Wednesday, March 2, 2011
GOVERNOR COHEN TO KABAKA MUTESA II, 27 OCT 1953: WAKE UP!
GOVERNOR COHEN TO KABAKA MUTESA II, 27 OCT 1953: WAKE UP!
Posted: December 10, 2009 by ekitibwakyabuganda in Mutesa 1 and 2, Secession of Buganda
“Moreover the separation of Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate might well be objected to by some sections of the public in Buganda and particularly the minorities, and might even lead in the case of the minorities to requests for separation from Buganda.”
“If the Protectorate were to be divided into separate parts, each of these parts would be much weaker economically and in every other way than the Protectorate as a whole; and not only much weaker, but much less able to hold its own in dealings with the neighbouring territories.”
“A strong and united Protectorate rather than weak separate units must therefore be the aim of all our efforts in the interests both present and future of the people of the Protectorate.”
“Buganda geographically lies at the centre of the Protectorate and economically and in other ways its affairs are completely bound up with those of the Protectorate as a whole. These economic and general ties, reinforced by Buganda’s geographical position, have been built up over many years and,…..it would be virtually impossible now to break them down.”
27 October 1953.
To: HRH Kabaka Mutesa 11,
I have the honour to refer to your letter of the 6th August regarding the relations of the Uganda Protectorate with the other East African territories and to inform you that I duly referred this letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies as soon as it was received. I subsequently discussed the contents of the letter with Your Highness and your Ministers and during my recent visit to London I discussed the matter with the Secretary of State.
2. The Secretary of State has instructed me to inform you that he has considered your letter with the greatest care and that he fully realizes from its contents and from what I have myself told him the strength of feeling on the part of the people of Buganda on the subject of Federation. Your letter and recent expressions of public opinion in Buganda reveal fears and suspicions about the intentions of Her Majesty’s Government in this matter; the purpose of this reply which the Secretary of State has instructed me to convey to Your Highness is to dispel these fears and suspicions and to convince Your Highness and your Ministers, and the people of Buganda, that they are groundless. The Secretary of State attaches the greatest importance to removing these fears and suspicions and he has asked me, as Governor, to do everything in my power to achieve this object.
3. The reply which the Secretary of State has instructed me to make, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government to the points raised in Your Highness’ letter falls into four parts. It deals first with past statements on the subject of federation; secondly it contains a further statement by Her Majesty’s Government on this subject: while the third and fourth parts of the reply comment on your request that responsibility for Buganda affairs should be transferred from the Colonial Office to the Foreign Office and your request for the separation of Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate.
4. Past statements on the subject of federation made by or on the instructions of Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government have been examined and it has been found that no statement has been made in the past ruling out the possibility of federation for all time. The statement in the letter of the 18th March, 1922, quoted by Your Highness, which was repeated in 1924, specifically referred to the possibility of federation of the East African territories, and it is clear from all the discussions which followed up to 1931, when H.M. Government decided on the advice of the Joint Select Committee of the two Houses of Parliament not to proceed with the matter at that time, that this possibility included the Uganda Protectorate. East African federation, including Uganda, was being actively discussed in 1931, when a deputation from Uganda, including Mr. S. W. Kulubya, went to London to give evidence on this subject to the Joint Select Committee.
5. No further statements on the subject are on record until 1945, when proposals were put forward, in paper Colonial 191, for the establishment of an East Africa High Commission and Assembly to deal with certain common services of interest to all three East African territories, in the spheres particularly of communications and research. Colonial 191 stated in paragraph 9 that the proposals then made involved ‘neither political closer union nor the fusion of the East African Governments’, and gave as the reason for this in paragraph 10 that ‘H.M. Government in the United Kingdom have accordingly come to the conclusion after taking the advice of the East African Governors that political federation or fusion in any of the various forms which have been discussed in the last twenty years is not practical politics under existing conditions’. In his statement to Parliament of the 28th July, 1947, Mr. Creech-Jones, in announcing that it had been decided to implement the proposals in the subsequent paper Colonial 210, said: ‘The scheme is not to be regarded as a step towards political union or the fusion of the East African Governments.’ Mr. Griffiths in his statement to the Great Lukiko on the 15th May, 1951, said that the statement that the present inter-territorial organization did not involve the political union of the East African territories still held good. Your Highness will observe that none of these statements ruled out federation for all time and I am instructed in particular to draw your attention to the use of the phrase ‘not practical politics under existing conditions’ in paragraph 10 of the Colonial 191.
