been living west of the Turkwell before the hand-over
to live in Karasuk. This seems to have been reasonably effective judging from
the differing reactions of the Suk shown at a baraza held on 1 November 1934.
This baraza which was attended by the Kenya and Uganda Provincial Com-
missioners and their District Commissioners was convened to discuss the Suam-
Turkwell boundary. The Karasuk were in favour of its retention but the West Suk
objected strongly. They said that it was a bad boundary which was dividing the
tribe and which permitted the Karasuk to become "rich and fat" while they
remained "poor and hungry". In spite of this Uganda found the border satis-
factory and the District Commissioner, Karamoja and the Provincial Com-
missioner, Eastern Province, considered that there had been a lessening of
Karamojong-Suk friction and that the Suk were settling down well in Uganda,
and therefore Karasuk continued to be, and is still, administered by Uganda.
In 1937 the Karasuk who had formerly been administered under Pian and
Matheniko Counties with their own Divisional Chiefs but under Karamojong
County\Chiefs were amalgamated and Upe County was formed under a Suk
CountyjChief. The boundaries of this county have remained much the same
since then except that in 1941 the Suk were granted access to the Kanyangareng
s aeit, that is the area between the Kitale-Lodwar road and the Kanyangareng
river, as dry-weather grazing. The area had formerly been used by the Pian and
Matheniko. Inter-tribal raiding continued fairly steadily throughout the late
thirties and forties, though Suk-Karamojong clashes were often overshadowed
by raids on other tribes such as the Sebei and Teso, and in 1953 after the
County Chief and Government Agent of Pian had been killed by Suk returning
fro-mka raid on Pian, the Kanyangareng salient was closed to the Suk. It is,
how-ever, still retained as a grazing reserve for the Suk who are allowed to
enter in drought years and is thus still an integral part of Upe County.
Thus the general picture is one of constant Suk pressure westwards across the
Turkwell into Uganda pushing the Karamojong back and depriving them of:
large areas formerly grazed by them although probably not fully utilized. The
reasons for the Suk pressure are obvious, being basically the great increase
in cattle population and the alienation or closing of other possible areas of
expansion, leaving Karamoja as the only possible outlet. All the main sections
of the Karamojong have been affected by the loss of land to the Suk; the Pian
have not only lost much dry-season grazing but a large part of the Pian were
moved from the Karita area and resettled in the region between Lolachat and
Kakumongole north-west of Kadam, which move deprived the Bokora of the
dry-season grazing which they had formerly used in the Lolachat area, and
the Matheniko lost important dry-season grazing grounds on the northern
plains up to the base of the Chemerongit hills. At the same time stock increase
within Karamoja has been substantial and erosion caused by over-grazing is
a serious problem so that the Karamojong are being subjected to the same
pressures as the Suk from increasing stock population. It is these economic
factors which are at the root of Suk-Karamojong unrest. The Jie and Dodoth,
who are of the same stock as the Karamojong with the same language customs
and mode of life and who were in the early days of British Administration
quite as lawless and addicted to raiding as the Karamojong, are now relatively
122 UGANDA JOURNAL
tranquil and easy to administer because, so far from being deprived of land,
they have been able to expand within their own border into areas formerly
closed to them by tsetse fly. This contrast with the Karamojong underlines the
fact that lack of grazing caused by loss of large areas to the Suk allied to an
increase in the cattle population is the basic cause not only of the hostility
between the Karamojong and Suk but also in a wider context for Karamojong
lawlessness generally and for the constant raiding by the Karamojong of their
neighbours on every side.
NOTE ON REFERENCES
Most of the material is from files in the Secretariat and in the Moroto District
Office but the following works were also consulted:
Barton, Juxon (1921). Notes on the Suk Tribe of Kenya Colony. J. R. Anthrop. I.,
Beech, M. W. (1911). The Suk, their language and folklore.
Huntingford, G. W. B. (1953). The Southern Nilo-Hamites.
Kenya Land Commission, Report of, (1934). Vol. III.
Gulliver, P. H. (1952). The Karamojong Cluster. Africa, 22.
Gulliver, P. and P. H. (1953). The Central Nilo-Hamites.
Turpin, E. A. (1948). The occupation of the Turkwel River area by the Karamojong
tribe. Uganda J., 12.
Austin, H. H. (1903). With Macdonald in Uganda.
Bell, W. D. M. (1949). Karamojo Safari.
Powell-Cotton, Major P. H. G. (1904). In Unknown Africa.
THE BAYAGA CLAN OF WESTERN UGANDA
By J. K. BABIIHA
THE story of the origin of the Bayaga clan of Western Uganda is legendary
in character. The founder of the clan was Kisehe, who settled in Bulega,
a country of pasture land west of the southern end of Lake Albert in the
Belgian Congo. During the early years of the Bachwezi kings there lived a
wealthy man, Ntumo ya Munyonyi, who owned many cattle all over Toro
and -Mawogola, whose sister was the mother of Kisehe. Kisehe, who was also
rich in cattle, took as a wife a native of Bulega, who bore him a son called
Mihingo and a daughter called Katutu. The daughter was married to Isimbwa,
the founder of the line of Bachwezi kings, and brought forth a prince called
Kiro Ba Itabara Nyamugenda Itumbi.
The story goes that Ntumo ya Munyonyi, reputedly the wealthiest man in
the land, had no bulls in his herd. It was believed that his cows were sired by
a star from Heaven, known as Runyunyuzi. Runyunyuzi used to descend from
the skies to serve cows in the darkness of the night, and during that time
everybody in the kraal had to keep silent. It happened one night that an inmate
of the kraal saw this miracle and began to shout. The following morning all
the cattle had disappeared. Kisehe's cattle in Bulega also disappeared, as he
was related maternally to Ntumo ya Munyonyi, the wealthy man. As a result
of this event famine threatened the land, because most people during the time
of the Bachwezi dynasty fed exclusively on milk.
Kisehe, who had a wife of the original agricultural tribe, hit upon a wise
plan. He ordered his wife to plant pumpkin seeds in heaps of cow-dung, and
in two months time the pumpkin plants had spread over a large area, and
by the third month they were bearing fully. Many hungry people heard of this
and travelled to his home in Bulega from distant places in order to barter for
fresh pumpkins. Meanwhile his son, Mihingo, acquired a knowledge of wind
direction and began to advise upon canoe steering across Lake Albert.
During that difficult time Kisehe and his family lived in their former state,
although they suffered poverty because of the miraculous disappearance of
their cattle and those of Kisehe's maternal uncle, Ntumo ya Munyonyi, the
wealthiest man of the Basonga (Grasshopper) clan.
One day another miracle brought wealth to Kisehe. While his wife was
collecting pumpkins for lunch, and his son was at the lake-shore directing
the crossing of canoes, Kisehe saw two calves, a male and a female rising from
a heap of cow-dung. He held his breath until both had emerged, and then
ran and took them to his hut. He fell asleep for a few minutes and woke up
to find that the cattle had multiplied and that the whole field was thronged
with cattle. As a result Kisehe became a wealthy man again and commanded
great prestige among his neighbours.
In Kitara, the Muchwezi king Ndahura had gone to subdue chieftains who
124 UGANDA JOURNAL
had threatened to make themselves independent rulers in Ruanda, to the
south of his extensive kingdom. During King Ndahura's absence his brother
Muchwezi Mulindwa, who ruled what is now Mubende District, became
Regent. He ruled the kingdom for three years until Ndahura returned with
his army from Ruanda. During his regency, Mulindwa called Mihingo, son
of Kisehe, to fill an important post at his court. The duties of the post were
to give advice to herdsmen to enable them trace lost cattle. Mihingo had
gained the reputation of being able to recognize something in the distance by
testing the direction of the wind by means of magic instruments that he
possessed. He was also to perform other administrative and priestly functions
at the Court.
Kisehe, his father, had by this time died. With his cattle and a retinue of
followers, Mihingo set out and crossing the southern end of Lake Albert, he
entered the Muzizi valley and arrived at Hamugamba. Marks of his feet were
miraculously left on the flat stone where he stood to look at the surrounding
country. He then pushed on and arrived at Burora hill. Here he was thirsty,
but his followers failed to find any water-hole. Looking down at the valley
at the base of the hill he let fly an arrow from his bow. Where the arrow
landed a well came into existence, and the valley between Burora and the
surrounding smaller hills became a swamp, now called Kyansimbi. Water was
brought and his thirst was quenched.
At this time he was wearing his wind-testing instruments secured by a string
around his head. These two instruments consisted of magic horns, one cut
from a musambya tree and another from a mutoma (fig) tree. He and his
followers then went on to the neighboring hill called Kibeede. When they
arrived there, he found his magic instruments missing from his head. He sent
his servants back to Burora hill, where he had stopped to drink water, but
when they arrived there, they found that the instruments had magically grown
into two big trees-a musambya and a mutoma-within two hours of their
departure from the top of the hill. They took the message back to their master
at Kibeede hill, but he was so angry that he ordered his guards to whip them.
Then his four sons offered to return to the place where the magic wind-testing
instruments had been lost, but they came back with the same story. Mihingo
then ordered all his followers to Burora hill, where he found that his instru-
ments really had grown into big trees. He interpreted this miracle as meaning
that he must build his house on the top of Burora hill, and his men immedi-
ately began building on the top of the hill near the trees. When night fell,
the guards found that they had no fire. They saw smoke rising from a hut
at the foot of the hill. They went down and called the owner to come with
fire and kindle it in the residence of their master, and they made him a
permanent guardian of the fire in the chief's household. It was a custom in
the old days that in the houses of kings or notables the fire should not be
extinguished, but kept burning every day.
When Mihingo reached Omuchwezi King Mulindwa's court he was given
the high office of councillor and priest in matters concerning the direction of
winds. He and his family were called Basehe (Kisehe's offspring), but because
he had the art of testing the direction of the wind, they were called Bayaga.
THE BAYAGA CLAN OF WESTERN UGANDA 125
(Muyaga means wind.) The land in which they lived was therefore called
Buyaga. Members of the clan of this name are found to this day in Toro,
Bunyoro, Mubende and Bulega. Mihingo and the Regent Mulindwa made
The Bachwezi rulers fell on bad times. Revolts took place among their
subjects and jealousy among the mothers of the Bachwezi made things worse
for the rulers, but brought good luck to Mihingo of Buyaga. As things went
from bad to worse, all the Bachwezi rulers left the country except Muchwezi
Mulindwa, who was seriously ill. He had been rescued from a deep pit into
which he had fallen as a result of the conspiracy instigated by Nyangoma, of
the Basingo clan, with the intent of killing him, so that her son Muchwezi
Mugenyi, who ruled the Ankole principality, should become rival to the throne
which Mulindwa had occupied for three years during the absence of King
Ndahura. The Abachwezi came to Mulindwa and told him to be ready for
departure in the direction of the southern lakes. But Mulindwa said that he
was seriously ill and that at his death his body should be buried near the
big trees in the home of his principal councillor and blood-brother, Mihingo
of the Bayaga Clan. He said that when the Babito kings came from the North
to take over the government of the land, Mihingo would not be disturbed and
no Babito king would set foot in his land, for he would be a symbol of the
Muchwezi ruler buried there. After that, the other Bachwezi rulers departed,
and soon Mulindwa died. Mihingo buried his body in solemnity according
to the funeral rites of the Bachwezi kings.
King Ndahura left his regalia for the Mubito King Rukidi I, whom
Kanyabugoma ka Nsinga and Mugungu Omubwija had gone to bring from
his maternal uncle, Chief Nabonyo of Chwa County in Acholi.1 The following
regalia remained in the Palace on Mubende Hill for Rukidi I:
The Drum Kajumba (bronze or copper).
The Drum Kangube (copper).
The Spear Kimuli Kyokya Mahanga (copper).
The Spear Kaitantahi (copper).
The Spear Kizirankamba (copper).
The Axe Kararamaire (copper).
The Basket Kaguli (in which a crown, armlets and necklace were kept).
The Sandals Biganja and many others.
One copper sword, Busitama, and others.
The Throne called Kaizirokwera.
Muchwezi Mugenyi of Ankole left his Drum Bagendanwa to Ruhinda rwa
Muchwa of the Bahinda clan, now the ruling clan in Ankole, while Muchwezi
Kagaju ka Musuna left the Drum Murorwa to the head of the Basambo clan
King Mulindwa left the following regalia to Mihingo of the Bayaga clan.
The Drum called Kyamukumbwire (copper).
The Drum called Bakonge.
1 Variously spelt Labongo or Nyabongo.
2 Y. Kitaburaza, Secretary-General, Kigezi, is the patriarchal successor in the clan.
126 UGANDA JOURNAL
Many bronze and iron spears.
Copper shields called Mahuru.
A throne (on which the Muchwezi was invested with power as regent in the
absence of King Ndahura).
A bow and arrow which Muchwezi Mulindwa used on hunting expeditions.
A golden armlet.
A bead called Kyebungya.
Mihingo of the Bayaga clan became famous throughout western Uganda
for his religious ceremonies according to the old pagan rites. He was regarded
as the representative and as a symbol of Muchwezi Mulindwa. He used to sit
on the throne of the Muchwezi and was worshipped and supplicated for
blessings by many members of his ancestral line from all over the country. The
usual sacrifices were nine spotted cows, nine spotted sheep, or nine spotted
fowls; no human sacrifice was offered. Other presents to the symbolic
Muchwezi included nine wives, nine slaves or nine of anything. At the end
of each year, which in the old days was signified by the time of millet harvest
in December or January, clan members from all over Bunyoro, Toro and
Bulega came to attend the celebration of solemn rites which consisted of
marching with the regalia to an accompaniment of drummers and buglers.
Mihingo would then appear dressed in bark-cloth and garlanded on the head
as a symbolic representative of Muchwezi Mulindwa. The same words or
songs that were used to praise Muchwezi Mulindwa during his life were
addressed to his successor, Mihingo. There was praying and rejoicing for
Mihingo's homestead was always in the place where the legendary events
related above took place and where Muchwezi Mulindwa was buried on the
top of Burora hill. Water was drawn from the well that was magically dug
by one shot of an arrow from the hill top. The houses in the homestead were
arranged as follows:
(i) The house called Kagondo was built in the back courtyard. It was kept
by a wife of the Bairuntu (hippopotamus totem) clan. The wife and her
successors were always obtained from the Bahima who lived in
Busongoro in Toro. In this house were kept the regalia of Muchwezi
Mulindwa. The Drum Bakonge was ceremonially beaten once a month
when the new moon appeared.
(ii) The house called Majolya was situated in the middle. Mihingo as the
deified Mulindwa lived in this house with a wife of the Basiita clan.
(The mother of Muchwezi Mulindwa was of the Basiita clan.) In the
front part of this house Muchwezi Mulindwa's throne was situated. At
appointed times in the day, Mihingo as symbolic Mulindwa sat on
the throne and people approached to ask for blessings or to re-enact
praises that were given to Muchwezi Mulindwa during his reign. He
usually wore the golden armlet, part of the regalia. In Majolya the fire
was never allowed to go out. It was the same fire that had been brought
by a man of the Bahemba clan when Mihingo first arrived at Burora
THE BAYAGA CLAN OF WESTERN UGANDA 127
hill from Bulega. By tradition it was always kept by the descendant
of the original keeper of the fire.
(iii) Another house called Rwahe was situated inside the front fence on one
side of the front courtyard. In it lived the principal priest of the house-
hold, whose official name was Kisinde. His ancestors had filled the
same position in the household of Muchwezi Kisinde. He was always
a man of the Bachwamba (elephant) clan. His principal office was to
look after Drum Kyamukumbwire .and to regulate intervals of its
sounding, which signified the power and presence of the symbolic
Muchwezi (Mihingo) in his sacred residence. This priest had other
religious duties in connection with this sacred drum. He was also
responsible for the arrangement of worship and for the settling of
disputes. Besides him there were many other priests, priestesses and
village chiefs. Appeals usually went to Mihingo who was the final
authority over people in Buyaga. No king in Bunyoro interfered with
affairs in Mihingo's land.
When Mihingo died he was succeeded by one of his sons, Kyanku, who was
known as Ruhungurangwenge (so called because he wore long hair on his
head). The Babito kings respected the priestly prerogatives of the Bayaga
clan. As Omukama Rukidi I was always afraid lest the Bachwezi might come
back and take from him their kingdom to which he had succeeded, he used to
send presents to Kyanku to appease the departed spirit of Muchwezi Mulindwa.
These presents took the form of cattle, sheep and fowls. Slaves and wives were
also presented to Kyanku in his priestly office as representative of Muchwezi
Mulindwa. No armies were allowed in the lands of Mihingo or Kyanku in
Buyaga. Anyone who took refuge in Mihingo's or Kyanku's lands was left
undisturbed and subsequently settled as the subject of the priest-chieftain.
When King Rukidi I, the first king of the Babito dynasty in Kitara was on
the throne, one of the grandsons of Mihingo called Nyarwehuta Adigo sang
a song in praise of the king of the new dynasty.
He is a chip of the old block.
Kill all the rebels and root them out.
He who scratches you where you itch deserves a reward.
The spear Kimuli is bright.
The sun dies out when its rays strike on the spear Kizirankamba.
Blacksmith Kaganda Kamwanami should not have been left out;
He was an expert in copper work.
After singing this song he returned to Bufunjo his home in Mwenge County.
He then came back to court to ask for the post of herdsman to look after
the King's herd, but jealousy had crept in among some of the officials. There-
upon he was sent by the King to Busongora to levy cattle for the royal herd.
It is there that he was badly treated by the inhabitants and escaped into what
is now the Belgian Congo. At last he found his way back across the Semliki
and reported to the king, to whom he described the difficulties he had en-
countered. The king rewarded him by giving him the very crown he wore on
128 UGANDA JOURNAL
his succession to the throne after the departure of the Bachwezi rulers.3 From
that time it became a hereditary privilege for the descendants of Nyarwehuta
to wear the crown of the first Mubito King Rukidi I and to precede the
Omukama in the coronation procession when he is fulfilling the ancient
tradition of surveying his domains in Kitara. This section of Bayaga are
known as Endegizi (Royal Minstrels).
One of the emblems left to Mihingo was a round homeless bead called
Kyebungya. It was believed that by means of magic words it could be made
to travel swiftly alone and enter the house of any wealthy man, where it
had to be wrapped in costly bark-cloths and be accompanied by people
together with nine head of cattle for presentation to its master, Mihingo or
Kyanku. Thus Mihingo or Kyanku became wealthy as the bead Kyebungya
visited royal palaces and kraals all over the country. By what miracle it
travelled nobody could tell. Not even those in the priestly palace knew by
what means it travelled. As time went on the clan spread widely and some
left to settle independently in other parts of the country, but it was recognized
that they had to make pilgrimage annually to celebrate religious ceremonies.
For many centuries they kept in touch with their patriarchal headquarters,
where they were identified by their family lines springing from any Kyanku
In other clans a succession claim used to result in heated disputes, fighting,
and sometimes murder. In the case of the Bayaga clan, the question was very
easy because the process of choosing a claimant relied on a miracle. One of
the emblems left by Muchwezi Mulindwa was a golden armlet which Mihingo
wore all his life without removing it. When Mihingo died, the armlet magically
removed itself from his hand and disappeared, and nobody knew where it
was. The next morning one of the sons whom it had chosen to be the successor,
was found wearing it. This son was immediately invested with the powers
of the office of a priestly patriarch. So on it went for ages, so that when
Mihingo died, he was succeeded by Kyanku, and when Kyanku died, he was
succeeded by Mihingo.4 On the advent of Christianity and British administra-
tion, all those ceremonies ceased, but the line of succession of patriarchs is
kept, although they have ceased to practice the old religion, and have adopted
Christianity. The future Omugo (wife of the Omukama of Bunyoro), will be
from the Bayaga clan.5 The clan homestead is on the former site in the
gombolola of Mutuba II, Buyaga. When Mubende became part of Buganda,
the patriarch was made landlord of ten square miles around his traditional
birthplace. Similarly his clansman, Nyarwehuta, who participates in coronation
ceremonies in Bunyoro, was made landlord of three square miles.
The original totem of the Bayaga clan was a red cow. It then changed to
3 The Crown and a stool covered with a lion skin, and sandals made from a lion's
skin were always kept by Nyarwehuta as a special chief. Other chiefs used leopard skins
to cover their stools and all kept their crown as well. (A chief in Rutoro and Runyoro
is known as Omujwarakondo: kondo means 'crown', omujwara means 'one who wears'.)
4 The present successor is Zakayo Banuro Kyanku (now Sabagabo, Busiro).
5 The reason why the future Omugo will be a Muyagakati (female Muyaga) is because
the present Omukama's son, who is supposed to be successor and heir to the Crown,
has legally married from the family of the present Kyanku in Buyaga.
THE BAYAGA CLAN OF WESTERN UGANDA 129
a big bird found in the Congo called etuku, whose feathers are incorporated in
the crowns of kings and nobles in Bunyoro and Toro. When the clan came
to Buyaga from Bulega, that particular bird was not found in the new country,
so the clan took a small red bird as its totem.6 In Buganda, members of a
cognate clan are known as Abenyonyintono or Kasanke.
It is believed that when the first Babito twin princes, Isingoma and Kato,
divided Uganda into the two kingdoms of Kitara and Buganda, Kato went to
Buganda as Kabaka Kimera. He was followed by one of Mihingo's sons, who
is supposed to be the founder of the Abenyonyintono. This son was given
the office of keeping the royal fire in the Twekobe, the same function being
held today by his descendants. Their patriarchal headquarters was in Kyagwe
at a village called Mirembe, and they had a drum called Babukabuchopa
which was sounded once a month on the appearance of a new moon. In this
respect, there is traditional similarity with the ritual of Bakonge Drum which
is sounded in Kagondo's house in the home of Kyanku kya Mihingo in
Toro was part of the kingdom of Bunyoro; Bayaga clansmen migrated
there attracted by the grazing for their cattle or by the better climate and soil
fertility, or by the beauty of the women. They helped Omukama Kaboyo to
establish a separate, independent kingdom and obtained high posts in his
service. Others held traditional office in the household of Kaboyo, the first
Omukama of Toro, a hundred and thirty years ago.
