History Flashbacks- Chief Mataba;
The Cotton Dont Grow in Ukerewe.This is a funnny story had to share.
Chief Mataba's Funny Resistance to plant cotton in Ukerewe from the British.Lol
I cut bits and pieces of the story because it was too long read it in full here
The colonialists found Ukerewe with more than 600 years of uninterrupted rule by the Basilanga Dynasty, an offshoot of the Ruhinda or Bahinda Dynasty. They arrived on the Island at around 1490 (Time of Henry VIII) and created an "Empire" that survives to this day.
In fact, Chief Mataba, which is still a very popular name in South Sudan, was only the second, the first being his father, Magwega who was created by the British. And, that is where Chief Mataba's story as a folk hero starts. Chief Mataba was the second born son after his elder brother, Chibuga.
Chief Mataba scored against the British and, he would continue with his game throughout their rule in Tanganyika in a very cunning and mischievous manner that Mr Burton and other colonial bosses never quite grasped.
For instance, Chief Mataba developed a habit of arriving late at all meetings either with the DC or the Provincial Commissioner (PC), regardless of whether those meetings also involved other Chiefs from the Lake Zone. Asked why he was late, he would simply quip: "My breakfast is tougher and therefore takes longer to eat."
Everybody would laugh but that was his small, naughty and witty "rebellion" against the colonial masters. Mataba rejects Paramount Chiefdom At some point, the British wanted to make Ukerewe a Paramount Chiefdom in which Ukara would only be a sub-part. Asked for his views, Chief Mataba simply replied: "No cup can draw from another cup," meaning although Ukara Island was small in size, it was of equal status to Ukerewe.
He never knew how to read and write but he was certainly a master of the principle of the equality between states, a key philosophy of international relations to this day. In his classic style, Chief Mataba also rejected the introduction of cotton farming on Ukara Island saying in the long run, it would damage the environment. History has lived to vindicate his vision.
Ukara is a small Island, which in 1960 had about 16,000 inhabitants only but with the highest rural population density in Africa, 600 people per square mile. It is only the deliberately blind who can fail to see how disastrous spraying for chemical pesticides would have been if cotton was to be grown in such a compact environment. His cotton growing resistance is another epic drama in silent rebellion.
Ordered to plant cotton by the British, Chief Mataba told his people to fry the seeds first before they sowed them. Then, playing the innocent 'fool,' Chief Mataba approached the British and argued that the new crop could not grow on Ukara Island although it was thriving on Ukerewe Island, where the first ginnery in East Africa was built in 1904.
It no longer works as the Wakerewe too have since abandoned cotton farming. A colonial officer decided to camp on Ukara to personally distribute the seeds and supervise the cotton growing exercise.
Undaunted, Chief Mataba also ordered his people to remove the seeds at night, fry them and replant them before daybreak to avoid being caught by "Bwana Mkubwa" or master. Finally, it was the colonial officer who "proved" that indeed, cotton could not grow on Ukara Island!