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The History of Rwenzururu Kingdom

The history of the Rwenzururu Kingdom is rooted in the mythological and Historical accounts.

Mythological Account

The mythological concept is rooted in the account of what might have happened between B.C. 2000 to 1400 A.D. Around B.C. 2000 - AD 1200 the Rwenzururu Region was under several Bakonzo (Bayira) chiefdoms led by clan leaders with Kithasamba (a Spiritual being believed to have been in charge of MountRwenzori) as the overall King of nzururu (snow).Above Kithasamba was Nyamuhanga (Creator God) who was the overall King of heaven and earth. Nyamuhanga was a Spiritual being whose name could not be mentioned lightly, by any body at any time. Nyamuhanga remains the name of God among the BanyaRwenzururu (Bakonzo, Bamba, Basumba). The People of Ankole equally use the same title for God. The Banyoro used it to refer to the sun god (Kazooba Nyamuhanga).
At about A.D. 1200 Kakunja (Kakonzo) breaks off from Lake Victoria. Kundu moves from Mount Elgon to the Lakes Region and finally arrives on MountRwenzururu through Kitagwenda and Bunyaruguru.

About A.D. 1300 Nyalyanga is believed to have ruled the Baswagha clan in the Great Lakes Region from Mubende to Lake Kakule (Katwe) through Isale in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was followed by Mugharura whose palace was at Kaghoro-ghoro.

In About 1400 A.D. distinct clan leaders appear to have been those of Basu being Tswagho Biyogho at Ighabiro (Kasindi).The separation of the Bakonzo and the Banande, the Bakonjo of Kigezi and the Banyamulenge. 

Historical Account

The Historical Accounts date back to the 18th century. This was the time Bunyoro Kitara was a very strong empire attacking any territory in order annex more territory. RwenzururuMountains was one of the areas that were attacked several times. The Rwenzururu clan leaders kept on defending their subjects against Bunyoro Kitara expaditions. The BanyaRwenzururu at this time were not ruled by one human being, they were just divided into clans. No one of the clan leaders could dare to subjugate fellow clan leaders because they considered themselves as one family of Kithasamba and descendants of Creator God – Nyamuhanga, who hated blood shade of innocent people. Therefore, the role of the clan leaders was to defend innocent people, men, women and children against the attackers.

1750-1852 Kighogho and Pukupuku repulse the Banyoro invaders during the reigns of Kyebambe Musuga Nyamutukura, Nyabwongo II Mugenyi and Olimi Rwakubale of Bunyoro Kitara.

1820-70 Ruhandika, Kalikura, Busongera Bwa Ntule, Ghome-Ghome, Rubiha,Kakuri, Kithengera, ruled under Kithasamba, who engaded in fighting against Bunyoro Kitara and the slave traders.

1830 Prince Kaboyo of Bunyoro rebeled against his father Kyebambe Nyamutukura of Bunyoro Kitara and fought against his brother Nyabwongo the Saza Chief of Mwenge. Kaboyo Hides in Kangele’s Chiefdom of Burahya being assisted by King Ruhandika.

1830-1860 Kisoro Kya Ghome-Ghome guarded the Rwenzururu mountains against the expenditions of Banyoro and Arab slave traders. 

1840 1840 The Bunyoro Kitara fighters called Baruusura camped at Ibonde and threw several Konzo rulers in LakeKaitabarogo which was nicknamed Toro (a place of escape).

1852-69 Omukama Kamurasi of Bunyoro also known as Kyebambe IV attacked the Bakonzo and Bamba for giving refuge to Prince Kaboyo of Bunyoro Kitara.

1870- 99 Omukama Chwa Kabarega of Bunyoro attacked the Batoro, Bamba and Bakonzo in search of Kasagama who was taking refuge in the RwenzururuMountains guarded with Ruhanda and Kengele’s worriers. The Bakonzo gave refuge to Prince Kasagama and took him to Buganda through Ankore where he met with the British Captain Lord Lugard of the Imperial British East African Company.

1888/89 Kasagama is taken to Buganda by Ruhandika’s men through the territories of Kalikura, Busongera Bwa-Ntule and other clan leaders via Nkore.

1889 - Explorer H.M. Stanley arrives at a snow capped huge mountain locally known as Rwenzururu by the mountain dwellers, Rwenjura by some of those staying on the low land, and Bugombowa (Bugombwa) by the forest people. Some mountain dwellers also called it Viruka (Birunga, or Biruka), Aviruka (Ebiruka). Explorer Stanley Nick-names the mountain “Ruwenzori” by combining the words Rwenzururu and Rwenjura together. H. M. Stanley mentions a King of the Bakonzo by the name of Ruhandika.

1890 Captain Lord Lugard brought back Kasagama. Kasagama declared himself ruler over the land stretching from LakeKakule (Katwe) and beyond the Mountains. 

1890-1918 The Bakonzo and Bamba keep on resisting Bunyoro Kitara and Toro establishments in their territory. People in Busongera’s cheiftainship reject Toro rule. A British Colonist by the name of Owen forces the Bakonzo and Basongora to have Kasagama control over ivory trade in the game park on friendly basis. Kakule Salt lake was looted to Tooro.

