Brief History Of The Great Bunyoro Kingdom In Uganda

Among the most powerful Kingdoms in East and Central Africa in the early 16th to 19th century, the Kingdom of Bunyoro in the Western region of Uganda controlled the Great Lakes regions in Africa.

Bunyoro (Nyoro or Banyoro) was founded in the late 16th by invaders led by Rukidi-Mpuga from North. They speak Nyoro, also called Runyoro which is among the Bantu language family. They are agrarians with cotton, tobacco, millet, rice, yam, potatoes banana, and coffee as their major producing crops due to their fertile land.

The Bunyoro kingdom produced or is great in hunting big animals like leopard, elephant, lion, and the rest.
Politically, the Bunyoro kingdom practiced a centralized government and was governed by a King; the Omukama.

In Bunyoro, kingship is hereditary as it passes from the Omukama to the rightful heir which is among his sons after passing a series of tests. Assisting the Omukama was the provincial chiefs and council of elders. Each of the provincial chiefs was assigned the role of a commander of military troops assigned in his province. The king had the Bajwara Nkondo – the council of advisors.

The empire rose to power by the then prince Cwa in 1520, and continued its expansions, dominating regions during the 17th and early 18th century, controlling shrines in the region and boasting of great military and economic strength along the Great Lakes.

Late 18th century, there was an internal division in the Bunyoro kingdom. Buganda captured Buddu, and Kooki regions. Around 1830, the province of Toro was separated and they dominated the salt business while Rwanda and Ankole took a few of Bunyoro’s small regions.

An agreement was reached in 1890 with the whole Northern region of Lake Victoria handed over to the British and was declared a protectorate of the British in 1894.

Aided by Buganda, the Omukama, Cwa II Kabalega fought the British in an attempt to resist colonization but did not succeed as he was captured in 1899 and exiled to the Seychelles Islands.

In Bunyoro, it takes months before a child is being given a name by a close relative and is left for the father to agree or otherwise. Two names are given to every born – traditional and personal name.

The people of Bunyoro believes that every death is as a result of an evil force. It is the duty of the oldest woman in the family to clean, trim the beards (if there is), shave the hair, and shut the eyes. The deceased body will be kept for mourning which excludes the men but in a situation whereby the head of the house died, a mixture of grains which is believed to be his power would be placed in his hand while the children will be expected to take small portions and eat.

In this kingdom, they are polygamous, although it’s by choice. Divorce and premarital sex were not seen as a taboo. The bride’s wealth was said to be paid years later on seeing how stable the union is for the couple.

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