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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
Uganda Bibliography, 1963-1964
Index to Volume 28, (March and September 1964)
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
The Uganda Journal
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
VOLUME 28, No. 2 SEPTEMBER 1964
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS IN THE
GOMBOLOLA OF BUHARA, KIGEZI - J. D. TURYAGYENDA 127
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE -' WM. ROGER LOUIs 135
M'USLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA - - AHMED KATUMBA 151
and F. B. WELBOURN
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA - - - P. H. TEMPLE 165
MIKA SEMATIMBA - - - - - J. A. ROWE 179
THE DIARIES OF ENBN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII:
EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA,
2 JULY 1887 TO 7 JANUARY 1888 Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY 201
BLOOD BROTHERHOOD IN ANKOLE Recorded by Y. K. BAMUNOBA 217
Lubaale INITIATION IN BUGANDA - - L. B. KAGGWA 218
and F. B. WELBOURN
A Field Guide to the Birds of East and Central Africa
(by John G. Williams) - - - MARIANNE WELTER 221
Galla Sud-Athiopiens (The Galla of Southern Ethiopia)
(by Eike Haberland) - - - J. E. G. SUTTON 22
(by Wm. Roger Louis) - - R. C. BRIDGES 224
The King's Men
(edited by L. A. Fallers) - P. J. NKAMBO MUGERWA 225
The Heroic Recitations of the Bahima of Ankole
(by H. F. Morris) - - - A. R. DUNBAR 228
Obulanmu B\'a Stanislas Mugwanya
(by Joseph Kasirye) - - - JOHN A. ROWE 229
Political Parties in Uganda 1949-1962
(by D. A. Loi) - - - - - B.L. JACOBS 230
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1963-1964
Compiled by Bryan W. Langlands - - - - 233
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS - - - - - 243
UGANDA-SOCIETY NOTES - - - - - - 243
INDEX TO VOLUME 28, (March and September 1964) - 244
THE UGAADA SOCIETY
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THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1964-65
The President of Uganda, His Excellency Sir Edward Mutesa, K.B.E.
Dr. M. Posnansky Dr. W. B. Banage
The Hon. Secretary
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The Hon. Editors
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Corresponding Secretary at Mbale: Mr. R. F. Clarke
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Kabaka of Buganda Mr. E. B. Haddon
R. A. Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa IV, Mr. H. B. Rhomas, o.B.E.
C.B.E., Omukama of Bunyoro Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
Lord Twining of Tanganyika and Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E.
Godalming, G.C.M.G., M.B.E.
1933-34 Sir A. R. Cook, C.M.O., O.B.E.
1934-35 Mr. E. J. Waviand, c.B.E.
1935-36 Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., LL.D.
1936-37 Dr. H. Jowitt, c.M.o.
1937-38 Sir H. R. Hone, K.C.M.o,, K.B.E.,
1938-39 Mr. J. Sykes, o.B.E.
1939-40 Mr. N. V. Brasnett
1940-41 Captain C. R. S. Pitman, C.B.E.,
1941-42 Mr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
1942-43 Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins
1943-44 Mr. R. A. Snoxall
1944-45 Dr. K. A. Davies. C.M.O., O.B.E.
1945-46 Mr. G. H. F. Hopkins, o.a.F.
1946-47 Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
1947-48 Dr. W. J. Eggeling
1948-50 Dr. G. ap Griffith
1950-51 Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, w.F.
1951-52 Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
1952-53 Sir J. B. Hutchinson, c.M.G., F.R.S.
1953-54 Mr. J. D. Jameson. o.e.r.
1954-55 Dr. Audrey I. Richards, C.B.E.
1955-56 Rev. Dr. H. C. Trowell, o.n.E.
1956-57 Mr. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E.
1957-58 Mr. M. Barrington Ward
1958-59 Dr. H. F. Morris
1959-60 Professor A. W. Southall
1960-61 Mr. J. C. D. Lawrance
1961-62 Mr. B. E. R. Kirwan, M.B.F.
1962-64 Mr. W. S. Kajubi
Mr. S. W. Kulubya, c.B.E.
Mr. B. K. Mulyanti, o.B.E.
Secretary: Mrs. J. Bevin
Mr. G. P. Saben
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
J. K. ALMOND
MRS. A. E. LUCK
W. A. TREMBLEY
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS IN THE
GOMBOLOLA OF BUHARA, KIGEZI - J. D. TURYAGYENDA
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE - WM. ROGER Louis
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA - - AHMED KATUMBA
and F. B. WELBOURN
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA - - - P. H. TEMPLE
MIKA SEMATIMBA - - - - - J. A. ROWE
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII:
EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA,
2 JULY 1887 TO 7 JANUARY 1888 Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY
BLOOD BROTHERHOOD IN ANKOLE Recorded by Y. K. BAMUNOBA
Lubaale INITIATION IN BUGANDA - - L. B. KAGGWA
and F. B. WELBOURN
A Field Guide to the Birds of East and Central Africa
(by John G. Williams) - - - MARIANNE WELTER
Galla Sud-Athiopiens (The Galla of Southern Ethiopia)
(by Eike Haberland) - - - J. E. G. SUTTON
(by Wm. Roger Louis) - - - R. C. BRIDGES
The King's Men
(edited by L. A. Fallers)
- P. J. NKAMBO MUGERWA
The Heroic Recitations of the Bahima of Ankole
(by H. F. Morris) - - - -
Obulamu Bwa Stanislas Mugwanya
(by Joseph Kasirye) - - - -
Political Parties in Uganda 1949-1962
(by D. A. Low) - - - -
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1963-1964
Compiled by Bryan W. Langlands -
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS - - -
UGANDA-SOCIETY NOTES - - -
A. R. DUNBAR
JOHN A. ROWE
- B. L. JACOBS
- - 233
- - - 243
- - - 243
INDEX TO VOLUME 28, (March and September 1964) - -
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (7964) pp. 127-133
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS IN THE
GOMBOLOLA OF BUHARA, KIGEZI*.
By J. D. TURYAGYENDA
A study of the gombolola of Buhara, situated in the extreme south west of
Uganda in Ndorwa county, reveals problems that are typical of most southern
gombololas of Kigezi. But a study of all these gombololas has, of course,
much wider implications. Buhara today suffers from overpopulation. With an
entirely rural population of 17,4201 on an area of roughly 25 square miles, the
gombolola has therefore a density of nearly 800 persons per square mile. The
author estimates that the miruka of Rwene and Muyebe, in the southwest and
northwest of the gombolola respectively, have a population density which is pro-
bably over 900 per square mile (Fig. 1). This high density is comparable with many
other localities in southern Kigezi, but perhaps contrasts with most of northern
Kigezi. In the district as a whole the high population density (by Uganda
standards) has meant that land holdings are small, 1.2 acres per family
being an average figure. For Buhara, by contrast, the holdings are estimated
to be 0.75 of an acre, on average.2 The average figure, of course, conceals the
fact that some families have plots much larger than the average while some
are virtually landless. The latter depend on the charity of those with an excess
of land, who are in a position to "loan" some of their ground to the landless.
Causes of Overpopulation
The present overpopulation would appear to be a fairly recent phenomenon.
It was preceded by concentration of population in nucleated villages. An under-
standing of this population concentration provides a means by which the
present situation can be explained. It developed as the result of a number of
Firstly, there was tribal friction. Oral evidence indicates that considerable
numbers of Bakiga migrated from Rwanda into what is now Kigezi towards
the close of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries. The main cause
of the Bakiga movement into southern Kigezi appears to have been pressure
from the Batwa peoples to the southwest, and the Batutsi to the south. The
Batwa were a more-warlike tribe, using the bow and arrow, and they had a
superior fighting technique. The Batwa and the Batutsi were two different
entities, but their almost simultaneous invasions drove the Bakiga northwards.
The Bakiga who, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, moved
into the upland and valley country of southern Kigezi joined the original
nucleus of the tribe already living in the area. The hillslopes adjacent to the
swamps were particularly attractive to Bakiga settlement; they were near a
source of water, while at the same time the swamps afforded a natural refuge.
Secondly, there were, within the tribe, clan wars which marked internal
struggles for ascendancy. The clan wars meant that the population concentrated
in nucleated hillside villages, which were easily defended. At the time of the
* This article is a summary of the 1963/64 Arts Research Prize Essay, Makerere University
128 UGANDA JOURNAL
wars the weaker clans tended to be pushed further eastwards into poorer areas.
It may be mentioned in passing that since the first two decades of this century,
with changed circumstances due to effective administration, settlement has
been dispersing and clan concentrations are breaking down, giving rise to a
widespread pattern of hamlets. Members of originally-hostile clans can now
Fig. 1 Distribution of population in the Gombolola of Buhara.
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS 129
live side by side. Counteracting this tendency have been two new nucleating
factors: the religious missions, and the major roads, around and along which
clusters of new settlements have grown up. A good example of the latter is the
road between Kabale and Katuna (on the Rwanda border) with its branch to
Rwene (Fig. 1).
Thirdly, in the early colonial period, population concentration was aug-
mented by migration into southern Kigezi between about 1910 and 1940.
Southern Kigezi was transferred from German East Africa and the Congo Free
State in 1910 to the British Protectorate of Uganda3, and migration into this
area in the early colonial era may have been occasioned by the fact that the
British administration appealed to these people more than did that of the
Belgians. Under the Belgian rule, people appear to have received public corporal
punishment. This is well-known as the Umunana, a Runyarwanda word mean-
In general, the tribal disturbances of the pre-colonial period and immigra-
tion in the colonial era would therefore appear significant in explaining the
undoubted concentration of the Bakiga peoples in the present Buhara area,
and in southern Kigezi as a whole.
Recently, and especially after the 1930s, a problem of overpopulation
developed as the result of the high natural rate of population increase in what
had become a closely-settled area. For Kigezi as a whole the increase has been as
high as 3.2 per cent4, and there is no obvious reason why that of Buhara should
be less than the district average; in fact, in the author's view, it seems to be
slightly higher in Buhara. The problem of overpopulation can be recognized
mainly on two interlocked criteria. On the one hand, there has been a decline
in the food supplies and perhaps in the quality of the diet, and, on the other
hand, there has been a deterioration of soil fertility. These changes have come
about because, while the population has been increasing rapidly, there has been
no expansion of land area and at the same time there have been poor crop
Another cause of overpopulation has been the agricultural system practised.
It is perhaps axiomatic that the high and growing population has been main-
tained by a successful and comparatively-sophisticated type of agriculture.
The existing intensive agricultural system is the result of the population pressure
on the land. But it has also been the cause of this population pressure in so far
as its success has, in the short-run, provided necessary food supplies for the
rapidly-growing population. The people have therefore achieved some stability,
but only for the time being.
Effects of Overpopulation
The problem of overpopulation has brought about far reaching effects
on both the people and the land. It has led to official and unofficial migrations.
Some migrations have been permanent, while others have only been on either a
long-term or a short-term basis. In connection with permanent migrations,
people have moved, especially between 1940 and the 1950s, from Buhara and
other gombololas to resettlement areas in Kinkizi county, Kigezi, and to
Ankole and Toro districts5. This movement still continues, but the initiative
comes largely from individuals rather than from the government. In terms of
long-term migrations some men stay away from their families for many years
earning money, but in the end they retire to their homes. The short-term
migrations, which range from a few months to, say, 3 years, are the commonest.
They have led to a clear distortion of the population structure; females over 16
... Gombolola boundary
Fig. 2. Distribution of Cultivation.
years of age are in a great majority over males of the same age group. In the
gombolola, 46 per cent are males and 54 per cent are females. In terms of age
groups Table I below shows that youg men of working age are correspondingly
under-represented, largely due to short-term migrations:
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS 131
Sex and Age group Percentage of Total Population
Males under 16 years 27.0
Females under 16 years 27.3
Males over 16 years 18.8
Females over 16 years 26.9
Prior to the 1960s most of the labour force, exclusively comprising young
men, used to be indentured through the Kigezi Recruiting Agency (now the
Kigezi Voluntary Employment Bureau), and other recruiting bodies at Kabale,
to Kilembe Copper Mines in Toro, to Lugazi-Kakira Sugar Estates, and to
Mityana Tea Estate in Buganda. Others were, and still are, voluntarily employed
on smaller enterprises, particularly in the cotton and coffee shambas in Buganda.
These young men seek work outside their district in order to supplement meagre
incomes from their small landholdings, to pay off bride price and to meet other
As regards land use, overpopulation has inevitably led to excessive use of
the land. Probably less than one tenth of the cultivable area is left fallow at any
one time. Almost all of the available land is fully utilised. Fig. 2 shows that
cultivation covers about 78 per cent of the gombolola: this is also borne out in
Land use type Percentage of total area (approximate)
Settled area mixed with cultivated
fields (continuously used) 15.8
Exclusively cultivated area (fallow
Scrub and thicket 5.2
Papyrus and grassy swamps 7.7
Reclaimed swamp 0.6
Unimproved grassland 9.0
Note: The percentages were calculated from Fig. 2. The map is based on field observations
and aerial photographs.
It is interesting to note that nearly all hillsides, except those with stony soils
used for growing wattle trees, are under effective cultivation, together with the
hilltops and most swamp-free valleys. Contour cultivation has provided an
effective means of bringing about full use of much needed land. It is supple-
mented by the use of drains and strips of grass in between plots to prevent loss
of soil on slopes which are almost invariably steep.
Pressure on the land has caused a shortage of grazing grounds and of sources
of firewood. In the former case on the one hand, there is very little land ex-
clusively preserved for grazing purposes (and this is included in the unimproved
grassland of Fig. 2). This has meant that even the playing fields in the gombolola
are almost daily grazed. The limitations of grazing grounds are also reflected in
the fact that swamps are not only looked to as supplementary grazing fields,
132 UGANDA JOURNAL
b ut in some cases, especially on the western periphery of the gombolola where
the population density is greatest (see Fig. 1), the swamps are regarded as the
major grazing fields. The importance of swamps is enhanced in the dry season
when the grass on hillslopes becomes exhausted through grazing and drought.
On the other hand, the problem of firewood is the product of intensive
use of the land for purely agricultural purposes. This has necessitated some
people, especially poorer ones, going hungry even when food is available as they
cannot cook it because of lack of fuel. In the absence of forests, people have
frequently to depend on the fluctuating and easily exhaustible dry shrubs and
branches found either on the fallow ground or on the small thicket-scrub area.
The rumbugu grass (Digitaria scalarum) is also another source of fuel for the
poor. The most reliable source of fuel, however, has been the dry papyrus stems,
at least for those within reach of swamps.
Regarding soil fertility and productivity, an intensive agricultural system has
meant that signs of diminishing soil fertility and consequent erosion are not
difficult to find. In some areas, especially on the hills, crops tend to be stunted
either because the soil is too thin to support deep-rooted ones, or because the
essential plant nutrients are lacking. The gradual loss of soil fertility invariably
leads to a corresponding loss of soil through erosion. The soil today, as a result
of excessive use, tends to lose its capacity for remaining in place and its produc-
tive power has been reduced. The poor yield of crops from this impoverished
soil has a comparatively low nutritive value, and this has contributed to a poor
diet, already unbalanced. Fertility of the soil could be restored by applying
manures and fertilisers. Green manure is not used to the best advantage and
compost-pit manure, which is readily available, is not widely used, especially
in the fields far removed from homes. A few plots round houses, and in parti-
cular those reserved for vegetables and one or two fruit trees, are manured.
It may be mentioned in passing that it is the recently-reclaimed swamp area
which still retains its maximum fertility, although some reclaimed sections are
too acid for successful crop growth.
The problem of overpopulation is also manifested in the severe land frag-
mentation, which has come about within the last 20 or 30 years, as a result of
population increase. Land holdings are too small for efficient management in a
number of cases. Fragmentation came about chiefly because of local inheritance
rights. In both monogamous and polygamous marriages, inheritance rights
have meant that any son, after marriage, is entitled to a piece of land
from his father, while at the same time in polygamous marriages, the
father-husband is obliged to give land to his wives. This has invariably meant a
high rate of land fragmentation; for when grandsons marry they, too, in turn are
entitled to get from their fathers pieces of land. Fragmentation due to inheri-
tance rights has been exacerbated in some instances by other factors including
buying, selling, giving and "loaning" land which will only be briefly mentioned.
The development of a market for land in this area is in itself an effect of
overpopulation, for until land is in short supply, there is no market for it. The
selling and buying of land has had two effects. Firstly, it has tended to con-
centrate holdings into the hands of the wealthy, thus counteracting the frag-
mentation process. Secondly, it has tended to drive out the poorer peoples,
who are offered relatively-high prices for their land. In this way migration has
been encouraged. The development of a market for land may well be economic-
ally a good thing in the long run since it tends to consolidate landholdings while
at the same time it reduces population pressure through migration. Land con-
solidation and a more-effective and well-organised agricultural system could
OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS 133
well follow. However, the social effects of this might be disastrous: against this
process of consolidation must be balanced the consequences of creating a class
of landless peasants who find refuge in the land borrowing (Kwatisa) system.
Land borrowing and lending are not uncommon in Buhara and elsewhere
in southern Kigezi. It has essentially been caused by overpopulation. But the
system has tended to be unpopular because some borrowers have claimed after
several years that the land had become theirs by right of usage. The uncertainties
of this type of ownership have been, where land lending has been inevitable,
obviated by the lender giving detailed, though verbal, instructions before wit-
nesses. By these instructions the borrower is allowed to use the land for not
more than 3 years usually, and he or she is neither allowed to grow permanent
crops nor allowed to erect a building there. Failure to observe these terms
means immediate eviction. It can be also mentioned that land is sometimes
given to the needy by the rich. This is a very rare thing today, occurring only
among people who are friends or relatives.
In the pre-colonial era population concentration in the area resulted from
tribal conflicts and pressures. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries further
population concentration resulted from the migration of Bakiga joining their
other clan members in southern Kigezi, from Byumba district in Rwanda.
The present problem of overpopulation has generally been a result of
a high natural rate of population increase. The very high population
density has been shown to have grave effects on the land although in the
short-run this has been able to support a rapidly-increasing population
through the sophisticated agricultural system. It is only too obvious that this
serious and delicate situation, where there is a shortage of land and where frag-
mentation has acquired such great proportions, calls for immediate remedial
The author wishes to thank Mr. B. W. Langlands, who supervised the study,
and Mr. P. H. Temple for criticism of the paper.
1. Uganda General Census, Age Sex Analysis, (1959), Vol. 1 p. 164.
2. An estimate based on discussions with District Agricultural Assistants.
3. The Atlas of Uganda, (1963); map of "Evolution of Uganda's Boundaries" and the ac-
companying text, pp. 74-5.
4. Uganda Census 1959, African Population, p. 75.
Purseglove, J. W. (1950), Kigezi Resettlement: Uganda Jl. 14, pp. 139-152; also
Annual Report on Kigezi District, 1961; Settlement. p. 6, para. 30.
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 135-149
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE
By WM. ROGER Louis
Charles Henry Stokes was hanged in the Congo in January 1895. He had
been found guilty by an officer of the Congo State of gun-running-trading in
munitions of war with the Arabs west of Lake Edward, thereby enabling "the
worst enemies of civilization to stand up so long against the Congolese forces."
The execution took place at Lindi, in a remote district between Stanley Falls
and Lake Edward, where similar acts of violence during the struggle for the
eastern Congo between the agents of the Congo State and the Arabs were
taken as a matter of course. But the Stokes incident was different. It was the
first occasion, Baron von Marschall (the German Foreign Secretary) pointed out,
on which a European had been executed-"for all the world, as if he were a
native"-by a commander of a military expedition in the interior of Africa.
The Stokes affair had even more significance. It demonstrated the ano-
malous relation between the Congo State and Belgium. Of greatest importance,
it was the first incident to arouse widespread interest in both Britain and Ger-
many in the abuses of the Congo State's administration. In some respects it
would not be an exaggeration to say that the agitation for Congo reform
began when Charles Stokes' life ended on a hangman's gallows in darkest
The enigma of Stokes' personality and his role in the history of east Africa
have been described by Sir John Gray.' Stokes was a fervent Irish protestant
who went out to east Africa in 1878 under the auspices of the Church Mis-
sionary Society. While in the service of the C.M.S. he acquired skill in leading
caravans into the interior, and subsequently (after marrying an African woman)
severed his connection with the missionary society in favour of the more mun-
dane activity of trading guns and powder for ivory. Stokes was a hot-tempered,
passionate Irishman "with all his country's faults and virtues":
He was so violent and excitable that it appeared as though at times he was not
quite sane. Rumours said that he was not courageous. He was easily swayed to
good or evil, was vacillating in purpose, and unreliable. The making of money
was the motive of his life, and anything which offered opportunities to this
end was a temptation he could hardly resist.2
Stokes was "a rash hare-brained fellow, but (he) was not without his good
qualities"3; unlike many of his contemporaries, he treated Africans as human
beings; "It was admitted on all sides that Mr. Stokes was much liked by the
natives, whom he always treated well . ."4
Stokes was suspected by the Congolese officials in the tempestuous 'Arab
zone' of suppling arms and ammunition to Kibonge, a notorious Arab chief
who had been involved in the death of Emin Pasha, and was engaged in open
hostilities with the Congo State.5 Kibonge was captured and shot by the in-
trepid Commandant Lothaire6 on 1 January 1895. Among Kibonge's papers
he allegedly found a letter from Stokes containing the words "I can help you;
have no fear. I am coming."7
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
Lothaire was acting as the head of a small force in a disturbed district o f
the Congo. He appears honestly to have formed the opinion that Stokes was
engaged in selling arms to the Arab chiefs, and to have drawn the conclusion
that he was stirring-up war against the Congo State-a crime punishable by
death.8 Lothaire thought that Stokes' execution was necessary as an example
to the enemies of the Congo State as well as for the safety of Lothaire's own
force. Stokes was captured and after a summary trial by court martial, was
hanged on 15 January 1895.
He was hoisted on two packing cases; the cord was passed around his neck;
the packing cases were removed; the body fell suddenly; it was thus he died.9
Lothaire and his party in the Congo learned later with "great astonishment"
that this straightforward action had created bitter controversy in Europe.10
To those responsible for his death, Stokes was no more than a criminal whose
hanging was fully justified.
Even Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister, commented that if Stokes
was in league with Arab slave-trading, then "he deserved hanging"." One uniden-
tified British official admitted that Lothaire had done "the right thing in the
The British Foreign Office had no reason to look with favour on Stokes.
As "an Irishman born and bred" (Stokes' own description of himself)'3 his
work in Africa was "anti-British and pro-German".14 Sir John Kirk, for years
the British Consul in Zanzibar, remarked that "he was no loss to us, although
he was an honest man . ."15 The news of Stokes' execution was received with
indifference by the British Foreign Office. When the German ambassador asked
Sir Thomas H. Sanderson, the permanent under-secretary, whether the British
government planned to take any steps regarding the execution of this "well-
known character", Sanderson wrote "I do not quite understand why the
Germans are pressing us."16
Stokes had settled in German East Africa and had been on good terms
with the German officials. The German Foreign Secretary explained to one
of the officials of the British embassy in Berlin:
Mr. Stokes was, as far as the Germans were aware, a most excellent man,
long established in east Africa . some two years ago His Majesty had be-
stowed on him a Prussian decoration ... since 1890 he has been in the employ of
the Imperial German Commissary . and . had done much to advance
German interests, especially by concluding treaties on behalf of Germany with
various local chieftains.17
But the real reason why the German government was so interested in the
fate of an unfortunate British subject was "the belief that Captain Lothaire's
act will enable them once and for all to stop the efforts of the Congo govern-
ment to monopolize the ivory trade from the lakes districts to the serious
detriment of German East Africa."18 The Congo State authorities were attemp-
ting to divert the ivory trade from the east to the west coast; Stokes' execution
was proof according to the Germans, of the lengths to which the Congolese
would go to carry out this policy.18a
The British authority mainly responsible for evaluating the reports concern-
ing Stokes' execution was the African sage of the Foreign Office, Sir Percy
Anderson. Anderson concurred in the German judgment on the motive behind
the hanging of Stokes: "Lothaire, knowing that Stokes drew away the ivory to
the German tract, was determined to hang him if he could catch him."19
Anderson had no especial fondness for the Germans, and certainly no
intention of attacking the Congo State for the benefit of the German ivory
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 137
trade. He was concerned, rather, with the execution of a British subject-a
matter taken up immediately by the British press: ". . what we want to know",
asked The Times, "is by what right or authority the Congo Free State or its
agents put an Englishman to death . ."9a
Sir Francis Plunkett, the British minister in Belgium, was instructed to
inform the Congolese authorities that the British government had no wish to
embarrass them; but that it was incumbent on them to give the fullest ex-
planation "of so grave an incident".20
When Plunkett had inquired about the details of Stokes' execution, Cu-
velier, one of the Congolese authorities in Brussels, replied that the Congo
government had full proof of the culpability of Stokes; the British government,
he said, would find no ground for complaint.21 They had no wish to suppress
the details of the execution from the British; but as far as the Germans were
concerned it was a different matter. Cuvelier told Plunkett privately that the
evidence concerning Stokes clearly demonstrated the great extent to which
arms and ammunition had been surreptitiously sold to the Arabs through
German East Africa; "the communication of such information to the German
minister would lead to a very awkward discussion with Germany, which the
Congo State was anxious to avoid."22 On 30 August 1895, however, the German
government addressed a harshly-worded protest to the Congo government. In
response to this combined Anglo-German pressure, the Congo government
produced the documents concerning Stokes' execution.23
Plunkett regarded the evidence as unsatisfactory, or at best incomplete.
There was no information about the composition of the tribunal which con-
demned Stokes, nor about the form of the trial. "This omission is all the more
remarkable in face of the report, still current here, that certain Belgian officers
declined to take part in the trial, as they considered the proceedings irregular."24
The most startling discovery was that, according to Congolese law, foreigners
who were not soldiers had the right of appeal to the court at Boma.
Anderson bluntly summarized his impressions of the papers presented by
the Congo government:
It seems to me that they (the records) make out a case of murder and robbery
(of Stokes). It seems that there was no properly constituted tribunal, a flimsy
trial, no attention to the defence, no appeal allowed, summary execution
probably at the hands of natives, and his ivory appropriated.25
After a careful study of the Congolese documents, the British Foreign
office concluded that there was no justification for Stokes' execution without
allowing an appeal to the court at Boma.
There were further irregularities. In accordance with the provisions of ar-
ticles 2 and 3 of the Congo State's decree of 22 December 1888, Stokes should
have been brought before a court composed of a judge, an officer of the public
ministry, and a greffier (clerk of court). There was no evidence that such a
court was ever legally constituted. Article 14 of the decree of 1888 stated that
the depositions of the accused and of the witnesses must be signed by the judge
and by the greffier of the court. Yet no signature except Lothaire's was attached
to the procks verbal of the trial. Anderson concluded that there was 'abundant
evidence' as to the arbitrary character of the proceedings in the papers which
were intended to justify them.26
Aroused at the apparent miscarriage of justice, Salisbury demanded to
know from the Congo State authorities "whether Commandant Lothaire has
been tried or is to be tried for the offence of hanging an European civilian,
without allowing him to appeal against the sentence according to the Congo
138 UGANDA JOURNAL
decree of 1888."27 Anderson suspected that the Congo State had done nothing
in the hope "that the facts would never be known."28
The authorities of the Congo State did indeed hope that the facts would
not become more widely known than they already were. Van Eetvelde, Leo-
pold II's minister in charge of foreign affairs, at once admitted the illegality
of the Stokes proceedings, though he tried to treat the execution "as a matter
of minor importance, in which Her Majesty's Government took little real
interest . ." Eetvelde desperately wanted "to finish the matter up as soon as
possible", and would pay almost any price as indemnity.
I never saw a man more miserable than van Eetvelde, when I left him last
Thursday afternoon to have it out with the King. His hand was bathed in dry
cold perspiration and he was squinting violently, as he only does when greatly
In view of the evident irregularities of the trial, Plunkett thought it essential
to establish as accurately as possible what actually happened. He proposed to
to do this by an interview with Dr. Michaux,30 the other European besides
Lothaire present at the trial. Salisbury left to Plunkett's discretion the ques-
tions to be put to Michaux-"I do not think Plunkett need observe any delicacy
in getting out of Michaux all he knows"31-but emphasized the importance of
ascertaining the legality of the procedure.32
Plunkett met Michaux and Eetvelde on 15 October 1895. Michaux provided
the following information, which convinced the British beyond doubt that a
grave injustice had been committed. Lothaire, while at Mabilunga, heard that
Stokes and another white man were advancing with a large force to attack him;
Lothaire ordered his subordinate, Lieutenant Henry, to pursue Stokes; Henry
captured Stokes at Kilongalonga and sent him as a prisoner to Lothaire at
Lindi. Two of Stokes' servants followed him, bringing with them a few of his
trunks. His caravan remained at Kwampani. On his arrival at Lindi Stokes was
immediately interrogated by Lothaire, who accused him of having furnished
arms and ammunition to the Arab enemies of the Congo State. Stokes was then
taken to a small house made of branches which had been built for a white officer,
and two sentries were placed to guard him. He asked for paper and pens, and
wrote his defence.33 Next morning after breakfast, Stokes was brought to trial
at Lothaire's residence "in presence of a large number of natives". Stokes was
guarded but not handcuffed. No other Europeans were present besides Lothaire
and Michaux; there were no other Europeans at Lindi; (nevertheless the de-
positions of three of the witnesses were signed by Henry, who was not there).
The principal witnesses against Stokes were M'Suferie of Lindi and Aluta of
Kilongalonga. They gave their evidence without constraint. Stokes gave his
defence, which Lothaire declined to admit as valid. After proceedings which
lasted less than a half an hour, Lothaire sentenced Stokes to be hanged. "Stokes
then made an earnest request to be allowed time to appeal to his "fellow Chris-
tians", and Dr. Michaux did his utmost to induce Captain Lothaire to accede
to this prayer." Even so friendly a person towards the Congo State as H.M.
Stanley remarked later that "The evidence of a lot of half-castes and negroes
ought not in a matter of life and death to outweigh Stokes' solemn statement."34
In the afternoon Michaux again begged Lothaire not to hang Stokes, but
Lothaire was adamant. Stokes remained under guard until 4 o'clock the next
morning, when he was hanged and "immediately and decently buried."35
Neither Stokes nor Dr. Michaux asked for time to appeal to Boma; neither
knew that such a right existed by law.
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 139
Dr. Michaux said he had every reason to believe that Captain Lothaire also
knew nothing whatever about the existence of this provision in favour of civi-
lians. Therefore this question had not been raised in any form at Lindi, and he
himself knew nothing about it, until he got back to Stanley Falls. He had,
in fact, heard Captain Lothaire express regret that he had no copy of the code
with him to consult.36
This statement struck Plunkett as so extraordinary that he burst out that "it
seemed impossible that an officer in the position of Captain Lothaire should
be sent out in command of a distant expedition without some instruction as
to the laws he had the right to administer."37
Michaux gave Plunkett the impression of being a reliable witness telling
the truth.38 His testimony showed to the British Foreign Office that the whole
proceeding was nothing more than 'a drumhead inquiry'. "I did not conceal
from M. van Eetvelde, after Dr. Michaux had left the room, that I consider the
doctor's explanations had been of a most damaging character for the Congolese
authorities, but I did not deem the moment opportune for driving home a truth,
to which M. van Eetvelde appeared to be painfully alive."38a
Plunkett was appalled at the evidence given by Michaux. If Michaux was
telling the truth, it meant that the proces-verbal of the trial (which had been
handed over to the British in the meantime) had been forged. "We now know
that the other three witnesses cannot have been present as these depositions
are signed by Lieutenant Henry, who was not there."39 Plunkett telegraphed:
". . if I press too hard for enquiry it might turn out possibly that the King
himself had it prepared. What shall I do ?"40
Despite the "damning proces-verbal scandal",41 the British were anxious
to close the matter between the two governments as soon as possible. Through-
out the proceedings they consistently urged the Congo State authorities simply
to determine the legality of Stokes' execution ". . public opinion here . .
is not unduly biassed in favour of Stokes, but . certainly holds that wrong
has been done to an Englishman and that it should be ascertained whether he
deserved his fate or not."42 If the Congo State would admit the illegality of
the trial, pay an indemnity, and ensure a trial for Lothaire, this would satisfy
the British public. By pursuing the matter beyond this, Britain "would make a
bitter enemy of the Congo State."43
The period 1894-96 was one of crisis for the Congo State.
