Biography & True Story Books:

Mbarara Genesis

Early Explorers in Ankole and the Founding of Ankole by an African, Asian and European Initiative


Paperback / softback

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Mbarara Genesis by David Weekes
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Work on the founding of East African towns is needed to provide a better understanding of their origins. As a municipality, Mbarara has had a continuous history only since 1898. Initiation came about solely because of the extension of the Uganda Protectorate Administration to include Ankole. The site had an earlier history of occupation by the kraal of the traditional ruler of the area, Ntare. His way of life was centred entirely on cattle. Being itinerant, the kraal site having no real permanence, moving to a new location every few years once the immediate pasturage had become exhausted. This situation changed for a number of reasons. From the mid nineteenth century Arab traders penetrated to the borders of Ankole though were not allowed to enter. Trade goods, including guns were bartered on the borders for ivory and skins. Then in 1876 Stanley was the first European known to pass through the edge of the territory. He came again with the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition in 1889. Thereafter there were a number of other appearances by Europeans, both British and German, but Ntare would not deal with them in person. Nevertheless some blood-brotherhood relationships were entered into through proxies acting on his behalf. Faced with various threats, both from adverse natural causes and neighbouring Rwanda, Europeans began to be looked to for support. Ntare died unexpectedly in 1895, and thereafter the situation was soon confused further. His natural successor was very young and still insecure. The territory was affected by repercussions resulting from the rebellion of the Kabaka Mwanga in neighbouring Buganda, and the Sudanese Mutiny, both events beginning in 1897. Once these disturbances had been subdued, the way was open for the Protectorate Administration to be extended effectively into Ankole. However, that necessitated a meeting with Ntare who had previously resisted this successfully. In 1894, Cunningham had carried out an important exploratory journey through Ankole, and attempted a meeting with great determination but without success. Nevertheless, he acquired important information about the country and the blood-brotherhood relationship entered into with him was later appealed to by the local leaders. At the end of 1898, John Macallister, a senior official in the Protectorate Administration, with considerable pioneering experience, was sent to establish the District headquarters. After a preliminary reconnaissance, and with knowledge gained from earlier journeys by Lugard and Cunningham, he appointed an unoccupied site for this purpose, and called it Mbarara, a local derivation. Initially the station was staffed by Macallister, his deputy, and a small body of British officered Sudanese troops. Within a period of twenty months, Macallister achieved much. Ntare's successor was persuaded to move his kraal adjacent to the Administrative centre, traders encouraged to settle, a monied economy initiated; he also entertained reconnaissance visits by representatives of the Anglican Church Missionary Society. Primary collaboration and opposition is explored, but thus were secure foundations laid for steady development to follow. Within a few years there was a thriving market, a Post Office, the establishment of a police force, and the appointment of a Medical Officer. Both Anglican and Catholic Missions built churches, the language (Runyankore) reduced to writing, and literary and numerate education began. Such rapid progress resulted in Mbarara being declared a township in 1906. A century later it has become a 'secondary city' with a population of over 80,000. Long since there has been a hospital, Cathedral, schools and colleges, and more recently a university. This major municipality was initiated through the collaboration and united endeavours of Africans, Asians, and Europeans. Such activity is worthy of continuing recognition.
Release date Australia
December 31st, 2014
6 maps, 11 photographs, 3 sketches
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Lavender Inprint
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