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close this bookReligion, Ethnicity and Politics in Uganda (CTA - Fountain Publishers, 1993, 136 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentQuotes
View the documentForeword
View the documentPreface and Acknowledgements
View the documentUganda Political Map 1962
View the documentAuthor's Acknowledgments
View the documentChapter One Interest Groups -An Overview
View the documentChapter Two The Historical Background
View the documentChapter Three Religious Interest Groups
View the documentChapter Four Trade Unions
View the documentChapter Five Students/Youth
View the documentChapter Six Ethno-Politics
View the documentChapter Seven Summary and Conclusion
View the documentReferences and Footnotes
View the documentBack Cover

Chapter Two The Historical Background

The Conquest Process

In Uganda, the colonial conquest process and the eventual establishment of colonialism involved social, economic and cultural penetration, use of force and regularisation of colonial rule by the colonial invader. The process also entailed destruction or modification of indigenous institutions on terms more or less determined by the invader. With the physical defeat of indigenous forces and regularisation of the colonial situation, the colonial power assumed sovereignty which meant that the colonial power had the final say in the process of allocating resources.1 The colonial situation, so outlined, sooner or later, gave rise to interest groups which were to play significant roles during colonialism and thereafter. Colonialism was not established overnight. It was preceded by social, economic and cultural penetration which undermined indigenous socio-economic and political institutions.2 This penetration took the form of introduction of foreign trade, religion and the attendant cultural values. But this penetration was not uniform throughout Uganda before the conquest.

We have to focus a little more on Buganda because events in this part set the pace for the conquest of the rest of Uganda and the social forces which emerged. The process started with the early arrival of the Arab traders who, incidentally, introduced Islam in the Kabaka's Court, followed by Christian missionaries during the early and late 1870s. The arrival of the Arabs and missionaries triggered off social-economic and cultural changes that had serious consequences for the political system. Values which brought into question the old technologies, old political loyalties and the total political system were introduced. With the undermining of old technologies and the value systems, society came to be highly polarised into those forces still loyal to the "old" ways and those loyal to new socio-cultural objects.3 Therefore the bases for political recruitment were questioned and new centres of loyalty emerged.

Such was the polarisation of forces that a combination of Christians and Moslems overthrew Mwanga and imposed a Kabaka of their own choice. But no sooner had Mwanga been overthrown than the Moslem - Christian alliance fell apart. The Moslems seized power and installed their own Kabaka but they were challenged and defeated by the Catholic - Protestant alliance. However, the defeat of the Moslems marked the beginning of the new phase in the power struggle for the control of Buganda which culminated into the Protestant victory of 1892.

The Buganda indigenous political system did not command sufficient military technology to contain the external forces. The invading colonial forces led by Captain Lugard tilted the balance in favour of the Protestant faction. The struggle for power during the 1880s and 1890s meant the establishment of a colonial presence in Buganda based on the Protestant ascendancy over rival religious factions. The rest of the country was taken over through a combination of manipulation and naked use of physical force.4

Consequences of Conquest

With the final conquest of Buganda and, later, the rest of the country, the colonial power set about regularising their colonial presence. Normally political systems, even dictatorial ones, realise that maintenance of power by physical force alone can be expensive and even counterproductive. 5 They, therefore, seek means of having themselves "accepted", albeit with force in the background, among the ruled. Regularisation of colonial rule meant working out a formula to balance the interests of the colonial power, and those of significant social forces; establishing administrative infrastructures and superstructures and working out a public transcript for the rulers and the ruled - all of which had consequences for the character of interest groups that emerged in the colonial situation. The colonial formula consisted of documents and general administrative regulations which defined the interests of some groups in the colonial situation, their powers and obligations. The most famous of such documents was the 1900 Uganda Agreement which defined the Buganda kingdom as part of Uganda, the powers of the Kabaka and his chiefs and the material interests of the chiefs. But for all the defined "powers" of the Kabaka and the leading chiefs, the agreement was explicit about where power ultimately lay:

So long as the Kabaka, chiefs and people of Uganda shall conform to the laws and regulations instituted for their governance by Her Majesty's government and shall cooperate loyally with Her Majesty's government in the organisation and administration of the said kingdom of Uganda, Her Majesty's Government agrees to recognise the Kabaka of Buganda as the Native Ruler of the province of Uganda under Her Majesty's protection and overrule.6

