- A territory in East Africa, which became a British colony during the Scramble for Africa. During the late nineteenth century, Britain obtained control of many territories in Africa simply because British policymakers feared that their acquisition by other European powers—especially France and Germany—could represent a strategic threat to the British Empire. By the late 1880s, Prime Minister Lord Salisbury was convinced that control of Uganda was necessary to defend the Upper Nile. To minimize the cost to the British taxpayer Salisbury turned to the British East Africa Company to establish a presence in the area and, in December 1890, the company’s representative, Frederick Lugard, marched into the kingdom of Buganda, southern Uganda, and made a treaty with Kabaka Mwanga, who accepted the company as his overlord.The region offered little by way of trade, and the costs of Lugard’s expedition quickly undermined the financial position of the company. In 1891, the company proposed that the British Government build a railway from the East African coast to Uganda to maintain the company’s presence and strengthen British strategic control of the region. There was a great deal of political prevarication, but the issue was resolved by a combination of pressure from missionary societies eager to see extension of British control over an area in which slavery was still evident and Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, who favored schemes for the economic development. In 1895, a decision was taken to go ahead with the 580-mile railway, built at a cost of £5.5 million. The financial weakness of the British East Africa Company prompted the British government to establish a protectorate over Uganda in 1894. Before 1914, just 40 British officials administered a population of more than 3 million in Uganda through a system of indirect rule, in which local tribal chiefs maintained their authority subject to British overrule. One clear indication of the extent of British control was the redrawing of the frontiers between Uganda and Kenya in 1902. A large area of the Ugandan highlands east of Lake Victoria was assigned to Kenya, which was becoming attractive to small numbers of British settlers eager to grow cash crops such as coffee. In Uganda the major cash crop was cotton, which by 1918 accounted for 80 percent of its exports.See also <
>; < >; < >.FURTHER READING:Apter, David. The Political Kingdom in Uganda. London: Routledge, 1997;Low, D. A. Buganda in Modern History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971;Twaddle, Michael. Kakungulu and the Creation of Uganda, 1868-1928. London: James Currey, 1993.CARL PETER WATTS
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.