S.. the Congo State was being harassed to death by chantage (extortion of
hush-money) of all kinds, and, if this were to continue for the many months
which may elapse before Lothaire can be brought to trial, the position of the
King would be intolerable, and the existence of the Congo State might be
imperilled. He [Eetvelde] spoke with more warmth than I have ever yet seen
him show, of the cruelty of grinding down the Congo administration, for the
technical error, however grave, of a subordinate ... it shows how hard the Congo
State is being pressed, and what temptations they have to throw up the sponge
and let the whole concern go to smash.44
The Foreign Office, as H. M. Stanley observed, wanted "to deal mildly"45
with the Congo State. On 5 November 1895 Salisbury accepted the Congo
government's offer of an immediate payment of an indemnity of 150,000
francs as compensation for the irregularities of procedure, and the further offer
of the restitution of all property belonging to Stokes; the Congo State autho-
rities assured the British that Lothaire would be called on to explain his ac-
140 UGANDA JOURNAL
What court would be competent to try Lothaire? Plunkett apprehended
"that here in Europe the Congo State government would no longer have any
authority over him."47 Eetvelde at first declined to admit that Lothaire's
explanations would be so unsatisfactory as to justify his being brought to trial
before any court;48 Plunkett gained the impression from Eetvelde that if a
trial did take place, it would be before the court at Boma, from which there
would be appeal to one at Brussels. On the other hand, it was questionable
whether the existing law of the Congo State provided for any procedure to try
an offence such as the one committed by Lothaire, and whether Leopold
would now have to issue a special decree.49 The Foreign Office, after examining
the judicial decrees of the Congo State, held that no Congo court was competent
to try Lothaire,50 and either that Lothaire would have to be arraigned before a
Belgian military court, or that a court would have to be specially constituted.
As Plunkett presented the problem to Eetvelde, the British government did not
want to prejudge the question; Lothaire might be innocent and Stokes might
have been guilty; the British government simply insisted that the question be
examined openly by a proper court, invested with full power to inflict suitable
punishment in case of conviction. "In fact," said M. van Eetvelde bitterly,
"you insist on a court which shall have the power of hanging Lothaire."50a
Eetvelde maintained that the court at Boma had full jurisdiction; but to
appease the British government he supported the suggestion of indicting
Lothaire before a Belgian military tribunal.51 In discussing the problem with an
eminent Belgian legal authority, M. Bara, first advocate of the Brussels Bar
and formerly Minister of Justice-"a man of the highest ability and of perfect
integrity"52-Plunkett learned that the Belgian military courts would probably
declare themselves incompetent to try Lothaire. The Congo State was entirely
independent of Belgium; as it had properly constituted courts of its own, the
power of trial and punishment would have to be exercised by it as a sovereign
state. The only reason why a Belgian military court would accept jurisdiction
would be "in order to get the King out of a difficulty. A special court would also
create knotty problems: according to Plunkett's prominent consultant, it would
be "contrary to the spirit of the age, that it would be almost impossible to decide
how this Court should be constituted, and that its verdict, if excessive upon
Captain Lothaire, would raise a terrific outcry in this country, while, if the de-
cision be lenient, the British public would no doubt be equally clamorous."53
M. Bara had urged King Leopold not to try to form a special court; ". . he
hoped that he had made His Majesty understand the great dangers which might
result in Belgium from such a solution."54
Eetvelde announced to Plunkett in late November 1895, nevertheless, that
Lothaire would be brought to Belgium and indicted before a Belgian military
tribunal.55 There followed both in Belgium and Britain complicated discussions
about court competence. The British Foreign Office eventually concluded that
there were "grave doubts as to whether a Belgian military court is competent
to deal with the case."56 The British government. Salisbury said finally after
much indecision, did not wish to raise unnecessary difficulties, or to cause
embarrassment to the Congo government; the British would consent to the
proposal that Lothaire's trial should take place before the court at Boma, on
the understanding that the Public Ministry of the Congo State would appeal
to the Superior Court at Brussels if the British government was dissatisfied with
the decision of the Boma tribunal.57 The Congo State authorities consequently
reversed their decision and brought Lothaire before the Boma court.
The Congo State authorities, with some justification, felt that the British
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 141
were meddling in their affairs by demanding that Lothaire be tried, and, by
implication at least, that he be punished. The negotiations were becoming
embittered. As usual, it was Salisbury who restrained the zeal of the Africa
department of the Foreign Office:
Are we not becoming a trifle too hot in our pursuit of Lothaire?. . we have
no interest in a severe sentence. Indeed if he were hanged it would be very
inconvenient, as it would make a sort of blood feud between us and the Belgians5s.
Vice-Consul Arthur58a was instructed by Salisbury to attend the trial at Boma,
in accordance with the arrangement between the two governments. Emphasizing
the delicacy of the situation, Sanderson wrote to Arthur in January 1896
that he was "not to insist on an appeal on the mere grounds of the sentence
being too light."59
The trial at Boma opened on 24 April 1896. Lothaire was arraigned on the
charge of l'homicide qualified. Ghislain,61 the Secretary-General of the Congo
State-and not a lawyer by profession-was appointed by the Governor-
General to act as prosecutor; the official to whom this duty belonged, Horst-
mans, had declined to prosecute because he considered that Lothaire had
not in any way violated the laws of the Congo State. "There is no doubt that
Captain Lothaire was much aggrieved at being tried before the Court of Appeal,
as he considered that he had in no way abused or exceeded his powers as Judge
of the Conseil de Guerre ... He is also greatly incensed with the government
of the Congo State for prosecuting him . ."62
The crux of the case was the denial by Lothaire of Stokes' right of appeal.
Lothaire defended his action by stating that he regarded Stokes as a militaire;
therefore he had forfeited his right of appeal.63 Stokes as a militaire had entered
the Congo State at the head of a large body of men, who had the appearance
of a fighting force; Stokes' letters to the Arabs in revolt against the Congo
State clearly showed that he planned to give the rebel Kibonge arms; on these
grounds Stokes was tried and executed.
The court at Boma found that Lothaire was acting within his powers when
he sat as judge of the Conseil de Guerre at Lindi; but that he had displayed
undue haste in the trial and execution of Stokes. Lothaire erred by not calling
in the services of some other officer to act as greffier; but Lothaire had not dis-
played criminal intentions in executing Stokes. Therefore the Boma court
acquitted him of the charge of murder on which he was indicted.64
Vice-Consul Arthur informed Salisbury by telegraph on 30 April 1896 that
Lothaire had been acquitted; "To appeal against this decision would be, in
my opinion, useless and inexpedient, as the Brussels tribunal would be certain
to confirm it."65 When queried by Salisbury whether the trial was "fair and
impartial"66 Arthur replied that the court had laid too much stress on the
character of Stokes, that there were no witnesses present except for the defence,
and that the irregularities of Stokes' trial by Lothaire were "not sufficiently
brought to light and investigated."67 The British government, in accordance with
their Congo consul's advice,68 therefore requested appeal to Brussels. To Ander-
son the trial at Boma had been "little better than a farce."69
Once again, the question of court competence arose. In a conversation in
May 1896, the distinguished Belgian statesman Baron Lambermont observed
to Plunkett that when Leopold had been allowed to accept the sovereignty
of the Congo State intricate points of justice "had unfortunately never been
thought of.. ." As a matter of fact, it was difficult to know whether the Congo
State had the right to hold a court of justice in Belgium.70 Plunkett replied that
it would be 'monstrous' if the Belgian government would refuse jurisdiction;
142 UGANDA JOURNAL
"Although I have no reason for suspecting the good faith of the Congo State
government in this matter, their policy has often been so tortuous that it is
possible this refusal now to allow the appeal to take place here has been de-
signed between the two governments in order to cut short the legal procedure,
in the hope that Her Majesty's Government will thus have no other recourse
but to drop the whole matter."71 The Belgian prime minister did not agree to
Lothaire's trial at Brussels until late June 1896.72
The difficulties of arraigning Lothaire before a Belgian court involved
Belgian politics, as well as relations with Britain and Germany,73a which
influenced the outcome of the trial. The arrival of Lothaire in Brussels in May
1896 coincided with Belgian elections. Plunkett anticipated hostile "demon-
strations of indignation" against both the Congo State administration and
Britain. He doubted whether "the present weak Belgian cabinet will be able to
check any strong current of public opinion, however much they may regret its
consequences."73 Lothaire, according to Eetvelde, had left Boma "full of en-
mity" and intended to expose the abuses of the Congo State and of its sove-
reign;74 thus a purely Congolese question had become a Belgian question,
and affected Leopold's position as King of the Belgians.
Bara pointed out to Plunkett that the Brussels court would confirm the
judgment of the one at Boma because "the feeling here among all the Belgian
lawyers was incensed against the administration of the Congo State." Their
indignation arose from two causes. First, because the Congo administration
had turned against Lothaire by paying indemnities to Britain and Germany
before Lothaire's case had been heard. Second, because the Congo admini-
stration "gave to a foreign government (Britain) a right of interference with
independent law courts, directed by lawyers furnished by the Belgian Bar."75
The feeling of the bar was so strong that Plunkett feared that he might not be
able to find a first-class advocate, "and might thus have to confide our interests
to some man of inferior talents and position, which would be very unfor-
tunate."76 Lothaire's "ambitious and somewhat unscrupulous" advocate
clearly thought that an acquittal would be a forensic triumph which would
advance his personal interests.77
The appeal case was scheduled for 3 August 1896-before the British
government had had sufficient time to examine the documents of the Boma
trial forwarded by Arthur.78 Eetvelde told Plunkett confidentially that an early
date had been fixed for the appeal trial because Lothaire, now willing to be
tried, might eventually change his mind and the Congo government would
have no means for forcing him into court; because Leopold and the Belgian
government were anxious to settle the matter before the reassembling of Par-
liament; because public opinion in Britain would eventually force the British
government to insist on the appeal, so nothing would be gained by waiting;
and because the Congo government had great difficulty in getting men to serve
on the court-further delay would make it impossible to constitute a proper
I believe that this must have been suddenly decided for serious Belgian reasons,
and not simply with the object of trying to force our hand. We may have other
surprises still before the end of the fortnight; the court may "go on strike";
or Lothaire, at the last moment, may refuse to attend; or the Belgian govern-
ment, frightened by some fresh outbreak of public opinion, may prohibit the trial
taking place here. The position is full of difficulties for the King: any mis-
fortune to the Sovereign of the Congo State must immediately affect the Belgian
Monarchy-and then ? 79a
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 143
Belgian public opinion considered that Lothaire was being harshly treated;
". . the universal opinion of all parties in this country was that the trial at
Boma, with which, as far as the public knew, the British Vice-Consul was
satisfied, added to the previous payment of 150,000 francs to Her Majesty's
Government, and 100,000 francs to Germany, constitute sufficient satisfaction
for the irregularity unintentionally committed."80 Plunkett was entirely dis-
satisfied with the course of the Stokes affair; he did not think that it would be
"compatible with the dignity of Her Majesty's Government" that he as the
British Minister should attend the trial. "Our presence there can do no good,
and I consider that Her Majesty's Government should simply throw on the
Congo government all responsibility for these legal proceedings and reserve
their freedom of appreciation, and of action, for the future." Plunkett sug-
gested that Lord Vaux of Harrowden, who had made a detailed study of Stokes'
papers, should attend on behalf of the British Legation and should draw up a
The Brussels trial took place in the library of the Congo government from
the 3rd to the 6th of August 1896. The first two days were filled by a report
which one of the judges, Sam Wiener, read to the court of the whole proceedings
which had led up to the appeal. Vaux formed the impression "that it was on
the whole a tolerably impartial account of what had taken place." On the
second day, Lothaire was invited to explain his actions. He stated that he had
received evidence that Stokes was supplying arms and ammunition to the Arab
chiefs in revolt against the Congo State. On the third day Paul Hymans began
the prosecution. Vaux reported that it was difficult to regard Hymans's plead-
ing as a serious effort to prove Lothaire guilty of any offence. "Even such
points as the absence of a greffier during the proceedings at the court at Lindi,
Stokes' description in the sentence passed upon him as a merchant, denial of the
right of appeal as a military man, and then execution by hanging as a civilian,
as well as various other matters which might obviously have been pressed
against the accused, were minimized or brushed aside as unimportant by M.
Hymans." The only point on which Hymans admitted that Lothaire might have
been in the wrong was in the confiscation of Stokes' ivory as well as of his arms.
Hymans made no effort to prove the case against Lothaire about the denial of
the right of appeal and ended his speech by calling upon the court to pro-
nounce a verdict of acquittal.82
At the final session Lothaire's counsel, Graux, gave a speech which lasted
for four hours and a half in Lothaire's defence. He emphasized the military
character of Stokes' expeditions and pleaded that Lothaire was justified
in executing Stokes as a measure of self-protection in time of war. There was
no question of personal animus; Lothaire was fully invested with judicial
authority necessary to try and sentence Stokes. If there were some truth in the
charge that Lothaire had erred in judgment, such a mistake was not the ex-
ecution of murder; yet he had been tried at Boma for murder. He had been
acquitted, and Graux asked the court at Brussels to confirm that verdict. Half
an hour later the judges upheld the verdict of acquittal.83
The Stokes affair closed by a formal note of protest from the British govern-
ment. After careful study, the British government concluded that "the super-
ficial nature of the inquiries" at Boma and Brussels confirmed rather than re-
moved the impression that there had been "a serious miscarriage of justice". The
law establishing the Conseils de Guerre required the presence of a greffier which
was absent at Lindi; the Conseil de Guerre was incompetent to try non-military
persons, yet Stokes had been summarily executed. The defective constitution
144 UGANDA JOURNAL
of the court was itself sufficient to create a technical invalidity of all its proceed-
ings. The offences of which Stokes was accused were not even punishable by
death under the laws of the Congo State. Elaborate attempts were made to
prove that the offence of selling arms in time of rebellion was identical with
"inciting to civil war" (which was punishable by death); but this offence was not
among those with which Stokes was charged in the formal record of the trial.
Lothaire defended his action of not allowing Stokes an appeal by regarding
Stokes as a military person; yet it was clear from Stokes' written testimony
that he did not know that he was being tried as a military person.
From the foregoing facts, and from the circumstance that the record of the
trial at Lindi makes no mention of any decision by the judge that Mr. Stokes
was a militaire, Her Majesty's Government are forced to the conclusion that
the contention that he had that character, and that he was charged with inciting
to war was an afterthought brought into account for the negligence to accord
Mr. Stokes his right of appeal, and for the infliction of the death penalty.84
Stokes as an unscrupulous merchant might have deserved punishment,
though he had not by law incurred the punishment of death. The proceedings
were altogether irregular if considered from the viewpoint of ordinary law; they
could be justified, if at all, only under critical circumstances and in a state of war.
Lothaire may not have been guilty of homicide; but he was guilty of a military
execution in ignorance of the provisions of the law.
The Congo government had issued a decree on 30 October 1895 which
removed crime punishable by death from the cognizance of the Conseils de
Guerre if the accused were of European race. The purpose of this decree was the
prevention of another Stokes case; but it was slight assurance to the British
that other abuses had been corrected; "Her Majesty's Government cannot conceal
from that of the Independent State that their confidence in the conduct of justice
within the jurisdiction of the Congo State has been rudely shaken and they will
watch with much anxiety the future administration of the law and regulations
of the state as affecting the persons and property of British subjects."85
The Stokes case demonstrated, as Anderson pointed out, "how the machin-
ery of the Congo State breaks down on trial."86 It demonstrated that only in
extraordinary circumstances-such as the intervention of Britain and Germany
-would a miscarriage of justice be considered by Belgian courts. The British
government rightly pointed to the irregularities of the trial and the faulty
judicial system in the Congo; in Belgium, the British intervention was inter-
preted even by prominent Belgian jurists, as an attempt to meddle in a purely
Belgian-Congolese question. The incident strengthened the suspicion in the
British Foreign Office that they were dealing with 'shifty people', just as it created
suspicion in Belgium about the motives behind the British concern for justice.
The trial proceedings created legal problems of such a scope that they
probably will always remain the subject of speculation. Could one sovereign
state, Belgium, exercise authority over another sovereign state, King Leopold's
Congo? One British legal expert remarked with relief that "we have fortunately
not got to decide these legal conundrums-but only to criticize, if necessary,
whatever decisions are arrived at."87
The Stokes affair was an unfortunate episode in the history of the relations
between the Congo State and Britain, creating mistrust on both sides. It was a
significant landmark in the history of Congo reform-the first important in-
stance in which the attention of the British Foreign office and the British public
was directed towards abuses in the Congolese administration. In 1906, when
agitation against the Congo State was reaching its peak, Lord Fitzmaurice (the
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 145
under-secretary for Foreign Affairs) pointed out that the Stokes case was
remembered in Britain as "one of the most disgraceful judicial farces which ever
sullied the annals of what purported to be a court of justice . ."88
Whatever might be said about the case in relation to the law, it is clear that
it had more than legal, or even diplomatic, significance. Both governments
wished to hush up the matter as quickly as possible; they failed because of
Belgian-Congolese patriotism. Despite Lothaire's error in judgment, he was
popularly regarded as a white hero at grips with the problems of black Africa.
He had outstanding ability; he was fearless; he had no qualms about taking
justice into his own hands. It seemed difficult to apply the usual standards of
justice to the events of war in the eastern Congo, especially as Stokes was
commonly regarded as a notorious gun-runner. As the correspondent for The
Times reported at the Brussels trial: "an impartial listener . could not fail
to be struck by the almost insuperable difficulty of establishing anything like a
satisfactory criterion of justice in connection with a savage region in the heart
of Africa given over to martial law."89
Lothaire was acquitted by the Belgian public before he even went into
court. Why? Perhaps because the Belgians, like Joseph Conrad in The Heart of
Darkness, recognized the possible corruptive influence of tropical Africa.
The Times' observation about Stokes could just as well apply to Lothaire:
". . it is conceivable that a man carrying on business with savages and con-
stantly surrounded by brutalized and treacherous people might lose some por-
tion of any scruples which he possessed at the time of entering on his trade."90
The Belgian and British publics were willing to condone the indiscretions of
their fellow countrymen in darkest Africa.
146 UGANDA JOURNAL
1 In 'The Year of the Three Kings of Buganda', Uganda Jl., 14 (1950); see also R.
Cambier, 'L'Affaire Stokes', Revue Beige de Philologie et d'Histoire, 30 (1952); 'Der Fall
Stokes 1895-1896', Deutches Kolonialblatt, 27 (1916); Margery Perham, Lugard (2 vols.
London, 1956-60), i, passim; and Pierre van Zuylen, L'dchiquier congolais, (Brussels, 1959),
2 Lugard's memorandum of 31 August 1895, Public Record Office, London, F.O.
10/652. Later (27 November 1895) Lugard records that Stokes honorably kept a promise not
to import, or to connive at importation of, arms into Uganda. Africa No. 8, (1896), p.64.
3 H. M. Stanley to Leopold II, 29 August 1895, in 'Der Fall Stokes, p.117.
4 'Memorandum by Sir H. Colvile respecting Mr. Stokes', no. 187, 30 August 1895,
Foreign Office Confidential Print 6758.
5 See P. Ceulemans, La question arabe et le Congo, (Brussels, 1959).
6 See Biographie Coloniale Beige, I, 615-23.
7 Cf. The Times, 31 October 1895:"... the British traders' presence at Kibonge's
camp was due to the fact that he was there for the purpose of obtaining reparation from the
Arab chief, and that, having obtained what he wished, . Stokes, so far from aiding Kibonge
against the [Congo] State, tried on the contrary, to settle the differences between them."
8 See Cambier, 'L'Affaire Stokes'.
9 The Times, 5 August 1896.
10. Ibid., 18 September 1895.
11 Salisbury's observation, no date, on Anderson's minute of 11 August 1895, F.O.
12 'Der Fall Stokes', p.114.
13. Stokes to Lugard (copy), 30 November 1891, F.O. 10/810.
14. Kirk to Dilke, private, 8 August 1896, British Museum Additional Manuscripts,
16. Sanderson's minute of 5 August 1895, F.O. 10/652.
17. Gosselin's memorandum of 10 September 1895, Accounts and Papers. Africa no. 8
(1896), p.24 does not print the first two sentences.
18a. "Germany would not allow this scheme to be continued; she was well content to
have the Congo State as a neighbour, provided she minded her own concerns, and behaved
as a neutral state was bound to do; but this had not been King Leopold's recent line of action;
only a short time back an armed force had crossed the German frontier and violated German
territory, and such acts as this and Mr. Stokes' death could no longer be tolerated." Malet
to Salisbury, 23 August 1895. Africa no. 8 (1896) p.4.
19. Anderson's minute of 31 August 1895, F.O. 10/652.
19a. 23 October 1895.
20. Salisbury to Plunkett, 21 August 1895, Africa no. 8, p.4.
21. Plunkett to Salisbury, 11 August 1895, Africa no. 8, p.2.
22. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 171 Africa confid., 11 August 1895, F.O. 10/652. Count
Arco Valley, the German Charge d'Affaires, told Plunkett in late August 1895 that the Congo
government had first heard of the execution and had hoped to keep it secret. "... the German
government believe the charge of 'running" arms for the Arabs to be merely an excuse; they
consider the real object was to get hold of Mr. Stokes's large stock of ivory, and to stop trade
going over to the German possessions, in order to deflect it back, and thus force it to find
its outlet down the river Congo." Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 177 Africa confid., 24 August
1895, F.O. 10/652.
23. Plunkett to Salisbury, 31 August 1895, with 9 enclosures, Africa no. 8, pp.6-21.
24. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 190 (no. 188 Africa), 31 August 1895, Confidential Print
25. Anderson's minute of 31 August 1895, F.O. 10/652.
26. Salisbury to Plunkett, 9 September 1895, Africa no. 8; cf. Stanley to Liebrechts, 2
September 1895: "All well-wishers of the [Congo] State have been in hopes that Lothaire's
action would be justified by the documents we understood were on their way to Europe. But
if these are all the documents you have I am bound to say that Lothaire's conduct is utterly
indefensible . [This is] an act which I heartily condemn." 'Der Fall Stokes', p. 119.
27. Salisbury minute, no date, F.O. 10/625.
28. Anderson's minute of 31 August 1895, F.O. 10/652.
29. Plunkett to Anderson, private and confid., 15 September 1895, F.O. 10/652.
30. "He is a rough-looking country doctor, probably about 35 years old, and slow in
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 147
his speech. He looked ill, and said he had suffered considerably from the climate, especially
whenhe came down to the coast." Plunkett to Salisbury, 251 Africa very confid., 15 October
1895, F.O. 10/653.
31. Salisbury's minute on Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 218 Africa, 23 September 1895
32. Salisbury to Plunkett, no. 12 Africa tel., 11 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
33. See 'The Declaration of Charles Henry Stokes, under arrest at Lindi, 14 January,
1895', Africa no. 8, p.17.
34. "Do you suppose that two white men will be permitted to swear another man's life
away in mid-Africa even though they are officials? I expected to read in the preamble to the'
proces-verbal that a court martial was constituted consisting of between 10 or 12 officers
whose names were given-but according to these documents Lothaire and Henry were the
court-judges and executioners! Really Stokes's offences are made to appear mere light errors
compared to Lothaire's action . Had Stokes been contumacious, attempted to defend his
camp and defied arrest there would have been justification in shooting him, but he not only quie-
tly obeyed the order of arrest, but by this statement signed by him he also offered to place all
his property at the disposal of the state. Then for Lothaire to hang him after his submission
seems to me worse even than if he had crept into his tent and cut his throat." Stanley to Lieb-
rechts, 2 September 1895, 'Der Fall Stokes', pp. 118-19.
35. Plunkett to Salisbury, 15 October 1895, Africa no. 8, p.43.
37. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 251 Africa very confid., 15 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
38. Cf. Stanley to Leopold II, 29 August 1895: "Dr. Michaux's evidence of the last scenes
is to be specially dreaded. He has in his power to blow the now scumming indignation into a
flame. I hope he will not be so unpatriotic as to draw more evils on Belgium and the Congo
State by intensifying this affair which he can easily do. There is no doubt that Dr. Michaux
has some other animus against Lothaire than horror at the poor man's fate, but this is not the
time to revenge himself." 'Der Fall Stokes', p. 117.
38a. Plunkett to Salisbury, 15 October 1895.
39. Anderson's minute of 17 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
40. Plunkett to Anderson, private and secret, 17 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
41. Anderson to Plunkett, private, 18 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
42. Anderson to Plunkett, private, 12 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
43. Plunkett to Anderson, private and confidential, 15 September 1895, F.O. 10/652.
44. Plunkett to Anderson, private and confid., 6 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
45. Stanley to Liebrechts, 2 September 1895, 'Der Fall Stokes', p. 118.
46. The Congo State also paid an indemnity of 100,000 francs to Germany.
47. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 222 Africa, 26 September 1895, F.O. 10/652.
48. Plunkett to Salisbury, 6 October 1895, Africa no. 8, p.38.
49. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 232 Africa confid., 6 October 1895, F.O. 10/653.
50. "The judicial decrees of the [Congo] State have been examined. It is found that,
under article 1 of the decree of the 28th April 1889, a Court of Appeal is established at Boma.
Under Article 3 its constitution is defined. It consists, like the Courts of First Instance, of a
judge, an officer of the public ministry, and a greffier. Under article 61 it is declared competent
to take cognizance of appeals from the ordinary courts of the state and from sentences given
by the Conseils de Guerre. Under Article 61 it is declared competent to take cognizance of
appeals from the ordinary courts of the state and from sentences given by the Conseils de
Guerre. Under Article 57 infractions committed by judges of the Courts of the First Instance
may be brought before this Court of Appeal with further appeal to the Conseil Superieur,
at Brussels, which appears to be a Cour de Cassation of the Congo Free State .. Supposing
that a Conseil de Guerre had been legally constituted, which has not been shown, the sentence
pronounced by Captain Lothaire, as judge of such a court, might have been appealed against;
but it was executed without an appeal being allowed. The Boma court and the Conseil Sup6ri-
eur have, therefore, no power of intervention under the articles quoted." Salisbury to Plunkett,
16 October 1895, Africa no. 8, p.43.
50a. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 278 (264 Africa), 20 October, 1895, Confidential Print 6758.
51. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 287, (273 Africa), 27 October 1895, Ibid.
52. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 283 Africa very confid., 9 November 1895, F.O. 10/653.
53. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 282 Africa confid., 9 November 1895, F.O. 10/653.
54. "He said he, personally, was convinced that the Cour d'Appel at Boma, with appeal,
if desired, to the Conseil Sup6rieur here, had full jurisdiction for the present case; but he
admitted that some Belgian lawyers feel less certain upon this point." Plunkett to Salisbury,
no. 283, 9 November 1895.
55. Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 295 Africa confid., 21 November 1895, F.O. 10/653.
148 UGANDA JOURNAL
56. Salisbury to Plunkett, 30 November 1895, Africa no. 8, p.70.
57. Ibid.; see also especially Anderson's minute of 28 November 1895, F.O. 10/654.
58. Salisbury's minute of 18 December 1895, F.O. 10/654.
58a. Captain L. R. S. Arthur had been a member of Sir Gerald Portal's Mission to Uganda
59. Sanderson to Arthur, private, 25 January 1896, F.O. 10/712.
60. Arthur reported: "The only charge which appeared at all suitable was dini de justice,
but M. Ghislain felt that this one could not well be brought against Captain Lothaire, as Mr.
Stokes had never demanded to appeal to the court at Boma. I fully shared M. Ghislain's
opinion on this point, and I also considered that, if Captain Lothaire had wilfully caused the
death of Mr. Stokes in violation of the laws of the Free State, he had then committed a crime
of a far more serious character than a dini de justice, and that the punishment laid down for
such an act would not be in proportion." Arthur to Salisbury, no. 140, 18 May 1896, Con-
fidential Print 6758.
61. "M. Ghislain told me [Arthur] that he did not at all appreciate the task imposed upon
him, but as the Government of the Free State had announced to Her Majesty's Government
that Captain Lothaire should be tried at Boma, he felt himself bound to institute a thorough
investigation, and to carry out the prosecution of Captain Lothaire. I may say that I consider
that M. Ghislain performed his duty honourably and conscientiously, and, personally, I
always found him most courteous and considerate in all my interviews with him." Ibid.
63 Arthur commented: "In this I consider that Captain Lothaire was undoubtedly
at fault, for the term militaire, as pronounced in the (Congo State) Code, appears to be appli-
cable solely to people who are bonafide soldiers by profession, and not to any one who may,
for the time, be acting in a military capacity either lawfully or otherwise." Ibid.
65 Arthur to Salisbury, no. 3 tel., 30 April 1896, F.O. 10/713,
66 Salisbury to Arthur, 5 May, 1896, Africa no. 8, p.115.
67 Arthur to Salisbury, 28 May 1896, Ibid.
68 "Far from sharing the Vice-Consul's opinion, I consider that a European trial is
necessary, in order that the laws of the Congo State may be vindicated, and that other lives
may receive due protection, The main question is not the innocence or the guilt of Stokes,
but the illegality of taking a man's life summarily and ignoring his right of appeal". Pickersgill
to Salisbury, 3 May 1896, F.O. 10/713.
69 "A few native witnesses were examined who had nothing important to tell; Lothaire's
own story was told; of the long string of questions put in by Captain Arthur scarcely any
were put; and the prosecutor threw up his case. It comes out clearly that the real grievance
against Stokes was that, as an energetic German agent, he was a powerful rival of the Congo
State in the ivory market . There is something revolting in Lothaire's counsel's cynical
remarks that he hung Stokes as a compliment to his white skin because he shot Kibonge ...
Anderson's minute of 4 July 1896, F.O. 10/713.
70 Plunkett to Salisbury, 31 May 1896, no. 135 Africa very confid., F.O. 10/713.
71 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 150 Africa confid., 14 June 1896, F.O. 10/713.
72 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 162 Africa confid., 20 June 1896, F.O. 10/713.
73 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. Ill Africa, 10 May 1896, F.O. 10/713.
73a "Dr. Kayser (the German Colonial Director) spoke very strongly against the 'swind-
ling' practices of the agents of the Congo State. He said that, were it not for the King, these
transactions would have been long ago rendered impossible, and that it behoved the powers
to speak plainly and energetically, to put an end to them in the future .. Whatever happens,
I feel sure that the German government will be ready to support any action which Her Majesty's
government may deem desirable to take in the matter; and I think it should be made clear
for the future that the Congo State has no power to try any Europeans, who should be amen-
able only to their own consular courts." Gosselin to Salisbury, no. 139 (no. 107 Africa),
24 June 1896, Confidential Print 6829. Cf. the French attitude: "The French press has with
remarkable unanimity adopted the Belgian point of view and has not taken the side of Mr.
Stokes .. The Times, 30 September 1895.
74 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 109 Africa confid., 8 May 1896, F.O. 10/713.
75 "The only argument which I found impressed M. Bara was my reminder, that Great
Britain had never abandoned her right to have her own consular jurisdiction in the Congo
State. We had, it was true, since the 25 April 1890, temporarily suspended the exercise of this
right at the request of the King, but if we now found that we could not get justice done to our
subjects, under existing circumstances, Her Majesty's Government might find their hands
forced by public opinion in England and have to resume the right which they had temporarily
ceased to enforce." Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 117 Africa confid., 17 May 1896, F.O. 10/713.
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE STOKES CASE 149
76 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 78 (92 Africa), 12 April 1896, Confidential Print 6829.
77 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 134 Africa very confid., 31 May 1896 ,F.O. 10/713.
78 Plunkett "expressed surprise and annoyance at the shortness of this notice, which
was unfair upon Her Majesty's Government, as they had not yet received the record of the
case on which they were to decide whether or no the appeal should go on." Plunkett to Salis-
bury, no. 17 (186 Africa), 17 July 1896, Confidential Print 6893.
79 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 187 Africa confid., 17 July 1896, F.O. 10/714.
79a Plunket to Anderson, private, 19 July 1896, F.O. 10/714.
80 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 191 Africa confid., 18 July, F.O. 10/714.
81 Plunkett to Salisbury, no. 198 Africa, 23 July 1896, F.O. 10/715.
82 Vaux's report, 7 August 1896, Africa no. 8, p. 162. "... it is impossible not to take
note of the remarkable contrast between the character of the proceedings at Brussels and those
which have recently been conducted in this country with regard to Dr. Jameson and his asso-
ciates. These gentlemen, we presume, would at least have no occasion to shrink from a com-
parison between their several records and that of Major Lothaire; but the leading counsel
for the prosecution did not feel called upon to take material of this kind out of the mouth
of the defence, not did the Lord Chief Justice declare that men of such high character could
not properly be suspected of doing wrong." The Times, 7 August 1896.
83 Vaux's report of 7 August 1896.
84 British memorandum of 28 October 1896, Africa no. 8, p.173.
86 Anderson's minute of 27 September 1895, F.O. 10/652.
87 W. E. Davidson's minute of 26 May 1896, F.O. 10/713.
88 Parliamentary Debates, 4th series, vol. 159, c. 1580-81.
89 6 August 1896.