Somewhat limited agreements were made with the kingdoms of Ankole and Toro in 1901 and, in the case of Bunyoro, in 1933. In the rest of other defined administrative areas, eventually known as districts, no formal agreements were made apart from ordinances defining the powers and obligations of the chiefs.7

In addition to recognising Buganda as a province, the country was carved up into administrative units, the most significant of which, was the district. With a few exceptions, the boundaries of these units coincided with, more or less, culturally homogeneous groups. A hierarchy of administration was established, placing the colonial governor, his officials at headquarters, the provinces and districts as the overall supervisors and incorporating modified native institutions, where they had existed, and creating new ones, into the colonial administration. Through forced labour - direct and indirect- a network of roads was built for effective administration and extraction of resources.

The colonial power then provided an ideological framework or public transcript to justify colonial power presence. The propagation of public transcript was ultimately backed by force. This public transcript, simply put, claimed that colonial presence was in the interests of the rulers and the ruled.8

The coloniser had at his services, socialising agencies-history and colonial cultural institutions. Colonial history, for some considerable time, had socialised indigenous peoples into believing that his presence was inevitable. There had been Lugard's Maxim gun and his technological superiority. At the height of the conquest, there had not been more than five Britons in Uganda. The colonial schools were significant socialising agencies, inculcating into the indigenous people values that were not antagonistic to the colonial establishment. Colonial conquest and regularisation of colonial rule were ultimate processes of allocating colonial resources which in turn generated interest groups, the object of this study .The conquest process, and the subsequent colonial formulae regulating relations between the coloniser and colonised, the establishment of administrative superstructures and infrastructures, the colonial public transcript and the policies governing extraction of resources - all these contributed to the emergence of interest groups.

The conquest process and the subsequent colonial formulae aimed at ensuring that colonial hegemony was not imperilled and that the allies were rewarded and foes, at least, neutralised. With all the political and material advantages on its side, the colonial power posed as the arbiter among socio-political forces. The 1900 Agreement served as a formula regulating relations between Buganda and the colonial power; it defined Buganda's interests vis-a-vis the colonial power and the rest of Uganda; a material and political stake was defined for the ruling groups in Buganda. In turn, there were groups which were alienated by the 1900 Agreement. The politico-administrative boundaries drawn more or less along homogeneous groups eventually gave political identities which were to have political consequences. The allocation of resources along regional lines also provided latent political boundaries. The colonial power, through playing the role of arbiter, created central institutions which were alien, remote and authoritarian.

The 1900 Agreement was the " Magna Carta" for Buganda and its ruling groups. The ruling groups wove myths around this document. Among such was that the Agreement had been between two equal contracting parties and that Buganda had never been conquered. Although these myths have been disputed, the most important point is that the Agreement served the interests of the colonial power and the ruling groups in Buganda and that it set the pace for subsequent political developments in Buganda and, eventually, Uganda.9 The interests of Buganda, as interpreted by the ruling groups, were always defined invoking the Agreement10 The Agreement consolidated the ascendancy of the Protestant chiefs who constituted themselves into an establishment that guarded jealously their interests up to the events of 1966. The ascendancy of the Protestant chiefs was replicated in other districts which had their smaller Protestant establishments. 11 The colonial archives at Entebbe are full of Catholic and Moslem petitions questioning the Protestant chiefly establishments. In Buganda, they were denied access to the posts of Kabaka and Katikiroship and in the majority of chieftaincies in the rest of the country, the Catholics and Moslems never recovered politically from the defeats of 1888 and 1892 respectively. Such concessions as they obtained under colonialism depended on colonial paternalism.12 Therefore a sense of psychochronic political deprivation was generated into these two groups, each waiting for an opportunity when they would successfully challenge the colonial formula.