6. In my letter of the 27th July, I informed Your Highness, on instructions from the Secretary of State, that as regards the present intentions of Her Majesty’s Government the Secretary of State’s speech did not indicate any change of policy on the part of Her Majesty’s Government; that the future development of Uganda and the other East African territories must be largely guided by local public opinion; and that the assurance which I gave to the Great Lukiko in my speech of the 23rd April, 1952, still holds good. I also said in my public statement of the 11th August, again on the instructions of the Secretary of State, that ‘there should not be read into the Secretary of State’s speech any intention on the part of H.M. Government at the present time to raise the issue of East African federation’. In the view of the Secretary of State this assurance, so far from falling short of past assurances, in fact went somewhat further in that, in addition to ruling out federation at the present time, it stated that future developments must be largely guided by local opinion. It appears to the Secretary of State that you may not have fully appreciated the importance of this part of the statement in my letter of the 27th July. But, in view of the terms of Your Highness’s letter, the Secretary of State has decided that it is necessary to amplify the statement and make it more definite. I am accordingly instructed to inform you as follows.
7. Her Majesty’s Government has no intention whatsoever of raising the issue of East African federation either at the present time or while local public opinion on this issue remains as it is at the present time. Her Majesty’s Government fully recognizes that public opinion in Buganda and the rest of the Protectorate would be opposed to the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation; Her Majesty’s Government has no intention whatsoever of disregarding this opinion either now or at any time, and recognizes accordingly that the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation is outside the realm of practical politics at the present time or while local public opinion remains as it is at the present time. As regards the more distant future, Her Majesty’s Government clearly cannot state now that the issue of East African federation will never be raised, since public opinion in the Protectorate, including that of the Baganda, might change, and it would not in any case be proper for Her Majesty’s Government to make any statement now which might be used at some time in the future to prevent effect being given to the wishes of the people of the Protectorate at that time. But Her Majesty’s Government can and does say that unless there is a substantial change in public opinion in the Protectorate, including that of the Baganda, the inclusion of the Protectorate in an East African federation will remain outside the realm of practical politics even in the more distant future. The Secretary of State is confident that you will agree that in this statement he has gone as far as he possibly can and has given you safeguards which cannot fail to be regarded as satisfactory.
8. Having given the firm assurances contained in the preceding paragraph, the Secretary of State feels sure that you need have no further fears on the question of federation. Nevertheless he thinks that you will wish him to comment on the suggestions put forward in paragraphs 10 and 11 of your letter. He does not propose to comment on the remarks about Central Africa in paragraph 7 of your letter, but this must not be taken as meaning that he accepts these remarks.
9. The Secretary of State has asked me to say that your request for transfer of responsibility for the affairs of Buganda to the Foreign Office is evidently based on a misunderstanding. The Foreign Office is responsible for the relations of Her Majesty’s Government with foreign countries outside the British Commonwealth. The Colonial Office deals with the affairs of territories inside the British Commonwealth for which Her Majesty’s Government is responsible, whether they be Colonies, Protectorates, Protected States or Trust Territories. Your Highness has suggested in paragraph 6 of your letter that Buganda is a Protected State under Her Majesty’s Government; but this is not correct in the accepted constitutional sense of the term. Under the terms of the 1900 Agreement Buganda is clearly stated to rank as a province forming part of the Uganda Protectorate (Article 3), a position which has recently been reaffirmed in the joint statement on reforms in Buganda issued by Your Highness and myself last March. Not only Article 3 but other articles made it clear that Buganda was to be merged both fiscally and legislatively into the Protectorate as a whole, and this in fact has been done. The whole tenor of the Agreement made it clear that Buganda was to be part of the Protectorate. Your Highness has referred in paragraph 9 of your letter to the 1894 Agreement as well as the 1900 Agreement. The Secretary of State is advised that it is the 1900 Agreement which must be regarded as the prevailing document and the instrument regulating the relations between Her Majesty’s Government and Buganda. The Agreement was freely entered into and has ever since its signature been accepted both by H.M. Government, and by the Buganda Government and people as the document defining their relations with each other.
10. Even were Buganda a Protected State, which constitutionally it is not, its affairs would still be dealt with on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government by the Colonial Office, as those of other Protected States within the British Commonwealth are. Your Highness has claimed in paragraph 6 of your letter that the transfer of responsibility for Buganda from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office in 1902 involved a reduction of status; but this is not correct. As has already been stated, the 1900 Agreement clearly laid it down that Buganda should be administered as part of the Uganda Protectorate. In these circumstances there could have been no alternative but to transfer responsibility to the Colonial Office, a step which in any case logically followed once Buganda came under the protection of H.M. Government.