90 7 August 1896.
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 151-163
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA
by AHMED KATUMBA and F. B. WELBOURN,1,2
Much has been written about the Christians who were martyred by Kabaka
Mwanga between January 1885 and January 1887. Far too little attention has
been paid to the fact that, 10 years earlier, under Kabaka Mutesa I, there had
been an even greater holocaust of Muslims. The probable number of martyrs
directly connected with the court was 70, while 200 or 300 escaped with Arab
caravans to the coast. Hamu Mukasa suggests that, in the country at large,
as many as 1000 Muslim Baganda may have suffered for their faith; and he
notes, comparing them with his own associates, that they were as true martyrs
for their religion as the later Christians. He was in a position to hear first-hand
reports; and, unless this earlier event is taken into account, it is impossible to
understand fully the vast upheaval of Buganda society which was to reach its
climax with the victory of the Christian parties in 1889.3
It is well known that Kabaka Mutesa I was influenced by Arab traders.
He received instruction in Islam and in Arabic and encouraged his subjects to
do the same. According to Kulumba, he changed his name from the fierce-
sounding Mukabya to the Mutesa4 which was more in accord with Islamic
ideas of kingship. He ordered mosques to be built throughout the country.
He read and explained the Qur'an to his chiefs. He asked the people to pray and
to greet in the Muslim way and to eat only meat killed according to Islamic law.
He did not at first persecute those who refused. According to Miti, they simply
suffered insult and ridicule from their fellows. They were dubbed unclean
pagans. But later he ordered the execution of 100 men, women and children who
refused to greet in the new fashion.5 Circumcision does not seem to have been an
issue; and it is difficult to assess how many Baganda 'Muslims' in the early days
were in fact circumcised. Certainly Mutesa and most of his chiefs abjured it.
Stanley records, "Meanwhile", he said with a smile, "I refused to be circumcised
though the Arabs said it is the first thing that should be done to become a
true son of Islam"! Nor does he himself appear to have followed Islamic food
Circumcision was, indeed, to become an issue. Baganda have a traditional
horror of mutilation of any kind, believing that they would carry it through
the grave to the spirit world. It is possible that, like the Banyankore, they
regarded it also as shameful.6 More importantly, as far as Mutesa himself was
concerned, the penalty for causing him pain was death. For any Muganda, to
accept circumcision was thus a drastic reversal of tribal mores. It must have
involved no mere outward acceptance of new religious forms, but a radical re-
orientation. It seems certain that Mutesa encouraged Islam as part of his
political association with the Arabs and with the Sultan of Zanzibar. For his
subjects outwardly to follow his lead would be no more than wisdom. But
for him to be circumcised was impossible. He seems not to have imposed it
on others; and those who, nevertheless, fully accepted Islam may well have
found, through the shame and the pain, a conversion far deeper than they ex-
152 UGANDA JOURNAL
Certainly in the long run, many were circumcised ;7 and the list of the first 30
converts is carefully preserved.8 They included the servant of one Kattikiro
and the close relation of another. According to Miti there were also several
important officers of the court. But perhaps they were in the same position as
Kauta who was asked by Mutesa in the presence of Stanley, to choose between
Islam and Christianity. He replied, "When Mutesa became a son of Islam, he
taught me and I became one; if my master says he taught me wrong, having got
more knowledge, he can now teach me right. I am waiting to hear his words."
As later with the Christians, the Kabaka's policy of keeping the Arabs under his
eye at court meant that it was his immediate following who would be most
readily influenced. If ever, as Muslims, they were to challenge his authority, they
would the more readily appear seditious. It would be easier, since they were in
attendance on him, to nip their sedition in the bud.
The crisis, when it came, has been variously dated before and after Stanley;
it is important at this point to record the known events which may be relevant to
a decision. A party of Khartoum traders visited Buganda in 1870. In 1872
Baker attempted to annexe Bunyoro. Chaill] Long visited Mutesa, as Gordon's
envoy, in 1874 and left in July of that year. In April 1875 Stanley paid a visit
just long enough to meet Linant de Bellefonds (again Gordon's emissary)
and to give him the famous letter to the Daily Telegraph appealing for Christian
missionaries to Buganda. This was published on 15 November 1875. de Belle-
fonds records that a party of 10 soldiers under an Egyptian officer came to fetch
him back from Buganda. He met Gordon on 22 August and was killed on the
following day. In that month Stanley returned to Buganda and immediately
occupied himself both with instructing Mutesa and in helping him to defeat the
Bavuma at the battle of Nakalanga. He left immediately after the battle, in
October. Gordon reached Bunyoro in January, 1876 and on 9 March he recorded
the receipt of a letter from Mutesa dated 6 February. Miti (alone) records a
party of 'Turks' (a word generally used by Baganda writers for Egyptians),
which arrived shortly after Stanley's departure and stayed for 2 or 3 months.
He distinguishes them from Nur Aga's party of troops, which arrived in 1876
and had to be extracted by Emin Pasha. Emin reached Buganda in July, leaving
again at the end of August. The first party of CMS missionaries arrived in June
1877 and was met by Emin, when he paid his second visit in December.
Of the published authorities, Ashe, Harrison and Nicq9 state that the
Muslim martyrdoms took place before Stanley's visit; and Gale suggests that,
by persecuting the Muslims, Mutesa had put himself in a dangerous dilemma.
He had risked the anger of both Egypt and Zanzibar. He would therefore be all
the more ready to embrace Stanley's offer of help, with its implied acceptance
of Chiristianity. This argument seems to be supported by two events in his
dealings with Stanley. In the first place, when Stanley failed to return, as ex-
pected, after his temporary departure in April 1875, Mutesa sent out search
parties by both land and lake. In the second place, he eagerly sought reconci-
liation after Stanley had rebuked and left him for callously setting fire to the
camp at Nakalanga.
Grey (1934) accepts that the date was after Stanley. Gray later (1947)
however notes that Chaill6 Long does not mention the incident and suggests
a date between his departure and the arrival of Stanley. He does not discuss the
significance of Stanley's own silence on the subject. Nor does he mention his
own contrary conclusion 13 years earlier. Again, in Gray (1961) there is a
fascinating note10 which, almost incidentally, suggests a compromise. On 29
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 153
August Gordon reported de Bellefond's account of wholesale executions which
were occurring at Mutesa's court. 'It is as well I did not send the Mussulman
priests there, for he might have killed them'. This surely implies that it was
Muslims who had been executed; and, if that were indeed the date of the
martyrdoms, it would be possible to argue that, when the missionaries wrote
'before Stanley', they meant 'before his second and much longer visit'. Un-
fortunately, the full text of Gordon's letter reveals that Gray's 'wholesale
executions' were 'ten or twelve daily'. These would be no more than were
needed to keep Mutesa amused; and Gordon gives no reason for supposing
that they were of Muslims rather than of others.
With the possible exception of Mukasa, all the Baganda writers place the
martyrdoms some time after the battle of Nakalanga; and, if this is correct,
there is no need to account for Stanley's silence. The two Muslims, Sekimwanyi
and Kulumba, imply that it was very shortly after. The former was personal
sheikh to Nuhu Mbogo (who from 1890 was leader of the Muslims)" and
perhaps had access to more reliable oral sources than any of the others. Kulumba
may be only a secondary source. There is a deep sense of resentment, which soon
emerges in any conversation with Muslim religious leaders in Buganda. It was
only Christian intrigue, they feel, which prevented Buganda becoming a Muslim
country. Because the Christians won, Muslims have, for 70 years, been treated
as no more than third-rate Baganda;12 and Stanley is the villain of the piece.
According to Kulumba, he told Mutesa that the Arabs were bad men who
might circumcise him by force; and Mutesa was delighted to learn that Stanley
regarded circumcision as unnecessary. (It is possible to feel the writer's deep
scorn for a Kabaka who chose between one religion and another on grounds of
physical pain). After Nakalanga, the story is told in more detail by Sekimwanyi.
Against the background of Muslim suspicion of his interest in Christianity,
Mutesa decided to open a new mosque and to slay with his own hands the
sacrifice of 2 sheep and 4 birds. Not unnaturally, faithful Muslims refused to
participate. 'His large eyes flashed', reported Ashe (although he dated it earlier
and no doubt had a particularly imaginative informant). His subjects had re-
fused the Kabaka's meat as 'fit only for dogs'. Their deaths were assured.
Mukasa, whose dating is least certain, heads the section in question '1873'
but then immediately uses a phrase13 which must be understood as 'not long
before the battle of Nakalanga'. At this time a party of Turks visited Mutesa
and were happy to find Islam practised in Buganda. However, they were sur-
prised to find that mosques were built facing westwards instead of eastwards;
and for this they blamed the Arabs of Zanzibar.14 They asked Mutesa to call a
meeting, at which they instructed Baganda Muslims never to eat meat killed by
an uncircumcised person, and never to be led in prayer by such a one. Cir-
cumcision, they insisted, was central to Islam, and an uncircumcised man could
not claim leadership in the community.
This was to put the fat in the fire with a vengeance. Mukasa continues,
Everybody knows that the Kabaka led prayers in Lubiri. The Turks said this
matter was crucial. The Qur'an forbade the uncircumcised to lead in prayer;
and this law should be followed in Lubiri also. "Why", they asked, "does not
the Kabaka follow the text of the Book ?" The pages 15 answered that the
Kabaka admitted no authority but his own and that all Baganda were subject
to him. He had supreme authority in his palace and his mosque and none could
prevent him if he chose to lead the prayers. The Turks insisted that Muslims
must obey their ruling. "The Kabaka's supreme authority exists in matters of
State; but, when it comes to religion, that is another matter." From this time on,
154 UGANDA JOURNAL
Muslims started to absent themselves from prayers in Lubiri, to pray outside
under proper leadership, and to refuse meat killed by non-Muslims.
At the same time, some of the chiefs and other non-Muslims became worried
lest Mutesa might eventually force them to be circumcised. They believed that
the operation would kill old men. Therefore they took every opportunity to
report to the Kabaka and misdemeanor on the part of his Muslim subjects,
against whom they made the following charges :-
1. The Muslim leaders had denounced the Kabaka for being uncircumcised.
2. They had said that, for this reason, the Kabaka was a Kaffir16 and could
not lead prayers in the mosque.
3. They accused the Kabaka of eating pork.
4. One of the pages, Mudduawulira, a muezzin, refused to eat meat slaughtered
by the Kabaka's pagan butcher.
5. Mbogo17 and Semajwali had attempted, without the Kabaka's permission,
to leave the country with the Turks. This seemed to confirm Mutesa's fear
that Muslims might become a fifth column for Egyptian political ambitions.
The offenders were put to death.
6. The Muslims had reported to the Turks that the Kabaka's mosques were
badly built, i.e. facing in the wrong direction.
With regard to the fourth accusation, which for all the Baganda writers is
the symbol of Muslim defiance of the Kabaka, Mukasa records a vivid conver-
sation between Mutesa and Mudduawulira;
Q. Is it true, as I have heard, that you no longer eat meat in the palace ?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Even the meat I myself slaughter ?
A. Yes, Sir. Even if it were yours, I would not eat it.
A. I follow what religion says. And what it says about meat, my Lord, you
yourself know well.
It is, perhaps, not altogether irrelevant that this page's name means 'the
slave obeys'18; and he must have been very well aware of the proverb which
runs, amatu agatawulira mukama wago gabikka entembo, 'the ears which do not
obey their master mulch the soil'. It was easy enough for a woman, or a slave of
a commoner, to lose both ears for negligence. To refuse commands of the
Kabaka in deference to those of Allah was to court certain death; and, indeed,
any of the 6 accusations (all of which may well have been true) was sufficiently
derogatory of an absolute monarch to invite persecution. It is not necessary,
at this point in the history of Buganda, to join Gale in speaking of a 'divine
monarchy'19. But in this discovery that 'we must obey God rather than man'20,
the Muslims had kindled a torch which, later, Muslims and Christians together
were to fan into the flame of rebellion, and the Christians to use to light the
progress of a new Buganda.
The immediate consequence was the growing wrath of the Kabaka, eagerly
fanned by the pagans and vividly described by Mukasa:
Awono ebigambo ebyo byonna eby'engeri eyo bwe byabeerangawo nga byongera
obusungu ku busungu, nga obusungu bukula, (then all these matters of that sort
went on adding wrath to wrath till wrath was full).
It sounds as if it may have been a gradual process. Whenever it began, it may
not have ended till after Nakalanga. But the end was sure. The pages (all of
them, says Mukasa; and one wonders whether they had all submitted to Islam)
and the abasalosalo21 and all the readers in the mosques were seized; and the
executioner Mukajanga was ordered to take them to Namugongo 'to be burnt
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 155
with fire because of their disobedience'. Here also, 10 years later, the young
Christians were to suffer the same fate.
Thus religion22 was hated because it had put down the pagans. But
now the pagans had found strength to destroy its disciples ... The pagans
who were killed at Nkumba died because they did not accept religion; and it is
thought that none were left who did not accept it. But religion cannot be imposed
by force . The Muslims who now died for their religion were men of out-
standing courage. It was the same with the Christians at Namugongo. Their
courage was the same, because their burning and their suffering were the same.
Some of them met hunger, having no food to eat. Some were made to spend
the night in gross discomfort, and died of cold. Some had their arms and legs
broken and were just left to die. Some were bound and thrown into a swamp
If this is highly imaginative, it is at least evidence that one Christian Muganda
could feel deeply with the martyrs of a religion whose adherents he had in 1889
fought to destroy. But the whole story is important also because it attributes
the origin of the affair not ( as other accounts) to Muslim criticism of Mutesa's
interest in the Christianity, but to their dislike of the half-hearted way in which
he was leaving paganism for Islam: and the deliberate attempt of the pagans
to draw him back. Only after the killing of the Muslims did he begin to think
seriously about Christianity:
Despite the fact that the Kabaka hated that religion and persecuted its adher-
ents, his heart did not abandon the search for God, because he knew that there was
indeed a God of truth and a judgement in the last day. He was troubled till he
could find another religion.
Again this suggests a date before Stanley. But it is followed immediately
by the statement that 'at that time'23 he heard that Gordon had reached Bu-
nyoro. There is no indication that Nakalanga had been fought and won, simply
the implication that the Muslims were killed close to January 1876 and therefore
after Nakalanga. Moreover, 'at that time' Mutesa had a frightening dream that
the Europeans had conquered Buganda. The conclusion was obvious-that, as
soon as Gordon had finished with Bunyoro, he would hurry to deal with
Mutesa, continues Mukasa, therefore decided to write a friendly letter to the
Khedive of Egypt, hoping that he would intercede, on his behalf, with the Euro-
peans. It appears that he was unaware that Gordon was no more than the
Khedive's agent. His chiefs could not doubt the meaning of the dream; but
they had serious doubts about Mutesa's proposal. A previous emissary had put
his master to shame through ignorance of the business in hand; and, now that all
the young Muslims had been killed, there really was nobody who could be en-
trusted with such a mission. They also doubted whether Gordon would forward
a letter to the Khedive without a covering letter of his own. But Mutesa had
considerable confidence in his own epistolary powers. He wrote separately to
Gordon and to the Khedive, sending to each a leopard skin, a bark cloth and a
shield. Gordon he asked to allow his messengers to go on to the Khedive.
He added, Nze Mutesa nsoma Kizungu I follow the European religion'. To the
Khedive he offered the suzerainty of Buganda. 'If anything goes wrong here,
you will always help me'. Nsoma eddiini ya Isiramu ddala,' I am in earnest about
When Mutesa's messengers reached Gordon, they found Ntanda Mukuba-
mpanga, who had gone, according to Mukasa, with the Nubians who were sent
156 UGANDA JOURNAL
to Buganda 'after the killing of the Muslims'. Now he was able to act as inter-
preter. But it was a luckless task. Gordon started by declaring that more-
important chiefs should have been sent on this mission. Then he laughed at
Mutesa's whole strategy. Mukasa quotes Stanley,
He tells me that he's a Christian. But he sends a Muslim messenger to the
Khedive. If he's a true disciple why does he kill the Muslims? And what does
he mean by saying that he follows the European religion? Does he think that
nationality and religion are the same? He has killed many of his subjects.
Despite his claim to be a disciple, he killed the disciples. That is not religion.
I won't send these mere peasants to carry a message to the Khedive. Tell the
Kabaka to send men of worth, who can explain to the Khedive why he killed the
When the emissaries returned to Mutesa, they dared not tell him the whole
truth. His chiefs were well aware of his predicament with regard to Egypt.
But he turned away from Islam and tried once more to become a Christian, as
at the time of Nakalanga.
Then 'at that time' (the phrase keeps on recurring) Stanley met de Belle-
fonds and gave him the letter to the Daily Telegraph, which, says Mukasa, was
written on 15 November 1875. There was then a gap of 'two' years before the
missionaries arrived in June 1877. Kagwa (1908) similarly misdates the actual
writing of the letter and makes the missionaries come 'a short time after'.
In both cases, there is a considerable conflation of dates which must make
suspect all their records of the actual order of events. Kagwa was born in 1865
and Mukasa in 1871. Neither of them can have had very clear memories of
what happened at court when one was 10, the other 4, years old. What, however,
now seems clear is that 'Stanley' meant for them the publication of the letter
which, 18 months later, was to bring the missionaries. They probably did not
hear of its publication until the missionaries arrived. But, when they did so,
this was the one date which really stuck in their minds. When they told the
missionaries that the Muslim persecution took place 'before Stanley', they
meant 'before the publication of Stanley's letter' and probably 'before we heard
of its publication'. Since the missionaries clearly regarded it as an event of the
past, it is not difficult to accept a date well before their arrival but after the battle
One piece of evidence-that of Miti-must first be considered. His party of
Turks was accompanied by Ntanda and may, therefore, have been the same as
Mukasa's Nubians. Afterwards came Nur Aga, and later still, Ntanda was sent
to Bunyoro to enquire after Baker's movements. The most charitable inter-
pretation is to suppose that Miti wrote 'Baker' intending 'Gordon'. But a
confusion of this sort makes it easier to reject his dating of the martyrdoms after
the coming of the missionaries. It seems almost incredible that, even if they had
occurred during Wilson's brief absence from Buganda after the death of Sher-
gold Smith, the missionaries should have been ignorant of such an event and
have dated it so much earlier.
At that time, Kabaka Mutesa had begun in earnest to learn the religion of
Jesus Christ. He gave orders that the mosque, which he had previously used for
Musim prayers, be converted into a church. In this the Europeans taught him
Christianity. The Muslims were greatly hurt, saying that, if the Kabaka had
converted a mosque into a church, he had become an unbeliever. From this
time on they reused to eat the Kabaka's meat, saying that they could not eat
meat slaughtered by unbelievers. When the Kabaka heard this, he said that the
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 157
Muslims were insulting him. It was he who had shown them Islam. Now it was he
who professed the religion of Jesus. The mosque had been built by the Kabaka
himself. Why should the Muslims call him a pagan ?24
No doubt Miti caught the mood of the affair. Here is the same dominating
figure claiming that cuius regio eius religion. Here are the same fearless Muslims,
insisting that, at least in matters of religion, even the Kabaka is subject to Allah.
Here is the inevitable involvement of religion with politics, which pious reli-
gionists and nationalist politicians may wish to deny but neither can avoid.
And it is these human aspects of the situation which are of paramount import-
ance. But some accuracy of dating is still necessary if the affair is to be wholly
understood; and it is necessary to look elsewhere for further pointers.
Early in 1876, Mukasa shows that Gordon was fully aware of the massacre
as a relatively-recent event. Whether he had received the news from de Belle-
fonds (which is unlikely), or from the Nubians accompanied by Ntanda, re-
mains a matter for speculation. It seems clear, also, that Mutesa was still very
much in two minds as to whether to ally himself with Islam and Egypt or with
Christianity and Stanley; and this uncertainty could very well accord with a
time after Stanley's departure with no more then a promise to set against the
immediate proximity of Egypt.
Kagwa, the remaining witness, is also uncertain of his dates. After Stanley's
departure, he reports (1901) that Mutesa's growing interest in the Bible was
noticed by two of his favourite pages, Mponyenuwonyi and Kaganyulo.25
They said openly that, by following the religion of the Europeans, the Kabaka
had virtually become a pagan; and they refused to eat meat slaughtered in
Lubiri. This was enough to provoke their massacre; and a total of 70 were burnt.
'Shortly after' this came Emin and, 'as soon as he had gone', Nur Aga. In 1908
he adds that, after the incident of the meat, the pages' impudence increased and
that the same two used to take advantage of their privileged position to visit
chiefs at night and demand gifts in the Kabaka's name. Mponyebuwonyi
himself played the part of Kabaka. This was an additional cause of the Kabaka's
wrath and of the death of 200 Muslims. It is, of course, precisely the sort of
story that the pagans might have added to the accusations listed by Mukasa.
But the very questionable behaviour of the Christian leaders, when they were
reinstated by Kabaka Mwanga in 187726, makes it not in the least surprising that
young Muslim converts should have fallen short in moral behaviour.
Kagwa thus seems to date the persecution some months later than Mukasa;
and Emin's diary for 28 July 1876 recorded that he 'came across a repulsive sight;
a human arm recently cut off and a partly decomposed thorax lying in the road'.
Gray (1934) saw this as evidence for Kagwa's statement that the martyrdoms
occurred shortly before Emin's arrival. But such sights were common enough
at all times in the Buganda of Mutesa I. There is one further piece of evidence to
be considered-the party of Turks who, according to Mukasa, started all the
trouble. Kulumba, and contemporary oral tradition among Baganda Muslims,
state, indeed, that it was not a party of Turks but a single Arab; and, since
Arabs from Zanzibar came and went continually, this could have been at any
time and would be irrelevant to a dating of the martyrdoms. But, supposing it
to have been a party of Turks, is there any evidence as to which party? On 17
May 1874 Gordon told his sister that two sheikhs were being sent by the Khe-
dive to teach Mutesa the Qur'an. On 29 August 1875 he was thankful that he
had not sent them. Nevertheless, de Bellefonds had a sheikh in his party and
started (but did not complete) the building of a mosque in red brick. It may have
158 UGANDA JOURNAL
been this sheikh who stirred up Muslim feeling against Mutesa and eventually
led to their massacre.
Another possibility is that the Turkish criticisms were those of Nur Aga
and his followers. Mutesa 'complained bitterly', wrote Emin on 4 August 1876,
of our two officers, who as regards everything he did, thought he was a Kaffir ...
and would not let him fly his flag. Speke and Grant had given him an enormous
Union Jack which our people had taken, because the . diagonals .. made a
Moreover, on 20 August,
on Friday Mohammed Effendi27 and Fakih Ibrahim had . celebrated the
Friday festival with (Mutesa) and his people but to me he holds himself out as a
Whatever the bad impression caused by Nur and Mohammed, this is clear
enough evidence of their association with the Kabaka in matters of religion.
Unfortunately, Emin did not think it a very happy association. On 6 August he
The Sultan (sc. Kabaka) is more disposed towards Christianity, because hither-
to all his most sought after visitors have been Christians and have left many
presents with him . the two Egyptian Mohammedans have done everything
possible to disgust him with Islam and its creed.
Nevertheless, it seems probable that Fakih Ibrahim was a teacher sent by
Gordon at Mutesa's request and that, despite the latter's protestations, to the
Muslim Emin, of his desire to become a Christian, he wanted Ibrahim to remain
after the withdrawal of Nur's troops.28 On 6 August Emin had also written,
The big chiefs hold themselves out as being Mohammedans, and also practise its
particular usages . but at the most they know very little about it.
It is conceivable that, despite a purge of insolent pages, the older chiefs were
still allowed (or were they actively encouraged ?) to continue in the highly-
modified form of Islam until recently professed by their Kabaka. On 13 August
Gordon wrote, 'My officer A says, Mutesa does not execute many people now'.
Perhaps in Ibrahim Mutesa had found an authorised teacher who would wink at
unorthodoxy; and, in the absence of further news from Stanley, it was necessary
to keep on the right side of Egypt, and therefore of Islam. But the picture is of
a state of affairs either sufficiently long after the persecution (not Kagwa's
'just a few days after') for it to have been no longer a matter of concern to older
Muslims, or before it had occurred. There is no reference to it in the available
extracts from Emin's diary of his next visit to Buganda in 1877. It seems ne-
cessary to say that Kagwa was wrong in his dates. The martyrdoms can be
placed between Stanley's departure in October 1875 and the meeting of Mute-
sa's emissaries with Gordon not later than March 1876.
This would accord with what is known of Ntanda, who turns up regularly
in connection with Mutesa's dealings with Egypt. Emin's diary for 12 September
1876 records the arrival of Mutandi as Mutesa's envoy at Mruli; and Tanda
appears in the diary for 5 January 1878. It is safe to assume that these are all the
same man. He and Taibu Magato were ordered to accompany Miti's Turks to
Khartoum but came back secretly after going only a short way beyond the
northern boundary of Buganda. According to Teofero Kisosonkole he was sent
to the Turks at Kyeya in Buruli to learn their language and habits of dress.
Mukasa states that Magato, again, was one of Mutesa's envoys who found
Ntanda already with Gordon early in 187629.
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 159
There is, finally, a contrast to be considered between Mukasa' account,
which sees the origin of the conflict in Muslim objection to Mutesa's incom-
plete acceptance of Islam, and that of the other Baganda, who find it in his
growing addiction to Christianity. Was the Muslim challenge to Mutesa pri-
marily a rejection of the old paganism or a refusal by the new society of the
Christian west? In either case, it was for the Muslims pagan. In their whole-
hearted acceptance of Islam they seem to have seen further than their Kabaka
into the possibilities of involvement with the wider world. Were they blinded,
by that very acceptance, to the still-greater possibilities which he was able to see
in alliance with Europeans ? Perhaps Mutesa had always been wiser than they.
Perhaps he had seen that the Arabs were no more than a force to be humoured
until something better came along. Perhaps-as his later treatment of the
Christian missionaries suggests-he was never able to make any final choice.
What he wanted was to be Kabaka; and no wider association, such as Arabs
and Europeans alike implied, would permit this without such a radical change
in the concept of kabakaship as to leave Mutesa himself bewildered in a world
too big for him. If the persecution took place before Stanley, it made an alliance
with the latter all the more necessary. If it took place after, it was-at least
indirectly-a result of the alliance. In either case, it was a response to in-
security by a man who was not only cruel but himself terribly insecure. Even
the alliance with Stanley had no immediate finality. As is known by his dealings
with Gordon and by Emin's diary for 1876, he continued to waver between
Egypt and England, between Islam and Christianity as religious tools of his
political need. But the Baganda writers are surely right when they trace to
Stanley the submergence of Muslim influence in Buganda. There were still 18
months in which Mutesa might hesitate, according to his immediate protagonist
(Gordon or the Khedive, Emin or Fakih Ibrahim). But, in the end, it was
Stanley's letter which brought the missionaries to Buganda; and from that
all the rest followed
A charming story is told by Musoke, which helps to bring the whole affair to
life. He appears to have used as his informant Adoloniko Kamya,30 one of
the pages who escaped death at the time.
Since the pages refused to eat the Kabaka's meat, they became very hungry;
and their visits to the chiefs by night were in order to satisfy this very element-
ary need. They would carry the famous reed torches, which made people think
that the Kabaka was with them. They went first to Mandwambi Ssekiboobo,
who feasted them on many things. Then they went to Dumba Mukwenda, who
also gave them food in plenty. After a little while, they sent a message to
Katikkiro Mukasa, saying that they wanted to visit him at night. Their mes-
senger was Kibajiro (who is now Alikisi Ppookino's man). But, before going
there, they also sent a message to their master, the Kabaka himself, saying
'We want to dress for you in a new fashion so that we may see you at night'.
Their messenger was Kamya. But all the Kabaka said was, 'Get out'.
Less than a week later, the Kabaka went to the mosque with the Qur'an and
the Pentateuch3l for he wanted to explain to the boys in the mosque the import-
ance of understanding the Old Testament. He had just begun when 3 young
men, Kaganyulo, Samiri Mukasa Muswangali and Muwanga, came in. They
were very well dressed; and, when they had scarcely entered the mosque,
the other boys' attention wandered from the Kabaka to them. The Kabaka was
very angry, got up and walked out. But Kamya left the mosque and went home
to tell his friends of the danger that was brewing. Then the Kabaka immediately
160 UGANDA JOURNAL
sent for the Katikkiro; and they agreed to arrest the boys. It was past mid-
night when the Kabaka was in Masengere;32 but the dew was not yet off the
grass when the Kabaka met his chiefs behind Bulange.33 There was talk of
nothing but the rebelliousness of the young men. When they had finished,
Kasujja Kabazi caught Kamya, who was with the Kabaka. But the Kabaka
pardoned him because he had shown no signs of rebelliousness. Many others
were arrested, however-about two hundred-and others, who were servants of
the important chiefs; and they were given to Mukajanga who took them to
Namugongo and executed them.
Of them, the Kabaka pardoned Andereya Kadu alone. He stayed with his
companions till they had been killed, when an executioner told him, 'The Kabaka
has pardoned you'. But two of the youths had been friends of the Kabaka from
the beginning. Mponyebuwonyi even prayed with him in the Muslim fashion;
and Kaganyulo was given that very name because of his attractiveness. The
Kabaka told him, 'When I look at you, ong'anyula amaaso gange (you
please my eyes)'. Muwanga was quite a small boy; but he was killed because
he ran behind the executioners, crying for his beloved Kaganyulo. So they
caught him, tied him up and killed him too.
This story suggests all too clearly the amount of sheer cheek and bravado
which may have been an important contributory cause of the martyrdoms.
It indicates, too, how dangerous it was, even for close favourites of Mutesa,
to take too many liberties. It points to a situation in which not Islam, as such,
was under attack, but impertinent young men who had found in Islam the
courage to defy their master. If it were not for Mukasa's account, it might be
necessary to say that the killings were no more than that. But Mukasa's account
stands; and other questions must be asked. What need did Islam meet, which
the old paganism and the service of a powerful Kabaka were unable to satisfy?
What was it which enabled this defiance, without any material hopes and in the
possibility of death, in the name of an alien God ? How did they go to their
deaths? Did they, like the Christians later, sing the praises of God and rejoice
in the hope of resurrection ? The only thing that seems to emerge quite clearly is
that, below their bravado, they had found in the new religion a loyalty which, at
certain crucial points, made it possible for them to defy a master to whom
tradition demanded obedience in all things. Because they had found it, Buganda
was on the march; and the Christians were to reap the fruit of their discovery.
The task of writing a history of Islam in Buganda has yet to be undertaken.
There is much to be done: and it should be done soon, while manuscripts
may still survive, and the oral tradition is not wholly corrupt. Then, perhaps,
students can turn their attention from this overworked kingdom to other parts
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 161
1. Funds to cover expenses were made available by the Professor of Theology at Makerere
University College. We are most grateful to Mr. J. A. Rowe for help given with sources
and in discussion. In particular, we are entirely dependent on him for our references to
de Bellefonds (1876/7). We are also grateful to him for his discovery of Musoke (1917).
2. The following books and articles have been consulted :-
R. P. Ashe (1889), Two Kings of Uganda, London, 128 ff.
R. P. Ashe (1894), Chronicles of Uganda, London, 63 ff.
L. de Bellefonds, 'Itineraires et notes', Bulletin de la Socidtd Khidiviale de Gdographie,
J. F. Faupel (1962), African Holocaust, London, (about the Christian martyrs)
H. P. Gale (1959), Uganda and the Mill Hill Fathers, London, 10 ff.
T. W. Gee (1958), A Century of Muhammadan Influence in Buganda, 1852-1951, Uganda
Jl, 22, 139-150.
J. M. Gray (1934), 'Mutesa of Buganda', Uganda Jl. 1, 22-50.
J. M. Gray (1947), 'Ahmed bin Ibrahim', Uganda Jl. 11, 80-97.
J. M. Gray (1961 and 1962), 'The Diaries of Emin Pasha', Uganda Jl. 25, 1-15 and 26,
J. W. Harrison (1890), Mackay of Uganda, London, 183.
G. B. Hill (1881) Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, London.
K. Ignham (1958), The Making of Modern Uganda, London, 32-36.
Sir A. Kagwa (1901) Basekabaka, 4th ed. (1953) 131 f.
Sir A. Kagwa (1908) Ebika, 1949 ed., 119 ff., 140 f.
Sir A. Kagwa and H. W. Dutta (1947), Extracts from Mengo Notes-IV, Uganda Jl.
11, 110-117 (a translation of an earlier record).
Sheikh Ali Kulumba (1953), Ebyafayo by'Obusiramu mu Uganda.
