Shane Doyle and Aidan Stonehouse

in African Studies

ISBN: 9780199846733
Published online September 2013 | | DOI:

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The region that would take the name Uganda became part of the British Empire in the 1890s. Blessed with relatively fertile soils and reliable rainfall, Uganda would become one of the most prosperous dependencies in Africa. Much of the wealth generated by cash cropping was invested in education and other social services, and this prosperity, combined with the absence of European settlers, permitted the development of a largely progressive and liberal form of colonial rule. However, Ugandan politics were bitterly divided along sectarian and ethnic lines. Decolonization required the creation of unlikely coalitions and constitutional compromises that proved unsustainable. In 1966 the prime minister, Milton Obote, overthrew the president, Edward Mutesa, who was the Kabaka, or ruler of Uganda’s largest kingdom, Buganda. The following year Obote abolished all of Uganda’s kingdoms. He himself was overthrown in 1971 by General Idi Amin. Amin’s expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community, combined with corruption and mismanagement, resulted in economic collapse, while opposition to his rule was met with torture and execution. Amin’s invasion of Tanzania in 1978 brought his largely empty state down, and Obote returned to power in an apparently rigged election in 1980. The poverty and violence that had characterized the 1970s worsened under “Obote II.” Only after Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army fought its way to power in 1986 did peace and economic growth return in most of the country. Museveni’s liberalization of the economy, his welcoming back of Ugandan Asians, and above all his regime’s role in the rapid reduction in HIV prevalence saw Uganda become one of the largest recipients of donor aid on the continent in the 1990s. Uganda’s image as an African success story was never absolute, however. Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army fought a long and brutal war against the Museveni regime, during which atrocities were committed by both sides. Since 2006 the conflict has largely been conducted outside Uganda’s borders, but within Uganda peaceful criticism of the regime has increased in recent years due to Museveni’s evasion of constitutional limits on his term in office, his dubious commitment to multipartyism, his perceived promotion of separatist groups within the kingdom of Buganda, and above all the scale of the corruption with which his government has been associated.

Article.  17849 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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