Omugabe

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At the signing of an agreement in Kabarole, Toro, Uganda, late 1950s, between the British governor, Sir Frederick Crawford and the Omukama of Toro are shown four other rulers of Ugandan kingdoms, from left to right: The Omugabe of Ankole, Omukama of Bunyoro, the Kabaka of Buganda, and the Won Nyaci of Lango

The Mugabe or Omugabe of Ankole is the title given to the monarch of the Kingdom of Ankole in Uganda, what used to be the kingdom of Nkore in pre-colonial times, and leader of the Banyankole (the people of Ankole). Historically, Ankole was a sovereign entity, but when it was incorporated into modern Uganda in 1901 by the signing of the Ankole Agreement, Omugabe became largely a ceremonial position, an administrative position within the British colonial framework. The term "Omugabe" is translated in various ways, but is most commonly equated to "king". The Omugabe came from the royal Bahinda clan, a clan that is considered an exclusively Bahima clan. The kingship was abolished in 1967 by president Milton Obote.

Restoration of the Ankole kingship[edit]

In 1993 the kingdoms in Uganda were restored by the Traditional Institutions Statute, but President Museveni blocked the restoration of the Ankole kingship, saying that the people of Ankole had to decide. The late crown prince John Patrick Barigye was fighting for the restoration of the kingship, contrary to his father Charles Gasyonga (Gasyonga II) who in 1971 opposed the restoration of the kingship.

There are several possible reasons why Museveni did not allow the kingship to be restored. One reason often mentioned is that Museveni is someone who is hungry for power. He comes from Ankole himself, and he is supported by the large majority of the people there. A king may be one ruler too much, because some people say that Museveni wants to be the only ruler of Ankole.

The other reason often mentioned is that restoring the kingship might cause ethnic tensions between Bahima and Bairu. The kingshop used to be a divisive institution during its existence, and restoring might cause ethnic tensions to rise again.

Yet another reason often mentioned is that the large majority (about 90%) of the population of Ankole are Bairu. The kingship was an institute that was "owned" by the Bahima, the pastoralists, and gave them a strong sense of identity. The Bairu on the other hand, see the kingship as a Bahima institute that might give rise to the second era of Bahima domination. Because Bairu are the large majority, Museveni would lose many votes if he restored the kingship.

The Nkore Cultural Trust, of which King Ntare VI is the patron, is actively lobbying to restore the kingdom of Ankole. As a reaction to this, the Banyankore Trust Foundation was established to oppose the kingship.

List of Omugabe of Ankole[edit]

References[edit]

  • Jean-Pierre Chrétien. The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History trans Scott Straus