Ugandan Independence Day is Monday, October 9, 2023. It was on that date in 1962
that Uganda got its independence from the United Kingdom and elected Milton Obote
as their first Prime Minister.
The west became aware of the territory that would become known as Uganda in 1875.
The official Eurocentric narrative is that it was “discovered” by the explorer Henry
Stanley. Kind of hard to discover a place that is already inhabited though. By 1888 the
government of Britain gave authority over the territory to the East Africa Company. In
1890 the territory was given the name Uganda and became, officially, a British
protectorate. To our way of thinking today it is absolutely appalling that a European
nation would control another territory like that, but I cannot deny that American history is
also full of the same history with our handling of our indigenous populations.
The reason Europeans were interested in the area is that Uganda is rich in natural
resources, but is particularly known as the pearl of Africa because they produce a lot of
the worlds most natural gemstone, the beautiful and valued pearl. Other exports that
were a key part of the economy in the twentieth century were tea, coffee, and cotton.
Europeans were interested in exploiting the resources for commerce.
Uganda remained under British control until the mid twentieth century. After the Second
World War empires around Europe began breaking up. This sparked protests, both
urban and rural, in Uganda agitating for political change. It took a little time but, by the
fifties, Britain allowed Africans to sit on the legislative council, which was a first step
toward representative government by the people who were being governed.
Incrementally, changes were made and progressed toward establishing a nation that
would function independent of Great Britain. By the time the sixties rolled around, that is
when everything changed.
In 1961, a general election was held, and a year later, in 1962 a sovereign state called
Uganda was born. There have been some trials with independence. And some of the
leaders have had their challenges. In 1995 there was a new constitution enacted. This,
while purportedly a document promoting freedom and restoring most traditional kings,
but only with a say over cultural matters. This constitution was greeted with skepticism
and turned out to not have been a document to guarantee human rights to the citizenry.
In 2005 Ugandans decided to return to multiparty politics after years of political
Despite a challenging history of colonialism, which can be very destructive to a nation’s
identity, and the challenges of becoming a self governing nation, Uganda has great
pride in its cultures and does celebrate its Independence Day as a symbol of their
identity and heritage. Celebrations involve parades and performances as well as native
food and drink. There are performances that reflect the country’s vibrant and interesting
history with indigenous costumes and great pride.
By Julie Morse
We at WOPI want to remind you of our partnership with the Aliguma Foundation! If you would want to help us fund our efforts with helping children and family's obtain food, repairing houses and roads, and recreational sports for the children within Uganda...
Head to our FUND US tab!
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