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{UAH} Killing Bwana: Peasant Revenge and Political Panic in Early Colonial Ankole

Killing Bwana: Peasant Revenge and Political Panic in Early Colonial Ankole*


The killing in May 1905 of Harry St. George Gait, a senior official of the Uganda Protectorate, has generally been treated in the literature as a political murder mystery. It can more usefully be seen as a window on two issues: the importance of clientship in relationships between agriculturalists and pastoralists in the kingdom of Ankole, and British reliance on pastoral allies to make real their power in Ankole. This paper suggests that Gait was killed by an agriculuralist frustrated by his own failure to advance in Ankole society; but that the repercussions of the killing were magnified by the fears and uncertainties of British officials on the spot over the reliability of their pastoralist allies. The British were, however, unable to dispense with these allies, and the crisis generated by Gait's death was resolved by a reaffirmation of the alliance between the British and the pastoralist elite, after the effective scapegoating of two minor chiefs.


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"Even a small dog can piss on a tall building" Jim Hightower

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