In Ankole the story goes that when the Bachwezi rulers were departing,
Mugarra, who ruled the principality of Kisozi in Gomba County of Buganda,
left his wife of the Basonga (grasshopper) clan to his blood-brother Mihingo
in Buyaga. This woman bore a son to Mihingo who was named Ntunda. She
was a pure Hamite, and her son grew up with Hamitic features. Mihingo
sent this wife and her son to stay in Mwenge in Toro, where he had cattle,
so that the boy could grow in an atmosphere of refined manners for which
Toro was envied in the past. When Ntunda grew up he returned to Ankole.
He is supposed to be the founder of the Balega clan, which corresponds to
the Bayaga clan in Toro, Bunyoro and the Belgian Congo. This clan also
has a small, red bird as its totem. Like the Bayaga in Bulega they have main-
tained their Hamitic features and their pastoral habits.
The Bayaga in the Masaka area are known as Abenyonyintono. They have
the same totem as the Bayaga elsewhere, and their founder, Kajerre, came
from Buyaga. His village near Lake Victoria in the gombolola of Sabagabo,
Buddu, he named Buyaga. He seems to have been famous there because his
name in a corrupted form is one of the titles of the gombolola chief of the
6 The totem of the Bayaga in the time of their founder Kisehe was a red cow or
egaju. At the time the cattle were miraculously decimated because of the revelation of
the secret of Runyunyuzi, the land was threatened by famine. Kisehe's family dropped
the egaju as a totem, as they would have starved if they had not taken either meat or
milk of the red cow. Instead they adopted etuku, a big, red bird, as a totem symbolizing
a red cow. When they moved to Buyaga they found that the etuku did not occur in
the new country; they therefore adopted a small, red bird (kanyamunkonge in Rutoro:
akafunzi in Runyoro; and kasanke in Luganda). Whenever they symbolically speak
of egaju, they refer to the small bird as symbolically representing the other two totems
which were dropped.
130 UGANDA JOURNAL
area, who is known as Sabagabo Kajerero, Buddu. Most of the people in that
area belong to the Small Red Bird Clan. The Bayaga in Busoga are also
identified by the totem of a small, red bird and are supposed to have gone
to Busoga when Mubito Kiiza left Kitara and became the ruler of some
counties in Busoga of which Bugabula is one. This is a brief account of the
clan as told by mouth from generation to generation.
Mihingo and Kyanku had certain duties and ritual obligations to perform.
They could marry wives from all clans except the Basingo. Nyangoma, mother
of Muchwezi Mugenyi, had caused the death of Muchwezi Mulindwa and for
this reason the Basingo clan was hated by the Bayaga clan. Similarly the
Babito Dynasty also hated the Basingo clan to such an extent that they used
to offer them to the gods as human sacrifices. Custom and religious sanctions
forbade people from pronouncing the name 'Mihingo' or 'Kyanku' lest an
earth tremor occur. They referred to him in their speech as 'Omuchwezi
w'Omurutoma'. Mihingo or Kyanku could not eat waterbuck because its skin
was part of one of the sacred drums. Nor could they eat fish, fowls, pigs,
potatoes, beans or green vegetables or any wild game animals.
The Bayaga clan has for very many years been regarded as one of the most
important clans in Toro and Bunyoro. Its members were originally pure
Hamites, but because of continuous marriage with the original Bantu tribes,
they have become more negroid in physical features. When other Hamitic
clans in Toro and other parts were isolating themselves in order to preserve
their society in its original nature, the Bayaga intermingled with agricultural
clans in order to survive hard circumstances. According to a census of 100 clans
carefully made by Brian K. Taylor in his recent anthropological research, the
Bayaga clan was the sixth largest in population. All other Hamitic clans had
declined to small numbers.
In the past the Bayaga were hard fighters in tribal wars. They wanted social
prestige; they were argumentative by nature and were conscious of their
rights and social standing. In Toro since the time of Kaboyo, they have filled
important posts in tribal society.
THE EARLY LIFE OF
RWOT ISAYA OGWANGGUJI, M.B.E.
By M. J. WRIGHT
R WOT ISAYA OGWANGGUJI is one of the makers of Lango District; he
has occupied a key position, both geographically and politically, and the
nature of his achievement as a chief can be seen in his early life.
When the first British administrative officers arrived in central Lango they
found Isaya's father, Olet Apar, in control of Lira.' Olet was not a great chief-
his authority did not extend for more than fifteen miles from Ngeta Rock-but
he provided something upon which the Administration could build. His power
was based on more than success in war, though this was an element, and Isaya
remembers him leading a raid on the people of Alito in retaliation for their
poaching on a hunting-ground. He was a leader of the Oki clan; but he ruled
other people than the Oki, and the vanguard of the clan in its migration from
the north-east had reached Nabieso and Apach, many miles beyond his
influence. With the help of the elders he settled matters between his people,
including the making of blood payments. He was also a great rain-maker-
Driberg describes him as "the last rain-maker of any general power"-and he
was believed to have the power to make rain independently of tribal ritual.2
He presided over ceremonies on top of Ngeta Rock, where the rain clouds
gather every year.
In January 1911, J. O. Haldane, District Commissioner, Palango, opened
a post at Lira. The second best Muganda Agent from Palango was put in and
in September half a company of the King's African Rifles was stationed at
Ngeta. The new regime was an exacting one, and far more was required of
Olet and his people than in the past; because of this, Olet's declining years were
a time of continual trouble. In April 1912, a Muganda-named Sebalyanga
according to Isaya-was speared by a Lango called Ogali, whom Olet was
unable or unwilling to arrest. This was one of several similar incidents, and
Olet was arrested and sent to Nabieso (where a temporary station had been
established in July 1911) for three months, and thence to Jinja. What happened
in Jinja is obscure, but it appears that Olet escaped and made his way back to
Lango. Isaya received word that his father was at Kangai, and went there to
find him with his neck in fetters, which he removed. Olet then went back to
Lira and was allowed to work as Jago again.
The withdrawal of the K.A.R. detachment from Ngeta on 31 October 1912
was another opportunity for a show of truculence by Olet's people.3 The baraza
held by the District Commissioner, G. P. V. Jervoise, on 3 November was
attended only by Olet and one of his sub-chiefs, and on the afternoon of the
District Commissioner's arrival there were two inter-village fights in which
three men were killed. Olet warned Jervoise that an attack on the Baganda
was imminent. Jervoise was not dismayed, and summoned all able-bodied men
132 UGANDA JOURNAL
and women to do seven days' work on bridges and embankments. Omodo, the
sub-chief of Ngeta, was made to pay six cattle for the plundering by his people
of an Indian's goods. These measures, together with swift punishment inflicted
on other law-breakers, stopped further trouble.
Olet was an old man when the British arrived, and his son soon came to
the fore as his father's right-hand man and a staunch friend of the Baganda.
In April 1913, the Agent went with Isaya and an armed party to visit villages
along the Koli, about two miles north of the boma, "to suggest that it was
about time they did a bit of work again".4 At first the Lango agreed, but then
they changed their minds and attacked the party with spears, killing a Muganda.
The party opened fire, killing a Lango and wounding two; the Administration
noted that Isaya stood by the Baganda and helped to carry away the fatally
wounded man. The villagers then ran away to the unadministered area six miles
to the north. Olet was instructed to send word that they could come back if
each village paid two cattle and if they did the work required of them. Two
months later, in spite of warnings, no cattle had been paid, and the matter was
settled only when the District Commissioner visited the villages and collected
the cattle himself.
Later in the year another attack was made on Isaya and the Agent.5 They
were sleeping at Okalu's village when one of Okalu's men, fully armed, tried
to overpower the Muganda watchman, but failed; seeing that there was no
chance of surprise the other attackers ran away. Later Okalu refused to attend
the District Commissioner's baraza, and when the Assistant District Commis-
sioner, J. H. Driberg, went to the village he found that everyone had taken
to the bush. Their houses were burned and they were fined six cattle. Subse-
quently the villagers returned, but paid no cattle; the Administration decided
not to press them if they behaved themselves.
The task of establishing government in Lira called for hard work and constant
pressure on chiefs and people. Roads were made, and the new boma was
built in 1914, but even headmen could not be made to attend lukikos regularly,
and in 1913 the Assistant District Commissioner, G. L. Maitland Warne, levied
a fine of three goats on the many headmen absent from his baraza. In 1915
another Assistant District Commissioner, T. V. Fox, commented on the 'dis-
graceful sloth' in lukiko business-its orders were ignored with impunity.6 He
also found that headmen were still coming to barazas naked, spuming the
kanzus required by touring officers.
At about this time Isaya went through a restless period. He was only twenty;
a sense of new power at times went to his head, and among the things new-
comers had brought to his country he was not always able to distinguish good
from bad. The Nubians had taught him how to gamble, and he was once repri-
manded for his addiction to dice, which had infected the whole village. He
worked closely with the Baganda Agents, and it was noted that one of them,
Kamulale, had let him become "far too prominent"; because of this he was
"getting a bit uppish" and needed to be "kept back a bit".7 In October 1913, he
annoyed the Acting District Commissioner, E. L. Scott, by an incident which
showed him to be headstrong in dealing with his people.8 The movement of
cattle was restricted because of rinderpest, and Isaya, with "two of the more
THE EARLY LIFE OF RWOT ISAYA OGWANGGUJI 133
disreputable boma stiffs", followed a wandering bull to Ayo's village, about a
mile along the Bar road. Isaya had words with the villagers, as a result of which
a man called Owach seized Isaya and told the others to hold him while he went
for his spear. There was then a fight in which Isaya and his companions were
driven back to the boma. The villagers had never before given trouble, and
said that they had never intended to harm Isaya. Scott believed that Isaya was
"undoubtedly responsible" for the incident, though he took sureties for the
villagers' good behaviour.
6 LIRA ALOI OMORO
LAN GO DI STRIC T
Lake Kyo 10 20 miles
In 1916 Olet died of plague; Isaya was made Jago Lira in his place, and
early in 1917 the Agent was withdrawn. In the same year Isaya was in two
brushes with his people which showed that he had found a sense of responsi-
bility. In August he was calling out porters for the District Commissioner's
safari when he was attacked by the villagers of Olaka and Omi, and wounded
in the hip by a spear. He shot his assailant in the leg, but, although his followers
pressed for immediate reprisals, he only confiscated cattle.9 He was also
attacked and wounded while collecting taxes at Omodo's, but he again con-
tented himself with impounding cattle.10 In 1918 he was baptized into the
N.A.C." and in the same year he was "unanimously elected by Erute County
for appointment as County Chief".12
That the election of Isaya for appointment as County Chief was "not
altogether expected" by the Administration throws interesting light on its
attitude to chieftainship at the time.' Of the Erute chiefs Olet had been at
least first among equals; his influence had extended "over a wider area than
any other headman among the Lango when they were in the unadministered
state",'' and he had been succeeded as Jago by a capable son who was at least
134 UGANDA JOURNAL
fourth in a line of chiefs who had ruled Lira, father and son.15 The Administra-
tion, however, did not consider hereditary claims to be decisive, nor did they
expect the Lango to set much store by them. The Administration's choice for
County Chief would probably have been Jago Oki of Bar.16 Oki had been Olet's
friend and was a member of the same clan; his area was about ten miles east
of Lira. His association with the Administration had begun badly with the
killing by his people of an Agent and six other Baganda in April 1911; but he
had then settled down, and touring officers found him capable and hardworking;
it was thought that "a larger scope should eventually be found for his ser-
vices".17 However, the people were consulted on the appointment of a County
Chief, and the people had other ideas. Isaya had been on good terms with
his father, and Olet had left his people in no doubt that he expected his son
to succeed him; when Haldane arrived in Lira, Isaya had brought him a stool
to sit on-the traditional task of a chief's heir.'" The idea had been unwittingly
encouraged by the Administration when they insisted that at barazas Isaya
should sit, not among the Agent's people, but at his father's feet.19 When the
meeting to elect a Rwot was called it was clear that everyone wanted Isaya.
Oki himself was in the chair, and he accepted the decision with good grace.
He said that, as Olet's friend and 'katikiro' he could never oppose the election
of Olet's son as Rwot-"let him take it".20 The Administration accepted the
recommendation, thus securing, in spite of itself, a County Chief whose strength
and popularity were soon outstanding.
Later events did not justify the Administration's estimate of Oki. In 1920
he took over Aloi as well as Bar, but in the next year his work went downhill,,
and his lukikos became "a sort of mothers' meeting where tea was drunk ad lib.
and no sort of order preserved".21 There was no improvement m the following
years, and in 1924 he was allowed to retire.
Soon after his appointment as Rwot, Isaya had the chance to prove himself;
this was in the affair at Adwari in 1919.22 Adwari is north of the River Moroto
towards Acholi, and was in the last area in Lango to be taken over by the
Administration. A post was opened there by Driberg in February 1918. There
had been two prominent chiefs in Adwari, Obua and Olong, and while Obua
had the makings of a good Jago, Olong had not. Olong had been known to
the Administration before the post was opened; early in 1917 he had led a
fierce raid against his neighbours, who had sent a deputation to the District
Commissioner asking for protection.23 Closer acquaintance with Olong did
nothing to improve his reputation. He did not help the lukiko against his own
people, nor would he do any work except under the threat of taking away his
cattle; he was a chief who found it impossible to make the change from the
old to the new. The Administration thought it unjust and injudicious to remove
him at once, but anticipated that Obua would be appointed Jago, and hoped
that this would be accepted by Olong. Olong's jealousy of Obua was shown
later in the year when he "sprang, or rather struggled from his chair" in the
touring officer's baraza to ask why Obua was allowed to reply to the lukiko
when Olong's own actions were questioned.24
The trouble started on 24 January 1919, when Obua and the Agent, Kamulale,
went to Munabya's village to collect a fine of one bull, and to collect an Acholi
THE EARLY LIFE OF RWOT ISAYA OGWANGGUJI 135
woman, whose husband Oto had come from Patonga to fetch her. Munabya
was one of Olong's men, and a few days before had taken up spears about the
bull; because of this Kamulale's party was armed. They reached the village
soon after dawn and were received peacefully by Munabya, who said he was
going to fetch the bull. Instead he went to Obuayene's and aroused the country-
side; suddenly the party was attacked from all sides. At this crisis, when strong
action might have saved them, most of the ammunition of the Agent's men
failed to fire, and they were forced back along a narrow path. As they retreated,
Kamulale, Oto and nine Baganda were speared; Obua and his two sons escaped.
The attack was powerful and pre-concerted; men from Orum and Aloi took
part in it. After the killings there was an orgy of mutilation.
When the news reached Lira early the next morning there was no administra-
tive officer on the station. The Assistant District Commissioner, E. D. Tongue,
was on safari at Kangai, fifty miles to the south-east, and the acting District
Commissioner, A. E. Cator, was even farther away at Kabulubulu.25 There was,
however, a K.A.R. effendi in Lira, who put a guard on the boma and sent a
runner to Tongue.
The news reached Rwot Isaya on safari at Amach, fifteen miles south-east
of Lira, and he acted at once and on his own initiative. Collecting his askaris
and fifteen rifles he summoned the nearest Jagi and moved off through Bar
to Aloi, and thence across country to Adwari, fording the almost dry River
Moroto without difficulty. By the time the party had reached Adwari it included
four Agents and five Jagi; Ojuka of Lira, Oki of Bar, Oyugi of Akulu, Ocato
of Aloi and Atwi of Apala.
On 26 January Isaya arrested Olong at Adwari; at a stroke he deprived the
rebels of their leader, stopped the spread of the rising of the Moroto, and
avenged the death of his friend, Kamulale. There was no doubt that Olong
had organized the rebellion to get rid of Obua, and he was later exiled to
Lira for life. Isaya also recovered the bodies and some rifles, but he had to
abandon everything except Kamulale's body when the rebels fired the grass.
Meanwhile Tongue and Cator had met at Kaberamaido and had split forces,
Tongue advancing north on Adwari while Cator marched north-east through
Omoro to Orum on the rebels' left. Tongue reached Adwari on 27 January
and found Isaya in control.
At noon word was received that the rebels were at Munabya's and were
moving cattle south across the Moroto at Odomamuko's. Tongue and Isaya
advanced south-east towards them with 22 askaris, 10 rifles and 20 spearmen
under Obua. Reaching Munabya's at sunset they found it deserted and pitched
camp; at 2 a.m. they broke camp, burned the village, pushed on through
Obuayene's, which was also deserted, and reached the Moroto opposite
Odamamuko's. There they found that hundreds of cattle had been driven
across the river in the flight from Cator's advance from Orum. The force then
split into patrols and crossed the river to attack the retreating enemy. Five
villages were burned-looted cartridges were heard exploding in the huts-
twenty Lango were killed, including Munabya and Obuayene, and 500 cattle
and 350 goats were captured. The back of the resistance was broken.
Tongue and Isaya stayed north of the Moroto for about a month to pacify
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
the area and take up the threads of administration. In February Obua was
installed as Jago Adwari, and a programme of hard work was announced: a
lukiko hall was to be built, a road was to be made to Aloi, and from all except
Obua's people a Poll Tax was to be collected, "in consequence of their folly."26
Not long after there was trouble at Ocetobalo's in Orum, when an Agent
tried to round up fugitives from communal labour. A crowd collected and spears
were thrown; the Agent's party fired shots in the air and returned to Omoro.
Isaya was sent to investigate by the acting District Commissioner, and he
arrested Ocetobalo at dawn on 28 February. An askari of the Rwot's party
disobeyed orders and shot a fleeing Lango; he, too, was arrested and made to
pay blood-money; later he was imprisoned for three years.27
Isaya's service north of the Moroto was the last time that he was called to
suppress serious resistance to authority; after this the man of action became
the administrator; the dangers were over and the difficulties began. The Lango
quickly became accustomed to government; it was now Isaya's task to see that
government in his county was good. The Administration was on the whole
pleased with him. He was once thought to be covering up for his Jagi, but when
tackled on the subject he was "frank and outspoken",28 and in 1927 he asked for
the dismissal of his own brother, Jago Oluk of Aloi, who had shown himself
to be unable to look after government money.29 In the same year it was reported
that Isaya left a touring officer "little to do in the way of unearthing deficiencies.
... He is of more help than any other Saza Chief I have met".30 Captain A. E. O.
Black, who as District Commissioner was worried about the quality of Lango
chiefs, wished that "we had more men like him"." His authority was impressive,
and in 1932 there was more than a suspicion that "in the manner of a medieval
monarch" he disliked too much authority among his sub-chiefs.32
The last test of Isaya's early life came with the appointment of Captain
J. E. T. Philipps as District Commissioner in August 1933. Philipps came to
Lango with a low opinion of Lango chiefs. He had been a District Com-
missioner in Teso, and, "since the onlooker sees most of the game", he claimed
to have seen defects in the neighboring Lango Counties of Dokolo and
Kumam, which he believed to exist throughout Lango.33 He was of opinion
that before the British came to Lango there had been "no chiefs as the word
is commonly understood", that the peasants had been subsequently oppressed
by a caste of low-grade civil servants misnamed chiefs, and that the Lango
had enjoyed "neither elementary justice, personal security nor freedom from
exploitation". He proposed to prosecute oppressive chiefs, and to transfer those
who had packed their lukikos to stifle complaints.
Philipps did not have a high opinion of Isaya. He allowed that Isaya had
a fine exterior, but underneath it he thought that the Rwot was "disingenuous
and full of fitina", and ran his county by a "family-and-marriage committee
in his own back-yard", which benefited from a fine news service provided by
a relative in the District Office.35 Isaya, however, came well out of the Philipps
period. Not one of the seventeen Jagi recommended by the District Com-
missioner for dismissal or demotion came from Erute; the purge was mainly
of Dokolo, Kumam and Kwania.36 Moreover, a clear and emphatic vindication
of Isaya was given by his own people, a source that Philipps himself could
THE EARLY LIFE OF RWOT ISAYA OGWANGGUJI 137
hardly question. It was known that Philipps was thinking about transferring
Isaya to Koli; in a crowded baraza he was told that if the Rwot was sent to
Koli his people wanted to go too, and that if the District Commissioner stopped
them going they would hang themselves.37 Again, in March 1934, in an Erute
lukiko attended by many peasants, the Assistant District Commissioner T. R. F.
Cox, was told that nobody wanted the transfer of Isaya, because they knew
that while he was Rwot no chief could oppress them.38 The proposal to transfer
Isaya was dropped; he was later rated as "probably the best of the Lango Saza
Chiefs",39 who had, not surprisingly, a tendency to feel indispensable and
In his early life Rwot Isaya successfully bridged the gap between the old
Lango and the new, and this is important not only as a personal achievement,
but also in relation to the problems of early British administration in the District.
Before the British came there was no constituted authority for the Lango as a
tribe; there were only small chiefs like Isaya's father. The Lango chieftainship
was arguably "essentially military" in origin,41 but Olet's authority extended
to judicial and ritual matters, and it was an authority inherited from his father
and grandfather. It is, therefore, a misapprehension to say that the Lango of
Olet's time recognized "no greater authority than the war leaders who came to
the forefront of affairs only during the annual cattle raids".42 Nor is it accurate
to say that, under the British, "chiefs were to be created where hitherto they
had been unknown".43 In Lira the power of an existing chief was confirmed and
developed, first in his own lifetime and then in his son's: "certain, albeit
infinitesimal, amount of civil authority" based on consent44 was used by the
British and transformed into a wide authority based on sanctions. Both
ingredients of Indirect Rule-the retention of existing authorities and the
maintenance of an indigenous legal system-were present in Lira. Isaya was
never one of a caste of false chiefs oppressing an inarticulate peasantry: elected
by his people in 1918, he was confirmed by acclamation in 1934. His career
was not only a personal achievement; it was also a vindication of British policy.
Isaya continued as Rwot of Erute County until 28 February 1951, when he
became the first Rwot Adwong (Senior Chief of all Lango). At the end of his
term of office in July 1952, when he was succeeded by Yakobo Adoko (U.J., 21
(1957), 188), he resumed his Erute chieftainship from which he finally retired
in December 1957, after having been awarded the M.B.E. in the 1956 New
Year's Honours. He is still living at his home a few miles outside Lira.
