Before independence from the UK in
1962, Uganda was not a country, rather a loose grouping of ethnic
tribes with an equally large number of systems of governance. The
largest such grouping is in Buganda, a sub kingdom within Uganda
which has its own monarch, the Kabaka.
Buganda occupies the central region
of Uganda including its capital, Kampala. Kampala was chosen by the
king of Buganda as his capital as he was a keen hunter and the area
had an abundance of wildlife.
Kampala still has
many vestiges of the Buganda period including the Buganda Court of Justice and Parliament
buildings as well as the Lubiri palace and Kasubi Tombs, the final
resting place of four of the kings of Buganda (left).
Other places of interest if
visiting Kampala include the Uganda Museum founded in 1908 with its
displays of Uganda's cultural heritage; the bustling New St.
Balikuddembe Market, known locally as Owino market (below), where
you can find just about everything; the Nommo Art Gallery, the home
of Uganda's developing visual arts and the craft shops around
Buganda Road close to the National Theatre.
Today Kampala is home to around
1,659,600 residents, a steep rise from 330,700 in 1969 and is mostly
Anglican in nature with a Muslim population of around 10%. The city
infrastructure reflected the state of the Ugandan economy by the
1980s, run down and dilapidated and few repairs had been undertaken
in Kampala after it was invaded and seized by Tanzanian troops in
the Uganda-Tanzania War of 1978-1979 which saw the overthrow of the
dictator Idi Amin.
Despite this it is known as a safe, friendly city
and, unlike other African cities, not yet overrun with vehicles!
installation of Yoweri Museveni as president in 1986, much of the
city has been rebuilt and is widely hailed as a confident city at
the heart of academic excellence in Uganda. Nevertheless, Kampala
was the scene of serious rioting in April 2011, in response to
concerns about the treatment of opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye
who was arrested and blinded by pepper spray and his family were
refused permission to take him abroad for treatment.
The riots saw 84 shot
including women and children. Some believed the riots that swept the
city were motivated by similar scenes across northern Africa that
saw regime changes in countries with similar autocratic presidents.