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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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27 news items

New Vision

New Vision
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 04:26:15 -0700

From left to right in Front: William Katatumba of Ankore Cultural Trust, Philip Katahweire of Tooro, Olimi Karamaji Minister Bunyoro Kingdom, Loy Tumusiime, First Lady Janet Museveni, President Museveni, James Tumusiime, Bishop George Tibesigwa, ...

New Vision

New Vision
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 05:00:00 -0700

The thugs, who are reportedly organised in small groups, have attacked different homes in the district. The thugs' first victims were four priests of the West Ankole Church of Uganda Diocese. The thugs set residents' huts on fire and vandalise the houses.
The Observer
Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:18:45 -0700

More than 400 residents of Mbarara and neighbouring districts recently got free medical services during a medical camp at St James cathedral, Ruharo, in Mbarara. Among other services, the camp involved free tests for blood sugar and groups, and ...
Pueblo Chieftain
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 21:30:00 -0700

CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/JOHN JAQUES Ryan Richens,18, from Vernal, Utah, washes Daisy, a Ankole Watusi cattle animal, at the Colorado State Fair on Monday. The expo wrapped up a strong 11-day run with its final day Monday. By Gayle perez The Pueblo ...

New Vision

New Vision
Sun, 14 Sep 2014 02:41:32 -0700

He tells me of a one Phiona, a 'hot bird' who has a mixture of Ankole and Kinyarwanda blood. He then talks of another hot one he would have brought, but who sadly has lectures and can only be free at 10:00pm. “I am at Forest Mall,” I tell him on Monday ...
The Observer
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:03:41 -0700

In 1925, Wako became a member of the Uganda kings council, consisting of the Kyabazinga of Busoga, Kabaka of Buganda, the Omukama of Bunyoro, Omukama of Tooro and Omugabe of Ankole. In 1939, Basoga got tired of the title "president", which they ...
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:37:30 -0700

The short horn Zebu and Ankole remain dominant in the herd. These produce too little meat and insignificant amounts of milk and other products. When addressing a rally at Loliondo in October 2010, President Jakaya Kikwete told livestock keepers, some ...

The Star

The Star
Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:00:00 -0700

... park's new Project Polar reserve. Walkthrough areas include the Lemur Woods, Wallaby Walkabout and South America Viva. On the 'African Plains', zebra, antelope, ankole cattle and ostrich roam free. Other animals include popular meerkats and giraffes.

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