chapter  XII
14 Pages

Some Effects of the Introduction of Individual Freehold into Buganda

WithAudrey I. Richards

The present system of land-tenure in Buganda is the result of one of the most interesting experiments in administrative and economic policy which has been made in East Africa during the past century – namely the sudden introduction of individual freehold into a tribal territory in which land had been held by chiefs and notables in feudal tenure from their king (Kabaka). This experiment was remarkable in that it took place so early in the history of the Uganda Protectorate. (The British Protectorate was proclaimed in 1893 and the Uganda Agreement, which embodied the new system of land-holding, was signed in 1900.) It was unusual also in that the new system of freeholding seems to have been introduced as part of the political settlement of the country rather than as an economic measure designed to give peasants greater security over their land and thus to encourage them to make more permanent improvements in their farms, the reason given in recent years for the introduction of individual titles to peasant plots in other parts of East Africa. Notable also was the allocation of large estates to traditional authorities rather than small plots to deserving peasants. 1 For instance, by the Uganda Agreement, the three Regents for the then infant Kabaka received 40–60 square miles in freehold tenure: 20 of the chiefs got 20 or more square miles: 150 others got 8–12 square miles and the majority 2 square miles.