INDEPENDENCE: Britain Hands Over

INDEPENDENCE: Britain Hands Over

Taken from the Uganda Argus Independence Special of October 9th, 1962

By Uganda Argus, 1962
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First published: October 8, 2006

After flying over Uganda for 6 years the Union Jack came down last night -- for the last time UGANDA is independent. At midnight last night the Union Jack, which has flown over Uganda for 68 years, was ceremonially hauled down and replaced by the black, yellow and red flag of the newly-independent Uganda.

The moment was marked throughout the country by feasting and celebrations, as fireworks exploded in the air and bonfires blazed from hilltops all over Uganda. There was singing and dancing in the streets in Kampala last night, and the crowd of over 50,000 people at the tattoo in Kololo Stadium stood in silence as the new flag was raised and the Uganda National Anthem was played.

This solemn moment was the climax of the preparatory events which have taken place in Uganda for the Independence Day period. Today, the Duke of Kent will formally hand to the Prime Minister, Mr. Obote, the instruments of independence, signifying the handing over of Britains authority in this country.

The Kabaka of Buganda leads the Duke of Kent and the Governor of Uganda, Sir Walter Coutts, into the Bulange Hall for yesterday's welcome ceremony
The Kabaka of Buganda leads the Duke of Kent and the Governor of Uganda, Sir Walter Coutts, into the Bulange Hall for yesterday's welcome ceremony.


New national flag replaces Union Jack Yesterday was a crowded day. Kampala, the countrys new capital, became a city as the Duke handed to the Mayor, Ald. Mrs. Barbara Saden, the Letters Patent conferring the new status in Kampala.

And the Duke himself became the first Freeman of the new City when he accepted the offer, which had been extended to him by the Mayor and Councillors of Kampala.

Buganda gave its own welcome to the Duke and Duchess a little later in the morning, in an impressive ceremony at the Bulange, where the Royal Visitors were received by the Kabakas Ministers and were handed presents from the Kingdom. They later lunched with the Kabaka, who in the afternoon gave a garden party for 4,000 guests in the Lubiri.

The Ugandan Government gave a lunch in Kampala to welcome the foreign delegations who are attending the independence ceremonies, and later the Prime Minister opened the new Independence Pavilion of Science and Industry at the Uganda Museum.

Prime Minister Milton Obote PREMIER SPEAKS

Last night, while thousands of people where assembled in Kololo Stadium, the Prime Minister broadcast to the country. He warned that independence would mean great responsibilities for everyone in Uganda, and gave an assurance that he and his Government were determined to fulfil its duties to the people.

Mr. Obote said:
"Countrymen and friends: At midnight tonight Uganda shall become Independent. We shall have a Uganda flag, a National Anthem and Coat of Arms. These will be symbols, but independence does not begin and end with the selection and raising of a flag, the singing of a National Anthem and the display of a Coat of Arms.

Our independence shall mean great responsibilities for all of us without exception. Collectively, we shall all be responsible to safeguard our independence and to ensure peace and stability within our country. In addition, the Government in whose name I now speak offers to you a firm determination to protect your life and property and opportunities for your advancement.

It is in this ensuring of peace and stability and this determination for the protection of life and property coupled with opportunities for advancement as individuals and combinations and as a country that I now call upon all to pass an irrevocable resolution marking our new status and guiding us into the future.

Let us add to that resolution that we are of Uganda and Uganda is ours. Let us recognize that and pay our tribute to these friends from inside and outside Uganda who have helped us on our way to independence. Let us remember the best we have received and now inherit from the British administrators. I also ask all to give the missionaries past and present a special praise for the light they brought and do still maintain.


I cannot forget our men of commerce and industry and also our peasant farmers and the working men and women. Our ability to have a higher standard of living will depend as in the past on their success, security and happiness.

I pray to God to give us and our country the will to safeguard our freedom and to serve our country in peace. I pray that He may give us reason and in reason we may seek and find, and may what I have said tonight bind us into the community of hope who shall think and strive and toil in such patterns, that work of more noble worth may yet be done.

"All these and more: For God and My Country."

The Prime Ministers broadcast was heard by millions of listeners throughout the country. Radio sets in towns and villages were tuned in to hear the message, which was greeted with applause in many places where large crowds had gathered round the loudspeakers.

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny in Kampala for the crowded programme of official events, and there were large crowds of people seeking vantage points near the Town Hall and at the Bulange, the Buganda Governments headquarters.

The city was gayer than ever with decorations and flags, and last night it was a blaze of lights as the independence illuminations lit up the crowded streets.

In the evening, all roads led to Kololo Stadium, where more than 50, 000 people watched and applauded the intricate and spectacular military tattoo. Half way through the tattoo, the Royal couple arrived with the Governor and Lady Coutts, the Kabaka and the Prime Minister and Mrs. Obote.


The Royal party watched the last half of the tattoo, which culminated at midnight in the lowering of the Union Jack as the British National Anthem was played to signify the closing seconds of British rule.

Then, as the Uganda flag was picked out in a brilliant spotlight, the Uganda National Anthem was played as the vast crowds in the stadium stood in hushed and respectful silence.

The anthem over, a spectacular firework display lit up the sky overhead, and bonfires could be seen bursting into flame on hilltops, carrying the message of independence throughout the country.

For many thousands of people, the celebrations continued throughout the night, and Kampala was still crowded with people in the early hours of this morning. Bars and restaurants reported record business as they struggled to cope with the unprecedented demand.

It was a joyous salute to the birth of a new Uganda.

By Uganda Argus, 1962
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First published: October 8, 2006
Special thanks to Sonja Winklmaier for sourcing the material. For more on Sonja Winklmaier and her descriptions and images of Uganda from the 1950s onwards, please click here to read the "Letters from Sonja."