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For the breed of cattle, see Ankole-Watusi (cattle).
Kingdom of Ankole and its districts
State flag of the Kingdom of Ankole

Ankole, also referred to as Nkore, is one of four traditional kingdoms in Uganda. The kingdom is located in the southwestern Uganda, east of Lake Edward. It was ruled by a monarch known as The Mugabe or Omugabe of Ankole. The kingdom was formally abolished in 1967 by the government of President Milton Obote, and is still not officially restored.[1] The people of Ankole are called Banyankole (singular: Munyankole) in Runyankole language, a Bantu language.

On 25 October 1901 the Kingdom of Nkore was incorporated into the British Protectorate of Uganda by the signing of the Ankole agreement.[2]

Due to the reorganisation of the country by Idi Amin, Ankole no longer exists as an administrative unit. It is divided into ten districts, namely: Bushenyi District, Buhweju District, Mitooma District, Rubirizi District, Sheema District, Ntungamo District, Mbarara District, Kiruhura District, Ibanda District and Isingiro District.

History of pre-colonial ethnic relations in Ankole[edit]

The pastoralist Hima (also known as Bahima) established dominion over the agricultural Iru (also known as Bairu) some time before the nineteenth century. The Hima and Iru established close relations based on trade and symbolic recognition, but they were unequal partners in these relations. The Iru were legally and socially inferior to the Hima, and the symbol of this inequality was cattle, which only the Hima could own. The two groups retained their separate identities through rules prohibiting intermarriage and, when such marriages occurred, making them invalid.

The Hima provided cattle products that otherwise would not have been available to Iru farmers. Because the Hima population was much smaller than the Iru population, gifts and tribute demanded by the Hima could be supplied fairly easily. These factors probably made Hima-Iru relations tolerable, but they were nonetheless reinforced by the superior military organization and training of the Hima.

The kingdom of Ankole expanded by annexing territory to the south and east. In many cases, conquered herders were incorporated into the dominant Hima stratum of society, and agricultural populations were adopted as Iru or slaves and treated as legal inferiors. Neither group could own cattle, and slaves could not herd cattle owned by the Hima.

Ankole society evolved into a system of ranked statuses, where even among the cattle-owning elite, patron-client ties were important in maintaining social order. Men gave cattle to the king (mugabe) to demonstrate their loyalty and to mark life-cycle changes or victories in cattle raiding. This loyalty was often tested by the king's demands for cattle or for military service. In return for homage and military service, a man received protection from the king, both from external enemies and from factional disputes with other cattle owners.

The mugabe authorized his most powerful chiefs to recruit and lead armies on his behalf, and these warrior bands were charged with protecting Ankole borders. Only Hima men could serve in the army, however, and the prohibition on Iru military training almost eliminated the threat of Iru rebellion. Iru legal inferiority was also symbolized in the legal prohibition against Iru owning cattle. And, because marriages were legitimized through the exchange of cattle, this prohibition helped reinforce the ban on Hima-Iru intermarriage. The Iru were also denied highlevel political appointments, although they were often appointed to assist local administrators in Iru villages.

The Iru had a number of ways to redress grievances against Hima overlords, despite their legal inferiority. Iru men could petition the king to end unfair treatment by a Hima patron. Iru people could not be subjugated to Hima cattle-owners without entering into a patron-client contract.

A number of social pressures worked to destroy Hima domination of Ankole. Miscegenation took place despite prohibitions on intermarriage, and children of these unions (abambari) often demanded their rights as cattle owners, leading to feuding and cattle-raiding. From what is present-day Rwanda groups launched repeated attacks against the Hima during the nineteenth century. To counteract these pressures, several Hima warlords recruited Iru men into their armies to protect the southern borders of Ankole.


  1. ^ The Observer Media Ltd. :: The Weekly Observer :: Uganda's Top Resource site
  2. ^ The Ankole Agreement 1901

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankole — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

37 news items

New Vision

New Vision
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 01:11:15 -0800

Like tourism clusters in different parts of the country, GANTONE is working with UTB to promote tourism in the Ankole area by helping stakeholders to network; to acquire skills in managing tourism ventures and to enforce the right standards in the ...
The Observer
Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:52:30 -0800

Dr Katatumba's article came hot on the heels of a recent workshop UTB jointly held in Mbarara with members of GANTONE (Greater Ankole Tourism Network) regional tourism cluster. Like tourism clusters in different parts of the country, GANTONE is working ...
Uganda Radio Network
Wed, 05 Nov 2014 00:47:56 -0800

Trouble between Bishop Katonene and his flock started after a section of Christians accused him of attempting to shift the Ankole Diocese University project from Kabwohe in Sheema to Katungu in Bushenyi district, delaying to apply for the university ...

New Vision

New Vision
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 01:11:15 -0800

I am compelled to write this after reading an article published in one newspaper of November 7-8, 2014 titled “Ankole: Katatumba missed the point on Tourism Board” by James Tumusiime in which he was reacting to the earlier article published by Dr ...

New Vision

New Vision
Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:30:00 -0800

It is in light of the above that Gantone, the tourism cluster for the Ankole region was initiated. Gantone is an acronym for Greater Ankole Tourism Network. It is a regional response to a national strategy of developing and promoting tourism. It is one ...
The Star Online
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:02:22 -0800

Powerful herby coffee, sun-dried fish and succulent beef from Ankole cattle are just some of the Ugandan delicacies in a mushrooming movement across Africa to safeguard traditional foods. Slow Food, a global grassroots organisation that promotes "good, ...
The Observer (blog)
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 20:33:45 -0700

With this mandate, Nkore Cultural Trust has made numerous pleas to government to hand over the royal drums and all the regalia, as well as Mugaba palace and all other cultural sites and monuments throughout Ankole kingdom. These should be ...
Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:40:27 -0800

Duncan Senoga, a volunteer with Slow food International in Uganda, helps pupils of Buiga Sunrise Primary School in Mukono District, Uganda on October 2, 2014. Pic: AFPKAMPALA: Powerful herby coffee, sun-dried fish and succulent beef from Ankole cattle ...

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