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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.
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1256 news items

New Vision

New Vision
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 08:20:33 -0700

President Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet posing with the new Bishop of West Ankole Diocese, Stephen Namanya and wife Lydia and the children, during the concecration ceremony at St. Emmanuel Cathedral Rushere on August 1, 2015. PHOTO/PPU.
NTV Uganda
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:37:30 -0700

Pulezidenti Yoweri Kaguta Museveni asimye abantu bo'mu bulabirizi bwa North Ankole olw'enkulaakulana gyebatuuseeko wabula nabasomooza ku kirwadde kya mukenenya ekimaze abalungi nababi. Bino abyogeredde ku mukolo gw'okutikkira abadde ...
Tue, 04 Aug 2015 02:00:00 -0700

Kiruhura — The Rev Stephen Namanya was on Sunday consecrated new Bishop for North Ankole Diocese at Emmanuel Cathedral Rushere in Kiruhura District. Bishop Namanya becomes the second bishop of the diocese that was created in 2003.
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 04:37:30 -0700

Gunshots and teargas characterised the campaigns of former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president and flag-bearer aspirant, Dr Kizza Besigye in Mbarara town yesterday Sunday. It all started when Besigye and his supporters led a procession to ...
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Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:11:15 -0700

FDC president Major General Mugisha Muntu, who is also looking at being the presidential flag-bearer for the party, has concluded his consultative meetings in western Uganda, cautioning party members against erring in judgment when choosing who best to ...

The Observer (blog)

Wed, 08 Jul 2015 05:11:15 -0700

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Sun, 02 Aug 2015 23:56:15 -0700

(The Observer, July 14, 2014) in which I said some seers had predicted a man that would fight many wars at the time of the non-existence of the Nkore (Ankole) kingdom, rule for many years but be succeeded by a new dispensation. Interestingly, the ...
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 14:56:15 -0700

... it is animated by Amda Whatsapp and thanksgiving as well," said Catherine Bekunda Tumwebaze, one of the organisers. Emmy Mbareebaki created Amda WhatsApp forum to ease conversation for Catholics hailing from greater Ankole on March 19, 2014.

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