As the Bantu-speaking agriculturists of the Uganda area spread and multiplied over the centuries, they evolved a form of government by clan chiefs. This kinship-organized system was useful for coordinating work projects, settling internal disputes, and carrying out religious observances to clan deities, but it could effectively govern only a limited number of people. Larger polities began to form states towards the end of the first millennium CE, some of which would ultimately govern over a million subjects each. More extensive and improved cultivation of bananas (high-yield crops that allowed for permanent cultivation and settlements) by Bantu groups between 300 and 1200 CE helped this process.
Nilotic speaking pastoralists who lived in the more arid and less fertile North were mobile and ready to resort to arms in defence of their cattle or in raids to appropriate the cattle of others. But their political organization was less, based on kinship and decisions by kin-group elders. In the meeting of cultures, they may have acquired the ideas and symbols of political chiefship from the Bantu speakers, to whom they could offer military protection, and with whose elites they sometimes joined and intermarried. It is theorized a system of patron-client relationships developed, whereby a pastoral elite emerged, entrusting the care of cattle to subjects who used the manure to improve the fertility of their increasingly overworked gardens and fields.