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Empire on the March

1600

Royal Charter granted to the East India Company

Elizabeth I's government grants exclusive trading rights in the East Indies to the British East India Company. Britain joined other earlier established European trading companies...

1651

Navigation Act, 1651

Passed by Oliver Cromwell, this landmark Act sought to challenge the Dutch shipping trade by only allowing English owned ships with majority English crews to...

1652

First Anglo-Dutch War

English and Dutch trading rivalry reached boiling point in 1652. The Dutch were in the ascendant as they had wrested control of the spice trade...

1660

Navigation Act, 1660

Reinforcement of the Act of 1651. Crews had to be a minimum of 75% English. The Act reflected the mercantalist nature of European economic competition...

1663

Navigation Act, 1663

Further reinforcement of protectionist trade policy. All European trade with British colonies had to pass through England.

1673

Navigation Act, 1673

Sought to encourage English trade and commerce in the North and Baltic Seas. Duties on this trade and requirements on having more than 75% English...

1696

Navigation Act, 1696

Additional reinforcement of previous protectionist policies outlined in the Navigation Act of 1660. All trade within English territories had to be carried out by registered...

1730s

Introduction of ‘curry’ to Britain

The first documented establishment to offer curry was the Norris Street Coffee House, Haymarket, London in the  1730s. In 1810, the first Indian restaurant was...

1733

Molasses Act

Enacted upon the lobbying of plantation owners in the British West Indies. This act imposed a tax of six pence per gallon of molasses from...

1740 - 1748

War of the Austrian Succession

The war between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs redrew the balance of power in Europe in favour of Prussia.   

1756 -1763

Seven Years’ War

Spanning five continents, the Seven Years' War involved all major European powers in a conflict over many territories all at once, with Churchill later describing...

1757

Battle of Plassey

Under the command of Robert Clive, the East India Company defeated the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah and his French allies. This allowed the Company...

1757-1857

British Colonial Expansion in India

After the Battle of Plassey, the East India Company (EIC) became one of many territorial powers in India. The once powerful Mughal Empire was crumbling,...

1766

First Anglo-Mysore War

While Company rule was rapidly spreading across Northern India, the military commander Hyder Ali assumed rule of the Kingdom of Mysore in 1761, working with...

1774

First Anglo-Maratha War

Following the death of the Peshwa Madhavrao I, a succession dispute arose between his younger brother Narayanrao and his uncle Raghunathrao. British gernadiers keep Maratha...

1780

Second Anglo-Mysore War

As France declared war on Britain in 1778, the Company resolved to drive the French out of India by seizing the few remaining enclaves of...

1787

Arrival of Freed Slaves in Sierra Leone

In May 1787, the British government-funded Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor established Granville Town, in what is now Freetown, Sierra Leone.

1789

Third Anglo-Mysore War

Unlike the two previous eponymous conflicts, Britain had the assistance of the Maratha Empire, the Kingdom of Travancore and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Supernatural being...

1795

British Capture of Cape Colony

Seeking to control the Cape to prevent French naval access to India, the British wrested the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch East India...

1798

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War

Greatly outnumbered by Britsh, Hyderabadi, and Maratha forces, Mysore lost nearly all its remaining territories. Henry Singleton, 'The Last Effort and Fall of Tippoo Sultaun',...

1802

Second Anglo-Maratha War

Following the capture of the Mysore Kingdom, the Maratha Confederacy was one of two major Indian powers (the other being the Sikh Empire) still operating...

1806

British Recapture of the Cape of Good Hope

Forming one part of the Napoleonic Wars ensuing in Europe, the Battle of Blaauwberg established permanent British rule over the Cape Colony. The Treaty of...

1808

Establishment of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Freetown began as a community of 411 Black Londoners, governed by a constitution based on the British legal framework and Church of England principles. This...

1833

Abolition of Slavery

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 criminalised slavery and the slave trade in the British Empire, with the exception of territories administered by the East...

1839

First Anglo-Afghan War

Afghanistan and the surrounding regions were contested by multiple forces including Russia and the Sikh Empire. Britain had made substantial territorial gains in India and...

