The Diaries of Lord Lugard - Vol. 3

The Diaries of Lord Lugard - Vol. 3

The Diaries of Lord Lugard - Vol. 3

The Diaries of Lord Lugard - Vol. 3

Excerpt

At the end of Volume II, in the diary for January 31st, 1891, we read that Lugard returned to Kampala from his expedition to the west, bringing with him those Sudanese, under Selim Bey, whom he had not placed in his series of forts along the Toro-Bunyoro boundary. He had with him the letters, received on Christmas Day just as he was approaching Kampala, ordering the evacuation of the Company from Uganda. This news had indeed fallen upon him like the proverbial thunderbolt. It undid all he had achieved and left him in a position, as he saw it, not only of danger but of dishonour.

For the Company, the orders for evacuation represented a decision reluctantly reached at the end of a long sequence of financial troubles. These had begun before Lugard left the coast. For their small capital (originally £240,000), the expenditure was considerable, and they were obtaining no returns. Lugard seemed to have been pleased at his success in paying his own way during his western marches only because economy was part of his nature. He never seemed to consider that the Company might be in financial straits; rather he censured it for not supplying him with more men and materials. He was especially angry when he heard that his Uganda activities were officially entered as costing £40,000 a year, a sum which, he believed, had been largely spent upon wastefully conducted caravans from the coast.

On December 17th, 1890, Sir William Mackinnon, the chairman, had appealed to the government, stressing the fact that the Company's expenses had been largely incurred for imperial reasons, and asking the government to guarantee the interest on the sum needed to build a railway from the coast to Lake Victoria. By this means alone, it was now decided, could the far interior, and especially Uganda, be properly developed and effectively administered. The connection between the two activities was beginning to be understood.

Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, was ready to agree; the Treasury also agreed. But the Conservative majority in the Commons, formed partly of Liberal Unionists, was precarious. Despite the appeal to anti-slavery interests (for a railway was also considered to be the most effective means of stopping slave-caravans to the coast) the Liberals, in July 1891, forced the abandonment, for the session, of a grant to finance even a preliminary survey of the route for a railway. The directors, therefore, decided that if no support was to come from the government, they could not raise more capital and therefore . . .

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