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. 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. 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. Today a majority of the land is still virgin forest and there are plenty of large animals to hunt.

As for the people of Buganda, they were mainly farmers, but they also had blacksmiths who 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 both foreign ambassadors and royal officials mingled in large assembly halls. The present king of Buganda is Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi II. During the period of dictatorship in Uganda – prior to 1993 – he lived in exile in England where he went to university 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.

Today Bunyoro and Buganda are constituent parts of Uganda. However, since the country 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 the descendants of their former subjects.


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