1841

Treaty for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade

Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia agreed to take measures to supress the African slave trade. Britain signed a second anti-slavery treaty with Sultan Said bin...

1843

Britain Annexes the Natalia Republic

Desirous of containing Boer ambitions of political independence and after some hesitation Britain annexed the territory then known as Natalia and proclaimed it a British...

1845 - 1846

First Anglo-Sikh War

The Sikh Empire was established by Ranjit Singh in 1799. Like other Mughal successor states, the empire emerged in the political context of Mughal decline...

1848 - 1849

Second Anglo-Sikh War

The Sikh Empire's power was severely diminished after the First Anglo-Sikh War. The British were effectively the senior partner in the royal court with British...

1850

British government buys Danish territory in Accra

Accra was home to Dutch, Portuguese, French, Danish, Swedish, and British forts from the 17th century. Fort Christiansborg, constructed in 1661. Source: unknown artist, public...

1857

The Indian Mutiny

The 'Indian Mutiny', 'Great Rebellion of 1857', or the 'First War of Indian Independence' was a series of conflicts against British rule in India. It...

1858

End of Company Rule in India

By the mid-19th century, India was an important symbol of Britain's rise as a great power as well as a source of its economic wealth....

1861

Britain Annexes Lagos

Britain backed the deposed and exiled Oba Akitoye and reinstalled him as sovereign in 1851. Britain annexed Lagos after a ten year period of military...

1862

Speke and Grant seek the source of the Nile

John Hanning Speke and James Augustus Grant were soldiers and explorers. They are noted for being the first Europeans to document the source of the...

1868

Britain annexes Basutoland

Basutoland was a kingdom founded in 1822, now known as Lesotho. Conflict with the Boers led to King Moshoeshoe seeking protection from Britain. [caption id="attachment_755"...

1869

Britain, France, and Italy take financial control of Tunisia

Attempts at modernising Tunisia under Muhammad III as-Sadiq failed to raise state revenues. Tunisia was unable to keep up with interest payments on its foreign...

1874

Britain colonises the Gold Coast

Britain consolidated its position in western Africa with the defeat of the Ashanti empire in 1874. The Ashanti Empire emerged in present-day Ghana at the...

1876

Henry Morton Stanley visits the court of the Kabaka of Buganda

Henry Morton Stanley, an explorer and colonialist, made contact with the Kingdom of Buganda in present-day Uganda. Stanley made the second recorded European visit to...

1877

Britain annexes the South African Republic

Britain annexed the South African Republic (also known as the Transvaal Republic) on the pretext of Boer mismangement of its state. This ultimately set the...

1877

Arrival of British missionaries to Uganda – Church Missionary Society

British Protestant missionaries of the Church Missionary Society arrived in Uganda from 1877. This initiated a period of European competition between rival missionary factions. Alexander...

1878-80

Second Anglo-Afghan War

Britain invaded Afghanistan after Amir Sher Ali Khan refused to allow a British diplomatic mission to enter the country. Afghanistan was an important frontier region...

1879

Zulu War

The Zulu Kingdom bordered the Transvaal which brought Boers and Zulu into conflict over territory in the border region. However, it was the British seeking...

1879

Arrival of French Catholic missionaries to Uganda – Peres Blancs

The Society of the Peres Blancs or White Fathers was a Catholic mission based in Algiers, French Algeria. They arrived in Uganda two years after...

1880

Scramble for Africa

With 10% of the African continent under European control in 1870, by 1914 this figure had risen to 90%. The colonisation of the African interior...

1881

Boers defeat British army at Majuba

The final battle of the First Boer War saw British forces defeated by the Boers on Majuba Hill.

1882

British invasion of Alexandria

Britain sought to quell the nationalist uprising against Khedive Tewfik Pasha and secure its trade which ran through the Suez Canal

1884

South African Republic regains its independence

Britain and the South African Republic signed the London Convention Treaty to establish British suzerainty over the Republic. This meant that the Boers of the...

1884-1885

Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference was organised by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Germany with the aim to establish an agreement amongst European states and the United...

1885

Establishment of the Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress began as an elite political forum for Britons and Indians seeking greater political participation of Indians in their own affairs. It...

