Uganda Scheme

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Theodor Herzl

The Uganda Scheme was a plan in the early 1900s to give a portion of British East Africa to the Jewish people as a homeland. It drew support from Theodor Herzl, a prominent Zionist, as a temporary refuge for European Jews facing antisemitism.[1]

Whilst the plan was unsuccessful, according to Adam Rovner the plan was attractive to early Zionists as it "twinned the adventures of [Henry Morton] Stanley with the adventurism of the Age of Empire, stagecraft with statecraft."[2]

History[edit]

British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain was aware of the ambitions of the Zionist Organization, which had been on his mind during a trip to East Africa earlier in the year. Chamberlain noted during his trip that, "If Dr Herzl were at all inclined to transfer his efforts to East Africa there would he no difficulty in finding land suitable for Jewish settlers."[3]

Herzl was introduced to Chamberlain by Israel Zangwill in the spring of 1903, a few weeks after the outbreak of the Kishinev pogroms.[4]

Chamberlain offered 13,000 square kilometres (5,000 sq mi) at Uasin Gishu (also spelled "Gwas Ngishu"), an isolated area atop the Mau Escarpment in modern Kenya (not Uganda).[5]

The land was thought suitable because of its temperate hill station-like climate and its relative isolation, being surrounded by the Mau Forest. The offer was a response to pogroms against the Jews in Russia, and it was hoped the area could be a refuge from persecution for the Jewish people.[6]

Name[edit]

Chamberlain saw the land as he was passing by on the Uganda Railway, although the land was not in fact in Uganda but in the East Africa Protectorate (modern Kenya).[7]

This territory had only recently been transferred from the Uganda Protectorate to the East Africa Protectorate in 1902, as part of the Uganda Railway development plan.[8]

In fiction[edit]

  • The story of the 1904 expedition, as well as an imagined vision of a Jewish state in Uasin Gishu, is told in Lavie Tidhar's novelette "Uganda", in his 2007 collection HebrewPunk.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Uganda Proposal". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  2. ^ Rovner 2014, p. 45.
  3. ^ Rovner 2014, p. 52a: "Chamberlain had been acquainted with Zionism’s aspirations for territorial colonization prior to his departure and Herzl had been on his mind while in Africa... Chamberlain mused in an official report composed during his travels in the continent, “If Dr Herzl were at all inclined to transfer his efforts to East Africa there would he no difficulty in finding land suitable for Jewish settlers.”"
  4. ^ Rovner 2014, p. 51: "Thanks in part to Zangwill's efforts, Herzl found himself admitted to the drawing rooms of philanthropic and political power. Most important to the Zionist leader was his introduction to 'the great Joe,' Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain. Chamberlain an influential cabinet member and the most forceful imperialist of his day was sympathetic to Jewish suffering though not above making a cutting remark about Jews when it proved politically expedient. In the spring of 1903 the fastidiously dressed sixty-six-year-old secretary was fresh from a trip to British possessions in Africa.... Whatever the genesis of the idea, Chamberlain received Herzl in his office just weeks after the Kishinev pogroms. He fixed Herzl in his monocle and offered his help. 'I have seen a land for you on my travels,' Chamberlain told him, 'and that’s Uganda. It's not on the coast, but farther inland the climate becomes excellent even for Europeans ... [a]nd I thought to myself that would he a land for Dr. Herzl.'"
  5. ^ Joseph Telushkin (1991). Jewish literacy. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-688-08506-7. Britain stepped into the picture, offering Herzl land in the largely undeveloped area of Uganda (today, it would be considered an area of Kenya). ... 
  6. ^ Theodor Herzl's biography at Jewish Virtual Library
  7. ^ Rovner 2014, p. 52b:"The land Chamberlain had actually seen on his travels belonged to the East Africa Protectorate and not the separately administered Uganda Protectorate which had no coastline. But he had watched this prospective territory pass by while chugging along the Uganda Railway which stretched from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. The confusion between the name of the railway and the actual region proposed for Jewish colonization meant that the scheme would thereafter be known as the Uganda Plan.""
  8. ^ Červenka, Zdenek (1973). Land-locked Countries of Africa. Nordic Africa Institute. pp. 81–88. 
  9. ^ The story online at Flurb Magazine http://www.flurb.net/5/5tidhar.htm

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]