Buganda: A Select Bibliography

With Bibliographical Essay.


Bibliographical Essay

By Mikael Karlström; January, 1996.

The earliest published descriptions of the kingdom of Buganda were written by two British explorers who spent several months each at the royal capital. John Hanning Speke was stranded there for six months in 1862, and described his impressions soon thereafter in his Journal of the discovery of the source of the Nile (1863). Henry Morton Stanley resided at the court for some months in 1875, assisting Kabaka Muteesa I in a local war against the Buvuma islands, an experience he recounts in the first volume of Through the dark continent (1878). While these are valuable historical accounts, they should not be taken at face value, since neither of these explorers was in a position to interpret accurately much of what he witnessed (cf. Rowe, 1966, for evaluations of their reliability).

The classic and indispensable ethnographies of precolonial Buganda are the Anglican missionary John Roscoe's The Baganda (1911) and katikkiro (chief minister) Apolo Kaggwa's Mpisa za Baganda (1905; rendered in an abridged and often inaccurate translation, The customs of the Baganda, 1934). These were written separately, but both are based on the extensive collaborative interviews which the two men conducted with clan elders and others knowledgeable in the history and customs of the kingdom at the turn of the century (cf. Ray, 1991, chapter 1, for an account of their collaboration). Equally important is Kaggwa's Bassekabaka be Buganda (1901; The kings of Buganda, 1971), which provides the fullest published account of the reigns of Buganda's kings beginning with Kintu. While there are numerous subsequent historical accounts of great value (cf. Rowe, 1969, and Twaddle, 1975, for reviews of the Luganda-language historical literature; see also Kiwanuka, 1971), the only later historical ethnography of Buganda which is comparable to those of Roscoe and Kaggwa in scope and depth is Michael Nsimbi's Amannya Amaganda n'ennono zaago (1956), which has, sadly, yet to be translated into English. Other ethnographies of interest are the Catholic missionary Julien Gorju's account of Buganda and several neighboring kingdoms (1920, in French), and social anthropologist Lucy Mair's An African people in the twentieth century (1934). Tor Irstam's (1944) account of the kingship, it should be noted, is derivative and highly speculative.

A more narrowly political and economic emphasis characterized the anthropological writings on precolonial Buganda produced during the 1950s and 1960s by social anthropologists of the British structural-functionalist school. Of these, among the most important are Martin Southwold's accounts of changing patterns of succession to the throne (1966), and of the enduring struggle for power between kings and clan heads (1961), along with several of the contributions to Lloyd Fallers' The king's men (1964) -- by Fallers on chiefship, clanship, and royal administration, by Christopher Wrigley on the precolonial economy, and by Audrey Richards on patterns of authority. Articles by Cox (1950) and Chilver (1959) are also worth noting, as is Mafeje's (1991) recent reanalysis of some of this literature. Welbourn's (1962) brief account of kiganda religion provides virtually the only focussed analysis of precolonial native religious beliefs and practices. The only small-scale ethnographies produced during the period were Audrey Richards' (1966) short study of the village of Kisozi, near the royal installation site of Budo, and A. F. Robertson's (1978) lively and readable study of mixed Baganda and immigrant communities in Bugerere. Kottak's (1972) attempt to reinterpret the emergence of the Buganda kingdom from the standpoint of ecological determinism is a classic in its own right.

The cultural and symbolic dimensions of the precolonial kingship tended to be ignored in the literature produced during the heyday of social-anthropological research on Buganda (cf. Southwold, 1967, for an unusual exception). A recent corrective to this tendency is provided by historian of religion Benjamin Ray in his Myth, ritual and history in Buganda (1991), which incorporates some of Ray's previous work on the Kintu myths, the royal installation rituals, the royal tombs, and ritual homicide. In a similar vein, Kenny's (1988) account of a late precolonial conflict between Kabaka Muteesa I and the lake god Mukasa also highlights the importance of the symbolic dimension of royal power. Yoder (1988) provides an unusual but interesting perspective on the Kintu myth.