11. Furthermore the Secretary of State has asked me to point out that, even if it were appropriate to transfer responsibility for Buganda to the Foreign Office, which constitutionally it is not, this would not alter the position regarding federation at all. As far as Her Majesty’s Government is concerned it is not any particular Government department or Minister who decides major constitutional issues of the importance of federation in the territories for which Her Majesty’s Government is responsible, whether in East Africa or elsewhere; such major decisions can only be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom as a whole, where necessary with the approval of Parliament. It follows that, since Buganda is under the protection of Her Majesty’s Government, it would make no difference as regards federation whether it were dealt with by the Colonial Office or some other department, since the ultimate decision on this matter could only be taken by Her Majesty’s Government as a whole. Therefore it is clear first that this request cannot constitutionally be acceded to and secondly that even if it could be this would not achieve what Your Highness has in mind.
12. In paragraph 11 of your letter Your Highness has asked that a plan should be put into effect designed to achieve the independence of Buganda. It is not clear to the Secretary of State from your letter exactly what is meant by ‘independence’; but I reported the subsequent discussions which I had with yourself and your Ministers and the Secretary of State understands that you are not asking to go outside the Commonwealth – the wording of the first sentence of paragraph 11 indeed implies that you are not asking this. The Secretary of State also understands that you have informed me during the course of the discussions that Buganda has no wish to leave the protection of Britain. The Secretary of State in fact understands that you were seeking, without leaving the protection of Her Majesty’s Government, to safeguard Buganda against the possibility of East African federation in the future, either by separating Buganda now from the rest of the Protectorate or at any rate by removing Buganda from the jurisdiction of the Protectorate Legislative Council.
13. The Secretary of State asks me to say that he is glad that Your Highness does not wish Buganda to leave the protection of Britain because he is sure that this would not be to the advantage of the people of Buganda. Your Highness will no doubt agree that the Baganda have received many benefits from British protection and that the association between the Baganda and the British people has been fruitful over the years and continues to be so. You will also, the Secretary of State is sure, agree that, apart from the many benefits received by the Baganda in the past, there have recently been very significant advances. In the political field there are the reforms announced earlier in the year, under which the people of Buganda will play a greater part in their system of government and the Buganda Government will be given substantial increased responsibilities for the operation of certain services in Buganda. In the economic field important benefits have been brought to the Baganda by the work of the Protectorate Agricultural and Veterinary Departments for the improvement of agriculture and cattle-keeping; by the expansion of the cooperative movement through the efforts of the Protectorate Department of Co-operative Development; and by the cotton and coffee reorganization schemes. In the field of education, to which so much importance is rightly attached by your people, the Protectorate has embarked on a great programme of expansion both of general and technical education which will greatly benefit the Baganda, while Makerere College is continuing to expand, again to their great advantage. All these are benefits which have been brought to Buganda through its association with Britain and through action on a Protectorate-wide basis. The Secretary of State is therefore sure that Your Highness is right both from the point of view of the present interests of the Baganda and their future interests not to wish to leave British protection.
14. The points which require to be considered, therefore, are whether it would be possible or desirable in the interests of Buganda and its people, and whether it would affect the position regarding federation, either to separate Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate or to remove it from the jurisdiction of the Legislative Council. I have informed the Secretary of State that in discussion with me Your Highness has recognized that both these steps would involve amendment of the 1900 Agreement, since the Agreement lays down in Article 3 that Buganda ranks as a province of the Protectorate and in Article 5 that the laws made for the general government of the Protectorate are applicable to Buganda except in so far as they may be in conflict with the Agreement. Before discussing these suggestions in detail, the Secretary of State feels bound to say that he is surprised that they should have been put forward so soon after you had joined with me in stating at the end of our joint statement on the reforms in Buganda that ‘the Uganda Protectorate has been and will continue to be developed as a unitary state. The Kingdom of Buganda will continue to go forward under the government of His Highness the Kabaka and play its part, in accordance with Clause 3 of the Agreement, as a Province and a component part of the Protectorate.’
15. As regards separation from the Protectorate, the Secretary of State seriously doubts whether this would be practicable, even if it were desirable in the interests of your people. Buganda geographically lies at the centre of the Protectorate and economically and in other ways its affairs are completely bound up with those of the Protectorate as a whole. These economic and general ties, reinforced by Buganda’s geographical position, have been built up over many years and, in the Secretary of State’s view, it would be virtually impossible now to break them down.
