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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.
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36 news items

New Vision

New Vision
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:14:44 -0700

The youth wing that supports the restoration of the Ankole monarchy known as Engabo Z'Ankole have appealed to government to consider the restoration of the Ankole Kingdom. Speaking during a meeting on recently, the youth said they are unhappy with ...
The Observer
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 03:29:53 -0700

Muyambi said the meeting was attended by about 200 youths from across Ankole and some prominent elders, who included Stephen Kamuhanda, the former head teacher of Ntare School; Kesi Bunanukye, an expert on Ankole culture; and Kapalaga ...
The Observer (blog)
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700

That white tasty ghee sauce you find in some restaurants that makes millet bread, beans and virtually any food so tasty, is called eshabwe in Ankole where it is most popular. If you love it, try making it at home. Use clean unboiled matured ghee. Ghee ...

East Anglian Daily Times

East Anglian Daily Times
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 02:45:00 -0700

After stints in the savannah section – addax, ostrich, zebra and blesbok – James went to work on the marsh section which includes lions, cheetah, water buffalo and ankole cattle. He said: “I got an overview of all the different animals in the park so I ...
The Observer (blog)
Sun, 03 Aug 2014 10:48:45 -0700

The raid by Ntare V of Ankole in around 1894 into Rwanda and the counter-raid by Rwabugiri Kigeri IV of Rwanda into Ankole in the same year fell into this category. The raid by Bachwa, son Mutambuka, into Makara (Congo) in the 1870s, again, falls into ...
The Observer
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 00:18:45 -0700

Instead of talking about Rwanda and Burundi, I will talk about Ankole which had a similar social structure. What they call "ethnic" groups are in fact more akin to occupational guilds based on job specialisation: agriculturists, cattle keepers and ...
Sky News
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 21:41:15 -0700

There are only two circuses left in Britain that still have wild animals, including tigers, lions, zebras, snakes, reindeer, raccoons, foxes, camels and an Ankole. One - called Peter Jolly's Circus - is operating in Buckley, near Chester, and has ...
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:11:15 -0700

This struggle, however, was revived as soon as the NRA took power in 1986. Museveni then convinced the people of northern Ankole to embrace modern farming techniques. He challenged them to dispose of their traditional cattle breeds for exotic ones.

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