Apart from the Catholics and Moslems, there were other groups which were marginalised and which eventually became political actors. The powerful kingdom of Bunyoro was defeated and humiliated and lost some of its land to Buganda. In implementing the 1900 Agreement, land was redistributed and allocated to the beneficiaries of the colonial order- the colonial power itself, the Kabaka, the leading chiefs, princes, princesses and the churches. This, of course, involved uprooting hundreds of thousands of Bakopi who lost their ancestral lands. Education brought forth individuals who were later to be spokesmen of these groups. The Bataka Association was the result of this alienation of land.13

The alienation of Bunyoro land left a sulky defeated Banyoro to agitate for the "Lost counties" and, in its agitation, towards the end of colonialism, it found an embarrassed colonial power anxious to right a "historic wrong". The British, however, left the issue to a future post-colonial government which manipulated it to isolate Buganda. In drawing up the politico-administrative boundaries at the district level, I have pointed out that these boundaries coincided with more or less homogeneous, but culturally heterogeneous groups which constituted districts. This created problems of " irredentism". Besides the Banyoro in the "lost counties," there were the Sebei in Bugisu and the Bamba and Bakonjo in the Toro kingdom. But with the exception of the Banyoro who had been persistent in their demands, backed by the ruling groups in Bunyoro proper and favoured by political circumstances, the irredentist groups did not have sufficient political resources to push home their demands. Other than tie down units of the Uganda Rifles, the Bamba and Bakonjo demands did not translate themselves into a national issue.

Within the districts and kingdoms, institutional structures manned by chiefs had been established basically to maintain law and order, and to serve as channels of communications between the colonial power and local leaders. However, these structures acquired other unintended functions. The chiefs' councils, or the Great Lukiiko as the council of chiefs was called in Buganda, though purely advisory, became arenas for articulating chiefly interests and were the forerunners of local councils when broadened to include marginalised elites. With the promulgation of the African Local Government Ordinance, 1949, which devolved more powers to local councils, the districts and the kingdoms acquired political identities and interests which were later to serve as bases for political action.14

In addition to being allocated to chiefs and allied groups, resources were allocated along racial and regional lines. While the colonial power monopolised the strategic political and administrative strategic positions, Asians monopolised the raw -material processing industries and retail trade. With more socio-economic changes, these monopolies were to provoke economic resentment.

Economically, Uganda came to be divided into two major regions the North and the South.15 The South, especially Buganda, the East and, to some extent, the West, were cash crop growing areas. A network of roads was built to facilitate extraction of resources. The cash economy generated material advantages accruing to the peasant farmers in the form of cash and social services. The North for a long time served as a labour reserve and source of military personnel.16 This regional economic imbalance, albeit by default, influenced the process of institution-building with regional groups taking advantage of whatever political resources available to them. During the mid - 1960s, some northern politicians found a political advantage in the northern-dominated military to define the Doctrine of Ethno-functionalism which justified their monopoly of force.17

Interest Groups in the Colonial Context

Socio-economic changes-growth of a cash economy, roads, education, labour migrations and land redistribution, etc.- gave birth to groups that had never been provided for in the colonial formula. There were the migrant labourers from the North and surrounding areas, migrants who had no legitimate channels and arenas to articulate their interests. These were to make up the anomic elements which fuelled the 1945 and 1949 riot.18 There were also the chiefly elements from the chiefly strata, who had been educated but could not be absorbed into the formal chiefly establishments. These made up the Chiefs' Sons League and the Young Baganda Association. The 1920s had seen the emergence of "native" associations, which were a measure of alienation or deprivation. The Bataka Association was formed to protest against the land redistribution under the 1900 Agreement.

A trade union organisation, the Uganda African Motor Drivers Association, was formed and later joined by I.K.Musaazi's Federation of Uganda Farmers to protest against monopoly of trade by Asians. Those groups' ranks were strengthened by the demobilised African soldiers. Indeed the 1945 and 1949 disturbances were anomic articulation of grievances by alienated groups against monopoly of power by chiefly establishments and of businesses by Asian traders.19

Therefore in the Ugandan colonial situation before the outbreak of the Second World War, the setting for articulation of interests by social forces had been established. The groups destined to play a prominent role in the country's political processes can be identified thus: the colonial power, the religious and ethnic groups and the alienated groups. For a long rime, after the colonial conquest, the "public transcript" of the colonial power was dominant. The colonial power, in spite of its biases in allocating resources to interest groups had in the initial stages of colonial rule, played the role of arbiter among contending social forces as long as the interests of the imperial hegemony were not imperilled. Until the myth of imperial hegemony was seriously under threat during the early 1950s, groups articulated their interests within the framework of the official transcript.

