The Story of Uganda
ONG before the conquest of the Egyptian Sudan, men had been exploring the land to the south, in order to discover
the sources of the Nile. The
story of how Bruce
discovered the source of the
It was reserved for Englishmen to make the final discovery. While Livingstone was exploring the Nyassa region, two explorers were leaving Zanzibar to investigate a large lake, known to lie north of Tanganyika. Disaster dogged their steps through this fever-stricken country, guides deserted them, illness assailed them; but with that resolute perseverance, which alone ensures success, they pushed on towards their goal. But one of them—Grant—soon grew too ill to go farther, and it was left for his more fortunate companion, Speke, to behold the great sheet of water, to which he gave the name of Victoria Nyanza or Victoria Lake, after his queen. He discovered that the Nile flowed out of this great lake to the northward, though he missed the lake into which it next flowed. This discovery was left to another Englishman, Baker, who with his wife met Speke on his way to Khartum. After learning Speke's great news they journeyed on, to be rewarded by finding a lesser lake to the west of Victoria Nyanza, which they at once christened Albert Nyanza, after Prince Albert, the husband of the Queen of England, who had recently died. Into this lake they traced the Nile's entrance and exit, and with this great news they made their way homewards.
Their way was terribly impeded by thick tangles of a
Much light had been thrown on this country beyond the Sudan, but still the geography was uncertain, when
"I have opened the door," Livingstone had said; "I leave it to you to see that no one closes it after me."
"I am ready to be, if God wills it, the next martyr to geographical science," Stanley affirmed.
Arrived at Zanzibar, he marched to the southern shore of Victoria Nyanza. Here he put together the sections of
an English boat, which he launched on the lake, and in the
"My mother dreamt a dream," said Mtesa with confidence, "and she saw a white man on this lake in a boat coming this way, and lo, you have come!"
The country ruled over by this king was large and fertile, but the people were uncivilised, and executions for slight offences took place daily, by the orders of the king. Stanley was greatly struck by the intelligence of the king—he at once grasped the possibilities of Uganda as a centre of civilisation for the surrounding country.
"I see in Mtesa the light that shall lighten the darkness of this benighted region," he wrote home. "With his aid the civilisation of equatorial Africa becomes possible."
He translated parts of the Bible into a language that the king could read, and so earnestly did he relate the story of Christ, that the king ordered the Christian Sabbath to be observed throughout his realm.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." These words he wrote on a board in Arabic, and hung it in the palace, that all his court might read it daily. The explorer now wrote home a glowing account of Uganda, and begged that missionaries might be sent without delay. They must belong to no particular nation, no sect or Church; but in the midst of these pagan peoples, they must lead the blameless lives of Christians. The appeal arrived at a time when Europe was keenly interested in Africa, and at once a party of Protestants made their way to Uganda, together with a party of Roman Catholics from France.
In 1884 Mtesa died, and was succeeded by his son Mwanga. He hated all Europeans, and resolved to rid the
country of them. The English bishop, Hannington, was murdered, together with forty of his followers, while the
native converts were burned. It seemed as if this fair country must relapse, when an Englishman, now Sir
Frederick Lugard, saved the situation. He had just returned from the Burmese wars, when he volunteered for
service under the British East Africa Company, which was establishing a protectorate over the country south of
the Egyptian Sudan, and east of the great lakes towards the coast. It seems strange to hear of an Englishman
freeing slaves at Mombasa and Melinda, ports of Vasco
It was a critical moment in the history of Uganda. Another moment would have seen bloodshed. Lugard pressed the matter no further that day. Amid shouts and angry voices from the French Roman Catholics, he quietly withdrew. Next day was Christmas. Lugard, after an anxious night, again sought an interview with the king. But as he neared the royal residence, drums rattled, and armed men with rifles stole about the grounds. Once more he turned back, amid the jeers of the rabble. But Lugard was a resolute man, and next morning he succeeded in getting the treaty signed without bloodshed.
It was some time before the country was sufficiently restored to peace, but on April 1, 1893, the British flag was hoisted by Sir Gerald Portal, and from this time matters have progressed rapidly, and a new era of peace and progress dawned on Uganda.
In 1902 a railway was completed from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza, which