Throughout this period of civil strife in Uganda, the British lion had been exploring in the area and liked what it saw. In 1889 as Mwanga struggled to maintain his thrown Britain’s hegemonic rule was threatened as Germany began nosing its way into East Africa. Various explorers sent out by the National Geographic society returned to London with tales of gorgeous lands full of fertile soil and abundant food, perfect for European habitation.
Britain’s sparked interest in Uganda happened seemingly by chance in the form of a rescue mission for Emin Pasha, a German explorer and eventual colonial governor, born Eduard Schnitzer and currently the governor of Equitoria, an isolated province cut off from British Cairo due to a Mahdist revolution. Beginning in 1881 the Mahdist revolted against British colonial rule in both Sudan and Egypt and now controlled large swathes of both areas. Emin Pasha was in need of a rescue mission that would turn into a near disaster and controversial affair. Mackinnon would then turn his eyes towards Uganda. In 1889 Frederick Jackson an explorer whose goal it was to open up land between Mombasa and Lake Victoria and if possible obtain news of Emin Pasha.
Mackinnon, well aware of the political climate of Buganda at the time, ordered Jackson not to engage in exploration in the area. What Jackson would find was a King eager to keep his throne and ready to accept outside British help in order to do so despite potential consequences in future. In direct violation of his orders, Jackson began negotiation with Mwanga. His offer of help was initially rejected, but Mwanga soon found his grip on power rapidly fading and was encouraged by his advisors to accept the British offer for help.
Britain, as well as Germany, were well aware that they could use the current political turmoil to their advantage by playing one group off the other, which as we have seen was all too easy to accomplish in Buganda. News began to creep into British territory that Germany was planning a move into Buganda to secure the territory for themselves and to eject British influence in the region by supporting the Catholic factions within Uganda. A move that if successful would ensure that British domination in the area was threatened, something England was not prepared to accept.