Bunyoro
Overview
Bunyoro is a kingdom
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in Western Uganda
Western Region, Uganda
Western Region is a region of Uganda. It is divided into the following districts:...

. It was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 from the 16th to the 19th century. It is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro
Omukama of Bunyoro
Omukama of Bunyoro is the title given to rulers of the central African kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. The Omukama of Bunyoro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Banyoro people of whom he...

. The current ruler is Solomon Iguru I
Solomon Iguru I
Omukama Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I is the 27th Omukama of Bunyoro from 1994 to present.The King's Empaako is Amooti....

, the 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara.

The people of Bunyoro are also known as Nyoro or Banyoro (singular: Munyoro) (Banyoro means "People of Bunyoro"); the language spoken is Nyoro (also known as Runyoro).
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Bunyoro is a kingdom
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in Western Uganda
Western Region, Uganda
Western Region is a region of Uganda. It is divided into the following districts:...

. It was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 from the 16th to the 19th century. It is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro
Omukama of Bunyoro
Omukama of Bunyoro is the title given to rulers of the central African kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. The Omukama of Bunyoro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Banyoro people of whom he...

. The current ruler is Solomon Iguru I
Solomon Iguru I
Omukama Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I is the 27th Omukama of Bunyoro from 1994 to present.The King's Empaako is Amooti....

, the 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara.

The people of Bunyoro are also known as Nyoro or Banyoro (singular: Munyoro) (Banyoro means "People of Bunyoro"); the language spoken is Nyoro (also known as Runyoro). In the past, the traditional economy revolved around big game hunting
Big game hunting
Big game hunting is the hunting of large game. The term is historically associated with the hunting of Africa's Big Five game , and with tigers and rhinos on the Indian subcontinent. In North America, animals such as bears and bison were hunted...

 of elephant
Elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

s, lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s, leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

s, and crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s. Today, the Banyoro are now agriculturalists who cultivate banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

s, millet
Millet
The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult...

, cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

, yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

s, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, and rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

. The people are primarily Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

.

Establishment

The kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara was established following the collapse of the Empire of Kitara
Empire of Kitara
The Empire of Kitara is a strong part of oral tradition in the area of the Great Lakes of Africa, including the modern countries of Uganda, northern Tanzania, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi...

 in the 16th century. The founders of Kitara were known as the Abatembuzi, a people who were later succeeded by the Abachwezi.

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom

At its height, Bunyoro-Kitara controlled almost the entire region between Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

, Lake Edward
Lake Edward
Lake Edward or Edward Nyanza is the smallest of the African Great Lakes. It is located in the western Great Rift Valley, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with its northern shore a few kilometres south of the Equator...

, and Lake Albert. One of many small states in the Great Lakes region the earliest stories of the kingdom having great power comes from the Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 area where there are tales of the Banyoro raiding the region under a prince named Cwa
CWA
Cwa or CWA may be:*Cwa people, non-Mbuti Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of the CongoAcronyms include:*CEN Workshop Agreement - Reference document from the European Committee for Standardization...

 around 1520. The power of Bunyoro then faded until the mid seventeenth century when a long period of expansion began, with the empire dominating the region by the early eighteenth century.

Bunyoro rose to power by controlling a number of the holiest shrines in the region, the lucrative Kibiro saltworks
Kibiro saltworks
Kibiro is a small fishing village in Uganda that lies on the south-eastern shore of Lake Albert. The residents of the village are incapable of producing their own agricultural products, and must depend on trade with other communities for most of their necessities, including such items as food,...

 of Lake Albert, and having the highest quality of metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 in the region. This made it the strongest military and economic power in the Great Lakes area.

Decline

Bunyoro began to decline in the late eighteenth century due to internal divisions. Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

 seized the Kooki
Kooki
The Kingdom of Kooki is a traditional chiefdom in the Rakai District of Uganda.It was first mentioned in 1884 and was incorporated into the kingdom of Buganda in 1896. Its royal line has continued to the present day, and it is currently led by Kamuswaga Apollo Sansa Kabumbuli II....

 and Buddu
Masaka District
Masaka District is a district in Central Uganda. Its main town is Masaka, whose estimated population in 2011 was 74,100.-Location:The district is bordered by Bukomansimbi District to the northwest, Kalungu District to the north, Kalangala District to the east and south, Rakai District to the...

 regions from Bunyoro at the end of the century. In the 1830s, the large province of Toro
Toro (kingdom)
Toro is one of the four traditional kingdoms located within the borders of Uganda. It was founded in 1830 when Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, the eldest son of Omukama Nyamutukura Kyebambe III of Bunyoro, rebelled and established his own independent kingdom...

 separated, claiming much of the lucrative salt works. To the south Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and Ankole were both growing rapidly, taking over some of the smaller kingdoms that had been Bunyoro's vassals.

Thus by the mid-nineteenth century Bunyoro (also known as Unyoro at the time) was a far smaller state, though it was still wealthy due to the income generated from controlling the lucrative trade routes over Lake Victoria and linking to the coast of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. In particular, Bunyoro benefited from the trade in ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

. Due to the volatile nature of the ivory trade
Ivory trade
The ivory trade is the commercial, often illegal trade in the ivory tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and most commonly, Asian and African elephants....

