Uganda News, Uganda Weather and Links ( Ugandan News and Ugandan Weather )

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The Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1908, p.IM4:

The Uganda Protectorate. By Frank G. Carpenter.

ON THE EQUATOR.
How John Bull Governs Four Million African Natives.

From Our Own Correspondent.

    ENTEBBE.--Take a seat with me on the mud veranda of the mud hotel at Entebbe and look out over Lake Victoria, while I tell you something of this Uganda protectorate which the British have recently added to their share of the white man's burden. You had better keep your hats on. There are lizards and scorpions in the thatched roof overhead, and some may fall down upon us as we talk.
    I advise you, also, to tie your shoes tight and by no means to rest your bare feet on the floor. It is true it is plastered with cow dung, and that ought to keep out the ants and the jiggers. The latter insects, however, have a way of crawling under one's toe nails and laying little sacks of eggs in the skin, which, if they hatch, may cause us the loss of our toes. I have had ten jiggers taken out of my feet since I came into Uganda, and, now, Epifras, my native servant, goes over my toes every morning.

    Do you see that black band moving across the path down there in front? It is made up of ants which will attack you if you come near it. They are the famous warrior ants, whose bite feels like red-hot pinchers and whose heads have to be torn from their bodies before they will let go.
    They are far more dangerous than that baby lion, which is tied with a clothesline about his neck to a tree near by. He is only about as big as a Scotch collie and is not old enough to know how strong he is. He was brought in last night by a traveler from Lake Tanganyika who also owns the two gray parrots with red tails, which, perched in the tree above it, are alternately whistling and scolding.

On the Equator.
    Before we begin our talk let us look around and try to realize where we are. This mud hotel is called the Equatorial. It is situated right on the equator, and by spreading out our legs we could almost straddle the same. Nevertheless, we are about 4000 feet above the sea, and the cool breezes from Victoria Lake make the air as delightful as Virginia in June. There are oranges and lemons growing out there in the garden, great beds of feathery papyrus are waving to and fro on the shores and we can see tall palms with their whispering leaves everywhere.
    We are right on the edge of Victoria Nyanza, about as far inland as the western shores of Lake Erie are in from New York and right in the heart of the African continent. That lake was not known to the world until about fifty years ago, and today a large part of the lands surrounding it are unexplored. The equator goes right through the lake, and it is only about sixty miles south of it that the German possessions begin.

    This part of Lake Victoria belongs to Great Britain, and all the vast territory extending from here to the Mediterranean, including Uganda, the Soudan and Egypt, is practically under the control of John Bull. He has every foot of land on each side of the Nile which begins its course by flowing out of Lake Victoria at Ripon Falls, not far from here, and winds its way for 3900 miles, before it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. As the crow flies the distance is farther than from Philadelphia to the Great Salt Lake; and the country contains some of the richest lands upon earth. Every one knows of the wealth of Egypt, which has never been so rich as since the British took hold. The Soudan has vast territories equally fertile; and Uganda, away down here at the Nile's source among the highest of the African mountains, is in some respects richer than all.

The Uganda Protectorate.
    Indeed, the English officials tell me that Uganda is the cream of the African continent. I have now been traveling some weeks through it, and I believe they are right. There is no other place where so many valuable crops can be grown. In some of the provinces the natives raise grain with practically no cultivation, in others coffee grows wild, and everywhere there are bananas and other tropical fruits. In another letter I shall write of the great possiblities in cotton, which is already being raised here and there; and shall treat of the stock growing prospects which promise to make Uganda the great meat basket of England.
    The land is one of great forests as well as of rich plains covered with grass. It is a land of rubber, and it has vast resources in fibers which may be used for the making of paper, rope and cloth. I have already spoken [in an earlier article] of the bark blankets which are used by a million or more natives as dresses; but I have said nothing of the raphia fiber which is brought here to Entebbe for shipment to England, where it brings as high as $150 a ton. This country can raise hemp as good as that produced in the Philippines, and China grass and sisal are said to thrive equally well.

    The Uganda protectorate is rich in minerals. Hematite ore is found almost everywhere, copper has been discovered in the central province and gold is said to exist in some places. There are also deposits of white china clay of great value in certain localities, and the natives themselves make pottery from it.

