While this special “Millennium Issue” of the Uganda Journal commemorate the end of the twentieth century, the journal has not, of course been in existence that long, having been founded in 1923. Indeed, Uganda is just over a century old and, as an independent state, barley forty. Yet the mere fact that an internationally reputable African journal has been in existence for nearly eighty years, and is still going strong, is an achievement that calls for celebration. The turn of the century provides a good opportunity for this. The aim of this issue has been to include as many diverse contributions as possible in order to reflect Ugandan society, culture, and natural environment in the past, present and future.
At first sight, Justin Willis’ ‘’the only Money a woman can Claim: A History of Distilling in Bunyoro” might seem somewhat peripheral to Uganda’s mainstream millennium story. In fact, in many significant ways it gets to “the heart of the matter”, providing a small window for entry into a whole world of interlocking historical issues and themes.
Using the distilling of waragi (“the spirit of Uganda”) as a vehicle, the author takes the reader through a landscape spanning from pre-colonial Uganda right up to the 1990’s. On this journey, a number of cultural, social, economic and political themes and problems are presented- themes and problems which still very much with us today, suitably garbed, of course, in what time and changed historical contexts have thrown at them. There are themes of gender equality; racial stereotyping of the black man by the white, corruption among public and civil servant, and the dilemmas faced by a public service functionally and precariously located between a political authority and public in pursuit of its civil and human rights. There are the problems of the cultural and political economy of small-scale alcohol manufacture, the interplay between morality and public health on one aide and, on the other, the imperative to raise revenue from sources which might compromise these. There are even east African- wide themes which have remained alive since colonial days. And what of the interplay between alcohol, the military and sub- regional trade and exchange?
Thus, “The only Money a Woman Can Claim” sets the tone and format for the numerous contributions contained in the special “Millennium Issue” of the journal. All of them are active windows into the complex Ugandan World of reality and imagination; of society, culture, politics, economy, geography, and nature; and of the pat, the present and the future. It is a world that has been- to draw from the spirit of the editor’s note in the Journal’s last issue- a dance of ecstasy and agony in intertwined embrace.
Austin Bukenya’s ‘’An Idiom of Blood: Pragmatic Interpretation of Terror and violence in the Uganda Novel” uses creative literature to make an entry into the violence, terror and blood shed that has characterized a greater part of the country’s history. This is a subject area that cries out for more research, especially in- depth and interdisciplinary inquiries. Fortunately, the country’s darker historical face is more than balanced by a smiling one to which the numerous entries in this issue attest.
Allestree Fisher probes into the evolution of the spoken English language since Independence and comes up with original and startling findings, suggesting a theory of language growth linking social, generational and cultural change. Anthony Gingyer- Pinycwa reports on his initial research into linguistics as a possible approach to traditional political thought. At a time when the call for an African renaissance is pressing and research for African paradigms in the social science persists, this is an encouraging effort.
This issue carries numerous contributions on contemporary Ugandan life and concerns. There is, for example, Charles Twesigye’s three-part contribution, which brings out in sharp relief the interplay between morphology, behavior and environment in the warthog and the hippo. Twesigye then goes on to introduce us to cutting- edge technology in the management of Uganda’s biodiversity. “Molecular biology,” he argues forcefully, “provides new tools for improved management and conversation of biodiversity.” His points are especially illuminated in Risk Gregory’s piece on “small –scale Fish Farming in Uganda.
Vivian Craddock Williams’ short piece on Uganda’s Art Deco architecture is a compelling appeal to both experts and general public for greater attention to the architectural gems of Uganda. There is a great risk of losing this aspect of Uganda’s heritage, he argues, unless serious preservation efforts are urgently undertaken.
Derek Pomeroy succeeds in placing Kampala’s marabou storks alongside the famous Kampala bats as landmarks of the “City of Many Hills” (until recently known as “The City on Seven Hills”) meanwhile, myth meets geography and travelogue in Gertrude Mulindwa’s note on the legend of Kintu, Nambi and Walumbe.
A rich and diversified crop of insightful book reviews highlight the status of NGOs in Uganda, armed conflict and Uganda- Sudanese relations, and the political sociology of Gisu initiation rite. And there is welcome news in Curtis Abraham’s “The mountain people Revisited.” Colin Turnbull got it wrong about the 1k of Northeastern Uganda in The Mountain people. Contrary to the bleak image painted by Turnbull, the 1k, Abraham says, are normal people and have not disappeared from the surafe of Uganda.
The “Millennium Issue” also looks inward into the affairs of the Uganda Society itself. Nanny Carder and Beverly Usher review the ups and downs of the society during its nearly three- quarter of a century existence. It is a history of a society that has resiliently weathered and odds in a remarkable ‘will of life’ right up to the present. Nanny Cander’s delightful and informative account of the cover of this journal, the flagship of the Uganda Society, is an indispensable supplement to this history. She tells of a cover very much centered on the depiction of the Ugandan crane, a bird that also happens to be the national emblem. In addition to these, three “lists of historical record” are provided in this issue: a list of public lectures, a list of the presidents of the Society, and a list of the editors of this Journal since the inception of the society in 1923.
For most of its existence, the Ugandan Society has operated from the Uganda Museum in the City of Kampala. His Worship the Mayo’s address to the society on “Kampala’s Future as a model City,” reprinted in this issue, is therefore of double interest to the members of the society: as citizens and as an association that has shared a common history with the city.
At nearly twice the journal’s usual size this “Millennium Issue” demanded twice the usual effort to produce because of the diversity of its content and the numerous illustrations included with the contributions. The task would have been impossible without the indefatigable Deputy Honorary Editor, Nanny Carder, together with Laura Tindimubons, Dick Kawooya, Beth Anne Heck, Deborah Hill, and Nualchan Gregory. My work as Editor was relatively easy and enjoyable because of their efforts. I want to thank all of them heartily.
Dent Ocaya- Lakidi