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Omugabe of Nkole

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

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. Current crown prince John Patrick Barigye is still 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 divise institution during its existence, and restoring might cause this 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

  • Ruhinda - late fifteenth century
  • Nkuba - late fifteenth century
  • Nyaika - early sixteenth century
  • Ntare I - mid sixteenth century
  • Rushango - late sixteenth century
  • Ntare II - late sixteenth century/early seventeenth century
  • Ntare III - mid seventeenth century
  • Kasasira - late seventeenth century
  • Kitra - late seventeenth century
  • Rumongye - late seventeenth century
  • Mirindi - late seventeenth century
  • Ntare IV - c.1699-c.1727
  • Macwa - c.1727-c.1755
  • Rwabirere - c. 1755-1783
  • Kahaya I - 1783-?
  • Rwebishengye - ?-1811
  • Kayungu - 1811-?
  • Gasyonga I - ?-1839
  • Mutambuka - 1839-1873
  • Ntare V Rugingiza - 1873-1895
  • Kahaya II - 1895-1944
  • Gasyonga II - 1944-1967
  • interregnum - 1967-1993
  • Ntare VI - 1993-2011 (not ruling)
  • Charles Aryaija Rwebishengye - 2011- (not ruling)


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