For over 200 years Bunyoro had been the most extensive and powerful kingdom. Its kingdom included Buganda. Too many wars and a large empire weakened Bunyoro. Buganda under leaders starting with Mawanda began to expand at the expense of Bunyoro. He invaded Busoga. Junju drove Bunyoro out of Buddu and took over Koki. King Kamanya drove Bunyoro out of Buwekula. By the time Suna came to power, Bunyoro had been reduced to Buruli and north Singo, central Bunyoro itself, Bugangaizi, Buyaga and the eastern counties of the present Toro district (Karugire 1973). Kabula was conquered from Ankole.
Notwithstanding all this, according to Gardner Thompson (2003) Buganda had not yet been able to fully assert pre-eminence over its neighbors independently before the British helped it. Thus, according to Philip Curtin (2000), pre-European Buganda remained small (when Britain took over).“It covered only the area a hundred miles or so inland from the north shore of Lake Victoria, in a half-circle that ran west of the point where the Nile flows out of the lake”. And Bunyoro had regained military strength and was recovering its lost territories.
Buganda was in decline due to a combination of crises including acute food shortages or even full-blown famines that inter alia weakened the military; religious wars; diseases including bubonic plague and cattle (the rinderpest of 1889-90), the massive killing of elephants for their ivory deprived the area of a host on which the tetse fly fed and invaded cattle and humans transmitting animal trypanosomiasis and human sleeping sickness. Furthermore, the passing of Mutesa I (RIP) in 1884 who had been bedridden since 1876 weaken the kingdom and opened the door for power that Mwanga could not handle. Thus, “Ganda entered the colonial period struggling not only to come to terms with this catastrophe, but to assert themselves in a new and potentially hostile political environment”(Richard Reid 2002).
It is therefore fair to conclude that what Buganda gained and consolidated was colonial territories handed over to it during the scramble and colonization of Uganda as a reward for Buganda’s support in Britain’s colonization of Uganda. Thus, the conquered and colonized territories and peoples that were not set free at the time of independence (except Buyaga and Bugangaizi in 1964) are still colonized territories and peoples. In some cases the colonized peoples like Banyoro are still speaking their indigenous languages.
We need to recognize with regard to Bunyoro that “British policy of assimilation of the Banyoro in the ‘Lost Counties’ was based on the profound misconception that the Banyoro and the Baganda were culturally and socially similar, if not identical, to each other. In fact the social and cultural differences between the two peoples were far more important than their apparent similarities”(T. V. Sathyamurthy1986).
This therefore raises the legitimate issue of self-determination that should be taken up during discussions on federalism so that Ugandans decide how they want to be governed in the broadest sense while retaining Uganda as is.