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Bunyoro flag
The current Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara and its districts

Bunyoro is a region of Uganda, and from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century one of the most powerful kingdoms of East Africa. It was ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro. The current ruler is Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara.


The kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara was created when the ancient Empire of Kitara broke apart during the 16th century.[1]

At its height, Bunyoro-Kitara controlled almost the entire region between Lake Victoria, Lake Edward, and Lake Albert. One of many small states in the Great Lakes region the earliest stories of the kingdom having great power come from the Rwanda area where there are tales of the Bunyoro raiding the region under a prince named Cwa around 1520. The power of Bunyoro then faded until the mid seventeenth century when a long period of expansion began, with the empire dominating the region by the early eighteenth century.

Bunyoro rose to power by controlling a number of the holiest shrines in the region, the lucrative Kibiro saltworks of Lake Albert, and having the highest quality of metallurgy in the region. This made it the strongest military and economic power in the Great Lakes area.

Bunyoro began to fade in the late eighteenth century due to internal divisions. Buganda seized Kooki and Buddu regions from Bunyoro at the end of the century. In around 1830 the large province of Toro separated, taking with many of the lucrative salt works. To the south Rwanda and Nkore were both growing rapidly, taking over some of the smaller kingdoms that had been Bunyoro's vassals.

Thus by the mid-nineteenth century Bunyoro was a far smaller state, but it was still wealthy controlling lucrative trade routes over Lake Victoria and linking to the coast of the Indian Ocean. Bunyoro especially profited from the trade in ivory. It was, however, continually imperiled by the now potent Buganda, which greatly desired taking the trade routes for itself. A long struggle ensued with both arming themselves with European weapons. As a result the capital was moved from Masindi to the less vulnerable Mparo.

In July 1890 agreement the entire region north of Lake Victoria was given to Great Britain. In 1894 Great Britain declared the region its protectorate. King (Omukama) Kabalega strenuously resisted the efforts of Great Britain, in an alliance with Buganda, to take control of his kingdom. However, in 1899 Kaberega was captured and exiled to the Seychelles and Bunyoro was annexed to the British Empire. Because of their resistance a portion of the Bunyoro kingdom's territory was given to Buganda and Toro.

The country was put under the control of Bugandan administrators. The Bunyoro revolted in 1907; the revolt was put down, and relations improved somewhat. After the region remained loyal to Great Britain in World War I a new agreement was made in 1934 giving the region more autonomy.

Today Bunyoro remains one of the four constituent kingdoms of Uganda.


  1. ^ Mwambutsya, Ndebesa, "Pre-capitalist Social Formation: The Case of the Banyankole of Southwestern Uganda." Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review 6, no. 2; 7, no. 1 (June 1990 and January 1991): 78-95.

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