Native View of Baganda Institutions

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    Abstract

    AN account by an African of his own institutions must normally, though not invariably, have an exceptional value for the ethnographer. Being as a rule a spontaneous production, it avoids the great danger of the usual method of inquiry, in which there is the risk of biasing the sources of information. Sir Apolo Kagwa, the Katikiro of Uganda, who produced in 1918 an account of Baganda history and institutions in his native language, was exceptionally well qualified for this undertaking. A man of considerable intellectual power, he had been associated with the royal household from his early youth, and when in 1897 the young Daudi Chwa, an infant, one year and six months old, was appointed king on the abdication and flight to German East Africa of his father, Mwanga, Apolo was made regent and prime minister. He thus had a personal and intimate knowledge of the critical times which led up to the intervention of the British forces in Uganda and the institution of a protectorate. His authority on State affairs and ritual is beyond question. One of the most valuable records he has preserved is that of the officers and queens of each ruler from the beginning of the line with the semi-legendary founder Kintu. The Rev. J. Roscoe, when collecting information for his book “The Baganda”, derived a great deal of his material from the Katikiro; and, in fact, Sir Apolo's book, which is an invaluable, and indeed a necessary, supplement to Roscoe, was written to expand and correct what he considered to be open to criticism in the work of the latter. The fact that Sir Apolo wrote in Luganda has proved a drawback; but this has now been remedied in a translation by Ernest B. Kalibala, edited by May Mandelbaum (Edel) (Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology, 22, 199. 4 dollars). For the convenience of students the mere repetitions of Roscoe's information are omitted, but references to “The Baganda” are given here as well as where Roscoe is supplemented or corrected.

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