The Rise of kingdoms

The Rise of kingdoms

  • This is the area surrounding Lake Victoria.
  • Many Kingdoms flourished in this region and the most important of these were Bunyoro –Kitara, Bunyoro, Buganda, Ankole, Toro, Karagwe, and Wanga.


  • The Batembuzi were the first to inhabit the interlacustrine region.
  • Their origins are not clear and are surrounded in myths and legends.
  • Traditions in western Uganda suggest the Tembuzi fell from heaven.
  • They were semi gods and were able to perform miracles.
  • The Tembuzi couldn’t die but just disappeared and went back to heaven at the end of their earthly life.
  • The Tembuzi dynasty is believed to have been founded by Ruhanga (creator or god) assisted by his brother Nkya.
  • Ruhanga had no sons but Nkya had four, namely Kairu, Kahima, Kakama – Twale and Kintu.
  • Kairu became the ancestor of cultivators, Kahima the ancestor of herders and Kakama – Twale the ancestor of rulers.
  • Local traditions claim that Ruhanga and Kintu went back to heaven.
  • Upon Ruhanga’s ascending to heaven, Kakama – Twale took over the kingdom.
  • Kakama – Twale later disappeared to heaven and was succeeded by his son Baba who was later succeeded by Ngonzaki.
  • Ngonzaki was succeeded by Isaza who was recorded as the last ruler of the Tembuzi.
  • When Isaza disappeared, his gate keeper – Bukuku imposed himself as the ruler but people refused to recognize him as their leader.
  • The Tembuzi were farmers growing mainly cereals and also kept animals.
  • They also slept in grass thatched huts.
  • This Kingdom lasted for 4 to 5 generations between 1200 – 1350 A.D.
  • The Tembuzi divided their Kingdom into Ssazas each under a chief.
  • They introduced the succession system in Bunyoro-Kitara.
  • After the collapse of the Tembuzi dynasty, the Chwezi took over the interlacustrine region.

The Chwezi Rule (1350 – 1500 A.D)


  • Their origin is not clear.
  • Most of what is known about them is derived from myths and oral traditions.
  • The Bachwezi were the successors to the Batembuzi.
  • They were also semi gods and wandering pastoralists.
  • Some historians believe that they were Galla or Cushitic people from Ethiopia.
  • Others suggested that they must have been Greeks, Portuguese or possibly Egyptians.
  • Others claim that they were probably Bantu speaking people.
  • They were believed to have entered Uganda through the North or North East.
  • Unlike the Tembuzi, they were true human beings.
  • They were tall and light skinned people.
  • They were demi-gods who possessed super natural powers and performed miracles.
  • They were pastoralists and mainly kept the long horned cattle.
  • They were known by various names e.g. Chwezi, Tutsi, Hinda and Hima.
  • The Bachwezi formed the Bunyoro-Kitara Empire.
  • The first ruler of the Bachwezi was Ndahura and their last ruler was Wamara.

Organisation Of Bunyoro Kitara Empire

Political organization

  • The Bachwezi were organized under one central authority i.e. they had a centralized monarch.
  • The overall leader of the Bachwezi had the title Omukama.
  • Omukama had absolute powers to life and death.
  • The empire was divided into small states or provinces, districts and counties each under a chief.
  • The chiefs were close relatives of the Omukama and formed a council of representatives.
  • Bigobyamugyenyi was the capital of Bunyoro-Kitara Empire.
  • The rulers lived in reed palaces with palace officials, Women and Slave artisans
  • The Chwezi palaces were protected by enclosures called Ebirembo.
  • The Chwezi Empire had a large standing army that fought using spears, bows and arrows.
  • The Chwezi army also dug ditches around their capital and cattle kraals for purposes of protection.
  • The Chwezi had a Royal Regalia which included the royal crown, royal drum and spears.
  • These were symbols of power respected by everyone.

Social Organisation

  • The Bachwezi had two classes of people in society i.e. the Bahima and Bairu.
  • Bairu were cultivators while Bahima were pastoralists and rulers.
  • They built grass thatched huts smeared with cow dung and decorated inside with a variety of hand crafts.
  • They were great sportsmen who spent their free time playing games e.g. Omweso and wrestling.
  • They were great hunters who used long spears.
  • They built reed palaces for the Omukama to stay in.
  • Religiously, they believed in many gods.
  • They had many strange and super natural powers and could even disappear when annoyed.

Economic Organisation

  • They were a pastoral group who mainly kept the long horned cattle.
  • The Chwezi were also farmers who grew coffee, beans and millet.
  • The Chwezi also carried out Iron working and made implements like hoes, pangas and spears.
  • They were also involved in pottery and made round bowls; Jars and shallow basins.
  • Basket weaving also came with them.
  • The bark cloth industry also formed part of their economy.
  • They also made cow-hide sandals.
  • They involved themselves in barter trade with their neighbors exchanging Iron implements and salt for food.