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Why is Uganda called the Pearl of Africa? Where did it come from?

Posted by on March 26, 2021

Uganda – Has always been the Pearl of Africa.

Why is Uganda called the Pearl of Africa? – Winston Churchill popularized the Phrase in his 1908 Book “My African Journey.”

Why is Uganda called the Pearl of AfricaWhy is Uganda called the Pearl of Africa? Who first named Uganda the Pearl of Africa? What is Winston Churchill, who first called Uganda the Pearl of Africa?

The Slogan – Ugandathe Pearl of Africa – was made famous by Winston Churchill in his 1908 Book entitled “My African Journey” about his trip to Uganda in 1907.

Winston Churchill was quite enthused about what he found in Uganda as you can see, “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”

Why is Uganda called the Pearl of Africa, and who was the first one to use it? Most in Uganda today attribute the name “Pearl of Africa” to Winston Churchill. However, almost every other Western Explorer and Discoverer that came to Uganda felt similar. They spoke in glowing terms about the country they found and referred to it as the Pearl of Africa.

Yes, Winston Churchill may not have been the one who first called Uganda the Pearl of Africa. He is the one who today is given credit.  It was Winston Churchill who popularized it through his book, “My African Journey.” A Book that you can buy on Amazon Com and Find in our Gorilla Safari Reads Book Section.  We strongly suggest that you read the book before coming to Uganda.

Uganda affected and infected the early explorers’ years before Winston Churchill arrived in ways. They were astounded by what is now Uganda. Much more than the other countries that they had passed through. They were amazed by the incredible beauty, natural wonders, climate, and people they encountered. When modern travel became available, tourists flocked here, and they too fell in love with the Pearl of Africa.

In 1858 John Hanning Speke and Richard Burton ventured through the Buganda Kingdom and were amazed by what they found. It was John Hanning Speke that discovered Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile. He was impressed as to how vast and open the streets were in the capital of Buganda, Kampala. He was also surprised by the Buganda Kingdom’s structured society, culture, and ways.

Speke traveled through much of Uganda and headed north like Winston Churchill and to what is now the Safari circuit in Western Uganda.

His journeys and time in Uganda were made known through the movie “Mountains of the Moon.” His claims of having discovered the source of the Nile were discounted by many until proven by Samuel and Florence Baker.

The earliest and most credible source referring to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa was the at times ruthless, Henry Morton Stanley, who twice ventured throughout Uganda long before Winston Churchill.

Frederick John D. Lugard (who saved Uganda for the British from the French) wrote, “Stanley was even louder in his praises of Uganda than Speke describing it as the “Pearl of Africa” 1893.

Most sources name Henry Morton Stanley as the earliest and probably most credible source of “The Pearl of Africa., especially in American Writings, which were before Winston Churchill’s visited the Country in 1907 and his next book published in 1908.

Why is Uganda called the Pearl of Africa, and who named it that

No matter who was the first to refer to “Uganda – like the Pearl of Africa.” The reality is that it has been known and called the Pearl of Africa for over one hundred plus years.

What makes a Pearl so Precious? 

Precious Pearls are a rare find in Nature. Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is a rare find among the fifty-plus countries that make up the African continent.

Pearls are the only gems that are formed and located within a living creature. Uganda is that Gem found in the living creature called Africa.

Uganda is like an exceptional natural pearl created by Nature with no need for polishing or cutting by man. Uganda is, as has been said, has been said by some a country that is “Gifted by Nature.”

It is no wonder that explorers, travelers for years, have proclaimed Uganda a rare find of incredible Beauty. Its Natural Wonders, its people making Uganda none other than the Pearl of Africa. 

Some have not liked it, one such is Katharine Hepburn, who came to Uganda to play a part in the movie “The African Queen.” her book title alone gives away her feelings “THE MAKING OF THE AFRICAN QUEEN: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind. For more reading, take a look at “How not visit Africa – Its Pearl – Uganda.”

Why is Uganda the Pearl of Africa? Defining “The Pearl of Africa in the 21st Century

A Pearl is rare. Uganda is one of a kind Country. There are no others like it in all of Africa. A country gifted by Nature makes it one of the World’s most biodiverse nations in World. 

Here are the reasons why Uganda is the Pearl of Africa:

1. Welcoming and Friendly People “The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the Climate is different, and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.”

Ugandans are some of Africa’s most Welcoming and friendly People. A people who their home, and even more importantly their hearts.

The Friendly Ugandan Welcome follows the concept of Traditional African Culture, where the Host assumes responsibility for the visitors’ well-being.

Winston Churchill found that in 1907, and that is still the reality.  It is one thing to be among friendly people, but in many countries, there often is a language barrier.  Uganda is Africa’s Best English-Speaking Country Even Winston Churchill noted that in his book. You might be advised to learn a bit of UgLish, which is a version of Ugandan English.

2. Stunning scenery that continues to Amaze Visitors to Uganda as it did Winston Churchill:

Winston Churchill wrote, “The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The landscape is different… from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda…it is the Pearl of Africa.

The scenery is different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa. Those who have visited here would agree.  Lonely Planet calls Uganda, Africa, Condensed into one Country.  Uganda was one reason that Lonely chose it as “Best Country to Visit” in 2012. CNN Travel chose Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as the “Most Beautiful Place in the World.”