J. K. Miti (typescript), History of Buganda.
H. Mukasa (1938), Simuda Nyuma, 18-29
D. R. Musoke (1917), Okukangavvula kwa Kabaka Mukabya Mutesa, eri Abavubukabe,
Ebifa, 120, 7-9.
Sheikh Abdullah Sekimwanyi, (1945) Ebyafayo ebitonotono ku ddiini ya Kiyisiramu.
H. M. Stanley (1878), Through the Dark Continent, Chapters IX, XII, XIII.
C. T. Wilson and R. W. Felkin (1882), Uganda and the Egyptian Sudan, London, 209.
B. M. Zimbe (1939), Ebyafayo by'Obwakabaka bwe Buganda (Buganda ne Kabaka).
Makes no mention of the persecution of Muslims.
A number of Baganda Muslims, including the son of Sheikh Sekimwanyi, were inter-
3. There is some discussion of the significance of these martyrs in F. B. Welbourn (1964),
Religion and Politics in Uganda, 1952-1962.
4. Mukaabya, 'one who makes to weep'; Muteesa, 'counsellor.' Kagwa (1901), 113, dates
this change of name before Speke's visit and well before the beginning of Muslim influence
5. This is confirmed by Kagwa and Dutta (1947).
6. Cf. a recent account recorded by Mr. Y. K. Bamunoba: 'It is shameful for any Munya-
nkore to have no cover on his penis. To this day the people of Ibanda have resisted this
7. Cf. Wilson and Felkin (1882): 'the Mohammedan traders ... have made no converts...
one hundred boys and youths who had submitted to (circumcision), believing that Islam
would become the national creed, were all burnt by Mutesa's orders'. One may ask, if
there was any incentive to go beyond the Kabaka in outward acceptance of Islam.
8. The official list, preserved in mosques and printed by Sekimwanyi, is :
Masanganzira Matembe Balaga son of Mukwenda Ndugga
Kalule son of Majanja Nayise servant of Katikkiro Mayanja
Amulane Tuzinde Musa Bitamedi
Yusufu Sebakiwa Musitafa Makongo
Buzinde Adimani Kiwanuka
Bakulu son of Ssubi Ssebatta
Sudi Jita Abudalazizi Maleku
Bira brother of Katikkiro Mukasa Bamutalira
Kigwana Abudala Kadiri Kyayambadde
Juma Matembe who was the foremost disciple of them all.
Musoke Munyezi Nakugoba
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
Kaggwa Mayengo Mponyebuwonyi son of Masanka
9. A. Nicq (1932), Le PNre Simeon Lourdel, 3rd ed., 22 ff. This is cited by J. P. Thoonen
(1941), Black Martyrs, 50.
10. Gray (1961), note 18.
11. See Gee (1958).
12. Ssi muganda musiramu, 'he's not a Muganda, he's a Muslim'.
13. Nga tebanatabaala lwe Nakalanga.
14. Mosques in Zanzibar face north towards Mecca; mosques in Khartoum north east.
On the same principle, mosques in Buganda should face approximately north north-east.
Mr. J. W. T. Allen tells us that the Turks would have regarded this as westwardss', and
15. This is further evidence that the important Muslims were young men of the court.
16. Arabic for 'pagan'.
17. This cannot be Nuhu Mbogo, who lived till 1921. See note 11 supra.
18. Okuwulira, to hear', 'to obey'. It is impossible, in Luganda, to distinguish the difference.
19. But see Welbourn 1964, op. cit., for a discussion of developments since 1953.
20. Acts 5:29.
21. Originally abasalosalo were menials, attached to the court and to the great chiefs, who
satisfied their hunger by picking scraps of food from the ditches (ensalosalo) where they
had been thrown by the rich. Kabaka Mutesa I raised their status by creating Kadu
(later Andereya) Omusalosalo; and they became a group of junior pages. Kabaka Mwanga
took a further step when, in 1887, he created the ekitongole Ekisalosalo, putting Henry
Nyonyintono at its head and giving it a headquarters on the hill Kamuli (near Kyambo-
go, east of Kampala), previously by Ekisigula (the department of executioners), When
Nyonyintono was killed in battle in 1889, he was succeeded as Omusalosalo by Teofiro
Kisosonkole (later Katikkiro), who was already Omuyinda. The latter moved his head-
quarters first to Butenga and later to Mulawa, near Kira, where he built his house. On
becoming ggombolola chief, Sabaddu, Kyaddondo (whose headquarters are at Kira),
he gave the name Ekisalosalo to that Ggombolola and the two are still co-extensive.
Ekiyinda is a number of villages within the larger unit. (We owe this information to Mr.
M. B. Nsimbi, Mr. Bisase Kisosonkole and the present Ssekiboobo). Kadu was one of
the first to start 'reading' with the missionaries in 1877 (Kagwa) (1901), 131 ff.
22. Eddiini is used for Christianity and Islam but not for what Europeans would call 'tribal
23. Mu kiseera ekyo Mutesa's letters quoted below are essentially different from that quoted
by Gordon at about the same time.
24. Although Mutesa told Stanley that he intended to build a church, and Dallington Muftaa
(Stanley's Christian servant left behind with Mutesa-Emin called him 'Mutesa's English
dragoman') may have used the Kabaka's mosque for Christian teaching, its conversion
into a church did not take place till after the arrival of the missionaries. The English and
Luganda versions of Miti do not always agree. The quotation is a direct translation from
25. They are both listed among the first 30 converts. The name Mponyebuwonyi suggests
that he had already narrowly escaped death on a previous occasion. The list of martyrs
given by both Kulumba and Sekimwanyi is as follows. Those marked are also in the list
of the first 30 converts.
Muwanga and many others who were killed on that day at Namugongo.
26. See J. A. Rowe (1964), 'The Purge of Christians at Mwanga's Court', Jl. African History,
27. Nur's second in command.
28. Gray (1961), note 18.
29. Taibu Magato, born 1860, was later to become Katambala and a notable Muslim leader.
See Gee (1958). Nakaja Ntanda a Gwawo of Nkimadan served Kabaka Mutesa I at the
MUSLIM MARTYRS OF BUGANDA 163
gate Wakoli. He was distinguished for spending the nights out-of-doors without shelter,
while other gatekeepers stayed in their huts. He attached himself to foreign visitors,
learning both Kiswahili and Arabic. After Nakalanga he became Omukubampanga.
He was sent on a mission to Mutatembwa in Kiziba, whence he returned with clothes and
gunpowder and was promoted Omukebezi. He commanded Mutesa's army against
Gabunga Kaya and was made Kajjalango Sabaddu of Ssingo. Kabaka Mwanga made him
Omuteesa in the same county. Mackay of the C.M.S. lived with him before building his
own house. In 1888 under Kabaka Kalema he became a Muslim and continued in po-
pularity because he was honest in his distribution of the spoils of war. Later he was
baptised Ndikodemu but, owing to his Muslim background, he never rose to high rank.
He became Jumba; and Isaya Gabunga gave him charge of the Kabaka's canoes in the
island of Bussi-a post which, from his home at Kaazi, he held till his death in 1901.
When Mwanga fled in 1897 he went first to Ntanda at Kaazi; but the latter, who was by
then a fervent Christian, did not accompany him further. Ntanda was a soldier of some
experience and enjoyed appearing in British uniform 'with sword and pistol at his side.'
Ntanda Omukubampanga, they used to sing of him,
Bw'omulaba omuyita omuzungu
'Ntanda Omukubampanga dresses like a European. When you see him, you call him
European'; and in 1879 he might have been among the first party of Baganda to visit
England but refused in order to keep his office. Dr. Albert Cook was married from his
house. His wife was the daughter of Miti of Bunda in Mawokota. Their daughter, Yunia
AnaNg'anda Ziwedeyo, married Ezera Kabali; and their son, Mr. S. K. Masembe-Kabali,
was Minister of Local Government in the Kabaka's Government. In his early days he
had formed Ekitongole Ekiyinda. But by 1889 (possibly due to his defection to the
Muslims) the post of Omuyinda was already held by Teofiro Kisosonkole of the same clan.
He is to be distinguished from Gideoni Ntanda, who as a small boy 'read' with Mackay.
(Information from Mr. Masembe-Kabali, Mr. Semeoni Kalikuzinga and notes by
Teofiro Kisosonkole in the archives of Ezera Kabali).
30. None of those mentioned in this story had, of course, acquired Christian names by 1875.
Samwiri Mukasa Muswangali (we are told by Mr. S. K. Masembe-Kabali) later became
an English interpreter who was disappointed that, despite his good English, sons of chiefs
were promoted above him. For Andereya Kadu see note 21 supra.
31. The Pentateuch had been reduced to Arabic script by Muftaa and an Arab, Idi.
32. The Kabaka's 'office'.
33. The council hall.
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 165-178
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA
by P. H. TEMPLE
The major stimulus for the development of a market economy in Uganda,
as opposed to the traditional subsistence pattern with its kinship gifts and
exchange, came not only as the result of the development of major cash crops
for export, such as cotton and coffee, but also as the result of urban growth.
As rapidly-increasing numbers of people became concentrated into an urban
setting and particularly into Greater Kampala, the capital city, so there develo-
ped a new outlet for surplus food, hitherto largely absent.
The physical expression of this new urban demand within the urban area
came in the establishment of market places. The first was established in 1882,
by order of the Kabaka, prompted by the missionary, Mackay, within the palace
grounds. It was a built enclosure, where prices were fixed for each article;
anyone selling anything elsewhere was subject to severe penalties (Gutkind,
1960). The market system was foreign to the Baganda and, prior to this time,
there appears to have been no market organisation nor apparently any need for
one despite the considerable size of the traditional capital, and despite early
commercial contacts with the Arabs (but see Fallers, 1960). By 1893, the main
market site had been moved to present-day Kabugube, where it remained for
some time (variously called either Kyagwe market or Busoga market) (Gutkind,
1963) until the urban developments took place on Nakasero hill and a new
market place was set up on the lower slopes of the hill to serve that demand.
Urban development in Kampala essentially resulted from external, non-
African contact and enterprise (Temple, 1963). It was the presence of a pros-
perous, non-land-owning, alien community which officially guaranteed and
economically stimulated an environment where markets could flourish. Overall
political stability, effective administration, a sophisticated African population
and good roads materially assisted the supplying of this demand. The markets,
which resulted from this, functioned as an area of contact between alien and
African, between urban and rural environments and between the traditional and
the new and as such were a major factor of change in many spheres.
As the urban area developed and population grew, so correspondingly
did the need for markets. There are at present 36 market places within Greater
Kampala. These are very diverse and show great contrasts in terms of location,
size, premises, commodities handled and community served. Only Nakasero
market, the immediate successor to the old Kyagwe market, and so not only by
far the largest urban market but also probably the oldest established, is under
consideration in this present paper. Here is found the most sophisticated and
complex market organisation in the city.
The market lies in the heart of the most-densely settled commercial core of
Kampala. The oldest part of the present all-permanent fabric dates back to 1927
but there was a market place on the same site from considerably earlier times
(maps of 1905 and 1907). This market was chosen as the site for a field project
by students of the Geography Department at Makerere in September, 1963;
it was hoped that the basic data so collected might assist in clarifying some of
the planning problems faced by the team of U.N. experts then engaged on
166 UGANDA JOURNAL
making recommendations as to the future development of the urban area.
As the main municipal market, in the heart of the city (rather than in Mengo
municipality, the largely African part of the city) it was complementary to the
only other urban market so far studied, namely Katwe in Mengo (Mukwaya,
1962). A survey was carried out, enumerating every commodity on each stall,
its price, quantity, origin and how it was supplied to the market. In every case,
the major income source of the stall-holder was established by enquiry, the
number of vendors counted and information gathered about their country,
tribe and sex. The number of buyers, broken down into racial groups, was
counted at different times of the day, as were the number of cars, bicycles and
market employees (askaris, porters, sweepers etc.). In this way a fairly compre-
hensive picture of the activity in the market was built up, valid for that par-
ticular day only (Thursday, September 12) but suggestive of a general pattern.
These counts were subsequently checked by others at a somewhat later date and
on different days of the week, when the numbers of people, cars and bicycles
were again re-counted. No re-checkihg was done on the commodity count.
The normal pattern of activity
Activity in the market area begins shortly after dawn with large numbers of
local 'shamba' owners arriving by bicycle to offer the produce of their own or
others gardens to the market stall-holders of both Nakasero market, others
nearby and urban greengrocers buying in bulk. The street above the new,
upper part of the market fills with a mass of people, who soon spill over into the
car park area. Not only are there buyers and sellers, but also large numbers of
unemployed people, beggars and scroungers, doing nothing except adding to
the general confusion. In this situation, it is difficult to tell exactly who is doing
what, whether buying, selling or just bystanding, and enumeration is con-
sequently difficult. Most of the trade is of a wholesale nature, with producer
selling to retailer. But already by about 7.30 a.m., there are some consumers
buying: mainly early workers and householders purchasing more cheaply from
a large range of goods direct from the grower. Only a few market stalls are set
out by this time and counts suggested that twice the amount of retail trade went
on outside the proper market area than within it, for outside there is no charge
for a pitch and so no overheads and prices can be lower. Anything between one
and two thousand people, depending upon the day of the week, are concentrated
in the market area at this time, and the market is at its busiest, with the whole-
sale trade at its height. At this time, there are generally 3 times as many bicycles
in the market as at any other time during the day, for the bicycle is the means by
which much of the fresh produce reaches the market (see below), probably from
an area anything up to 15 miles away. At this time, there are few cars in the
market; taxis bringing goods come somewhat later, generally around 8.00 a.m.,
loaded with people coming into the town to work. Sacks and boxes of vegetables
cram the boots and luggage racks of the taxis, for whom this transport trade
is an important subsidiary income. When a taxi arrives, there is a rush of people
to it, generally men-folk. These are either the stallholders or partners of the
female stallholders and they come to see what the taxi-man has brought and to
bid for it. Goods are quickly sold and carried to the stalls or other markets in
barrows by porters hired for the purpose by the stallholders. Less commonly,
taxis bring goods direct to their friend's stall and there is no bargaining. By a
little after 8.00 a.m., most of the stalls have been set out and the major retail
trade within the official market area begins, starting quickly in the upper market
but more slowly in the lower market, although rising there to a higher peak
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA 167
subsequently. By 10.30 a.m. on most mornings, the market has settled down to a
steady pattern of selling and the remnants of the wholesale market have been
cleared away, an hour and a half after the prescribed time. Between 9.30 a.m.
and 11.30 a.m., retail trade is at the maximum; by 12 noon, except on Saturdays,
a marked slackening-off in activity is noticeable. The stallholders have lost
their early-morning keenness, the car park shows many empty spaces and tempo
picks up but little after 12.30 p.m., when urban office workers filter into the
market to buy food, after their morning work. By 1.00 p.m. the upper part of the
market is cleared, although the lower part continues to function on some days
until nearly 6.00 p.m. In the afternoon, the pace of selling is very slow and
trading desultory and casual until around 4.30 p.m. when city workers, finishing
work in the town, call in at the market to pick up food for their evening meal.
At this time, prices are lower, the customers entirely African and meat, chickens
and matoke are the major items purchased in marked contrast to the morning
activity. Soon the market is almost closed down and it is not long before the
unsold chickens are taken away in baskets on the backs of bicycles and the meat
stalls left to scavengers. Some of the bulk items for the following day have
already arrived e.g. matoke and bags of oranges; these are locked away and
the place closed down. The above patterns of activity are represented by data
presented in Figure 1 and Table 1.
Time of Day: 7.30 8.30 9.30 10.30 11.30 12.30 2.30 3.30 4.30
U European .. 0 6 10 6 4 4 0 0 0
Asian .. 2 18 39 49 38 33 1 1 0
LAfrican .. 8 87 86 73 70 66 8 5 9
European .. 0 2 3 2 2 1 0 0 0
Lower Asian .. 0 14 48 62 42 38 1 1 0
LAfrican .. 9 92 151 150 126 149 50 33 33
Totals : .. .. 19 219 337 342 282 291 60 40 42
Intensity of the retail trade in Nakasero market; approximate average
figures based on 6 counts (12 September, 1963; 14 March 1964; 11, 13, 15 and
16 May 1964) Afternoon figures relate only to weekdays; the inclusion of 3
Saturday morning counts raise the morning figures somewhat above average.
Little information is available about the longer-term pattern of activity.
On a weekly basis, Friday and Saturday are particularly busy days and so is
Monday. It would seem that there is little change if a longer period of time is
examined although the evidence to support this is scant. The only long-term
records kept cover dues received from sacks of oranges and baskets of chickens
and these are not helpful in this context.
168 UGANDA JOURNAL
Retail and commodity emphasis.
The range of produce offered for sale is considerable, for the market caters
for a wide range of income grades and dietary habits. The emphasis is almost
entirely on perishable foods, essentially fresh vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and
eggs. Table II presents a fairly representative picture of the range and relative
importance of the various items on any one day:
Value Relative Value No. of Major % of
(approx- import- as % stalls income total
imate) ance of selling source stalls
in Shs. by value total individual by stall
Cabbage and Cauli-
Beans and Peas ..
Oranges & Citrus
Pineapple and Paw-
Apples and Pears
Bananas (Sweet) ..
Sweet Potatoes ..
- 0.6 15
689.40 2.5 84 21 8.7
1,319.35 4.9 19 7.8
317.00 1.2 2 1 0.4
6,935.00 1 25.5 17 17 7.0
282.50 1.0 2 2 0.8
327.15 1.2 3 2 0.8
4,797.00 2 17.7 19 19 7.9
27,209.93 100 242 100
Range and value of commodities offered retail; their comparative ratings,
importance as income sources to stallholders and numbers of stalls trafficking
in each item in Nakasero market.
NOTE: Valuation has been rather arbitrarily decided by taking the average
of 6 people's opinions who buy regularly in Nakasero as to the normal price
of each item under consideration.
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA
7-30 8-30 9-30 10-30 11-30 12-30 1-30 2-30 3-30 4-30
Fluctuation in the daily pattern of activity: all figures are averages of a number of
separate counts.: NOTE: Total population is based on 3 counts (12 September 1963;
14 March 1964; and 15. May 1964;) and the numerical scale for this is on the right
side of the graph. Average for shoppers are based on 6 counts (12 September 1963;
14 March 1964; 11, 13, 15 and 16 May 1964). Figures for bicycles and cars are
based on two counts (12.9.63 and 14.3.1964).
Fresh meat appears to be the most important single item sold, followed by
poultry. This assessment is biased in that it values perishable and semi-perish-
able items in the same way and therefore gives an excessive weighting to items
such as poultry, which are not all disposed of in the one day. However, if broader
categories are taken, a truer overall picture emerges, as shown in Table III:-
Value % No. of % of
Fresh Fruit & Vegetables .. 14,551.28 53.5 299 78.4
Meat & Fish (Fresh) .. 7,217.50 26.5 50 13.2
Other Items (Baskets etc.) .. 317.00 1.2 1 0.3
Poultry and Eggs .. .. 5,124.15 18.8 31 8.1
Total: .. .. .. .. 27,209.93 100 381 100
Comparison of commodities offered retail in Nakasero market.
170 UGANDA JOURNAL
On the basis of cash valuation, fresh fruit and vegetables are nearly twice as
significant as fresh meat and fish. Their sale occupies nearly 6 times as many
people and nearly 4 out of 5 of all vendors. There are marked contrasts here
again with Katwe in Mengo where only half the vendors were engaged in the
fruit and vegetable trade. In Nakasero market place, the average value of
commodities per stall was Shs. 112/-. Of the total of 242 shops, stalls and pens,
17 per cent derived their major income source from the sale of ripe bananas,
12 per cent from meat. Other single items were less significant. If a grouping is
adopted such as that used in Table III, the following picture emerges:-
Vendor's assessment of
Commodity his major Income Source
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables .. .. 201
Meat and Fish (Fresh) .. .. .. 19
Other Items (Baskets, etc.) .. .. 1
Poultry and Eggs .. .. .. .. 21
Relative significance of various commodities as income sources to vendors in
As an overall pattern, the same picture emerges.
However, the market place reveals, on detailed examination, a number of
significant internal contrasts. A main road, Market Street, cuts the market place
into two very distinct parts. Below the road lies the older part of the market
enclosed by a surrounding facade of Asian and African shops; above the road,
alongside a large car-parking area is the newer part, more open, spacious and
accessible for supply and customers. Rents are higher in the upper part of the
market and this fact plus contrasts in age and facilities have brought about
significant differences in the types of trade carried on in the two parts.
In the newer, upper part of the market place, the average value of produce
offered for sale on the stalls appears to be higher than that in the lower market
(Shs. 127/- as against Shs. 47/-). The range of commodities offered is different:
in the upper market beans, peas, tomatoes, oranges, pineapples, pawpaws,
cabbages and cauliflowers are the main items, comprising 60 per cent of the
total commodity value. There is a notable absence of matoke, sweet potatoes and
groundnuts. The quality of the produce is better and the prices higher and it is
obvious that a more prosperous European-type demand is being catered for.
Luxury articles appear from time to time, such as foreign oranges, apples and
grapes. Many of the other wares come from a considerable distance. The chicken
market is adjacent to the stalls of the upper market place; here the stock value
is greater per unit (Shs. 252/-) as the birds can survive for a number of days in
The rather larger, older part of the market place below the road offers a
somewhat wider range of commodities for sale, although it was apparent from
the lower quality of the goods and from the small amount offered per stall that
the cash turn-over per unit is smaller. Even with lower rents, several stalls
had nothing for sale because the stallholders had no money to buy that day.
Some stalls too, particularly those close to the meat shops, offered only a few
banana leaves for sale or a little matoke or cassava. In contrast to the upper
market again many stalls in the lower market place offer but a single commodity
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA 171
for sale-onions, ginger, cassava, matoke, sweet bananas or groundnuts; inva-
riably in the upper market each stall offers a range of goods and does not depend
solely on one major item alone as an income source. The lower market obviously
caters more for the lower-income groups, Asian and African. Vegetables for
Indian dishes form 6 per cent of the total (2.5 per cent in the upper market)
and form the major income source of 11 per cent of the stalls. African staple
foods, completely absent from the upper market, form at least 20 per cent of the
total produce value and form the major income source of 10 per cent of the
stalls. Vegetables usually demanded by Europeans-cauliflowers, cabbages,
apples and pears-are less in evidence and the major income source for a
quarter of the stalls in the lower market is sweet bananas.
Around the lower market stalls and contained within the market walls are a
number of shops; these shops show a relatively-high figure for produce value per
unit (Shs. 296/-) and are very specialised. Their rents are also higher (Shs. 800/-
to 1,400/-, subject to negotiation). Seventeen sell meat and nothing else, including
one isolated pork butchery; two sell only fish and neither meat nor fish are sold
elsewhere in the market. Apart from a sizeable restaurant, most of the rest
specialise in sweet bananas.
Price, supply and demand
Little precise information was obtained concerning prices of commodities
and variations of price over a period of time. Price appeared to be related
sensitively to supply and demand, and these latter changed according to a
fairly regularly-controlled pattern about which generalisations are possible.
Urban demand appeared in the long term steady or rising, although, as the
analysis of market activity above shows, it varies from day to day and from one
time of the day to another. Prices are low early in the morning because of the
abundance of supply, among other things, and low late in the afternoon due to
absence of demand. Supplies to the market vary because of natural seasonal
fluctuations, although these are not marked, and climatic controls. For example
grasshoppers and termites are occasionally on sale in the lower part of the market
at certain seasons of the year. A shortage of supply puts up prices and this may
lead consumers to buy alternative foods whose prices have not risen. This
is particularly noticeable in relation to African staple foodstuffs such as matoke.
A state of near-perfect competition operates in both the retail and whole-
sale sides of market organisation. A large number of individual suppliers are
offering every day generally small quantities of the same sorts of foods to large
numbers of stallholders both of this market and others. On the retail side,
most of the stalls offer the same range of commodities-small heaps of this-and-
that vegetable-and are in keen competition one with the other for the con-
sumer's custom. Very little specialisation is apparent. As a result, bargaining and
haggling over price is general, although here either Swahili or Luganda are
generally necessary. Without a local language, no such effective bargaining is
possible and price is therefore rather higher; this tends to discriminate against
the more-prosperous Europeans.
With such effective trading competition, no price-fixing is possible. There
are some partnerships within the market but they mainly operate on the supply
side and certainly none is big enough to control prices. Other interests are
evident in the market apart from those of individual stallholders for, among
those selling chickens and oranges, the majority are selling on a commission
basis. Here, significantly enough, there appears to be a fixed minimum
price below which the agent must not sell. This may well be related to the
172 UGANDA JOURNAL
relative non-perishability of the goods. Some agents work on a fixed-return
basis, regardless of how much they sell.
Profits from trading in the market would appear to vary considerably
from one part to another (see below). At least in the upper part of the market,
there is keen competition to rent stalls when they fall vacant. Some stallholders
have been in the market for over 15 years, having worked their way up from the
lower to the upper part. It is doubtful whether the profits accruing from trading
on this scale permit the accumulation of capital adequate to set up a more-
elaborate business elsewhere. For many, market trading appears to be only a
part of their income; Luo women stallholders frequently have husbands work-
ing elsewhere, but for others, the market stall is their major income source.
The degree to which urban demand and market price influence production
decisions can only be surmised. The influence would appear to be slight for
produce selling in the market is only a sideline for the vast majority of the local
peasants and this situation reflects a notable absence around the city of specialist
There are 60 stalls, 2 shops and 19 chicken pens in the upper market, 136
stalls and 25 shops in the lower market. This gives some idea of the size of the
Nakasero market. Stalls are allocated on application for monthly rental (Shs.
46/- per month in the upper market; Shs. 23/- per month in the lower market)
although shops are rented on the annual basis (see above). All the stalls, shops
and pens are permanent constructions.
The number of people serving on any one stall tends to vary from hour to
hour and day to day; on some days, certain stalls are empty. In addition to the
stallholders there is a variable number of petty traders without stalls, either
squatting around the entrances or selling illegally on the market edge-as a
sideline to wholesale supply or as a main occupation. The total number of
vendors in the whole market is approximately 381, 148 in the upper part and 233
in the lower part. Although there are more traders in the lower market, there are
fewer of them per stall (1.7 as against 2.5). The number of people serving in the
small shops averages higher than for the stalls (2.8 as against 1.9). This is
suggestive of a graded turn-over and income potential from permanent shops at
the top through the upper to the lower part of the market. The commodity
values per unit indicate the same conclusion.
The tribe, origin and sex of the vendors was noted. The whole market is
completely African run, and the same is true of all the urban markets. Africans
appear to dominate perishable food supply to the urban area and it is only high-
quality refrigerated supplies from Kenya which are outside their control.
Within the market, the ratio of sexes is shown in Table V. :
Men, % Women, %
Upper Market .. .. 46 54
Lower Market .. .. 52 48
All Market .. .. .. 49.5 50.5
Relative proportions of sexes in Nakasero Market.
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA 173
By contrast with West-African urban markets where women dominate (Hodder,
1961), here they share the trade equally with men. However, all the meat and
fish shops are staffed by men, nor are any chickens or eggs sold by women.
The women's role here is simply economic-as a seller; this is not a place for
gossip, news and meeting, probably because of the rigid structural control
exercised by the municipality, the heterogeneity of the trading class and the
absence of a marked female majority. The Baganda women were generally
single and their market stalls were their major source of income. The other
large female groups, the Jaluo, were invariably married and their stalls pro-
vided a supplementary income to that of their husbands who generally worked
Analysis of the tribal origin of the traders revealed a number of interesting
points (Table VI.) :
Upper Market Lower Market Nakasero Market
Nos. % Nos. % Nos. %
1. Baganda 68 45.9 127 54.5 195 51.2
2. Jaluo 66 44.6 26 11.2 92 24.1
3. Somalis .. 17 7.3 17 4.5
4. Sudanese 0 17 7.3 17 4.5
5. Batoro .. 16 6.9 16 4.3
6. Banyoro .. 16 6.9 16 4.3
7. Other Kenyans .. 14 9.5 4 1.7 17 4.5
8. Others .. 0 10 4.2 10 2.6
148 100 233 100 381 100
Tribal affiliations of traders within Nakasero market.
Viewing the market as a whole, the local Baganda dominate the trading,
forming just over half the total vendors. That this domination is not greater
is perhaps surprising, considering their advantages in relation to local supply
either from their own 'shambas' or those of other Baganda. The fact that
much of the produce is brought into the market from a considerable distance
(see below) counterbalances this, nor do Baganda dominate the population of
Kampala municipality, which the market serves, in the same way that they
dominate Mengo municipality. A further factor is that local Baganda may well
be able to secure more-remunerative incomes in other employment. Another
significant point is the considerable difference apparent between the vendors of
the upper and lower parts of the market.
Upper Market Lower Market Nakasero Market
Nos. % Nos. % Nos. %
Ugandan .. .. 68 46 162 70 230 60
Non-Ugandan .. .. 80 54 71 30 151 40
Proportions of non-Ugandans in Nakasero market.
174 UGANDA JOURNAL
In the upper market, Kenyans form a majority of the traders (54 per cent)
with Jaluo being only slightly-less numerous than Baganda, and no other
groups being significant. In the lower market, by contrast, Kenyans form less
than 30 percent of the total and the group is more heterogeneous with significant
numbers of Sudanese, Somalis, Batoro and Banyoro, although Baganda form
over half the total.
M Other Kenyans
Area occupied by early morning wholesale
coops *. .. *...' .*. *. u* dnarea
shops s hoDs
Fig. 2. Distribution of tribal groups in Nakasero market
Within the market, these tribal groups show a marked tendency to cluster
together as is shown in Figure 2. Although not quite so prominent in the upper
market, this tendency is clearly marked in the lower market, where the grouping
of Batoro, Banyoro, Sudanese, Somalis and Baganda is striking. There appears
also to be a considerable degree of specialisation between the various tribes in
what they trade in. This is shown in Table VIII, where information about the
major income source of each stallholder is tabulated against his tribe for both
parts of the market area :-
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA 175
(A) Nakasero Upper Market.
Baga- Jaluo Som- Suda- Bato- Ban- Other
nda ali nese ro yoro Kenyans
Total: .. 25
9 10 -
1 .. .
37 0 0 10 0
(B) Nakasero Lower Market.
Som- Suda- Bato- Ban-
alis nese ro yoro
8 1 1
2 7 4 4
3 4 4
Imported Vegs. 4
Imported Fruit 1
Local Vegetables 39
Local Fruit .. 39
Meat .. .. 3
Fish .. .. 2
Poultry .. .. -
Eggs .. .. -
Other things .. 2
Inter-tribal commodity specialisation in the upper and lower parts of
In the upper market, the local Baganda concentrate essentially on local fruit
and vegetables where they have special advantages (see above), although they
also stock fruit and vegetables brought in from a considerable distance. The
Jaluo, the other main group here, concentrate both on fruit and vegetables
coming from some distance (see below) and on the local produce. They also
share the egg and poultry trade with the Batoro, the only other participants.
The only other group in the market are the other Kenya people, who specialise
in imported (Kenya) vegetables. In this part of the market, the Kenyan-run
stalls appear to be the most prosperous (Table IX). In the lower market, Baganda
dominate, concentrating essentially on local produce. Somalis and Sudanese
control the meat trade, while fish coming from the various nearby lake-shore
landings is marketed by Baganda. African staple-food selling with its low returns
and outlay is dominated in the lower market by Banyoro women. In this part of
.. 90 20 6 7 13 12
176 UGANDA JOURNAL
the market, the Batoro and Baganda-run stalls appear on average the most
prosperous in terms of value of foods offered for sale (Table IX) :
Value of No. of
per market occupied
stall or shop by each
I Sudanese & Somalis
Banyarwanda & Others ..
[Empty (on day of survey) ..
Comparative ratings of market enterprise by tribes or places of origin.
Origins and transport of goods.
Of the 60 stalls in the upper part of the market, 30 (50 per cent) derived
their major income from the sale of vegetables and fruit brought in from a
considerable distance, generally either Kenya or Kigezi, Busoga or Bugisu.
If the poultry and egg sellers are included, then the emphasis on long-distance
traffic is maintained; all the eggs come from Kenya, and 79 per cent of the
chickens come in from either Kenya, Teso or Toro and only 21 per cent are
locally produced. Of the 136 stalls in the lower market, only 16 (12 per cent)
derived their major income source from imported fruit and vegetables; 120
out of 136 (88 per cent) claimed that the sale of local fruit and vegetables was
their major income source (Table X) :-
Kenya Tanganyika Kigezi Others Local
Upper fAmount 2,730.70 1,333.05 3,565.70
market LPercentage 35.8 17.5 46.7
Lower fAmount 808.25 1,485.75 500.00 103.25 3,546.28
market (Percentage 12.5 23.1 7.8 1.6 55.0
rAmount 3,538.95 1,485,75 1,833.05 103.25 7,111.98
T Percentage 25.3 10.6 13.1 50.9
Value of produce from various sources in Nakasero market,
12 September 1963.
NAKASERO MARKET, KAMPALA 177
Approximately a quarter of the goods on sale on the stalls in the market by
value came from Kenya, half were of local origin and the rest came in from a
considerable distance as the table shows. The bulk of the meat supply comes
from Karamoja and this has not been included in the table.