1 Erute Tour Book, 1912-19, p. 1.
2 J. H. Driberg, The Lango (1923), p. 252, footnote.
3 Erute T. B. 1912-19, p. 2.
4 Ibid., p. 19.
5 Ibid., p. 20.
6 Ibid., p. 70.
7 Ibid., pp. 3, 15.
8 Ibid., p. 20.
9 Erute T. B. 1912-19, p. 71. The Tour Book says that he was collecting taxes, but
Isaya says that he was calling out porters.
138 UGANDA JOURNAL
10 Isaya's recollection.
11 Isaya's speech to the Erute Council at the celebration of the award to him of the
M.B.E. D. C. Lango's Historical Notes file, p. 1.
12 Lango District Annual Report, 1917-18, p. 17.
13 Ibid., p. 17.
14 Erute Tour Book, 1912-19, p. 1.
15 Isaya's recollection. Olet's father was Ogwang and Ogwang's father was Okoltum;
they were both chiefs of Lira.
16 Lango District Annual Report, 1917-18, p. 17.
17 Personal Records of Chiefs (Brown Book), p. 43.
18 Isava's recollection. See J. G. Huddle, The Life of Yakobo Adoko of Lango District,
Uganda J., 21 (1957), 185.
19 Erute Tour Book, 1912-19, p. 3.
20 1 rely on Isaya's recollection for the account of the meeting.
21 Erute Tour Book, 1919-26, p. 3.
22 Moroto Tour Book, 1919-26, passim.
23 Lango District Annual Report, 1916-17, p. 16.
24 Moroto Tour Book, 1918-26, p. 172.
25 This is according to Isaya: it is not clear from the Tour Book exactly where Cator was.
26 Moroto Tour Book, 1918-26, p. 178.
27 Erute Tour Book, 1915-21, p. 95; and Moroto Tour Book, 1915-26, p. 38.
28 Personal Record of Chiefs (Blue Book) p. 2.
29 Ibid., p. 7.
30 Ibid., p. 2.
31 Lango District Annual Report, 1927, p. 16.
32 Lango District Annual Report, 1932, p. 19.
33 Philipps to Provincial Commissioner, Northern Province, 17 Nov. 1933. (Appendix to
Lango District Annual Report, 1933.)
35 Philipps' note on 13 Feb. 1934 in file C3. In 1957 there are three of Isaya's relatives
in the District Office.
36 List of Jagi recommended for dismissal. (Appendix to Lango District Annual
37 Rwot Isaya's speech to the Erute Council, op. cit. p. 2.
38 Erute Tour Book 1934, p. 5.
39 Lango District Annual Report, 1934, p. 18.
40 Lango District Annual Report, 1935, p. 20.
41 Driberg, op. cit. p. 205.
42 K. Ingham, British Administration in Lango District, 1907-35, Uganda J., 19 (1955),
43 Ingham, op. cit. p. 157.
44 Driberg, op. cit. p. 208.
Mbogo with Kabaka and Regents, 1908
Nuhu Mbogo Zacharia Kisingiri
Sir Apolo Kagwa H.H. Daudi Chwa, Kabaka Stanislas Mugwanya
A CENTURY OF MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN
By T. W. GEE
ACCORDING to Emin Pasha's Diary for 30 July 1876 Sheikh Ahmed bin
Ibrahim was the first Arab to visit Buganda. He told Emin that he had
visited the Court of Suna on three occasions, the first being in 1844 and the
third some time before Suna's death in 1856. Sir Apolo Kagwa has recorded
the way in which Ahmed once stood up to Suna who had ordered a mass
execution of certain of his subjects, and how Ahmed's influence with Suna
prevailed. There is also evidence that Ahmed introduced the rudiments of the
Islamic faith to Suna, but the.king no doubt had difficulty in accepting a
religion which acknowledged a God greater than himself. Suna's interest in
the Arabs may primarily have been for the trade which they introduced and
the trade goods and presents for himself which accompanied this activity.
Ahmed was friendly with Rumanika. King of Karagwe, and had established
himself at Kafuro in Rumanika's domain on the River Kagera. His residence
was well appointed and he appears to have been an influential and well-
established entrepreneur; and, according to an account by Stanley who met him
at Kafuro in 1876, he had many cattle, women, slaves, and much ivory.
Suna's personal bodyguard in 1852 was a Baluchi, Isa bin Hussein, who
had once been a soldier serving the Sultan of Zanzibar. Undoubtedly it was
during this period that Islam made its first impact through Arab slave and
trading caravans-a period when a knowledge of the outside world was first
acquired by the Baganda. This initial advantage of the Muslims over the
Christians was not, however, to leave them in the lead for long.
At the time of Suna's death in 1856 there was a ban on Arab trade in Buganda
which lasted for several years. By 1867, however, a big influx of Coast traders
had taken place, and their influence at Kabaka Mutesa's Court had retrieved
some of the ground lost since the reign of Suna. The contact with Suna had
had little lasting effect, but Mutesa was taking instruction in the Islamic faith
from an Arab, Muley bin Salim, and in 1870-2 he exchanged gifts with the
Sultan of Zanzibar, and even went as far as learning Arabic and introducing
the Muhammadan calendar. His final conversion does not seem to have taken
place, probably on account of reluctance to submit himself to circumcision,
and the major obstacle of finding a person to undertake this operation without
causing the Kabaka pain, for which the penalty would have been death.
Islam suffered a grievous set-back in 1874-5 when a massacre of Muslims
took place for refusing, in accordance with their faith, to eat meat slaughtered
by Mutesa's pagan butcher.
1 From the Uganda Government Essay Competition, 1956.
140 UGANDA JOURNAL
During the period which followed, Mutesa began to take an interest in
Christianity, but Ahmed having returned to Buganda worked his way into
Mutesa's favour. It was at this time, in 1876, that Emin first visited Buganda
as an emissary of Egypt, and Ahmed acted as his interpreter in audiences with
Mutesa. Mutesa frequently engaged Emin in discussions upon the rival merits
of Christianity and Islam, and took a keen interest in a comparison of the two
faiths-the Christianity which Stanley had expounded during the previous year
and Islam as practised by this armed emissary from the north. He no doubt
saw these rival religions as political, forces which he could employ in support
of his own power.
Stanley's famous letter in the Daily Telegraph of 15 November 1875 led to
the despatch of the Church Missionary Society's expedition, two members of
which, Shergold Smith and C. T. Wilson. reached Buganda in 1877. By this
time Gordon's plan to include Buganda in the Egyptian Empire had been
abandoned. The threat of an Islamic penetration from the north was thus
removed, and when Emin again visited Mutesa at the end of 1877, he found
Islam on the wane and Christianity on the ascendant. The vast majority of
Uganda Muslims today are Shafiis, deriving their faith from Islamic mission-
aries from the Coast; the Sudanese askaris who were later brought into Uganda
from Lake Albert by Lugard settled in mulkis and practised the Malaki version
of the faith.
Mutesa died in 1884 and was succeeded by his eighteen-year-old son Mwanga,
under whom the Arabs gradually came to take a hand in politics on the side
of the Muhammadan party. He soon showed himself a tyrant until, in 1888,
he was driven from the throne and replaced by his elder brother, Kiwewa.
The Muslims then seized power, drove out the Katikiro, Honorat Nyonyi-
ntono, and expelled all Christian missionaries. They were put on board a C.M.S.
vessel on the Lake, with the warning that no white man should come to
Buganda for two years until Buganda had been converted to Islam. The Arabs
did not enjoy Kiwewa's favour for long, especially when they endeavoured to
have him circumcised. Kiwewa was too weak to stand alone and was ousted
by his brother Kalema, who caused him to be killed. Kalema also slaughtered
all potential rival princes, except one, who was a Muslim and later to become
famous, Omulangira Nuhu Kyabasinga Mbogo. Mbogo had been born in
1835, a son of Kabaka Suna and brother of Mutesa, and had already
escaped a general slaughter of Suna's sons after the accession of Mutesa.
With Mutesa he was always a great favourite and he retained the respect
Kalema in his turn was, with his Arab supporters, expelled by the Christians
who finally re-installed Mwanga early in 1890. Kalema retreated towards
Bunyoro maintaining sway over his Muslim followers until his death in April
1890, when Mbogo was chosen by the Muslims to be their Kabaka.
Lugard reached Buganda in the last days of 1890 and in the following May
the Muslims were decisively beaten in Bugangadzi by Mwanga's army stiffened
by a force under the command of Lugard and Captain Williams. In 1892 came
the clash between the two Christian parties followed by Lugard's second treaty
with Mwanga, which provided for a territorial settlement and was a forerunner
MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN BUGANDA, 1852-1951 141
of later agreements on which the future administration of Buganda was to be
built. Dualla, Lugard's competent Somali factotum, and Selim Bey, the leader
of the Sudanese soldiers whom Lugard had brought back from Lake Albert
in the previous year, greatly assisted Lugard's negotiations with Mbogo, and
among those present was Mbogo's Katikiro, Masudi Kisasa, who was to survive
until the 1930s.
As a part of this settlement Mbogo renounced his claim to the Kabakaship,
and he and his followers recognized Mwanga as their ruler receiving in return
a small share of the chieftainships. In this manner began Mbogo's long period
of co-operation with the British administration and of sterling service to the
Muhammadan community of which he was the acknowledged head.
At the time of the Muhammadan rising of 1893, Mbogo held aloof, but it
was thought prudent to remove him from the scene and he was deported to
Zanzibar where he remained for three years. When, in 1897, a year after his
return to Uganda, the Sudanese troops mutinied and tried to gain the support
of the Buganda Muslims, they wrote to Mbogo and offered him the Kabaka-
ship; but he took the letter to George Wilson, the Sub-Commissioner in
Kampala and declared both to him and to the mutineers that he intended
to remain loyal to the British Government.2 Thus he continued a steadying
influence in the affairs of Buganda until his death on 10 March 1921 at
the age of 86.
Mbogo's special position was recognized in the Uganda Agreement, 1900,
by the grant "for himself and his adherents" of 24 square miles of land. By
the same Agreement he was given a pension for life, later referred to as a salary,
of 250, on the understanding that all rights which he claimed, excepting those
guaranteed to him in the Agreement, should be ceded to H.M. Government.
This pension of 250, compared favourably with the salaries of 200 awarded
to Saza Chiefs, and effectively placed Mbogo in a position following the
Ministers who received 300 per annum (400 whilst they acted as Regents).
He did not, however, it is interesting to note, receive any special exemption from
gun tax. The Ministers were awarded twenty free gun licences each, and the
Saza Chiefs ten each. Nor was Mbogo provided with exemption from hut tax
for his household, which was again limited to the Kabaka, Namasole, Ministers
and Saza Chiefs. On the 1900 Agreement Mbogo's mark follows immediately
after the signatures of the two Regents, Apolo and Mugwanya, he being one of
the eight persons who signed on behalf of the infant Kabaka, chiefs and people
of Uganda. He also signed in Arabic the Uganda (Judicial) Agreement, 1905,
but in the Uganda Memorandum of Agreement (Forest), 1907, it is the Muslim
Katambala, Taibu Magato, whose signature appears.
Mbogo was authoritative, with much dignity and courtesy, and used his
personal position to weld together the Muslims into a single party. His death
in 1921 was for Uganda Muslims the end of an era. Much of his power and
2 In 1898, in recognition of his services in inducing the principal Muhammadans in
the Protectorate to remain loyal to Her Majesty's Government during these disturbances,
the Sultan of Zanzibar bestowed upon Mbogo the insignia of the Brilliant Star of
Zanzibar (Africa No. 4 (1899), p. 23). Upon the recommendation of George Wilson,
Mbogo also received Queen Victoria's Uganda Mutiny Star (U.J., 2 (1934-5), 220) (EDs.).
142 UGANDA JOURNAL
influence stemmed from his unquestioned personal position. He was one of
the senior members of the Buganda royal family and had been recognized by
Lugard and successive administrators, not only as leader of the Muslims in
Buganda, but indeed for the whole territory. A great deal depended on finding
a suitable successor, but this problem became apparent only when it was too
late. Few had realized how effectively Mbogo had combined the roles of
political and religious leader and how difficult it would be to find someone
who could carry on this task. Added to this, the fact that the Government failed
to recognize Mbogo or his successor as anything more than a religious leader
led to much confused thinking.
There is little on record of what was happening during the period between
the 1900 Agreement and World War I. In 1913 Mbogo asked the Protectorate
Government for land to erect some 600 mosques, 400 of which were to be in
Buganda. The proposed distribution of these mosques is of interest since it is
something of a guide to the distribution of the Muslim population at that time.
More than three-quarters of these mosques were to be in the counties of
Bulemezi, Kyadondo, Buddu, Kyagwe, Butambala and Busiro. Of the 200
outside Buganda, more than 50 each were to be allotted in Busoga, Ankole
and Bunyoro, the remainder going to Bukedi and Toro. The other districts
are not mentioned. This request for land came after it had been decided that
the allotment of land to Mbogo "and his adherents" according to the Agreement
was personal to Mbogo, and as a result, the Secretary of State authorized the
allocation of ten square miles to the Muslims of Uganda to place them on a
similar footing with the three missions to which had been awarded a total of
92 (later increased to 104) square miles under the Agreement. These three
missions were the C.M.S., the White Fathers, and the Mill Hill Fathers, and
did not include the Muslims, as some Muslims even to this day suppose. Of the
ten square miles, six were to be in Buganda. Mbogo, however, as the Muhamma-
dan leader in Uganda, asked in 1914 that the allocation be increased, but this
request was rejected, and he was called upon by the Provincial Commissioner,
Buganda, to arrange a council of the principal native Muslims, in order to
decide upon the distribution of the approved ten square miles. As a result,
one square mile each was allocated to Bunyoro, Ankole and Busoga and a
half square mile each to Toro and Bukedi.
The intention was to select ten-acre plots spread throughout the country for
the accommodation of a mwalimu, a mosque and possibly a school. It was at
this stage that the Land Officer observed that if Mbogo had looked after the
Muslims more and himself less, he could have had plots dotted all over the
country like the other religions. A major problem proved to be that many
existing mosques were sited on land which had already been granted as mailo.
Mbogo seems not to have appreciated the urgent need to complete the land
settlement. Argument ensued as to whether existing mosques could be removed
and then it was discovered that land was being claimed in respect of which
owners had already received provisional certificates of title. By 1918 it was
brought to Mbogo's attention that the Lukiko was continuing to allot land
and that it was of the utmost importance that Muhammadan land should be
chosen quickly. Accordingly, two babaka (representatives) were appointed to
MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN BUGANDA, 1852-1951 143
choose sites from Crown land, surplus mailo estates and unallotted land. Their
efforts were protracted and, as we shall see, to this day, the problem is still not
At this point Mbogo realized that someone must own the land and proposed
that the Chief Justice, the Provincial Commissioner and himself should be
appointed as trustees for this purpose. He was influenced in his choice of
trustees by a desire that nothing should be done to detract from his position
as Head of the Muslims. For obvious reasons the Protectorate Government
could not agree to the appointment of the Chief Justice, and suggested that
three more names should be considered, one to represent Toro and Ankole,
one Busoga and Bukedi, and one Bunyoro. The Land Officer stipulated that
their appointment, which was never approved, should precede allocation of the
land, but before any action was taken, Mbogo died and thereafter serious
disputes broke out.
Another problem which Mbogo had tried to solve during this period was
that of his successor. In 1913 Mbogo named his mwalimu, Ali Kadogo, as his
successor in religious matters, and his Katikiro, Masudi Kisasa, who had been
appointed by Mutesa, was to remain as Katikiro to his eldest son. He was
anxious for succession to remain in his family and later explained that he
intended that his son should be 'head of the community' and that Ali Kadogo
would be his head mwalimu. He spoke at that time of jealous men trying to
seize the leadership, and was no doubt thinking of Taibu Magato, the
Muhammadan Saza Chief Katambala, who had the support of the Ministers
at Mengo as well as a strong personal following of Muslims in what was the
predominantly Muhammadan Saza of Butambala. Kabula Saza had just been
'given to the Muslims' and a Muhammadan Saza Chief had been appointed
there in 1913 at a time when, according to the 1911 census, some 15 per cent
(i.e., 58,000) of the non-pagan population of Buganda were Muslims. Butam-
bala under Magato was the quarter from which trouble sprang. When, in 1921,
Mbogo died, the young prince Badru Kakungulu was only 14 years of age
and there was no leader who commanded the universal respect of the Muslims
to take his place. Masudi Kisasa, Badru's Katikiro and guardian, endeavoured
unsuccessfully to fill the gap.
Much more serious was the problem of Badru's education which had, up to
that time, been confined largely to the writing of the Arabic script and reading
the Koran. Gordon College, Khartoum, and Zanzibar were in turn considered
and rejected. The Muslims strongly resisted the proposal made by the Governor
to send Badru to King's School, Budo, and suggested that a European should
be appointed to the school at Kibuli so that Badru might be educated there. By
1924, Sir Geoffrey Archer had become familiar with the Muhammadan dispute
and was concerned that 100,000 Muslims were lacking a spiritual leader. He
noted that neither Badru nor his guardian, Kisasa, had education or influence.
The Rev. H. T. C. Weatherhead, the headmaster of Budo, was prepared to
make an exception and take Badru, but then retired, to be replaced by the
Rev. G. G. Garrett, who made it clear that he wished to convert Badru to
Christianity. Further very strong opposition to Budo was encountered, but
in 1925 Daudi Chwa, as Badru's principal guardian, successfully stepped in,
144 UGANDA JOURNAL
having obtained an assurance from the headmaster that there would be no
proselytizing, and the Muslims acquiesced.
In July 1928, Badru reached the age of 21 and was confirmed by Daudi Chwa
as the spiritual leader of the Muslims, his jurisdiction in secular matters being
specifically excluded. He did this in response to letters written in 1921 by the
Muslim leaders offering Badru as their new leader. This confirmation was
queried by the Provincial Commissioner, Buganda, who realized that there
were now two factions, the Kibuli sect, which supported Badru, and the Butam-
bala sect of Magato, under the spiritual guidance of Sheikh Sekimwanyi. In any
event, he was doubtful whether Badru was capable of settling delicate religious
matters. Sekimwanyi from his headquarters at Bukoto Mosque protested at
Daudi Chwa's confirmation of Badru, claiming that his sect had rejected the
1921 acceptance of Badru, when, in 1925, it pointed to his lack of religious
qualifications and that he had been appointed as a prince. Further letters were
sent by this sect attacking Mbogo for seeking no share of the 92 square miles
allotted to the three missions; for failing to erect mosques and to establish
schools for general knowledge, science and religion; and for not pressing for
the appointment of Muhammadan chiefs. In this attack, attention was drawn
to the time when the Muslims held three sazas3 and how Mbogo's stubborn
actions had delayed the allotment of the ten square miles.
There was clearly some justification for this attack and Sekimwanyi knew that
the Katambala had the support of the Ministers at Mengo. However, Daudi
Chwa made no effort to withdraw and the problem of Muhammadan leadership
was never straightened out. No doubt if Government had been prepared to
accept Badru as a leader of the Muslims, not in a religious capacity but in
some quasi-administrative capacity, as it had in effect regarded Mbogo
previously, then a solution might have been found by suggesting the appoint-
ment of a learned Sheikh to perform the duties of religious leadership. However,
Government was opposed to any such course and the rift between the two
factions widened. In practice Badru relied on a Swahili sheikh for religious
guidance for many years.
The root cause of the discontent was Mbogo's lack of education. He belonged
to an earlier generation, the same generation as Mutesa, not the generation
of Sir Apolo Kagwa and Ham Mukasa. As a Muslim he had missed the oppor-
tunities of training by European Christian missionaries and he, like so many
Baganda of his generation, had failed to see the full value of the mailo land
which was shared out under the Agreement. He retained too much personal
power instead of delegating it to his senior lieutenants. When he died, the
organization based on his authority and personal position inevitably wilted.
By 1923 it was possible to see that the Kibuli and Butambala sects were
divided not merely by quarrels over leadership and personalities but over
doctrinal matters as well. The local origin of this controversy is obscure; it
may have been introduced as a result of a misunderstanding following a visit
to Mecca by Sheikh Abdullah Sekimwanyi, but it was adopted as the dis-
tinguishing mark of the two sects.
3 By Lugard's settlement with Mbogo in May 1892 Busuju, Butambala and Gomba
had been allotted to the Muslims. (EDS.)
MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN BUGANDA, 1852-1951 145
What seems to have been a normal practice in Uganda of saying the noon-
prayer or al-Zuhr, pronounced locally as Zukuli or Zuhuli, after the Juma
prayer was challenged by the Butambala sect, who maintained that there was
no need for this. The Kibuli sect, which was stronger in numbers, made much
of the fact that many Shafii books laid down strict conditions for the omission
of the al-Zuhr or Zukuli prayer; for example, not less than forty permanent
members of the mosque's congregation had to be present who could read the
Koran and knew the inner meaning of the service-in fact, almost doctrinal
experts. If members of another mosque within the sound of the muezzin's voice
during his summons to prayer, are in attendance, they count towards the forty.
In the primitive conditions of Buganda the likelihood was that the Kibuli
faction was right. The origin of this custom is of interest. Apparently the prophet
Muhammad was preaching at Medina and during the service a caravan arrived
with all its concomitant clatter and bustle, and, to satisfy their curiosity, most
of the congregation left to see what was happening. Opinions differ as to the
number left behind, and the necessary quorum in a mosque hinges on opinions
as to this number. Sir Geoffrey Archer became acquainted with the problem
in 1923 and suggested that a ruling from Mecca be obtained as had previously
been done in a religious dispute in British Somaliland.
Government accordingly obtained the agreement of both sides to a settlement
of the dispute by an African Kadi of the Shafii sect who was to be a native
official paid by the Protectorate Government who would, in addition, act as
the adviser to the Government on Muhammadan affairs and general arbitrator
in disputes, and as a guide and instructor to Badru. In 1927 Haji Mohamed
Ibrahim arrived from Tanganyika to fill this post. The problem of getting hold
of a suitable person had proved to be more difficult than had been anticipated,
and the delay over his appointment had undoubtedly reduced the likelihood of
a settlement. Sekimwanyi, for the Juma sect, made it clear that he did not
approve of Government's choice and when the Kadi's opinion was pronounced
to the effect that the Muslims in Buganda were not yet ready for the omission
of the noon-day prayer, he proceeded, with the aid of Taibu Magato, to bring
out his own expert, Sharif Ali bin Mohamed, who arrived in 1930 and added
to the confusion.
