On 24 May 1966 the 500-year-old kingdom of Buganda came to an end. That was the day that Prime Minister Obote sent Colonel Idi Amin to attack the Mengo palace of Kabaka Frederick Mutesa, who was also the President of Uganda. A 120-man bodyguard defended the Kabaka; Amin had automatic and heavy weapons. Nevertheless, Obote was much annoyed that the palace held out against Amin's troops. An audience watched the battle from nearby hilltops, where expatriates and others brought out folding chairs, until a mid-afternoon thunderstorm sent everyone scurrying for cover. The Kabaka used this interruption to scale the rear wall of Mengo palace, where he hailed a passing taxicab and set off for Burundi and ultimately exile in London. Obote divided Buganda into two separate districts (East Mengo and West Mengo), promoted Amin, and gave him the palace as a barracks for his “paratroop” battalion, and more importantly also gave him Buganda's legislative hall—the Bulange—to become Amin's national military headquarters.
The casualties in the “battle of Mengo” were certainly few in number compared to the destruction Amin would wreak after his coup in 1971. But one invisible casualty of the Bulange occupation was especially significant for historians. The Bulange was not only the seat of the Lukiiko, the Ganda legislature, it was also the storage building for the Buganda government archives, which went back to the 1890s, and were still well organized anu maintained in 1956-58 when Peter Gutkind made use of them for his doctoral research. By 1963 storage space was becoming scarce when Rowe made several visits to Shaykh Ali Kulumba, the Speaker of the Lukiiko. Shaykh Kulumba opened up cupboards and closets packed with archival folders from floor to ceiling. Clearly the archives were still being preserved, but organization and access had suffered. Three years later, when Amin occupied the Bulange, he simply destroyed the entire archive—the historical record of sixty years of Buganda government ceased to exist.