Uganda History

It is believed the early history of what is today known as Uganda can be traced back at least 50,000 years, maybe even 100,000 given Acheulean stone tools (tools characterized by oval and/or pear-shaped "hand axes") have been discovered near Lake Victoria. Rock art found in the eastern part of the country also suggests human activity during the Later Stone Age of Ugandan history. Bantu-speaking farmers arrived in Southern Uganda around 1,000 BCE bringing knowledge of agriculture and iron-forging technology which allowed them to clear the forests to create a sustainable food growing area, although this activity drove the indigenous hunter-gatherer groups into the less accessible mountain regions. By 400 BCE they were raising goats, chickens, and some cattle.

Old Kingdoms of UgandaBy this time Bantu-speaking metallurgists were also perfecting iron smelting with iron being mined and smelted in various parts of what was to become Uganda. Over the centuries the Bantu evolved a system of government based on clan chiefs who facilitated work coordination, dispute resolution, and religious observances. By the mid-19th century, Uganda was home to several distinct languages and cultures. However while this structure worked in the Nilotic and Sudanic speaking north, as the Bantu moved southwards the population of Uganda was organized into states or kingdoms. Before colonization, present-day Uganda had evolved into a number of distinct kingdoms and societies, each with its own unique customs, governance, and cultural heritage. The Bunyoro Kingdom, ruled by a monarch, controlled the northern part of what is now western Uganda, while the Buganda Kingdom, straddling the centre of the modern-day country, was one of the most prominent and influential kingdoms in Uganda not least because of its location. The Toro and Karagwe Kingdoms )offshoots of the Bunyoro Kingdom) were also part of the part of the pre-colonial landscape.

The rich cultural history of Uganda changed when it encountered The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC), a commercial association founded to develop African trade, the same way as The British East India Company had in India in preceeding centuries. At this time in the early 1880s, European powers were acquiring territories in Africa not yet claimed by a non-African nations or states (The Berlin Conference) and both the recently unified Germany and Britain eyed the Sultanate of Zanzibar and the interior of Eastern Africa.


Uganda History

Uganda History

Uganda History

Uganda History


Volunteer Uganda

Volunteer Work Uganda

Check out all the latest African volunteer work placements and opportunities in Uganda.
More >


Uganda History

Ugandan HistoryIn 1886 a treaty was signed between the two European powers giving Germany claim to the coast of present-day Tanzania with Britain retaining access to the area in which Kenya and Uganda lie, with its exploration and development handed to the Imperial British East Africa Company. The company was unable to retain order in the area and virtually bankrupted itself in trying to do so, so in 1893 ransferred its administration rights of the territory to the British Government. The territory was then divided to form the Uganda Protectorate in 1894 and East Africa Protectorate (later Kenya) in 1895. This arrangement continued until Uganda was granted independence from the UK in 1962 with Milton Obote becoming executive Prime Minister with the Kabaka of Buganda, Mutesa, becoming ceremonial president. Within a few years Obote became implicated together with the deputy commander of the armed forces, one Idi Amin, in a plot to smuggle gold, coffee and ivory out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Refusing to bow to any investigation, Obote acted swiftly to secure his power. He suspended the constitution, declared himself president and ordered a state of emergency with many former cabinet members being arrested and detained.

Milton OboteObote (right) then had his newly appointed Chief of Staff, Idi Amin, storm the president's palace sending Kabaka Mutesa into exile and he passed a new constitution ending Buganda's autonomy and the creation of an all powerful president, himself. Obete's rule became increasingly hated as he became mired in corruption. In 1971, when he was on an overseas visit to a Commonwealth meeting in Singapore, the army moved, installing Idi Amin as President, ushering in a brutal regime that by contrast made the dictatorship of Obote seem like a golden age of peace and tranquillity.

Idi AminAmin ruled for eight years, during which time up to 500,000 Ugandans were massacred earning him the nickname the "Butcher of Uganda." Amin exacted his revenge by being earlier sidelined by Obote as the then President had become increasingly concerned at Amin's gathering of power, by sending out killer squads to track down and kill the former president's supporters. For many years the full horror of Amin's horrific rule in Uganda went mainly unnoticed by the west and it wasn't until around 1978 that his bizarre and paranoid behaviours began to appear in the international press. Amin sealed his fate in the late seventies, when against a backdrop of an economy in freefall with inflation heading towards 1000%, he attempted to annex Kagera, a northern province of Tanzania.

Tanzania responded with force and, together with Ugandan rebels, toppled the Amin regime forcing him to flee the country firstly to Libya then Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003. There followed a history in Uganda of coups and counter coups during which former president Obete was restored to power and then lost it again. Following a further coup in 1986 when the National Resistance Army took the capital Kampala, Yoweri Museveni was installed as president, a post he retains to this day. Since that time there have been numerous difficulties however his rule has brought some political and economic stability despite bordering on known conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan. The video (left) explores more about the history of Uganda.


by Country

African Volunteer Work

a Child

Sponsor a Child in Africa

All About

About Africa


African Resources