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Bantu, Nilot and British rule

Little is known about the original inhabitants of Uganda. In the 18th century, two ethnic groups lived on the current Ugandan territory; Bantu peoples in the south and Nilotic peoples in the north. In the south there were mainly farmers organised into kingdoms, of which Buganda was the most important. The Nilots were for the most part cattle breeders.

In the early 19th century, some Arab traders (slave traders) settled in the area, attracted by ivory and slaves. At the end of the 19th century, Uganda came under indirect British administration and during the first half of the 20th century a classic colonial economy was developed, with mainly cash crops (mainly coffee and cotton), supplemented by crops for local consumption. As the British brought many Indians to East Africa from the end of the 19th century for the construction of the Kenyan and Ugandan railways, the Asian population group grew considerably. Later, this group would start many activities in the commercial and industrial sectors in the country.


In 1962 Uganda became independent from Great Britain. In the years following independence, Uganda experienced 8 changes of government in 36 years, some of which were accompanied by a great deal of violence. Some attribute the country's instability to its enormous ethnic diversity. Other explanations refer to the greater (military) power of the north.

The first government of independent Uganda was formally led by President Mutesa (a former king of southern Buganda), but executive power actually lay with Prime Minister Milton Obote (a Langi from the north). In 1966, Obote took power with the help of the army and appointed himself president. Protests and violence in Buganda were brutally suppressed by the army, led by General Idi Amin.

Idi Amin

A new military coup followed in 1971, this time by Amin. His regime initially enjoyed popular support and the mass deportation of Asians from the country was welcomed by many Africans. However, Amin's popularity quickly waned, as did his hold on the people, whom he tried to divide by emphasising ethnic divisions. It is estimated that several hundred thousand people were killed during Amin's violent rule. Intervention by Tanzania, which had never recognised Amin's regime, forced him to step down. This was followed by two short periods of rule that did not bring stability to the country.

Obote back to power

In elections in 1980, Obote returned to power as leader of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). A period of intense violence and internal unrest commenced. According to most sources, the number of victims of the police and the army was even higher than during the Amin regime, around 500,000. Conflicts between the various ethnic groups in the army finally led to Obote's dismissal in 1985.

Period Museveni

Negotiations between the various parties, led by Kenyan President Moi, came to nothing. In January 1986, the National Resistance Army (NRA), formerly the Uganda Patriotic Movement, led by Yoweri Museveni, seized power. Until then the NRA had operated as a guerrilla movement against Obote's regime. Museveni became the new president and still holds that position.

Northern Uganda has been plagued by conflict for 20 years. The Lord Resistance Army (LRA) is a small rebel movement with a cult-like character and no clear political agenda. It commits mostly crimes against civilians and avoids confrontation with the Ugandan army. This makes it a difficult opponent to fight. The Ugandan army itself is also not very motivated to fight. There are too many people in the army who benefit from the continuation of the situation (corruption possibilities) and the situation has too little priority with the Ugandan government to change this.

In February 2006, President Museveni won the presidential elections from his rival Kizza Besigye with 59% against 37% of the votes. In February 2008, the government and the LRA signed a permanent ceasefire. In November 2008, Joseph Kony of the LRA did not attend the signing of the peace agreement. In February 2009, the opposition strongly criticised the appointment of Janet Museveni, the president's wife, as minister of the Karamoja region. According to the president, nobody else wanted the job. In 2009 and 2010, there were skirmishes with the LRA and Islamists from Somalia. The latter group carried out a serious bomb attack during the World Cup finals (June 2010). In Kampala, 74 people were killed as a result. In February, Museveni won his fourth presidential election.

In 2012 and 2013, unrest continues with skirmishes with the LRA. In December 2013, parliament ratified an anti-gay law that increased the penalty to life imprisonment. On 24 February 2014, the president signed the law amid widespread international protest from Western countries. In February 2016, Museveni was re-elected; there were doubts about the fairness and transparency of this election among the Western world. In January 2017 Museveni appointed his son General Muhoozi as presidential advisor. In September 2017, members of parliament proposed scrapping the age limit for the president, leading to demonstrations by opponents. In January 2021, Museveni was re-elected for a sixth term.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info