Bunyoro Kingdom – Located in the western part of Uganda, Bunyoro was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East and Central Africa from 13th century to the 19th century. It was an extensive and prestigious kingdom with strong rulers whose word was highly respected by his subjects.
According to history, the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara was started after the collapse of the Empire of Kitara in the 16th century by the Abatembuzi who were succeeded by the Bachwezi (Chwezi). Areas of Lake Victoria, Lake Edward and Lake Albert were all under the control of Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom.
Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom occupied areas of Hoima, Masindi, Kabarole, Kibaale and Kasese districts and some parts of Eastern Congo, Northern Tanzania and Western Kenya. The kingdom was not only large but very powerful and organised as well. All this is now history as it now covers a small part of western Uganda due to intentional, orchestrated and malicious marginalization that happened during the days of colonialism. Under the strong influence of King Cwa II Kabalega, Bunyoro kingdom is one of the kingdoms that fiercely resisted colonialism in the region. Cwa II Kabalega is one of the strongest kings in the history of Uganda, east Africa and Africa at large. Together with his army that was known as “Abarusuura” meaning soldiers, they staged a bloody resistance against colonialists. Kabalega attacked colonial forces and was captured and sent to exile on the Seychelles Islands. This could not leave the kingdom the same as the economic, social and military organizations were all affected and never go back their previous organization and strength. The kingdom faced more problems including a systematic genocide, invasions which led to death of many people, huge reduction of food production, diseases and many more horrific things that brought the kingdom to total reduction.
The book “Breaking the Chains of Poverty” by Hon. Yolamu Ndoleriire Nsamba who is the private secretary to the Omukama of Bunyoro thoroughly explains all the dreadful things that were done by colonialist and other foreign invaders. It also includes many other historical events and actions that made the Bunyoro “a kingdom bonded in chains of poverty”.
The ruler of Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom is known as “Omukama of Bunyoro” meaning “King of Bunyoro” and the current king (Omukama) is the Omukama Rukirabasaija Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I who is the 27th king of this kingdom. The title of the wife to the king is “Omugo” meaning “queen”. The wife to Omukama Solomon Iguru I is Omugo Margaret Karunga. The Omukama of Bunyoro is important and has great influence in the politics of the country more so in his territory and his people of Bunyoro. Bunyoro palace which is known as Karuziika Palace is located in Hoima City.
The people of Bunyoro are called Banyoro or Nyoro (and Munyoro for singular). Their language is known as Nyoro or Runyoro. The main traditional economy of the people of Bunyoro was big game hunting for lions, leopards, crocodiles and elephants among others which was later on replaced by agriculture. They now grow crops including cassava, millet, bananas, rice, coffee, tobacco and cotton among others.
Politically, Omukama (the king) has an assistant, the Principal Private Secretary, a cabinet of 21 ministers and a parliament known as “Orukurato”.
Besides the impacts of the colonial intruders and other foreigners, the decline of Bunyoro Kingdom was also as a result of internal divisions whereby Buganda grabbed Kooki and Buddu regions from the kingdom at the end of the 18th century and Tooro also separated from the kingdom demanding ownership of most lucrative salt works. Rwanda and Ankole in the southern part of the kingdom were growing rapidly and they also separated and established small kingdoms in areas that were under Bunyoro.
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