All the foods from Kenya come by rail according to the stallholders and all
are handled by middlemen, buying from the producers in Kenya and reselling in
Uganda. All the Kigezi produce is said to come by bus but this is very doubtful;
again marketing is separate from production and retailing. Busoga oranges
and Bugisu tomatoes come by lorry, while Karamoja beef comes to Kampala
on the hoof. A survey of the means of supply of the local produce (Buganda)
in the upper part of the market revealed that 23 per cent by value came by taxi,
12 per cent by bus and 65 per cent by bicycle or other means.
Nakasero market is a clearly organised and ordered economic response to
a largely-alien demand. African control of the market has been made possible
by the special nature of the trade; a start can be made here with very little
capital, the turn-over is probably small but rapid, local contracts are valuable,
and in these ways the otherwise-ubiquitous Asian trading competition can
be overcome. The shamba owner/stallholder link is frequently close either by
custom, arrangement or investment and the long distance link of Kenyans
with the vegetable production of their own country is an advantage; both these
factors compensate for lack of capital.
The market fulfils both a wholesale and a retail role; on the wholesale side it
distributes to the less-organised, smaller, urban markets as well as supplying
Nakasero stallholders; on the retail side it caters for the more-prosperous part
of the urban community. Other very different markets, generally peripheral to
Kampala municipality, cater for the surrounding African urban areas parti-
cularly in terms of bulky staple foods; their distinctive features will be treated
elsewhere. Thus only a partial picture of Kampala urban marketing is possible
from the detailed study of Nakasero; it is a true picture only for one particular
market at one particular time, but as a detailed survey of the major urban
market of the capital city, it has nonetheless value and interest.
I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. A. Scaff of the United
Nations Urban Planning Mission for encouragement in this project, to the
students of the Geography Department, Makerere University College, who
made it possible, and to Mr. D. P. Ghai for criticising the typescript.
FALLERS, M. C., (1960), The eastern lacustrine Bantu (Ganga, Soga), 49, Ethnographic
Survey of Africa. London. A divergence of opinion appears to exist between the various
authorities over this point. Fallers states categorically that 'regular markets, in which
craft goods and surplus produce were sold, were a feature of the traditional economies of
Buganda and Busoga, fees being collected by market masters on behalf of rulers and
chiefs'. This directly contradicts the statement of Gutkind.
GUTKIND, P. C. W., (1960). Notes on the Kibuga of Buganda, Uganda J., 24, 37.
GUTKIND, P. C. W., (1963), The Royal Capital of Buganda. The Hague; maps 2 and 3.
HODDER, B. W., (1961) Rural periodic day markets in parts of Yorubaland. Trans. Inst.
Brit. Geogr., 29, 149-159.
178 UGANDA JOURNAL
Maps of Kampala (1905), C.2 and (1907), C.38. Uganda Lands and Surveys Department
records, Entebbe. Map: C.2 is the earliest to show the market in its present position and
map C.38 is the first to show permanent constructions on the site.
MUKWAYA, A. B., (1962), The Marketing of staple foods in Kampala, Uganda, in Markets
in Africa, ed. BOHANNEN, P. and DALTON, G., 643-666, North Western U.P.
TEMPLE, P. H., (1963) Kampala; influences upon its growth and development. E.A.I.S.R.
June Conference papers, 1-11, Kampala.
TRIBAL ANALYSIS FOR BUGANDA PROVINCE, DISTRICTS, COUNTIES AND
DIVISIONS (1960), 182; UGANDA CENSUS 1959, NON-AFRICAN POPULATION
(1960), 10, East African Statistical Department, Nairobi.
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 179-199
by J. A. ROWE
Mpuga island lies some 5 miles across Tome bay from the vast hilly mass
of Buvuma. It is the first of a scattered chain of islands which extend to the
southwest for more than 30 miles along the steamer route from Jinja to Port
Bell. Mpuga, with an area of less than half a square mile, is one of the smallest
and least noticeable of islands, though in 1951 it could boast of a single cluster
of huts and a well-tended banana plantation. But even this was not to last,
for on 12 August of that year the owner of the plantation died after 30 years
of living in near isolation. He was a very old man, white haired and bent,
and over the years as he slowly worked at the digging of his shamba, there was
nothing about him to suggest to an idle passenger at the steamer rail that here
was an extraordinary person. Yet when he died his body was carefully trans-
ported back to the mainland and special services were held in Namirembe
Cathedral. Newspapers noted his passing and also the heavily-attended funeral
conducted by the Bishop of Uganda. For although 30 years had dimmed the
memories of people, they had not completely erased the image of a man who
had once been a leader of his community, who had taken caravans to the coast
in the early days of contact with the outside world, who had narrowly escaped
execution on 3 occasions, and who had visited England before the British
Protectorate was declared in the 1890's. Further, there was the lingering puzzle
of a man who had made an exciting and brilliant career in his youth, then
suddenly and inexplicably given it up for a life of solitude. His name was Mika
Sematimba, and his story is both revealing of himself and of a turbulent period
in Buganda history.
Sematimba was born sometime around 1865 at Kigumba kyalo (now in
Mutuba II) Busiro.' His father was Malyankolo, of the Mamba clan, and his
mother's name was Kinayingirwa.2 Young Sematimba was soon taken from
his home and sent to live with his uncle (kitawe omuto) Mutaka. Consequently
he was unable in later years to remember anything of his real father. It was
often the custom for children to be sent to influential relatives for upbringing
where they might learn proper behaviour and discipline. For it was widely
held that the natural parents tended to spoil a child with indulgences and so
not prepare him for the competitive world of Buganda politics, into which
many an ambitious father wished to introduce his sons. In any case, Sematimba
was not to have the opportunity of meeting his father again, for Malyankolo
fell victim to the mass execution (kiwendo) ordered by Kabaka Mutesa of all
those who had refused to adopt the outward manifestations of Islam. It is
not clear whether Malyankolo actually refused to accept Islam, as his Christian
descendants would like to believe, or was merely the unlucky victim of cir-
cumstance. Many of those who were killed in a kiwendo were simply seized by a
zealous chief to make up an impressive number, or perhaps to pay off old
That Sematimba should lose his father in this particular kiwendo was
significant, both for his own future career, and for the state of the Baganda
society in which he was growing up. One might well ask, was it not extraordinary
180 UGANDA JOURNAL
in Africa a century ago to find men being executed by their rulers for not
casting off the traditional tribal gods? In Buganda it was not extraordinary
at all. Here the main pivot on which society and state rested was not a body
of accepted tradition guarded and preserved by a host of priests and hereditary
chiefs. Here on the contrary, the whole power of the state was centered on a
single despotic monarch. And at this time in history, the Kabakas of Buganda
were not using their power to ward off disruptive outside influences, but were
welcoming them. The motives of Kabaka Suna, and even more of his son
Mutesa I, were both reasons of national strategy-to strengthen Buganda in
every possible way against its neighboring rivals3-and those of an intelligent
personal curiosity and interest. The Kabakas sought the firearms and manu-
factured cloth offered by Arab and Swahili traders; they were also intrigued
by the new ideas and, fortified by their own relatively-secure positions of
power, they were willing to experiment. Suna had parts of the Koran trans-
lated and read to him. His son Mutesa went further. By the time of Malyankolo's
death, Mutesa had learned a fair amount of Arabic, sent emissaries to his
fellow monarch Seyyid Said of Zanzibar, and faithfully observed Rammadan
for 6 or 7 years in succession. For the moment the future belonged to Islam,
but the Kabaka's interest could as easily be stimulated by other new ideas,
should they appear.
It was about 1873 when young Sematimba, then aged 8 years, left the relative
quiet of the Busiro countryside for the quicker tempo of life at the capital.
His uncle and guardian, Mutaka, managed to obtain a place for him as a servant
or page in the palace of the Queen Mother, Namasole Muganzirwaza. To secure
this opportunity for Sematimba, Mutaka made timely use of a long-standing
blood brotherhood he had with an important chief in the Namasole's court,
the Mukwenda Lutemye. The ties of blood brotherhood were strong, and
Lutemye was morally bound to do this favour for Mutaka and to treat the
latter's prot6g6 Sematimba as his own.
So it was that the 8-year-old boy found himself amidst the hustle and
bustle of the Queen Mother's extensive enclosure. It was atop the hill called
"Lusaka", about 3 miles from the Kabaka's palace at Rubaga. Sematimba
was given a place to sleep in one of the huts by the entrance gate where he no
doubt saw the comings and goings of the great chiefs with their entourages
and, more rarely, the Kabaka himself. The young page soon proved himself
to be quick and reliable and was given the duty of carrying the Namasole's
ceremonial shield and two spears behind her in procession whenever she went
out. He also held the shield and spears on formal occasions within the palace.
All the while he was being educated in the ways of society at court, not only
learning his own duties of correct dress, polite behaviour and obedience,
but keeping his eyes open and observing the great chiefs at receptions. He seems
to have performed his duties well, for he was noticed and commended. And
then at the age of 13 he received a very desirable promotion when the Queen
Mother gave him to the Kabaka to be a page in the royal enclosure (lubiri)
Sematimba had had 5 years of training at the Namasole's to prepare him
for his new post-5 years in which to grow up, learn the ways of the world and
ready himself for responsibility. For already at the relatively-tender age of
13, he and his companions in the lubiri would be making adult decisions, and
adapting themselves to a new atmosphere which was at once more competitive
and more dangerous. Everyone knew that it was at the Kabaka's palace where
opportunities were made. Should he notice you favourably, a chieftainship
MIKA SEMATIMBA 181
or the command of a plundering expedition might result. Sudden wealth and
position could be had overnight at the mere nod or smile of the great monarch.
Equally, a frown or a word in anger at some act of forgetfulness or clumsy
behaviour could earn dire punishments and even (although it was seldom in
fact applied) death.
Namasole's court had been a good preparatory school for Sematimba,
but it was somewhat removed from the more exciting new influences at the
lubiri. Although these influences, Islam and then Christianity, did filter through
the Queen Mother's enclosure, her own attitude and that of her advisers
remained more traditional and suspicious of changes being introduced by her
son Mutesa. It is perhaps significant that though Sematimba was at Namasole's
when Stanley came in 1875, he had only the vaguest memories of the event.
Life went on as usual at Namasole's, while at the lubiri Stanley's visit made a
more noticeable impact.
For one thing, there was the presence of Stanley's former interpreter,
Dallington Mufta-or "Bafuta" as the Baganda called him. He had been
left behind (or enticed to desert-as Baganda writers maintain) when Stanley
left Buganda, and Mutesa gave him the kitongole chieftainship of Kitezi and a
number of wives.4 His remarkable position of favour with the Kabaka he
owed to one fact alone-his knowledge of the outside world and particularly
the ability to write intelligible English. This fact was not lost on the pages in
the lubiri, many of whom had already struggled to learn Swahili and even
Arabic. But some of the pages were disappointed to see their Kabaka flirting
with Dallington's elementary instruction in Christianity. These pages had
already committed themselves unreservedly to Islam. When Mutesa appeared
to veer away from that faith, they refused to follow him, but instead attempted
to exclude him from their own worship. Mutesa was stung by this unprece-
dented rejection and marched about 70 pages and chiefs off to execution at
Namugongo-the very place where the Christian martyrs were to die a decade
later.5 This was the first instance of the new ideas getting out of hand-as far
as the Kabaka was concerned. It was a significant omen for the future.
Despite the temporary setback, Islam did not lose popularity at court,
for the Kabaka continued to observe Rammadan after Stanley's departure.
His interest in Christianity did not prevent him from worshipping in the mosque
which he had built in the lubiri. It was understood, however, that the new faith
must not lead to a conflict of loyalties with the Kabaka. Many young pages
at the capital eagerly adopted Islam, including (Stanislas) Mugwanya and
(Ham) Mukasa who were later to become Christian leaders.6
It was probably some time in 1878 when Sematimba was transferred from
the Namasole's service to that of the Kabaka. The C.M.S. missionaries Shergold
Smith and C. T. Wilson had reached Buganda the year before, but Smith's
death and Wilson's long absence from the capital prevented their making any
noticeable impact on court society. Sematimba responded to his new environ-
ment by deciding to become a Muslim. As well as learning Muslim prayers,
he studied Swahili. But the influence of Christianity began to be more strongly
felt with the arrival of the engineer Mackay, who astonished the Baganda with
his practical skills. Litchfield came soon after and became well known around
the capital as he paid frequent visits to various chiefs and strove to learn their
language and conform to their system of etiquette.7 Sematimba met Litch-
field (known as "Likifeli" among the Baganda) who gave him an alphabet
182 UGANDA JOURNAL
sheet, but the young page was already showing that marked independence of
character for which he was noted in later life. He threw away the sheet dis-
dainfully, for he considered himself a convert to Islam.8 But his adherence to
that faith was not to be permanent. It was not long before he was attracted
to the teachings of Pare Lourdel ("Mapera") and the White Fathers who reached
Buganda in 1879. Perhaps Sematimba attended the missionaries' classes while
still reciting his Muslim prayers. Many of the young men at court experi-
mented with all 3 religious teachings at the same time. Soon however, Sematimba
abandoned Islam altogether and consciously counted himself among the
followers of the White Fathers' mission.
Meanwhile, he was doing well in the lubiri. He began under the chief Kulugi,
who was in charge of the enkuluze-the Kabaka's treasury and storehouse of
valuable goods. Kulugi soon gave Sematimba a responsible position in charge
of the store of royal barkclothes, and also gave him control over the distri-
bution of salt to the royal wives. Salt was a very valuable commodity in those
days, being imported all the way from Katwe near Lake Edward, and Kibero
in Bunyoro.9 Sematimba soon found his willpower taxed to the utmost as the
royal wives attempted to exert pressure on him to grant extra portions of salt
for their friends and relatives. It was a difficult position to be in since the wives
could threaten to denounce the poor page to the Kabaka for some imaginary
offence. Sematimba remained firm however, and was able to count on the
support of his master Kulugi in case of trouble.
This steadfastness gained him a good reputation with Kulugi, and earned
him his next promotion. It came when the Kabaka asked Kulugi to recommend
a trustworthy servant to wait on him personally and to be in charge of his
undergarments. At that time the Kabaka was putting up a brave front in
public while suffering intensely in private from a debilitating disease. It was
particularly important that those nearest to him who would be fully aware of
his condition should be discreet. Kulugi was able to recommend Sematimba
for the post. (Many years later Sematimba told his son that this was one of
the proud days of his life.) Sometime later, Sematimba received a further
promotion, being appointed "Mutuba" of the Abagalagala where he was in
command of the pages who lit the reed torches at night. His career in the
lubiri was not entirely without blemish, for he was once given 5 strokes for
forgetting an order to fetch a chief. It was a lenient punishment and perhaps
indicates that he was generally regarded as a valued servant.
In March of 1881 the routine existence at court was suddenly disrupted
by the appearance of the dreaded plague among the royal wives. It is even said
that one of the wives was seen to fall over dead in the midst of the evening
meal.10 Mutesa immediately packed up and fled with his retinue to the tem-
porary palace at Nabulagala. He left the Saza chief Mukwenda in charge of
the nearly deserted lubiri at Rubaga, and Sematimba was also left to keep the
goods in the royal storehouse. Reporting the epidemic in a letter home, Mackay
wrote, "Plague has appeared in Buganda like Black Death in medieval Europe."
He added that the C.M.S. missionaries had persuaded the Kabaka to order a
thorough cleaning of the huts at the capital and the immediate burial of the
bodies of the dead. By June Mackay could report that the epidemic had abated,
and considered that the CMS suggestions had been a major factor in the de-
cline." But the victory over disease was only temporary. Those of Sematimba's
generation were to face recurring dangers from plague, smallpox, venereal
disease and later, famine resulting from civil wars. Although Sematimba was to
survive these dangers himself, it would not be without scars, for many of his
MIKA SEMATIMBA 183
loved ones were to be mercilessly struck down by these natural disasters.
This was part of the price paid by the Baganda for their eager acceptance of
the outside world.
The following year in 1882, Sematimba embarked on the first of many
travel adventures, and one which was to change the course of his life. He was
chosen as one of the members of a caravan which Mutesa was dispatching to
Zanzibar with a present of ivory for the Sultan Seyyid Bargash. The caravan
was under the direction of an experienced Arab trader, but 30 young Baganda
were sent to see to the actual delivery of the present and make a report on their
return.12 Perhaps Sematimba's reputation at the storehouse and his study of
Swahili were the reasons for his selection. At any rate he now had his first
opportunity to see something of the world outside Buganda and he made the
most of it. It was probably on this very first expedition that he discovered a
delight in things foreign. (His preference even extended to people. After the re-
turn of the caravan from Zanzibar, Sematimba took as his wife a girl from
Usukuma-later baptised Rebeka-who had been captured in war. Curiously
though, not until near the time of his death, in the 1940's, did Sematimba reveal
to his eldest son Nuwa that his mother was not a true Muganda.)
The expedition was successful in its purpose, and during the period in
Zanzibar before the return journey, Sematimba met his fellow Muganda,
Henry Wright Duta (short for "Lutamaguzi") who was being taught at
the Universities Mission. How he had reached Zanzibar was something of an
adventure in itself. Duta had twice attempted to run away from his guardian,
the Kangawo Namalere, and accompany C.M.S. missionaries leaving Buganda.
The first time he was caught, beaten and imprisoned on an island in lake
Wamala. Undeterred, he tried again and succeeded in getting away with Litch-
field and Pearson, who left him at Zanzibar when they continued on to
England. There at Zanzibar he studied and was baptised on 10 April 1882.
The famous trader Charlie Stokes, who was still a lay member of the C.M.S.
mission at that time, stood by as his godfather.13
Sematimba was greatly impressed by the self-confident Duta, and was
persuaded that he should leave the White Fathers for the "English" Europeans
who taught their people to read. Upon his return to Buganda, Sematimba
began to make frequent visits to Mackay at Natete and eventually was bap-
tised "Mika" by O'Flaherty in December 1883. He may have been among the
15 whom O'Flaherty reported he had baptised as a culmination to the Christ-
mas Day celebrations at the mission.'4
The trip to Zanzibar had other results as well. It seems to have given Se-
matimba a certain reputation, for he began to be employed by the Kabaka
as an envoy to Arabs at the south of the lake, and as a guide to foreigners
coming to the Buganda capital.
Another outcome of the expedition was Mika's move outside the lubiri.
There are several versions of how this came about but the most likely story
seems to be the following: he returned to the capital from Zanzibar with two
guns which he said were a personal gift to himself from the Sultan. They were
not the old muskets common at the time, but a valuable newer type (perhaps
using caps?). His story was greeted with some suspicion and the fact was made
known to the Kabaka. Mika was quick to present himself before the monarch
with a gift of one of the rifles, which was duly accepted. Soon after, however,
the Kabaka told his morning assembly of chiefs that he had dreamed one of
his pages shot him with a gun. A page friend of Sematimba's overheard and
rushed to him with the news. Mika decided he had better get rid of the
184 UGANDA JOURNAL
remaining gun and quickly sold it to the chief Gabunga for a goat and a girl
(one trusts he was not yet a baptised Christian). He took the next opportunity
to let the Kabaka know that the gun had been sold. Mika felt he had had a
close brush with real danger and nervously decided to find a way of leaving
the palace. He approached a mutongole chief Mutaganirwa and persuaded
him to beg the Kabaka for Mika's services. The Kabaka then asked Mika if he
wanted to leave, which he heartily denied, meanwhile encouraging the chief
to persist in asking. At last the Kabaka agreed to the transfer, but only on the
condition that Mika come to the lubiri each morning to wait on him personally.
Outside the palace, Sematimba established himself as a sub chief in the kito-
ngole Kitaganirwa. He was now free to marry, and it was sometime after this
that he took as his wife the girl from Usukuma who was later baptised 'Rebeka'.
In 1884 just before his death in October, Kabaka Mutesa granted Mika
Sematimba an unusual reward for his continued services. He was given a royal
warrant to make a circuit along the lake shore between Ntebe and the mouth of
the Nile collecting cows, barkcloths and other goods from the chiefs according
to their wealth. No doubt the bulk of this tax was intended for the Kabaka's
own treasury, but it is equally certain that the tax collector himself would
receive a handsome share and suddenly become a wealthy man. Having made
his circuit, Mika reappeared at the capital at the head of a heavily-laden ex-
pedition. The plundered chiefs had even to furnish the porters to carry their
goods off to the capital. But it was all in vain-for the Kabaka was dead and
the authorities at court, headed by Katikiro Mukasa, were not interested in
Mika's claims. They stripped him of the entire loot and sent him off brusquely
with the nudge of a stick.
Despite his disappointing setback, Mika was soon being employed by the
new young Kabaka Mwanga, who knew of his reputation as an envoy to the
south of the lake, and used him increasingly in that capacity. Besides con-
ducting Arab traders to Buganda in the Kabaka's fleet of canoes, Sematimba
acted as the royal representative (Mubaka) escorting the missionaries on their
journeys. As he was well known to the C.M.S. mission, they were soon re-
questing his services, particularly whenever boats had to be sent across the lake.
His name began to appear frequently in the letters of the missionaries. Mackay
reported that in November 1884 he had sailed to Kageye with the Christian
sub-chief Sematimba to meet Stokes' caravan and bring up several missionaries.
But the reinforcements, including John Roscoe, had been ordered elsewhere
for the moment, and the boats returned to Buganda without the expected
missionaries-much to Mwanga's disappointment, noted Mackay.15
In January 1885 came the shock of the first persecution of Christians at
the hands of Mwanga, when 3 Protestant boys were executed on the charge
of attempting to leave Buganda without royal permission. Both Ashe and
Mackay, who had been particularly close to the boys, were extremely upset
and asked permission to leave. At first Mwanga did not want them to go,
but the Katikiro Mukasa seemed anxious to take up their offer. Finally Mwanga
agreed that they could depart if Mackay would mend a broken revolver first.
It was decided that Mika Sematimba would take charge of their caravan, and
he began to make preparations. But now the Katikiro had second thoughts
as did the missionaries themselves after their initial shock had passed. The
Katikiro said he would be pleased to have them stay and presented Mackay
with a broken rifle to be repaired for him. Mika ceased his preparations and
settled down to await his next assignment.16
MIKA SEMATIMBA 185
It was not long in coming. Mika heard that the Kabaka was ordering a
canoe expedition to cross the lake and bring up the White Fathers from their
station near Kageye. The command of the flotilla of 27 canoes had, however,
been offered to the well-known Roman Catholic Jamari (Jean-Marie) Fuwuke.
Mika was disappointed, but determined to have a try at changing the Kabaka's
mind. He presented himself at court and successfully argued his greater ex-
perience and detailed knowledge of the route. Mwanga knew Sematimba,
although a Protestant, was a close friend of many Catholic pages, and so ap-
pointed him to command instead of Fuwuke.17
The White Fathers had been absent from Buganda for over two years.
They left in the autumn of 1882, discouraged by the hostility they found at the
hands of the Baganda authorities, a hostility which seemed to blight all their
efforts. But now, with an invitation to return from the new Kabaka who had
once been one of their pupils, the future seemed more optimistic, and P6re
Lourdel was in excellent spirits when Sematimba arrived with the impatiently-
awaited canoes. Pere Lourdel wrote that they left Kageye on 25 June and
reached Ntebe on 13 July-a satisfyingly-swift passage. He added that the young
fleet commander, a Protestant named Mika Sematimba, almost overwhelmed
the missionaries with kind attentions and efforts to ensure their comfort and
Lourdel's optimism in that summer of 1885 was more-cautiously echoed
by Mackay in a letter to the mission board dated 25 September. Interest in
Christianity seemed to be growing at a great rate, and nowhere was it in greater
evidence than among the young men of Sematimba's generation at court.
"Again and again", wrote Mackay, "I have seen the various stores and other
houses at court, literally converted into reading rooms-I have almost feared
that such extreme publicity might lead to a sudden check some day-lads sitting
in groups or sprawling on the hay covered floor-all reading, some the book of
Commandments and other texts, some the church prayers, and others the
Kiswahili N.T. They are besides very eager to learn to write and at all times
are scribbling on boards or any scrap of paper they can pick up. Invariably
some or other of them sends us a semi-legible note containing news of anything
said by the King affecting us."
Mackay's thoughts came near to clairvoyance, for not only was his fore-
boding about a "sudden check" to come true, but the activities of the pages in
reporting the Kabaka's words to the missionaries was to be one of the critical
factors in precipitating Mwanga's violent reaction. Meanwhile the missionaries
and their Christian followers at the capital were coming to the end of an "Indian
summer" of successful activity-activity which if not actually blessed with
Mwanga's warm approval, nevertheless was carried on with his tacit consent.
The event which did most to end this happy period and bring on a bleak winter
of hostility and ultimately persecution was the news of Bishop Hannington's
approach towards Buganda from the Busoga side.
From the earliest intimation of the Bishop's planned route, the C.M.S.
missionaries in Buganda were uneasy. They remembered the references made
by the late Kabaka Mutesa about Busoga being Buganda's "back door" through
which strangers would never be permitted to enter. With these objections in
mind, Mackay sent off a letter to Hannington advising a different route, but
the letter missed the Bishop by a few days at Mombasa. Still, despite the
missionaries' uneasiness, there was as yet no ground for real alarm because
the Bishop had written his intention to wait at the Kavirondo shore of Lake
Victoria for a boat passage to the capital. In September a C.M.S. caravan
186 UGANDA JOURNAL
under Stokes reached the capital, and with it the ill-timed news of German
aggression against the Sultan's dominions at the coast. Ashe and Mackay
deferred breaking the news of Hannington's approach until 25 September,
when they were able to present a gift from the recently-arrived C.M.S. supplies.
But Mwanga and the Katikito immediately subjectecd the two missionaries
to sharp questioning, the main point of which was the relationship between
the Bishop and the Germans. Mackay stressed the difference between Germans
and English and even went so far as to say that by travelling up from Mombasa,
the Bishop was attempting to avoid the Germans. The Kabaka and Katikiro
appeared to accept these arguments, but they were unconvinced as the next
day's consultation with the leading Baganda chiefs demonstrated.
The Katikiro was not at this later meeting, but the other chiefs vied with
each other in expressing hostility to the Bishop and loyalty to the Kabaka.
Clever courtiers that they were, they correctly read Mwanga's fears and played
upon them. Kangawo said he would go personally and fight the Bishop. Ngobya
said that when you see running water you may expect more to follow. The only
way to stop it was at the source, and he suggested therefore that the C.M.S.
missionaries in Buganda should be killed. Mugema complained that the Bishop
would have to have a big house built for him. At this point Mwanga interrupted
the rather pointless discussion with a practical suggestion that Mika Sematimba
be sent to spy out the strength of the Bishop. (He had apparently no qualms
about Mika's loyalty despite the fact he was a well-known Christian.) Then
Kulugi, who seemed to be playing a moderating influence, saw his opportunity
and said that while Sematimba acted as a reconnaissance, the Bishop could be
ordered to go to Msalala, and there await the Kabaka's permission to come
across the lake to Buganda-if the Kabaka cared to so permit him. To the relief
of the missionaries-informed of the course of the debate by the eavesdropping
pages-Kulugi's advice was taken, and it was decided that Mika Sematimba
should meet the Bishop and convey his entire party by boat from the Kavirondo
shore to the south lake station of Msalala. The conference then broke up,
after more irrelevant remarks by Kangawo that he heard 7 'Bazungu' (Euro-
pean) ships had been sunk off Buvuma island because Lubare (Mukasa-the
god of the lake) didn't like them going there.19
A few days later, on 1 October, another full 'baraza' or council of chiefs
was convened at which Mackay unfortunately overplayed his hand. In the course
of arguing that the English were not responsible for German actions at the
coast, he added that the chiefs "should know better than to believe that we
wish "to eat the country." At this from all sides rose the cry "Who told you
we said you meant to take the country ?" Mackay was caught off balance and
replied weakly, "Everybody says so". But the damage was done and the seeds
of suspicion sown, for it was obvious that the source of the information must be
the Christian pages.
After a whispered conversation with Mwanga, the Katikiro smoothly
announced that there was no suspicion whatsoever of the missionaries or their
Bishop. They had been misinformed. Mackay responded eagerly, "Then the
Bishop can come?" "No!" shouted Mugema and a number of other chiefs,
but again Kulugi intervened and reminded the assembly that Sematimba was to
conduct the Bishop and party to the south of the lake, there to await the Kaba-
ka's permission. The Katikiro, who had been absent when this decision was
reached, added an amendment of his own-that Sematimba should remain
with the Bishop at Msalala and send his assistant, Nsubuga, back to report on
the Bishop's strength. (It is not clear whether the Katikiro distrusted Sematimba
MIKA SEMATIMBA 187
because of his being a Christian or, on the contrary, wanted someone reliable
to stay with the Bishop and keep an eye on him.)20
At any rate, here the matter rested. The missionary O'Flaherty at one
point wished to go with Mika in the boat to fetch the Bishop, but ill health
prevented him and it was decided that Stokes would take the C.M.S. boat
instead. Stokes left Kageye on 31 October and reached the rendezvous on 6
November. The Bishop was not there, and after 3 days of waiting, Stokes
went back to Kageye.21
It was already too late, and Kulugi's moderations, Mackay's arguments
and Sematimba's preparations were all in vain. Bishop Hannington was dead
-dead before Stokes had ever left Kageye to look for him. Almost within
sight of the Kavirondo coast and completely ignorant of the furore his approach
was raising in Buganda, Hannington had decided to veer from his course and
take the shorter route overland through Busoga. He thought to save a few
days and begin his work in Buganda the sooner. Directly they heard of this
change of course, Mwanga and his chiefs were filled with alarm. Katikiro
Mukasa alone remained calm, and coldly counselled a wavering Mwanga to
kill the Bishop and secure all his goods as booty. For reasons of state security
mixed with baser motives of personal greed, sentence of death was passed on
Bishop James Hannington. And thus through one of the accidents of fate with
which history abounds, a brave and sensitive Christian died on the very thres-
hold of his career in Africa.
The Hannington incident put a permanent blight on the relations between
the C.M.S. missionaries and Mwanga, and also sowed the seeds of distrust
between the Kabaka and his pages. Nevertheless, Mika Sematimba's life seemed
unaffected and he was kept busy on frequent excursions to and from the Arab
traders' posts across the lake. For instance, Mackay noted in his diary on
December 7 that Mika came for a visit and mentioned he had just been ordered
to take 50 canoes to fetch the trader Kambi Mbaya and other Arabs at Kageye.
Mika said he had been told explicitly to avoid the C.M.S. missionaries there.22
It was on one of these voyages that Mika brought a present for Mwanga
from the Arabs at Kageye, and seeing the Kabaka in an excellent mood, boldly
asked for a piece of land along the lake shore near Ntebe. This was granted and
Mika found himself the owner of a small butaka estate. Sometime also during
this period of lake journeys, Mika was granted the kitongole office of 'Kigoba-
nsonga' at Ngobe in Kyaddondo, about 3 hours walk from Mengo.23 There he
settled his wife and his immediate followers and began to play the part of a
moderately-prosperous chief. And it was there too, that his peaceful existence
was suddenly shattered by Kabaka Mwanga's persecution of the Christians in
Despite the fact that relations between Kabaka Mwanga and the Christians
had been growing worse, the persecution came suddenly and without warning.
Had Mwanga plotted in advance to arrest and execute the followers of the two
missions, the secret would have inevitably leaked out enabling many to escape.
For secrets were impossible to keep in the crowded atmosphere of the Buganda
court. But Mwanga had no plot or plan of action and in a moment of fury over
a minor incident involving a Christian page, the persecution was launched.
The first to suffer were those unlucky enough to be at the Kabaka's palace on
the lake at Munyonyo. Mika Sematimba was more fortunate, as he was at
home at the time. His first warning of danger came with the return of a number
188 UGANDA JOURNAL
of his men from mending the Kabaka's fence. They told him of the persecution
and that an order had gone out to seize all Christians.
