I think a little background might be useful. I like Africa, African people, and African wildlife. I have spent more than 700 days on safari. And a related 100+ days on airplanes. I have shared my affection with lots of travelers. My wife TLF, The Lovely Frances, has been there several times as well and now understands and shares my affection for this continent and its residents. We went to Uganda because it was part of our home away from home, East Africa and because it would be new for both of us. For all the visits to Kenya and Tanzania (and Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Morocco, Mauritania, Gambia, Senegal, Egypt, and South Africa) I/we had never visited Uganda. There were good birds, we were part of a good plan — after three year of pandemic delays we were finally able to undertake a trip planned for 2019. It was worth the wait.
As I mentioned in the last post, the land that is Uganda was greatly crumpled by unimaginable earthly pressures during the rifting and the volcanic episodes that followed. It is mountainous on the western side abutting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and less so on the eastern side toward Kenya. The lakes created in the rifting are evident to the west and south. The Great Rift Valley runs about 4,300 miles from Mozambique up to Lebanon and the Dead Sea, just east of the Mediterranean. This is a huge rip in the African continent.
There are lots of people living here. There are many languages spoken. There is relative harmony and cooperation. As an American I am always pleasantly surprised that the residents of these countries having hundreds of languages and tribal affiliations live so well together. It is a testament to thoughtful and caring political leaders like Nyerere of Tanzania and Kenyatta of Kenya. These two men essentially led the formation of these countries after they gained independence in the early 1960s. Uganda was developed during this period as well, excepting that Idi Amin took power in 1971 and ruled for eight years with military might as his driving force. This period delayed Ugandan development and for years it was the poor cousin of Kenya and Tanzania. That is a circumstance that has been changing during the past few decades. Ugandan economy and growth has been laudable recently.
There are cultural circumstances that have allowed Uganda to change and grow and there are cultural factors that describe the people and the economy. This post will help set the scene further and perhaps describe how and why Uganda exists in the form it now does. Again this will be pictures and captions.
The Europeans invaded/claimed/usurped and colonized Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most African nations didn’t have independence until the mid 1900s. Uganda was first managed by Great Britain in about 1860 and was a protectorate into the mid-1900s. The early years were during the period when the source of the Nile was a burning question and great white hunters wrote books. Names like David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, John Speke, Mubarak Bombay, and Richard Burton all played a part in the late 1800s as the Royal Geographical Society sponsored the search for the Nile. Much of this happened in what is now Uganda and makes for exciting reading as trials and tribulations, egos and arguments, exploration and illness and eventually death followed the trail as Speke and Burton worked their way into the forests and mountains of Uganda and under each others skin.
A great book on the topic was published this year (2022) called; River of the Gods; Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard.