Buganda Kingdom

Buganda Kingdom was a kingdom located in present day Uganda, founded between the thirteenth and sixteenth century. It became the most powerful of the Lake Plateau states.


Around the thirteenth century, Nilotic speaking pastoralist and Bantu speakng farmers began to arrive in northern Lake Victoria.  The people that developed from admixture of the two groups, began to be referred to as the Ganda(Muganda for individual) and founded the Buganda Kingdom. Buganda initially was a tribute paying state of the Bunyoro-Kitara Empire.

Two oral sources exist and contradict each other as to which kabaka came first, Kintu or Kimera. Kintu is recognize as one of the first kabaka. Another oral tradition stated Kimera in the fifteenth century was the first. Under Kabaka Katerega(1636-1663), the Buganda Kingdom began aggressive expansion. By the end of the eighteenth century, the empire had surpass the Bunyoro-Kitara Empire as the most important empire in the region. Under Kabaka Mutesa(1856-1884), Arabs made trade contact with the kingdom trading guns for slaves and ivory. In 1862, the British made contact with the kingdom. Later in 1894, Buganda came under British rule, under Kabaka Mwanga. Kubaka Mwanga resisted British rule, in so doing he was deposed and replaced by his son. By 1900, all of Uganda came under British rule. In the Uganda Agreement, the Buganda monarchy was kept. In 1963, Uganda received independence with Buganda retaining regional autonomy. Three years later Milton Obote, outlawed the monarchy of Buganda. The kabaka fled to Britain. In 1993, Yoweri Museveni reinstated the monarchy, for Baganda support. The monarchy took on more of a ceremonial/religious role.

Baganda Amazons


The empire was ruled by the kabaka, who was selected matrilineally, although Ganda society was patrilineal. Initially, the kabaka ruled with a hereditary chiefly council called the bataka, but replaced the council with members loyal to himself called the kukiko. Land was granted to loyal chiefs, who in turn granted land to other chiefs. The cultivators or farmers planted the foodstuff, that would be distributed as tribute, up the chain. By the eighteenth century, all power emanated from the kabaka.


Baganda Palace
The capital kibuga of Buganda constantly changed from hill to hill, with each change of kabaka. In the late 19th century, a permanent kibuga of Buganda was established at Mengo Hill. The capital was divided into quarters corresponding to provinces. Each chief built a dwelling corresponding to provinces. Each chief built a dwelling for wife, slaves, dependents, and visitors. Individual huts were conical in shape made of thatch. Poles were arranged and anchored, thick bladed grass were placed on top to make walls.The city was a mile and half wide. Large plots of land were available for planting bananas and fruits. Roads were wide and well maintained. Each avenue was fenced with water cane(matete), stacked uniformly. Side streets were narrow and crooked moving into other large avenues.

The kabaka lived in a massive reed dome palace 20 feet high and 30 feet in diameter. The royal enclosure of the kabaka was surrounded by a twelve foot fence, made of reeds and intricately woven elephant grass.


Cattle was a major part of Bugandan society, but the Buganda Kingdom was based on agriculture. Banana was a major staple crop. Banana plantations existed throughout the empire. Banana was used as payment of tribute. With fertile soil, the Buganda population increase greatly. Since banana as a staple crop was not too labor intensive and self propagating, manpower could be utilize in other avenues, such as road building. Buganda had a complex series of well maintained roads that all lead to the capital.

Works Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.(1999). Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, pp. 326-327. ISBN 0-465-00071-1. 

Shillington, Kevin (2005). History of Africa. Revised 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 204-207. ISBN 0-333-59957-8

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Tags: muganda uganda buganda baganda ganda state empire