The dispute became manifest in a variety of ways. The closing of mosques
was the most common, and efforts, which continue to this day, by one faction
to appropriate a mosque already occupied by the opposing faction. Where a
mosque was on official mailo land and a new chief was appointed of a sect
different from that of his predecessor, trouble inevitably arose.
Another source of contention was the question of the appointment of deputy
registrars of marriages. In 1925 all deputy registrars belonged to the Kibuli
sect and were, according to the Butambala Muslims, refusing to perform
marriages for the Butambala sect. Yet a further and important source of
dispute was the recognition accorded to Muslim mwalimus under the Luwalo
Law. For a mwalimu to obtain exemption from Luwalo he had to be recom-
mended by the District Commissioner and then to be recognized by the Native
Government. The Kabaka had the power to limit their numbers, but it was
not until 1933 that an equitable solution was arrived at, when, after detailed
146 UGANDA JOURNAL
investigation to ascertain how many catechists had been exempt in each of the
three religions, it was decided to limit the number of exempted mwalimus to
the figure of 300, 150 in each of the rival sects, a division which did not reflect
the numbers following Badru and Sekimwanyi.
By 1931, Kisasa had become a very old man and it was realized that his
temperament and influence were no longer conducive to peace and friendship.
The Provincial Commissioner therefore suggested to Daudi Chwa that Kisasa's
resignation would be in the public interest and he was prevailed upon to retire.
In the same year, Khalifan bin Mubaraku, the Swahili sheikh who had been
sent from Zanzibar during Mbogo's time and had become Badru's principal
adviser, died. One of the many reasons for antipathy between Sekimwanyi and
the Kibuli sect was that Khalifan was a 'foreigner'. Nevertheless, three years
after Khalifan's death, Badru wrote to the Sultan of Zanzibar asking for a
replacement who had to be a learned Arab with a knowledge of the Swahili
language. About this time a splinter group within the Kibuli sect had been
formed, with the impressive title of the Uganda Jamat el Islam. This group
sought incorporation under the Protectorate Land (Perpetual Succession)
Ordinance of 1909 so that it might hold land, and a certificate was duly issued
on 10 March 1933. It was led by Sheikh Saibu Semakula and Abdulrahmin
Mivule, who were both soon openly criticizing Badru for his alleged inefficiency:
but when he threatened to bring an action against them for defamation they
withdrew their criticism.
Efforts to solve the doctrinal dispute having failed, the Government in 1933
took up with renewed vigour the problem of allotting the 10 square miles which.
some twenty years previously, the Secretary of State had agreed should be
allocated to the Muslims.
It was now decided to find out from the Katikiro in what proportion the two
sects were divided, and he advised that there were 44,783 members of the Kibuli
sect as against only 24,130 of the Butambala sect. This total number of Muslims
agrees closely with the 1931 census and shows a slight decline in the adherents
of Islam as recorded in the 1921 census, which is not surprising in view of the
current lack of unity among Muslims. On the basis of these figures it was decided
to divide the land giving two acres to the Kibuli Muslims to every one given
to the Butambala sect. This solution appealed to the Juma adherents but not
to those of Kibuli, who demanded the entire allotment on the grounds that
they represented all the Buganda Muslims and that the Juma Muslims were
schismatic. Government having conducted the initial negotiations exclusively
with Mbogo, the attitude taken by Kibuli was not, therefore, entirely
unreasonable. Badru eventually had to be ordered by the Kabaka and the
Katikiro to participate in discussions on the vexed land settlement. These
preliminaries occupied a space of three years, and even then the Governor was
undecided whether to make the proposed 2:1 allocation or to refrain from
granting any land until the Muslims had settled their differences.
The Governor was strongly, and very wisely as we now see, inclined to the
latter course, and suggested to Daudi Chwa that Sir Ali bin Salim should be
invited to visit Uganda in order to try and compose the difficulties, and if that
failed, to appoint a Board of Joint Trustees of both sects who would hold the
MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN BUGANDA, 1852-1951 147
land. The visit by this second arbitrator did not materialize, but a 'Board of
Trustees' was set up which was eventually given the task of distributing the
land to the two sects, but not of holding it as was originally intended.
This Board consisted of the District Commissioner, Mengo, Prince Badru,
Sheikh Sekimwanyi and two Baganda chiefs, Joswa Zake and Petero Serumaga.
It was formed in 1936 but was dilatory in tackling the problem and failed to
meet until 1940. The two branches submitted their lists of plots, but because of
the war it was not until 1947 that these lists were examined by the Board of
Trustees and finally approved. It was decided that the holders would have the
right to collect rent from any existing tenants in these plots, most of which
were about 10 acres in extent, but that the user of the land should be confined
to religious and educational purposes, a decision which was given very little
publicity and has not been observed. The Juma sect was incorporated as the
African Muslim Community (Juma Sect) Natete, and five registered trustees,
Musa Kasule, Sheikh Nsambu, Zakaliya Nsibambi, Sheikh Obedi Lutalo and
Juma Mubiru were appointed. This body was formed for the purpose of holding
the two square miles of land provisionally allocated to the Juma Muslims.
The Kibuli Muslims had already, in the previous year, been registered for
the same purpose under Badru's presidency, as the Young Men's Muslim
Association. Seven trustees were appointed consisting of Badru, Juma Nsambu
(the then Katambala), Musa Kasule, Juma Tamusange, Tomesu Kabuzi,
Kasimu Senwenje and Juma Semakula. However, this body was rejected by
Government as being not sufficiently closely associated with the Zukuli sect
to hold the land which had been allocated to it and Badru was asked to form
another body. Six years later, in 1954, an application was made by the Zukuli
sect for registration, but so far it has not been registered and no body repre-
senting the Zukuli sect exists capable of holding this land.
Just after World War II, the intelligentsia among the Muslims began to
demand that an end be put to this dispute and as a result, in 1947, two sheikhs,
*one from each party, were despatched to consult Shafii Mufti of Mecca and
other authorities there in a third attempt at settling this 25-year-old dispute.
'They returned armed with a salutary homily which said that the Friday prayer
was to promote unity, not discord. They were advised to do three things. To
build a large mosque for the Juma prayer, existing mosques to be kept for
congregational prayers at other times; to try to persuade dissidents that there
was no need to repeat the noon prayer after the Juma prayer had been properly
performed by forty or more people; and lastly, to inform Badru accordingly.
This was regarded as a compromise settlement, leaving the real point at issue
undecided. Badru forthwith summoned a great meeting to which all Muslims
were invited and the vast majority of both parties decided to unite. Badru
joined the Juma, or more correctly the New Juma sect, and left behind him
a small group of Zukuli enthusiasts under Sheikh Mivule, who took over the
leadership of the few who failed to follow Badru. In the same manner a small
group of the Juma sect remained apart under Sheikh Mugenyiasooka and
Yusufu Mutenda. Three of the five registered trustees of the African Muslim
Community (Juma Sect) joined the New Juma Sect. Attempts to appoint new
trustees failed and court actions have begun to solve these quarrels. The first
148 UGANDA JOURNAL
of these was in the High Court in 1951 when Sheikh Mugenyiasooka, one of
the residual Juma Sect who now claims to be their leader, sued Sheikh Nsambu,
who had succeeded Sekimwanyi on his death in 1945 and is now religious leader
of New Juma, for possession of files and other property of the Juma Sect.
Nsambu won that case. A further case was started in the High Court in 1952
in order to determine the vexed question of the Juma Trustees, but up to the
present this has not been finally settled.
As a result of these changes in allegiance, many of the Muslims are now
united under one group, the New Juma Sect, but it has not been possible to
effect the allocation of land agreed upon in 1946 to the then Juma and Zukuli
Sects. In fact Government has adopted the policy since 1953 that no title to
land shall issue until the present disputes are resolved and a stable body of
trustees has been set up. In 1950 the possibility of issuing individual title to
the local Muhammadan mwalimus by office, was examined, but later rejected
as impracticable. Not one acre of the 6 square miles in Buganda has been trans-
ferred to Muhammadan ownership since it was made available for distribution
some forty years ago. Most of the plots are known and are in occupation, and
about one-fifth of them have been surveyed. Since 1948 conflicts have occurred
regularly over the question of the rightful occupation of some of these plots,
particularly where the local community centred on a certain mosque did not
transfer in full to the New Juma Sect.
But there are better omens for the future. The Government has resisted
any efforts at sectarianism in the development of education and since 1947
educational work has been organized through a sole authority, the Uganda
Muslim Education Association, which was formed in 1944 and registered in
1947 under a group of seven trustees who represent the dominant group.
The number of followers of Islam is growing apace. The rate of growth is
far in excess of that of the other two principal religions, which is some indica-
tion of the progress of the New Juma Sect under the leadership of Prince Badru.
Accurate figures are not easy to obtain, for, although the 1911, 1921 and 1931
census returns had a breakdown by religions, the 1948 census had merely a
sample breakdown, which in view of the uneven distribution of the various
religions, is probably unreliable. It certainly bears no relation to the annual
estimates produced by the Buganda Government which are reasonably con-
sistent and by proportion correspond more closely to earlier census figures than
this sample census of 1948. The 1911 figures estimated the Muslims at 58,000
(Protestants 140,000 and Roman Catholics 181,000), in 1921 at 71,000 (179,000
and 184,000) and in 1931 at 68,000 (242,000 and 268,000). The latest estimates,
derived from returns made by chiefs, give a figure for 1950 of 180,000 (445,000
and 579,000) and for 1954 288,000 (514,000 and 700,000). This is an average
annual increase for the Muslims over the last five years of 15 per cent, whereas
the average rate of increase of the Protestants is only 4 per cent and of the
Roman Catholics some 5 per cent. Examining the figures over the last 40 or
50 years, using for the present-day figure the average figure taken from the
estimates for the last five years, the expansion of the Muslims works out at
370 per cent, the Protestants 353 per cent and Catholics 354 per cent.
This recent and rapid expansion of Islam in Buganda has not so far attracted
MUHAMMADAN INFLUENCE IN BUGANDA, 1852-1951 149
close attention, but it will undoubtedly give rise to greater pressure by the
Muslim leaders on Government to set to rights their long-standing grievances,
and it will also create new problems. In the past, Government's attitude has
been to regard all disputes as being of a religious nature and not to interfere.
Professor J. N. D. Anderson in his book Islamic Law in Africa (H.M.S.O.
1954), formed the conclusion that the basis of the main dispute was more
personal than theological. He advised Government that, if it were necessary
to express any view, then it should be that each individual must be left perfectly
free to follow his own conscience over his method of worship, observing, rather
surprisingly, that "on such a basis it should be possible to deal promptly with
any breach of the peace". The present discord is, of course, no longer doctrinal,
and this must be appreciated before setting out to seek a solution.
The allocation of Muslim lands, increased representation in the chiefly
hierarchy, and an equitable share of educational opportunities are for the
Muslim community fundamental grievances, which given a careful and sympa-
thetic study would lead to a closer understanding and an eventual easing of
Looking to the future, the spread of foreign influence cannot be overlooked.
Already reports have been received of contact with the Emirs of Northern
Nigeria. The Shafii have a substantial following in Egypt, and the leading
Buganda sheikhs receive their religious guidance from Cairo. The Islamic
faith undoubtedly appeals to the African mind. The community has shown
itself to be possessed of considerable business acumen and purposefulness. It
is now being actively aided by the Ismaili Khojas, particularly in the field of
education, and very close links have been forged. Badru has given 80 acres of
his patrimonial land at Kibuli for educational purposes and the East African
Muslim Welfare Society, which draws on Asians for much of its support, has
been very generous not only to Kibuli but to other Muslim institutions.
It would be a mistake to ignore this powerful, expanding community which
will doubtless in the course of time acquire political ambitions. Through them
there may be a valuable means of helping to ease the tension of racial relations
between Asians and Africans, one of the many difficulties which calls for
solution as self-government draws near.
The problem of an expanding Muslim community is not confined to Uganda.
In West Africa proselytization is continuing rapidly in the three British
territories, as well as in Ghana. In Uganda, most of the new adherents are
converted pagans or immigrants. There is little evidence to suggest that
Christians are going over to Islam. The orthodox Muslims of British West
Africa are almost entirely Sunnis of the Maliki persuasion, not Shafiis, the
religion having spread from different sources. Nevertheless many interesting
comparisons can be made. Islam makes a tremendous appeal to Africans. The
'freemasonry" of Islam is an attraction and its standards compare well with
those of nominal Christians. The acceptance of a limited polygamy is closely
in accordance with tribal custom and has a strong appeal for economic reasons.
The basic ideas of the Islamic faith are not difficult to grasp. Islam in Africa
has suffered from a lack of education among its followers, but in spite of
this handicap many of these Muhammadan illiterates have prospered in trade,
150 UGANDA JOURNAL
particularly trade in cattle and butchering. They have turned their hand to these
occupations with enthusiasm, having failed to qualify as clerks and admini-
strators. Now a Muhammadan intelligentsia is growing up.
The Protestants and Roman Catholics of Uganda have shown themselves
only too eager to make a political division on a religious basis. They may
unwittingly force the Muslims to do the same, and if political aspirations
develop among this growing Islamic community, formidable problems may
WITCHCRAFT AND THE SUPERNATURAL
By A. G. M. VAN EYKEN
THE practice of witchcraft, the belief in it, and the fear of it, are still so
prevalent in Africa as to be a bar to progress among the Africans them-
selves and to mutual understanding between black and white. Many Africans
still believe that Europeans dominate them through superior magic, and many
Europeans regard the belief in witchcraft as a mark of such contemptible
ignorance that no normal intelligence could possibly fall victim to it. In this
they seem to disregard the presence among their own race of a strange assort-
ment of superstitions, even in the case of quite intelligent people, like some
fighter pilots who, with varying degrees of conviction, did not fail to take their
touching little mascots and talismans into action with them. Nor do they suspect
that perhaps their own naive certainty of the efficacy of science in all human
problems may possibly be over-credulous. Some attempt, therefore, to review
this immense problem of witchcraft, magic and the supernatural, might be
fruitful to many readers of varying backgrounds.
One representative dictionary definition of magic says: 'The pretended art of
influencing the course of Nature, by compelling the agency of spiritual beings or
by bringing into operation some occult controlling principle of nature; sorcery;
witchcraft.' The important word in this definition is 'pretended', which does
not imply a consciously deceitful claim, but only an empty one. In other
words, for the average European, magic is generally regarded as a technique
which does not really work in the way a practitioner of it may claim, whether
deceitfully or in 'good faith'. He may occasionally observe certain superstitious
practices without thinking much about justifying them to the understanding,
but generally speaking he would be inclined to say that magic makes no
difference in the order of nature.
Even when a European does accept certain superstitious practices, these are
seldom central to his life and thought. They are generally concerned with
impersonal accidental influences that are arbitrarily and irrationally attached
to otherwise unimportant acts and events like spilling salt or seeing a black
cat; and whether these influences be good or bad, most even of those people
who might credit them are unlikely to count them as major factors in life.
Further, as far as the writer is aware, there is no evidence of present-day
Europeans believing that they can actually injure anybody by magical practices.
If a European hates an enemy sufficiently to want to injure him he would
prefer to rely on natural forces. For him there is no doubt about the efficacy
of a gun or a knife, but there is no efficacy in sticking pins into an effigy. English
law takes the same view: a 'magician' cannot be charged with practising witch-
craft, but only with the offence of pretending to use it.
But for many Africans there is efficacy in what Europeans call magic-
though it is far from easy to be assured that Europeans and Africans have the
same thing in mind when they use this English word. It must first be remembered
152 UGANDA JOURNAL
that it is primarily a European not an African word, and as such has meanings
and associations that come from the total deposit of European culture. But
though an African may have a good English education he has his roots still in
African society, often in some village where very different thoughts and ideas
may form the background of his daily affairs.
But unless a man has deeply absorbed the European idea of science he
cannot be expected to have a very clear conception of the meaning of magic.
He cannot appreciate the idea of the supernatural without some adequately
organized idea of what is natural, and though magic is not all that is meant
by 'supernatural' at least it seems to be one of its provinces. Any kind of magic
relies on methods and ideas which the European with his scientific training
regards as in conflict with the ordinary laws of nature. We must therefore
make some reference to these laws before discussion can proceed.
Even the most primitive races believe in some kind of uniformity in nature,
for everybody is able to draw some profit from experience. But the European
goes much further: he believes in a rigid natural order prevailing in circum-
stances even where, perhaps for technical reasons, he is unable to verify the
claim. Underlying all this he argues that there is a quantitative physics. In
controlled experiments he finds this mathematical constancy, so that a given
quantity of energy observed in some particular reaction can be traced un-
diminished in the total products of the reaction. He holds as one of the
fundamental laws of physics the principle of the conservation of energy, even
though by another law this energy is inevitably becoming more and more
dispersed and less and less utilizable. No energy can be annihilated or created
by man or by material systems, and so if it is sought to influence the world of
nature methods have to be used that rely on constant natural processes: a
physical change can be obtained only by an adequate application of a physical
force, which is in principle measurable, verifiable and repeatable by others in
the self-same fashion if the method is explained to them. There are of course
processes, as for example in medicine, which can be used even without under-
standing exactly why they work, but we do not try to explain them by appealing
to forces which seem to conflict with established scientific principles; we expect
ultimately to explain them in conformity with the general body of scientific
Yet there are difficulties. We are far from understanding how human thoughts
succeed in manipulating environment. Fortunately most Europeans do not
regard thought as merely a physical force, and yet thought plays an effective
part in the physical world without seeming to upset the evidence for the law
of the conservation of energy. This is one mystery. Secondly, reputable scientists
seem to have produced evidence of strange phenomena like extra-sensory
perception, telepathy and so forth, as if the principles of orthodox science were
not supreme and universal. Such people legitimately retain their scepticism
about magical claims in the world of everyday, yet they have apparent evidence
of happenings which, although they may not be called magical, are not so easily
to be set in a different category. Thirdly, there are of course many Europeans
who, while not much concerned with the mind-body relationship, and while
regarding telepathy and such like as merely curious by-paths of human investi-
WITCHCRAFT AND THE SUPERNATURAL 153
gation, still allow for a supernatural realm and a divine influence, remote
perhaps, and seldom if ever openly intruding upon the world, but latent in
the very laws of physics themselves. We shall have to discuss this last point
more fully later, but for the moment it should be noted that together with the
other two considerations it seems to reduce the sovereign sway of an inexorable
law that appears to be indifferent to man's fears and hopes.
In spite of European education there must be many Africans whose
acquaintance with the absolute regularity of physical law such as we have briefly
indicated is very sketchy. So much action in the world, when not subjected to
the rigid control of experiment, seems to be only approximately regular. Injec-
tions do not always cure, but they cure sometimes; precautions taken in
hunting do not always bring the hunter back alive; in everything there seems
to be some latitude for luck, a word which only covers our ignorance, but which
easily assumes the status of an actual force. Why therefore, says the uninformed
villager, should we not try to make ourselves masters of luck? Failure in
some technique of controlling luck does not prove that the technique was wrong;
failure to hit a lion with a spear does not prove that the throw was a bad one-
it was only bad luck. Therefore in the same way, he says, when some potion
on the spear tip fails to lead it to its target, it is only unfortunate: better luck
next time by the same technique. We begin to see perhaps how the unsophisti-
cated persist in their magical practices. We call them magical practices because
they do not work, but not everybody knows this automatically. What dis-
tinguishes European medical practice from that of the witch-doctor is that it
works (though not always) and his fails (though not always)-and the European
always claims that the underlying system is mechanical.
But, after trying to understand the African, the European must also try to
understand himself. He has come more and more in practice to regard the
universe as indifferent to human longings. Popular scientific writings talk of
man as an interloper. Philosophers also talk in the same vein. The universe
rolls on, majestic and relentless, and man is a puny freak. At a less grandiloquent
level it is assumed that the object of life is only an increasing technical mastery,
not only over matter but also over mind. Providence and prayer have dwindled
away. If this is all, it becomes debatable whether the world of the witch-doctor
is inferior to ours. Is the choice between witch-doctors or nothing? If the only
contribution which can be made to the African's culture is technological, it will
have failed him. He looks at the world anthropomorphically; care must be taken
lest he be taught to regard man as an accidental intruder in a world of bicycles
In his ABC of Psychology (1929) C. K. Ogden wrote: "All over the world,
in Australia, in Africa, in Melanesia, and in the Arctic Circle are to be found
people for whom the idea of mere accident in serious affairs even in the most
obvious cases does not arise" and for whom "the only way of perceiving serious
events is to regard them as caused by some intention. . The primitive thinker,
in fact, will only ask questions which begin with 'why'. Mere matters of 'how'
seem to him trivial". (Italics mine).
From such remarks it is clear that some cultured thinkers find the idea of a
mere accident in serious affairs easy. Provided that they see the mechanism of
154 UGANDA JOURNAL
a misfortune they are ready to dismiss its human significance as accidental. If
they can answer the question of 'how' a thing happened they will assume that
there is no meaning in an enquiry as to the 'why and wherefore'. Misfortune
and good fortune become just anthropomorphic terms, and the primitive's per-
sistent belief that every important event is directed by some intention remains
for him a mystery.
But on the other hand the primitive does not entirely dismiss the problem of
'how'. No doubt in many cases he neglects the 'how', but though he is often
more interested in the 'why' of important events he does not fail to make use
of whatever mechanical means he may know. He might use incantations and
spells, but he does not necessarily neglect other practical measures. Thus if he
has put a magical preparation on his spear-tip he still continues to take careful
aim. And though he believes that a rock which killed his brother was loosened
through the evil influence of some enemy (the answer to the question 'why')
he will still probably admit that the rock was loosened by the previous rains
(the answer to the question 'how'), and he will not neglect to jump clear if at
any time a similar rock comes hurtling down on him. What he does not admit
is that human fate is a matter of mindless chance. As Henri Bergson (The Two
Sources of Morality and Religion. Macmillan, 1935, p. 121) points out, "what
primitive man explains by a 'supernatural' cause (when a man is killed by a
fragment of falling rock) is not the physical effect, it is its human significance,
it is its importance to man, and more especially to a particular man, the one
who was crushed by the stone. There is nothing illogical, consequently nothing
'prelogical' or even anything which evinces an imperviousnesss to experience',
in the belief that a cause should be proportionate to its effect, that once having
admitted the crack in the rock or the direction and force of the wind-purely
physical things which take no account of humanity-there remains to be
explained this fact, so momentous to us, the death of a man".
