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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 October 25, 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.
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These cattle have to be seen to be believed. Music by Jonathan Slatter, from the album World music. Tune; English pomp. Published by Sounds visual.

Ankole cattle crossing bridge in Congo

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46 news items

New Vision

New Vision
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:52:12 -0700

The diners comprised of royals from Buganda, Toro and Ankole who sauntered about with the grace of a peacock. The dress code was African style. The Bakiga exhibited wraps that are similar to the Karimojong type. Tunics, gomasi and bark cloth suits ...
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:18:45 -0700

The qualified schools from Kampala incude Kibuli SS, Kawempe Muslim SS, Lubiri SS, Uganda Martyrs HS Lubaga and Old Kampala SS. Meanwhile, Sentah College, Citizen High, Bishop MacAllister SS and Kitunga High qualified from Ankole region.
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 14:35:28 -0700

It is here where most of the people in Ankole who own Friesian cows came to buy them in the late 80s. Even in the most difficult days there were people who managed to maintain the farms of pure exotic cattle. People like Mzee Erisa Kakyomya, Assa Kiiza ...
The Observer (blog)
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 12:13:38 -0700

But I have noted that whenever comments are made about them, they become like the legendary bent knives in Ankole. They become unreasonably angry. They do a great job and many of them, out of their ingenuity and risk-taking attributes, have made it big.

New Vision

New Vision
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 23:22:30 -0700

“He never discriminated any one basing on political or tribal lines and that is why he made it to parliament and also married from Ankole,” he added. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Gen Kahinda Otafiire saluted the late for his humility ...
Huffington Post UK
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 23:54:39 -0700

As well as the big cats, other wild circus animals include camel, reindeer, zebra, ankole, fox, raccoon and snakes. It would be wonderful to see those animals retired to a sanctuary where they can live the rest of their lives away from the glare of the ...
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:52:30 -0700

He added that the people of the area also appreciate the President's support to the Kabwohe-based Ankole Western University Project, for being a Godly person with a large heart and also for his spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. Church of Uganda ...

Nature World News

Nature World News
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:48:45 -0700

By analyzing the genetic history of 134 breeds of cattle from around the world, a team of researchers has revealed that ancient African cattle were first domesticated in the Middle East. Pictured is the Ankole-Watusi, also known as Ankole longhorn, a ...

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