Origins of Ankole
- Ankole was one of the Kingdoms that made up after the decline of Bunyoro- Kitara.
- Traditions in Western Uganda claim that Rukidi Mpuga a son to Wamara was the founder of Ankole Kingdom.
- The Kingdom was established in the South Western part of Buganda around the 15th century.
- Initially, Ankole was called Karo Karungi meaning peaceful land or Land of Milk.
- Ankole remained a small Kingdom around the 18th century and Ankole produced a number of ambitious Kings who extended her boundaries.
- Ankole had a centralized system of administration.
- Omugabe was the political head of the kingdom.
- The Omugabes position was hereditary with absolute powers.
- The Omugabe, Queen mother, Princes and princesses formed the royal family and resided in the royal palace.
- The Omugabe was assisted by the Nganzi (Prime minister) who was the most important of all chiefs.
- Ankole was divided into 10 districts each headed by Omukungu (chief).
- Some of the districts included Mbarara, Ibanda, Nyabushozi, Bunyaruguru and Kashari.
- The Omugabe and Nganzi came from the upper class of the Hima and always kept large herds of cattle and estates.
- The Abakungu also kept cattle and were in charge of keeping peace and sending beer and millet to the royal palace.
- Ankole had royal regalia that included spears, a crown and the royal drum. (Bagyendanwa).
- Ankole also had a royal fire that was never allowed to go out until the reigning Omugabe died.
- Ankole had no standing army but in case of war, all able bodied men were supposed to gather at the Omugabes palace with spears, bows, arrows and shields.
- Ankole society was divided into two distinct classes i.e. Hima and Iru.
- Bahima who were the rulers and pastoralists and Bairu who were the peasants and subject class.
- Marriage between the Bairu and the Bahima was considered a social disgrace and was highly discouraged.
- Religiously, the Banyankole believed in a supreme being called Ruhanga who was thought to be the creator of the world.
- No prayer and sacrifices were offered to Ruhanga because they believe there was no need of bothering him after bringing them into the world.
- Below Ruhanga were other lesser gods e.g. kagoro, kazoba, Omusisi e.t.c to whom prayers and sacrifices were offered.
- The Banyankole highly respected spirits of the dead and sacrifices e.g. beer and milk were offered to them at family shrines.
- Owning cattle was a sign of prestige and those with few cows were always despised.
- The Banyankole were united by a similar culture, Runyankole language and same way of dressing e.g. Omushanana.
- Pastoralism was the main occupation of the Banyankole and they kept long horned cattle mainly dominated by the Bahima.
- The Bairu also carried out cultivation and mainly grew millet.
- Blacksmithing was another activity of the Banyankole and they made spears, hoes and arrows.
- Trade was also carried out and they exchanged commodities like ivory with their neighbours and with coastal Arabs.
- Carpentry was also carried out by the Banyankole and they made very beautiful wooden pots, dishes and other items.