Mika knew he was in great danger. Not only was he a prominent Christian
seen frequently in the company of Europeans, he was also a member of the
Protestant Church Council, set up by Ashe and Mackay in 1885 to carry on the
leadership of the mission in case the missionaries themselves were forced to
leave.24 Nevertheless, after quickly sending off his wife and personal property
to a friend's place, Mika himself remained on his estate to see what would
happen. He may have felt himself too well known to be able to hide (as he
later stated). He may also have found it increasingly hard to believe, as the days
went by and nothing happened, that the persecution had not been an exaggerated
rumour. These pleasant possibilities were dispelled abruptly on the fourth day
when one of his men came running to announce that the executioners had
arrived and had already begun to plunder his house. Mika and his companions
went up to the top of a hill from which they were able to look down and see
the Kabaka's men searching about.
One look was enough for Mika, who hurriedly led his men by a circuitous
path back to the road, and from there into the temporary safety of the dense
Kitiko forest. As they forced their way through the thick undergrowth and
fallen branches, their fine cotton kanzus were ripped and torn to shreds. They
emerged, ragged, scratched and tattered, and made their way to the estates of
the Christian Gabunga Isaya Kijambu at Jungo. There they were cared for,
and a kind man who knew Mika gave him a bark cloth to wear. He was now
not only decently clothed again, but also much less conspicuous and, together
with hs friend Simeoni Kirevu, he concocted an adventurous plan to set out
for the coast at Zanzibar. The rest of the party dispersed to places of safety
Soon Mika and Simeoni were on the road to Buddu. Their first night was
spent at Mbale, but the next morning they met a traveller from the south with
the disappointing news that the Katonga river had swollen, was already im-
passable, and was continuing to rise higher each day. Mika's reaction was a
dull resignation to his fate. He tried to console himself with the thought first,
that he was "a man of the Kabaka's" and a chief (albeit a minor one) and so
would die like a chief. Later, on the way back, he met the Christian woman,
Ada Lumonde, with news of the course of the persecution at the capital. Mika's
resolve was strengthened, and he felt now that perhaps he had been wrong to
flee and that his duty as a Christian was to present himself at court voluntarily.
Leaving Simeoni at Ada Lumonde's, Mika made his way to the palace at
Munyonyo and, fortunately, decided to present himself first to his old master
at the storehouse, chief Kulugi.
Kulugi had already managed to save the lives of most of the Christian
pages working for him in the storehouse by reminding the Kabaka how useful
they were. Apolo Kagwa was one of these young men, and was given a severe
beating but spared from the execution pyre. Kulugi set the tone of Mika's
interview with the Kabaka by introducing him personally and emphasizing
the fact that he had voluntarily come to court as a loyal servant awaiting his
Kabaka's wish. Mwanga, according to Ham Mukasa's account,25 was busy
with other thoughts and had to be reminded by the Katikiro that here was a
prominent Christian and that His Highness was now executing Christians.
Mwanga, having been reminded, asked Mika if he was a "reader" (i.e. a Chri-
stian). Mika readily admitted he was. "Oh, well", Mwanga is reported to
have said, "It is all our fault for sending him to the coast. There, if you want
MIKA SEMATIMBA 189
to eat, you must read and obey orders." (This remark probably came from
Mwanga's experience with the missionaries as a young boy.) The monarch
went on casually to tell Mika that all his books must be burned and he should
never read again. The interview-which Mika thought would be his last on
earth-was abruptly concluded. It was not merely good humour which had
prompted Mwanga to pardon Mika Sematimba, but undoubtedly the fact
that he was a valuable and experienced agent in the royal commerce with the
Arab traders. A number of useful Christian servants were pardoned at this
time, most notable of whom was Mathew Kisule, a skilled metalsmith experi-
enced in mending broken guns.
After his extraordinary interview with the Kabaka, Mika seems to have
had a troubled conscience as to whether he was remaining true to his Christian
faith, for the Kabaka had made a condition of his pardon that he cease "reading".
The missionary Ashe did not like the idea of Mika burning his books when the
latter came to ask advice, but Mackay disagreed and told him to "take the
books and burn them; you can easily buy some more".26 Luckily, the man
delegated responsibility to supervise the burning of books was the Kibale
Sekamwa, the hereditary chief of the Empewo clan. Though a pagan himself,
Sekamwa was very lenient with the Christians. One reason was that his own son,
Nasanieri Mudeka, was a "reader".27 So when the time came for Mika to burn
his books, Sekamwa was pleased enough to see two tattered books and a batch
of the Illustrated London News go up in smoke. (This book-burning was wit-
nessed by Semeoni Kalikuzinga, then a boy of 13, and now a wise old man of
nearly 90 who lives on the slopes of Namirembe and is a mine of historical
Mika was now free to return to his estate and office of Kigobansonga and
recall his wife from hiding. He continued to act as a member of the Protestant
Church Council and from Mackay he obtained new books, and perhaps more
copies of the Illustrated London News. As the persecution waned and the
Kabaka's attention turned to other matters, the Christians were able to resume
their activities, although in a muted fashion. They had to be careful to avoid
undue attention and any suggestion that their renewed activities were any
threat to the allegiance they owed the Kabaka. This they managed to do and
the rest of the year 1886 passed uneventfully.
In February 1887, however, the Catholic Jamari Muzeyi, who had come
out of hiding, was executed by the Katikiro. Shortly afterwards Mwanga
decided that he would become a Muslim and make the reading of the Koran
a test of loyalty to himself. Before the test could take place among the Christian
pages, fire broke out in the women's quarters of the palace and soon the whole
lubiri was in flames. Mwanga fled to the Katikiro's house, but the sparks
from the conflagration followed him and he was forced to flee again. Mwanga
was considerably shaken by the experience and was therefore not in a parti-
cularly tolerant state of mind when Mika Sematimba was brought to his
It happened that Mika, along with other chiefs, was ordered to cut wooden
poles for the construction of the new palace. He took a party of men into
Kyaggwe and set to work. At the end of this task he sent home his personal
belongings, including religious books, wrapped in barkcloth and concealed
in a load of poles. As luck would have it, this very load was seized from his
men by a party of the Mujasi's soldiers. (It is not clear whether they were
appropriating the wood instead of cutting their own quota, or objected to this
190 UGANDA JOURNAL
load being sent to Mika's home before reaching the palace.) When the wood
was unpacked at the building site, the books were found by a soldier who
showed them to Mukajanga, the chief executioner. The latter brought the evi-
dence to Mwanga, and the Katikiro who was present adopted an "I-told-you-
so" attitude, reminding the Kabaka how he had pardoned this culprit against
his Prime Minister's advice. Mwanga was greatly annoyed and sent for Sema-
timba to answer the charge.
Mika was completely unaware of the critical turn of events and answered
the summons expecting some new expedition to command. But his friend, the
Christian page Tito Nyago, had heard the whole story in the palace and rushed
out to intercept Mika on the road. He found Mika in time and, after the situation
was explained, Mika hurried home, packed his wife and mother off to a place
of safety, and himself fled to Buddu. He crossed the now nearly-dry Katonga
river bed easily and continued on to the home of Nicodemu Sebwato at Lusalira.
Sebwato was a sub-chief to the Katikiro Mukasa (who simultaneously
held the post of Pokino of Buddu) and served his master in an important role
as intermediary with Arab caravans coming from Karagwe. He also had lines
of communication with Ankole to the west and it was there that he advised
Mika to take refuge. He told Mika that Ankole was a nice country; moreover
its king Ntare "doesn't kill people." This was welcome news to the tired fugitive.
Sebwato smoothed the way for Mika's reception by giving him a large fine
bull to present to Ntare as a gift. Sebwato's friend, the prince Manyasi who
ruled over the border area of Kabula for Ntare, conveyed Mika to court and
performed the actual introductions. Ntare was delighted with his present and
ordered Manyasi to provide Mika with a large shamba. Mika made one more
secret trip into Buganda to fetch his wife and personal possessions, then settled
down to cultivate his ground in peace. He raised cattle and tobacco and even
became mildly prosperous during a year and a half of exile. Kabula was a
country very like Buganda, and bananas were easily grown in its fertile soil.
Prince Manyasi continued to be friendly, for he had reasons of his own to
maintain an unofficial relationship with Sebwato and his Baganda neighbours.
Manyasi belonged to a minority faction at Ntare's court and had powerful
enemies among the other Banyankole princes. Consequently he was on the
lookout for allies and possibly consolidating his only line of retreat as well.28
Mika had narrowly escaped death twice because of his Christian convictions.
He was now to risk it a third time. In September 1888 he heard the news that the
Christians and Muslims had united to drive Mwanga from his throne. His
days of exile seemed over, and he hastened to re-enter Buganda. On the way
to Mengo, however, the further news reached him that the Muslims had turned
on their former allies, defeated them, and were now said to be killing all the
Christians they could find. "So Mika for the third time turned his back on
Buganda and ran for his life. This time the pursuers were so close upon him
that he had to run for 11 hours, and only dipped his hand in the water as he
ran through the water courses. However, he again escaped."29 It was not long
before he was joined in his Kabula exile by many of his old friends.
Ham Mukasa has described the meeting between the experienced exile and
the weary new fugitives.30 Mika came from Kabula to meet them at Nicodemu
Sebwato's. They heard a Muganda was coming, but because Mika was living
under an assumed name "Dora Kikolimbo", it was not until they saw his face
that they recognized their old comrade. Ham and his fellow Christians, who
numbered only 130, were doubly glad to see Mika because they were uncertain
of their reception in Kabula and wanted to be taken by someone with experience.
MIKA SEMATIMBA 191
Also it was a strange new country and they were glad to have Mika's reassurance
that it was not only safe, but a pleasant place to live. Mika became their "musale"
or guide, showing the routes into Kabula. He also acted under Sebwato's orders
as an emissary to Prince Manyasi, to whom he was instructed to report, "You
have got new settlers". As Sebwato must have known, Manyasi was delighted
to have such an increase in armed followers to back him up in his quarrels
with the predominant faction of princes at Ntare's court. These other princes
were equally dismayed to see Manyasi strengthened, and exerted themselves
to have the Baganda refused permission to settle. They told King Ntare that
the newcomers would ruin his country "as they had ruined Buganda". Ntare
decided to put the Christian refugees to the test. Would they fight for him
loyally against the country they had just left? The Christians vowed they would,
and to prove it executed a successful raid into Buddu capturing 160 cows.
The plunder was delivered intact to Ntare who, suitably impressed, decided
to station the Christians in Kabula on his frontier with Buganda to act as a
buffer and to raid for him. It was well the Christians had secured Ntare's
goodwill early, because their ranks were swelling as new waves of refugees
continued to emigrate from Buganda. Had Ntare not been won over at once,
the expanding Christian force might easily have assumed a threatening aspect.
It his small way, Mika Sematimba had played a part in the friendly reception
accorded the Christians, and Ham Mukasa acknowledged their debt to him.
The arrival of the Christians in Kabula signalled the end of peaceful pursuits
for Sematimba. For soon he was overtaken by the civil wars in which Muslims
sought to defeat the Christian force on their borders, who in turn were preparing
to reconquer Buganda. One of the earliest battles was at Matale when the
Muslim Mukwenda Wamala was unexpectedly driven-off in confusion by a
smaller Christian force. Mika was there fighting alongside Bartolomayo Zimbe,
who recorded the event in his memoirs.31 This was the battle in which Apolo
Kagwa emboldened the Christian resistance by waving his rifle in the air and
bellowing defiantly, "Where is that Mukwenda Wamala ? Has he come to restore
me to my chieftainship ?" (Kagwa had held the office of Mukwenda for the
brief month before the Muslims had expelled their former allies.)
The victory at Matale was followed by a disastrous defeat at Mawuki.
Mika was again in the van, fighting under Nyonyintono, the Christian com-
mander-in-chief. Zimbe described how the day's fighting began in a heavy
mist. The drums of the chiefs on both sides sounded their individual calls
helping to concentrate the soldiers. There were shouts and murmurs, and the
clinking of guns and spears. The two armies approached unable to see each
other until the first contact was made at about 7 a.m. Then the battle broke
out in a general confusion in which some parties on both sides drove off their
adversaries and pursued them, unaware that their comrades were simultaneously
being routed. On the Muslim side Gabunga Serugoti fell, as well as the famous
general of Mutesa's day, Tebukoza Kyambalango. But on the Christian side,
the commander Honorat Nyonyintono was killed and his section of the army
decimated. Mika was one of those to bring the tragic news to Zimbe, who had
thought the battle was already won. Nyonyintono's death broke the morale
of the Christians, who were soon retiring on Kabula. It was a great loss, for
the late general had risen above Protestant-Catholic rivalries to command the
respect of both parties.
As well as fighting, Mika found service in his old employment as an emissary.
In March 1889 he was one of the messengers sent on a difficult overland journey
to the C.M.S. Mission at Mwanza, where it was hoped Kabaka Mwanga might
192 UGANDA JOURNAL
be found. But the effort was a failure as Mika and his comrades were unable
to get through to the south of the lake. Later, however, Mwanga was reached
by Ham Mukasa's party, and the Kabaka eventually set up headquarters on
Bulingugwe island near Kaazi. Having secured the loyalty of the Ssese Islanders,
Mwanga had command of the lake and was able to send envoys by canoe to
the Protestant and Catholic missionaries at the south shore. Mackay wrote
home on 30 July 1889 that Mika Sematimba, H. W. Duta and Tomasi Semfuma
had just arrived with canoes from Mwanga with the request for missionary
aid. Mackay noted that Mwanga had written that if he were restored to the
throne he would not "be bad again". Against Mackay's advice, Gordon and
Walker decided to return to Bulingugwe with Mika and his friends.32
In September there were rumours of Stanley's heavily-armed column
returning with the Emin Pasha relief expedition. Mika was ordered by Mwanga
to take canoes and search for Stanley. But Charlie Stokes, now an arms trader
and Mwanga's most valuable ally, objected and argued that since Stanley's
troops were all Muslims, they would undoubtedly join Mwanga's enemies.
Stokes seems to have enjoyed his position as Mwanga's only European ally.
He had invested heavily in Mwanga's victory and certainly anticipated a sub-
stantial and well-earned reward. Mwanga was convinced by the argument
and sent to stop Mika, but too late, as he had already sailed. In the event,
Mika reached Mackay's mission station on 19 October, only to find Stanley
had left for Tabora the previous month.33
Mika next appears in 1890, shortly after the final defeat of the Muslims,
when he was sent as a royal mubaka to meet Carl Peters and guide him to the
capital.34 But most of his time he spent with the Protestant missionary Robert
Walker, for whom he was both an interpreter and a friend. After conveying
Peters to Mengo, the news reached Buganda of Mackay's death at Usambiro.
Mika and Walker went across the lake and spent the next 6 months at Mackay's
old station. Mika's interests, probably much encouraged by Walker's friendship,
were turning increasingly to the church. He was remarked on by Bishop Tucker
as a Church Elder who had refused political office after the reconquest of
Buganda, because he wanted to serve the church instead. Bishop Tucker
licensed him in December 1890 as one of the first Lay Evangelists.35
The following March, Mika, together with another Lay Evangelist, Yoanna
Mwira, went to Buddu with Walker, where they remained for 6 months on
mission work. Mika was well known to the other missionaries and his name
occasionally appears in the pages of Baskerville's diary.36 One entry referred
to him as "a thorough Christian whom everyone loves." Another entry in
October 1891 reported that Mika, who had come back from Buddu, was
momentarily off again to Bugoma "on some business". Baskerville went on to
remark that Sematimba was "the most English of the Baganda" and his house
at Nsonga on the lake had a fence and windows cut into the walls.
Meanwhile, however, at the capital events were fast moving towards col-
lision between Protestant and Catholic parties. There had been several angry
confrontations during the summer of 1891 which Captain Williams, assisted
by more moderate chiefs on both sides, was able to calm. The two parties had
not been working well together ever since the defeat of the Muslim Kabaka
Kalema and there were fiery spirits among both Protestant and Catholic parties
who were eager to drive out their rivals once and for all. The Catholics, led
by Mugwanya, had rallied around the Kabaka as a symbol of both their coun-
try's independence and their party's supremacy. The Protestants, a much weaker
MIKA SEMATIMBA 193
party, turned to the British for support and advocated the establishment of a
protectorate. Mika Sematimba, although a Protestant and a thorough partisan,
had devoted his attention to mission work and thus avoided the increasing
enmities at the capital. But he could not remain aloof for long. The issue which
brought him back into the front ranks of his party once more was that of the
Protestant Mulondo, Semei Kakungulu (who later became famous as the con-
queror of Bukedi).
Kakungulu was involved in a quarrel with the Catholics over some of the
shambas in his district. When a report reached the capital that there had been
fighting in that area, Kakungulu asked Kabaka Mwanga's permission to return
to his country estate. Mwanga, fully realizing that Kakungulu's purpose was
to drive out the Catholics, refused permission. Kakungulu then turned to
Captain Williams, whom he told that a party of rebellious pagans (contempt-
uously called "bhang-smokers" by both Catholics and Protestants) had attacked
his estates. Williams told him to go and defend them and he departed forthwith.
As word reached the Kabaka and Catholics that Kakungulu was leaving with
a force for the disputed area, preparations were made to pursue and attack
him. The threat of war hung over the capital for several uncertain days during
which Mika Sematimba and a number of other Protestant chiefs came in from
the country to join their party. Fortunately, the immediate crisis was resolved
without conflict, when Captain Williams learned the true situation and inter-
vened.37 But the general state of tension remained high.
Three weeks later on 27 December, Mika was again involved in an issue
when he brought word to the C.M.S. mission that Mwanga desired to change
his religion and join the Protestants. His motives were at the least doubtful,
since he had recently been rather roughly treated by leading Catholic chiefs
who disapproved of his pagan hangers on. Pilkington decided to consult
Captain Williams, whose immediate reaction was that of a man burdened
with too many worries already. Captain Williams said it was out of the question
for the Kabaka to change his religion at this critical moment. It would almost
certainly provoke a clash. Mwanga, however, soon returned to the Catholics,
having been appeased by their chiefs.38
But the conflict which he had nearly provoked was not to be denied. It
came the next month in January 1892 after Captain Lugard's return to Kampala
from western Uganda. After the fighting actually broke out at the capital,
the Catholics were defeated and many of their chiefs and followers headed
towards Buddu, putting the C.M.S. mission there in a dangerous position.
Walker and Ashe packed up and started for the capital, but they had not
yet reached the Katonga river when they were joined by Mika Sematimba and
Samweli Mukasa. These two had hurried from Mengo to meet the missionaries,
and for the rest of the journey made it their business to care for Walker and
Ashe.39 One evening while they were encamped on a hillside, a vast column
of Catholics from Kyaggwe passed by at the bottom of the hill, their way
lighted by torches. They were the followers of Alexis Sebbowa heading for
Buddu. Mika and the missionaries hardly dared to breathe for fear of discovery.
Open hostilities soon ceased, but the country was in a disordered state.
Catholic chiefs who had evacuated to Buddu left many vacancies in the rest of
Buganda, and Protestant chiefs were itching to occupy those posts. They told
Captain Lugard that the unsettled countryside needed to be put in order and
that they wished to assume the vacant offices temporarily. Lugard saw no reason
why they should not do so.40 But as Zimbe records in his memoirs, there were
other pressing reasons for the eagerness of Apolo Kagwa's party to take up
194 UGANDA JOURNAL
the posts.41 Lugard had announced his intention of resettling the Muslim
exiles in Buganda as a possible buffer between Catholic and Protestant anta-
gonists. It was important, felt the chiefs of the Protestant party, that when the
Muslims arrived they should find all the best positions already occupied.
Baskerville noted in his diary for 14 March 1892, "The big people are dividing
up the chieftainships. Of course subject to the future King and Captain Lugard.
Duta refused a post, but Mika Sematimba has accepted on C.M.S. advice,
otherwise he has no voice on the great councils."42 The post which Mika accepted
was that of "Makamba", a kitongole some 12 miles from Mengo which in-
cluded the historic Budo hill on which Kabakas were ceremonially crowned
(and on which King's College, Budo was later built). It was an important office.
directly under the saza chief of Busiro, the Mugema, and Mika could count
himself among the 30 most influential chiefs in Buganda.
But Mika hardly had time to settle himself in his new position before he
was presented with an even more exciting prospect. His friend Robert Walker,
now an Archdeacon, was about to return to England on leave and he offered
to take Mika with him. The latter responded eagerly to the invitation. They
left Buganda in June 1892, after first going through the formality of obtaining
the Kabaka's leave for Sematimba to go. The Kabaka's only comment was,
"See that you bring me back from England a good coat to wear".43 The two
travellers did not reach London until 1 November, but they then had a lengthy
stay of a number of months. On 21 March, 1893, Mika was interviewed by the
directors of the C.M.S. at Salisbury Square. Long afterward Mika used to tell
gatherings of his friends about the wonderful trip. Semu Kakoma recalls that
he described Westminster Abbey, and spoke of the splendours of the British
government buildings. Once he saw the Queen pass by, and he was often treated
with warmth and hospitality by the English people he met. Unlike later Baganda
travellers, however, he did not have much to say about shipboard travel.44
By December 1893 Sematimba and Walker had returned to Buganda again.
The effect of the visit on Sematimba was quickly noted by his compatriots.
He dressed in European clothes and began to carry his own chair to sit on
during audiences with the Kabaka-just as the Europeans did. Mwanga called
him "my Muzungu" (Luganda for "European"). Not everyone approved of
his changed habit, however. Baskerville commented in his diary, "Mika looks
absurd in European clothes and should go back to Kiganda dress and look a
gentleman."45 And some of the Baganda resented what they felt was a pure
case of "putting on airs".
Much of Sematimba's time was devoted to his duties as Makamba, and he
worked hard to resettle and recultivate the territory which had, like much of
Buganda, been ravaged and abandoned during the civil wars. Passing through
Mika's area on his way to the lake in July 1894, Ernest Millar also noted several
newly-built churches. This attention to church affairs was evidenced by the
fact that 3 of the 13 Protestant Baganda first sent to teach in Ssese were Sema-
timba's men. He also maintained his liaison with the Kabaka's court, rendering
reports to the C.M.S. missionaries. In keeping with his character, these reports
were very forthright. In August 1894 he assured Walker that Mwanga had not
changed and sinned as much as ever, only more secretly. In October he reported
very critically on the C.M.S. work at Nasa. Walker defended his judgement,
and that of Nasanieri Mudeka who had visited Nasa with Mika. "Both never
lie", was Walker's brief comment.46
MIKA SEMATIMBA 195
Sematimba's critical faculty did not stop short at censuring Europeans, as
the British officers prosecuting the campaign against Bunyoro were to find,
much to their annoyance. Mika told the C.M.S. Mission that the British Captain
Dunning had been killed in action needlessly because no confidence was put
in the Baganda and their opinions never asked. Further, the Europeans, no
doubt through ignorance, had permitted slave women to be seized and brought
back from the campaign. Mika had seen it and complained to the Baganda
commander, Kayima. Kayima merely replied that the Europeans permitted
the capture of women. Mika reported he was unable to ask the British officers
about this because they allowed no Baganda to approach them except Kayima
himself. Mika's report went on to describe how he, as commander of the rear-
guard on the march home, had seen women speared because they couldn't
keep up with the rest of the column. He added that he didn't blame the Euro-
pean officers, except for their seclusion.47
The effect of Mika's report, when produced by Archdeacon Walker of the
C.M.S., can well be imagined. Major Cunningham, who had been in charge
of the campaign, erupted with indignation. He was outraged that such accu-
sations on the part of a native could be entertained for a moment when the
honour of British officers was involved. But he admitted, in passing, that no
European had accompanied the Baganda troops on their homeward march.
And later investigation was to prove that Mika's accusations were well-founded.
Kayima's trial and its repercussions became a cause celebre in Buganda.
Meanwhile, Sematimba continued to act as a Mubaka whenever the occa-
sion required. When Nikodemu Sebwato died at Ngogwe in 1895, Mika was
sent by Katikiro Kagwa to see that the body was brought to the capital for a
state funeral. Baskerville who had just finished conducting a funeral locally,
opposed the transfer, but Mika took the body anyway. In October of the same
year, Bishop Tucker returned to Buganda with the first party of women mission-
aries, about whom everyone was curious. It was Mika who met them bearing
letters of greeting from the King and from Samweli Mukasa, and who acted
as official guide for the last stage of the journey.48
These ordinary duties were interrupted by the revolt of Kabaka Mwanga
in 1897, which was shortly followed by the mutiny of Soudanese troops. Mika
was not at the bloody battles of Bukaleba where the British-trained rebels
mowed down Baganda troops with accurate volleys of rifle fire supported by
a maxim gun. (In later years this action took precedence over the First World
War as a traumatic memory for the Baganda, just as the First World War
itself was such an appalling experience for Europeans.) Mika, however, had
been appointed to remain at Mengo and guard the infant Kabaka Daudi Chwa.
Later on he did see active service and after being in charge of a fort in Buruli
for a time, he received command of an army sent out by Katikiro Mugwanya
to reinforce the Baganda engaged in the campaign against the rebel Mwanga.
Although he emerged unscathed from these actions, Mika suffered a tragic
loss from another quarter. In December 1897 Edith Furley wrote in her journal,
"Mika Sematimba, the Makamba, lost his wife this month after only two
days of illness. Of seven children, three are living."49
How Mika reacted to the death of his wife is not known. He dropped out
of sight for over a year, but by March 1899 he was back in the news, once more
to command an expedition as in the old days. This time the Baganda Regents
and leading chiefs had pooled their resources to equip a caravan of their own
196 UGANDA JOURNAL
to purchase goods directly from the depots on the coast. It was an ambitious
effort and Mika was put in command of 80 men and given 4000 rupees to buy
goods. By 13 March he was on his way and thus he just beat the British Com-
missioner's circular forbidding Baganda to travel beyond the far borders of
Busoga because of recent raids by the warlike Nandi tribe.50 Sematimba return-
ed with the expedition late the following year. As well as securing the trade
goods for the chiefs, he had acquired for himself a second wife, Elizabeth,
whom he had met and married at the coast.
By the time of Mika's return to Buganda, the Uganda Agreement of 1900
had been signed and most of the newly-organized district chieftainships dis-
tributed. Mika later complained to his friends that because he was away at
the coast he had been "forgotten" by the Regents. And it was certainly true
that his old office of Makamba had been sliced up and redistributed in the new
administrative category called "gombolola chieftainships". Mika had been left
with his house and the traditional duties connected with Budo hill. He retained
the title of "Makamba", but the administrative duties were taken by others,
such as Sebugwawo, whose gombolola headquarters was at Entebbe. Instead,
Mika was given the post of Mumyuka of Buvuma island, which included 8
miles of official "mailo land". But he was unhappy and said his post was given
only as an afterthought when everything else had been taken. Nor did he
attempt to disguise his resentful feelings. When Apolo Kagwa's official Mubaka
came to Buvuma to see that Mika was established in his new office, Mika in-
sulted him and refused the customary gift of a cow. Katikiro Apolo sent the
Mubaka back with orders to seize any cow he liked. The enraged Sematimba
told him, "Take them all-I'm leaving". He then packed up a few belongings
and set out by canoe. As so often in the past, his avowed destination was
Zanzibar. However, Mika's close friend Joswa Kate, the saza chief Mugema,
heard of his departure and went after him. He caught up with Mika encamped
on an island in Lake Victoria and persuaded him to come back.
Sometime later Mika began to suffer from "swollen legs" and had to be
carried to Mengo where Dr. Albert Cook operated on him. His recuperation
was very slow, and after leaving the hospital he went to his Makamba's house
to complete his recovery. But soon duty seemed to call him back. The new
scourge of sleeping sickness was taking a heavy toll at Buvuma and Mika
decided he should return to organize the evacuation of his people. Katikiro
Apolo heard Mika was going back to the danger area and refused him per-
mission, on the grounds that he had not yet recovered sufficiently to resume
official duties. Mika realized that Apolo had been concerned for his welfare
and may even have saved his life. The old enmities were forgotten and the two
became reconciled again.
Sematimba continued to hold the office of Mumyuka of Buvuma, although
he never went back there to live. But sometime about 1907 he was transferred
to the post of Sebagabo of Busiro, a gombolola which included much of the
territory he had once ruled as Makamba. It was an ideal arrangement, as Mika
was able to continue living at his old house.51
In 1910 Mika gained great honour and distinction in the eyes of his fellow
countrymen by being appointed to bring the late Kabaka Mwanga's body
back to Buganda from the Seychelles Islands where Mwanga had died in exile.
Mika carried out his commission successfully and was greeted with much praise
MIKA SEMATIMBA 197
on his return. He then tried to settle down once more to his chiefly duties,
but he was restless. In May 1911 he resigned his office as Sabagabo of Busiro
with the intention of going into business for himself.52 The business was cattle
raising, at which he was successful, but his success did not satisfy him. He turned
the business over to his eldest son Nuwa and cast about for something else
Although he had given up his chieftainship, Sematimba continued to attend
sessions of the Lukiiko, and used to go often in the company of Joswa Kate.
His friends included many of the leaders of the Bataka movement which was
criticizing the Mailo land distribution of 1900. But Mika himself no longer
cared about that controversy and said privately that the Bataka leaders would
have done the same thing (i.e. given themselves the best land) had they been
in power. Earlier, Mika had been among the first Baganda to realize the im-
portance of land, and had bought a large plot from Mwanga in return for
ivory. Later he bought 40 acres near Budo for a jorah of cloth. He owned
Nsonga Island outright and could count 51 square miles of Mailo land as his
private property. But these were very small acquisitions compared with the
vast tracts held by Kagwa and the Regents, or the systematic purchases of the
astute Ham Mukasa. Mika was aware of the value of land but he just wasn't
interested. Perhaps his early life had been too unsettling for him to ever again
fix his ambitions on any object, whether it was the accumulation of wealth, or
land or political power. At any rate, about 1920 he decided to retire from all
these considerations and he went off to live in near isolation on the tiny island
of Mpuga, 5 miles off the shore of Buvuma. He did not cut himself off completely
from old friends, and his son Nuwa used to fetch him back to Mengo on special
occasions, carrying Mika in the sidecar of a motorcycle. But gradually even
these contacts diminished, and Mika seemed content to remain on the island,
cultivating his gardens in peace, alone with his thoughts.
Mika Sematimba had a character which was both strong-willed and eccen-
trically individualistic. His contemporaries recognized him as "a difficult man".
He had his close friends, but he was not easy to befriend. And he had a repu-
tation for truculence. His quick temper is evidenced by an incident which occurred
during the last years of Mwanga's reign, when the royal brewers cut plantains
from Mika's trees to make beer. It was their right to do so and greater chiefs
than the Makamba were accustomed to submit, but not Mika. He angrily
seized an axe and cut down all the rest of his trees. When Mwanga asked why
he had done so, Mika told him it was to prevent his being humiliated again
by the Kabaka's brewers. Mwanga, mildly surprised, told Sematimba the
brewers would not trouble him again.
The Baganda attributed Mika's pride and aloofness to his visit to Europe.
They noted that he continued to wear European clothes, including braces,
and that he seemed to have cut himself off from his countrymen and tried to
identify himself with his English missionary friends. One clue to his feelings
might have been found in the diary which he started to keep after the return
from England in 1893. Unfortunately this was later lost in a fire. But however
difficult a man he may have seemed to his compatriots, they did not cease to
admire him for his qualities and his achievements. It was the memory of those
achievements which brought them in such large numbers to his funeral in
August 1951. Although Mika Sematimba had isolated himself from the main
stream of Baganda life for 30 years, he had not been forgotten.
Unless otherwise cited, the source for this paper is information derived from a series
of interviews with Nuwa Sematimba in 1963-64.
1. The date of his birth is uncertain, and has been estimated by comparing a variety
of not always corroborating sources. The newspaper report that Sematimba was 105 when
he died is somewhat of an exaggeration.
2. Sematimba's genealogy and brief career sketch appears in E. M. Buligwanga, Ekitabo
Ekitegeza Ekika kye Mamba (Kampala: Uganda Printing & Publishing Co., 1961) which is
the book of the Mamba Clan written by a man who worked under Sir Apolo Kagwa.
3. D. A. Low's forthcoming book, Kingdoms on the Equator makes this point and dis-
cusses it more fully.
4. Ham Mukasa, "Some Notes on the Reign of Mutesa" (trans. by A. H. Cox) Uganda
Jl., 2 (July, 1934) 60-73; also J. K. Miti "History of Buganda" unpublished typescript, chapter
5. There are a number of Luganda sources for the Muslim persecution, but they conflict
in many respects. F. B. Welbourn has been collating these sources with a view to fixing a
precise date to the persecution, and thus throwing more light on its causes. (Uganda Jl., 28
6. Joseph Kasirye, Obulamu bwa Stanislas Mugwanya (Kampala: East African Literature
Bureau, 1963); and J. D. Mullins, The Wonderful Story of Uganda (London: C.M.S., 1904)
which contains Ham Mukasa's account of his early life.
