History of Jinja

Published on 10th July 2007

Established in 1907, Jinja is the second commercial centre in Uganda. It lies in the south east of Uganda, 87 km north east of the capital, Kampala. It is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, near the source of the White Nile river. The city is the chief town of Jinja District, and is considered the capital of the Kingdom of Busoga. It has a population of approximately 106,000, most of them being Bantus.

Initially, Jinja was a fishing village that benefited from being on long-distance trade routes. It was founded in 1907 by the British as an administrative centre for the Provincial Government Headquarters for Busoga region. This was around the time when Lake Victoria's importance in transport rose due to the Uganda Railway linking Kisumu, a Kenyan town on the lake, with Mombasa on the Indian Ocean. Cotton-packing, nearby sugar estates, and railway access all enabled it to grow in size. By 1906 a street pattern had been laid out, and Indian traders moved in from around 1910. The Indians who were Catholic Christians and English-speaking, originated from the former Portuguese colony of Goa on the west coast of India.

Jinja remained the capital of Busoga region, and was the industrial heart of Uganda between 1954 and the late 1970s. Power was from the hydroelectric Nalubaale Power Station at the Owen Falls Dam. In the 1960s, Jinja, like all the towns in Uganda, was subtly segregated, with little mixing of white, East Indian and black neighborhoods. The white area was by the lakeside, while the East Indians who were the commercial and the business class and lived in the rest of the town. In 1971 and 1972, Idi Amin expelled East Indians from Uganda. Much of the city’s architecture is Indian-influenced. Many of the East Indians who are now returning to Uganda are choosing to set up businesses in Jinja.

Agriculture here thrives on the fertile soils, abundant water sources and reliable rainfall. Other industries are metal processing, leather and paper processing, grain milling, sugar, some organic fruits and coffee growing for export, and brewing for local sale. There is some local and export fishing on Lake Victoria.  

As the city grew, new roads were constructed. Jinja is a major station on the Uganda Railway and is a port for Lake Victoria ferries. There are many schools here that operate a British-style system of education. Local attractions include white-water rafting, the "Source of the Nile", and Bujagali Falls, which is located downriver from Owen Falls Dam about 8Kms north of Jinja. Bujagali Falls is a world-class spot for kayaking and white water rafting, and also a popular weekend picnic area for local Ugandans. There is an active Hindu temple near Jinja, which has a bronze bust of Gandhi. There is also a Buddhist temple.


http://www.jinja.go.ug/index2.php? option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=19

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