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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 a traditional kingdom 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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1851 news items

Sun, 17 Jan 2016 23:52:30 -0800

But outside NRM, Museveni suggests, Mbabazi could be his weakest opponent, as EDRIS KIGGUNDU reports. The only blight to President Museveni's smooth campaigning in Ankole last week was the bickering among local party leaders in various districts.
Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:56:15 -0800

The three candidates are also from the same region of the country. They all come from the Ankole region in western Uganda. The other candidates including those from the populous Baganda region, have not mobilised social basis of support to match these ...
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 15:15:00 -0800

Like Tooro Kingdom, the battle for the dormant Ankole throne is taking shape after another prince emerged to claim its leadership. Some Ankole Kingdom loyalists on Sunday met in Kasese District at a function to unveil a new prince, Umar Asiimwe, at his ...

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.
Fri, 15 Jan 2016 04:31:52 -0800

Behind the crowds, the dancing and public pomp at President Museveni's rallies in Kigezi and Ankole sub-regions in the last two weeks, were men and women of means, mostly local businessmen and politicians like incumbent MPs and ministers. EDRIS ...
Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:03:45 -0800

Kasese — Ankole throne claimant Umar Asiimwe has challenged Mr William Katatumba, who speaks for Ankole Kingdom to explain his stake in the royal families of the kingdom. Mr Katatumba recently while responding to hitherto unknown Mr Asiimwe, ...

The Star

The Star
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 04:33:45 -0800

The work will transform African Plains, already a visitor favourite, with larger interlinked reserves to allow even more animals to range around. These will include Zebras, Ostrich, Eland and Lechwe Antelope , Ankole Cattle and Giraffes. “The visitor ...
Sat, 02 Jan 2016 15:03:45 -0800

Mbarara — Mr William Katatumba, who speaks for the uninstalled Ankole Kingdom, has said Umar Asiimwe, who is seeking restoration of the monarchy, is an impostor. Mr Katatumba was on Thursday responding to claims by the hitherto unknown Prince ...

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