|The Growth of the British Empire|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book V of the Story of the World Series. Treats the revolutions in South America and Mexico, the Boer War in South Africa, and the exploration of Central Africa, the Greek and Italian wars for independence, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the opening of trade with Japan and China, and the rebellion in India. Ages 13-18 |
THE STORY OF UGANDA
"Lead us and teach us, till earth and heaven
Grow larger around us and higher above."
LONG before the conquest of the Egyptian Sudan, men had been exploring the land to the south, in order to discover
the sources of the Nile. The
 story of how Bruce
discovered the source of the Blue Nile has already been told. Men of all nations had vied with one another in
their search for the sources of the White Nile, which flows past Omdurman and Fashoda. Even a lady, "the
richest heiress in the Netherlands," started with her mother and aunt, her lady's-maid and 200 servants, to
explore a tributary of the White Nile, the Bahr-el-Ghazal. But the country is unhealthy for Europeans. Her
mother and aunt died of fever, and she herself was subsequently murdered by natives.
It was reserved for Englishmen to make the final discovery. While Livingstone was exploring the Nyassa region,
two explorers were leaving Zanzibar to investigate a large lake, known to lie north of Tanganyika. Disaster
dogged their steps through this fever-stricken country, guides deserted them, illness assailed them; but with
that resolute perseverance, which alone ensures success, they pushed on towards their goal. But one of
them—Grant—soon grew too ill to go farther, and it was left for his more fortunate companion,
Speke, to behold the great sheet of water, to which he gave the name of Victoria Nyanza or Victoria Lake, after
his queen. He discovered that the Nile flowed out of this great lake to the northward, though he missed the
lake into which it next flowed. This discovery was
 left to another Englishman, Baker, who with his wife met Speke on his way to Khartum. After learning Speke's
great news they journeyed on, to be rewarded by finding a lesser lake to the west of Victoria Nyanza, which
they at once christened Albert Nyanza, after Prince Albert, the husband of the Queen of England, who had
recently died. Into this lake they traced the Nile's entrance and exit, and with this great news they made
their way homewards.
Their way was terribly impeded by thick tangles of a water-weed, known as the sudd, which choked the upper
reaches of the Nile. To-day the sudd has been removed at great labour and expense, and the river thus rendered
navigable as far as Gondokoro.
Much light had been thrown on this country beyond the Sudan, but still the geography was uncertain, when
Stanley, in 1875, closed the quest of 2000 years for the source of the Nile. His intercourse with Livingstone
on the shores of Tanganyika had roused his interest in the deep secrets of the Dark Continent, and when the
life-work of the old explorer was over, he started off with enthusiasm to carry it on.
"I have opened the door," Livingstone had said; "I leave it to you to see that no one closes it after me."
"I am ready to be, if God wills it, the next martyr to geographical science," Stanley affirmed.
 Arrived at Zanzibar, he marched to the southern shore of Victoria Nyanza. Here he put together the sections of
an English boat, which he launched on the lake, and in the "Lady Alice," he made his famous circumnavigation.
He proved once for all, that the Nile left it at its northern end, and for 300 miles raced between high rocky
walls over rapids and cataracts, till it passed into the Albert Nyanza and out of it northwards to Khartum. The
river and two lakes formed the boundary of Uganda, the "Pearl of Africa," which country Stanley now entered. He
was warmly received by the king, Mtesa.
"My mother dreamt a dream," said Mtesa with confidence, "and she saw a white man on this lake in a boat coming
this way, and lo, you have come!"
The country ruled over by this king was large and fertile, but the people were uncivilised, and executions for
slight offences took place daily, by the orders of the king. Stanley was greatly struck by the intelligence of
the king—he at once grasped the possibilities of Uganda as a centre of civilisation for the surrounding
"I see in Mtesa the light that shall lighten the darkness of this benighted region," he wrote home. "With his
aid the civilisation of equatorial Africa becomes possible."
He translated parts of the Bible into a language that the king could read, and so earnestly did he
 relate the story of Christ, that the king ordered the Christian Sabbath to be observed throughout his realm.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." These words he wrote on a board in Arabic, and hung it in the
palace, that all his court might read it daily. The explorer now wrote home a glowing account of Uganda, and
begged that missionaries might be sent without delay. They must belong to no particular nation, no sect or
Church; but in the midst of these pagan peoples, they must lead the blameless lives of Christians. The appeal
arrived at a time when Europe was keenly interested in Africa, and at once a party of Protestants made their
way to Uganda, together with a party of Roman Catholics from France.
In 1884 Mtesa died, and was succeeded by his son Mwanga. He hated all Europeans, and resolved to rid the
country of them. The English bishop, Hannington, was murdered, together with forty of his followers, while the
native converts were burned. It seemed as if this fair country must relapse, when an Englishman, now Sir
Frederick Lugard, saved the situation. He had just returned from the Burmese wars, when he volunteered for
service under the British East Africa Company, which was establishing a protectorate over the country south of
the Egyptian Sudan, and east of the great lakes towards the coast. It seems strange to hear of an Englishman
 freeing slaves at Mombasa and Melinda, ports of Vasco da Gama
fame; but the slave trade at this time was cruelly carried on by natives in these parts. Lugard's work on the
coast was suddenly interrupted by orders to go in hot haste to Uganda, over which country a British
protectorate was being formed. Lugard reached the capital a few days before Christmas 1890. Matters were in a
critical state. Arms and ammunition were on the way to the king, Mwanga, whose intention was to murder all
Europeans. Meanwhile English and French, or Protestants and Roman Catholics, strove for the mastery. Lugard saw
the king. He made it clear that the whole country was now British, and that, under the British flag, all
religion was free, and a treaty to this effect must be signed at once by the king. On Christmas eve he
presented the treaty at the king's court. Mwanga was trembling with terror. Lugard was persuading him to sign,
when suddenly a clamour arose from a crowd at the door, and angry voices murmured that every man who signed the
treaty would be shot. There was the clicking of rifles and the cocking of guns.
It was a critical moment in the history of Uganda. Another moment would have seen bloodshed. Lugard pressed
the matter no further that day. Amid shouts and angry voices from the French Roman Catholics, he quietly
 Next day was Christmas. Lugard, after an anxious night, again sought an interview with the king. But as he
neared the royal residence, drums rattled, and armed men with rifles stole about the grounds. Once more he
turned back, amid the jeers of the rabble. But Lugard was a resolute man, and next morning he succeeded in
getting the treaty signed without bloodshed.
It was some time before the country was sufficiently restored to peace, but on April 1, 1893, the British flag
was hoisted by Sir Gerald Portal, and from this time matters have progressed rapidly, and a new era of peace
and progress dawned on Uganda.
In 1902 a railway was completed from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza, which to-day is being carried farther and
farther into the heart of Eastern Africa. So the dream of General Gordon has been fulfilled, and the Sudan is
connected by rail and telegraph with Uganda and the coast, while men are still scheming to accomplish the
grander dream of Cecil Rhodes—the connection of the Cape and Cairo by rail and telegraph—
"Ay, one land
From Lion's Head to Line."
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