Bunyoro and Buganda

Bunyoro and Buganda are two ancient kingdom in the region of the Great Lakes in eastern Africa. The two were rivals from the thirteenth- well into the nineteenth-century. The kings of Bunyoro and Buganda always surrounded themselves with a lot of pomp and circumstance, and they do so to this day.

The traditional economy in this part of Africa revolved around the hunting of big game — elephants, lions, rhinos and crocodiles — the various parts of which were exported, first to the East African coast and then across the Indian Ocean. Salt was another key commodity, produced at Kibiro, on the banks of Lake Albert, controlled by Bunyoro. As for the people of Buganda, they were mainly farmers, but their blacksmiths were famous for producing high-quality tools and lethal weapons. Buganda eclipsed Bunyoro in the eighteenth-century when it gained control of the salt trade. Nineteenth-century visitors to Buganda were amazed at the wealth of the country and the elaborate ceremonies conducted at its court where foreign ambassadors and royal officials mingled in large assembly halls. Today Bunyoro and Buganda are constituent parts of Uganda.

Bunyoro’s present ruler is Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafagusa Igure I. The kingdom has 800,000 inhabitants, some three-fourth of whom are subsistence farmers. Yet only about half of the population in literate. A majority of the land is virgin forest and there are still plenty of large animals. The king of Buganda is Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi II, who is the 36th kabaka of Buganda. During the period of dictatorship in Uganda — prior to 1993 — he was in exile in England where he studied at Cambridge, joined the executive committee of the ANC, the African National Congress, and worked as a double-glazing salesman. The king of Bunyoro maintains an active Facebook account and you can follow the kingdom of Buganda on Twitter.

However, since today’s Uganda is a republic, neither monarch has formal powers. Their mandate, according to the country’s constitution, is restricted to “cultural and development advocacy matters.” Yet they also engage in various projects aimed at promoting information technology and sustainable development. Both royal houses are still greatly admired by their respective subjects.

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