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Was Colonialism Good for Uganda?

Uploaded by vaughan.phillips on Feb 05, 2001

The past is another country, where it is only possible to go as a tourist, and which we will never fully understand. We can describe what we see, but it is far more difficult to know why people acted in the way they did, or what they believed, and why they believed it.

Uganda too is another country, which did not even exist before the white man went there. Even the name reflects the ideas of the first explorers, whose gateway into the new territory was via the Buganda tribe, whom they were later to use as their colonial agents as British rule was extended.

Those who ‘discovered’ Ugandan and the source of the Nile which the first explorers were seeking - men such as Speke and Stanley - and the soldiers and administrators who came after them undoubtedly believed in the superiority of European culture in a way which we today would consider unacceptably racist. Although they were impressed by the sophistication of Bugandan society, they implicitly assumed that Africa was more backward than Europe, that Africans would benefit from exposure to Western standards and practises, and of course from Christianity. To a degree this allowed them either to justify or even to suppress what now looks to be the crude reality that their underlying agenda was the extension of British influence, the promotion of British commerce, and the expansion of the British Empire, all without reference to the actual wishes of the Ugandan people. But then, even in Britain at thattime, democracy was a new idea and many people, including women, still did not have the vote.

Having said that, many Ugandans would today accept that their country had at some stage to be brought into contact with the modern world, and even that they were comparatively lucky in being colonised by the British rather than by, for instance, the Belgians whose brutal rule in the Congo was far crueller than that of the British Protectorate in Uganda. Moreover, the fact that the arrival of the British in Uganda was not accompanied by the theft of African land for white farmers - as it was in Zimbabwe or Kenya - meant that some of the bitterness and resentment felt about European rule in some African countries was not a feature in Uganda. So race relations, even today, are more relaxed in Uganda than in many parts of the Continent.

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Uploaded by:   vaughan.phillips

Date:   02/05/2001

Category:   History

Length:   18 pages (4,100 words)

Views:   3022

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