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Data

Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for Baganda in Uganda

View Group Chronology

Uganda Facts
Area:    236,040 sq. km.
Capital:    Kampala
Total Population:    22,175,000 (source: unknown, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References



Risk Assessment

While the Baganda have a long history of seeking greater autonomy, there is little evidence of this escalating into rebellion despite recent protests. The most important factor inhibiting rebellion is that the government has made some attempts at negotiation and reform, through constitutional channels. Should these attempts not materialize into concrete steps, the situation may change.

While the Baganda do not face risk factors for protest such as political or economic discrimination, they do remain at risk for future protest especially in light of increasing demands for a federal system, which is often called Federo. Tensions have also risen due to recent calls for Kamapala to be recognized as part of the Buganda kingdom.

Currently, the situation of the Baganda in Uganda is stable: they are not targeted for abuse by the government or rebel groups. They are unlikely to force the issue of autonomy violently, but it will remain one of their key concerns around which to organize protests.

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Analytic Summary

The Baganda (also Ganda and Muganda in the singular) are the largest single ethnic group in Uganda, comprising about 17 percent of the total population of the country. They reside in the southwest region of the country, known as Buganda, bordered by Lake Victoria to the south, Lake Kyoga to the north and Nile Victoria River to the east (GROUPCON = 3). Socially, the Baganda are organized by patrilineages, which are grouped into clans and owe their allegiance to the king or kabaka.

Under British colonial rule, the Baganda enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy. The Kabaka under colonialism was able to preserve the Buganda Kingdom’s autonomy by negotiating with British officials for protectorate status. Under the British, the Baganda took advantage of the opportunities provided by European commerce and education. They even helped the British expand their colonial rule over other ethnic groups by acting as tax collectors and labor organizers. At independence in 1962, the Baganda had the highest standard of living and literacy rate in the country.

Since independence, the Baganda have consistently demanded a higher degree of autonomy and protection of their traditional customs. However, in 1966, Obote banned all kingdoms, stripping the Buganda Kabaka of his powers to collect taxes and administer the territory of the former kingdom thereby limiting his powers to the cultural sphere. Consequently, Buganda supported Museveni during his bush war against Obote and also favored his candidacy for President in the 1996 presidential elections. However, as the push for autonomy grew during the 2004 presidential elections, Baganda threatened to remouve their political support of Museveni if he refused to grant Buganda administrative autonomy. The Baganda have not faced political or economic discrimination in recent years (POLDIS06 = 0; ECDIS06 = 0).

In 1993, the position of the kabaka, was restored in part; although, he remains relegated to the cultural rather than political sphere. The Baganda, under the leadership of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, have asked for a federal system of governance for Baganda, a demand that has met with some opposition from other parts of the country. In terms of granting the Baganda full autonomy, the government faces protestations from other ethnic groups such as the Bunyoro whose territory was conquered by the Baganda and thus integrated into the Buganda Kingdom. Granting autonomy to Buganda may exacerbate tensions between the two ethnic groups especially given that the Bunyoro has filed suit against the Buganda in an attempt to regain land that historically belonged to their people.

Thus far, the agitation has been channeled into institutional mechanisms, and the leaders of the Baganda have asked the people to maintain a conciliatory approach to the situation. A Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was established in 2001 to seek the views of citizens on adjustments to the constitution. In 2003, the Baganda submitted a list of demands, which included: a federal system of government for Buganda; the recognition of Kampala City as part of Buganda; the granting of privileges of immunity to the traditional leaders; and the return of the 9,000 square miles of land to the Kingdom. Of these, the demand for federal government is the most significant (PROT04-05 = 3). It remains to be seen how the government of Uganda will respond to these demands. In 2005, the central government negotiated and agreed to a proposal with the Baganda Mengo government that would allow for the Buganda Kingdom to control education and health care in the region. The Lukiiko, the regional council, quickly approved the proposal, which was later rejected by the Baganda in 2006. Critics complained that it failed to give them adequate autonomy over the region in areas such as taxation for revenue generation and also included provisions for the election of the katikkoro, Prime Minister of the kingdom, who is traditionally appointed.

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References

Amnesty International. 1992. Uganda: the Failure to Safeguard Human Rights.

Byrnes, Rita M., ed. 1990. Uganda: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Kasozi, A.B.K. 1994. The Social Origins of Violence in Uganda 1964-1985. Montreal and Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Lexis-Nexis. Various news reports. 1990-2006.

Mutibwa, Phares. 1992. Uganda Since Independence. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

US Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uganda. 2004-2006.

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Information current as of December 31, 2006