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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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729 news items

The Observer (blog)
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:41:09 -0800

The High court in Mbarara on Tuesday ordered West Ankole Bishop Yona Katonene to appear in court next month. Justice Duncan Gaswaga was angry that the bishop skipped court, over a case in which he is accused of trying to transfer Ankole Western ...

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Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:33:45 -0800

'Ankole-Watusi Cow'. Photograph of an Ankole-Watusi cow in [South Africa?] in the late 19th or early 20th century. Grand Parade. The most imposing feature of the Royal Show, Edinburgh. A collection of weird and wonderful archived slides showing the ...
The Observer (blog)
Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:09:00 -0800

I did not intimate at any point in my letter that NCT was seeking ownership of Ankole regalia, royal artifacts and the palace. What NCT is seeking is for government to appreciate that NCT is the best insurance for the protection, preservation and care ...

New Vision

New Vision
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 01:11:15 -0800

Like tourism clusters in different parts of the country, GANTONE is working with UTB to promote tourism in the Ankole area by helping stakeholders to network; to acquire skills in managing tourism ventures and to enforce the right standards in the ...
The Observer
Sun, 14 Dec 2014 19:11:15 -0800

Since he was coming from the Bahinda-controlled area of Ankole - Karagwe - Buhaya (in Tanzania), he asked the princesses of that area (Bahindakazi) the following question: "Enyungu ku erisya yaatukura akabunu, muryagiteruzaki?" - How will you remove ...


Fri, 04 Jul 2014 08:17:47 -0700

The Ankole-Watusi is a breed of cattle native to Africa. It is also known as the Anokle longhorn. The Ankole-Watusi have been illustrated on ancient rock paintings, Egyptian art and on pyramid walls. A breed called the Sanga spread to eastern Africa ...

St. George Daily Spectrum

St. George Daily Spectrum
Sat, 29 Nov 2014 17:27:25 -0800

The domestic livestock of Africa provides a petting zoo featuring Ankole cattle, dwarf donkeys and Nubian goats. An unforgettable experience is a camel ride across the desert sands. Be sure to see the wonderful train display. Some exhibits and rides ...
The Observer (blog)
Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:52:30 -0800

Dr Katatumba's article came hot on the heels of a recent workshop UTB jointly held in Mbarara with members of GANTONE (Greater Ankole Tourism Network) regional tourism cluster. Like tourism clusters in different parts of the country, GANTONE is working ...

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