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A Real-Life Wakanda? How the East African Kingdom of Buganda Helped Shape Democracy

A Real-Life Wakanda? How the East African Kingdom of Buganda Helped Shape Democracy

Africa’s history is profound, yet telling the continent’s past is often limited to stories of colonization. Africa has a history of triumphing nations and advanced governments long before Africa’s lands were ravished and divided.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of Africa’s pre-colonized history is written in mainstream history books. Thankfully, modern technology has helped globally share little-known history and facts about Africa.

Now, more people are learning about Africa’s ancestry and how it has influenced our modern world. The history of nations such as Buganda, known to be one of the inspirations for the fictional country of Wakanda in Black Panther, is slowly surfacing more and more. 

This great nation’s government was once more advanced than other European governments. In fact, it was highly developed and helped lay the groundwork for modern-day democracy. 

Continue reading to learn how one African nation’s influence remains prominent today. 

Where is Buganda located?

If you’ve read the name Buganda and noticed the similarity of spelling to the country of Uganda, there is a reason. Buganda is located in the southern-central part of Uganda, on the shore of Lake Victoria. It is one of the largest of four regions in Uganda, a kingdom inside the Republic of Uganda that consists of a constitution, prime minister, and parliament.  

Source: Getty Images

A brief history of Buganda

Buganda’s history started 3,000 years ago, in the late 14th century. The Bantu-speaking people are believed to be the nation’s first people, and a kabaka or king ruled them. By the end of the 19th century, Buganda was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region. Kaita-Kintu was the first ruler to establish Buganda’s foundation by uniting the people. 

Buganda grew into a mighty nation primarily due to its land expansion. Their advanced military made it easier for them to conquer neighboring territories. Eventually, they went from three provinces to twelve. 

Dominant religions such as Islam and Christianity slowly infiltrated and converted many of the people of Buganda. The original faith focused on worshiping gods representing various mental attitudes and physical properties. 

Source: TRT Afrika

When the British invaded, Buganda joined forces with Uganda. As mentioned in an NPR interview with Prime Minster Daniel Muliika, Buganda and Uganda came together during the British invasions to form Uganda’s protectorate, which became the Republic of Uganda. 

Although the two nations were joined together, Buganda rulers wanted to maintain their nation’s autonomy. When Uganda gained independence in 1962, the rulers wanted a separate governing system for their nation. To this day, there’s still some discrepancy about when Buganda first gained its independence. Some argue that Buganda gained independence on October 8, 1962, a day before Uganda on October 9, 1962.

Nonetheless, Buganda’s independence was short-lived. In 1966, the prime minister of Uganda, Milton Obote, abolished Buganda as a kingdom. Over 25 years later, in 1993, Buganda’s independence was restored. 

Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is still the reigning king or kabaka. Although the kings are ceremonial monarchies, meaning they don’t hold any power, they are still important symbols for the Bugandans. 

 Source: Getty Images

Buganda’s influence on democracy

From the kingdom’s birth, Buganda has set itself apart. What brought the kingdom’s international attention was its government structure. The kingdom became well-known and later set an example for other nations when U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt came to Africa in 1909, looking for artifacts to bring to the National History Museum in Washington, D.C. Although a king ruled the nation, it had a system of solid democratic governance. Mango, Buganda’s capital, has 292 appointed representatives and a prime minister. 

When Roosevelt visited the nation for the first time, he was thoroughly impressed by the kingdom’s army of 10,000 warriors and its advanced government system. Upon meeting with the Buganda leader, Roosevelt’s perception of Africa expanded. During his trip, he spent much time in more rural parts of Africa. Thus, he was astonished to see a nation like Buganda that was so advanced. 

Roosevelt’s trip to Buganda led him to meet, dine with, and discuss many political topics with the Buganda leader at the time, Kaggwa.

Current day Buganda

Buganda has recently celebrated 30 years of monarchy. While it may seem strange to celebrate a monarch during modern times, it symbolizes tradition for the Buganda people. During the celebration, men and women wore traditional clothing such as Kanzu, a white tunic worn by men, and a Bitenge, a colorful dress worn by women. In addition, students performed traditional songs and dances.

Another interesting fact about Buganda is that it has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the Tombs of Buganda Kings. 

The nation has been through many changes, but what seems to be consistent is the people’s desire to grow and advance. Like Wakanda, a fictional nation focusing on innovation and evolution, Buganda focuses on similar aspects. Although it may not be a nation of invisible aircrafts, out-of-the-world advanced technology, or towers made of vibranium, it is still a noteworthy place. 

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