Major Debates in the Study of Africa
Historiography, Representation and the History of Buganda
Scholars concerned with the challenges of method in studying the past and reflecting it in later periods are torn between intellectual veracity and the problem of multiple discourses on historicity and history. On this premise, this essay examines the problematics of the history of Buganda; the problems of historiography in its compilation and in the factors that have intermediated in the representation of this history before, during and after its construction. Through the controversies its presentation has generated, this essay reflects on the history of Buganda as a problem. It places into this perspective the conceptual debates, problems and questions of historiography and representation in theory and praxis. It is adducing that pre-developed historiography and pre-disposed representation have, through their assumptions and expectations, superimposed modeled and prescribed trajectories, albeit contestable, on the history of Buganda. This essay argues that Buganda history has been a captive of images of its past and visions of colony status within the ideology of 19th century British imperialism. That subsequently Buganda history became a theater of parallel and contesting historiography and representation positions by intellectual and political interests. It seeks to conclude that Buganda may have no history independent of the history of the challenges of historiography and representation in general and in its trajectory.
2 Problem of Buganda History
3 History and Buganda
4 Historiography of Buganda History
5 Representations in Buganda History
The history of Buganda has since its documentation in 1901 been the subject of challenges, conflicts, rejections, court cases, and revisions in contests over its sources, compilation, construction and interpretation. This case underlines the argument that whereas historiography and representation are instrumental to the processes of constructing history, in practice they can become the process. That instead of being supportive, the relationship between methodology and history can be deterministic. This argument can be further extended to the debate over a free history by asserting that every history is the image of a particular historiography and representation. Historiography and representation can be constructionist and prescriptive of history. They can also be inductive and inscriptive. Due to historiography and representation, there are teleological tendencies in the construction of history.
In the controversies over Buganda history, representation is part of the wider problem. Towards its uncovering, I assume that representation grants the rules, working precepts, concepts, terminologies, translations and postulates employed to capture meaning from the record and project it into the present, as the qualified image of the past. The enduring problem is whether a history, oral or textual, satisfactorily expresses the intricate, actual, and critical dimensions of historical thinking about events; which is what makes any given representation of the past a distinctly "historical" account [White Hayden, 1988, P 2]. On this problem the question is whether it is possible to represent the past as history without significant alteration and loss of meaning without, as is the case with Buganda, creating political and cultural questions, controversies and conflicts.
For reasons that oblige inquiry, the history of Buganda is fraught with problems of historiography and representation. Because of these processes there is intractability on periodization, sources, trends, content, context, presentation and interpretation. The history of Buganda is hostage to the compulsion of methodization. Openness to influence has generated a controversial...
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