In this second and final part of Apollo N. Makubuya’s book Protection, Patronage, Or Plunder? British Machinations and (B)uganda’s Struggle for Independence (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), reviewer Lwanga Lunyiigo, discusses Mutesa II’s political dilemmas and how they haunt the kingdom till today.
The locking of horns between Sir Andrew Cohen (governor 1952-1957) and Mutesa II is described and explained in graphic detail by Makubuya.
The 1955 Agreement that resulted from the negotiations conducted by Prof Keith Hancock was sheer blackmail. Buganda wanted Mutesa II back from exile and in return for this they agreed to endorse the Agreement where the Kabaka became a mere constitutional monarch.
This was contrary to the ancient Buganda constitution where the Kabaka was the ”object of ultimate concern” and embodied the executive, legislative, judicial and even religious powers of the Buganda nation. So Mutesa II continued to act as if the 1955 Agreement did not exist. Indeed, the British had to conclude another Agreement in 1961 that ultimately drew Buganda into the Uganda State.
Although Buganda had declared Independence in December 1960, the Baganda did not have the wherewithal to implement it and had to submit to the Uganda Project thereafter.
Cohen had embraced the political party dispensation in the 1950s. However, the big wigs of Mengo did not want anything that drew them into the politics of Uganda. For the same reasons, they rejected Cohen’s overtures for the Lukiiko to appoint Buganda’s representatives to the Legislative Council.
It was Sir Frederick Crawford (governor, 1957-1961) who persuaded Mutesa II to form a Buganda Party. Kabaka Yekka was thus formed in 1961 on the advice of the departing British rulers.
After Ghana became independent in 1957, it became clear to British Empire watchers including Mutesa II that Uganda would become independent in the near future. Cohen had strengthened the Legislative Council in favour of Ugandan Africans; he had established an executive council to which he appointed prominent and well-educated Africans; he was moving the economy on the public-private partnership model; and was determined to deliver a unitary constitution for Uganda.
Buganda was determined to become independent separately from Uganda but failed to achieve this. However, there was another road that Buganda could have taken but did not. It could have owned the Uganda project and probably succeeded in taking it over.
Most Ugandans were not happy with the deportation of the Kabaka in 1953 and even the Mau Mau took up the deportation of Mutesa II as a cause for war. When Mutesa II returned from exile in 1955, he was very popular. But instead of leading Uganda into Independence, he chose to join an alliance (KY-UPC) as a junior partner; the results were disastrous for Buganda and for him.
One of the most amazing revelations to come out of Makubuya’s book was the role of Daudi Ochieng — a confidant of Ssekabaka Mutesa II and architect of the KY-UPC alliance; secretary general of KY; and Buganda representative to the Legislative Council — who was all along a British spy who passed on to the Protectorate government what Mengo was planning.
Although Makubuya does not accuse Ochieng of being behind the 1966 crisis in Buganda leading to the abrogation of the Independence Constitution of 1962 by Milton Obote, it is likely that when the British left, he continued to play the same role for Obote, who was keen on destroying Buganda by all means.
In his book, The Bell is Ringing, Martin Aliker, Ochieng’s younger brother, comes out with a curious statement on Ochieng’s death. He writes: “…Daudi was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach. I paid for him to fly to London for an operation at Guy’s Hospital by a leading surgeon in the field, but it was too late. He returned home to Uganda and died shortly afterwards on June 1, 1966, aged 41… The real cause of his death may never be known.”
Many spies are destroyed after outliving their usefulness. Could this have happened to Daudi Ochieng? He had precipitated a crisis that removed Mutesa II and destroyed his kingdom; of what more use was he to his employers?
Belatedly embracing Uganda after the endorsement of the 1961 Buganda Agreement and acquiring what was considered a special status in the 1962 Constitution and preventing a Catholic from assuming the leadership of Uganda, as Makubuya tells us, Mengo, except Katikkiro Michael Kintu, who declared from the outset that he did not trust Obote, was all set for Independence celebrations.
Idi Amin best expressed the characterisation of the Baganda by their fellow countrymen: Isolationist, conservative, arrogant. It is for that reason that the Baganda have been brought to their knees and their land largely taken away.
Obote’s most enduring legacy is the militarisation of post-colonial politics, with the army playing the lead role in obtaining power and keeping it. Obote was explicit on this. Addressing the National Assembly after the attack on the Kabaka’s palace at Mengo, he said on May 25, 1966: “…The midwife of an old society pregnant with a new one is a force.”
After this, there was no looking back. Makubuya discusses this militarisation at great length in the final phase of his book. Of course, with this militarisation came gross violation of human right.
The Baganda took up arms during Mwanga II’s reign to fight for the Independence of Buganda in the late 1890s; they took up arms to fight Obote in the early 1980s, defeated him along with their allies.
Baganda made huge sacrifices in the Luweero Triangle. Many people there lost their lives, and property was destroyed. Apart from the satisfaction of defeating Obote, they still remain at the political periphery and are powerless to achieve their core interests, such as a federal Uganda in which they can have some autonomy.
The one desire of the Baganda is to redesign governance in Buganda and return to institutions that served them well in the past to overcome what they term the crisis of governance in Uganda. Unfortunately, they don’t have the political space to do so.
The Baganda rush into alliances, believing in the integrity of their allies, only to be betrayed; they believe in the efficacy of agreements whereas to those they make these agreements with, they are no more than pieces of paper.
Makubuya, being a prominent Muganda, brings out well these betrayals and bad deals. The greatest challenge, for the Baganda is thus to get out of this subordinate position in the leadership of Uganda. They need to join the mainstream leadership of Uganda as the only way for the kingdom to ultimately get a good deal.
As Makubuya clearly shows, the British have a residual interest in their former colonies because British interests are permanent. They use British army training missions and aid to dictate the economic and social status of former colonies. Through the Commonwealth, Britain relives its imperial past glory with the Queen as its head.
This work is definitely Makubuya’s magnum opus. It is a tour de force and we congratulate him for his efforts.