Uganda as the Sun Sees It.
    But suppose we take a look at Uganda as the sun sees it. The country lies on the roof of the African continent. Where it borders Lake Victoria is about as high in the air as the highest of the Alleghanies, and the crater of Mount Elgon which rises in the central province a little north of that lake kisses the sky 100 feet higher than the top of Pike's Peak. Away off to the east are Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenia, and at the west are the mighty highlands of Ruwenzori, which vie with those of Kilimanjaro itself.
    The country is almost surrounded by water. On the south is Lake Victoria, on the west are Albert Edward and Albert Nyanza joined by the Semiki, and farther down is the Nile. On the east is Lake Rudolph, and enormous body of water, and throughout the whole country are beautiful little lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks.
    The general nature of the country is rolling. It has many hills and hollows and undulating plains, with swamps in the valleys. The hills are covered with grass and they roll over one another as far as they eye can see. The swamps are often spotted with woods, and one is never out of sight of the papyrus, the tall tassel-like grass of which the Egyptians made paper.

    As to the extent of the protectorate, it contains altogether more land than New England added to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. It has a bigger population than that of any State of our Union, with the exception of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Illinois. The people all told number between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000, and of these considerably over 1,000,000 are Christians. These are the semi-civilized Baganda, in whose country I now am.
    The British have divided up this territory into five provinces. Originally they made six, but, within the last year or so, they have taken off the lands lying east of the lake and given them to British East Africa. That province contains the naked Kavirondo, of whom I have already written. It is traversed by the Uganda Railway, which terminates on the lake at Port Florence.
    The five provinces of Uganda consist of the kingdom of Uganda, the central province to the east of it, the western province laying between Lakes Albert Edward and Albert, and the Rudolf and Nile provinces at the north.

    The central province, which is almost directly north of Victoria Nyanza, is fertile to an extreme. It borders on the Kavirondo country, and many of its people raise cattle, sheep and goats. They also do considerable farming. One of the most characteristic features of this province is Mount Elgon, which ranks as one of the high mountains of the continent. It is an enormous volcano, whose lower slopes are covered with forests and on whose top are frequent snowstorms, although it is almost on the equator.
    Among the curious features of this mountain are its caves, which have been inhabited by the natives for ages. They use them as homes, and as stables for their cattle, sheep and goats. The cattle caves are never cleaned, and the manure of ages beds their floors. They swarm with fleas and the stench is terrible.
    Roads are now being cut through the central province by the native chiefs, and one would have no difficulty in journeying through it.

    As to the Uganda province, it is covered with roads made long ago by the natives, ans one can go over a great part of it on a bicycle. Many of the English officials here own wheels, and they are gradually coming into use among the richest of the natives.

Western Uganda.
    The poorest part of the Uganda protectorate is in the north. The country fades out into the desert not far from Lake Rudolf, and the Nile province partakes somewhat of the nature of the Soudan. As to the western province, that is high and healthy. It is a broken tableland, a great part of it a mile above the sea, rising in some places to high mountains. The country is well-watered, and a large part of it is covered with a tropical forest filled with monkeys.
    The people are well-developed black negroes who devote themselves largely to stock raising. They have cattle with horns so large that they seem to be leading the beasts. In this same region there are pygmies just like those which Stanley describes as living in the forests of the Congo.
see also: Congo News - Sudan - Rwanda - Tanzania - Kenya

All of Uganda is
one time zone at GMT-3,
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    Republic of Uganda: Uganda achieved independence from the UK in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives.

    During the 1990s, the government promulgated non-party presidential and legislative elections.
    CIA World Factbook: Uganda


Area of Uganda: 236,040 sq km
slightly smaller than Oregon

Population of Uganda: 30,262,610
July 2007 estimate

Languages of Uganda:
English official
Ganda or Luganda
    & other Niger-Congo languages
Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic

Uganda Capital: Kampala


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    These western natives are not so advanced as those of Uganda proper. Many of them go naked, and others are clad only in aprons of bark cloth tied by strings around their waists. I have seen some who have their breasts and stomachs cut in such patterns that they somewhat resemble Persian shawls. Many of them file their teeth and altogether they are low in the scale of African civilization.

Capital of Uganda.
    I wish we could send Uncle Sam to Entebbe and show him how John Bull handles these millions of savages. This country has more than half as many people as the Philippines, and some of them have for ages been noted for their war-like characters. John Bull takes care of them all with a few score of officials and about 2500 soldiers. His soldiers are almost all native blacks, and most of them have been recruited from the country itself. There are a few East Indian sikhs, but the army is mainly made up of what is known as the King's African Rifles, who are commanded by British generals, colonels, and captains. This force consists of 1500 blacks, and, in addition, there are 1000 native constables. It seems a small army to control 4,000,000 people.
    Nevertheless, the country is kept in perfect order, and law courts have been established in all the provinces. There is a Supreme Court to which appeals may be made. The people pay their taxes. In some of the provinces they are establishing schools, and altogether they are far better off than they have ever been before.