7. Litchfield Journals, 1879-1880. C.M.S. Archives, London.
8. C.M.S. Gleaner (March, 1893) 37-39-contains a very useful account of Sematimba's
career up to his trip to England, and two photographs of him aged about 27.
9. See Col. Colvile's description of a very extensive system of sluiceways and drying
pans at Kibero maintained as a royal monopoly of Bunyoro. Colvile, Land of the Nile Springs
(London: Edward Arnold, 1895). 174-5.
10. Apolo Kagwa, Basekabaka be Buganda (London: Sheldon Press, 1927) 135; Sebala-
ngira Gomotoka, "Makula", unpublished manuscript history of the Prince's clan, book VI.,
2518; interview with Nuwa Sematimba.
11 Mackay to Hutchinson, Buganda 24 June 1881. CMS Archives G3A6/01.
12. Gleaner, op. Cit.
13. H. W. D. Kitakule article (Early Days of Religion in Buganda) in Luganda in Ebifa
Mu Buganda (Jan. 1913) 14-21; Apolo Kagwa, "Obulamu bwa H. W. D. Kitakule" Ebifa
(August 1913) 144-147.
14. Gleaner, op. Cit.
15. Mackay to Wigram, Victoria Nyanza May 1885. CMS Archives G3A6/02.
16. Ibid. (Abb6)
17. Abbe Nicq, Le Pdre Simeon Lourdel (Algiers: Maison-Carree, 1932 edn.) 298-299.
18. Ibid. 298-301.
19. This extraordinary-detailed description appears in Mackay to Lang, Buganda 29
Sept. 1885. CMS Archives G3A6/02. Parts of it were used in Ashe, Two Kings of Uganda
(London: Sampson Low, 1889) or appeared in the issues of the C.M.S. Intelligence.
21. It is not clear from the sources whether Sematimba went to the rendezvous and met
Stokes there, or not.
22. Mackay to Lang, Buganda 10 Dec. 1885, a 112-page letter. CMS Archives G3A6/03.
23. Gleaner Op. Cit.; also interview with Nuwa Sematimba.
24. Gordon to Mackay, Natete 31 Dec. 1887. CMS Archives G3A5/05.
25. Ham Mukasa, Simuda Nyuma, Part II (London: S.P.C.K., 1942), 76-82.
26. Gleaner, Op. Cit.
27. Nasanieri later became the famous Canon Mudeka. Luka Sekamwa, et. al., Ekika kye
Mpewo (Mengo: Sir Apolo Kagwa's press, 1905); Interview with Semeoni Kalikuzinga.
28. Ham Mukasa, Simuda Nyuma Part II (London: S.P.C.K., 1942); Ham Mukasa
"Simuda Nuyma" Part III unpublished typescript, donated by James Mukasa to Makerere
29. Gleaner, Op. Cit.
30. "Simuda Nyuma," Part III, 336-339.
31. B. M. Zimbe, Buganda ne Kabaka (Mengo- Gambuze Press, 1939) 237-253.
32. Mackay to Lang, Usambiro 25 July 1889. CMS Archives G3A5/06.
33. Gordon to Mackay, Bulingugwe 27 Sept. 1889. CMS Archives G3A5/06. H. M. Stanley,
In Darkest Africa Vol. II (New York: Chas. Scribner's, 1890) 404-432.
34. Carl Peters, New Light on Dark Africa (London: Ward & Lock, 1891) 369.
35. Tucker to Wigram, Buganda 30 Dec. 1890. CMS Archives G3A5/07.
36. Baskerville Diary, 1890-1900. Makerere College Library, copied sections also at
the C.M.S. Archives, London.
37. Baskerville Diary, 6 December 1891; Simuda Nyuma Part III, 402.
38. Pilkington to his mother, Namirembe 27 Dec. 1891. CMS Archives G3A5/08.
39. Ashe to Wigram, Mengo March 1892. CMS Archives G3A5/08; Ashe, Chronicles
of Uganda (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1894) 272.
40. M. Perham edit. The Diaries of Lord Lugard Vol. III (London: Faber & Faber,
41. Zimbe, Op. Cit., 374.
42. Baskerville Diary, 14 March 1892.
43. Gleaner, Op. Cit.
44. Interview with Semu Kakoma.
45. Baskerville Diary, 20 December 1893.
46. Walker to Tucker, Namirembe 27 Oct. 1894. CMS Archives G3A5/11.
47. Walker to Baylis, Namirembe 6 Mar. 1895; translated Journal of Nicodemu
Sebwato for Jan. March 1895 in CMS Archives G3A5/11.
48. Tucker to C.M.S., Mengo 4 October 1895. CMS Archives G3A5/1 1.
49. Edith Furley journal letter, December 1-9, 1897. CMS Archives G3A7/01.
50. Baskerville Diary, 12 March 1899. The Commissioner's Circular in the Buganda
Residency Archives in a bundle of George Wilson's papers marked 1899. The Residency
Archive papers up to 1902 are now at the Secretariat, Entebbe.
51. After 1900 Mika moved from the enclosure he had maintained at Kisozi village next
to Budo hill, and built a new house not far away. He soon moved again and built the house
now occupied by Nuwa Sematimba in time to be occupied during his tenure of the office of
Sabagabo of Busiro. This is the house which generations of boys from King's College Budo
on the hill came to know as a place to relax and play away from the discipline of the school.
Mika, and Nuwa after him. allowed the boys a fairly free rein and looked on indulgently
while they "raided" the fruit trees. Nuwa's house appears comfortable and well built and shows
little sign of its 60 years of wear.
52. Munno Vol. I (1911) 101.
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 201-216
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA- EXTRACTS VIII
Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY
(These extracts from Die Tagebiicher von Dr. Emin Pascha, edited Dr.
Franz Stuhlmann, vols. i, ii, iii, iv, and vi (Braunschweig: Westermann, 1916-
27), have been translated and provided with introductory notes and comments
by Sir John Gray. They are planned to appear in The Uganda Journal as a
series covering Emin's first visit to Buganda in 1876, his visit to Bunyoro in
1877 and his second visit to Buganda in the same year, followed by such portions
of his later diaries as are relevant to Emin's contacts with the Uganda region
during the years spent as Governor of Equatoria until his withdrawal in 1889.
Extracts I to VII have appeared in successive issues of The Uganda Journal,
commencing with Extracts I in Uganda Jl., 25 (1962), 1.-EDS.)
VIII EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA
2 July 1887 7 January 1888
In the latter part of 1887 Emin learnt that Stanley was leading an expedition
to his relief and that it would approach Lake Albert from the west by way of
the Congo. It was partly for this reason that he established two stations on the
north-eastern shores of the lake Mswa and Tunguru respectively. He was
uncertain as to when the relief expedition would reach the lake and was com-
pletely in the dark as to what Stanley's plans were when their meeting finally
Stanley eventually reached the southern end of Lake Albert on 14 December
1887. Two days later without any attempt to get into touch with Emin he turned
back in search of his rear column. In his published works Stanley has expressed
considerable surprise that Emin was not on the shores of the lake to greet him.
We, however, have no ground for sharing in that surprise. Lake Albert is after
all a big stretch of water and had only been hurriedly circumnavigated twice
-by Gessi and Mason. Mswa was 9 hours' steam from the south end of the
lake and of course very much longer would be required to cover the distance
by canoe. Tunguru was 5 hours' steam north of Mswa and 18 hours' steam
south of Emin's headquarters at Wadelai. Emin had made inquiries of the local
inhabitants regarding reports of Stanley's approach and had been unable to
glean any information. In the circumstances one is not in the least surprised
to learn that Emin was unable to predict either the exact spot or the time at
which Stanley would reach the lake.
Furthermore, as Emin's diary shows, his steamers could not be kept cruising
round Lake Albert in the vague hope that at some time or other they might
be able to get in touch with Stanley. They were needed for duties in connection
with the administration of the province, some of these duties being of an ex-
tremely urgent nature.
The general picture as at this date is shown by Emin's diary to be one of
gradual deterioration throughout the province. In the north the Mahdists
are threatening invasion and elements in the garrisons at Rejaf and other
stations are proving themselves to be openly disloyal. The inhabitants of the
202 UGANDA JOURNAL
Acholi and Lango countries are becoming more and more restive. The hopes
which Emin had once pinned upon cooperation with Kabarega have proved
vain and Mwanga, the new ruler of Buganda, is proving no more friendly
than the ruler of Bunyoro. Emin's personal efforts and strivings for the welfare
of the people entrusted to his care are more than once revealed by the entries
in his diary. But the fact remains that the old Egyptian Government's rule
was a bad one and that, working as he did single-handed, Emin was powerless
to do more than occasionally ameliorate conditions.
Extracts from Emin's Diaries
July 2, 1887, Saturday. We left Wadelai early. In about half an hour we
were fast aground, but managed to get off. The river, low as in winter, is a
succession of sandbanks, shallows, and dangerously-narrow passages.
Immediately beyond the red summit, some two hours from Wadelai, while
in the lake-like basin, we came upon another shallow place which proved so
troublesome that, although we lightened the ship, we failed to get away. We
manoeuvred about all the afternoon, but something far more serious was in
store: the engineman had neglected to keep up the water supply to the boiler,
and all the woodwork caught fire; the screws, loosened by the intense heat,
yielded to the pressure of the water, that now poured in a stream into the engine-
room. The men, however, made the best of it, extinguished the fire, and emp-
tied the boiler; it made no difference-we were stuck fast as it was. At half
past five I sent the boat to Wadelai to fetch the engineers of the Nyanza, whilst
we prepared to spend the night here. In the small hours, at 3 o'clock, the men
we wanted came.
July 3, Sunday. Gentle rain in the morning. Work started immediately
under my supervision. All the boiler feed-pipes have to be refitted, which,
including the tightening of the screws, will take the best part of the day.
By noon the most urgent repairs were effected, and a trial was needed to
determine whether the steamer was in fit condition to proceed.
The trial took place, and proved everything to be in good order. So we were
able to reship our people, wood, etc., starting again at 4.51 p.m., and passing
the remaining shoals by daylight. Numbers of crocodiles lay upon the mud-
banks, only deciding to glide slowly into the water as the steamer almost
reached them. Multitudes of birds had congregated alongside of them, and were
unmolested. As a matter of fact, I have never seen a crocodile snap at a bird,
and I think it would only do so if the bird fell into the water after being shot;
but I have not seen even that. In connection with the Halieatus vocifer, who
remained stolidly motionless as we steamed by, I heard that the Sudanese,
when on their raids, look upon it as a lucky omen to meet one of these birds.
Making good progress, we reached Okello's village at 11.10 p.m., anchoring
so as to take in wood there next morning.
July 4, Monday. I got my people ashore quite early, and, as a
quantity of wood was ready for us, and the negroes were bringing up
more, we were able to embark at once; but it was a tedious matter, the river
being exceptionally low, and our boats unable to get near the land.
Okello's homesteads are strewn among detached groves that pleasantly
relieve the otherwise almost treeless expanse of dwarf-grass plain. Okello,
being a great man, was not to be seen so early in the morning, but he sent me a
present in the shape of a fat sheep: an odious custom! First of all these people
have not large flocks, and want the few animals themselves, and secondly
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 203
a present of this kind turns out much more costly then a purchase, and at the
present time this is of some moment.
At 7.37 a.m. we steamed off. The monotony of the scenery is agreeably
relieved on the eastern bank by countless troops of game of every description.
Herds of Antelope lumtio, Damalis senegalensis, interspersed with A. nigra;
troops of giraffes and their young (these a little farther inland), as many as 30
together; buffaloes in herds of 60 and 80; elephants in fifteens and twenties-
such is our stock of game. During almost the whole trip the summit of Jebel
Biet was straight ahead, but at last it was a shade to the right, though still
in front . .
At 10.18 a.m. I stopped the steamer before Boki's village, Panyimur, and
landed, asking Boki, who came at once to meet me, to keep any letters there
might be for me until my return.
10.39, on the way again, reaching the wood station at 11.13, from which
point Jebel Biet, as observed from the steamer, bears 2631. We were told
by a man there, however, that wood lay ready for us farther south. At 12.9
we proceeded. In front the sandy border of Tunguru Island stood out from
the water like a dazzling white rampart. The weather was overcast all day,
with occasional gusts of wind; here the waves were quite noticeable.
At 1.30 we anchored before a narrow promontory, jutting out from a dense
wood. Here, too, the steamer had to keep well off the land, there being no water
within a hundred yards of the shore. We found two huts and some wood, but,
as we wanted a good deal for the passage to Kibiro, for the stay there and the
subsequent trip to Mswa, I quickly set my people to work building temporary
huts, whilst I took two men and went into the forest to explore. My attention
was soon rivetted by some birds and pretty grey dormice (Myoxus murinus),
and, just as I was tempted to shoot at a squirrel, a troop of 8 elephants suddenly
rushed past us, puffing and snorting, causing us to beat a hasty retreat.
Meanwhile Vita Hassan arrived from Tunguru Island. He had seen the
steamer, as we are so near that the huts on the island are plainly visible. I
could now give my orders for the morrow. It was a splendid evening; the moon
fell upon the small crested waves of the lake, that came rippling on to
break in foam at our feet. On the promontory were the camp and watchfires
of my people, the dark silhouettes of the sentinels sharply shadowed upon the
sand; in the background the dark forest and shadowy mountains, whence
now and then resounded the bark of a baboon or the roar of elephants. The
steamer and boats were veiled in silvery mist, and everywhere bright fireflies
were trailing their luminous course. Such hours of enjoyment recompense
one for the heat and burden of the day, and, however prosaic one's disposition,
it is impossible to ignore or to escape from the poetry of such surroundings.
July 5, Tuesday. Last night I sent Vita to the island to fetch the soldiers
and people, so that they might assist in wood cutting; meantime I am taking
my people into the forest to work, and am now myself making up my arrears.
Vita heard that Casati is at Kibiro. Today, again, it is gloomy and foggy.
Last night I boiled my thermometers; but though the experiment was very
successful and the results good, I determined the level of the lake to be below
that of Wadelai. Two facts must be borne in mind, however, (1) It is now July,
and the atmospheric pressure is different: at Wadelai I made the experiment in
December. (2) Wadelai lies more than 65 feet above the river level. (The ana-
roids showed a difference in altitude of from one to 5 millimetres between my
house and the edge of the river at Wadelai.) The strand here is covered with
pistia, very small snails; the banks are overgrown with sharp prickly aristida.
204 UGANDA JOURNAL
At 10 in the morning I was visited by Chief Songa, the sole survivor of the
chiefs that had gone over to Kabarega. He came to thank me for my intervention,
which saved him, and, as usual, he had various petitions to make. He told
me a great deal about the treatment to which he had been subjected, and how
Kabarega had openly inveighed against us, and would certainly have attacked
us had not the Baganda come. He had now fled towards Mruli from Mparo,
his late halting-place. All his men had left him. At our old station of Magungo
a great concourse of negroes was assembling under Rokara. Kabarega's wives
and cattle had been sent off to Mangara, the population of Kibiro had fled,
only Biri and Casati remained, and the Baganda had settled in Duaja. If all
this be true, it behoves us to hasten, for there is no food at Kibiro and the
people will starve. Now if it were possible to establish communications with the
Baganda, and to induce them to occupy Kibiro, we should gain immensely.
July 6, Wednesday. The night being rough, with some rain, and a high wind,
the people tired out, and the steamer heavily laden, we thought it advisable to
wait for daybreak. As we steamed off at 7.18 a.m. from the wood station,
the surf beat violently upon the shelving beach, but the lake beyond seemed
quiet. We were soon a good way out, though somewhat retarded by having the
lifeboat and the steamer's pinnace in tow. The latter I had only recently com-
pleted at Wadelai, and it turns out to be very serviceable. The lake was smooth
as a mirror and pale green; only now and again a sharp gust of wind caused the
heavily-laden steamer to roll slightly.
This time we kept rather more in line with the shore, running close under
it near the peninsula of Butiaba. Then, hugging the land past the Waki cataract
and Rungai village, we steamed on to Kibiro, arriving at 2.28 p.m. We were
surprised to see only a very few men, and no women. A red flag waved over the
huts I used formerly, and on the shore stood Mohammed Biri, alone. He
quickly came aboard, together with a negro who presented himself as the
representative of Chief Kagoro, and placed himself at my disposal. I gave
into his charge Kabarega's people who had come with us, requesting that they
might not depart without letting me know. I took up my quarters in the de-
serted homestead of Kagoro, who was reported to be ill; it transpired later
that he had fled to the mountains in fear of the Baganda. The village was prac-
tically empty, only 10 men showing themselves. Biri told me that 4 of his bales
were missing-two of cloth, one of coffee, one of powder; that of Casati's
things, only seven cases had arrived, and of the Government ivory only a few
pieces. Kabarega had fled to Budongo pursued by the Baganda.
I found two letters from Casati, the first of 22 June 1887, The second letter
begins on 26 June 1887.
Both letters deal with the advance and the hostility of the Arabs. The war
came close to Casati's residence. He hoped to make an agreement with the
Baganda about forwarding the mail.
As usual, Biri had a lot to say about his expenses and how he had been
compelled to give Kabarega the powder which Mwanga had sent to me (he
had saved his own powder!) and how after much resistance he had had to hand
over several pieces of cloth, which the Katikiro and others had sent to me etc.
July 7, Thursday. Today the village is quite empty. Mahongoki and his
people and also Chief Kagoro's deputy vanished during the night. In addition
several vessels have disappeared. We are alone with a lot of dogs, and plenty
more hens, and one lame goat with its kids.
July 8, Friday. Every evening the negroes returned to their huts, vanishing
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 205
again towards morning. Why? We paid an early visit to the salt-workers,
where the water is abundant. The ground is covered with efflorescences of pure
salt in large patches, a proof that no work has been done for a long time. In
one of the hot springs we found a little snake, unrecognisable, and practically
boiled to shreds. There were masses of greenish black confervae thriving well in
the hot water. On the surrounding hills a few negroes showed themselves, and
I endeavoured to parley with them in order to induce them to return. But it was
impossible to get them to come down from the rising ground, although I
conducted the negotiations alone and unarmed. The steamer used to come by
itself, they said; now there were two more (the life-boat and pinnace of the
steamer). Moreover, as we had made our quarters in Kagoro's homestead, we
were probably bent upon some mischief, coveted their salt, and were allied with
the Baganda. After a lengthy discussion, they finally agreed to consult their
fellow-tribesmen, and to trade with us subsequently, i.e. to sell us salt, fowls,
etc. I promised Kagoro a calf in compensation for his house, although it had
been assigned to me by Mahongoki, and not forcibly occupied.
July 9. A negro of Kitema, the first to risk himself with us, says the Baganda
have gone back to their boundary, that Kabarega is staying anywhere, and
there is no news from Rwabudongo. The people of Kitema have come back
again to their village with their women and children and included other hamlets
in their return. It is to be hoped that Rwabudongo has fallen into the hands
of the Baganda.
... At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the under officer, who was sent to Casati
the day before yesterday, came back with a man from Casati and a letter.
The letter is dated from 1 to 8 July and speaks of the hostilities, how the Baganda
came to Juaja, but they did not touch his crops, as he parleyed with them, how
he had given Wakibi, the chief of the Baganda (a pupil and friend of Mackay)
at his request a letter written in French for Mwanga, stating that he was my
agent to keep open the road for the mail and asking that our correspondence
should be allowed to pass; how the Banyoro had laid an ambush for the Baga-
nda at the Kafu stream and how they in combination with many Lango waited
to fight a decisive battle with the Baganda, how Kabarega himself had taken
the command, and how Kabarega had often inquired after Casati.1
July 10. (The Khedive, with Emin on Board, returned to Tunguru.)
July 13. (The head wife of the murdered chief Kiza came to visit Emin.)
July 14. (A child between 7 and 8 years old, who was the adopted son of
Kiza, was brought to him.)
July 17. (There was a dispute as to who should be Kiza's successor. Some
corn was sent in by Ummah.)
Chief Ummah, said the speaker, did not want any war and his heart was
well disposed towards us; he wanted digging tools so as to work on his land
and supply us with corn. To that I answered that big chiefs like myself and
Ummah did business without go-betweens.
Ummah wanted to come and see me, he said, but he had a blood feud with
Kiza's people and was afraid of them. I then asked why I was not afraid to sit
alone and unarmed amongst 300 of Ummah's armed men. If I wanted to stay
at the hot springs, he said, then Ummah would come to me. I refused to go to
Ummah but I gave the speaker and his chiefs a number of beads as evidence
of my good will and sent them away with the request that they would come
back, when I returned here, probably after one month.
July 18, Monday. My intention was to start at midnight, to save a day;
but the people objected that in the darkness we should lose our bearings,
206 UGANDA JOURNAL
and that the moon would not be out until the small hours; so I had to wait,
leaving directions, however, that everything should be in readiness at 4 o'clock
in the morning. I slept ashore, but was ready in due time, and went aboard,
only to find that all had dutifully overslept themselves, and that the fire had
not been lit until I appeared at the landing place. At 5.16 I was told that we
were prepared to start, and gave the order to do so. Then it transpired that we
were far from having sufficient steam, and nearly an hour was frittered away in
getting up the required pressure, but at length we were well out in the lake.
The weather was rough and boisterous, a cold wind lashed the billows, and the
steamer pitched heavily, not altogether to the comfort of my people; but we
made good headway, and, the wind falling at 8.30, the vessel ceased to roll.
By 9.30 a.m. we made the peninsula of Tiabua, or Butiaba. About 500 yards
off the land a solitary pelican eyed us suspiciously, and evaded us. For a good
distance we skirted the sandy shore, meeting numerous fishing canoes manned
by natives. Their huts were not visible from the steamer, and must have been
some way inland. At 11.55, after a very slow passage lasting 6 hours 38 minutes,
we were off Kibiro. This time the natives remained in the village, but none of
them came to us. So I sent an officer and 4 men to Kagoro for any mails that
might have arrived, or, if there were none, to ask him either to come to me or to
give me a man who could accompany my people with mails for Casati. After a
while the officer returned, stating Kagoro would neither come nor send any-
one to me, but that I was to prepare my letters and people at once, and he would
forward them in charge of one of his people to Casati.
I acted upon the suggestion, and giving my men a letter for Casati, and an
enclosure for Mackay, I included Biri's man, Majaliwa, among the party, and
sent them all to Kagoro. A quarter of an hour later I had the satisfaction of
seeing them climb the hill and disappear. According to my instructions, they
should be with Casati tomorrow morning, leave tomorrow afternoon, and get
back here early on the following day. I took the opportunity to tell Kagoro
again to stop his nonsense, and either come to me himself, or send his sub-
chief, with whom I wished to speak. After a brief interval the sub-chief appeared
and turned out to be the same man who had met me on my arrival, and who
made off in the company of Mahongoki. He presented Kagoro's best respects,
saying that he himself would visit me on the morrow. He told me that Kabare-
ga's dragoman, Rihan, had been here, to express the King's displeasure at their
running off and leaving us alone, and to warn them to amend their conduct in
future. He further told me that all the people of the village were desirous of
trading with us as before and looked upon us as friendly but had taken fright
at the sight of 3 steamers, and made off. I must not blame him, as he was not a
man of influence, and his chief Kagoro having run away, he had followed. He
concluded by asking for an angareb for himself, and a fez for Kagoro (!), who
meantime had safely received the cow we left for him. Casati's things, he said,
were all here; only 5 sacks of grain had been sent to him (!). Promising to send
people to the market towards evening, with salt, etc., he parted from me.
At 3 this afternoon we had a sharp thunder shower, and it is still (5 p.m.)
thundering heavily. As my huts are very dilapidated, this means staying on
board. I consider the story of Kabarega's message relative to the Kibiro people's
flight from us a mere invention-a sop to smooth the way for Kagoro.
At 4 in the afternoon my people landed with cow-hides (very much in re-
quest here), some cowries, etc., to barter as agreed. A crowd of Banyoro had
collected, and began to inspect the skins, etc., fixing the prices. All at once some
men, sent by Kagoro, came on the scene, and gave the buyers to understand
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 207
that it was unseemly for them to transact business before Kagoro had given
his permission. Naturally, all withdrew, a hint of that kind being tantamount
to a command; so the dealing fell through. My people were told Kagoro would
not permit the market to begin until the following day. By such petty irritation
the Banyoro and Baganda chiefs strive to gain prestige in the eyes of strangers
and their people. It may be that Kagoro does not intend to permit trading
before he has seen me; possibly there are other underlying motives, the
people still being very distrustful. For example, today, when the mail was
despatched to Casati, Kagoro, in the presence of my people, bade the man he
sent along with my party not to touch any food of their preparation, but to ask
for raw produce, such as flour, beans, etc., and cook his food for himself.
Nevertheless, this evening, some of the people came out without their spears;
up to this morning they were always armed. I had gently cross-examined them
about it, and that seems to have answered better than anger and threats. Now
we must see what tomorrow's market(?) will be.
July 19, Tuesday. A quiet night, little wind, lake quiet. I had the hawser
hauled up, and we lay at anchor in nearly two fathoms of water; at rare inter-
vals we heard sounds from the shore; a child crying, or a sheep bleating. No
fires were visible, although all the natives, including women and children,
were in the village. Towards evening hundreds of fine sheep were brought in,
also one cow. Goats are scarce in this place. The morning broke cool and
gusty; the lake was as dark as the Black Sea. We noticed a kingfisher (Ceryle
rudis), quite a rarity here, fluttering on the steamer's buoy. Water wagtails
(Monticilla vidua) trust themselves on board, hopping about at our very feet,
settling their little feuds among themselves quite unconcernedly.
About 9 in the morning, Kagoro put in an appearance, and located himself
in front of my huts, presumably expecting us to come tumbling over one an-
other to the market. Of course he gets a percentage on all purchases and sales.
But it was my turn now, and I forbade my people to land. After an hour he
found this kind of thing monotonous, and sent people to the water's edge to
invite us. Then I consented, and dealings in cowhides were soon in full swing.
I wonder whether the natives employed the night in mixing ashes and earth
with their salt? The weather is chilly today; the wind blows incessantly, and
the lake is ruffled accordingly.
My people have brought aboard some 20 loads of salt, having paid two
hides per load, Two loads that I got them to buy for me cost 350 cowries
each, thus being considerably dearer than those exchanged for skins. Dealings
are proceeding steadily under the supervision of Kagoro's representative,
the chief himself of course keeping out of sight. The steamer's little pinnace
excites a good deal of curiosity; on shore it is always the centre of a wondering
crowd, all these people being fishermen and taking an interest in such things.
There are some very fine boats here too, hollowed out from the trunks of trees;
not by fire, but by the very tedious process of cutting out with small axes.
Two of them happen to be on shore, one cut from a perfectly straight, smooth
trunk, and not yet completed, 36 feet 5 inches in length, and 261 inches in
width, inside measurement; the other from a trunk a trifle twisted in the centre,
27 feet 7 inches in length, and 25 inches in width.
I should have liked a few of such canoes for my stations. The trees from
which they were made, were felled at Bihairo, near Budongo. In getting them
here a man was killed. Seven trunks are ready there for removal. Five have
been taken to Butiaba and there made into canoes. These were represented to
208 UGANDA JOURNAL
me as the exclusive property of Kabarega and therefore could not be sold. I
assume that they constitute his fleet.
At 4.45 this afternoon we had slight thunderstorms here, but I believe
they were heavy on the mountains; then sharp east wind.
During the bargaining today Kagoro again tried to stop the negroes from
going on with it, ordering them to desist until Rihan, the dragoman, brought
the King's commands. Thereupon an old man turned to his companions,
saying, "Why wait? Don't you all know that the King has gone to Mruli,
and cannot send any orders from there for some time ? If Kagoro wants to put
off selling his own things, let him. We meantime, will sell ours." And so it was
done. The people bought and sold in the sight of Kagoro's representative,
until he went his way.
If the King has really gone to Mruli, it is assuredly the most stupid thing
he could have done.
July 20, Wednesday. After a rather windy night, the early morning is calm,
with now and then a little rain. All being well, my messenger should be back
from Casati at 10 this morning, and we can then steam off. Towards 7 o'clock
the peak of Jebel Biet pierced through the dense fog. This mountain will be
an admirable base for geographical observations in the northern part of the
The negroes again came prepared to trade, but unfortunately my people
had bartered everything away yesterday. Since our arrival here I noticed ex-
pansive stretches of red colouring, shading to crimson, on the slopes of Jebel
Biet from its base to near its summit. I took them to be flowery grasses, but to-
day, whilst out collecting, found they were aloes in bloom. Multitudes of
honey-birds (Nectarinia pulchella, N. collarie, and others may be) encircled
the honey-laden blossoms.
At length, after long waiting, the men I so anxiously expected came in sight
at noon. I trust they bring good news.
By 12.35 they were on board. Casati writes me very fully, and
sends Msige, whom Kabarega expressly despatched to speak with me.
Msige then came forward, looking very much the worse for wear. He told me the
King had really betaken himself to Mruli, but that his people were dying
of hunger. Their ammunition, too was running very short. The King had given
him no definite instructions, but he was come to hear my views. Mahongoki
had absconded from Kibiro and so far Kabarega himself does not know his where-
abouts. The dragoman who had been in his company was summarily dismissed
on appearing before Kabarega. I explained to Msige what I told Mahongoki
in answer to the 5 points raised by the King. I emphasised the fact that the
soldiers were approaching, and that at all costs I meant to keep open the Buganda
road, using force if need be. Msige promised to make a faithful report of every-
thing, but complained that the chiefs about Kabarega's person turned his head,
inflaming him against us, whilst he (Msige) "took our part," thereby incurring
the charge of being in league with us. This also made him think his present
mission would be fruitless. Thereupon I decided to dismiss him, first giving
him to understand that I wished Kabarega to send me one of his greater chiefs,
Ireta or Bikamba, inasmuch as he (Msige) himself admitted that he could only
speak to the King in the teeth of the party hostile to us. Msige, who seemed to
be in a very great hurry, went ashore immediately. I gave the sergeant sent by
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 209
Casati a note for him, 5 goats, two pots of butter, together with a bag of beads of
various kinds, and copper bells for use as small change.
At 2.26 in the afternoon steam was up and we got under way hoping to
reach Tunguru Island in good time.
It was rough and overcast, a keen blast and intermittent showers of fine
rain adding to our discomfort. Until sundown we made fair headway; but as
soon as darkness fell and our bearings disappeared in the gloom, it was quite
another matter. Hour after hour went by, and still we found no island. By 8
o'clock at night we were under the mountains that loomed dimly through their
veil of mist. Soundings here showed that we were rapidly getting into shallower
water; we had therefore to keep the steamer's head to the lake and run along
close under the heights, still in quest of Tunguru. At 9.56 p.m., that is, after a
passage of 7% hours, we cast anchor off the island. How we found it in the
darkness is a mystery. The waves ran high and a gentle shower fell. During my
absence there had been no rain at all. The Wadelai mail of 15 July was uni-
July 21, Thursday. I had my people together betimes, and was soon busy
shipping effects for the Government: a troublesome task, owing to the heavy
swell on the lake. By 8.45 in the morning everything was aboard, and we steamed
off. Passing the clearing where we had taken in wood before, we stopped at a
point farther south of the forest towards Boki, where we found huts prepared
for us and a quantity of wood ready felled. Everybody naturally wanted to go
ashore, but the shallow water rendered landing difficult, and it took us till
The huts are on a sandbank at the edge of a fine forest. On the whole trip
from the island to this place we observed shallows, swamps, etc., and all this
foreshore seems to be levelling up.
July 23 (Set sail for Wadelai).
July 24. (Arrived at Wadelai.)
Shortly before our arrival the Nyanza had come up from Dufile with ivory,
etc., bringing mails from Dufile and Rejaf, also Selim Aga and Bachit Aga
August 8, (Monday) to August 14 (Sunday). A week of indisposition and
letter-writing; I am certainly gradually getting old and infirm.
August 15 to August 21. Early on the 16th Nyanza left for Dufile. The wea-
ther has become peculiar. We usually begin with a morning mist, which clears
up, the atmosphere then getting warm. At 11 there are rumblings of thunder,
clouds gather, until about 3 in the afternoon we are threatened with a severe
thunderstorm. But the clouds disperse, and the nights are beautifully clear.
Heavy dews. This month (up to 18 August) only 3 rainfalls have been registered.
The river is extremely low.
On 20 August I despatched a mail to Casati, by the hands of Osman Bedawi
and Sivur-el-Taib. I also sent as much food as it is practicable to send overland.
September 19 (Monday) to September 25 (Sunday). Today, Monday, we
begin the year 1305 of the Hegira. We are busy distributing cattle, all the
neighboring chiefs being present for the occasion.
September 20. This evening we had the post from Dufile. Hamid Aga has
arrived there, and is awaiting the steamer to come on here. I can only hope that
Selim Aga, having now a free hand, will be able to bring the madmen of Rejaf
to their senses.