Colonial interest groups acquired sub-cultures which enabled them to either retain their position as allies and articulate their interests or enabled them to insulate themselves from the perceived injustices of the system but at the same time seek to put right a historic wrong. The Protestant chiefly groups, especially in Buganda and, to some extent, in the rest of the country for a long time took their political dominance for granted.

Groups, whether religious, ethnic or regional, which had benefited by the colonial presence, acquired sub-cultures of possessiveness. The religious groups such as the Catholics and Moslems, under the colonial public transcript, had to come to terms with their political marginality since they were not powerful enough to challenge imperial hegemony. This outlook greatly influenced their political behaviour at the height of colonial rule. Whilst they recognised that they could not overturn the colonial formula, they always sought for a fair deal in matters related to allocation of chieftainships but short of overthrowing the Protestant establishments. The Catholic groups, especially took advantage of what Dr. Waliggo calls "exile mentality" in the case of the Catholic Church in Buddu, to generate resources to be autonomous in the imperial setting by building their own schools, socializing their followers with latent political culture which they would call into play at an opportune moment.20 The result was that in the Catholic groups a sub-culture of political psychochronic sense of deprivation was generated. This grievance consisted of their perceived deprivation of not being allowed to provide candidates for Kabakaship, Katikiroship, the majority of chieftainships in Buganda and the rest of Uganda.21 This grievance in Buganda was heightened when Matayo Mugwanya, the omulamuzi, was denied a Katikiroship by the Kabaka.

As pointed out earlier, the Moslems, with their political, educational and numerical disadvantages, were more conditioned to accept their political marginality and only sought patron-client relationships with their Protestant counterparts. Moslem political alignments under colonial rule and even thereafter were mainly dictated by their weak political position. Political considerations could not dispose the colonial power to make political resources available to Moslem groups, a fact which heavily influenced Moslem political behaviour. 22

The political sub-cultures of ethnic groups were conditioned by their statuses defined under colonial rule. As we have pointed out earlier, through the 1900 Agreement, the political pre-eminence of Buganda was assured and the ruling groups always sought to defend Buganda interests as perceived by them. This pre-eminence generated into the Buganda ruling groups a sub-culture of possessiveness. The subcultures of other ethnic groups were to some extent conditioned by this political pre-eminence of Buganda. Some ethnic groups looked on the apparent political success of Buganda as an object for emulation and sought institutional arrangements they believed could promote their interests along Buganda's political successes.23 This was particularly the case with Busoga's ruling groups which agitated for "Mailoland" and an "Agreement". The Banyoro, however, believed that Buganda had been expanded at their expense and throughout colonial rule petitioned for the recovery of their "lost counties". The historical role of Buganda during the colonial conquest had a bearing on the attitudes and subsequent political behaviour of some ethnic groups especially in the West and North. As Gingyera-Pinycwa points out, the North remained a backyard of Uganda politics until the emergence of political parties which, according to him awakened the North politically, and which the northern political leaders made effective use of.24 In the absence of local meaningful resources to fall back on, it was more rewarding to these leaders to make a bid for central institutions, but here we are anticipating. In any case, colonial developments, especially political ones, were interpreted in the North as instances of material and political deprivation.

These religious and ethnic sub-cultures operated in a colonial context whose central institutions were foreign, remote, authoritarian and paternalistic. This went further to strengthen these sub-cultures. We, however, recognise that all political systems have sub-cultures, but political sub-cultures are not negative in systems which are well integrated and have central institutions which can successfully mediate between these sub-cultures. But those sub-cultures were destined to play a negative role in a situation where central institutions, foreign, remote and authoritarian were to be competed for and "captured" by groups whose sub-cultures were dominated by "missions of putting historical wrongs right" or of "missions" of retaining what had belonged to them historically. In our discussion, we have not focused on two groups, trade unions and youths/students included in this study. Nascent trade unionism may be seen in Kivu's African Motor Drivers' Association and Musaazi's Federation of Uganda Farmers. Colonial harassment and subsequent local government reforms weakened the trade union movement until well into the 1950s. Colonial education, basically elitist, took care that there were not enough educated youths to constitute a political threat. Such youths as formed the native associations of the 1920s and 1930s were eventually absorbed into local government structures. In any case, the basic constituencies for political action were the ethnic arenas.