Witchcraft and magic are an attempt to cope with the human significance of
events, a significance which is not diminished by the mechanical factors dis-
covered in the universe by scientific investigation. When a stone crashes down
upon a savage, there are two possible descriptions of the phenomenon, and they
are not mutually exclusive. One describes how erosion gradually detached the
rock from its anchorage, how gravity pulled it down, and how its momentum
cracked the victim's skull. The other considers the striking fact that the savage
was going comfortably about his affairs when suddenly a blind stone changed
or checked the course of his life and at the same time perhaps filled his relatives
and friends with sorrow, and his enemies with relief or delight. It tries to cope
with the perplexing problem of human life subjected to critical hazards, the
sudden intrusions of pain and suffering, the tremendously significant changes
of human fortune brought about by the indifferent processes of nature. Indeed
it is precisely because the savage senses the indifference of any scientific explana-
tion of his mishaps that his perplexity at their tremendous significance for
human good or ill arises. He suspects the witch or wizard precisely because he
feels that the stone fell with mechanical indifference. The more certain the sense
of mechanism, the stronger might be the need for the witch-doctor as an
explanation of the intrusion of that mechanism upon human life. Causes should
WITCHCRAFT AND THE SUPERNATURAL 155
be proportionate to their effects: how should a falling and unfeeling stone then
kill a man by accident? Witchcraft is at least the hint of an answer.
But the European appeals to mechanical causation almost as if in this he
had said all that could be said. Many of us are pained and some are pleased
to think that mechanical causation has excluded God from the universe. H. G.
Wells describes how in the Country of the Blind men believed their affliction
was a punishment for sin sent to them by God, for, he said, they knew nothing
of medicine. It would not be appropriate to discuss here the question of punish-
ment or of original sin, but the point is that it is a mistake to confuse medicine
with theology, or 'why' with 'how'.
The same mistake is often made in evolutionary theory where we read of
the mechanical selection of species developed through blind chance. Neither
Divine purpose nor animal purpose are conceded any efficacy in the growth of
species: chance or accident is responsible for human, animal, mineral or vege-
table affairs. Even that which is called purpose is said to be an illusion
accompanying the play of physiological reflexes. Scientific popularizers set
forth conceptions of a depersonalized God, uninterested in man's dreams, a
Great Mathematician only. Meanwhile it is easy to be temporarily intoxicated
by mere technical progress, though it gradually becomes apparent that this
kind of progress creates wants instead of satisfying them. Nor does it dispel
fear. Illness can be cured but not death.
If this is all that can really be offered to the African he might be better off
with witchcraft. In the spiritual vacuum which is created for him he will fall
an easy dupe to the communist fiction of an earthly paradise where all thought
arises out of material and economic forces. Africa may go the same way
Re-examination by the individual European of his own philosophy of living
is therefore urgent. He need not fear that his scientific legacy will vanish or
become unproductive. Christianity itself has been largely responsible for the
Western conviction that the material world is worthy of, and capable of, close
and controlled observation. It does not believe in a world that goes its own
way without regard to man, or neglected by God. It believes that nothing is
by chance though much is unknown. All material phenomena follow intelligible
law, and man, as God's special earthly creation, is in principle capable of
knowing this law without being the dupe of inevitable illusion. No orthodox
Christian calls in question the idea of causality or the normal evidence of
Fate, whether it be called mechanical or arbitrary is not compatible with
a monotheistic religion-it has been replaced by Providence, without whose
permission no sparrow can fall, no lily can grow. We need not see Providence
constantly intruding by way of miracle on the established order of the world,
including its mechanical elements which sometimes crush and maim us with
apparent heartlessless. Providence may be seen in the very mechanisms of the
physical world, for its laws were themselves established by that same Provi-
dence. The very pains which come from injury teach the individual how to
pick his way through a world of organized forces so that he does not lose
himself in unprofitable and unrelated activities. He would feel aggrieved if
156 UGANDA JOURNAL
there were no general constancy in the realm of physics or in any other realm,
for he would then be incapable of the intelligible actions which it is his nature to
perform. A God who makes a universe may reasonably be expected to establish
it according to law, and there is therefore no logic in deducing the non-existence
or the indifference of God from the fact of that intelligible universe or of the
penalties incurred by certain actions that break the rules. Neither dignified fate
nor inconsequential luck therefore, but Providence, rules our lives.
Further, there is no self-evident objection to the suggestion that this same
Providence may at times hold in abeyance the normal laws of physics by miracle,
although alleged cases may rightly be scrutinized with the utmost caution. It
may also be possible for Providence to respond to human aspirations in ways
that do not check the normal course of nature: physical law may itself leave
loop-holes for divine action on man, nor may it be as rigid as it appears in
scientific experiment. God could perhaps have devised laws that covered all
but those cases where He himself intended to take more direct action-and he
would not presumably be likely to take direct action to disturb a scientific
But this discussion is here on more controversial ground and should return
to terra firma. At least it is clear that luck or accident or mere technical progress
in a deterministic universe cannot long satisfy the heart of man, be he black or
white. To scoff at the witch-doctor only to offer in his place a theory of mere
accident in human affairs or a growing technical mastery over the agencies of
disease and devices for greater comfort, will be but a betrayal of the African.
Already there are signs of boredom resulting from this and other inadequacies
in the culture which is being offered. It was rejected in the most brutal fashion by
the Mau Mau with a resurgence of the vilest witchcraft-for witchcraft at least
gives back to man a sense of importance even if it be of an undesirable kind.
Dr. J. C. Carothers, says in his report on The Psychology of Mau Mau (1954)
"The African peoples had previously a religion; it played an integrating role
in all their social behaviour patterns within their tribal groups. Yet the one
thing we have almost utterly destroyed, though mainly unintentionally, has
been this supportive and constraining element in their culture. For some of
them, Christianity or Islam has taken its place; but for most, nothing valuable
has done so." He then goes on to say with reference to the white population
of Kenya: "We see ourselves as a godless generation and pride ourselves on
our escape from superstition. We see ourselves as living in a scientific age, with
strength that derives entirely from ourselves as individuals and from our
reason." . Yet "Our Western European civilization is built, historically, on
Christian foundations." (pp. 26-7.)
The very mode of Western scientific thinking owes much to a Christian
assurance that the world is good, that it is not filled with arbitrary forces, that
it is in principle open to the scrutiny and comprehension of the human intellect,
that the future may legitimately be expected to have its roots in the past, and
that the picture of the universe is capable of being correct, just because all are
the special handiwork of God on earth. But as far as Europe is concerned,
when faith declined witchcraft became widespread. Witch-torturing and
burning reached its peak in Europe in the period A.D. 1500 to 1700.
WITCHCRAFT AND THE SUPERNATURAL 157
Europeans may pass on to the African much of their technical mastery
over material resources. This does not eliminate witchcraft forthwith. In fact
magical practices may be combined with a degree of scientific sophistication.
Having accepted the idea that malaria is due to the bite of a certain kind of
mosquito, the African may ask the further question: Who sent the mosquito?
His own answer may invoke some witch or a hostile power. This may seem
a very naive answer, but perhaps the question itself is not in fact so naive.
Malaria is not a thing which can be regarded with indifference. Hence it cannot
satisfy the human heart to say that the mosquito just happened to bite such
a one. This is surrender to a blind universe the very rigidity of whose laws
brings effects which are indistinguishable from the workings of the most
wanton caprice. Nothing can be done in such a universe but to resign one's
self like a frustrated stoic or else to live without even asking of one's self the
deeper questions. Progress in medicine, in hygiene, in the manipulation of
machines, may eliminate some discomforts and sorrows, but sooner or later
will come the mistake or the accident, until the story closes in the last accident
of death. Men who live in the brave new world of science are not beyond the
reach of despair-unless they can learn to see Providence behind and above
the machinery of the world.
Paradoxically enough, witchcraft and magic do give a man some sense of
his own significance. They partly rescue him from the domination of an
indifferent universe. But of course they also make him a prey to the extra
fear of unreal powers. If miscellaneous magic can be replaced by a faith in one
God whose plans for each one cannot ultimately be thwarted except through
his own fault, there may be a great future for Africa.
THE CAVES OF MOUNT ELGON
By C. D. OLLIER AND J. F. HARROP
JOSEPH THOMSON (1885), the first European to visit Mount Elgon, was
much impressed by the caves he discovered there. Although he wrote
at length about them he was unable to satisfy himself as to their mode of
origin. He noted much evidence in favour of a natural origin but remained
unconvinced, and finally concluded that the caves must have been excavated
by the natives. The natives whom he asked, however, ridiculed the suggestion
on the grounds that it would be impossible for them to dig out such large
caverns with their puny axes, and Thomson considered it possible, therefore,
that some earlier and more advanced civilization had once occupied the
mountain and dug the caves now dwelt in by their more primitive successors.
Some of the caves Thomson described were said to hold entire villages.
Apart from the fact that the local people denied digging the caves, although
they certainly enlarged them when excavating for mineral salts, there were
other features which seemed to point to a natural origin. The caves are so
numerous and their plans lack the neatness one might expect from being
man-made. It seems unlikely that men would excavate caves too low in some
cases to be of any use, or expend their labour on an unnecessarily large
chamber elsewhere. The position of the entrances also often argues against
a human origin and Thomson must surely have considered this when he
recorded a cave halfway up a vertical cliff and completely inaccessible.
C. W. Hobley (1918) seems to have been the first to put forward a natural
hypothesis for their formation. At first he suggested that they might be lava
bubbles but did not consider the evidence for this wholely satisfactory. He
was more in favour of the idea that they were cut by waves, like seaside caves,
and formed at a time when there was a great lake around Elgon. There is
certainly evidence of a former lake which flanked the sides of Elgon but to
produce caves at their present height would require a lake of most improbable
extent and so he postulated that the mountain had risen at various stages
taking the caves up to levels high above the lake which formed them. Felix
Oswald (1918) commenting on this hypothesis wrote "The fact that the caves
of Mount Elgon occur at varying altitudes, and not at the same level, would
seem to militate against their having been excavated by wave action of the
Victoria Nyanza; and I should feel inclined to ascribe the formation of these
caves rather to springs arising from water percolating through the friable tuffs
in which the caves occur, and issuing at the junction with an underlying
impervious flow of lava." In this paper we shall describe evidence which
verifies Oswald's theory, but before doing so some of the caves and their
location will be described.
This group consists of one large cave and several smaller cavities all lying
Butandiga cave. Roof collapse.
Butandiga cave. Efflorescence of curved Mirabilite crystals.
Cayen cave, Sipi. Water-worn channel.
Elgon crater. Carious weathering.
Jackson's Summit. Differential erosion of an ash band.
Namisindwa cave. Cattle eating saline rock.
Sipi. Simple cave.
Sipi. Collapse cave. Note trace of simple cave on lett.
THE CAVES OF MOUNT ELGON 159
along a junction of ash and conglomerate beds. They are situated high up
on the steep southern flank of the Butandiga ridge and are most easily
approached from Buluganya. The original entrance opened into a low wide
horizontal chamber extending into the cliff for a distance of approximately
60 yards, but it has now been considerably altered by a roof collapse. Access
to the inner recesses of the cave is gained by a scramble over enormous masses
of rock which have blocked the old entrance. The present roof is roughly
a half dome shape and even now large arcuate slabs of rock are splitting
away from the ceiling (Fig. 1), and it will probably only require a slight earth
tremor to dislodge them. It is noteworthy that the fracture lines conform in no
way to the bedding planes.
At the back of the cave the original floor is reached but the walls have
been modified by recent excavations for mineral salts. In the damper corners,
the walls are thickly encrusted with crystals of sodium sulphate (Glauber's
Salt) which exhibit the curious growth habit of curling like a pig's tusk (Fig. 2).
A group of caves occur in the ash beds outcropping as a steep cliff below
the rest camp. The largest resembles the main cave at Butandiga in as much
as the entrance has been blocked by a rock fall. In this case, however, the
collapsed rock has broken away at bedding joints and the roof is formed by
freshly exposed bedding surfaces. At the back of the cave the roof dips sharply
down to the original ceiling and continues as a low, level floored, chamber.
A certain amount of water seeps in, sufficient to make parts of the floor muddy
but no sign of its source could be found. There are occasional mineralized
fragments of woody material visible which are of natrolite.
Nearby are other caves smaller in extent and one with its low level ceiling
intact. It has a maximum span of about eighty feet and is roofed by the under
surface of a massive hardened agglomerate bed, which forms the roofs of all
this particular group of caves. The caves have in fact been formed by the
excavation of a layer of softer underlying material. This may well have been
an old soil and in one part of the wall there is a gradation of colour and texture
from the top downwards strongly suggestive of a soil profile. In one of these
caves a large area of the ceiling is formed entirely of tree trunk impressions
lying in one direction with occasional fossilized pieces. The ceiling unlike the
other caves is blackened but this may be due to smoke from fires when the
cave was inhabited. Patches of blackening have been seen in other caves
which may be due to charring by the hot volcanic ash.
These caves are well known and are nearly all visible in the cliff beyond
the falls from the Sipi rest camp. They occur at the junction of two ash-
agglomerate layers and seem to have been cut into both the upper and lower
strata. Examination of the strata junction in the caves and on the cliff face
did not reveal much evidence of a buried soil nor are there any more than
occasional fragments of fossilized wood dispersed throughout the first few
160 UGANDA JOURNAL
feet of either layer. The cave furthest from the falls has an inconspicuous
opening and is entered by a low dusty crawl which leads to a large high-roofed
chamber. From here the cave extends inwards for a distance of about 400 feet
along a wide but very low passage ending in a small chamber the walls of
which have been worked for mineral salt. This is certainly the largest and
most elaborate of the Sipi caves, the others opening usually into a single
chamber without any inward extensions or passages. The central cave with
the conspicuously rounded entrance was not reached owing to the rather
doubtful state of the steep wall guarding its approach, so nothing is known
about its form or size. In most of the caves there are fragments of fossilized
wood in which the cellulose has been mineralized, sometimes by natrolite
together with varying amounts of calcite.
All the Sipi caves are dry but there is evidence of water-worn channels in
some, especially the Cayen cave (Fig. 3). South of the road at Sipi there is
another large cave under a waterfall. Water drips through the roof which is
high and flows out slowly from the entrance. There are abundant efflorescences
on the walls.
The Sisi river where it passes over the edge of one of the Elgon 'steps'
has eroded a canyon and in the floor of this it has found a shorter route
underground. The caves so formed are inter-connected by waterways, but it is
not possible to follow these as many of the passages are water-filled. However,
there are several openings to the surface which enabled the geology to be
studied. Most of the rock is coarse agglomerate and the matrix is more soluble
than the contained boulders so that the river has carved a sinuous route
between them. The caves are now largely obscured by the new road to Bulago
which passes through the gorge.
Other caves were visited at Bumbo, Namisindwa, Bulago, Kaburoron and
Bukwa but since they are for the most part small and essentially similar to the
principal groups already mentioned they do not warrant further description.
THE GEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND
Mount Elgon consists of a series of layers of volcanic agglomerate and sub-
sidiary lavas, and very frequently different flows have been picked out by
erosion, giving rise to the peculiar steps or terrace appearance of many parts
of the mountain. The level part of each step is the top surface of an
agglomerate layer, and the 'riser' or cliff presents a cross section of the
deposits within a flow (of agglomerate, not lava usually). This picture is, of
course, over-simplified, but sufficient for our purposes.
A number of features usually indicating the solution of rock may be seen
on the mountain. These include carious weathering (Fig. 4), differential erosion
of certain bands of rock (Fig. 5), streams which go underground for short
stretches of their course (the Sisi), and (anticipating our conclusion) caves. It
THE CAVES OF MOUNT ELGON
is quite obvious on the mountain that the majority of the solutional features
are associated with certain ash bands in the agglomerates which can be
followed for considerable distances. These may simply be etched, like the
one shown in Fig. 5 of Jackson's Summit; there may be a row of caves as in
the Sipi caves; or the band may be simply more pocked and irregular by
carious weathering. It would seem that certain bands are more soluble than
others and this is borne out by several lines of evidence other than the
obviously visible features.
The strata in which the caves occur is used as a salt lick for cattle, indicating
.a high concentration of soluble sodium. Fig. 6 shows calves licking the rock
inside Namisindwa cave, but frequently the natives excavate the rock for the
cattle to eat in more accessible positions. In Butandiga cave there are growths
of sodium sulphate crystals as mentioned earlier, and (according to the local
people) these can be harvested, a fresh crop forming in a very short time,
if not the next day. In other caves, too, there are efflorescences of sodium
sulphate but not in such spectacular forms. The growth of such efflorescences
indicates a proportion of easily leached sodium in the rock, which tends to
make it more soluble. There is much natrolite (sodium aluminium silicate) and
-calcite (calcium carbonate) associated with fragments of fossil wood.
The fossil wood is particularly important in forming a theory of origin of
the caves, as will be explained later. It is quite plentiful and has been found
in most of the caves visited. Replacement of the wood by natrolite, calcite and
amorphous rock is complete, but there is still a well-defined woody structure,
branching and so forth, and even sometimes a charred appearance on outer
surfaces where hot volcanic ash burned it.
It would seem that after eruption there was a period of quiescence, when
the top of the latest volcanic debris would become weathered to a soil,
colonized by trees, and probably other living things. The only other fossil
found is a gastropod shell which is in the ceiling of one of the Sipi caves.
After a while there was further volcanic activity, and the vegetation was
buried in the first ash of the new eruption. As the wood is fragmented we must
assume that it was not simply a gentle deposition of ash but a turbulent and
fairly violent occurrence, probably aided to some extent by torrential storms
which often accompany volcanic activity. The result would be a widespread
blanket of ash containing scattered pieces of wood, and other fossils. There
are probably many fine fossils in the mountain, but exposures available at
present reveal only a tiny proportion of them. Above the band of first formed
ash-with-fossils the continuing eruption would lay down a thick blanket of
further ash and conglomerate. Then would come a period of volcanic
quiescence, and the whole cycle would start again.
It is perfectly reasonable, on geological grounds, to expect the first formed
layer of ash to give rise to a more soluble rock strata than the subsequent
layers of the eruption. This is because the volatile constituents of the magma
are likely to be concentrated at the top of the magma chamber and, therefore,
to be concentrated in the first material erupted. In fact the volatile content
may be important in the opening of a volcanic conduit after a period of
quiescence. Howell Williams (1953) wrote ". . the preliminary Vulcanian
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
outbursts typical of most major explosive eruptions, when ejecta are hurled
high above the vents, probably result from higher pressures (of included gases),
than do the succeeding and more copious eruptions that form glowing
avalanches." He also pointed out that the fountains of lava which initiate most
eruptions of Mauna Loa suggest that gas may be concentrated chiefly in the
topmost levels of a lava column.
Among the volatile constituents of the magma that will be concentrated
in the first-formed ash band is carbon-dioxide, which forms carbonates and
sulphur dioxide which gives rise to sulphates. We have not been able to get
carbonate analyses of the rocks, but we have the evidence of the calcite
deposition in fossil wood to show the concentration of carbonate, and a few
rocks from ash bands effervesce slightly with acid, indicating some carbonate.
The efflorescences on cave walls indicate the presence of readily soluble
sodium sulphate. In the bulk of the agglomerates the sodium will be bound
in silicates, which are for our purposes insoluble, and the agglomerates are
therefore less soluble than the ash bands.
THEORY OF FORMATION OF THE CAVES
Caves occur in ash bands at various levels on the mountain, but for the
sake of argument we will consider a lower agglomerate band overlaid by an
ash band, which in turn is overlain by an upper agglomerate. The lower
agglomerate once had a soil on top in which plants grew, but this was baked
hard by the heat of the next eruption, and some of the plants buried in the
ash have been preserved as fossils.
Water percolated through the upper agglomerate, or through cracks in it,
and was held up by the impervious baked top of the lower agglomerate. It
found an easy passage in a horizontal direction along the ash band, and
emerged at the side of the mountain. In passing through the ash the water
dissolved some of the minerals, mainly carbonates and sulphates, and thus
enlarged the pores through the rock. In time the internal drainage of the ash
became more and more integrated until well defined caves were formed. An
example of such a simple cave is shown in Fig. 7. Fig. 3 shows a well-marked
channel across the floor of a cave, which would be formed in a later stage
of cave development when the drainage route was well defined. Where water
drips through the roof of the caves it will bring down with it small amounts
of material in solution, and the roof will gradually become higher. This is
happening in the large cave at Sipi. When the cave is fairly large it may be
unable to support the roof, and collapses occur until stability is reached
(Figs. 8 and 1). This has happened in the Butandiga caves, for instance, Other
modifications of the form of the caves are of course due to human and animal
activity, mainly excavating for salt lick and infilling by bat guano, but this
sort of alteration is easily recognized and does not affect the theory of origin.
Compared with limestone caves the caves of Elgon present many unusual
features, but they also point to several principles which have been discovered
in the study of normal limestone caves.
In the early stages of formation the ease of water percolation is probably
THE CAVES OF MOUNT ELGON 163
of almost equal importance to the solubility of the rock in determining the
location of the caves, and the ash bands would be more porous than the
underlying agglomerate. This can be compared with the action of veins and
bedding planes in the location of limestone caves, where the cave follows a
vein not because vein calcite is more soluble than the surrounding limestone,
but because it offers an easy path, through many cracks, for water percolation.
The caves also provide examples of caves formed at the water table. The
lower agglomerate is an impervious layer and causes water to flow horizon-
tally through the ash layer above; in fact the top of the lower agglomerate
approximates to a local water table. When drainage is integrated into a few
channels, the streams so formed cut down and lower their own water-table-in
this case the channels are cut into the lower agglomerate. This process is
similar to that found in many limestone caves, where a U-shaped passage
has a T-shaped section at the top, indicating downcutting after a stream is
initiated, with consequent lowering of the water table. Lastly these caves show
in their form that a phreatic stage (i.e., which operated when there was so
little space that water would entirely fill it), developed into a vadose type
(i.e., with a free air/water surface) by simple solution, and supports recent
conclusions from studies in some limestone caves, that vadose caves can, and
do, develop naturally from phreatic ones without any earth movements,
changes of main base level, or other extraneous factors.