On 22 September the Nyanza left early, with Hawash Effendi, for Dufile.
Half an hour later the Khedive, with Vita and Mohammed Biri, steamed away
210 UGANDA JOURNAL
to the lake, taking the mail for Casati and an ample consignment of ammuni-
tion, cloth, etc., for him. I have also sent him a case for Mackay, and two
containing ethnographical specimens for London.
October 17. Chief Shambel, the Acholi, came to inform me that Ajawa,
whom he had invited to come to me, now refuses to come to me, though earlier
he had been quite willing to come. So much the worse for him!
October 27. (Set sail by steamer from Wadelai for Lake Albert). We made a
short stay at Pachora, where I found that the grain (wheat) sown on the 22nd
had come up very well. Immediately south of this place more new islands are in
the course of formation. The process is extremely simple. A little accumulation
of sand round a decayed tree, or a bundle of reeds and flotsam-and-jetsam en-
large the area so that it is soon covered by vegetation, which in its turn serves to
strain and increase deposits and thus to complete the formation. All these
islands have borders of papyrus. The remarkable rapidity of this formation of
banks and islands may be gathered from the fact that at the foot of the magazine
hill at Wadelai, where, in 1879, the stream flowed close in, there are now about
9 yards of foreshore.
October 28. (Called at Panyigoro, Okello's village, but Okello did not
November 3. (At Tunguru Emin had interviews with chiefs Boki, Okello and
November 7. (Abura, Chief of Panyibor, visited Emin.)2
November 12. From Tunguru I brought 5 children, who had been brought
back by our people on the last raid. Chief Fangai of Masongwa was here. So I
sent for him and asked if the children belonged to him. He spoke to the eldest
girl and hereby I notice how unpleasant the A-Lendu language sounded,
having many hissing sounds (distantly reminding one of Madi) and then gave
an evasive answer. The children belonged to his people. But I did not rely on
this, but sent for Kiza's brother and asked him to question the girl. He an-
nounced that the girl came from a village called Redsi, which is not far from
here, and Kiza's brother, a good and intelligent fellow, was prepared to send
tomorrow a canoe with two of his people to that village to inform the Chief
that he must come and fetch the children. The girl seemed very pleased with this
proposal and so I asked Kiza's brother to take them and handed over the
children forthwith with the promises that I would indemnify him for all ex-
penses for food etc. and later give him a present.
November 13. At midday Chief Ummah's father came here, probably to
visit me before he gives his son leave so to favour me. A new feature of negro
policy and caution. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon the chiefs of this place came
with Kiza's adopted son, whom the people have called Suleiman, and carried
out in pleno (publicly) his investiture as Chief in place of Kapira, whose election
had made them angry, because Fadl, one of our people, wanted him and had
made them afraid. They had managed badly but they did not know me and
were afraid I would be angry if they went contrary to the wishes of my people.
They had nothing personally against Kapira, but it was wrong to set aside
Kiza's son in favour of him. After giving them a long homily, there remained
nothing for me to do but to accede to their wishes, and to appoint the fellow
in place of Kapira.
November 16. The people came from Magungo, to whom I had recently
sent, to reclaim their children. We were quite friendly and they were highly
pleased with a present of beads. Three of the children belong to them and two
to the people of Pangani, who took charge of them.
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 211
Late in the evening there came the brother of Chief Djugoro or Dsugoro
of Msongwa, which is adjacent to Mswa. His brother would have come himself,
but he is afraid and has sent him to greet me, and, if I give him a present,(!),
to bring it to him. I naturally replied to this demand with a refusal and requested
him to greet his brother and say that, if he had overcome his fear, he should
November 17. In the course of the afternoon there at last came the news that
the much-spoken-of chief Ummah was here ... He is a tall and rather slender
fellow who sat down on the stool which was offered to him in a nervous fashion.
It could be seen that he felt very uneasy or rather was afraid at his boldness in
coming to me and feared he would be paying for it with his life or at least his
freedom; hence arose his repeated hints and wishes to depart. He had been
told that I would seize him and kill him. Songa had told him I would burn his
village. His own father had continually frightened him, but he understood that
if he came, all his fear would prove foolishness and he would be ready to serve
us in every way ... I let him make his promises and then tried on my part to
give him courage and to throw off his foolish fears.
November 18. Dressed in a red garment like a giant fire lily, Ummah feels
so certain of himself that today he sent two of his people to chief Djuggero to
bring him here. As nothing evil has befallen him, Ummah, therefore Djuggero
must come and pay court. Yesterday Ummah sent some of his people to one of
his villages to pacify them about events and to tell them that he had been
friendlily received by me and given presents. As he came here yesterday his
sister came weeping to the station chief to ask him to beseeach me to do no
harm to her brother. I have asked Ummah to give me two of his people whom I
want to send to Chief Wadarima. He refused to do so because Wadarima would
kill his people. I therefore sent one of my people with two of Kiza's people
with greetings to Wadarima and the request to keep the road open and to give
back the confiscated ivory to its owner.
The two chiefs, who wanted to attend upon me and who were hindered
from doing so by Wadarima, are Agwiri of Djabakhat and Tschida of Pandoro,
the latter being quite unknown to me. Towards evening the people sent by
Ummah to Djuggero came back. They had not found him because he had gone
to the mountains in Muliwandwa's land (Bulega) to buy ivory and bring it to me.
Chief Ummah went off very satisfied at midday and will reach his father's
village tonight. He has promised the station chief to send beans and maize
and to give us general support because he realises we are not evil-minded.
November 19 ... Amara, the guardian of Kiza's son, has played me a very
unpleasant trick. When the people of Magungo were here to fetch the children,
they brought two small goats as a present to me. On the pretext that they were
small Amara kept them for himself and, after he had so enjoined them,
the people later sent two large goats to me. As the people were given a present,
they have luckily lost nothing, but in any event it is unpleasant that Amara
should have particularly interfered without my orders and thus given the
negroes the idea that I examine their presents, and what is worse, their quality.
I would have probably heard nothing of this very stupid business, if Kiza's
son and worthy successor had not committed an indiscretion and told the
station chief that Amara had received the two goats intended for me. He has
received a good homily from me.
November 20. In the afternoon I received a visit from Kiza's son together
with Kapira and many people . Kapira made himself spokesman and said
Kiza was dead and his son was now chief and he and everybody else had will-
212 UGANDA JOURNAL
ingly recognized the boy. It fell to him in addition, as Kiza's brother, to be
guardian of the boy. Now people, who were responsible for Kiza's death,
came freely and openly, and with impunity to the station (the reference was to
Ummah) and I had even received them and given them presents, contrary to all
usage for strangers to come here and pay court to me without first coming to
Kiza's son and without being introduced by him to me. I should give ins-
tructions that in future all strangers should stay with Kiza's son and come
with him to me. Naturally I could never think of such a curtailment of my
liberty of intercourse with strangers, who wanted to come to me, and I ex-
plained this comprehensively to the people and reminded them of the breech of
confidence of which Amara had been guilty with reference to the goats brought
by the people of Magungo. I was quite ready to consult Kiza's son and invite
him to come to all conferences here, but I could compel nobody to go to him,
and reminded Kapira, who was in such a hurry to see Kiza's death avenged,
that Kiza had not been killed by Ummah or Djuggero, but by Kabarega, and
people were saying that he, Kapira, still had permanent relations with Kabarega.
He heard this in silence and at once broke off our conversation.
November 22. At the last moment there came to me the people, whom I
sent to Wadarima, with his son. He did not make a favourable impression ..
I sent him away with the request to bring his father to a better way of thinking,
and requested him, when I returned (!), to visit me and receive a present, but
made it clear that, if the road was not kept open, his father would find himself
and his country in a very serious position.
(Emin left Wadelai this day to tour the western parts of the Province.)
November 26. Hamid Aga sends 3 letters to hand from Dufile, and writes
that the Nyanza is not yet in. These letters were the replies to mine of 31 October
1887, to the commanders at the stations at Labore, Mugi, and Kiri.
(The Labore despatch stated that the officers and men stationed there had
declared for the government to a man. The Mugi despatch was to a like effect
and further stated that the troops there declined to have anything to do with
the mutineers. The despatch from Kiri stated that many of the soldiers were
willing to join Emin, but were deterred by their unwillingness to leave their
wives and children behind. The commander therefore urged Emin to visit the
station as soon as possible. Emin's comment on this request was, "I consider it
impossible to arrive there in time to prevent the exodus of these lunatics.")
Not a word from Dufile. Very singular, as I also wrote to Hawash Effendi
there. Oh, these Egyptians!
November 28. (Emin again visited Pachora.)
November 29. (Emin arrived back in Wadelai.)
December 3, Saturday. At a quarter to twelve, midnight, we moored at
Dufile, the people tumbling out of bed to welcome us. We did not get to rest
till 2.6 a.m.
December 4, Sunday. Rest here does not mean sleep. What with the rustling
of borassus leaves (there are two fine palms in the courtyard), the hoarse call
of the herons who build in them and come and go at intervals, the hooting of
stray owls, crowds of bats fluttering about, the caw of a raven disturbed in his
sleep, and the army of mosquitoes, sleep was entirely out of the question.
We therefore got up quite early, but were immediately subjected to a series
of visits that became very tedious. To cut them short, I had the assembly sound-
ed, donned gala attire, and prepared to address my faithful troops. I seem to
know their taste; my speech told; officers and men emulated one another in
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 213
their expressions of loyalty and devotion. I believe I can depend on them, with
some few exceptions.
It was now noon, and my presents began to come. Negroes, who know my
preference, brought me a living specimen of a Manis temminkii, still young,
curled up like a hedgehog and tightly bound. None of our people (who know
the 'scaly mother' (Umm girfa) from hearsay only) would touch the blood-
thirsty animal. Until my return I gave it into the charge of my old dragoman
and travelling companion, Fadl-el-Mula. Then they brought something new for
me in this district, a young Adda nasomaculatus, and two pretty specimens of
Protopterus aethiopicus. A good while ago I directed the attention of the officer
in charge of this station, a consummate rascal, but very intelligent, to Hibiscus
sabdariffa, extensively cultivated by the negroes, and the seeds of which we use
as a substitute for coffee. I showed him how the threads of this plant might be
made into coarse cloth. Today he gave me the first practical result of my sug-
gestion, a piece of coarse sackloth, very good as a first effort, which shall
certainly go to Europe. Further practice will improve the weaving.
In the afternoon I inspected the garden, and received some soldiers who had
run away to me from Rejaf, leaving their wives and families behind. So the day
passed quickly enough.
The north wind has already set in here, and drives more dust (and in the
evening ashes also from grass fires) into one's face and clothes than is consistent
The porters are weary; we are to start in the night. Vita, who is ill, is taking
the Khedive, laden with durrah, ivory, etc., back to Wadelai. The Nyanza was
undocked yesterday, and is in the river, but the repairs to the machinery will
still take a few days. The vessel is now as good as new.
December 5, Monday. At 3 in the morning I drummed out my people, who
would otherwise certainly have overslept themselves, and at 3.55 left Dufile
with a long trail of about 100. Hamid Aga, major of the first battalion, was
with me, also my naturalist, a clerk, a cavass, 3 orderlies, a trumpeter, and my
(Emin set out downstream close to the banks of the Nile. "Passed Shadjer-
et-Basha, where I had repeatedly rested with Gordon." Reached the station at
Khor Ayu in the afternoon. "The negroes have gone away and it is very difficult
to get grain. That is the curse of our stations. Our people will not realise that
from the oppression of the negroes we can only reap disaster.")
December 6, Tuesday. The porters, who will have to get back all the way to
Dufile today, left for Labore before sunrise. We followed them at 6.7 a.m.,
and as I was afoot, I soon left all my people far behind. The road is picturesque
and well kept, Gessi, Lucas, were fellow-travellers of mine on this road, and
now all are dead. At 8.35 in the morning we were before our homestead at
Labore, received by soldiers, officers, and a crowd of other people.
Here, as well as at Khor Ayu, I found all the people well disposed, and hope
they will so remain. Taha, a Rejaf boatman, arrived here; his report of the
situation and officers there was not altogether promising, but I prefer to see
with my own eyes, and therefore shall not enter his statements here.
I dismissed the porters. My escort, officers and men, must wait until I have
got through and answered the official post which I brought with me from
Dufile (some 80 letters) and which will keep my clerks employed today and
Towards evening we had a shower of rain, and the terrific heat slightly
abated. Then we had a parade of troops, but it turned out rather tame, the
214 UGANDA JOURNAL
officers, owing to some oversight, not having been duly notified. The pro-
ceedings, however, went off well. The men especially showed themselves ready
and contented, and I am continuing my journey with the conviction that I
have friends behind me.
December 7. Today, a cup carved out of ivory in Makraka was presented
me. Rather heavy, but a pretty piece of work, considering that it was fashioned
by hand; lathes are unknown there. I am told that the Makraka people appro-
priated all the ivory, and are making it into armlets and anklets, cups, bowls,
and even legs for angarebs! What a pity! All that beautiful ivory which would
have bought us cloth and cartridges!
I have instructed the chief of the Bari dragomans here to engage a number
of Bari for Wadelai and the lake stations; I trust he will be able to do so.
Under proper supervision the dragomans are very serviceable and reliable,
although, if not kept within bounds, terribly tyrannical to the negroes.
December 8. (Reached Mugi at midday.)
December 9. (Reached Kiri at 8.40 a.m.). I was surprised here by fresh
intelligence of Hawash Effendi's collusion with the rebels at Rejaf, and regretted
that I had come here.
December 10, Saturday. At half-past three in the morning I was aroused
by Hamid Aga, Bachit Aga, and my scribe, all requesting me to dress at once
and go to Mugi. Ali Aga Jebel, they said, was encamped on the Khor Waia
with more than a thousand men, and would be here early to carry out some
violent design. I tried to reassure my men, but in vain; Hamid Aga even took
me by the hand and urged me away, promising to follow by the evening. So
we left; at 6.40 we crossed the Khor, arriving at Mugi at 8.26.
I advised Labore and Dufile instantly of the situation, and gave orders for
the defence of Mugi. The troops were drawn up and asked whether they wished
to go to Makraka, but returned an emphatic negative. The day passed in expect-
ation of despatches. Late at night a boy came in who had accompanied the
above-mentioned rebels from Rejaf, where Selim Aga is a prisoner in his own
house. Arrived before Bedden, they summoned the captain, Belal Aga, to join
them. He, however, cut the cable of the ferry, and declined to hold any communi-
cation with them. They continued their march: 3 officers, two companies of
soldiers, and a throng of Makraka people. Kiri, being called upon to join
their march to Makraka, refused; whereupon they threatened to subject Bachit
Aga to the yoke of slavery.
December 14. From Mackay a letter to Stanley, who is said to be here,
and a few lines on 20 May 1887 to me. My mail of 17 April 1887 has arrived
and was to proceed on 21 June. One Mr. E. Cyril Gordon, who also writes to
me, had come in Mackay's place. Mackay has to avoid the intrigues of the
Arabs and particularly of Ali bin Sultan. Gordon has come to take Mackay's
place. That is all, not a word about our future movements.
Mohammed Biri writes a long letter full of offers, but he has filled the whole
of Bunyoro with complaints about my stinginess and ingratitude and openly
declares he is thinking of not coming here again. One more rogue!
December 19, Monday. At 4.29 this morning we set out from Mugi; the
people behaving very well, and promising, if they were hard pressed, to fall
back upon me. It was a capital march, in the bright fresh winter night, scented
with acacias and gardenias in bloom. At 6.47 we passed the first Khor, and at
8.21 Khor Hamam, halting there a quarter of an hour. At 10.15 a.m. we passed
the group of trees, and at 11.18 reached Labore. The latter portion of the day
was extremely hot.
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VIII 215
Our huts were ready, so that I could at once set to work writing up the
weekly arrears in my diary. Work is disagreeable just now; for the wind, blowing
hard from the north, raises so much sand and dust that one can hardly open
one's eyes, let alone work. Late at night I had a letter from Vita at Dufile,
where the course of events is being followed with great anxiety.
December 20, Tuesday. Selim Aga reached Mugi yesterday, and will arrive
here today. I shall wait tomorrow for Rejeb Effendi, and hope to leave for
Dufile early on Thursday. Vita shall then at once go to Kibiro.
At two this afternoon Selim Aga arrived. I summoned him from Rejaf,
as he was treated practically as a prisoner there. He met the mutineers, who
had drawn off from Kiri, at the Khor Waia, and tells me that Rajeb Effendi
will probably get to Kiri tomorrow. According to Selim Aga, it was an open
secret at Rejaf that I was to be kept a prisoner at Gondokoro. Many of the
soldiers wanted to come.
December 21, Wednesday. Sky entirely overcast, and slight rain since
early morning. At 8 o'clock the post came in from Wadelai, where all is well,
and from Dufile, where my letters arrived yesterday. The porters asked for
will be at the Khor Ayu today.
From that place there are one or two items of news. On Sunday the negroes
contemplated an attack on the station; yesterday the dragomen carrying the
mails were waylaid, and had to use their arms to get clear. This means that we
shall be obliged to make the whole journey in the heat of the day.
2 p.m. A soldier has just got here, a fugitive from the body that lay before
Kiri under Ali Aga. He confirms the report that many of the soldiers wished
to join me then, but were too closely watched. He deserted on the march
between Beden and Rejaf, came on here, and expected others to follow. He
has brought his Remington and ammunition; he belonged to the fourth com-
pany of the first battalion, under Captain Murjan Aga Bachit.
December 23. (Reached Dufile at noon.)
December 31. (Emin sailed from Dufile in the Khedive.)
January 1, 1888. Towards morning the Nyanza, which we had left a little
beyond Dufile, came up. As the crew had been at work all the night, I desired
the captain to let them take a few hours' rest. We had steam up at 5.15 a.m.,
and went ahead energetically. The weather was beautifully cool. Fairly early
we passed Um Jeranib, where, thanks to the foresight of the negroes, a little
heap of dry wood was piled up for us to ship. I well remembered, when here in
1885, that at this particular spot every measure of precaution was essential
to protect us from a negro raid; today the self same negroes came to welcome
me, and offer their services. So much for a little sense in dealing with these
At 11.15 a.m. we steamed by the steep bank on which years ago I found
the first nest-colony of Merops frenatus and Cotyle cincta; today it seemed to
be deserted. At this point begins a labyrinth of islands, and of channels which
are extremely variable in depth, quite apart from the fact that well nigh every
year the river and the current change their bed. We therefore proceeded with
the utmost care; but nevertheless, at 1.10 in the afternoon, when at the end of
one of these channels, we grounded on a bar of sand stretching almost entirely
across. Besides lightening the steamer we had to throw out an anchor to haul
ourselves off. The plan succeeded. At 2.15 we were once more afloat, and
having re-embarked the women and the cargo, we steamed ahead again. Every-
where the negroes lined the banks, indicating by their shouts that they came to
visit us. At 4.11 we moored at Wadelai. All was in order there. In accordance
216 UGANDA JOURNAL
with my directions, the officer in charge had had the environs of the station clea-
red of grass and underwood, so as to protect us at least against danger of fire
from without, this being the grass-burning season, and last year's experience
being still fresh in my memory. Of news from the south there was none. Casati
has probably not received the mail promised him within 3 days. Nor is there
any news of my last messenger to him.
January 7, 1888. Chief Amara came today with people from Boki. Chief
Dussiri has sent to Kabarega to ask for an army to send against us, and Kaba-
rega's chief Rukara, who is in possession of our old station at Magungo has
suddenly become active in collecting people from everywhere and particularly
a number of Lango warriors. The river, which is now low, is to be crossed at
Pagango, where chief Omari for a long time has been in communication with
Rukara, and the attack on us is then to proceed. On the way from Boki to here
they have already put their foodstuff in holes in the ground, so as to be ready
for the expected army. So much for the report. I do not think Kabarega has
got the resolution to attack here or send across the river an army, which would
at once be cut off. The next thing is troops are going to Dussiri and both steamers
are making a demonstration against Rukara's place, Magungo. In the meantime
I am sending people from Tunguru to the east bank of the river against the
Acholi and leaving another column to clear the west bank. That will be enough.
1. There is a brief reference to this campaign in Kagwa, Basekabaka be Buganda, p. 160.
Wakibi, the Muganda leader of the expedition, held the chieftainship of Mukabya, which
was a sub-chieftainship of Namutwe, the Mumyuka of Sekibobo, the county chief of Kyagwe
(Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 251).
2. Captain (afterwards Brigadier-General) Trevor Ternan visited Abura at the village of
Ayara in 1895. He made a treaty with him on 30 June 1896, after Abura had been on a visit
to Entebbe. Ternan reported that he was one of the 3 or 4 principal chiefs amongst the Acholi
and had a following of 200 guns of various kinds. He was hostile to Kabarega. (Thomas,
'More Early Treaties in Uganda, 1891-96', Uganda Jl., 13 (1949), 174; Gray, 'Acholi History
II', Uganda JI., 16 (1952), 34-5).
Uganda Journal, 28, 2 (1964) pp. 217-220
BLOOD BROTHERHOOD IN ANKOLE
Recorded by Y. K. BAMUNOBA
(From information supplied by an old Iru catechist
at Nkondo Church of Uganda, Ibanda, Ankole).
I have made blood brotherhood many times. In Ankole, when a man was
fond of a boy, he wanted either to give him his daughter in marriage or to
make him blood brother to his son. This was a means by which a firm relation-
ship was created between two lineages. A new kind of kinship was established
between lineages of different clans. The two making blood brotherhood acted
as a link between the two lineages; it involved taboo; and, if any member of
either lineage wittingly broke the relationship, the automatic consequences
were severe. There was no such penalty if the offender was ignorant of the
existence of the blood brotherhood.
I remember a man called Rubombo who used often to visit my father.
They would drink together, while we children-the children of my father and
the children of Rubombo-would look after their goats out in the bush. Rubom-
bo was very fond of me and asked my father if I could become blood brother
to his son Kebire.
As the first step, my father sent me to spend the night with Kebire at his
father's house. Next day I returned home. After a week my mother ground
millet and made a parcel of the flour. She made two pots of obushera (a light,
sweet, slightly alcoholic drink made from millet flour) and cut two bunches of
plantains. All these were given to me to take to Kebire for the ceremony.
My companions were my elder brother, my paternal uncle and my two
sisters. Late in the evening we arrived at Kebire's house; and that night we
spent enjoying ourselves with drinking, eating and dancing.
Next day, before dawn, a white mat was spread on the floor. Kebire and I
sat on it, facing one another. His right leg was across my left leg, and my right
leg across his left. Each of us was given two blades of the grass ejubwe (Bra-
chiaria decumbens). Kebire's sister, Kemikyeera, placed a razor on the mat
between us. With it I made a small cut on Kebire's navel so as to draw blood.
He did the same to me. Then Kemikyeera put a little flour in the left hand of
each of us. With ejubwe each of us took blood from the other's navel and mixed
it with the flour in the other's left hand. Kebire offered me his hand; and I
licked the dough made with his blood. He also licked from my left hand the
dough made with my blood. We had been warned to swallow the dough and
not to hold it in our mouths. Otherwise, the cheek swells up.
Then we made a covenant together. I said:
'Kebire, you are Omusingo by clan; I am Omugahe. You shall not molest
a member of my clan, nor allow him to starve, whether such a one be a leper,
a woman, a cripple, a widow or one of no importance. You shall welcome him
patiently and entertain him, giving him to eat and drink. If you fail, this our
brotherhood will kill you'.
And Kebire said,
218 UGANDA JOURNAL
'Karibaterana, you are Omugahe; I am Omusingo. You shall not molest,
nor allow to starve, an Omusingo of any sex, or age, or rank. Treat all Basingo
as yourself; and, if you mistreat them, this our blood brotherhood will kill
Then our sister, Kamikyeera, (she was my sister now, because of my blood
brotherhood with her brother) spread our mat at one side of the sitting room;
and Kebire and 1 lay down on it. She covered us with a barkcloth; and we
pretended to sleep for 5 minutes to show that we were now one. When we arose,
we were greeted with gladness by all the members of the family. I stayed with
Kebire for another day; and on the following morning I was given a lamb to
take with me as a gift to seal our blood brotherhood.
1. Blood brotherhood (ogwokushara) can be made between man and a woman.
2. Blood brotherhood creates a taboo against marriage into the blood brother's lineage.
If such a marriage is desired, the blood brotherhood must first be 'killed' by the groom paying
to the brider's father a fine of a cow or a goat.
3. Apart from this fine, in these particular circumstances, blood brotherhood can be finished
only by death. If it has been publicly acknowledged to the end, the taboos may continue
to be observed by the children of the two concerned.
4. If a clansman of one blood brother refuses food to the clansman of another, the same
food will choke the offender, or make his stomach swell till he dies. (N.B. Unlike the marriage
bar, this taboo extends to all members of both clans-not simply to their lineages).
5. Blood brotherhood is to be distinguished from ordinary friendship (ogwekimyeri) which
carries no taboos.
6. This ceremony was described, less intimately, in F. Lukyn Williams, (1934), 'Blood
Brotherhood in Ankole', Uganda Jl., 2, 33-41. Only a few minor amendments are needed in
his full account:
i. In Uganda Jl. 2, 252 (1935), Lukyn Williams corrected himself at two points:
(a) in certain circumstances it is possible for blood brotherhood to be made between
two women or between a man and a woman;
(b) only in Mpororo does the rule hold that a Hima must make blood brotherhood
with an Iru before doing so with another Hima.
ii On p. 36, para. 4 he states that leaves of Eythrina and omutooma are used, together with
ejubwe to draw blood from the cut. Contemporary information is that a leaf of one or
the other (but not both) may be placed on the hand and the flour then placed on the leaf
before blood is mixed-in with ejubwe.
iii. On p. 36, the ceremonies described in paras. 7-12 take place after that of para 13.
iv. Page 37, para 14. The centre pole of the house plays a part in the rite only if the
householder himself is making blood brotherhood.
LUBAALE INITIATION IN BUGANDA'
by L. B. KAGGWA2 and F. B. WELBOURN
When a person is sick, a diviner (omulaguzi) may advise that the lubaale
of his enda3 is 'unsettled'.4 He states a price (which may be as much as Shs.
500/-) for the necessary treatment. If they cannot afford this price, the patient's
family will try to obtain the same treatment elsewhere. But, in any case, the
patient-with his parents, his brothers and sisters and his father's sister-must
attend by night at the shrine (essabo) of a lubaale whose 'owner' is skilled in
this particular rite. He is not only omulaguzi, but omusamize (one possessed by
lubaale), omukongozi (one who carries (lubaale) on his shoulders), mulubaale
(for, in the state of possession, he is lubaale itself) and-on this occasion-
omutendesi (one who 'settles' lubaale for others). Arrived at the shrine, 3 or 4
of the party are chosen to be presented to lubaale; and they are prepared by the
initiator's assistants (men and women who have themselves been initiated,
usually into the same lubaale as omutendesi). Their leader is called ]Jajja w'a-
baana5. They are washed with water from Lake Victoria.6 'Medicine' is put on
their heads. They are made to hold in their hands many different medicines,
sticks and sometimes spears. They wear their ordinary clothes; but in addition
a stole of barkcloth is worn round their left shoulders. A woman is chosen to
be Lubuga7, whose duty it is to sit with the group whenever they are in the shrine.
For each enda the fire in the shrine is tended by omuko, a term normally
meaning 'in-law' but here applied ritually to anyone chosen for the role.
It is probable that several different families are treated at the same time;
and each group in turn sits in the centre of the shrine. The assistants start
drumming, shaking rattles and singing special lubaale songs. Treatment has
been known to continue for up to a week before success is achieved; and a
recent case is reported where, after 4 days, the participants 'got tired' and the
rite was not completed.
Success is achieved when lubaale 'comes'. It is not known beforehand whom
he will choose. Some have taken part in the rite unwillingly, either disbelieving
in the whole business or afraid of its consequences for them; and yet lubaale
has chosen them. Others have taken part, anxiously hoping to be chosen,
and have been rejected. It has even been known for such to try and 'steal'
lubaale from a more fortunate member of the family. But the one who is chosen
suddenly starts to dance wildly, with far greater vigour than would be possible
if he were doing so deliberately. He may even dance in the fire, apparently
unharmed.8 When he has finished his dance, the initiator's assistants greet
him as lubaale and ask who he is. He replies, telling them where his shrine
should be built and what trees should be used in the building. He details his
requirements, which are likely to include a goat, a sheep and hens of particular
colours. It is likely that the family has come prepared. If not, the requirements
will be bought and, on return to the shrine, the animals are killed. Lubaale
has now, for the time-being, left the new initiate, who is able to sleep. The
sheepskin is pegged out on the ground to dry (all further rites depend on its
drying properly.) It is rubbed with sandstone to make it soft and then dried
further. By 3 p.m. it is likely to be ready. It is cut to the right shape, and from
now on, it is worn as a cloak by the new initiate9.
He now becomes possessed again. All the other balubaale are called and,
amid dancing and singing, they possess the initiator's assistants and any of
the onlookers who have themselves been initiated. They are asked never again
to make any member of the family ill, to give them wealth and many wives.
If the initiate is a Christian, he is given a Bible to read, lest lubaale later forbid
him to go to church. He may be ritually washed, lest lubaale forbid him to have
a bath. If the initiate is a woman, she is made to do a woman's work-cooking,
using cosmetics, cutting her hair-to ensure that lubaale will approve these
activities in normal life.
The next day, before sunrise, the initiator or his assistant accompany the
members of the family to their home. The initiate's head is shaved and, in one
day, a shrine is built for the newly-settled lubaale. The initiator calls on it
once more to possess the new initiate; and asks it whether it approves its
shrine. The rite ends with much feasting and drinking as at a wedding party.
From now on, if lubaale is not to interfere with the life of the family, regular
offerings should be made at its shrine of such things as coffee beans and copper
coins. They may be made by any member of the family and are especially
appropriate in sickness or before setting out on a journey. As Mair observes,
220 UGANDA JOURNAL
the expression, lubaale watu ('lubaale chum') suggests the intimacy of the
1. For a description of lubaale, see F. B. Welbourn (1962), 'Some Aspects of Kiganda
Religion', Uganda Jl., 26, 171 to 182.
2. These observations were made by Mr. Kaggwa when, as a boy in the junior-secondary
section of Makerere College School, he was living at Kasangati. Recently, having completed
School Certificate, he has been undertaking a survey on behalf of the Department of Preventive
Medicine at Makerere University College and has been able to refresh his memory. As far
as we know, this rite has never previously been reported, although it is hinted at in L. P.
Mair (1934), An African People of the Twentieth Century, p. 231. This account indicates the
very close correspondence between the rites of initiation in Buganda and the Hima kingdoms,
especially in the use of kinship terminology noted by Beattie. It also accounts satisfactorily
for the great increase in lubaale shrines in banana gardens observed from 1953 onwards.
Well-known initiators now at work are Kyewalabye (nicknamed 'Makolo'-Doctor) within
the area of the Makerere Health Centre at Kasangati; and Ewuniike immediately outside the
boundary of Makerere College. Both run normal practices as diviners and are normally
possessed by Muwanga. It seems probable that Muwanga is, indeed, the lubaale most generally
used by diviners, although they may call others to possess them in special cases; and certain
diviners may be specially experienced in possession by a particular other lubaale. Ewuniike
is sister to Serukera, Ggombolola Chief, Kasawo, and a famous wrestler. The story is told
that, before an important match, he would try a fall with his sister; and, should she beat him,
he would cancel the match. Although Makolo has a traditional shrine in which to work,
his two-storeyed house is electrically lit. Ewuniike's shrine, as well as her house, has electric
light; and an extension loudspeaker in the courtyard provides entertainment for waiting
3. Enda is the family unit, below the smallest clan segment (olunyiriri), going back for 2 or 3
4. Simutendeke. Okutendeka means (i) to 'settle' lubaale; (ii) to 'initiate' into lubaale; (iii)
to give vocational (not academic) education. The general idea seems to be that of fitting a
person into a new role in society. A derivative word is omutendesi, applied to the expert
who performs the initiation rite. Cf. Nkore, omutende.
5. 'Grandfather of the children'.
6. Lake Victoria is known in Ganda as Nnalubaale, 'mother of lubaale'.
7. Lubuga plays an integral part also in the installation of a Kabaka and the declaration of
an heir. In the okutendeka rite she is usually a relative of the senior member of the enda present.
Children are not chosen to be in a group with their parents.
8. There is ample evidence that, in a rather different mental condition, Indian 'fakirs' are
able to walk on fire. Unfortunately no physiological investigation of this phenomenon seems
to have been made.
9. The sheepskin is said to be used only by lubaale Kiwanuka. But it is provided in the
initiation rite, whatever luhaale is involved.