Home > History > THE 1900 UGANDA AGREEMENT


In 1900, British colonialists drafted an agreement that among other things defined Buganda kingdom’s boundaries and presented it to the then Kabaka (Daudi Chwa) and his Regents who would help contemplate the agreement on his behalf because the Kabaka (King) was still an infant. The agreement was later signed by Buganda’s Katikiro Sir Apollo Kagwa on behalf of the 9 year old Kabaka and Sir Harry Johnston on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India. The agreement later extended to all the other kingdoms neighboring Buganda one at a time till the British Uganda protectorate emerged.

With Buganda being the biggest and one of the best politically organized kingdoms in the region at that time, the British colonialists knew that conquering Buganda indirectly with this agreement would in the long run enable them conquer all her neighboring kingdoms that would later make up what we call “Uganda” today.

19,600 square miles of Buganda kingdom land that was previously owned by the Kabaka on behalf of his people was to now be partitioned and shared between the colonial administration, the Kabaka, his Chiefs, Regents and closest relatives. In the agreement, the Kabaka, the Namasole (Kabaka Mwanga’s mother), Princes and Princesses, Masaza Chiefs, the Kabaka’s three Regents, Mbogo (the Muhammedan chief), one thousand other chiefs and private landowners were to receive a total of 8,958 square miles of what previously was the people’s land. 10,550 square miles of the land was to be under the control and ownership of the British colonial government. 92 square miles of the remaining land was allocated to the missionary groups who were spreading Christianity in the region at that time. In a nutshell, over half of Buganda’s land was now owned by the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India.

Hut and gun tax of 3 rupees per year was introduced because the colonial government needed money to help in running its administration. Every man was now required to pay a tax for each house (hut) in his compound which means the more huts one had the more taxes he had to pay. This even played a huge role in reducing polygamy in Buganda kingdom because the more wives one had the more huts he would have in his compound so most men resorted to reducing the number of women they married or overcrowding in their huts.

Also, Baganda men had just been introduced to guns at that point in time so they preferred hunting using guns other than spears, bows and arrows. Owning a gun had become a phenomenon and guess what the British colonial government thought, tax guns too!

The Kabaka, his relatives, Regents and Mohammedan chief (Mbogo) were to now be paid an annual salary by the colonial government just so they could feel better about the deal. The British colonial government was convinced it could trust and work with Baganda chiefs so it sent only a few officials from London to administer the kingdom. The “Bakungu” (Chiefs,) led by Apollo Kagwa were to oversee the work of the colonial governments in their respective counties. They collected taxes from the 20 counties and sent them to the central British led government in such a loyal manner that the British administrators where so confident of them and therefore had less need for military or administrative support from Britain.

The agreement was signed by Sir Harry Johnston on the behalf of the Queen. Apollo Kagwa, Stanslas Mugwanya, Zakaria Kizito and four other county chiefs signed the agreement on behalf of the infant Kabaka and the people of Buganda. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by 39 Buganda local leaders and 7 British leaders working in Buganda at that time including F. J. Jackson, the Queen’s vice consul.

The British knew that had the Baganda signed the agreement, implementing colonial rule on them (plus other neighboring kingdoms that would be invaded later on) would become easier because if they changed their minds and tried to rebel later on, they would be referred to the agreement they signed or else apply force and military action where need be.

The biggest beneficiaries of the 1900 Uganda agreement were the British because they indirectly acquired land free of charge. How they managed to convince the Buganda officials to sign an agreement that would take all their Kabaka’s powers away is what still fascinates me up to date. With Buganda kingdom already intact because of the agreement, they then took the same kind of agreement to the neighboring kingdoms of Ankole, Toro and only met resistance in Bunyoro that was led by the great Omukama Kabalega. They used Baganda loyalists to invade and persuade other kingdoms to conform to the terms of the agreement and in no time, the British protectorate had expanded thus leading to the emergence of the country Uganda.


Article by  Owach Marshal a 23 year old blogger from Uganda

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