Ugandan history

Brief history of Uganda summarized

A brief review of the history of Uganda, an African country.

The British in Uganda

In 1875 the explorer Henry Stanley arrived in Uganda. At that time Uganda was divided into kingdoms. Soon after, the first missionaries arrived in Uganda. The first Anglican missionaries arrived in Uganda in 1877. The first Catholic missionaries arrived in 1879. Catholics, Protestants and Muslims tried to convert the Ugandans.

However, there was much hostility towards the new religions. In 1885, James Hannington, the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, was assassinated.

However, in the wake of the missionaries came trade. In 1888 the British government gave the British East Africa Company control of Uganda. Meanwhile, the European powers decided to divide Africa among themselves. In 1890 Germany and Great Britain signed an agreement confirming that Uganda was in the British sphere of influence.

Gradually the company took control of Uganda and local chiefs were reduced to puppet rulers.

Finally, in 1894, the British government made Uganda a protectorate (colony). However, the traditional chiefs remained as puppets.

In 1904 cotton was introduced to Uganda and by 1914 huge quantities of cotton were being exported. Additionally, large amounts of tea and coffee were grown in Uganda in the 1920s.

Meanwhile, missionaries provided schools for the Ugandans, and literacy became more and more common. In 1920 executive and legislative councils were formed in Uganda. The country continued to develop and in 1929 a railway linked Toror and Soroti.

During World War II, Uganda exported timber for the war effort. However, the Ugandans were becoming restless. Riots took place in 1945 and 1949. However, in 1945, the first three Africans were appointed to the legislative council. In 1950 the number of African members increased to 8.

Also, after World War II, Governor Sir John Hall (1944-1951) promoted mining in Uganda. In 1954, a hydroelectric power plant was opened at Owen Falls on the Nile. Meanwhile, coffee and cotton exports soared.

A 1948 census showed that there were almost 5 million African Ugandans, almost 37,000 Asians, and fewer than 3,500 Europeans. (From the late 19th century many Asians migrated to Uganda and formed a middle class of merchants and shopkeepers between the natives and the whites.)

Uganda becomes independent

However, a “wind of change” was blowing across Africa in the early 1960s, and Uganda became independent from Britain on October 9, 1962. The first constitution was federalist. The first president of Uganda was Mutesa, King of Buganda and the first prime minister was Milton Obote.

However, Milton Obote had no intention of sharing power with the president. In 1966 he organized a coup and the president fled abroad. Obote became dictator. However, in January 1971, when Obote was in Singapore attending a meeting, Idi Amin staged a coup.

Amin turned out to be one of the worst tyrants of the 20th century. The number of people he killed was at least 100,000 and possibly many more. Apart from the Ugandans who were shot, others were tortured to death or clubbed to death with mallets or iron bars.

Amin also decided to help himself with the wealth of Asian Ugandans. There were about 70,000 Asians in Uganda in 1972, many of them merchants and businessmen. Amin gave them 90 days to leave the country. They were forced to give up most of their property and it was shared among Amin’s cronies.

However, as a result of the loss of Asian skills and the murder of many Ugandan professionals, the economy collapsed. Infrastructure such as roads and water supply deteriorated.

To distract attention from Uganda’s dire economic situation, Amin decided to invade Tanzania on October 30, 1978. However, the war turned into a disaster for Amin. In early 1979 the Tanzanians invaded Uganda and Amin’s forces fled.

Unfortunately, Amin was never brought to justice for his terrible crimes. He fled abroad and died in 2003.

After the war elections were held and Obote became Prime Minister again. However, the election was rigged, so Obote’s opponents formed a guerrilla army to fight him. It was called the National Resistance Army and soon controlled a large part of western Uganda.

Meanwhile, Obote attempted to become a dictator again. He introduced a repressive regime, jailing anyone who opposed him and muzzling the press. Western journalists were expelled from Uganda.

However, the National Resistance Army occupied more and more territory. Finally, in 1986, they entered the capital and took over all of Uganda, except for parts of the north. However, Obote’s supporters in the north were eventually persuaded to lay down their arms.

With the return of political stability, economic growth began again in Uganda and throughout the 1990s Uganda prospered. Many of the Asians who had fled to Britain were persuaded to return to Uganda.

However, the new president Yoweri Museveni refused to allow political parties until 2005.

Uganda in the 21st century

Today, Uganda remains primarily an agricultural country with its main export being coffee. However, Uganda’s economy is growing steadily and there is every reason to be optimistic about its future. Currently, the population of Uganda is 39 million.

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