Nkore History

It should also be noted that the royal Omugabe's were of the Bahinda clan, a clan considered exclusively Bahima. Despite the historical tensions, it should be noted that the Bahima and Bairu were very much co-dependent with the Bairu getting their milk, meat, hides and other cattle products from the Bahima, while the Bahima needed agricultural products from the Bairu (as well as local beer) although it remained an unequal relationship with many Bairu treated as little more than slaves and marriage between the two forbidden. These tensions remain an underlying source of concern even today as neighbouring Rwanda saw its caste system erupt into a bloody massacre in 1994. It is interesting to note that the legend of Ruhanga embodies this caste mentality with the god like

supernatural entity of Ruhanga ordaining that his youngest son should be served by others (including his elder sons) to indoctrinate this acceptance of superiority of one above another. It has been suggested that the Ruhanga legend was created by the Bahima for that very purpose; ie to get the Bairu to accept their "lower status" in life. Although part of the Ankole Kingdom from the early twentieth century, the history of Ntungamo is more closely associated with that of the Mpororo kingdom, which can be traced back to 1650 however was short-lived disappearing a hundred years later. It was founded by Kahaya a Mututsi a relative of the the recently established Nyiginya kingdom of modern day Rwanda and covered Kigezi District (modern day Kabale District, Kanungu District, Kisoro District and Rukungiri District in south-west Uganda) later western Ankole and parts of north modern day Rwanda. As such inhabitants of south-west Uganda and Rwanda today have much in common from a shared language to ancestry.

Nkore KingdomBy 1752 Omukama Kamurari II was on the throne of Mpororo however he was usurped by his brother Kahaya Rutindangyezi, who seized the throne only to see the kingdom later disintegrate and split into six states, in reality little more than independent chiefdoms ruled over by his sons; one of which was Igara (officially the Kingdom of Igara ruled by the Omukama; "king"), where Ntungamo is located. It fared better than some of the other five chiefdoms following the disintegration of the Mpororo kingdom and remained strong throughout the 18th century, not least because its main potential threat, the Ankole (Nkore) kingdom, was pre-occupied with internal concerns leaving little time or capacity for outwards expansion.

Despite this, the residual Mpororo chiefdoms weren't recognised by the British, being considered too small, weak and insignificant to warrant any administrative or other interest, so the six chiefdoms that formerly comprised the Mpororo kingdom were later harvested and subsumed by the Ankole Kingdom and the rest by modern day Rwanda as part of the colonial British administration in 1901. In 1878 the ruling Omukama of Igara was told by the British to travel to Mbarara and submit to the Ankole king, however rather than face the humiliation of doing so he committed suicide by stabbing himself in the stomach.

As noted above, the Ankole kingdom then survived in ceremonial form under British then independent rule until formally abolished in1967 by President Milton Obote. The last Omugabe (23rd) of the dynasty was Gasyonga II (1944-1967) who was then forced to abdicate and the role abolished as part of the new constitution of the Republic of Uganda. After an interregnum lasting until 1993 with Gasyonga II who died in the interim in 1983, his son John Patrick Barigye was coronated as Ntare VI on 20th November 1993 however this coronation was nullified by the Ugandan government on 4th December 1993. Natare IV died on 14th October 2011 and was succeeded by his second son Charles Aryaija Rwebishengye from his second marriage who was a Social Work and Social Administration (SWASA) student of Uganda Christian University in Mukono district. As with his father, he does not rule as the kingdom was never restored.

In the last decade the town of Ntungamo has almost doubled in population and today its probably one of the better known towns in south-west Uganda. The town and district also have some "favourite children" from Janet Keinembabazi Kataaha Museveni, the president's wife and MP for Ruhaama County and Minister for Karamoja Affairs; Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the president of Forum for Democratic Change; Justice Richard Buteera who is currently a justice of High Court of Uganda and, of course, President Museveni himself who was born in Ntungamo on 15th August 1944. In 2014 a museum opened in Ntungamo district exploring the history of the area. Named the "Great Lakes Museum" its aim is "to protect the rich heritage of the area for the benefit of the young generation and for tourism." The actual history of the Ankole Kingdom ~ earlier and more accurately known as the Nkore Kingdom ~ can be traced back to around 1447 BCE under the rule of Omugabe (monarch) Ruhinda Nyabugaro who was a son of Ndahura, a Kitara king of the Empire of Kitara that straddled the great lakes area of Africa until it was broken up and superseded by smaller kingdoms during the 16th century. The name Ankole was later given by colonising muzungus (white Europeans in the 19th century) in error as a corruption of Nkole to the composite Nkore kingdom together the former independent kingdoms of Igara, Sheema, Buhweju and parts of Mpororo in which today's Ntungamo was located, when it was incorporated into modern Uganda in 1901 by the signing of the Ankole Agreement leaving the Omugabe as ceremonial head but within a British colonial framework.

It is a kingdom that was not restored by President Museveni in 1993 under the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Statute which saw the other kingdoms that constitute modern day Uganda restored. Some believe that Ankole was not restored because Museveni is from the area and didn't want to see two competing "rulers" not just for power but for local support although just a likely is that it was politically considered that any restoration may lead to a revival of competing Bahima (pastoralists) and Bairu (agriculturalists) caste-like historical tensions with the Bahima (believed to have originally arrived as a nomadic people from the Bahr el Ghazal area of today's South Sudan) acting as superior, symbolised by their exclusive ownership of cattle and later promoted by the visiting Europeans as such to the local Bairu who today make up a large majority of the population.



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Nkore History

Nkore History

Nkore History

Nkore History


Karegyeya Rock

Karegyeya Rock

The legend of the Karegyeya Rock encompasses local traditions of the ancient Bachwezi.
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Ntungamo History Ankole Kingdom

Did You Know?

Ntungamo HistoryDid you know that it been planned to build a railway station at Ntungamo (see proposed station right) as party of a wider plan for the British to oversee construction of a railway from Egypt through their colonies in Africa right down to South Africa? The costly plans were shelved however when Egypt declared its independence from the United Kingdom, cutting off the proposed start of the route on the Mediterranean and therefore making the project unviable. Instead a line was constructed from Kilindini Harbour, Mombassa, into Uganda but the wider plans never materialised.

Today the Chinese authorities have recently announced longer term plans to build a railway from Kenya across to Kampala and down through Uganda to Rwanda and beyond. When built it will give Ntungamo an even greater importance as a local centre of trade, tourism and learning.


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