CAUSES OR ORIGINS OF THE 1953 KABAKA CRISIS

CAUSES OR ORIGINS OF THE 1953 KABAKA CRISIS
  • Personality differences, the two men Kabaka Muteesa II and Sir Andrew Cohen had divergent personalities. The Kabaka was a conservative monarch interested in protecting the interests of the Baganda while Cohen was a modernizer. There was no way the radical Cohen could accommodate the “out dated views” of Kabaka Muteesa.




  • The crisis was a result of colonial legacy; the British had given a number of privileges to the Kabaka and the Baganda in general. However the Buganda Agreement of 1900 had reduced the powers of the Kabaka for example the Kabaka could no longer pass any New Laws in his Kingdom without consulting the British. The British could also dismiss the Saza Chiefs without consulting the Kabaka. To MuteesaII this was loss of his powers which was unacceptable hence the 1953-55 crisis.
  • Disloyalty to the Governor. By the terms of the 1900 Buganda Agreement, the Kabaka was answerable to the Governor of the Central Government. However ever since Sir Andrew Cohen’s arrival in Uganda in 1952, the Kabaka had consequently questioned the decisions of the new governor. This led to his deportation because he had brinched the 1900 Agreement.
  • Cohen’s unitalism led to the Kabaka crisis. In his reform agenda, he intended to turn Uganda into a unitary state; however, Kabaka MuteesaII rejected the integration of Buganda into a wider Uganda. He instead called for federo of Buganda or a federal government. Cohen could not allow this and hence the crisis.




  • The rejection of Cohen’s legislative reforms also led to the deportation of the Kabaka. In October 1953, MuteesaII influenced the Lukiiko to reject the nomination of Buganda’s representation to the legco. To worsen matters, he also influenced his fellow kings of Toro, Ankole and Busoga to reject the nominations to the Legislative assembly. He even attempted to influence the UNC top brass to reject the British proposals. All these annoyed Andrew Cohen to the extent of deporting the Kabaka.
  • Muteesa II’ demands for federo persistently annoyed Cohen. When Muteesa threatened to use force, Cohen concluded that the King deserved deportation.
  • MuteesaII’s desire to become a hero also earned him a deportation and hence the crisis. Inspired by the traditions of Kabaka Mwanga’s resistance against the British (1894-97), MuteesaII became determined to follow in the foot steps of his ancestor who was a hero but this led to his s deportation.
  • MuteesaII’s rejection of the East African Federation plans led to the 1953 crisis. On 20th June 1953, the British secretary of state Oliver Lylleton announced that Britain was going to create a unification of three East African colonies. This was unacceptable to the Kabaka of Buganda who feared that the Kenyan white settlers could encroach on Buganda’s land. Moreover he felt that he had to be consulted first before announcing such a plan in London.




  • This annoyed Cohen who deportated him.
  • Both men were hard liners with neither of them ready to concede to the ideas of the other. The conflict only resulted into the famous Kabaka crisis.

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