Letter from Abu Mayanja to the Uganda Argus



Letter from Abu Mayanja to the Uganda Argus [6 March 1958]

The threat by the Kabaka’s Government to sabotage direct elections for Legislative Council in Buganda is so full of ugly possibilities for the future that it is high time somebody did some very straight talking to the reactionary elements in Buganda who seem to imagine that somehow Buganda can contract out of the 20th century, -and revert to a system of administration when the efficiency of guns used to be tested on human beings.

These elements are ‘seeking to block the development of democracy in Buganda whilst pretending to pay lip-service to its principles. An example of this was the attempted intimidation of Makerere students by the Lukiko speaker when the former demonstrated against the reject of direct elec  tions to the Lukiko. The Katikiro’s admonition of those who dared to criticize the speech from the Throne is another pointer in the same direction.  So, too, is the recent statement by the clan leaders threatening those joining political parties with expulsion from the, clans. Nor is it purely coincidental that leaders of the political parties have been subjected to a spate of denigration and prosecutions – only to be acquitted after their reputations had been tarnished.  Sir, it is not at all fanciful to see in these and other instances the presence of a plan not only to sabotage democracy within Buganda, but also to seek to entrench the anti-democratic system by cutting Buganda from the rest of Uganda where it might be subjected to democratic influences. I am not saying that it is wrong for anyone to be against democracy; the world is only too full of examples of anti-demo­cratic regimes. What I am pleading for is that we should recognize these facts for what they are. I am also appealing to those who think in this way to come out in the open and tell the country exactly what they believe in.

If they want Buganda to go back to the 18th century, with the Kabaka ruling through hand-picked men and clan heads, let them say so – they owe it to the country to speak the truth. I also think that the notion that the Kabaka’s Government – which is but part of the Government of Uganda – can defy the latter is a matter so grave that it must be clarified and the correct position authoritatively stated.

There is grave responsibility which these events cast on the Protectorate Government. There is obviously a clash of objectives between those who want to see a democratic system developing in Buganda, and   those who do not.

It would be dangerously tempting for the Protectorate Government either to observe a benevolent neutrality, or to playoff one faction against the other.  I hope the Protectorate Government will realize that it has a duty to pursue with vigour those policies calculated to fulfill Britain’s mission in her dependencies – to take Uganda to democratic self-government.

I hope that the Government will take this attitude not only in the full confidence that history is on its side, but also with the knowledge that it has the unstinting support of the overwhelming majority of the educated Baganda who will struggle tooth and nail to resist the reimposition of feudal tyranny based on the debasement of the human personality and the vagaries of the so-called customary law.

I should like to warn our reactionary rulers that they are running a great danger of discrediting our traditional institutions, and thus making it impossible for many of us to reform and adapt what is good in them to the conditions of modern life.

I also wish to address a word of warning to the forward-looking, edu­cated Baganda.  I think we intellectuals (yes, though some people may laugh at this word) – I think we intellectuals have been much too timid so far. I think we have allowed ourselves the luxury of sleeping in strange beds for too long; I think we have compromised our position much too much; I think it is not too soon for us to declare from the hilltops what we believe in.

Speaking for myself I have crossed the Rubicon. I have set my face firmly against any autocracy whether it be foreign and imperialist or native and feudal. I stake my future and dedicate my life to the realization of democratic principles in my coup try no matter from which side the obstacles may emanate. This is a declaration of political faith, and I call on other intellectuals to do likewise.

Abu Kakyama Mayanja



About ekitibwakyabuganda

Ba Ssebo ne ba Nyabo, Twebaza Abaganda bonna abulumulirwa Obuganda . Era twebaza ne mikwano gya Buganda gyonna wonna wegiri munsi yonna. Omukutu guno gwatandikibwawo nga e’kigendererwa kwe kuyigiriza abantu ebintu ebikwatagana no’Buganda era nokuwanyisiganya ebilowozo nebanaffe abatali Baganda. Abaganda ne mikwano gya Buganda mukozese omukisa guno muwereze ebirowozo byamwe no’bubaka bwona obunaagasa Abaganda na’baana Buganda berizala mu maaso eyo. Obumu ku bubaka obuwerezebwa ku mukutu guno bugyibwa mukuwanyisiganya ebirowozo okubera kumukutu gwa Ugandan’s at Heart (UAH) Forum ogwatandikibwawo Mwami Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba. Era twebaza muzukulu wa Kintu ne Nnambi ono olw’omulimu gwakoledde bana Uganda bonna abali e’bunayira mungeri yo kubagatta mu byempuliziganya no’kutumbula okukolaganira awamu.

4 responses »

  1. i just cant believe that Abu mayanja could jot down such democratically sound but conservatively unsound information.
    My worry is that there are no Baganda now who can stand up and say their mind like he did. All that is expected from a good muganda is to riot, destroy property and rape in the name of the kingdom.
    there is no talk about democracy in the lukiko, no talk about advertising vacancies in the mengo government and there is nothing about a concrete development programme.
    Baganda should emulate the late Abu since we realise how good he is after he died.
    a good muganda is a ………… one.

  2. Hi maam, Buganda Kingdom does have a comprehensive development programme. Jobs -including openings in the Katikiro’s office are always advertised hourly on the kingdom radio which is unfortunately closed for now.

    I appreciate Abu Mayanja and offcourse Buganda moved to have directly elected lukiiko reps!! So Buganda moved to democratise.

    However, about the riots- the governmrnt of Uganda does not allow competition against it whether for power or policy alternatives and always moves to quash opponents. The best remedy to such a regime is attempts to forcefully stop them when they undertake very unreasonable moves like undermining the kabaka in his own Kingdom. Sorry that some rogue elements raped and looted. These should be the ones that should have been arrested not standers’by and yet some of you have proof of rapists. Cheers!

  3. Hi Hakim,

    You are a suprisingly positive and very different kind of person both in mentality and character.
    i wonder why your colleagues don’t emulate you instead of choosing a very hard stance on issues that involve every soul living in Buganda.
    If the lukiiko was full of persuasive people of your nature, then Buganda would have retained its federo by seeing off the two lost counties. more so Buganda could have won back its federo before the beginning of this millennium.
    you have the enviable task of transforming your henchmen to adopt your attitude and you can only do this by starting now.
    thanks hakim.

    i inna lillahi wa inna ileyhi rajiun

  4. This is a clearly well written and logically sound article.

    I wish we can emulate this for the future of our country instead of playing on personal sentiments and emotions of the lay persons in our community

    Best Regards


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