The introduction to this book points out the complexity of Uganda, an independent country only since 1962, but one with an abundance of ethnicities, languages, and cultures. The first of the thirteen chapters presents the diverse geography of the country, which includes snow-capped mountains, tropical forests, and Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. Uganda is also home to such animals as crocodiles, chimpanzees, giraffes, and gorillas. The second chapter covers Uganda's history beginning with Bantu people whose practice of agriculture can be traced back to 1000 B.C. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, kingdoms in what is now Uganda included the Bunyoro, Buganda, Busoga, Ankole, and Toro. British control of the area began in the late nineteenth century, but by the 1950s the African population was working toward self-governance. Idi Amin and Milton Obote fought for control, but the current president, Yoweri Museveni, has now been in office since 1986. The next two chapters describe Uganda's economy and natural resources. Its environment supports numerous endangered species, including the mountain gorilla, two rhinoceros varieties, and the Nile crocodile, although air and water pollution and deforestation are serious problems. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 discuss Uganda's population, its lifestyles, and its religions. The country's four major ethnic groups, the Bantu, the Luo, the Nilo-Hamitic, and the Sudanic, make up about 75 percent of the population. Because of the multitude of tribal backgrounds, lifestyles outside the cities vary according to traditional customs of family structure, marriage, birth, and death. Improvements in education and health are ongoing. Religious freedom allows Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus as well as members of Ugandan traditional religions to practice their faiths. Chapter 9, on language, reinforces Ugandan diversity by pointing out that although English and Swahili are the official languages, there are thirty-eight spoken languages in the country. The last four chapters discuss Uganda's arts, leisure activities, festivals, and food. Following the text are a map of the country, another map that highlights its economic resources, a list of major facts about the economy, a third map that highlights cultural information, a list of facts about the culture, a timeline of Ugandan and worldwide events, a glossary, a list of sources of further information, a bibliography, and an index. The colorfully illustrated book is part of the "Cultures of the World" series. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito
- Greg M. Romaneck
This volume of the extensive "Cultures of the World" series focuses upon the African nation of Uganda. While Uganda has a long and noteworthy history as a tribal land, it only achieved independence as a nation state in 1962. In this book, the reader is offered a broad-based glimpse into the society, people, customs, and scope of this complex land. The book is divided into discrete segments each of which features a different element of Ugandan culture. Uganda is a land of many tribes, languages, and religions. Each of these aspects of the Ugandan people is detailed in a clear and informative manner. Cultural elements such as dance, food, education, and family life are described in a manner that allows a deeper understanding of a distant land. The author also provides a discussion of Ugandan history inclusive of both pre and post-colonial developments. Descriptions of the various natural wonders, wildlife, and climates of this tropical nation are also provided. Color photographs are used to visually highlight the people and society of Uganda. This book is a wonderful source of material on Uganda and would be used in a geography, social science, or multi-cultural studies unit.