Entebbe.
    The town of Entebbe is the capital of Uganda. It has the greater part of the white population, which consists all told of 400 souls, embracing eighty-three women. The men are chiefly British officials. They are well educated young fellows, fond of sport and devoted to tennis and golf, which they play almost every day.
    The women are, as a rule, fine-looking English girls, the wives and daughters of these officials. They dress as well as our girls at home, and if one could lift up this white colony and drop it down in any city of England or the United States the people would not be out of place.
    And how do these people live?

    Well, here at the capital they are better off than in many parts of the interior. They have houses of sun-dried brick, roofed with galvanized iron. Very few of the houses are of more than one story, but they have wide verandas and the rooms are spread out over the ground. Many of them are surrounded by beautiful gardens filled with all sorts of tropical plants and trees. The houses are built far apart along wide roads of the red dirt of Uganda. Some of the roads are lined wtih flowering trees, the most common being the Cape Lily, which is now bearing a great mass of blue flowers. Indeed, there are so many flowers and plants that one seems to be going through a botanical garden as he walks along the streets.

    The business part of the capital is given up to the East Indians. There are a half-dozen or more galvanized brown stores filled with goods to sell to the natives. The brown-skinned merchants wear little yellow skull caps, calico pantaloons and long coats, buttoned high up in the neck. They have yellowish-brown faces, dark eyes and curly black hair.

    The government buildings are scattered here and there over the hills. They are usually roofed with galvanized iron. They have brick walls and wide porches. There are no native huts in the town proper, and as a rule very few buildings thatched with straw. The police barracks form one of the exceptions. These lie on the western edge of Entebbe, and they consist of rude Nubia houses, with cone-shaped roofs.

A Central African Hotel.
    The hotel here is about the only one in Central Africa. In most other places one has to have his own tents or to stop with the officials. I am usually able to get in with an official, and this was the case at Kampala, the native capital.
    This new hotel is an oddity. It is made of mud and grass. The main building is, I judge, about fifty feet square and it measures about twenty-five feet to the cone of the thatched roof. Its walls are only twelve feet high, but the roof does not begin for several feet above them, a space of a yard perhaps being left for air between the walls and the rafters.
    This main part of the hotel contains a dining room, a parlor and a billiard room, with kitchens off at the side.

    The bedrooms are bungalow-like sheds made of mud and thatched with straw. They are some distance away from the hotel itself and run around the walls of the compound. Each bedroom open out upon a little porch or ledge floored with mud and coated over with cow dung well smoothed down. The bedrooms are floored in the same way, but each has a rush mat made of papyrus reeds from Lake Victoria running across it.
    The beds themselves consist of rude framework of wood, to which are woven strips of antelope skins. Upon these rush matting is laid, and then a thin mattress of Uganda cotton.
    Every bed has a mosquito netting. This region is very malarious, and no one would think of sleeping here without such protection.

    As for the food of the hotel, it is fairly good for Central Africa, although it would be poor anywhere else. The chief trouble is the cooking, which is universally bad. As to variety, we had at our last dinner a soup, some fish, fried brains, beef, potatoes and green peas. Our dessert began with a slice of papaja, a delicious melon-like fruit which grows on a tree here, and ended with coffee. The hotel rate is $2 a day, including rooms and board.

Ruled Through the Chiefs.
    During my stay here I have had some talks with officials as to how they handled Uganda. They tell me that they rule pretty much as far as possible through the natives. Each petty locality has had its own system of government and its own laws as far as possible, and the machinery is adapted to these systems.
    In Uganda proper the work is done through the native council and the little king or the officers appointed to represent him. The council or lukiko consists of twenty chiefs, each of which has his own county or district with his own court. These counties are subdivided and given over to subordinate chiefs until there is perhaps a chief to each village of any size.

    The chiefs receive money from the British government, and in return they collect the taxes and turn them in to the treasury. The taxes are assessed at so much to each hut, the amount being usually about $1 per year. This seems low, but when it is remembered that it requires about a month of good hard work to make a dollar out here in Uganda, it will be seen that is is pretty high after all.

    I have met many of the Baganda chiefs during my stay. They are very intelligent. Not a few are able to read, having learned to do so in the mission schools. One has written a book, and all are more than ordinarily bright. Not a few of them are keeping their court proceedings in typewriting, the native language having been adapted to the Roman letters so that the ordinary machine can be used.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1908 was equivalent to $23.90 in 2008.

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