1885

Britain annexes Bechuanaland

A region home to the Tswana and contested by the Boer Republics of Stellaland and Goshen in the 1880s. The territory was wrested by Britain...

1887

British colonial conference to mark Queen Victoria’s jubilee

Delegates from white-majority colonies of Britain's empire meet to discuss greater imperial co-operation between the colonies and Britian. Chair of the Colonial Conference, Henry Holland...

1888

Imperial British East Africa Company given charter to administer Kenya and Uganda

The Imperial British East Africa Company was led by the trader William Mackinnon who had established trading operations in East Africa prior to receiving a...

1888

Sikkim Expedition

Britain sought to wrest control of Sikkim from Tibet. British Indian forces successfully expelled Tibetan forces from the region.

1889

France and Britain agree on boundaries for Senegal and Gambia

After years of British and French colonial expansion in West Africa, formal boundaries were established between the two European powers. French railway in Kayes, previously...

1889

First Mosque in Britain

Historic England cites 'The Muslim Institute' on Brougham Terrace, Liverpool as 'the earliest recorded mosque in Britain', whilst Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking is 'Britain's...

1889-1902

Second Boer War

The discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer Republics initiated British plans of annexation. After some Boer successes through the use of guerrila warfare...

1889

Cecil Rhodes forms the British South Africa Company

Cecil Rhodes arrived in Africa in the early 1870s, making his fortune in diamond mining in Kimberley, Northern Cape Province. By the late 1880s, various...

1890

Cecil Rhodes sends colonists to Rhodesia

Cecil Rhodes opened up the British South Africa Company controlled territory to European colonists after receiving a royal charter that allowed for the colonisation of...

1890s

Emergence of mission schools in Uganda

Mission schools were established by French Catholics and Anglicans in the 1890s. The colonial government would later establish secondary schools for Africans in the 1920s....

1890

Rhodes attains right to administer present-day Zambia

Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company made an agreement to provide protection of Barotseland in exchange for exclusive access to the rich mineral reserves of...

1890

Gunga Din

Author: Rudyard Kipling GUNGA DIN You may talk o' gin and beer When you're quartered safe out 'ere, An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot...

1890

Zanzibar becomes a British protectorate

Zanzibar was made up of islands along the coast of East Africa. The Portuguese, and then the British and Germans, sought control over these commercially...

1891

Britain cedes Heligoland to Germany

Britain ceded Heligoland to Germany in exchange for German African territories and sphere of interest agreements. The move reflected British efforts to further African expansion...

1891

Anglo-Manipur War

Court intrigues in the state of Manipur surrounding the succession of 1886 developed into a fratricidal contest for the throne in 1890. The king's brothers...

1892

Establishment of British Central African Protectorate

Present-day Malawi was declared a British Protectorate to preclude other European claims to the territory.

1892

War between Protestant and Catholic factions in Uganda

Tensions between Protestant and Catholic factions of Uganda erupted at the Battle of Mengo. Frederick Lugard, military administrator for the Imperial British East Africa Company...

1894

Establishment of the British Protectorate of Uganda

Political hostilities between various religious factions in the Kingdom of Uganda had followed European missionary activity in the region from the 1880s. The Imperial British...

1895

Establishment of the East African Protectorate

What is largely present-day Kenya, became a British Protectorate. Britain had gained access to existing trade routes by establishing links with the Omani Sultanate in...

1895

Khama III, king of Bechuanaland seeks continued British protection

Khama III, the Kgosi (regent) of the BagammaNgwato in the region of Botswana, petitioned Queen Victoria for protection from the colonial predations of the British...

1895

Creation of Rhodesia

The territory of the British South Africa Company was officially named 'Rhodesia' (present-day Zimbabwe) in honour of Cecil Rhodes. 'Colossus of Rhodes', Punch magazine, 1892....

1895

Establishment of the Uganda Rifles

The Imperial British East Africa Company recruited troops from the Sudan, Swahili speakers from the East African coast, Egyptians, and Indians. Frederick Lugard recruited troops...

