chapter  [20]
16 Pages

War and Militarism in Pre-Colonial Buganda

WithRichard Reid

The dominance of Bunyoro in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries meant that if Buganda was to flourish, or even survive, military confrontation would be necessary. It is probably from around 1700 that we can safely date Buganda's modern military ascendancy. At the end of the eighteenth century, Buganda's attention was drawn to the south, where, possibly for the first time in the kingdom's history, a military expedition was dispatched in order to protect commercial interests along the increasingly active and lucrative trade routes west of Lake Victoria. By the early nineteenth century, then, Buganda was the most powerful state in the lacustrine region, and the Ganda had recorded their military history in various forms of martial celebration, as well as through oral history. Wars were used as chronological markers, in such a way as to suggest that the passing of life was measured in terms of military activity; clearly the efficacy of such a technique would depend upon particular rulers.