Post -1945 Political Developments

The post -1945 and 1950s reforms marked the beginning of struggles among interest groups over who would inherit the post-colonial state. During the mid-1950s Ugandan politics were not about whether but when Uganda would recover independence and on whose terms. It was with this end in view that groups redefined their interests and took positions. The major actors in the bid for power were the colonial power, ethnic and religious groups as well as, belatedly, political parties. This struggle basically involved the historic interest groups whose basic objectives were to either retain what they had gained or, in the case of the historic marginals, seek a formula in which they would have an upper hand. The parties that subsequently emerged reflected these historic struggles, with historic interest groups seeking to establish constituencies within political parties or vice versa.

World events and the internal political situation in Uganda dictated the colonial power's agenda. The Second World War had unleashed forces that rendered the colonial power's hold onto power somewhat tenuous. Internally, the colonial power realised that the colonial formula which had incorporated the historic ruling groups, the chiefly establishment, had to be revised. The colonial power's agenda entailed democratising the local government structures which hitherto had been manned by chiefs, and establishing representative central government institutions.

Under the African Local Government Ordinance, 1949, limited powers were devolved on district councils and a limited number of posts in local governments became elective.25 Through a system of indirect elections, non-chiefly elements were admitted into local councils. Under the governorship of Sir Andrew Cohen, a colonial blue-print for building institutions was promulgated:

The future of Uganda must lie in a unitary form of central government on parliamentary lines covering the whole country with the component parts developing within it according to their special characteristics and, where they exist, according to the agreements. The protectorate government is too small to grow into a series of separate units of government. The different parts of the country have not the size, nor will they have the resources, to develop even in a federation with each other, the administrative organs which modern government requires. This can only be done by a central government of the protectorate as a whole with no part of the country dominating any other part but all working together for the good of the protectorate and the progress of its people.26

In a situation where arenas for political action had been historically determined along ethnic and religious lines, the above colonial blue-print for institution building had come too late. Groups had already taken positions which could not be reconciled with " a unitary form of central government" and "component parts developing within it according to their special characteristics". Indeed, this blue-print, based on Wallis' Report, ignored what Wallis had observed of the entrenched identities of ethnic groups.

All standing Committees made it plain that they were bent on reaching the status of a native state. Their object is to achieve a constitution like that of Buganda and they believe that they will eventually supplement the protectorate government as the government of their areas in nearly all affairs. In short, they aim at Home Rule and think that this was the protectorate government's intention in handing over, as they say, the power to govern their areas. 27

In effect, the democratisation reforms in the districts and Buganda legitimised local institutions as arenas for political action. The central protectorate institutions which, it was hoped, would evolve into national institutions were looked on with suspicion by some groups. At best, in the struggle for power that ensued, groups sought to have access to central institutions on their own terms.

Of the ethnic groups, the political pace setter was Buganda. The ruling groups in Buganda, saw in the political reforms of the 1950s an opportunity to have Buganda's constitutional position adequately defined. In the background to her demands was the 1900 Agreement which had defined its status. In the negotiations of the early 1950s, Buganda had acceded to the democratisation of the Lukiiko by the elective principle but remained suspicious of her participation in the Legislative Council and plans to integrate it into a united Uganda, culminating in the deportation of Kabaka Muteesa II. The return of the Kabaka in 1955 and the subsequent 1955 Agreement, which superseded the 1900 Agreement, further strengthened Buganda's position to demand special status.


Kabaka's return, 1955: The Buganda Question overrode all other factors in Uganda's quest for Independence.