, an armed struggle manifested between the Baganda
Baganda
The Ganda are an ethnic group native to Buganda, a subnational kingdom within Uganda. Traditionally comprising 52 tribes the Ganda have a rich history and culture...

 and the Banyoro. As a result the capital was moved from Masindi
Masindi
Masindi is a town in Western Uganda, which lies on the road from Kampala to the Murchison Falls National Park. It is the 'chief town' of the Masindi District and the district headquarters are located there...

 to the less vulnerable Mparo. Following the death of Omakuma Kyebambe III, the region experienced a period of political instability where two kings ruled in a volatile political environment.

In July 1890 an agreement was settled whereby the entire region north of Lake Victoria was given to Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. In 1894 Great Britain declared the region its protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

. In alliance with Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

, King Kabarega of Bunyoro
Kabarega of Bunyoro
Chwa II Kabarega, also Kabalega, was the Omukama of Bunyoro from 1870 to 1899.When he was crowned king, he set out to develop his new Kingdom via trade and especially the Kiboro Saltworks. Unfortunately the British sought to colonize his Kingdom, but he resisted. On 1 January 1894 the British...

 resisted the efforts of Great Britain, aiming to take control of the kingdom. However, in 1899 Kaberega was captured and exiled to the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 and Bunyoro was subsequently annexed to the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Because of Bunyoro's resistance to the British, a portion of the Bunyoro kingdom's territory was given to Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

 and Toro
Toro (kingdom)
Toro is one of the four traditional kingdoms located within the borders of Uganda. It was founded in 1830 when Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, the eldest son of Omukama Nyamutukura Kyebambe III of Bunyoro, rebelled and established his own independent kingdom...

.

The country was put under the governance of Bugandan administrators. The Banyoro revolted in 1907; the revolt was put down, and relations improved somewhat. After the region remained loyal to Great Britain in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 a new agreement was made in 1934 giving the region more autonomy. Bunyoro remains as one of the four constituent kingdoms of Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, along with Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

, Busoga
Busoga
Busoga is a traditional Bantu kingdom in present-day Uganda.It is a cultural institution that promotes popular participation ‎and unity among the people of Busoga, through cultural and developmental programs ‎for the improved livelihood of the people of Busoga. It strives for a united people of...

 and Toro
Toro (kingdom)
Toro is one of the four traditional kingdoms located within the borders of Uganda. It was founded in 1830 when Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, the eldest son of Omukama Nyamutukura Kyebambe III of Bunyoro, rebelled and established his own independent kingdom...

.

Contemporary society

During the first regime of Milton Obote
Milton Obote
Apolo Milton Obote , Prime Minister of Uganda from 1962 to 1966 and President of Uganda from 1966 to 1971, then again from 1980 to 1985. He was a Ugandan political leader who led Uganda towards independence from the British colonial administration in 1962.He was overthrown by Idi Amin in 1971, but...

, the Kingdom of Bunyoro was forcefully disbanded in 1967. The kingdom, together with three others, Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

, Busoga
Busoga
Busoga is a traditional Bantu kingdom in present-day Uganda.It is a cultural institution that promotes popular participation ‎and unity among the people of Busoga, through cultural and developmental programs ‎for the improved livelihood of the people of Busoga. It strives for a united people of...

, Toro, remained banned during the regime of dictator Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946. Eventually he held the rank of Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its Commander before seizing power in the military...

 (1971–1979) and the second regime of Milton Obote (1980–1985) and remained banned until 1993.

In 1993 the Kingdom was re-established and in 1995 the new constitution of Uganda was made, allowing and recognizing, the Kingdoms. The current Kingdom covers the districts of Buliisa District, Hoima district
Hoima
Hoima is a town in Western Uganda. It is main municipal, administrative and commercial center of Hoima District in Uganda. It is also the location of the palace of the Omukama of Bunyoro.-Location:...

, Kibaale District
Kibaale District
Kibaale District, sometimes spelled as Kibale District, is a district in Western Uganda. Like most other Ugandan districts, it is named after its 'chief town', Kibaale, where the district headquarters are located.-Location:...

, Kiryandongo District
Kiryandongo District
Kiryandongo District is a district in Western Uganda. Like many other Ugandan districts, it is named after its 'chief town', Kiryandongo, where the district headquarters are located.-Location:...

 and Masindi District
Masindi District
Masindi District is a district in Western Uganda. Like many other Ugandan districts, it is named after its 'chief town' of Masindi, the location of the district headquarters. The region of the country in which the district is located is comparatively dry, but is fertile enough to support a...

.

According to 1997 projections, the total population of the Kingdom is between 800,000 and 1,400,000 (depending on sources) living in 250,000-350,000 households. 96% of the population live in rural areas, and only 1% of the population uses electricity for lighting and cooking. More than 92% of the population are poor, and has earnings more than half that of the Ugandan national average, and about 50% of the population is illiterate.