1896

Buganda and three other kingdoms are unified under the Protectorate of Uganda

Kingdom of Buganda, Bunyoro, Busoga, and Tooro were unified under the British Protectorate of Uganda. The Protestant faction amongst the Baganda chiefs establish a favourable...

1897

Appointment of Alfred Milner as High Commissioner in South Africa

Alfred Milner became an important British official in South Africa. He reinforced Britain's anti-Boer stance and was instrumental in subsequent conflicts with the Boer republics....

1897

Uganda Rifles mutiny

Sudanese forces of the Uganda Rifles mutiny due to poor conditions, poor pay, and lack of recognition of their importance for the British military in...

1897

Zululand merged with Natal

The independent Kingdom of Zululand was a major power in early 19th century southern Africa. By the late 19th century, European colonial powers came to...

1897

Kabaka defeated by British forces

Kabaka Mwanga II sought to rid Buganda of the British with forces of his army and Sudanese mercenaries. Crucially, the Baganda chiefs refused to join...

1897

British destroy Benin City

British forces destroyed and occupied the city of Benin in present-day Nigeria in retaliation to the killing of a British expeditionary party to the city....

1898

Kabaka exiled to the Seychelles

Kabaka Mwanga II was exiled to the Seychelles after an unsuccessful attempt to rid Buganda of the British. Kabaka Mwanga II Source: Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (DKG),...

1898

Kitchener defeats Mahdi forces in Sudan

The Mahdi state of Sudan and the Khedivate of Egypt (allied to Britain) engaged in a war for control over Sudan. The Sudan had been...

1898

French and British hostilities in Fashoda

British and French troops stand-off at Fashoda, a strategically important town at the head of the White Nile river. Ultimately, heavily outnumbered French forces withdrew...

1899

Mohammed ibn Abdullah leads an uprising in British Somaliland

European expansion in East Africa and the redrawing of the political map in the Horn of Africa led to the Mahdist War as well as...

1899

British and Egyptian rule of Sudan

Sudan becomes a condominium (a political territory ruled equally by multiple powers) of Britain and Egypt on the conclusion of the Mahdist War. Anglo-Egyptian Sudan,...

1900

Uganda Agreement of 1900

Commissioner of Uganda, Harry H. Johnston reached agreement with Buganda chiefs on taxes, private-land tenure, and continuity of the Buganda polity with the signing of...

1900

Elevation of Protestant Bakunga client-chiefs as administrators led by Apollo Kagwa

The native administration of Buganda was made up of appointed officials in various branches of the state. Apollo Kagwa (right) and Ham Mukasa in 1902...

1900

British capture Pretoria and annex both Boer Republics

Britain annexed the South African Republic and the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War.

1900

Toro Agreement

Similarities can be drawn with the Uganda Agreement between Britain and the Baganda chiefs in the same year. All uncultivated land was declared Crown land,...

1900

British government assumes direct responsibility of Nigeria from the Royal Niger Company

Various British commercial entities were in operation along the Niger river and the surrounding region from the early 19th century. In 1879, through the initiative...

1901+

Expansion of cash crop cultivation by Ugandans

Cultivation of cash crops was expanded under the arrangements of the Buganda Agreement of 1900. A class of landed chieftains and captive tenant farmers was...

1901

Ankole Agreement

The Ankole chiefs observed developments in Buganda and Toro and saw the benefits of establishing a similar system under British protection. 'Ankole District', 1945. Source:...

1901

Completion of the Uganda Railway

The Uganda Railway, despite its name, did not run through Uganda but the East Africa Protectorate from Mombasa to Kisumu, Lake Victoria. Construction began in...

1901

Deaths of Boer women and children in British concentration camps

Upwards of 26,000 Boer women and children died in British concentration camps during the Second Anglo-Boer War. The growing number of Boer refugees resulted from...

1902

Transfer of the eastern section of the Uganda Protectorate

Infrastructural developments including railways and roads were essential to the process of colonial economic extraction. The merging of territories based on these developments reflected the...

1902

End of Boer War and Boer Republics become British territories

The end of the Second Boer War saw the Boer Republics become British territories with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Britain extended its...

