The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara is the remainder of a once powerful empire of Kitara. At the hight of its glory, the empire included present day Masindi, Hoima, Kibaale, Kabarole and Kasese districts; also parts of present day Western Kenya, Northern Tanzania and Eastern Congo. That Bunyoro-Kitara is only a skeleton of what it used to be is an absolute truth to which History can testify.
One may ask how a mighty empire, like Kitara, became whittled away to the present underpopulated and underdeveloped kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. This is the result of many years of orchestrated, intentional and malicious marginalization, dating back to the early colonial days. The people of Bunyoro, under the reign of the mighty king Cwa II Kabalega, resisted colonial domination. Kabalega, and his well-trained army of “Abarusuura” (soldiers), put his own life on the line by mounting a fierce, bloody resistance against the powers of colonialization. On April 9th, 1899, Kabalega was captured by the invading colonial forces and was sent into exile on the Seychelles Islands.
With the capture of Kabalega, the Banyoro were left in a weakened military, social and economic state, from which they have never fully recovered. Colonial persecution of the Banyoro did not stop at Kabalega’s ignominious capture and exile. Acts of systematic genocide continued to be carried out against the Banyoro, by the colonialists and other foreign invaders.
Colonial efforts to reduce Bunyoro to a non-entity were numerous, and continued over a long period of time. They included invasions where masses were massacred; depopulating large tracts of fertile land and setting them aside as game reserves; enforcing the growing of crops like tobacco and cotton at the expense of food crops; sanctioning looting and pilaging of villages by invading forces, importation killer diseases like syphilis that grew to epidemic proportions; and the list goes on.
Details of the horrific, genocidal acts against the Banyoro are well documented in “Breaking Chains of Poverty”, published by the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Advocacy Publications; authored by the Hon. Yolamu Ndoleriire Nsamba, Principal Private Secretary to H.M Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. This book is a “must read” for anyone interested in the History and welfare of Bunyoro-Kitara. It enumerates Historical events, plus practices, past and present, that made Bunyoro-Kitara “a kingdom bonded in chains of poverty”.
Bunyoro Kingdom was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa from 13th century to the 19th century. It is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro. The current ruler is Solomon Iguru I, 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 of elephants, lions, leopards, and crocodiles. Today, the Banyoro are now agriculturalists who cultivate bananas, millet, cassava, yams, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and rice. The people are primarily Christian.
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 is the titular head.
The Royal Palace, called Karuziika Palace, is located in Hoima. The current Omukama is Solomon Iguru I and his wife is the Queen or Omugo Margaret Karunga.
As a cultural head, the King is assisted by his Principal Private Secretary, a Cabinet of 21 Ministers and a Orukurato (Parliament).
History of Bunyoro
The kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara was established following the collapse of the Empire of Kitara in the 16th century. The founders of Kitara were known as the Abatembuzi, a people who were later succeeded by the Abachwezi.
At its height, Bunyoro-Kitara controlled almost the entire region between Lake Victoria, Lake Edward, 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 area where there are tales of the Banyoro raiding the region under a prince named Cwa 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 and controlled a number of the holiest shrines in the region, together with the lucrative Kibiro saltworks of Lake Albert; having the highest quality of metallurgy in the region made it the strongest military and economic power in the Great Lakes area.