The people of Uganda were
hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago. Bantu-speaking populations, who
were probably from central and western Africa, migrated to the southern parts of
the country. These groups brought and developed ironworking skills and new ideas
of social and political organization. The Empire of Kitara in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries represents the earliest forms of formal organization,
followed by the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara, and in later centuries, Buganda and
Nilotic people including Luo and Ateker entered the area from the north, probably beginning about A.D. 120. They were cattle herders and subsistence farmers who settled mainly the northern and eastern parts of the country. Some Luo invaded the area of Bunyoro and assimilated with the Bantu there, establishing the Babiito dynasty of the current Omukama (ruler) of Bunyoro-Kitara. Luo migration continued until the 16th century, with some Luo settling amid Bantu people in Eastern Uganda, with others proceeding to the western shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania. The Ateker (Karimojong and Iteso) settled in the northeastern and eastern parts of the country, and some fused with the Luo in the area north of Lake Kyoga.
Arab traders moved inland from the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in the 1830s. They were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894.
As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914. From 1900 to 1920, a sleeping sickness epidemic killed more than 250,000 people, about two-thirds of the population in the affected lake-shore areas.
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962, maintaining its Commonwealth membership. The first post-independence election, held in 1962, was won by an alliance between the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY). UPC and KY formed the first post-independence government with Milton Obote as executive Prime Minister, the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Muteesa II holding the largely ceremonial position of President and William Wilberforce Nadiope, the Kyabazinga (paramount chief) of Busoga, as Vice President.
In 1966, following a power struggle between the Obote-led government and King Muteesa, the UPC-dominated Parliament changed the constitution and removed the ceremonial president and vice president. In 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic and abolished the traditional kingdoms. Without first calling elections, Obote was declared the executive President.
Obote was deposed from office in 1971 when Idi Amin seized power. Amin ruled the country with the military for the next eight years. Amin's rule cost an estimated 300,000 Ugandans' lives. He forcibly removed the entrepreneurial Indian minority from Uganda. The Ugandan economy was devastated.
Amin's reign was ended after the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979 in which Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles invaded Uganda. This led to the return of Obote, who was deposed once more in 1985 by General Tito Okello. Okello ruled for six months until he was deposed after the so called "bush war" by the National Resistance Army (NRA) operating under the leadership of the current president, Yoweri Museveni, and various rebel groups, including the Federal Democratic Movement of Andrew Kayiira, and another belonging to John Nkwaanga.
Museveni has been in power since 1986. In the mid to late 1990s, he was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has included involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region, as well as the civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army, which has been guilty of numerous crimes against humanity including child slavery and mass murder. Conflict in northern Uganda has killed thousands and displaced millions. In 2007, Uganda deployed soldiers to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
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