The Outsiders

Friday, September 24, 2021 11:26:43 AM

The Outsiders

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Being in a sense beyond Lake Victoria, Germany is able to argue that this region the most powerful kingdom within the territory of Uganda is not covered by the territorial agreement with Britain. Moreover the irrepressible Karl Peters now forces the issue. In he arrives at Kampala and persuades the kabaka the king of Buganda to sign a treaty accepting a German protectorate over his kingdom. A possibly dangerous confrontation between the imperial powers is averted when the British prime minister, Lord Salisbury , proposes a deal which Berlin, remarkably, accepts.

Salisbury offers the tiny and apparently useless island of Heligoland in British possession since in return for German recognition of British protectorates in Zanzibar , Uganda and Equatoria the southern province of Sudan. But Germany derives her own benefit from the deal. Heligoland subsequently proves an invaluable naval base in two world wars. Meanwhile the East Africa Company faces further problems in Buganda, where civil war breaks out between factions led by British Protestant missionaries and their French Catholic rivals.

In January there is heavy gunfire between and among the four hills which form Kampala. On the top of one hill is the palace of the kabaka. On another the French have completed a Catholic cathedral of wooden poles and reeds. On a third the Protestants are building their church. On the fourth is the fort established for the company by Frederick Lugard, who is the only combatant with the advantage of a Maxim machine gun. Lugard prevails. But the loss of life and destruction of property in this unseemly European squabble makes it plain that the East Africa Company is incapable of fulfilling its duties.

In the British government declares a protectorate over Buganda. Two years later British control is extended to cover the western kingdoms of Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro - to form, together with Buganda, the Uganda Protectorate. Meanwhile the much larger region of Kenya has been relatively calm, even if the East Africa Company has achieved little of value there. But in taking responsibility for Uganda, the British government needs to be sure of the new protectorate's access to the sea.

Kenya becomes another new responsibility of the British government, as the East Africa Protectorate. Recent events in Uganda have made evident the difficulties likely to be faced by any colonial power. As a result the British government appoints in a seasoned administrator, Harry Johnston , as special commissioner to Uganda. His brief is to recommend the most effective form of administration. The evident power of the local African kings convinces Johnston that control must be exercised through them. Buganda is by far the most significant of the kingdoms. The Johnston policy becomes effective with the Buganda Agreement of Under the terms of this agreement the kabaka's status is recognized by Britain, as is the authority of his council of chiefs. The chiefs' collective approval of the British protectorate over the region is eased by Johnston's acknowledgement of their freehold right to their lands a concept alien to African tribal traditions, but nevertheless extremely welcome to the chiefs themselves.

Johnston subsequently makes similar agreements with the rulers of Toro in and of Ankole in With this much achieved, and a clear pattern set for the Uganda Protectorate, Johnston returns to Britain. Later commissioners develop Johnston's solution for Uganda into a clear-cut distinction between it and neighbouring Kenya. White settlers are actively encouraged to move into Kenya's highlands, a region to the immediate southeast of Uganda. But Johnston's successor declares that Uganda is not suitable for European settlement. Many disagree, and pressure builds to allow the establishment of European farms and plantations - until another commissioner, still in the years before World War I, makes it a point of principle that Uganda is to be an African state.

The economics of the protectorate support this policy. Uganda grows prosperous as cotton, introduced by the British, is grown with great success by African peasant farmers. But a federal system of semi-independent monarchies proves less appropriate in the years after World War II, when all African colonies are moving towards independence. Young educated Africans, the likely leaders of the future, are out of sympathy with feudal Uganda.

And the dominant position of Buganda, by far the most powerful of the kingdoms, causes an imbalance in Ugandan politics - with much talk of possible secession by the kabaka and his council of chiefs. By the early s the leading Ugandan politician is Milton Obote, founder of the UPC Uganda People's Congress , a party drawing its support from the northern regions of the country. Its main political platform is opposition to the hegemony of the southern kingdom of Buganda. Britain grants Uganda full internal self-government in March In the following month Obote is elected prime minister. It is he who negotiates the terms of the constitution under which Uganda becomes independent in October Confronted by the problem of Buganda, Obote accepts a constitution which gives federal status and a degree of autonomy to four traditional kingdoms, of which Buganda is by far the most powerful.

