Uganda: MPs debate racial segregation in opposition to Ugandans in Luzira jail


Recently, Parliament discussed the health conditions of prisoners in Kitalya Prison. Some MPs said the detainees in Kitalya were in poor health and had eaten very bad food.

This was not the first time Parliament had discussed the nutritional and health conditions of prisoners.

It should be noted that in the 1950s, some prisoners at Luzira Remand and Murchison Bay Prison, Luzira, had better meals than many free Ugandans.

In May 1956, when Uganda’s colonial parliament, the Legco, was debating the proposed 1956/1957 budget, Timothy Bazarrabusa, a nominee from Tooro, wondered why Africans were being discriminated against in prisons.

The MPs discussed the prison ordinance (amendment). The new prison ordinance was issued in 1958.

One of the reasons for the change in prison regulations before World War I was complaints about the mistreatment of prisoners by European officers and the escape of four hardened criminals from Luzira prison on May 18, 1956.

The Luzira Prison Commission had previously been set up to investigate the welfare of the prisoners.

“As an ex officio judicial officer, I was interested in some prisons and from what I’ve seen there is room for me to amend the Prison Ordinance, which I understand was enacted a very long time ago Africans have made progress, and while at the time this ordinance may have been enacted, educated and wealthy Africans were not going to prison, now the learned and wealthy are to be found there in great numbers, men whose standard of living outside the prisons was as good as the persons of European or Asian races, “said Bazarrabusa after a procedure of the Legislative Council on May 23, 1956.

“I was amazed that so much discrimination was found inside the prison walls – particularly in relation to food and equipment. No wonder African prisoners complained so much about such matters, while Asian and European prisoners had nothing to complain about. They were satisfied, they lived as well as if they were in their own houses [1956 prison] The regulation specifies the needs for food and equipment for Europeans, Asians and Africans. “

Bazarrabusa said there was scale A for people of European descent or ancestry. They had their meal three times a day – 6:30 am, they had wheat pulped; They had sugar, salt and milk. At noon and 6.15 p.m. they had fresh boneless meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, butter, and salt.

Scale B was for Indians, Arabs, and Somalis. They had chapattis at 6am. At noon they received rice and polished dhall, simsim oil and ground nuts. At 5 p.m. they had two chapattis, simsim, vegetables, salt and curry powder. There was also tea, half a liter of milk and sugar every day.

The Ugandans ate poorly

“Well, as for scale C, that’s for people of African descent. They get corn or cornmeal – the usual, millet flour or potatoes or bananas without stalks, of course even Africans don’t get banana stalks – beans or peas or soybeans or meat or simsim or Ghee, meat, sweat potatoes or spinach. No tea, no milk, “Bazarrabusa said, adding that the ordinance did not give Africans a specific time or how often to eat. Other foods given to Ugandan prisoners were corn bread (posho).

In terms of housing, Ugandans slept like animals while Europeans and Indians slept like kings.

“The equipment also applies as follows: Prisoners of scale A receive a mattress, two blankets, two sheets, two pillows, a mosquito net and two towels. The furniture has an iron or wood bed frame, a stool or chair, a mirror, a table, a cupboard, a filter and crockery. You get a milk jug, four plates, two enamel cups, a basin, a soap dish, a jug and a chamber, “said Bazarrabusa.

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“And of course the B-scale follows as closely as possible. You get two blankets, two towels, a mosquito net, a bed board or a set of boards, a set of utensils, a mirror, a water jug, plates and two cups.

“When you get to the C-scale, these are prisoners of African descent, you get a sleeping mat on the cement floor, no bed, no bed boards, nothing. You just get a blanket and you get two iron or enamel cups and that’s all. “

When calling for the welfare of Ugandan prisoners to be improved, Bazarrabusa said it was time to improve prison regulations.

“I know, sir, it will cost the country a lot more to improve the living conditions of the prisoners. I fear we are at the door. Times have changed and we have to change with them,” he said. “I just hope the improved conditions don’t increase crime and attract more prisoners to prison.”

When he closed, Bazarrabusa recommended that the government consider providing individual cells for each prisoner.

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