The economic potential in the region is very large, with the Kibiro saltworks
Kibiro saltworks
Kibiro is a small fishing village in Uganda that lies on the south-eastern shore of Lake Albert. The residents of the village are incapable of producing their own agricultural products, and must depend on trade with other communities for most of their necessities, including such items as food,...

, and the possibility of large oil, gas, iron ore and precious stone. During the first decade of the 2000s, sizeable deposits of crude oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 have been discovered in the area. The area also has large rainforests with an abundance of hardwoods including mahogany and ironwood.

The Omukama and the other leaders of the area are planning to establish a university that will primarily focus on teaching relevant skills with regards to work in the extraction of natural resources. The university will also work to preserve the high level of cultural heritage in the area.

The King is in general doing a lot of work to improve the living standards of the people. Relations are maintained with the European community via the development organization Association of the Representatives of Bunyoro-Kitara
Association of the Representatives of Bunyoro-Kitara
The Association of Representatives of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom CLBG is a non-profit charity and NGO in the West-Ugandan kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. It was established by royal charter on August 27, 2009 by Omukama Solomon Iguru I and is incorporated under the Ugandan Companies Act...

. The King is also working to maintain the traditional bunyoro culture, but in the same time altering the honors of the kingdom in a way that they can be compared to western standards.

Relations

The Banyoro were traditionally a polygamous people when they could afford it. Many marriages did not last and it was quite common to be divorced. Due to this, payment to the girl's family was not normally given until after several years of marriage. Premarital sex
Premarital sex
Premarital sex is sexual activity, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex, practiced by persons who are unmarried. Although it has always been practiced, in the West it has increased in prevalence since the mid-1950s...

 was also very common.

All families were ruled by the eldest man of the family (Called Nyineka), and the village was run by a specially elected elder who was chosen by all the elders in the village. He was known as a mukuru w’omugongo.

Birth

A few months after birth, the baby would be given a name. This was normally done by a close relative, but the father always had the final saying. Two names are given: a personal name, and a traditional Mpako name. The names were often related to specific features on the child, special circumstances around the birth of the child or as a way to honor a former family member. Most of the names are actual words of the Nyoro language
Nyoro language
The Nyoro language is a local language of the Nyoro people of Uganda. It belongs to the Niger–Congo family, Benue–Congo subgroup, Bantu branch . Its Ethnologue code is NYR, ISO 639-2: nyo. It probably has two dialects: Orunyoro and Rutagwenda. A standardized orthography was established in 1947....

.

Death

Death was almost always believed to be the work of evil magic, ghosts, or similar. Gossiping was believed to magically affect or harm people. Death was viewed as being a real being. When a person died, the oldest woman of the household would clean the body, cut the hair and beard, and close the eyes of the departed. The body was left for viewing and the women and children where allowed to cry/weep, but the men were not. In case the dead was the head of the household, a mixture of grain (called ensigosigo) was put in his hand, and his children had to take a small part of the grain and eat it - thus passing on his (magical) powers.

After one or two days, the body would be wrapped in cloth and a series of rites would be carried out. The following rites are only for heads of family:
  • The nephew must take down the central pole of the hut and throw it in the middle of the compound
  • The nephew would also take the bow and eating-bowl of the departed and throw it with the pole
  • The fireplace in the hut would be extinguished
  • A banana plant from the family plantation and a pot of water was also added to the pile
  • The family rooster had to be caught and killed
  • The main bull of the family's cattle had to be prevented from mating during the mourning by castration
    Castration
    Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.-Humans:...

  • After four days of mourning, the bull would be killed and eaten, thus ending the period of mourning
  • The house of the departed would not be used again


The burial would not be done in the middle of the day, as it was considered dangerous for the sun to shine directly into the grave. As the body was carried to the grave the women were required to moderate their weeping, and it was forbidden to weep at the grave. Also pregnant women were banned from participating in the funeral as it was believed the negative magical forces related to burial would be too strong for the unborn child to survive. After the burial the family would cut some of their hair off and put it onto the grave. After the burial, all participants washed themselves thoroughly, as it was believed that the negative magical forces could harm crops.

If the departed had a grudge or other unfinished business with another family, his mouth and anus would be stuffed with clay, to prevent the ghost from haunting.

A Bunyoro Year

A typical year in Bunyoro is divided into 12 months and it is quite clear what work are to be done these months:
  • January (Igesa), there would be harvesting of millet
    Millet
    The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult...

  • February (Nyarakarwa) there was not much work
  • March (Ijubyamiyonga) fields were prepared for planting simsim
    Simsim
    Simsim may refer to:*Simsim, the word for sesame in various Semitic languages. Also widely used in Arab-influenced East Africa.*Simsim, Gaza, a depopulated Arab village in what is today Israel...

  • May (Rwensisezere) there was not much work
  • July (Ishanya maro), women would prepare fields for millet
  • August (Ikokoba) was the months of burning grass in the millet fields
  • September (Isiga) was for planting millet
  • October (Ijuba) was a month of weeding
  • November (Rwensenene) was named after grasshoppers
  • December (Nyamiganura or Katuruko) was a month of rejoicing and festivities as there was little work to occupy the people

External links

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