The main contrasts with normal caves are that sodium salts are of greater
importance than calcium salts, and that sulphates have a much greater role
in the solubility of these volcanic ashes than they have in limestone rocks.
C. W. Hobley. (1918.) The Lumbwa and Elgon Caves, with some remarks on
their Origin and the Geology of the Region. J. East Africa and Uganda
Nat. Hist. Soc., No. 13, p. 280.
Felix Oswald. (1918.) Note on the Former Level of the Victoria Nyanza. J. East
Africa and Uganda Nat. Hist. Soc., No. 13, p. 300.
J. Thomson. (1885.) Through Masai Land.
Howell Williams. (1953.) Problems and Progress in Vulcanology. Quart. Journ.
Geol. Soc. London. 109, p. 311.
AN ASSOCIATION BETWEEN MITES AND
By THOMAS R. ODHIAMBO
EARLY in 1957, a small insecticidal trial was carried out to control
carpenter-bees of the genus Xylocopa Latreille attacking rafters in
bungalows and laboratories at Kawanda Research Station; the results have
recently been reported (Whalley, 1958). The insects that were killed by the
insecticide were collected every morning and submitted to the writer for
identification. While sorting this material it was often noticed that some of
the carpenter-bees had large mites crawling over their bodies. This was so
intriguing that it was decided to make a closer observation.
One of the larger and more conspicuous carpenter-bees is Xylocopa nigrita
Fabricius. On 13 February 1957, five of these bees were collected, and each
of them had one dead mite attached to the anterior face of the first abdominal
segment. On pulling away one such mite it was discovered that the mite was
attached externally to the entrance to a large chamber; the chamber contained
many more dead mites. The other four carpenter-bees were examined, and
they also possessed this peculiar abdominal chamber, which was completely
filled with dead mites in each case.
The chamber in which the mites were found is situated on the anterior
face of the first abdominal segment just above the 'waist' that joins the
abdomen to the thorax. It is roughly oval in shape, and it is partially divided
by a longitudinal ridge into two compartments. The chamber is about 9 mm.
by 4 mm. and about 2-3 mm. deep, and it is continuously lined with a black
cuticular envelope. It appears to be completely cut off from the vital organs
of the rest of the abdomen by a white muscular 'diaphragm' on the outside
of the black cuticular lining. In fact, the chamber is easily detached from the
abdomen-once the hard anterior face of the latter is removed.
After this initial observation, all carpenter-bees subsequently collected were
examined for mites. As a result of this examination, three more species of
carpenter-bees were found to harbour mites: Xylocopa flavorufa de Geer,
X. olivacea Fabricius, and X. modest Sm. Several interesting points came
(i) In all species, only females harbour mites. The males have merely a
depression at the equivalent site, and the abdominal chamber found in females
is replaced by a pair of large air-sacs.
(ii) Each species of carpenter-bees harbours only one species of mites, all
belonging to the genus Dinogamasus Kramer:
X. nigrita Fabr. ... Dinogamasus crassipes Kramer (about 3-2 mm. long).
X. flavorufa de G ... D. villosior (Berlese) (about 2-1 mm. long).
X. olivacea Fabr. .. D. acutus LeVeque (about 1 6 mm. long).
X. modest Sm ... D. acutus LeVeque.
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN MITES AND CARPENTER-BEES 165
(iii) The reason for this host-specificity may be found in the size of the
entrance to the abdominal chamber. The larger entrances admitting the larger
species of mites.
(iv) The mites generally lived 1-2 days after the death of the host. They did
not attack the dead host, nor did they appear to succumb to the dieldrin
application that had killed the carpenter-bees. It was thought that they died
through starvation. The food of the mites will be discussed presently.
A record was kept of the number of mites found in the abdominal chamber
of some of the dead carpenter-bees, and the results are presented in Table I.
Number of Mites in Abdominal Chamber of some Dead Carpenter-Bees
Carpenter-bee No. of Bees Species of No. of Mites found in
host examined associated Mite each bee
Mean (to nearest Range
X. nigrita 20 D. crassipes 9 2-13
X. flavorufa 7 D. villosior 19 0-35
X. olivacea 8 D. acutus 11 1-22
No records were kept for the single case in which mites were found
associated with X. modest.
Nineteen species of Xylocopa are represented in the insect collection at
Kawanda. An examination was carried out for presence or absence of the
abdominal chamber. The following were found to have an abdominal chamber,
and many had mites within:
Xylocopa aenipennis Fabr.; X. carinata Sm.; X. imitator Sm.; X. stuhl-
manni Kohl.; X. torrida Westw.; and the four species already reported.
The following had no abdominal chambers:
X. albiceps Fabr.; X. buyssoni Vachal.; X. divisa Klug.; X. fraudulent
Grib.; X. gabonica Grib.; X. gaullei Vachal.; X. inconstans Smith.; X. lepele-
tieri End.; X. tarsata Sm.; and X. variipes Sm.
A search through the literature revealed a number of references to this
peculiar association between Dinogamasus and Xylocopa. From this it appears
that the association is confined to the tropics and sub-tropics of the Old World,
and has been recorded in East Indies, India, Ceylon, Egypt, the Cameroons,
South Africa, Tanganyika, and the Belgian Congo. Most of the records,
however, are very old. The most important and recent paper is that of
LeVeque (1930), in which the earlier records are reviewed and the taxonomy
of the mites is worked out, largely from numerous specimens of carpenter-bees
collected during the American Museum Congo Expedition of 1909-1915. From
LeVeque's work it appears that there is a host specificity of quite rigid limits
-a host bee harbouring only one mite species, all of the genus Dinogamasus,
except in one species of carpenter-bees, X. caffra (Fabr.) from South Africa,
which is associated with two mite species, D. braunsi (Vitzhum) from Cape
Province and D. cockerelli LeVeque from Delagoa Bay. It is apparent also
that Dinogamasus mites are confined to Xylocopa bees.
166 UGANDA JOURNAL
On the question of the food of the mites it is conjectured that the mites
feed principally on pollen from flowers, on which the carpenter-bees them-
selves feed. During the observations reported in this paper it was noticed that
X. nigrita bees regularly visited in large numbers and collected pollen from
flowers of the tree Millettia dura Dunn. While they were collecting, some
pollen adhered to the hairy body, and a thick matt of pollen sometimes stuck
to the anterior and dorsal surface of the abdomen. It is possible that the mites
draw their main sustenance from this pollen. At any rate, the mites do not
behave as parasites. In this connection, LeVeque reported that Dinogamasus
are found in the tunnels of carpenter-bees, apart from abdominal chambers of
the latter, and they presumably feed on the pollen in the tunnels. In this
sense, the mites may be regarded as doing a necessary scavenging work for
carpenter-bees, as pollen encourages the growth of fungi, and also help them-
selves to pollen stored in the tunnels for the progeny of carpenter-bees.
There are many interesting biological problems in this association, two of
which are mentioned in this paper. The first concerns the origin of the
association. The genus Dinogamasus belongs to the family Laelaptidae, which
is predominantly parasitic, the members of the family parasitizing invertebrates
as well as vertebrates, and are in fact the most common external parasites of
mammals (Baker and Wharton, 1952, pp. 91-7). As we have seen, Dinogamasus
does not appear to behave as a parasite, at least in the case of adult
However, the fact that the mites live in a specially developed abdominal
chamber indicates that this association is probably a symbiotic one. In solving
the problem of the origin of this association, we have to account also for the
peculiar circumstance that only females harbour the mites.
Another problem, closely connected with that of the origin of the association,
is the working out of the life cycle of the mites. Especially interesting would
be the elucidation of the behaviour of the mites during their larval and
nymphal stages in conjunction with that of the carpenter-bees.
The writer wishes to record his thanks to Mr. J. Bowden, Senior Entomolo-
gist, Kawanda Research Station, for reading the original draft of this paper
and suggesting many amendments; to Mr. D. Macfarlane of the Common-
wealth Institute of Entomology, London, for identifying the mites; and to
the latter institution for providing a photostat copy of LeVeque's paper.
Baker, E. W. and Wharton, G. W. 1952. An Introduction to Acarology. New York:
LeVeque, N. 1930. Mites of the genus Dinogamasus (Dolaea) found in the
abdominal pouch of African bees known as Mesotrichia or Koptorthosoma
(Xylocopidae). American Museum Novitates No. 434. 19 pp.
Whalley, P. E. S. 1958. The use of Dieldrin for control of carpenter-bees
(Xylocopa spp.). E. Afr. Agric. J. (in press).
OEDIPUS IN ALUR FOLKLORE
By A. W. SOUTHALL
THERE was a youth called Uken. He was having playful argument with
his mother. "Now you are old, mother," said he. "But was I not a girl
once too?" countered his mother, "surely if I dressed up the men would
look at me still! "Really, mother," answered Uken, "you who are all old now,
who do you think would look at you?" Now when his mother heard what he
said, his words sank deep in her heart. The next morning Uken was exchanging
promises with a girl friend, and the girl promised that she would come to
him that day. Then Uken's mother devised a trick. She stripped off all her
old skin and there she was with complexion as clear as long ago when she had
been a girl. By the time the youth came back from his walk it was night. He
found his mother lying on his sleeping place. She was beautiful from head to
foot, glistening with the oil she had used to anoint her body, and wearing
beads of many kinds.' There she was lying relaxed on the sleeping place. So
when her son came and entered the hut his eye lit up at the thought that perhaps
the girl who had made him promises had really come. And so he lay with his
mother that night. At first light his mother went out and left him on the bed.
She returned to her hut and put on her old skin. Then when morning came
Uken got up and went to his mother's hut to ask her for food. She said
"Your mother, your mother, just now you were lying with your mother there
did you know that you have a mother?" When Uken heard his mother
speaking to him in this way, rage seized him and he went back to his hut
without a word. Next he got out his spear and his arrows. He whetted their
blades keenly. Then he set out aimlessly into the bush, with his horn to his
lips blowing on it the while.
"Mother, you have dishonoured me, mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my wife fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my child fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my granary fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me."
So he went far away. He went and found a great tree, then he planted his
spear and his arrows in the ground under the tree. And after that he climbed
to the top of the tree and threw himself down on to the spear and it stabbed
him to death. When he had died, then his body began to decay and when
it had decayed completely, mushrooms sprouted from the spot. An old woman
came to uproot the mushrooms and they said to her "Ah! uproot us gently!
Don't just break us!" The old woman uprooted the mushrooms and returned
to her village with them. The mushrooms said "Don't cook us! just store
us away in a pot." So the old woman stored them in a pot. Then the mush-
rooms rotted and bore maggots. The maggots changed into flies. The flies
changed into baby rats, and those rats into a big mother rat. Then the rat
1 apaya, sinda and wang ujwiny beads.
168 UGANDA JOURNAL
turned into a baby boy. The child began to grow bonny until slowly he began
to walk. The old woman was rearing him on cow's milk. He grew up and
began to herd cattle. Little by little Uken became a youth just as he had been
before. When Uken saw that he was full grown he began to consider: "What
shall I do to make my people recognize me?" He told the old woman to brew
beer, then he held a dance. This dante gathered together many people and
his own folk also came to it. Then, when the dance was in full swing, Uken
began to blow his horn, singing:
"Mother you have dishonoured me, Mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my wife fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my child fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me.
To whom will my granary fall now? Mother you have dishonoured me."
When the people of Uken's home heard the way he blew his horn they
said "But this child is like our child Uken". Then they told him that he should
go back with them, but he refused and said "If you want me to go back
with you to our home, you just go and kill my mother and I will go back
with you tomorrow." Then those people went back and killed Uken's mother.
The next day they came back to the dance. When the sun set and the dance
was over they went back with Uken to their home and the old woman who
had brought him up went with him also.
This story was told by Juliano Nanu the son of Bazilio of Panyidwar
lineage in the sub-county of Angal, Okoro County, West Nile District, in
Being a strongly patrilineal society, with authority concentrated in the hands
of the father, the expression of the Oedipus complex in Alur folklore will cause
no surprise. A few divergencies from the classical Greek form of the myth are
worth noting. The essentials of the Oedipus story in the Homeric myth were
that, through a series of coincidences which were both fatal and tragic in the
original meaning of these words, Oedipus unwittingly killed his father and
married his mother Jocasta. When he discovered the awful truth he put out
his own eyes. Freud adopted this myth as the nearest counterpart of what he
considered to be the nucleus of all neuroses and the fount of religion, morals,
society and art. It represented the simultaneous existence of love and hate for
the same object, the sexual rivalry with the father, whose death opens the way
for the fulfilment of incestuous desires towards the mother, and the remorse
occasioned by these feelings.
For Freud it was immaterial that Oedipus only discovered afterwards the
identity of the father whom he had killed and the mother with whom he had
been living. But the story of Uken departs even further from the orthodox
pattern. We hear nothing of the existence of Uken's father, and Uken himself
is tricked not by a tragic coincidence but by the purposeful action of his mother
into sleeping with her. It therefore seems more like a case of a Jocasta complex.
Uken never falls in love with his mother as a person, in the way that
Oedipus does, he simply makes a horrible mistake in the dark. After he has
secured his revenge on his mother, the episode ends happily, for the Alur
version seems to exonerate the son and put the whole blame on the mother.
It is in the light of these shifts of emphasis that the comparative study of
OEDIPUS IN ALUR FOLKLORE 169
folklore among the people of Uganda could be most rewarding. It is a great
mistake to think that because a particular story has been recorded from one
group there is no value in recording it from another. On the contrary, there
is more to be gained from relating minor variations in the same story to other
associated factors, than in collecting endless different stories for their own
sake. What is the story of Oedipus-Uken in Buganda, Teso or Ankole?
A BURIAL SITE AT MWEYA, TORO
By E. C. PLANNING
AS a result of a vehicle accident in 1956 the attention of the Warden of
the Queen Elizabeth Game Park, F. Poppleton, was drawn to human
skeletal remains lying on the peninsula leading to Mweya Lodge on Lake
Edward. It was evident that here was a burial site.
Soon after this incident E. J. Wayland, who was in the area with E. A.
Temple Perkins searching for fossiliferous outcrops of Kaiso (Late Early
Pleistocene) deposits known to occur there, paid a brief visit to the site. He
was satisfied that certain of the remains had been interred in a flexed sitting
position. There was much associated pottery and some humanly smashed
quartz pebbles as well as microliths.
Earlier in the year Allan Brooks, biologist attached to the Game and
Fisheries Department, had found a number of Acheulean tools on the surface
of the peninsula. These included hand-axes, cleavers, cores and spheroidal
Later, in August, I joined Wayland on his second visit to Mweya. On this
occasion further attention was paid to the burial site. Wayland also located
the 'horizon' from which the Acheulean tools had been derived, finding a
further number in situ.
The whole peninsula, which dates from the Lower Pleistocene, has certainly
supported groups of fisher-folk during recent times. Broken pottery is
scattered around in plenty. It must be accepted therefore that contemporary
sherds are mixed with much older material, as yet, of undeterminable date.
The sandy neck of land is formed by four distinct ridges. It was at the
fourth (taking Mweya Lodge as being situated on the first ridge) that the
skeletal remains were found. They rested on both sides of the Park road
which follows the undulating crest of the peninsula and, as Temple Perkins
was the first to point out, in at least two places in the road itself. At the time
of my visit the apparent extent of the 'cemetery' was 450 feet by 150 feet,
inclusive of the road. Throughout the area broken pottery lies in great
abundance, particularly close to the burials.
In the early 1930s the peninsula was partially cleared of its natural growth
of bush for a fishing enterprise operating at the mouth of the Kasinga Channel.
Since this did not prosper the peninsula was again deserted. With the return
of hippos to roam freely again over the now semi-denuded land, erosion
followed into Lake Edward on the one side and the Channel on the other.
When seen in August 1956 the tops of some skulls showed through the
A BURIAL SITE AT MWEYA, TORO 171
earth where erosion had swept away the protective covering of soil. Some
twenty likely burials had been noted where broken bones and pottery or an
exposed untouched cranium or occipital portions of crania lay in rough lines
parallel to the shores on either side of the peninsula.
It was possible to examine closely a burial on the south side of the road.
From the position of the limbs and vertebrae it could be seen that the skeleton
rested in a crouching position.
The remains of two skeletons have been recovered, namely:
M. 1 (Removed by Wayland). This consisted of about forty fragments of
cranial bone and one small piece of the right humerus, together with eight
fragments of mandible. All the bones were fully mineralized.
M. 2 (Removed by Lanning and Allbrook). This consisted of the vault of
the cranium, the lower part of the face, and part of the mandible. Certain
foot-bones were present, and also a shaft of the left femur and patella. All
bones were fully mineralized.
Dr. D. B. Allbrook has observed in a personal communication (1958):
"The portions of these two skeletons from Mweya Lodge were found to be
in a fossilized condition, and were considerably fragmented. Reconstruction
was undertaken, but the fragments were not sufficient to give an estimate of
the cranial form of either skeleton with any accuracy. It is, however, possible
to see that one skeleton (M 1) was probably a male, whilst the other was
probably a female. Both were middle-aged to old people by African standards
(45-55 years). The male bones were thick and well constructed; the outline
of the skull was smooth. These and other features suggest a negroid type of
skull without any of the bushman or Hamitic influence that one often sees in
East African skeletons. The same can be said for the female, although there
are certain primitive features in this skeleton, in particular in the femur.
"These are interesting fossil bones, but they can be matched with modern
skeletal material from East Africa. No conclusion can be drawn as to their
A small amount of fragmentary pottery has been gathered from the general
area of the burials. Most of this is coarse and gritty.' It has not been possible
to effect partial or complete reconstruction of any single vessel. A few distinc-
tive decorative patterns (Fig. 1) are noticeable where use has been made of
rollers and scratching by a sharp-pointed instrument. Of the portions of five
bases recovered four are flat and one ovoid. Two of these fragments are heavy
not being less than 4 cm. thick.
Two sherds are of particular interest. One (Uganda Museum A 5634) is a
rim fragment in a light brown ware with a smooth inner surface. The narrow
lip is slightly everted. The rim is deep, from lip to shoulder 7-4 cm. The whole
of the wide rim is decorated with a chevron roller pattern. This unusually
wide rim is strikingly similar to the rims of the Mubende Hill beakers and
that of the Nkongora urn.2
1 Collections Uganda Museum and author.
2 See Lanning (1957a), Fig. 2; and (1957b) plate between pp. 12-13.
172 UGANDA JOURNAL
The second (Uganda Museum A 5636), Fig. 2, is a small rim fragment in
a gritty light-brown ware. A roller pattern of roughly parallel lines covers the
top of the lip. The main feature of this sherd is a wide crudely-moulded boss,
1-9 cm. from the top of the lip, which protrudes 1-6 cm. Above and below
this boss run parallel bands of oblique roller impressions.
It was at first thought that these remains might be Late Neolithic. But there
is no evidence available to suggest their belonging to this culture, and in the
absence of any fuller data it is more likely that, although ancient, they belong
to a much later period.
Nothing can be established without excavation. The stone tools might or
might not have been associated with the pottery and the bones. The pottery
itself might be of no great age; or its close proximity to the skeletal remains,
when discovered, might suggest pot-burials of some antiquity.
Unfortunately, in the short time since the discovery of the 'cemetery' the
continuous depredations of wandering hippos have added increasingly to the
damage already caused by erosion and by other creatures. It is doubtful if
by now any of the crania or other related bones, other than those removed,
will have survived. If so, the opportunity of obtaining reasonable skeletal
samples on which to form an appreciation of the ethnic grouping of the people
here represented will have been lost.
However, whatever the loss of important data, the site still needs further
attention. Known burial sites within the Protectorate are so few that every
effort needs to be made to ensure their location and preservation against the
time when proper investigation can be arranged.
Lanning, E. C. (1957a). 'Protohistoric Pottery in Uganda,' Proceedings of the Third
Pan-African Congress on Pre-history, 1955. London: Chatto & Windus,
--(1957b). Uganda's Past. Kampala: East African Literature Bureau.
Sherds from Mweva
burial site showing ornamentation.
Potsherd with moulded boss.
THE KARAMOJONG AND THE SUK
By N. DYSON-HUDSON
THIS note is a brief discussion of certain points raised in A. J. Docherty's
recent description of 'The Karamojong and the Suk' (Uganda J., 21 (1957),
30-40), and is not a systematic consideration of either tribe, or of their inter-
relation. Certain general statements are made as background to the points
discussed. For the Karimojong, such information comes from my own field
observations, which began in January 1956 and still continue;' for the Pokot
(Suk) it is derived from published accounts or Government files. Where I
disagree with the observations of Mr. Docherty, it is a disagreement with
detail or emphasis, not with the tradition of non-professional reporting to
which anthropologists often owe so much. Indeed, this tradition has, until
recently, been responsible for the only information available on the Karimo-
jong, namely the publications of Macdonald, Austin, Jackson, 'Karamoja' Bell,
Powell-Cotton, Persse, Turpin, and Doris Clark; and the unpublished manu-
script of Father Farina.
'Wa Karamojo', 'Karamojans', 'Karimojong', 'Karamojong', 'Karamajong'
are all names which have been used by Europeans for the people who call
themselves Ngikarimojong (sing. Ekarimojongait). Although they are the
largest tribe (in both population and area) in Karamoja District, they occupy
only a part of it. Of the tribes which share the District with the Karimojong,
three-Jie, Dodoso, and Nyakwai-are very closely allied in that they speak
a common language and have traditions of common origin. These four tribes
form, with Toposa, Turkana, Jiye, and Nyangatom, one branch of the Karimo-
jong Cluster, the other being the Teso. Except for the Upe, the remaining
tribes of the district are hill peoples whose linguistic and cultural affiliations
have not yet been determined. These are: Teuso (north-east), Nyangea and
Poren (north-west), Tobur or Labwor (west), and the three divisions of the
Tepes (south). The Suk call themselves, and are now referred to in anthro-
pological accounts as, Pokot. Peristiany has distinguished three divisions
among them, mainly on the basis of economy, which he cites as Pastoral (or
Plains) Pokot, Agricultural (or Hill) Pokot, and Mixed Economy Pokot. The
Pokot of Karamoja District, known to the Karimojong as Ngiupe, would seem
to belong to the pastoral division. Their linguistic and cultural affiliation is
not with the Karimojong but with the Nandi-Kipsigis group in Kenya.
