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A 'Protected State' in the Uganda Protectorate? Re-Examination of Buganda's Colonial Legal Status

Mugambwa, J.T. (1989) A 'Protected State' in the Uganda Protectorate? Re-Examination of Buganda's Colonial Legal Status. African Journal of International and Comparative Law, 1 (3). pp. 446-465.


Uganda, like most African countries, is a creature of European imperialism. Its boundaries were determined in latitudes and longitudes by agreements amongst European nations, and by Britain's administrative convenience. Consequently, the country is a conglomeration of over forty different communities most of which were independent sovereign entities prior to the establishment of the Uganda Protectorate. The Kingdom of Buganda was the nucleus around which the Protectorate was built. It was declared a British Protectorate in 1894. Two years later the immediate neighbouring territories: the kingdoms of Ankole, Bunyoro and Toro, and the chieftaincies of Busoga, were incorporated in the "Uganda Protectorate". The rest of the territory was declared included in the Protectorate by virtue of the 1902 Uganda Order in Council. Buganda's status in the Uganda Protectorate was unique. It was the only territory in the Protectorate which was colonized by agreement between the British Government and its African rulers.1 The first agreement was the 1894 treaty whereby Buganda accepted British protection. Six years later the famous 1900 Uganda agreement (hereafter the Buganda agreement) was made. The latter agreement elaborated in great detail the division of powers between the Protectorate Government and the Buganda administration.2 Throughout the British administration of the territory these agreements were followed by both parties almost to the letter. For this reason Buganda's administration substantially differed from that of the rest of the Protectorate. It enjoyed legal rights and privileges which were generally not available to the other regions. Though the 1900 agreement expressly stipulated that Buganda was to be equal in rank with the other provinces in the Protectorate, quite clearly there was no such equality either in theory or in practice.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Copyright: Edinburgh University Press
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