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Religion in Uganda

Religions of Uganda

The large clay walls of the Kingdom of Bigo are testimonies to civilizations in present-day Uganda from at least the 10th century AD

In various parts of the country there are ruins of large fortifications, built around a large open space, in the middle of which a mound made it possible to monitor the surrounding territory. Surrounded by earthquakes, wells and trenches, these fortresses testify that in the 13th century, the bacwezi people penetrated the land and became subservient to the bantu people who lived in the region. Their fortifications encircled a space of 300 m in diameter needed to protect the cattle - their most important wealth and the symbol of prestige. Little by little, however, the fortifications ceased to be used. The conquerors mingled with the defeated, adopted their language, married their women, and ended up taking their names. The descendants of bacwezithe people retained the tradition of being cattle nomads, but mingled with the locals. In our day they are called bahimas and speak bantu language.

In the 17-18. century, the kingdoms of Bunyoro, Buganda, Busoga and Ankole were formed, linked to the slave trade on the east coast and in Sudan. In the struggle for supremacy, a polarization took place between Bunyoro, supported by the Sudanese slave traders, and the Buganda associated with the Shirazi people of Zanzibar. By the early 19th century, Bunyoro had actually lost the battle. Part of its allies had disbanded and created the kingdom of Toro, ensuring Buganda's hegemony.

Buganda was ruled by a king ( kabaka ) who in theory was monarchical, but was in fact limited in his power by the high council's representative council ( Lukiko ). In the mid-19th century, the country had a permanent army strong enough to guarantee its autonomy over the regional powers ( Egypt and Zanzibar). It was a society in equilibrium where the privileges of the nobility were more political and honorable than economic. The society was based on a solid agricultural economy that enabled it to overcome the decline of the slave trade without major upheaval.

Europeans first invaded the country in 1862, without, however, having the major consequences. The next time was in 1875 when the British adventurer and journalist HM Stanley entered. He dramatically reported that Islam was on the rise in the region, and that the Kabaka Mutesa I "requested" Europe to send missionaries to repress Egyptian-Sudanese religious propaganda. The missionaries arrived quickly: British Protestants in 1877 and French Catholics in 1879. They Christianized part of the aristocracy, which had immediate consequences. According to Countryaah data, the hope was split into three parties, two of which reflected the rivalry between the European missionaries. The Bagandas called the parties "franza" and "ingleza", while the third, which was moderate and Islamic, for this reason alone appeared to defend national interests. Yet the consequence of the conflict was the consolidation of the European presence.

In 1888, the missionaries succeeded in overthrowing the Islamic kabaka Mwanga. Now the IBEA (Imperial British East Africa Co.) immediately entered the country and it was immediately followed by the British government. IBEA was an old-style colonial company. By 1886, the British had made an agreement with the Germans to divide the spheres of interest in the region, and the British had been assigned to the lords by the king. A British patronage was established here in 1893.

The other kingdoms did not have as developed institutions as Buganda, but they were forced to introduce them, for the British perceived Lukiko as something similar to the British parliament. Based on the same criteria and because they wanted to develop a leading class that could act as middlemen under the colonial power, the British initiated a "property reform" which basically was about privatizing land that had been common until then. The reform made the peasant population manpower for the high proportion gathered in Lukiko.

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