Bwindi Forest, Lake Bunyonyi, and the Rwenzori Mountains could be seen in the Blockbuster “Black Panther” movie. Uganda has the River Nile running through it. The Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park in 2019 were declared the 3rd “Must Photograph Location in the World. Winston Churchill was right when he wrote: “The scenery is different.” It is one of the reasons that Uganda is the Pearl of Africa.

3. The Weather is Different- Best Weather in East Africa

When it comes to Uganda’s Weather and Climate, Winston Churchill wrote: “the climate is different…from all of Africa.”

Uganda’s different Climate, the best Holiday Weather in all of East Africa. Another reason that Uganda is the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda is located on the Equator, but because of its Elevation. Because of Lake Victoria, the Rwenzori Mountains, the Virunga Volcanoes, the weather is excellent all year long, making it a favorite Holiday Travel Destination.

For most of Uganda, there are two rainy seasons during the year.  Even during the rainy seasons, the sun comes out since most rain showers come at night or during the early morning hours.

In Uganda, the Climate is different. Yes, it is in the Pearl of Africa.

4. A Tropical Paradise – Africa’s Tropical Fruit Basket

Winston Churchill wrote in his book My African Journey: Uganda is from end to end one beautiful garden, where the staple food of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on Earth?… Concentrate on Uganda… It is the Pearl 0f Africa.

“A Taste of Uganda” on Safari visiting Uganda. Taste the bounty that this paradise called Uganda produces. Another reason that it is the Pearl of Africa. Over fifty kinds of different Bananas, the best Pineapple in the World. Large Papayas, flavorful passion fruits. It is Africa’s tropical fruit paradise.

T has been said that you put a stick into the ground, and the next day leaves will spring forth. That might be true since Harvest time in Uganda, unlike many other countries, is several times a year.

5. Uganda – One of the most Biodiverse Countries in the World

The words of Winston Churchill published in 1908 still ring true today in the 21st Century. “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”

Uganda, a small, landlocked country, the State of Oregon, makes the top ten countries in the world when it comes to Biodiversity. Some call Uganda gifted by Nature.

Unlike other Safari Destinations, Uganda is home to the -Big-7.” Lions, Elephants, Hippos, Rhinos, Leopards, Buffaloes plus Mountain Gorillas, and Chimpanzees. Over 1,160 Species of Birds, including the elusive Shoebill Stork, Butterflies, giant Crocodiles in Africa, the Nile Crocodiles. The most significant number of endangered Nubian (Rothschild) Giraffes. That is just the beginning, one could add, Tropical Jungles, Afromontane Rainforests, endless Savannahs, lakes as large as an ocean, and more.

The Pearl of Africa is a Timeless Slogan

The Pearl of Africa is a Brand, and there is no other country in Africa with that label. It is, in our opinion, a Timeless Slogan.

It is a Brand not created by the Ugandan Government, the Ministry of Tourism, the Uganda Tourism Board, or a hired marketing agency. There was a time when President Museveni wanted it copyrighted, somehow that never happened.

Uganda’s Track record Branding the Country is dismal. The only thing they could come up with was “Gifted by Nature,” and that was a big Dud.

In 2019, tourism officials stated that “the Pearl of Africa” is no longer relevant, outdated, and a slogan that does not evoke what the Country is, something we disagree with and suggest that you read it.

You can never separate Uganda and the Pearl of Africa. The who have and will remain one.

The Pearl of Africa – Reality Check:

Winston Churchill’s visit to Uganda did not promote Tourism by popularizing “the Pearl of Africa.” The purpose of his trip was to see how Britain could benefit economically from Uganda.

Uganda was a British Protectorate. Winston Churchill came to East Africa, to Uganda, in his role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies and not as an Ambassador of Tourism for Uganda. His book increased interest among Big Game Hunters (American President Teddy Roosevelt was one), who subsequently visited Uganda.

That the Pearl of Africa is used today to promote Tourism and Commerce might be a term’s redemption. However, it was used to describeUganda’sUganda’s wealth and riches for exploitation.

Today Uganda, the Pearl of Africa is used as a Tourist Slogan that shows why Uganda is a unique, one-of-a-kind African Safari Destination different from any other.

Winston Churchill saw Africa, Uganda through the lenses of his time. The Western World saw Africans as lesser than whites.  The theory of Charles Darwin had become widespread. That theory taught white races, Europeans, to be evolutionary and more advanced than Blacks. It was a time when Black Africans were popular such as the Bronx Zoo (New York Times was all ford it) in the US and other displays of Africans like animals in a Zoon in Europe. Thank goodness the times have and are changing.

Today, most Ugandans do not associate “the Pearl of Africa” with the British Colonial Era but as the slogan that describes this country’s uniqueness. There is a sense of Pride to live in the Pearl of Africa.

Today Ugandans see it as describing excellence, such as “the Pearl of Africa Hotel. Just maybe it is part of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s decolonizing of the African mind. Nevertheless, it is a slogan that we will always use at Kabiza Wilderness Safaris.

The Pearl of Africa in the Words of Sir Winston Churchill



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