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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.

1071 news items

NTV Uganda
Sun, 10 May 2015 23:22:30 -0700

For a long time, the Ankole Watusi or long-horned cattle have been the icon in the Ankole region of South Western Uganda. But diminishing grazing space and the tempting need to rear the high paying exotic cattle is luring many cattle keepers to part ...
The Observer
Mon, 27 Apr 2015 07:00:45 -0700

Uganda Christian University (UCU) will next semester hold a special council meeting to, among others, issues discuss its relationship with Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology, (AWIST). The meeting follows reports that UCU had broken its ...


Thu, 14 May 2015 03:52:30 -0700

An Ankole-Watusi steer watches traffic pass Wednesday morning near the K-68 on-ramp to I-35 east of Ottawa. Watusi cattle are native to Africa, but the Ankole-Watsui International Registry is located just south of Spring Hill. Watusi wows passing ...

BBC News

BBC News
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 08:04:52 -0700

Some breeds are rarer or more sought after than others, such as the Ankole Longhorns of Uganda. Not so long ago, this rare breed was on the brink of extinction, because of cross-breeding. The BBC's Roderick Macleod travelled to the south-west of the ...

The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times
Sat, 09 May 2015 12:10:30 -0700

Burrus doesn't know of any other African Ankole-Watusi cattle in the state. “Who gets to go out and work with an African Watusi and help a family that's in such need?” Burrus said. “We're ready to dig in and get going with ol' Chief.” Because of the ...

Capital Public Radio News

Capital Public Radio News
Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:41:15 -0700

First, Ankole-Watusi cattle, which have a population that is recovering in the U.S.. The Livestock Conservancy. The Steller's sea cow, the passenger pigeon and the New Zealand moa all went extinct because people developed a taste for their meat. But ...

New Vision

New Vision
Sun, 12 Apr 2015 00:07:30 -0700

The Rev. Canon Stephen Namanya has been elected the Second Bishop of North Ankole Diocese. He will be consecrated and enthroned as Bishop on August 2, 2015 at Emmanuel Cathedral, Rushere. His election was made by the House of Bishops of the ...

NBC 7 San Diego

NBC 7 San Diego
Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0800

So as he's being handraised (and getting 3 bottles per feeding), staffers have introduced Chutti to Moo Moo Kitty, an Ankole cow. If the two bond, they could spend time together until Chutti is weaned in 14 to 15 months, zoo officials said. The one ...

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