Kabaka Chwa warns Baganda against Western civilisation

Sunday October 18 2020

The 1924 old boys of Mengo SS which is believed to be the earliest institution of learning in Uganda.


After 68 years after the coming of Christianity and its spillover of education, descendants of the inviting king were bemoaning its effects on the culture and morals in the Kingdom.
When Muteesa invited the missionaries to enlighten his people he did not forese the impact of the enlightening he was calling for.
Eight years after his death, in 1939 one of Daudi Chwa’s writings Education, Civilisation, and “Foreignisation” in Buganda was published in 1947 by Buganda C.S Press.
In this 22-page pamphlet, Chwa was concerned with the effects of Western education and civilisation on the people of Buganda in Uganda. 
It was not until other seemingly anti-White establishment or colonial writings became popular that Chwa’s letter to the Baganda was published.
One of the first Ugandan publications to criticise the colonial administration was Buganda Nyaffe (Buganda our mother) by Mukubura, An Introduction to cultural Anthropology a Wright State University publication describes as “a political pamphlet which was banned as seditious and which British officials regard as the most bitterly anti-European piece of writing ever published in Uganda.”
In his writing, Mukubura acknowledged the introduction of Christianity and education but accuses the Europeans of enslaving and trying to steal Buganda’s land.
In the same vein, Chwa, one of the first Buganda Kingdom’s seniors to benefit from the coming of Western education, is not shy to point out its effects on the society he was leading.
“Naturally education and civilisation gained tremendous favour among the Baganda,…..while every facility and luxury which are the outcome of civilisation are today being extended to all the Baganda, my fears are that instead of the Baganda acquiring proper and legitimate education and civilisation, there is a possible danger that they may be drifting to ‘foreignisation.’...To be more explicit, what I mean by the word ‘foreignisation’ is that instead of the Baganda acquiring proper education at the various schools and of availing themselves of the legitimate amenities of civilisation.  I am very much afraid the young generation of this country is merely drifting wholesale towards ‘foreignisation’ of their natural instincts and is discarding its native and traditional customs, habits and good breeding.”
Though he was one of the first Western educated Kings of Buganda, Chwa had a bone to pick with the Western education and its effects on the morals.
“What is at present popularly termed as education and civilisation of a Muganda may be nothing more nor less than mere affectation of the foreign customs and habits of the Western countries, which in some instances are only injurious to our own inherent morals and ideals of native life.”
In defending the morals of his people, Chwa was not oblivious to the fact that there were some rotten tomatoes among his subjects. 
“There has always been and shall always be ‘black sheep’ among all nations and tribes throughout the world and naturally I do not wish to be considered in this article to uphold the Baganda as a Nation of Angels—But what I do maintain is that prior to the advent of the Europeans, the Baganda had a very strict moral code of their own which was always enforced, by a constant and genuine fear of some evil…. being suffered invariably by the breaker of this moral code.”
Turning to the influence of Christianity, Chwa, who was described in An Introduction to cultural Anthropology, as “the greatest Muganda ideologist of them all,” argued that there was a moral cord similar to that advanced by the Ten Commandments in the Kiganda way of life way before the coming of Christianity, which natives observed. 
“In fact, I maintain the Baganda observed most strictly the doctrine of the Ten Commandments in spite of the fact that Christianity and the so-called Christian morals were absolutely unknown to the Baganda…..there was a very strong public opinion against…theft,…adultery,.. murder,…filial obedience,… false evidence…. the   offenses, which are the fundamental principles of the doctrine of the Ten Commandments.”
He blamed the increasing cases of prostitution in the kingdom on civilisation. “Polygamy was universally recognized among the Baganda and was never considered as immoral, yet prostitution was absolutely unheard of. Civilisation, education and freedom are the direct causes of the appalling state of affairs as regards to prostitution and promiscuous relationships…”
It is now more than 80 years since his death and the date as to when he peened his thoughts are not known, they are as relevant now as he when he wrote them down. 
“My intention…is to emphasize the fact that while boasting of having acquired Western education and civilisation in an amazingly short period, we have entirely and completely ignored our native traditional customs. We have ‘foreignised’ our native existence by acquiring the worst foreign habits and customs of the Western people. I am only too well aware that this is inevitable in all countries where Western civilisation has reached, so I have considered it my duty…. to warn very strongly all members of the young generation of the Baganda that while they are legitimately entitled to strive to acquire education and civilisation, they should also take a very great care that acquisition of Western education and civilisation does not automatically destroy their best inherent traditions and customs which, in my own opinion, are quite as good as those found among the Western Civilised countries but which only require developing and remodelling where necessary on the lines and ideas of Western civilisation.”