State House means the official residence of the President. In Uganda at the moment, there are two main State Houses, one in Nakasero, Kampala and the other in Entebbe. However, there are also several State lodges scattered around the country.
The very first State House was constructed in Entebbe, long before Independence largely because Entebbe was the first Capital city of the colonial government.
At the time, it housed the Governor, who was the de-facto leader of the country; Governor Sir Walter Coutts who was the last Governor occupant of Entebbe State House. During this time, the current State House in Nakasero was known as the State Lodge, Nakasero.
Uganda’s first President, Sir Edward Muteesa, did not use State House as his residence because he could not leave his various palaces, including the main one at Mengo. When Milton Obote took over in 1966, he occupied State House Entebbe.
When Idi Amin captured power in 1971, he changed the name of the Nakasero State Lodge to Government House and allocated part of it mainly to the State Research Bureau.
During his tenure as president, Idi Amin used both residences inter-changedly. He occasionally stayed in Entebbe, however after the 1976 Israeli raid at the nearby air-port; he never lived there again and instead chose to stay in private residences around Kololo (command post) and the Cape, near Gaba.
During the short lived UNLF government between 1979 and 1980, both Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa used State House, Entebbe in succession. However, they spent most of their time at Nile Mansions, where the President had an office.
It was during Idi Amin’s regime that more State Lodges were constructed across the country. However, for many years after Amin, most of them remained in a state of despair.Many of these houses have been renovated under the NRM regime and are used whenever the President visits the area.
When President Museveni came to power, he at first used State House, Entebbe as his main residence. Though it was not in perfect condition, it was better than Nakasero State Lodge. He held meetings there during his first years in office, however after the renovation of State House, Nakasero he used Entebbe, less and less, until he finally left it for renovations.
When Museveni assumed office, Nakasero State House was in a state of disrepair, a state it had been left in since the overthrow of Idi Amin.The new government however renovated it and also expanded it to include neighboring buildings like Okello House, which was bought from its owner. After renovation, the President used it more often for official duties.
As CHOGM approached in 2007, State House Entebbe that had been in a poor state for many years was also renovated. It was also expanded from just 1,584 square meters to 17,472 square meters. It is now difficult to miss it since it is the dominant structure to the left, before Entebbe town as one leaves the airport.
One of the reasons it was renovated was to use it for guests during CHOGM in 2007; including the Queen of England, who among others was given a state bouquet at the complex.
State House is not just a residence. It has so many amenities that make it almost self sustaining. Among these include offices for State House employees, including the State House Comptroller, offices for the First lady, Communications Office, Security Office, Offices for the various Presidential Advisors etc. There are also several conference halls, guest wings, health clubs and recreation facilities.
The new State House, which now dwarfs and occupies a big part of Entebbe’s area has also got a conference hall that can sit at least 500 delegates.