1900s to 1962 - Buganda Kingdom & Cultural Land Redistribution Pave the Way for Agricultural Development in Uganda – 1900s – 1962

The British in search of cheaper agricultural inputs into their industries especially after the 2nd world war greatly turned to fertile Uganda to provide the much needed raw materials. However, they needed to defragment the land and create political harmony over the defragmented land to be able to grow her raw materials safely. During the division of land for Agricultural Production in the 1900s, the colonial government in Uganda accepted, that each ‘tribal’ group had its defined territory to be kept exclusively for use by that one tribe. However, because the Baganda allied with the British in the colonial wars at the end of the nineteenth century, the boundaries of Buganda`s ‘tribal’ land were extended at the expense of Bunyoro, whose government had opposed the British occupation. Also, ‘tribal’ lands were to be held by the tribe in common except in Buganda where a unique pattern of distribution was put into effect.

The aid given to the British by the majority of the Baganda leaders was of such great importance in establishing British occupation that a treaty was drawn up between the two parties. The Buganda Agreement of 1900 not only defined the political relationship between the British colonial government and the Buganda rulers but also set out the way in which land was to be distributed, thus ensuring that Britain’s principal supporters in the area should benefit. Under the terms of the Agreement, 9003 square miles of land (roughly half of what the British regarded as Ganda territory) were to be allocated to the Kabaka and about a thousand chiefs with freehold. This freehold land came to be known as mailo land, a Luganda version of the English term, square miles. The remainder was to be regarded as British Crown Land, held in trust for the Baganda, but to be alienated if the colonial government so wished. The aim of this land distribution was first, to ensure that all the leaders of Buganda would have an incentive to support British political domination and secondly, to ensure political stability throughout Buganda. In practice, settlement was not as straightforward as it had appeared to be on paper. A major difficulty was the determination of who exactly was entitled to land under the terms of the Agreement. By 1907 there were 6000 claimants where originally there had been 1000.

Two important consequences followed from the mailo distribution. The first was that Baganda landowners developed their properties along capitalist farming lines. They were able to do so because they were now assured of permanent ownership of their land and could, if they wished, buy and sell land to other Baganda.

(A non-Muganda required permission from the Governor and from the Lukiiko before he could purchase land in Buganda.) Baganda farmers were therefore able to grow an annual cash crop and to improve their holdings without fear of alienation or of redistribution

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