Ugandans, from the earliest days of empire, did not simply receive information and messages from a distant Britain. Instead, with methods rooted in pre-colonial understandings of communications as establishing personal, affective, social closeness and reciprocities, they invested in education, travel and correspondence and built wide-ranging information and communications networks. Networked, they understood imperial institutions and pushed their own priorities via both official and unofficial channels. By the 1940s, political activists combined these information networks with the modern technologies of newspapers, telegrams and global press campaigns to destabilize colonial hierarchies. Generating slanderous allegations, repeating them to generate popular buzz, interpreting and constructing evidence through repetition and spin, Ugandan information activists shaped the politics of the 1940s and 1950s through lobbying. The formal, structural characteristics of Ugandans’ late colonial information activism help explain the failures of Britain’s post–World War II scientific, progressive, centrally planned initiatives for development and control.

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Copyright © 2015 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 16:3 (2015), 1-13.

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