DISCOVER BUGANDA

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At its founding, the Kingdom of Buganda had only a small territory consisting of the counties of Busiro, Busujju, Kyaddondo and Mawokota; as well as small portions of Ssingo and Bulemeezi counties. Most of the surrounding territory was the dominion of the kings of Bunyoro. There was considerable rivalry between Bunyoro and Buganda, and constant fighting over territory. Gradually, Buganda was able to expand its territory at the expense of Bunyoro until it grew in size to the twenty counties that constituted Buganda at its pinnacle. The islands of Ssese were autonomous within Buganda right from its founding, being reserved as the islands of the gods. They were not directly governed by the kings of Buganda until after the 1900 agreement.

The expansion of Buganda Kingdom was a goal seriously undertaken by Buganda kings. Apart from a desire for the wealth typically associated with a large kingdom, geography also favoured and tempted Buganda kings’ aspirations to expand Muhwahwa (Buganda) at the expense of Bunyoro-Kitara. Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom, which originally included the present-day counties of Busujju, Gomba, Kyaggwe, etc, was geographically too extensive to be governed effectively. The kingdom was too far flung from the centre of Bunyoro-Kitara to be governed, and to be militarily defended effectively. Hence the temptation of Buganda kings to invade and annex these counties to their kingdom. And this is exactly what happened.

While Buganda and its kings were growing in strength at the beginning of the 19th century, the same could not be said of Bunyoro-Kitara, which was plagued by a succession of weak kings who could not militarily defend her borders. The Baganda kings embarked on an ambitious expansionist programme fully knowing that they could easily defeat the Banyoro at war. Baganda kings then periodically invaded Bunyoro-Kitara at intervals, grabbing one county after another until they acquired the counties of Buddu, Gomba, Busujju, Kyagwe, and Kooki. While these invasions led to unrest and tense relations, the respective royal families of both kingdoms knew and recognised their common lineage. They knew they originated from a Luo woman by the name of Nyatworwo and they were of the Babiito Dynasty. An example of the friendly relations between the two kingdoms is exhibited by the then Prince Kabalega enlisting the support of Baganda princes who supplied him with soldiers during the succession war with his brother Prince Kabigumire. Eventually Kabalega defeated Kabigumire partly because he had Baganda soldiers on his side.

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