1902

Establishment of the King’s African Rifles

The King's African Rifles (KAR) was formed in the context of political competition over the Horn of Africa and more broadly, the 'Scramble for Africa'...

1903

Edward VII’s Imperial Durbar

Two-week long festivies held in India to mark the beginning of the monarch's reign as Emperor of India. images: Roderick Mackenzie, the lost gallery, CC...

1905

Partition of Bengal

Present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal were once the province of Bengal during British rule. The colonial government under Viceroy Lord Curzon...

1905

Moroccan Crisis

The Moroccan Crisis occurred in the context of European contest over north African territory. French control of Morocco was undermined by Kaiser Wilhelm II's visit...

1906

Establishment of the All-India Muslim League

The Muslim League emerged, in part, as a response to the Swadeshi movement of 1905 which saw the Indian National Congress objecting to the partition...

1907

Banyoro rebellion

Banyoro rebelled against the British installing Baganda as chiefs in Bunyoro territory.

1909

Indian Councils Act

Also known as the Morley-Minto reforms, the Act of Parliament introduced separate Muslim electorates and provided for greater Indian participation in government. John Viscount Morley,...

1910s

Emergence of native journals and newspapers in Uganda – Ebifa, Munno, Sekanyolya

The emergence of native journals in Uganda ushered in a new age of public discourse and went on to play a crucial part in the...

1910

Union of South Africa becomes an independent dominion of the British Empire

Various southern African colonies merged to form the Union of South Africa, a dominion of the British Empire. Botha Government, 1910. Image: SA government, Public...

1911

First Gurudwara in Britain

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala provided funds of £8,000 for Britain's first Gurudwara founded by the Khalsa Jatha organisation in Putney, London. The Maharaja was...

1914 - 1918

Ugandans in the King’s African Rifles saw action against German forces in East Africa

During the start of the First World War, most of the British troops in the Kings' African Rifles consisted of Indian Army troops. However, more...

1914

Establishment of the Uganda Intelligence Department

The Uganda Intelligence Department was set-up in response to the outbreak of the First World War and in anticipation of military engagement with German forces...

1914 - 1918

First World War

The First World War was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarejvo on 28th June 1914....

1914

North and South Nigeria are merged into a single colony

The Northern Nigerian Protectorate and Southern Nigerian Protectorate were merged to form the Protectorate of Nigeria.

1915

South African troops capture German South West Africa

German South West Africa surrendered to South African troops on 9 July 1915.

1915

Britain and France invade and capture German Kamerun

British, French, and Belgian forces occupy German Kamerun.

1916

British and French forces capture Togoland and Kamerun

British and French forces swiftly occupy Togoland with little resistance.

1919

South West Africa becomes a British mandated territory administered by South Africa

South West Africa was a German colony that was captured by South African and British forces and was later governed by the Union of South...

1919

German East Africa becomes British mandated Tanganyika

British and Belgian forces captured German East Africa. It became British mandated Tanganyika after the war.

1919

Establishment of the Young Baganda Association

The Young Baganda Association sought political reform of the system that was established in Buganda in 1900. It protested against the privilege conferred on the...

1919

Government of India Act, 1919

The Act of 1919 introduced elected representatives to the provincial councils and paved the way for later reforms that would grant Indians a greater say...

1919 - 1924

Agitation of Ankole and Toro chiefs

Ankole and Toro chiefs sought the same privileges that the Buganda chiefs enjoyed under the Mailo system that was established in Buganda in 1900. Map...

1919

Third Anglo-Afghan War

Triggered by an Afghan contest over succession after the death of Emir Habibullah. Nasrullah, brother of the deceased Emir, seeking to consolidate his power and...

1919

Amritsar Massacre

The Amritsar Massacre took place at a time of heightened social unrest in India after the First World War. Britain was wary of a socialist...

1920s

Asians establish sugar plantations in Uganda

Under the colonial system, Asian businessmen were able to establish large cotton and sugar plantations by purchasing land from the British colonial administration. The Madhvani...

1920s

Bataka uprisings

The Bataka uprising was the culmination of peasant and worker frustration at the system of economic exploitation set up in Buganda which had benefitted the...