16. Nor does he consider that this would be in the interests of the Baganda. In recent years they have been playing an increasing part in the economic life of the country as a whole and they are now entering industries which are established on a Protectorate-wide basis. Your people, with a longer experience of organized government than many of the rest of the people of the Protectorate, are well fitted to play an increasing part in public life on a Protectorate-wide basis and are in fact doing so. If Buganda, while remaining under British protection, were to be separated from the rest of the Protectorate, Her Majesty’s Government would of course continue to do its best to help the Baganda develop in the political, economic and social spheres. But this would be infinitely more difficult if Buganda were separated from the rest of the Protectorate than it is now. The Secretary of State is convinced that such a separation would gravely upset the economic stability of the country; would seriously interfere with schemes for the economic development of the Baganda and other Africans in the Protectorate which are now being actively carried forward; would reduce the amounts of money available for development and for the advancement of the people; and in a word would completely disrupt all that is now being done to help the Baganda forward. The Secretary of State is certain, therefore, that such a separation would be prejudicial to the present and future interests of the Baganda. Moreover the separation of Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate might well be objected to by some sections of the public in Buganda and particularly the minorities, and might even lead in the case of the minorities to requests for separation from Buganda.
17. On the question of taking Buganda out of the purview of the Legislative Council, while retaining it within the Protectorate, this, in the Secretary of State’s view, would be seriously damaging to Buganda‘s interests. There are many laws of great and sometimes of vital importance to the Baganda which could not be passed by the Lukiko because they affect not only the Baganda but also Europeans and Asians. Notable examples of these are the cotton and coffee reorganization laws; but there are many other examples. If Buganda were taken out of the purview of the Legislative Council laws such as these would have to be applied to Buganda by the Governor by proclamation, and there would be no opportunity, such as is provided by the Legislative Council, for members representing Buganda to take part in the discussion of them, speaking for the interests of the Baganda. Such a situation would be detrimental to the interests of Buganda and would give the Baganda legitimate grounds for complaint that their views were not being properly put forward. In the Secretary of State’s view, therefore, it would be wrong to take Buganda out of the purview of the Legislative Council. Indeed the Secretary of State would go further than that and say that the members from Buganda ought to be selected by the Lukiko rather than nominated, seeing that this would link the members with the people whom they represent.
18. It remains to discuss how the separation of Buganda from the Protectorate, or its removal from the purview of the Legislative Council, would affect the position regarding federation. It is evident from what Your Highness has said to myself in discussing this matter that you fear that the Legislative Council could of its own act bring Buganda into a federation; but the Secretary of State has asked me to point out that this is not so. So long as Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom is ultimately responsible for the administration of the East African territories, any scheme of federation which might be put forward could only come into force with the approval of Her Majesty’s Government; with Buganda under British protection this would apply whether Buganda was separated from the Protectorate or not. Her Majesty’s Government would of course take into account the views of the Legislative Council of the Protectorate; but would also take into account the views of the Buganda Government. Separating Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate or taking it outside the purview of the Legislative Council would not therefore alter the position regarding federation – a position that is in any case safeguarded by the assurances conveyed to Your Highness in paragraph 7 of this letter. In so far as it would affect the situation at all, taking Buganda outside the purview of the Legislative Council would weaken rather than strengthen the position of the Baganda in this matter; for the Legislative Council, with its substantial number of African members, would provide an important mouthpiece for the expression of African opinion should this matter ever be raised. With Buganda members on the Legislative Council, these would have full opportunity to express the views held by the Baganda on this subject; but if they were not on the Legislative Council this opportunity would be lost.
19. For all these reasons the Secretary of State does not agree that the separation of Buganda from the rest of the Protectorate or its removal from the purview of the Legislative Council would be in the interests, either present or future, of the Baganda; nor would either of these steps alter the position regarding federation. The Secretary of State has instructed me strongly to advise Your Highness that the proper course is not to suggest breaking up the Protectorate into separate parts, but to strengthen its unity and to work for its future political, economic and social development. If the Protectorate were to be divided into separate parts, each of these parts would be much weaker economically and in every other way than the Protectorate as a whole; and not only much weaker, but much less able to hold its own in dealings with the neighbouring territories. A strong and united Protectorate rather than weak separate units must therefore be the aim of all our efforts in the interests both present and future of the people of the Protectorate.
Andrew Benjamin Cohen