The Rise of Political Parties

In the early 1950s there were new group actors on the stage . These were the Uganda National Congress (UNC) and the Democratic Party (DP). Their political fortunes were largely determined by searches for constituencies within the historic ethnic political and religious groups. Although established with the avowed rhetoric of nationalism, the Uganda National Congress was stunted by ethnic and religious bases of Ugandan politics. Without independent power bases, the UNC compromised itself by manipulating issues arising out of these politics until it split into factions along ethno-religious lines, the most prominent of which was Obote's UNC.28

The formation of the Democratic Party in 1956 was the historic logical conclusion to the struggles for power, dating back to the 1880s and 1890s, from which the Protestant chiefly groups had emerged victorious, to some extent, marginalising their Catholic and Moslem countrymen. Taking advantage of the democratisation reforms in Buganda during the 1950s, the Buganda Catholic elite made a bid to challenge the Protestant establishment at Mengo by fielding the Omulamuzi, Matayo Mugwanya, as a candidate for Katikiroship, a post "traditionally" reserved for Protestants. The establishment, of course, closed ranks to ensure that Mugwanya was not elected. Catholic fears were further confirmed when Mugwanya was later denied a seat in the Lukiiko on some flimsy grounds.28 Matayo Mugwanya fell back to becoming first President-General of the Democratic Party, a party whose initial raison d'ĂȘtre was to challenge the Protestant establishment at Mengo and elsewhere .29 The Democratic Party found a ready base in the Catholic communities throughout the country. The timing for its formation was propitious. With reform of local government in the air and attempts to democratise central colonial institutions, especially the legislature, it was obvious that colonialism in Uganda was at its nadir and new men had to be found to accede to power. What was emerging was that a new constitutional formula had to be worked out to take care of the new state of political affairs. As Gingyera-Pinycwa demonstrates, the Democratic Party made the fullest use of the Catholic media infrastructure to propagate its message. In its message, it sought to isolate its identified rival, the Uganda National Congress, and later the UPC, accusing them of communist sympathies.30

The response of the Buganda ruling groups to the rise of political parties and proposed democratisation of the legislative council was one of fear for Buganda's status as they perceived it. A democratically elected Legislative Council dominated by political parties would imperil Buganda's Kitiibwa. Buganda did not take part in the 1958 elections to the Legislative Council (Legco). Her attitude had unintended consequences. The attitude prepared grounds for other ethnic groups to encircle Buganda in order to contain it. A "Uganda Peoples Union", formed by newly elected legislative council members from outside Buganda was formed. The formation of the Uganda Peoples Union and the acceptance by the UPU and UNC non-Baganda Legco members to serve on the Wild Committee (set up to make recommendations for a future composition of the Legco), provoked the Buganda ruling groups into supporting the Uganda National Movement (UNM). This was an alliance between neo-traditionalists and Baganda leaders who had no power bases outside Buganda. The basic objective of the UNM was to undermine political parties and therefore strengthen Buganda's political hand. The UNM was soon proscribed for organising an anti-Asian trade boycott.31

In the face of the UNM threat, the non-Baganda leaders in the legislative council formed the Uganda Peoples Congress, which was a merger of the UNC (Obote) and the Uganda People's Union. With the formation of the UPC, the political lines based on religious and ethnic lines were boldly drawn. There was the Democratic Party whose base was the Catholic faith. The UPC was a reaction against Buganda's bid for dominance and its raison d'ĂȘtre, therefore, had been to encircle Buganda. It was also a veiled attempt by Protestant establishments outside Buganda to contain the Democratic Party. Besides, there were other ethnic groups - the kingdom areas of Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and what later came to be called the territory of Busoga, and the irredentist movements of Banyoro in the "lost counties" the Bamba and Bakonjo in Toro and the Basebei in Bugishu. The attitudes of the kingdom areas were basically reactive to Buganda's demands for a special constitutional status. If Buganda deserved such, they were entitled to a status commensurate with their political and material status. Bunyoro had been smarting under a historic grievance, her "lost counties". With limited political resources the Bamba, Bakonjo and Basebei were in the background.

It is, however, curious that the rest of the other ethno-political groups did not have specific demands- could it be that their leaders had their eyes focused on the national political institutions in the making?

