The long-horned cattle that were introduced by the Banyankole in Uganda also appear in 4000 year-old pictographs on the Egyptian pyramids.
The Ankole Kingdom was founded around the 14th century, shortly after Nilotic-Luo invaders from Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan overthrew the Bachwezi Dynasty in the Empire of Kitara, and founded their own; Bunyoro-Kitara, Ruhinda Rwa Njunaki, the son of Wamala, the last king of the Bachwezi, founded Ankole Kingdom and ascended the throne as Omugabe, which means ‘the giver of freedom’.
At this time, Ankole went by the Kingdom of Kaaro-Karungi (the beautiful land). It would later change to ‘Nkore’ and evolve to Ankole in the colonial era when it became an amalgamation of several smaller kingdoms, because the British were having trouble pronouncing ‘Nkore’.
Ruhinda set up his capital at Kagarama hills from where his descendants of the royal clan, the Abahinda, ruled a very small kingdom of no more than half a million people. The kingdom had a centralised system of government, with a Prime Minister called Enganzi assisting the Omugabe alongside provincial chiefs called Abakuru by’ ebyanga.
Through conquest and war, the Abagabe extended Ankole’s boundaries to include the short-lived Mpororo Kingdom that comprised parts of Kigezi and Rwanda, whose people made the choice to either stay in Ankole or migrate to Rwanda. In 1898 the British had advanced as far as Mbarara where they opened an office. Not wanting to deal with the several small kingdoms, and preferring a more centralised system, the British forcefully placed the kingdoms of Igara, Buhweju and Busongora directly under the rule of the Omugabe of Ankole.
The 1901 Toro Agreement signed between the British and the Omugabe officially incorporated Ankole into the British Protectorate of Uganda. The Omugabe kept his crown, dignities and preeminence, but lost all political control over his kingdom. In 1967 following the abrogation of the Uganda Constitution by Obote, the Kingdom of Ankole faced the same fate as Uganda’s other kingdoms when it was abolished and the Omugabe fled to exile in. This would mark the end of the formal existence of the kingdom, which lost its royal drums, regalia, spears and shields in a government raid.
After the restoration of traditional monarchies in Uganda in 1993, the Banyankole were never united in their resolve to restore the Kingship and the Kingdom of Ankole, which today remains in limbo.
What You Need To Know
Location And Getting There
The Kingdom of Ankole consists of 10 Districts: Bushenyi, Buhweju, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Sheema, Ntungamo, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ibanda and Isingiro in Western Uganda with headquaters in Mbarara. The closest national park to this region is Lake Mburo National Park.