For the reign of Kabaka Muteesa I (1856-1884), the unrivalled historical overview is John Rowe's unpublished doctoral dissertation (1966), which also includes a valuable annotated bibliography of historical sources. The rapid conversion of Baganda chiefs to Islam and Christianity, and the period of political conflict between Muslim and Christian chiefly factions following Muteesa's death in 1884, have provided fodder for extensive historical research and debate. Lively first-hand accounts of the period are available in two books by the Anglican missionary Robert Ashe (1889; 1895). The episode of religious persecution which was later promoted to the status of martyrdom by the Catholic Church has been the subject of extensive analysis (Thoonen, 1942; Faupel, 1962). The historiographic debate concerning the motivations and depth of religious commitment of the new converts who overthrew Muteesa's successor Mwanga in 1888 is contained in articles by Christopher Wrigley (1959), Anthony Low (1958, 1968, 1971b), John Rowe (1964, 1970), Michael Twaddle (1972, 1988), and Brierly and Spear (1988). Peel (1977) provides a theoretically sophisticated comparative analysis of religious conversion in Buganda and the Nigerian kingdom of Ijebu. The subsequent institutional history of the Christian churches in Uganda has also been a focus of considerable scholarly interest, with Oliver (1952) focussing on the missionary factor, Taylor (1958) and Hansen (1984) on the Anglican Church, and Gale (1959), Tourigny (1979) and Waliggo (1976) on the Catholic Church. Abdu Kasozi's (1986) is the only in-depth study of the history of Islam in Buganda and Uganda. Welbourn (1961) provides an insightful analysis of Joswa Kate Mugema's 'Bamalaki' schismatic movement in the 1920s.

David Apter's The political kingdom in Uganda (1961) is the classic political study of Buganda under British colonial rule (1894-1962), but there are numerous other publications concerned with more specific issues and events. Anthony Low (in Low and Pratt, 1960) provides the definitive historical account of the Uganda Agreement, which was signed in 1900 by the British and the leading Baganda chiefs, setting the fundamental terms of the relationship between Buganda and the British for most of the colonial period. The role of Baganda chiefs in extending British colonial rule is sketched by Roberts (1962) and explored in great detail by Michael Twaddle (1993) by means of the life-history of one prominent chief, Semei Kakungulu. The structure of indirect rule is analyzed by Cranford Pratt (Low and Pratt, 1960). Aspects of the administrative, political, and socio-economic transformation of Buganda during the colonial period are explored in contributions to Fallers (1964) by Wrigley, Fallers, Richards, and Southwold. Low has provided an edited set of primary sources in The mind of Buganda (1971a), and analyses of aspects of British colonial rule in Buganda in modern history (1971b). Economic and agricultural change is the particular focus of Audrey Richards' edited volume on labor immigration and economic change (1954) and of later volumes on land policy (West, 1972) and commercial farming (Richards, Sturrock, and Fortt, 1973). Gutkind (1963) examines the changes undergone by the royal capital, Mengo, during the colonial period, while Southall and Gutkind's study of Kampala, Townsmen in the making (1957), is a classic ethnographic study of urbanization in colonial Africa. Mahmood Mamdani's Politics and class formation in Uganda contains considerable material on Buganda in the context of a Marxist interpretation of Uganda's colonial history. Once again, the literature is rather weak on native religion and healing practices, with short articles by Rigby and Lule (1973), Rigby (1975), and Waliggo (1978) providing the rare exceptions.

While Apter (1961) covers the formation of Uganda's main political parties in considerable detail, his account ends prior to the formation of the Buganda royalist 'Kabaka Yekka' (King Alone) party in 1961. The leading accounts of the circumstances of KY's emergence and the confrontation between Buganda and Uganda prior to and after independence are Welbourn (1965), Hancock (1970), Kasfir (1976), and Young (1977). In The desecration of my kingdom (1967), Kabaka Muteesa II provides a more personal account of the events leading up to the 1966 raid on his palace and the abolition of the kingdom by Milton Obote. Among the innumerable accounts of the Amin years, Mutibwa's (1992) overview provides something of a focus on the role of Buganda during this period and during Obote's subsequent second presidency. Thus far, the only published accounts of the 1993 coronation of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi and the restoration of the Buganda kingship are those of Doornbos and Mwesigye (1994) and Nsibambi (1994).


Bibliography

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Apter, David E.
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