1922

Britain and France receive mandate to govern Cameroon and Togoland

After the First World War, German Kamerun and Togoland were divided between Britain and France to form British Togoland, British Cameroon, French Togoland, and French...

1923

South African National Native Congress renamed African National Congress

The South African Native National Congress was formed in 1912 and was loosely modelled on the Indian National Congress. It pursued constitutional methods to push...

1923

Southern Rhodesia becomes a self-governing settler colony

Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing colony of the British Empire after a referendum on the future political status of the territory in 1922 which returned...

1924

A Passage to India

Author: E. M. Forster "Dr Aziz is a young Muslim physician in the British Indian town of Chandrapore. One evening he comes across an English...

1924

British government takes on administration of Northern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company

Like Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia was a territory of the British South Africa Company. In 1924, Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia), became a British Protectorate.

1924

Bunyoro and Busoga chiefs demand mailo system

The Mailo system was a form of land tenure that was established in Buganda in 1900. It conferred land on Bugandan chiefs in parcels of...

1926

Resignation of Apollo Kagwa, generational change of leadership

Apollo Kagwa served as Katikkiro (prime minister) of Buganda between 1890 and 1926. Kagwa was part of the privileged strata of Protestant chiefs who solidified their...

1927

Buganda land reform

Land reforms under the 'Land Law', 'Succession Law', and 'Busuulu and Envujjo Law' of 1927 prevented the emergence of large land estates and lowered rents...

1929

Colonial Development Act

The Colonial Development Act of 1929 reflected a change in British colonial policy towards direct investment in economic development of British colonies by the British...

1930 - 1932

Round Table Conferences

Indian political representatives were consulted by the British government on plans for reform of the government of India. Differences between groups emerged on issues of...

1933

Bunyoro Agreement

The Bunyoro Agreement defined tax arrangements between the British administration of Uganda and the Kingdom of Bunyoro which had been transformed by colonial conflict in...

1938 - 1945

Sons of Kintu Movement

Formed in response to historic greivances related to the Buganda Agreement of 1900 which privileged the landed Baganda chiefs.

1939 - 1945

Second World War

British and French appeasement at repeated German violation of its treaty obligations in the hopes of keeping the peace proved futile. Remilitarisation of the Rhineland...

1940

Colonial Development and Welfare Acts

Further reinforced the new policy direction of investment in British colonies that was set out in 1929. The Act made £50 million available for colonial...

1940

Fabian Society established the Fabian Colonial Bureau

The Fabian society and its Colonial Bureau shaped the British left's thinking on matters relating to Britain's empire. Its ideas on Britain's international role and...

1945

Strikes and protests in all the main towns of Uganda

The strikes and riots of January 1945 arose from political disaffection, economic inequality, anti-Kabaka feeling, and the perceived economic exploitation of Africans by Asian businesses...

1945 - 1949

Establishment of the Bataka Party

The Bataka Party was established by educated young men of Buganda who were seeking political reforms of the Lukiiko (Buganda parliament) and the relationship between...

1947 - 1949

Establishment of the Ugandan African Farmers’ Union

The Ugandan African Farmers' Union sought to address the economic hardships that resulted from Asian and European control of cotton ginning and trade in cotton....

1949

Popular uprising against Asian businesses and Buganda chiefs

Continued resentment towards economic disparities erupted in violence towards Asian businesses and the Baganda chiefs who enjoyed a relatively privileged position within the colonial order....

1952

Establishment of the Uganda National Congress

The establishment of Uganda National Congress sought to realise the nationalist ambitions of Ugandans. First Secretary General of the Uganda National Congress, Abu Kyakama Mayanja...

1952 - 1956

Constitutional changes under colonial governor Andrew Cohen

Constitutional changes were enacted in Uganda in a bid to foster greater unity between the territories of Uganda and prepare it for independence. These moves...

1953

Kabaka Crisis

The Kabaka Crisis was the result of political reforms led by the Governor of Uganda, Andrew Cohen. Cohen and other like-minded British officials favoured a...

1960

UPU changed name to Uganda People’s Congress

The Uganda People's Congress was formed by the merging of the Uganda National Congress and the Ugandan People's Union led by Milton Obote. President of...



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