Towards Independence

In the 1961 elections to the Legislative Council, elections largely boycotted in Buganda, the Democratic Party (DP) won the majority of the seats and was invited to form a government with Benedicto Kiwanuka as Chief Minister. This was the moment of truth in the struggle for the political mastery of Uganda. With a DP government in power and a Buganda encircled by the UPC, UNM and the Buganda ruling groups had to think again. Buganda had three options- join DP in alliance, go it alone, or seek an alliance with the UPC. An alliance with the historic opponent, DP, was out of the question; Buganda did not have the geopolitical, material and political resources to go it alone. Buganda's ruling groups decided to break out of the UPC encirclement and forge an alliance with UPC through a movement, Kabaka Yekka (KY) which was formed overnight specially for this purpose. Anthony Low has explained Buganda's break out of the UPC encirclement as part of Buganda's historical genius for seeking accommodation with the enemy, the apparent religious affinity with the ruling Protestant establishments outside Buganda and the identity of interests between "advanced" elements in the Kabaka Yekka and UPC leaders.32 This explanation is tenable under the historical circumstances leading to independence, coupled with the fact that Buganda's options were limited.

The stage had been prepared for the London Constitutional Conference with the alignment of interested groups properly defined the colonial power, the Buganda ruling groups, the three kingdoms of Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole; the political parties -the Uganda Peoples Congress and the Democratic Party; and the districts. The colonial power posed as a "disinterested arbiter" among warring factions, whose basic "interest" was to seek a modus operandi acceptable to all the groups. The Buganda ruling groups wanted a constitutional formula that accommodated their basic interests, namely, constitutional provisions for Buganda's monarchy and the attendant provisions for Buganda's autonomy. Other kingdoms' demands, as pointed out, were reactive to Buganda's demands- they wanted statuses similar to Buganda's. The Uganda Peoples Congress had the immediate interest of wrestling power from the Democratic Party and its concessions to the Buganda ruling groups were basically dictated by this basic interest. The Democratic Party's basic interest was, of course, to retain power and the democratic formula aimed at democratic elections of Buganda's members to the National Assembly were dictated by this basic interest. With limited political resources and possibly the leaders from the districts looking on central institutions as meaningful arenas for political action, the districts kept a low profile in their demands for local autonomies. The constitutional talks centred on the Relationships Mission Report, the Munster Report. 33 Pitted against the Democratic Party were the Uganda Peoples Congress and the Kabaka Yekka. With the tacit blessing of the colonial power, the UPC acceded to Buganda's demands for federal status and the other kingdoms' demands for semi -federal status, directly elected members for the Buganda Lukiiko and indirectly elected members from the Buganda Lukiiko to the National Assembly. DP's leaders attempts at a walk out in protest against the concessions to Buganda were futile. Briefly, the result of the negotiations was a constitutional formula aimed at balancing the conflicting interests of the major political actors. Besides, the federal status for Buganda and semi-federal statuses for the kingdom areas and the territory of Busoga, there was to be a periodically elected Parliament; a Cabinet drawn from and responsible to Parliament; powers for the major organs of government; the legislative, executive and judiciary were defined. On the first anniversary of independence, this original constitution was amended to provide for a ceremonial President to be elected from among the traditional rulers and constitutional heads to replace the Governor-General. With the promulgation of the 1962 Independence Constitution, the historic interest groups, namely the religious and ethnic groups, had triumphed. The constitutional formula basically served the interests of these groups and would only be adhered to the extent that their interests would be served. The subsequent years up to 1966 were characterised by groups seeking maximum benefits out of the constitutional arrangements. Groups were only too ready, when in a position of strength, not to adhere to them if they did not serve their interests. When the ruling Buganda groups challenged the formula, the central government led by Obote and backed by the army, opted out by in a troducing the 1967 Constitution. The arena for the struggle for power resolution of conflict further drifted into the barracks when Idi Amin seized power in 1971.


Sir Edward Muteesa being sworn in as Uganda's first President: Religion was manipulated to serve political interests.


Milton Obote being sworn in as Prime Minister in 1962: He benefitted from political and religious differences in Buganda.

I have provided the historical and institutional contexts in order to account for the emergence of interest groups and the institutional arenas in which they operated in the subsequent years after independence up to 1971. It should be noted that some of the major interest groups under study, trade unions and youth/students, have been marginal to the historical and institutional contexts. The historic interest groups had seized the national institutional arenas and there were no mediating institutions between them and the purportedly national institutions.