Monday February 27 2017

Book review: A journey through Uganda’s 100 years

Off the shelf

Off the shelf  

By Henry Lubega

A History of Uganda: The first 100 years 1894-1995 is an account of Uganda’s first century. The book takes you through the tragedies, wars and the unfulfilled promises of the past 100 years.

In the process of showing you the unfulfilled promises, the author, renown history scholar, Prof Phares Mukasa Mutibwa, endeavours to show why those promises where never fulfilled.

He takes the reader through the intricate journey of the creation and survival of a country called Uganda.

Prof Mutibwa starts the book right from the time when a protectorate was declared over Buganda in 1894 and then extended to other kingdoms and regions until 1926 when the boundaries of what came to be known as Uganda were confirmed.

If Uganda was a person, this book would be a biography of her first 100 years, not only from the time of her birth, but right from the time of conception, the development of the embryo to the time of birth.

From the author’s research, it may be said the conception was by mistake, hence the complicated pregnancy, birth and life filled with uncertainty, troubled times and calamities; basically living a cursed life despite being endowed with fertile land and good climate.

Within the first four years of her birth, the country experienced its first dose of violence, unleashing one dictatorship after another, all characterised by wars, state-orchestrated killings of innocent civilians and all forms of abuses.
The first five of the 11 chapters give an account of the first encounters with the outside world and their fascination with Buganda and the desire to have it for themselves.

The 1900 Agreement was used as a launch pad for the foreigners to expand their influence into the interior, bringing more territory under their control, hence the creation of a country called Uganda.

Though A History of Uganda: The first 100 Years is a historical account, the author labours to put different incidents into perspective by not only narrating the events how they happened, but he explains why they had to happen at that particular time.

Individual characters that influenced policies at their times are discussed to give credence to why they did what they did at the time.

The author dedicates a chapter to each regime, giving an account of its characteristics, the circumstances that favoured its coming to power, where it succeeded, why and how it failed.

He goes ahead to credit the key players in each regime with their contributions, whether negative or positive.

Just like a child growing into a promising youth -- what Uganda was in the 1940s – the author at some point takes the reader through the time when there were high hopes for Uganda becoming an economic power on the continent.

He explores the years of the economic boom and what characterised them and how these hopes were shuttered. The accomplished historian he is, Mutibwa knows not all his readers are historians, so he takes time to explain those key historical moments for easy understanding.

The author, having been not only an observer but an active participant in some of the historical landmarks of this country, writes with the authority of an insider. He was a member of the Odoki Commission which gathered views for the Constitution and when he writes about its importance in the history of Uganda, he writes with insider knowledge.

The Fountain Publishers publication is pregnant with vital aspects of Uganda’s journey. Unfortunately, the author did the readers a disservice by not providing enough pictorial to accompany his well narrated book. Those presented are not of good quality to match the information the book gives.

The book is available at all leading bookshops countrywide at Shs35,000.
This is the latest publication of the many he has authored. Among others include, A Century of Christianity in Uganda, Uganda Since Independence: A story of Unfulfilled Promises, Bank of Uganda: A Historical Perspective, The Buganda Factor in Uganda Politics, among other publications.
Book title: A History of Uganda: The first 100 years 1894-1995
Author: Prof Phares Mukasa Mutibwa
Publisher: Fountain Publishers
Price: Shs35,000
Available at: Leading bookshops countrywide