I’ve long thought Uganda has a rather jolly flag. Apparently the bird in the centre of it is the Grey Crowned Crane, the national symbol. I’m not quite sure why they’ve got two bands of each colour, though I guess with only one band it would have looked a bit like the German flag. Uganda has had a fairly eventful history at times, and inevitably we have played quite a large role in making it eventful.
John Hanning Speke was an officer in the British Indian Army who spent much of his life exploring Africa instead. He turned up in 1862 in what is now Uganda, searching for the source of the Nile, and setting off the famous Burton-Speke controversy. Henry Morton Stanley turned up in 1875, and in his wake a couple of years later came missionaries from the Church Missionary Society in London. Two years later, French Catholic White Fathers arrived.
Then as politics, religious rivalry, local rivalry and competition by European powers began to combine in a toxic cocktail, things began to get really messy.
Mwanga, the ruler of Buganda, the largest kingdom in what is now Uganda, launched a campaign of repression against Christians and a number were killed, including local Christians and the Anglican Bishop James Hannington. Eventually, Mwanga was forced off the throne and a period of conflict ensued involving Christians, Muslims and others.
By 1889, Mwanga was back as ruler. In February 1890, the Germans persuaded him to sign a treaty with them. In the summer of 1890, we did a deal with the Germans whereby we got various bits of Africa, including Buganda, and we gave the Germans Heligoland which, yes, surprising as it now seems, we were in control of at that time (see Germany). By December 1890, Frederick Lugard, in the service of the Imperial British East Africa Company, had turned up with a column of men and a Maxim gun, and had negotiated a treaty with Mwanga, his negotiating tactics including threatening to use the Maxim.
The Germans were now to a certain extent out of the competition to be the main European power in the area, but the French weren’t. Gradually, tensions between the French and local Catholic converts on one side and the British and local Protestant converts on the other side rose. In January 1892, fighting broke out with the Battle of Mengo, which was won by the British and local pro-British Protestants. The Maxim created a terrible slaughter, and in the aftermath of the battle the French bishop fled and the French Catholic Mission was attacked. Not surprisingly this caused a lot of anger in France and the British government ended up paying compensation.
Nevertheless, British control of Buganda was established, and after that we pressed on to conquer the rest of what is now Uganda, including places like the Bunyoro territory and the land of the Acholi. In 1894, Uganda formally became a British protectorate.
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962.