At the present time, the area occupied by the Karimojong tribe corresponds
roughly with the three administrative counties of Pian, Bokora, and Matheniko.
Although Government recognizes only three major divisions, the Karimojong
1 My studies among the Karimojong have been made possible by the generous
financial assistance of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and
the American Philosophical Society: to these bodies I make grateful acknowledgement.
174 UGANDA JOURNAL
divide themselves into ten major sections which live (i.e., have permanent
villages) in an area considerably smaller than the three counties. Outside the
areas of permanent settlement are the seasonal grazing grounds, to which all
sections have equal rights of access. The totality of permanently settled and
seasonally grazed areas is the tribal land-called Karimojong. The notion of
all sections having rights (though somewhat restricted in settled areas) in this
tribal land is partly responsible for such political solidarity as exists in the
Karimojong tribe. It is also largely responsible for the present great hostility
which the Karimojong bear toward the Suk, whom they consider to be tres-
passers on their land.
With this brief background sketch we may consider the notion of the Suk
as 'the enemy' to the Karimojong (Docherty p. 32). The word for enemy is
the same as the word for stranger in Akarimojong (emoit: ngimoi); and in
effect, other tribes fall for the Karimojong into two classes, which we might
fairly accurately distinguish as "strangers" and "brothers". Brothers (or, more
accurately, half-brothers-ngikaipapai) are those tribes of the Karimojong
Cluster living in amity with the Karimojong. From this class the Jie, Turkana
and Teso (in descending order of opprobrium) are excluded because of past
defection. Of the remainder, some live close enough for brotherly sentiments
to be of genuine importance; others live too far away for it to mean much
more than general well-wishing (as with the Toposa); others again live so far
away as to be hardly thought of (as with the Nyangatom). Strangers or enemies
is a term which-depending on the degree of hostility involved and the useful-
ness of those concerned as traders-embraces everyone else: Bagisu, Sebei,
Suk, El Kony, and Europeans.
In this listing the Suk certainly count as enemy rather than as mere stranger
(the sense in which the word is now used of Europeans). The Karimojong say
that the Suk have 'always' been their enemies, a fact they will adduce with
equal assurance but certainly less accuracy about any other enemy group, such
as Jie or Teso, since traditions of the past serve to justify the actions of the
present. The reasons for the intensification of any ancient hostility to the Suk
can, however, be traced, and it is worth doing so.
About the end of the last century, Karimojong permanent settlement was
much more compact than it is now: villages were much larger, and were
not found south of the Omanimani River area of central Karamoja. At the
same time, however, the tribal land, as the Karimojong understood it, was
much greater, stretching as far south as the Turkwell River, where it verged
on Turkana, and to some extent Suk, grazing areas. In the present century
the Karimojong grazing area has contracted northwards and the settled area
has expanded southwards-both to some extent under Government pressure.
The Suk, pushed initially towards Karamoja by the early alienation of their
seasonal grazing areas for Trans-Nzoia settlement, and to some extent held
on that course by the existence of Turkana settlement to the north, have
increased from the few individuals recorded at Kacheliba in the late 1920s
to over 17,000 at the time of the 1948 census. The seasonally exploited southern
grazing grounds of the Karimojong were infinitely preferable to the exhausted
resources of Kenya Suk country, and they secured a temporary grazing con-
cession during severe dry conditions in the late 1920s. From this temporary
concession-to which the Karimojong agreed, but which in effect the Suk
never gave up-the latter tribe has expanded until it occupies one of the six
counties of Karamoja, has individual members as far north as the Tepes
country near Moroto, and has recognized access to one of the most prized
of Karimojong dry-season grazing grounds, the Kanyangareng River area.
Thus a hostility which is recorded in even the earliest accounts has never
been able to die through distance, and is prodded into fresh activity in any
dry season which is severe enough to result in too many herds seeking too
few sources of water or too little grazing.
In spite of this, the Suk are, for the Karimojong, merely an enemy, not the
enemy, and similar competition for limited resources leads to conflict in other
areas with other groups-Teso, Jie, Turkana. The significant thing is that, as
is frequently the case in societies lacking centralized political organization,
the enemies of one tribal section are often of little practical importance to
the other sections. For many years the Suk have been the local foe of the
Ngipian and Ngimatheniko sections rather than of the entire Karimojong tribe;
the Turkana of Ngimatheniko section; the Jie of Ngibokora section; the Teso
that of Ngipian and Ngibokora. This is not to deny, of course, the willingness
of any Ekarimojongait to join in any raid happening in his vicinity on any
enemy; and court records show most raiding parties to consist of men from
different sections. The division of enemies is a division of labour, not a
disparity of sentiment.
The existence of these 'enemies' of the Karimojong may lead us con-
veniently to the general question of 'spear-blooding' discussed by Mr. Docherty
(p. 31). Although a similar misconception was entertained by 'Karamoja' Bell
of the Karimojong of some fifty years ago, there is not now, and to the best
of my knowledge was not then, any ritual or social compulsion among the
Karimojong concerning the killing of animal or human enemies as a prelude
to initiation or to marriage. The Karimojong themselves have, so far as I
know, no phrase which could be translated as spear-blooding: they talk simply
in terms of 'to kill enemies' (akiar ngimoi) and I would suspect that, in
Karamoja anyway, spear-blooding is a concept and phrase of European origin.
The misconception is widespread, however, and since the Karimojong, not
infrequently, do kill their enemies, it is worth considering the subject of self-
proving, initiation, prestige and enemy-killing as it operates.
As far as my information goes, a young man is asked to prove himself on
only one occasion. When he courts a girl and (with her prior consent) comes
to her hut to sleep with her for the first time, she raises a token alarm. Not to
do so would lead to aspersions on her morals and a consequent beating from
her father. At the alarm the men of the village rush to investigate. This is
one way of discouraging casual philanderers, and for the same reason they may
administer a mild beating to the suitor in the knowledge that if he is serious he
will return anyway, and if not, he is better gone. Where he is obviously serious
the old men will say he should prove he is big enough to sleep with girls; they
suggest he spears something to show it, namely an ox which they will be
pleased to eat.
176 UGANDA JOURNAL
Similarly, the right of a man to be initiated among the Karimojong depends
on factors quite external to him, and cannot be influenced by his 'proving
himself' in any way. The most important factor is the age-set affiliation of
his father, and the manner of his initiation is the formal spearing of an ox at
a ceremonial gathering composed mainly of men of his father's status in the
tribal age-set organization. This ceremony is known as asapan to the Karimo-
jong; and to the Suk, who adopted it and superimposed it on their own
circumcision system, as sapana. This need not be pursued further here since
the ceremony and the system have been described for the Kenya Suk and for
a tribe of the Karimojong Cluster. (J. G. Peristiany 'The Age Set System of
the Pastoral Pokot', Africa, 1951; P. H. Gulliver-'The Age Organization of
the Jie Tribe', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1953.)
The practice of killing enemies is approved, encouraged and in the event
celebrated by bodily markings on the shoulders and upper arms (ngageran)
in the Karimojong tribe, but it has no direct connection with either initiation
or marriage. The Karimojong philosophy of killing, if we may consider it as
such, springs from notions of general needs and general security rather than
from notions of individual prestige or prowess. This is not to deny that an
individual may gain prestige for killing. Apart from the scarification mentioned,
the killer will notch one ear of his ox, and will continue to do so for each
success-whether enemy or fierce animal-until the ear is leaf-like, or even
until the tip has to be removed to show there is no longer space to record
his valour. Moreover, a redoubtable killer of enemies will gain prestige far
outside his local community. He bears a special 'enemy name' recording the
circumstances of the killing; and this name will, together with his other names,
even be inherited by his grandchildren, so that the memory of his feat remains.
It would also be absurd to deny that the simple notion of personal bravery
is acclaimed, and to that extent may encourage a man to kill. The best example
of this is that buffalo and (the now seldom encountered) rhinoceros are two
of the animals for the killing of which a man may notch his ox's ears. They
are no significant nuisance to the Karimojong, but their killing requires bravery
Nevertheless, the underlying motive, as opposed to the consequences, of
enemy-killing is different from all these individual aspects, and can be stated
as follows: enemies menace the herds by competing with them for, or barring
to them, water and grazing resources which at certain seasons are very limited
and which are necessary for survival; enemies menace the herds more directly
by the threat of raiding which removes the slow natural increase of many
years at one swoop; and in both these ways, as well as in the possibility of
direct aggression against settlements and families, they are an ever-present
potential threat to the Karimojong people. If this be considered an over-
simplification, it might be recalled that what almost precipitated a large-scale
inter-tribal war between Karimojong and Suk in the dry season of 1927-8 was
the arrival of the Karimojong with their herds to the southern grazing grounds,
when conditions were particularly harsh, only to find that the area had already
been virtually grazed away by the Suk. It might also be remembered that
enemies are killed by the Karimojong usually with little regard for age or
;sex, and often in circumstances which the Karimojong recognize as reflecting
little, if any, bravery on the killer. Yet a man will decorate himself in the same
way (though on a different shoulder) for killing a small girl as he will for
killing a determined warrior. I have raised this point-being deliberately
disparaging and contemptuous-with Karimojong elders, and their reply is:
"You do not understand. If she (in this instance, a seven-year old Turkana
girl) were not killed now, someone else would only have to do it later: and
by then she would have produced more enemies."2 Finally, when Karimojong
make a raid on enemy stock as the only way, in a world of slow biological
processes, of getting rich quickly, they will kill the herders even if the latter
are not attempting to defend the herds and even at some risk of losing their
booty. In this respect the Suk do the same thing, planting an ambush while
the stock are driven off by few men, and deliberately awaiting their Karimo-
Prowess in the form of enemy-killing certainly has, among the Karimojong,
elements 'of military valour, which can encourage the young man to kill; and
possibly-if combined with equally important features such as wisdom, wealth,
and the power to intercede with God-reward him with great influence in
his tribal section and beyond. But the sustaining force behind the killing of
enemies is that enemies menace in a direct fashion the well-being of the
Karimojong, and therefore the fewer there are, the better. There are a great
many initiated Karimojong who have never killed an enemy, who have many
wives, and who are respected and admired in their communities. Enemy-killing
is laudable to the Karimojong, but it is only one of the roads to prestige and
In his account of the ceremony preceding a raid against enemies, Mr.
Docherty appears to have been misled, particularly on the matter of blood-
drinking. The Karimojong (and the Suk so far as I know) commonly eat or
drink blood as food, and in the case of the Karimojong this is obtained in
two ways. The usual 'domestic' method is for an ox to be held in a standing
position by one or two men; a leather noose is pulled tight round the neck,
temporarily distending the jugular vein; a blocked arrow is shot into the vein,
and several pints of blood (depending on the animal's condition) are allowed
to pour into a receptacle. The thong is then released, whereupon the bleeding
stops; and, possibly after the application of a little mud to cover the incision,
the ox wanders quietly off to resume its grazing.
Blood is also drunk from the carcass of a slaughtered ox at ceremonies.
Although today the presence of the Administration makes it advisable for a
raiding sacrifice (epeyus ngolo ejie or epeyus ngolo ajore) to be held circum-
spectly, and on a small scale in the bush, I believe it follows the general pattern
of Karimojong sacrifice, and, because it is of great importance to the success
of the projected raid, is not hasty or undisciplined. This general pattern of
sacrifice is as follows: during the day (not at night) one or more oxen (not
2 Fifty years ago 'Karamoja' Bell was horrified at the equanimity with which Karimo-
jong and Jie killed each other's women as well as warriors. He received a similar
response to his question as I did to mine: women can be just as much enemies as men
to the tribe which opposes them.
178 UGANDA JOURNAL
bulls) are sacrificed by being speared in the heart while the animal is running
free with the herd. Karimojong do not tether their animals, a practice found
rather among Nilotic tribes. The dead beast is dragged under a tree and dis-
membered with spears by two men, who avoid rupturing the stomach sack,
since this contains the partially digested grass which will be used later for
blessing those who participate in the ceremony. The intestines are examined
by a haruspex, who predicts a course of events or outlines a course of action,
depending on the purpose of the ceremony, and on the interpretation he gives
to the inevitable bumps and discolorations of the intestines. The intestines are
then removed entirely, the dismembering continues, and when little but the
carcass is left, the initiated men are called to stoop and drink the blood which
has collected in the carcass cavity. It is, in fact, impossible to drink the blood
at an earlier stage, for the ox has bled internally from the spear woundss,
and the blood is obscured by the organs. At this point blessing usually occurs,
consisting of smearing the contents of the stomach sack (not intestines) on
chest and forehead, and splattering some against the tree in the sacrificial
place. In blessing, adult initiated men usually smear themselves: younger men
may be smeared by the elders who mutter a brief invocation like "May you
become important! May you become old! May you become rich in cattle!"
(Topolor! Tomojong! Tobarra!). Only at domestic sacrifices for family sick-
ness have I seen the 'witch doctor' (emuron) actually do the blessing. It is, in
fact, the pre-eminence of tribal elders as a class on these ritual occasions that
restricts the emuron to a relatively minor place in Karimojong politics.
The meat has meanwhile been placed in the sacrificial place (akiriket) and
it is then cooked (the Karimojong eating it 'rare') and further divided before
being distributed to the elders in the sacrificial place in order of their seniority.
Prayers follow this, led by the senior man present.3
Dances frequently follow sacrifices, but they are of a communal symbolic
kind called akimumwor: that described by Mr. Docherty is edonga, a pre-
dominantly social activity mainly for young people.
We may conveniently consider here the question of Karimojong battle cries,
for although the young men whoop their battle-cries during the course of the
ceremony, in a mock attack towards the elders' circle, the chance of a raid
developing in an impromptu way from such a ceremony is slight. Karimojong
will shout their battle cries on all sorts of peaceful occasions,, just to show
general high spirits: such as returning from beer parties. It is thus easy to
record them, and a typical example may serve to dispel misconceptions
(Docherty p. 31).
An ekarimojongait does not call on the name of "the big bull of his herd"
(p. 31) when going into battle, for bulls are admired for breeding purposes
only among the Karimojong. Emotional attachment is reserved primarily for
a man's favourite ox, from the colour, markings, horn-shape, or poetic
association of which he takes his 'ox-name'. This name-ox, described also as
'bell-ox' by Gulliver (U.J., 16 (1952), 72-5), and 'ox of invocation' by Doris
Clark (U.J., 16 (1952), 69), is usually given to him as a calf when he is a
3 Somewhat similar invocations employed in Karimojong rain-making ceremonies are
recorded by E. M. Persse at U.J., 1 (1934), 115.
young boy, and he feeds it with part of his ration of milk and even blood. As
it grows, he weaves for it a collar, first of sisal, then of hide, on which he
hangs first a tortoise-shell bell, and later perhaps a metal bell from Labwor.
He talks to his ox and sings poems-often very beautiful-while he is alone
herding, or at dances. If his name-ox dies, he will mourn for several days,
and companions will come for miles to express their sorrow and to comfort
him; it is not unknown for a man to commit suicide if his name-ox is
slaughtered; and the greatest punishment that can be inflicted on a young
Karimojong man is for the elders to punish his disobedience by ordering him
to come and spear his name-ox himself in the sacrificial place, as an expiation
of his sin. Finally, it is on the ear of his name-ox that he records his personal
valour with notches. It is this last custom which accounts for the presence of
his name-ox as part of his battle-cry. Despite his affection for it, and the
Karimojong belief that an ox is made 'happy' by ear notches showing its
owner's valour, the ox is not invoked in the battle-cry, but is used as a form
of boasting. Thus, a typical battle-cry is:Whoo! Whoo! Arim Lokalees!
Losike kinokok! Muya toram tomato! Dengel torum tomuny! But for the
proper names, which are those of his name-ox, his wife, and his sons (in that
*order) this is a fairly standard cry for all Karimojong, and it is translatable
as: "Whoo! Whoo! I have cut the ears of Lokalees! Losike light (the fire)!
Muya drive (the cattle) and I will drink (milk)! Deng drive (my name-ox) and
I will notch his ear!" The name-ox here is black with white side flashes, and
is likened to an ostrich: and the statement "I have cut the ears of the ostrich-
like ox" is in fact saying "You are not the first enemies I have met, for I
have been brave before and notched the ears of my ox in token. I am, and
am known as, a brave man". His instructions to his family all imply that he
will be returning victorious, especially the directive to drive his name-ox yet
again to mark a new score. The most boastful phrase a man can introduce
into such a cry-and the only variant I know-is to conclude with toram
kirikak instead of toram tomuny: that is, "drive (my name ox) and I will
finish it" (i.e., cut off the entire ear tip, for the score will be so high as to be
Several minor slips occur in Mr. Docherty's description, which he will
perhaps allow me to correct. Karimojong women wear goatskin or excep-
tionally calfskin, not cow-hide skirts (p. 30): goats may be slaughtered for this
purpose, but only calves which die of sickness or attack would provide hides,
since the Karimojong do not slaughter them. Like Europeans, the Karimojong
prefer to live off their dividends-milk, blood, the occasional animal from the
natural increase of herds-rather than their capital; and apart from sacrifice,
cattle-killing is infrequent in the extreme. Karimojong, and I think Suk, head-
dresses are coloured not with vegetable dye (p. 33) but pounded rock and mud.
This is found locally in certain river beds (grey) or on mountains (red); or
comes from Turkanaland (green); or even from the local shops (Reckitt's
Blue). Alcoholic spirits are not widely used, but are not unknown (p. 34), having
been introduced through scattered shops and the several Uganda Police posts
by outside tribesmen. Augury by tossing sandals is not confined to a small
area (p. 34) but is a general form of minor divination throughout the Karimo-
180 UGANDA JOURNAL
jong Cluster-and I believe the Nandi-Kipsigis group. It would be out of
place at a ceremony, where the haruspex is using the intestines of the
slaughtered animal for just such a divinatory purpose. Most commonly, the
fall of the sandals is to pre-select one of several directions for the searcher of
lost objects or for the undecided traveller. Most Karimojong men have con-
siderably more than fifty head of cattle (p. 35) and real wealth in cattle would
be measured in terms of two to five thousand head. It is impossible to find a
village, and would be extremely difficult to find a cattle-camp, where ten
herds come together (p. 35) for the herd is the attribute of the family, not of
the individual; and although ten-family villages could be found among the
Karimojong of the early 1920s, they do not now seem to occur. In each case,
except where friendship was of the closest possible kind, one herd would
occupy its own boma (atamanaui): to say "we share one atamanaui" affirms
among the Karimojong the highest degree of trust and amity, except where
one man has so few cattle as to be the dependent of a rich man.
THE CAIRNS OF KOKI
By SIR JOHN GRAY
W ITH reference to E. C. Lanning's article on 'The Cairns of Koki' which
appeared in U.J., 21 (1957), 176-81, as the sub-joined extract shows and
as might be expected, similar cairns are to be found on the south side of
the Kagera river in the neighboring erstwhile Kingdom of Karagwe.1
I give below a translation of an article in Swahili entitled 'Mawe ya Waliota-
wala Zamani' from H. P. Blok's A Swahili Anthology (Leiden, 1948),
pp. 107-88. I do not know the name of the author, but I think the article
originally appeared in Zamani mpaka Siku hizi yaani Habari za Tanganyika
(Sheldon Press, 1930).
The explanation of the origin of the cairns as given in the article must of
course be accepted for what it is worth.
It is interesting to note that the stones are associated with a large-scale
invasion by a ruler of Bunyoro, who is probably to be identified with K.W.'s
Chwa Rumomamahanga (U.J., 4 (1936-7), 81-2). The name Kitabanyoro like-
wise appears in Ankole history attached to another Ntare, to whom also
tradition attributes the expulsion of Banyoro invaders from his land. (Roscoe.
The Banyankole, 1923, pp. 8, 35.)
THE HEAP OF STONES OF THE ANCIENT RULERS
Here at our place, Karagwe, there are heaps of stones, just like those used
for building houses, erected near the road or in the forest. When I enquired
from an elderly man he told me that those stones were put up by the Wanyoro,
1 Reference may be made to C. Gillman's 'An annotated list of indigenous stone
structures in Eastern Africa', Tanganyika N. and R. No. 17 (1944), 44-55; No. 19'
(1945), 64-6. (EDs.).
people who ruled here about 150 years ago. These people conquered all the
rulers of East Africa and took possession of their lands. Whenever they
fought at certain places, each of them would bring forth a stone to put in the
heap for the purpose of identifying how many were killed and how many
survived in that fight. I have also enquired from other people who told me
that the king of Karagwe was killed by the Wanyoro. This king had two
sons. Their mother ran away with them and went to Uha. They lived there
until the sons grew up. When they returned, the elder son went quietly and
killed the king of the Wanyoro but he was also killed by the Wanyoro who
afterwards ran away and went back to their places in the north and it was
then that the other son became ruler of Karagwe. Then the Wanyoro were
pursued and expelled from every corner. The one who reigned was Ntale
Kitabanyoro, which means, 'the one who killed the Wanyoro'. And the heap
of stones are called, obuhingo bwa Banyoro which means 'these stones were
gathered by Wanyoro'.
In 'The History of Karagwe (Bukoba District)' (Tanganyika N. and R.
No. 24 (1947), 6-7) J. Ford and R. de Z. Hall give the date of this Banyoro
invasion as "about the seventies of the eighteenth century". According to local
tradition as supplied to them, Ntare, though an infant, was the actual ruler
of Karagwe when the invasion took place. His mother fled with him to Buha,
leaving an elder brother, Luzenga, to deal with the invaders. Luzenga fled
to Ruanda, but subsequently returned to Karagwe and was killed. "In spite
of the lead given him by his brother, Ntare dared not attempt to reconquer
his country. At length a sickness fell upon the Banyoro, for which the credit
was ascribed to Ntare and the magic given him by the chief of Buha in the
form of three arrows, which were shot into Karagwe. Then Ntare and his
mother took the road home, accompanied by a witch-doctor from Buha,
who, in the form of a dog or a jackal, went forward to see whether the way
was clear. And when Ntare came into Karagwe, he found the country free
of Banyoro, for those who had not died fled in fear. He therefore settled
again at Bweranyange and was named Kitabanyoro, 'the slayer of the
THE KENYA HISTORY SOCIETY
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
THE first volume of The Transactions of the Kenya History Society which
is reviewed elsewhere in this Journal should receive a cordial welcome
from readers of The Uganda Journal: and, from The Uganda Society, con-
gratulations and good wishes will go to a newly-weaned sister-society which
thus signalizes the beginnings of efforts to fill a notable void.