In the same spirit Obote approves the election in of the kabaka, Mutesa II, to the largely ceremonial role of president and head of state. It proves to be a short-lived collaboration. By the deteriorating relationship between Obote and Mutesa comes to an abrupt end. Obote sends a force, led by his newly appointed army commander Idi Amin, to attack the kabaka's palace. Mutesa flees to exile in Britain. Obote immediately introduces a new constitution. This abolishes the hereditary kingdoms, ends the nation's federal structure and provides for an executive president - a post taken by Obote himself in addition to his role as prime minister. With the help of army and police he terrorizes any remaining political opponents. But meanwhile an ostensible ally, more ruthless even than himself, is making good use of the widespread discontent.

In , when Obote is abroad, his regime is toppled in a coup led by Idi Amin. Obote settles just over the border from Uganda in neighbouring Tanzania, where he maintains a small army of Ugandan exiles under the command of Tito Okello. Here Obote bides his time while the unbalanced Idi Amin subjects Uganda to a regime of arbitrary terror. Poachers are known to fish illegally in the waters around the island, catching turtles and diving for lobsters and sea cucumbers. The tribe have made it clear that they do not want contact. It is a wise choice. Neighboring tribes were wiped out after the British colonized their islands, and they lack immunity to common diseases like flu or measles, which would decimate their population.

Survival International is the only organization fighting worldwide to stop the extermination of uncontacted tribes like the Sentinelese. North Sentinel Island, home of the Sentinelese, as seen from above. Most of what is known about the Sentinelese has been gathered by viewing them from boats moored more than an arrows distance from the shore and a few brief periods where the Sentinelese allowed the authorities to get close enough to hand over some coconuts. Even what they call themselves is unknown. The Sentinelese hunt and gather in the forest, and fish in the coastal waters. These can only be used in shallow waters as they are steered and propelled with a pole like a punt.

It is thought that the Sentinelese live in three small bands. They have two different types of houses; large communal huts with several hearths for a number of families, and more temporary shelters, with no sides, which can sometimes be seen on the beach, with space for one nuclear family. The women wear fibre strings tied around their waists, necks and heads. The men also wear necklaces and headbands, but with a thicker waist belt. The men carry spears, bows and arrows. The Sentinelese enjoy excellent health, unlike those Andamans tribes whose lands have been destroyed.

There is no reason to believe the Sentinelese have been living in the same way for the tens of thousands of years they are likely to have been in the Andamans. Their ways of life will have changed and adapted many times, like all peoples. For instance, they now use metal which has been washed up or which they have recovered from shipwrecks on the island reefs. The iron is sharpened and used to tip their arrows. The people who are seen on the shores of North Sentinel look proud, strong and healthy and at any one time observers have noted many children and pregnant women. They attracted international attention in the wake of the Asian tsunami, when a member of the tribe was photographed on a beach, firing arrows at a helicopter which was checking on their welfare.

In the late s M. The party included trackers, from Andamanese tribes who had already made contact with the British, officers and convicts. They found recently abandoned villages and paths but the Sentinelese were nowhere to be seen. Predictably they soon fell ill and the adults died. The children were taken back to their island with a number of gifts. During the s the Indian authorities made occasional trips to North Sentinel in an attempt to befriend the tribe.

These were often at the behest of dignitaries who wanted an adventure. On one of these trips two pigs and a doll were left on the beach. The Sentinelese speared the pigs and buried them, along with the doll. Such visits became more regular in the s; the teams would try to land, at a place out of the reach of arrows, and leave gifts such as coconuts, bananas and bits of iron. Sometimes the Sentinelese appeared to make friendly gestures; at others they would take the gifts into the forest and then fire arrows at the contact party.

The Sentinelese have lived on their island for up to 55, years and have no contact with the outside world. In there appeared to be a breakthrough. When the officials arrived in North Sentinel the tribe gestured for them to bring gifts and then, for the first time, approached without their weapons. They even waded into the sea towards the boat to collect more coconuts. However, this friendly contact was not to last, although gift dropping trips continued for some years, encounters were not always friendly. At times the Sentinelese aimed their arrows at the contact team, and once they attacked a wooden boat with their adzes a stone axe for cutting wood.

No one knows why the Sentinelese first dropped, and then resumed their hostility to the contact missions, nor if any died as a result of diseases caught during these visits. In the regular gift dropping missions stopped. Many officials were beginning to question the wisdom of attempting to contact a people who were healthy and content and who had thrived on their own for up to 55, years. Friendly contact had had only a devastating impact on the Great Andamanese tribes.

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