Muslims now occupied and controlled Buganda, though elements of discontent soon began to stir among the non-Muslim population, now made up of followers of traditional religions. Muslim rule proved to be too theocratic and rigid for many, including Kiwewa who devised a plan to assassinate influential Muslims at court. Muguluma, the powerful Muslim chief mentioned previously, managed to escape and rallied others to his banner and secured the release of a Muslim prince from prison. The next day there was a battle in and around Kyebando, a section of the capital city. Muslim forces were outnumbered but were able to take Kiwewa captive and by carefully utilizing their guns were able to secure a victory. With this the Kabaka became a Sultanate and Islam was expected to be the law of the land. The non-Muslim population now not ready to admit defeat began to consider a possible alliance with Christian forces. Scattered bands of Christians found themselves thankful that it was not they who had begun a theocratic rule in Buganda. The few Christians remaining in the country, as well as those in exile, realized that if they wished to return it must be in the form of a partnership with traditionalists in order to overthrow the Muslim regime.
In 1889 Christians forces once again entered Buganda and fought alongside traditionalists to oust Muslims from power. The fighting took place in the capital, which had by this time seen much bloodshed in the space of just a few short years. The fighting in this battle was of an older and more brutal archetype — hand to hand fighting. Accounts of the battle paint a picture of up close and personal combat where guns were more often used as clubs than long-distance weapons. As the capital city was attacked it became clear that what counted most was numbers and those numbers were on the Christian side especially considering the popular support among Bugandans they had at the time. This was no longer a simple action confined to the palace and chieftains vying for important governmental positions. It was an attempt by both Christian and traditionalist factions to not only gain control of the government but to completely reshape the forces behind it. This would be achieved in the aftermath of the battle as Christian forces were victorious. The Buganda state was left in a much-weakened condition and the victorious Christians, once briefly united, fell back on the age-old bickering between Catholics and Protestant which would do nothing but undermine an already fragile government and make it that much easier for British colonial forces to take control.
Throughout this period of civil strife in Uganda, the British lion had been exploring in the area and liked what it saw. In 1889 as Mwanga struggled to maintain his thrown Britain’s hegemonic rule was threatened as Germany began nosing its way into East Africa. Various explorers sent out by the National Geographic society returned to London with tales of gorgeous lands full of fertile soil and abundant food, perfect for European habitation. Britain’s sparked interest in Uganda happened seemingly by chance in the form of a rescue mission for Emin Pasha, a German explorer and eventual colonial governor, born Eduard Schnitzer and currently the governor of Equitoria, an isolated province cut off from British Cairo due to a Mahdist revolution. Beginning in 1881 the Mahdist revolted against British colonial rule in both Sudan and Egypt and now controlled large swathes of both areas. Emin Pasha was in need of a rescue mission that would turn into a near disaster and controversial affair. Mackinnon would then turn his eyes towards Uganda. In 1889 Frederick Jackson an explorer whose goal it was to open up land between Mombasa and Lake Victoria and if possible obtain news of Emin Pasha. Mackinnon, well aware of the political climate of Buganda at the time, ordered Jackson not to engage in exploration in the area.
What Jackson would find was a King eager to keep his throne and ready to accept outside British help in order to do so despite potential consequences in future. In direct violation of his orders, Jackson began negotiation with Mwanga. His offer of help was initially rejected, but Mwanga soon found his grip on power rapidly fading and was encouraged by his advisors to accept the British offer for help. Britain, as well as Germany, were well aware that they could use the current political turmoil to their advantage by playing one group off the other, which as we have seen was all too easy to accomplish in Buganda. News began to creep into British territory that Germany was planning a move into Buganda to secure the territory for themselves and to eject British influence in the region by supporting the Catholic factions within Uganda. A move that if successful would ensure that British domination in the area was threatened, something England was not prepared to accept. The British consul-general Charles Euan Smith stated that “if Uganda passes under German influence, the British company has no future before it” (Gjerso 840). The company referred to the Imperial British East Africa Company or IBEA, which would up till this point had been a highly profitable venture for its owners. If Uganda was lost, however, they would be left with too much land that didn’t have much to offer. They would be left bankrupt.
As Britain and Germany began negotiations for who would control East Africa, Buganda was again in turmoil. This time Kiwewa found himself in the midst of a palace battle between Christian and Muslims. As mentioned previously this is the battle where most Christians were told to convert or leave the country. At the same time Britain and Germany had signed the Hinterland agreement which lent Uganda to the British Empire. Unfortunately for the new Muslim state this meant that Christian factions would now receive the support of one of biggest Empire on the planet. In the subsequent wars in which both Christians and traditionalists attempted to overthrow the Muslim regime it would be the Christian forces that would receive international baking.
In 1891 British troops would enter Uganda under the command of Captain Frederick Lugard who was tasked with patrolling the area and keeping trade routes open during the religious conflict still plaguing the country. Lugard was one of those men possessed with a desire to protect both native people in Africa and the interests of the British Empire both commercially and in the form of new territories. While in Buganda Lugard came to see the economic advantages that the country could supply to Britain rich in the form of ivory, coffee, rubber and wheat. Lugard would later argue to stay in Buganda amidst what would become hotly debated topic in England. Much of the debate would revolve around a desire to suppress the slave trade which was once again on the rise, in fact to such an extent that numbers in slave trafficking had not been as high since the mid-1870s. Others would argue that to leave Uganda would be a public relations disaster and would be an embarrassment to the British people and Empire. An argument that had been used in other parts of the Empire to maintain British control. In the end it was decided that Britain should stay. The imperial advantages were too great and a state in the midst of endemic civil strife would be no great challenge to overcome. In 1893 the British government would officially take possession of all matters Ugandan and the IBEA Company would withdraw.
At first, British colonial rule did not change Bugandan lifestyle to any great extent. They maintained traditional clan and Kabaka structure and their economy remained relatively unchanged. However, Mwanga II and subsequent rulers were gradually degraded by the actions of Lugard the British colonial government. British commissioners slowly began to take precedence over Baganda chiefs and even replaced the king in matters of traditional gift exchange (Twaddle 69). It is tempting to speculate what might have happened had British colonial interests arrived at Buganda’s doorstep during a more tranquil period, though the end result would most probably have been the same. A country wracked by tribal, clan as well as religious differences is not one that can usually effectively withstand outside pressures. Three coups in the span of just a few short years had weakened the state significantly. Britain was able to exploit these differences, playing one faction against the other to take control of the country much more easily than would have been possible had they been dealing with a united government.