Eridadi M. K. Mulira Papers

Eridadi Medadi Kasirye Mulira (1909–1995) was B/Uganda’s foremost Protestant constitutional thinker in the second half of the twentieth century. In his early life, Mulira studied at King’s College, Budo, Makerere College and Prince of Wales’ College, Achimota. In the 1940s, he moved to London, where he worked with a group of linguists to produce what is still considered one of the most accessible and thorough Luganda grammars, A Luganda Grammar (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1954). During his time in London, Mulira was active, increasingly, with the Fabian Colonial Bureau. He also served as an East African representative for the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948. Mulira then returned to Uganda to work with Dr Audrey Richards at the East African Institute of Social Research, though he resigned shortly after to take a more intentional role in Uganda’s late colonial politics.

Mulira provided crucial leadership in the mid-1950s to facilitate the return of the then recently exiled king of Buganda, Sir Edward Muteesa II, who was deported to London in 1953. During this time, Mulira organised an influential popular campaign throughout Great Britain that shaped public debates within churches, town halls and the House of Commons. During the Namirembe Conference, which outlined Uganda’s path toward independence, Mulira helped frame B/Uganda’s postcolonial constitutional arrangement.

In many respects, Mulira was a political outsider in Buganda’s conservative politics. He was born in the peripheral community of Kamesi, Kooki, and was overtly critical of Mmengo’s conservative politicians, which meant that he spent much of the late 1950s battling in court trumped-up charges of intrigue. To disseminate his ideals and marshal like-minded activists, Mulira established the Progressive Party in January 1955 and spent much of the 1950s producing short works in Luganda and English. He was also a prolific writer in Uganda Empya, a leading Luganda press that he edited and owned.

In 1959, Mulira was deported to Gulu in northern Uganda for co-organising Buganda’s Trade Boycott. Following exile, he served as a parliamentarian throughout the 1960s. During Uganda’s Second Republic, he distanced himself from formal politics, focusing mostly on his family’s businesses and the life of the Church of Uganda. He also devoted significant amounts of time writing theological and social expositions. By the mid-1980s, Mulira was openly outspoken against the presidency of Apolo Milton Obote (Obote II) and worked toward the re-institutionalisation of Buganda’s monarchy, which had been constitutionally abrogated in 1967.

Mulira’s roles were many: husband, father, cosmopolitan, educationalist, parliamentarian, social activist, historical writer, churchman, and business proprietor. His papers, therefore, are comprehensive, and provide one of the first extensive collections of private papers to emerge out of Uganda’s modern history. This collection offers far-reaching insight into decolonisation in eastern Africa. Among its many contributions, it highlights the inner debates that were unfolding in Buganda’s Lukiiko (parliament) in the late 1950s—also noted in Mulira’s court records from this period. His papers provide innovative historical essays on the precolonial kingdom of Kooki, which was assimilated into Buganda in the late nineteenth century. Finally, the collection offers an important window into Uganda’s postcolonial past. It shows that Uganda’s postcolonial politics was not simply a period of tumult and violence; it was a moment of tremendous creativity and complexity.

The digital collection is comprised of 4,471 images, which contains the majority of the deposited archive. The finding-aid indicates which records were not digitised.


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