During the past fifty years one after another of the territories of East and
Central Africa has generated, in almost every case by the voluntary enterprise
of a few enthusiasts, a journal devoted to the recording of its history, natural
resources, and culture in the broadest sense of that term.
As long ago as 1910 there appeared in Nairobi the first number of The
182 UGANDA JOURNAL
Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society (Uganda was
dropped from the title in 1942), and this has continued to appear at unpre-
dictable intervals; while for a short time from 1947 the same Society sponsored
a more popular publication Nature in East Africa. In this limited field there-
fore Kenya has endeavoured, if somewhat desultorily, to take account of its
riches while there is still time.
But the first journal to point the way comprehensively in this sector of
Africa was Sudan Notes and Records founded in 1918 largely on the initiative
of Sir Harold MacMichael and Sir Douglas Newbold, and it established a
standard of scholarship and catholicity of interests which its successors else-
where have sought to emulate. Nada which made its bow in Southern Rhodesia
in 1923, though published under the aegis of the Native Affairs Department,
aimed at a similarly wide appeal. The Uganda Journal, inspired by the
example of the Sudan, appeared in 1934, its launching owing much to the
dynamism of its first editor, now Sir Edward Twining, and to E. J. Wayland.
When Sir Harold MacMichael became Governor of Tanganyika Territory
he quickly recognized the same need, and encouraged the creation of Tanga-
nyika Notes and Records (1936); and of those who tended it at every step from
birth to maturity no name is more worthy of remembrance than that of Clement
Since World War II have come The Nyasaland Journal (1948), and The
Northern Rhodesia Journal (1950), each adapted to its own situation; and
when in 1954 The Somaliland Journal, the modest offspring of the lately
established Somaliland Society made its appearance, the continued absence
in Kenya of any such publication became more noticeable. This reproach The
Kenya History Society now plans in some measure to remove.
From its outset the movement which has engendered these territorial publi-
cations has been sustained by, and has provided a forum for, amateurs-an
amateur being by definition "one who cultivates a thing for a pastime". The
vast programme of development upon which Africa has embarked in recent
years is of necessity serviced by a small army of professional exponents of
nearly every branch of knowledge and research. They have behind them their
own disciplines, and their own specialist societies and journals, to which are
committed the more technical, the more detailed, and it may be the more
spectacular of their findings; and herein is somewhat of the same dilemma
as now confronts such an all-embracing organization as the British Association
for the Advancement of Science.
Yet the local societies will continue, for a wider circle, the service of pro-
viding a clearing house and an interpretation of much of importance which
would otherwise be lost or buried. Historical research is perhaps one of the
more obvious fields in which there is still a place for amateur zeal; and having
regard to the local circumstances and to its late start it was perhaps a wise
decision by the promoters of the Kenya History Society to concentrate
activities within the limits indicated by its title.
In nearly every territory this enterprise has received from the local
authorities their good-will and blessing, and in most cases some measure of
material support. We in Uganda cannot be too grateful to an enlightened
Government which, by its encouragement and generous grants, enables The
Uganda Journal to maintain its present format and dimensions. Yet this
should not be regarded as mere largesse. For it may be claimed with conviction
that such knowledge as an omnium gatherum of this nature aims to record
and disseminate-knowledge of the bonds which link the present to the past,
of the place in the scheme of the universe occupied by a little-known country's
peoples, their traditions and cultures, and of the natural history and resources
by which they are shaped-furnishes something without which no country
can come to maturity. It is remarkable that in more than one territory which
has recently exchanged dependent for independent status one of the early acts
of the new government has been to promote research into its people's history
and traditions. When millions are being spent on education it suggests a lack
of vision that some, even though modest, support should not be forthcoming
from the State to fertilize so potent a contribution to common understanding.
At the moment the Kenya History Society has, it is understood, only its
members' subscriptions to support its endeavours. It is to be hoped that this
situation, which will inevitably limit its effectiveness at a time when even the
quite recent history of the foundations of Kenya is slipping away beyond
recall, will not be allowed to remain unremedied. Meanwhile more credit to
the Kenya History Society which has determined, as have other brave enter-
prises, to 'go it alone'. We in Uganda wish them well.
JAMES MARTIN. HIS MEDALS
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
Afew months ago Mr. Cuthbert Gedge, retired from H.B.M. Consular Ser-
vice, dined with Senhora Nina Eldoma Winkler' and her husband at their
1 She appears in a photograph of 1902 reproduced at U.J., 3 (1935-6), 240-2. Her
christening is recorded in Zanzibar Gazette of 1 November 1899: "Interesting Event
at Eldoma Ravine. On the 13th of October Eldoma Ravine Station was en f&te the
occasion being the christening of Mr. and Mrs. Martin's youngest daughter Nina
Eldoma Martin, a beautiful child not quite six months old. The ceremony was performed
by the Rev. Father Plunkett of Uganda who was on his way to the coast and who
arrived from Nandi on the previous day. The sponsors were Mr. Jose Leon de Souza
and Mrs. Nina Carolina de Souza-Mr. C. J. Dias and Mrs. Mary Wallace acting by
"At 8 a.m. Father Plunkett celebrated Mass during which Mr. and Mrs. Martin
along with some others received Holy Communion. On this occasion Father Plunkett
had also the happiness of blessing the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Martin according to
the rites of the Roman Catholic Church. [They had been married in the British Consulate
at Zanzibar on 9 April 1896.] After the baptism Mrs. Martin invited all present to
partake of cake and port wine. Father Plunkett in a few felicitous words proposed the
health of Baby Nina Eldoma who that day had become a true child of God and heir
to the kingdom of heaven. Doctor Donald next proposed in similar terms the health of
Mr. and Mrs. Martin, both toasts being duly honoured.
"In the evening Mrs. Martin treated the Company to several songs and selections on
the piano, whilst Mrs. Wallace was most successful in manipulating the gramophone.
Altogether the event was very interesting, Baby Nina Eldoma having the honour of
being, perhaps, the first child of European parents to be baptized so far up in Equatorial
Africa. All joined heartily in wishing her and Mrs. Martin very many happy returns of
184 UGANDA JOURNAL
Estoril, Lisbon, flat. It was the first meeting of the son and daughter of Ernest
Gedge and James Martin who had been companions of the road to Uganda
with the caravan commanded by Sir Frederick Jackson nearly seventy years
Many references to 'Jimmy' Martin-the Maltese sail-maker and caravan-
leader, later a district officer in Uganda and universally beloved-are to be
found in East African literature. A sketch of his career appeared in the first
volume of The Uganda Journal.2 But this needs revision and amplification if
Martin is to take his due place as a thread in the story of the opening up of
eastern Africa: and there is some prospect that this may shortly be taken
Sra. Winkler proudly shows her father's medals and a list of these, which
she was good enough to allow Mr. Gedge to make, throws further light on
some incidents of his career.
(i) The East and West Africa Medal, with clasp 'Witu 1890'; engraved on
edge 'James Martin Dist. Officer'.
That Martin received this medal so clasped is of more than normal interest,
for reference books are of one mind in recording that it was only exceptionally
awarded to any but officers and men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.3
Late in October 1890 a punitive expedition was launched against Fumo
Bakari, Sultan of Witu, and ten days sufficed for the assault and capture of
his stockaded village. "Admiral E. R. Fremantle landed several field guns
and a naval force of 800 men, which was joined by 150 of the [I.B.E.A.]
Company's armed Indian police under Captain A. F. Eric Smith (Life Gds.)."4
Jackson and Martin had arrived back in Mombasa with their Uganda caravan
on 4 September 1890, and it may be inferred that Martin was detailed to
accompany the Chartered Company's contingent as transport officer. Jackson
who assisted with the landing of the naval force did not receive this medal.5
(ii) The Imperial British East Africa Company's Medal. Although unfor-
tunately Martin's original of this medal has been stolen, his daughter has the
miniature of it among a set.
(iii) The East and Central Africa Medal, with clasp 'Uganda 1897-98';
engraved on edge 'Mr. J. Martin'.
Martin was civil officer in charge of Ravine station when in October 1897,
the Sudanese troops assembling there to accompany Macdonald's Juba expedi-
tion broke into revolt. But they quickly moved back towards Uganda and
Martin seems not to have been caught up in the actual fighting.6 He would
certainly have had much to do during the ensuing months in expediting the
movement towards Uganda of troops and supplies needed for the suppression
of the Mutiny, for all must have passed through Ravine station.
(iv) The British War Medal 1914-19; on edge 'Lieut. J. Martin'.
2 U.J., 1 (1934), 145-9.
3 H. Moyse-Bartlett (1957) The King's African Rifles p. 697; cp. U.J., 2 (1934-5), 211.
4 Moyse-Bartlett. op. cit. p. 97.
5 U.J., 16 (1952), 28. But Jackson was so indifferent to the award of medals that it
may well be that he never applied for this.
6 Blue Book Africa. No. 4 (1899), pp. 29, 34-5.
(v) The Victory Medal 1914-18; on edge 'Lieut. J. Martin'.
Martin (who was at this time manager of the Mabira Forest (Uganda)
Rubber Co., Ltd. plantations at Mubango) first served in the German East
Africa campaign with the Intelligence Department on the Kagera River front.
From this he transferred to BELOX (Belgian Advance Ox Transport),7 a unit
created to move supplies to the Belgian Congo troops who planned to advance
through Ruanda towards Tabora. When Mwanza was captured in July 1916
the Belgians could be supplied across Lake Victoria and this laborious trans-
port service became unnecessary. It must have been thereafter that Martin was
"in charge of a tug on the Rufiji River",8 where fighting had ceased after the
destruction of the Kinigsberg on 11 July 1915.9
(vi) The decoration of the Second Class of the Sultan of Zanzibar's Order
of the Brilliant Star.
(vii) Medal and chain of the Sociedade de Geographia de Lisboa.
7 Uganda Volunteers and the Great War (Kampala 1916). p. 38.
8 U.J., 1 (1934), 149.
9 The mouth of the Rufiji was blockaded for a further two or three months: see
Tanganyika Notes and Records, No. 36 (1954), 11.
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
THE photograph which is here reproduced came to me recently. It was un-
dated, and without a note of the occasion or of the names of those pictured.
I hope my efforts to fill these gaps may serve as a cautionary tale, so that
every reader will see to it that any photographs, above all of groups, in his
possession are forthwith dated and named. Memories are so short, and within
a few years a photograph put away -without this information becomes
meaningless and may as well be destroyed.
In this case I was still able to put names to a few faces, and after consulting
some of the even fewer of these who are still alive it has been possible to
identify a majority of those pictured. It is a sombre thought that the names of
the remainder are now unlikely ever to be known-for they also served
The scene is undoubtedly the steps in front of Old Government House,
Entebbe, later the Hotel Victoria and now the Secretariat. As evidence is an
illustration 'The Residence of the Commissioner, Entebbe' at p. 212 of
Caroline Kirkland's Some African Highways (1908).
As for the occasion. The new, present, Government House was completed
and occupied in July 1908. In the photograph Sir Hesketh Bell wears only a
C.M.G.-he was not knighted until June 1908; while A. G. Boyle has no
C.M.G.-that came to him later in 1908. These facts fix a latest date for the
group. Hesketh Bell's periods of duty in Uganda and absences from Entebbe
on tour can be pin-pointed with some precision; and it was possible by
consulting the Official Gazettes to trace the arrival at and departure from
1 For other group photographs see Uganda J., 3 (1935-6), 239-42; 7 (1939-40), 141.
186 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mombasa of a number of the officers in the group. Some only landed in
October 1907, others left early in 1908. By these means it has been possible
to fix the occasion within very narrow limits, and I venture accordingly to
claim that the group is of those attending a levee on the occasion of King
Edward VII's Birthday on 9 November 1907. Ten days later Winston
Churchill as Under Secretary of State for the Colonies landed at Entebbe in
the course of his memorable tour. One of our oldest members, Ernest Haddon,
recalls that he and Charles Willmot (later Director of Public Works) were
detailed to erect triumphal arches in Kampala for this forthcoming visit, and
he thus explains his absence from the photograph.
I do not think there has been a levee on the traditional 'all-men' model
since the beginning of World War I. This was a regularized occasion to pay
respects to the Sovereign on his birthday in the person of his representative,
the Governor. In return for donning uniform or one's best clothes and making
one's bow there was this annual opportunity of sampling His Excellency's
duty-free cellar. But in those spacious days when Souza Junior or Figueiredo
offered unlimited duty-paid whisky at Rs. 3.75 (5 shillings) a bottle, this
cannot have made a large hole in the Governor's entertainment allowance.
1 Capt. S. J. G. Clifford (Paymaster, 4th K.A.R.), d. 25 Feb. 1927.
2 Belgian Congo official in transit.
3 -Gore-Pelham (Transport Dept.).
4 A White Father.
5 J. W. Dryden (Inspector, Police), d. 2 Oct. 1951.
6 D. L. Baines (Administration), d. Woodchester, Glos. 12 Sep. 1955.
7 Father J. Laane (White Fathers).
9 J. F. Cunningham (Secretary to the Administration), d. 17 Oct. 1937.
10 J. G. Macgregor (Chief Engineer, S.S. William Mackinnon).
11 J. B. Struthers (National Bank of India).
12 E. W. Leakey (Treasury), d. Uplyme, Devon, 28 Mar. 1958.
13 A. G. Boyle (later) Sir (Sub-Commissioner), d. 18 Apr. 1943.
14 H. W. Thorpe (Deputy Treasurer), d. Entebbe, 15 Jan. 1909.
15 H. Boazman (Survey Dept.), d. Kampala, 3 Apr. 1958.
16 W. Morris Carter (later) Sir (Judge).
17 David Watson (National Bank of India).
18 W. Alison Russell (later) Sir (Crown Advocate), d. 14 Sep. 1948.
19 A. C. Knollys (Assistant Secretary), d. 18 Jan. 1944.
20 S. Moore (Treasury Assistant).
21 G. Berti (proprietor, Equatorial Hotel), d. Masaka, 8 Oct. 1914.
22 G. F. M. Ennis (Senior Judge), d. Uitenhage, S. Africa, 22 Dec. 1933.
24 W. Braune (assistant, Hansing and Coy.).
25 H. H. Hunter (Advocate), d. Kampala, 20 Jan. 1944.
26 Andrew McClure (Assistant Director, Public Works), d. 15 Feb. 1945.
27 S. Waite (Public Works Dept.), d. 12 Dec. 1944.
28 George Wilson (Deputy Commissioner), d. Tunbridge Wells, 12 Dec. 1943.
29 Sikh orderly.
31 O.C. Heidenstam (Superintendent, Police).
32 Capt. W. F. S. Edwards (Inspector General of Police), d. 9 Jun. 1941.
33 R. C. Allen (Chief Surveyor and Land Officer), d. Ireland, 6 Sep. 1937.
34 H. Hesketh Bell (later) Sir (H.M. Commissioner), d. London, 1 Aug. 1952.
35 Sikh orderly.
36 Rev. W. Chadwick (Church Missionary Society), d. Dar es Salaam, 2 Oct. 1917.
38 Sikh orderly.
39 An officer, 4th K.A.R.
40 Capt. W. H. Nicholson (O.C. Indian Contingent).
41 J. W. P. Russell (Director, Uganda Transport), d. 31 Jan. 1953.
42 Capt. E. F. N. Burton (Aide-de-camp).
43 J. P. Tolland (Survey Dept.), d. England, 20 Mar. 1936.
44 Capt. E. V. Jenkins (O.C. 4th King's African Rifles), d. 20 Feb. 1941.
45 Capt. T. Greenwood (Quartermaster of Police), d. 30 Jul. 1936.
46 An officer, 4th K.A.R.
47 Commander H. Hutchinson, R.N.R. (Uganda Marine), d. 9 Oct. 1920.
48 Capt. A. C. H. Gray, R.A.M.C. (Sleeping Sickness Commission).
49 An officer, 4th K.A.R.
50 G. D. Smith (Treasurer), d. Stirling, 26 Jan. 1949.
51 W. A. Bowring (Local Auditor), d. London, 3 Nov. 1950.
52 Belgian Congo official in transit.
53 C. K. Dain (Treasury), d. 7 Sep. 1950.
54 Dr. G. C. Strathairn (Medical Officer), d. Nicosia, Cyprus, 19 Sep. 1947.
55 S. Ormsby (Collector, Mbale), d. Mumias, 21 Jan. 1909.
56 Dr. J. H. Reford (Medical Officer), d. Newry, Co. Down, 13 Nov. 1957.
THE IDENTITY OF THE BACHWEZI
H. F. Morris (Uganda J., 21 (1957), 1), in his reference to different opinions
concerning the identity of the Bachwezi, has referred to the late Father
Nicolet's assertion, made 'with confidence' videe Mucondzi, Mbarara, 1953),
that these people were Portuguese.
Prior to his death I corresponded on occasion with Father Nicolet and as
a result understood he was divided in his opinion on this question of the
origin of the Bachwezi. He certainly favoured a theory of their founder having
been of mixed Portuguese-Abyssinian blood as opposed to their being an
actual group of pure Portuguese. He briefly outlined this view in a letter to
me dated 21 November 1953, which reads in part:
"Vous avez peut-8tre entendu que j'ai soulev6 une autre th6se historique
d'aprbs laquelle Nyamiyonga (Ruyonga en Kinyankole)-et done aussi sa
fille 'Nyamata', devenue mbre d'Isimbwa, pere des Bacwezi-aurait 6t6 un
m6tis Portugo-Abyssin, descendu des hauteurs du Kaffa, 6migr6 vers
l'extreme Sud du Soudan, au pays Luwo, sans 6tre pour autant un
autochtone de ce pays."
Such a hypothesis should not be altogether overlooked by students of the
There is, of course, a strong African opinion that these people were Portu-
guese but this, I have come to the conclusion, is only a conjecture of modern
times, possibly based on the tentative and unestablished suggestions on the
subject originally made by Bishop Gorju.
Father Nicolet's researches into the past were extensive. In the company of
the late A. D. Combe, he had visited the better-known ancient sites of the
Protectorate in Mawogola and Mubende of Buganda, and also places in
Bunyoro. He had also visited and sought information on the Bachwezi in the
neighboring territories of Ruanda and the Congo. He has left numerous
papers and documents, the result of 32 years or more of research into the
past of the peoples of central Uganda. A study of these papers should be of
considerable value to the historian. E. C. LANNING.
1 December 1957.
SHAFTS IN BUGANDA AND TORO
In my Notes in Uganda J., 18 (1954), 187-90, I said that I was unaware of
any geological investigation having been carried out to determine the purpose
of these shafts. The matter was further discussed in U.J., 19 (1955), 211; and
20 (1956), 216.
Mr. E. J. Wayland has since drawn my attention to a report by A. S. Taylor
of the Geological Survey Department, who, in 1921, investigated the Ntanda
group of shafts in Singo County, Buganda.1 The Director of Geological Survey,
Uganda, has kindly given me access to this report.
The report records that the group covered about forty acres, and confirms
the assumption that one of the uses of the shafts was for the extraction of
Fifty-one holes or shafts were investigated. They varied from 4 to 34 feet
in depth. Mounds of debris were found near the holes. The deeper shafts had
footholds cut in the sides for descent and ascent. The area over which it was
found profitable to work was limited to about 300 by 300 yards, the outer
pits being shallow.
Kaolin was found at about eleven feet below the surface, under a covering
of laterite. From 13 to 17 feet was found lithomarge, a pinkish substance, the
hydrous silicate of alumina. In all instances the kaolin had evidently been
worked and extracted, the shafts being sunk deep into the lithomarge.
As a result of this investigation it seems very probable that at Ntanda it
was the fine white clay which was being sought, with some use possibly also
being made of the deeper deposits of lithomarge.
It is of interest that another large group of shafts was brought to my attention
in 1956 at Kasasa near Lukaya, in Mutuba II, Buddu, Masaka District.2
E. C. PLANNING.
22 May 1958.
1 A. S. Taylor, Report on Ntanda (with map and sections) 1921. Unpublished report.
Geol. Survey Dept., Uganda.
2 E. C. Lanning, An Iron Mining Tool from Uganda, with a Note on Rhodesian
Parallels, Man, 1958, 40.
The strange relationship of Eugen Wolf and Sir Gerald Portal which is
referred to in U.J., 21 (1957), 222 is further illustrated by a personal letter from
Wolf to Portal, dated Kampala, 12 December 1892, which was found among
Portal's papers after his death. It appears in Foreign Office reprints for 1894
and throws some additional light on Thompson.
Wolf told Portal that he had arrived at Kampala on 6 December 1892 in
company with James Martin and Thompson of the I.B.E.A. Company and
formerly of Smith, Mackenzie. All were well except Thompson who had
failed to look after his health on the march. An attack of dysentery had so
weakened him that he had to be carried during the last fortnight. It was at
first intended to send Thompson back to the coast when Martin left Kampala
on 12th (after only five days' stay) together with Bagge and a consignment
of ivory. Unfortunately Thompson committed a further imprudence and it
was decided that he should travel with that part of Bishop Tucker's caravan
which was to return soon after the Bishop's arrival later in the month. Matters
were eventually so arranged as is noted in U.J., 21 (1957), 233.
Wolf claimed to have some medical knowledge (which is substantiated by
the notes on his early life in U.J., 21 (1957), 222), and he had taken care of the
190 UGANDA JOURNAL
sick on the journey up. This entailed looking after 600 men-and Thompson;
he estimates that he gave 716 treatments with the few badly-chosen medicines
carried by the caravan.
It is curious that Wolf refers to only two Europeans, making no mention
of Captain Eric Smith, who undoubtedly joined the caravan at Kikuyu
(Macdonald, Soldiering and Surveying, 106, 121, 134). Perhaps Smith, who
was really going to Uganda to relieve Captain Williams in command of
Kampala, left Martin to 'run' the caravan, and was glad enough, once the
dangerous Nandi country was passed, to part company with so assertive a
companion as Wolf and to travel separately. A. T. MATSON.
22 May 1958.