1893 Once again Kasagama runs a way form the Baruusurwa bo Mukama wa Bunyoro in search of a hiding place. King Ruhandika hides him at Kisyenene’s home in Kaghughu. Ruhandika defeated the Banyoro at Mandaku.

1894 The British colonial government created the Kingdom of Toro to guard themselves against Kabarega of Bunyoro. The Angolo-Belgian Agreement marked the divide and rule boundary separating the Bakonzo (Banande) and Bamba (Batalinge) in Belgian Congo and British Uganda.

1900 On June 26 1900:The British Colonists, for easier administration, forced the Bakonzo who lived on the Slopes of Mount Rwenzori, and the Bamba to become part of Tooro Kingdom. 

1902 Kasagama tries to use force in collecting hut tax from the Bamba and resisted with blood shade because they did not recognize him as a ruler over their territory. They continued paying tax to the colonial government but not to ToroKingdom.

1906 The Batoro began feeling to be having a Kingdom separate from Bunyoro. The Bakonzo referred to the new created Kingdom of Tooro as the White man’s Kingdom (Ngoma Njungu).

1912 Toro chiefs established Administration in Bwamba (Bundibuyo) which was not yet part of Toro.

1918 Nyamutswa began a liberation movement against ToroKingdom and the colonial rule in search of re-establishing the Kingdom under Kithasamba and thereby have a separate district from Toro. The colonial government used to establish a district in each Kingdom. They did this in Ankole, Bunyoro and Buganda. Nyamutswa wanted the same thing to happen for his people on the RwenzururuMountains.

1919 Nyamutswa was joined by Tibamwenda and Kapolya in the struggle to liberate their people from ToroKingdom and the colonial suppression of their traditional institutions and land. Nyamutswa (Muhira by clan) was crowned a King at Kanyatsi in Kisiinga sub-county with another palace at Ndalibanwa in Kasithu, Bughendera, county.

1921 Nyamutswa, Tibamwenda and Kapolya were executed by the Imperial British East African Company (IBEAC) in collaboration with Ngoma Njumgu - TooroKingdom leadership with headquarters and buried them in one grave at Kagando, Kisinga. IBEAC had its headquarters in Nairobi. The Bakonzo and Bamba retreated for re-organization and the Batoro took their land, levied heavy tax on them, put them under forced labour (olubwa), treated them with disdain and arrogancy. The Bakonzo and Bamba were denied development in terms of schools, clinics, roads, markets, and use of their language. The British gazetted their farmland and forests (hunting ground) as game reserve. 

1924 Bwamba was totally made the responsibility of ToroKingdom.

1926 Bwamba is finally made part of Toro by the British Colonialists.

1938 The Bamba were finally forced to pay tax to Toro local government. They refered Toro as the land of slavery (e Bukobe) up to the present.

1954 Isaya Mukirania began a Bakonzo Life History Research Society. He was accompanied by Mr. Tom Stacey a Book Writer from UK. The Bakonzo and Bamba begin demanding for independence from TooroKingdom and the Colonial Government. They call it Rwenzururu Bakonzo-Bamba with a word Tulibaghuma as a motto. And a spear headed the word akethu-kathere (we lost our land, our treasure).

1961 A Rwenzururu Movement took form. First Rwenzururu Memorandum requesting for a separate District of Bamba/ Bakonzo was unwritten.

1962 Bamba/Bakonzo Councilors walked out of Toro Rukurato on 13 March because of severer and open inequalities, oppression and tribalism against them.

The Bakonzo and Bamba petition to the colonial Central Government for a Separate Rwenzururu District to be composed of the then countries of Bwamba, Burahya, Bunyangabu, and Busongora on 15th August. A memorandum was handed over to His Excellency Andrew Cohen, the British Colonial Governor at State House, Entebee. Isaya Mukirania was the leader of the delegation. 
Another Bakonzo delegation led by Isaya Mukirania met with Apolo Milton Obote, newly elected prime minister of Uganda requesting for a separate district in September 1962.

The Bakonzo and Bamba declared a separate Kingdom of Rwenzururu from Toro, on 30th June. Mr. Muhindo Murahya raised the first Flag and put the announcement over the Colonial Radio in Uganda.

Government appoints a Commission led by Sembeguya into the situation in Bwamba and Busongora. They submit their report to the Governor on 10th October, 1962.

1963 At Buhumbania, Isaya Mukirania was declared King of the RwenzururuKingdom by various heads of clans from around MountRwenzori on 30th June 1963. But not fully installed King for purposes of democracy and consultations.

1964 ToroKingdom declares 14 days of Massacring the Bakonzo, a genocide that was never given its right name. Men, women, children and the unborn were slaughtered, harked and burned alive. Houses were put on fire and property looted. After two weeks of mass slaughter Uganda government sends police to rescue the remaining and take them to Kahunge refugee camps. 

1964 John Babiha, a Mutororo Vice President of Uganda announced to have the Bakonzo tribe extinct and declared the area a game reserve. Hon. Balinda greatly condemns the act of massive slaughter of the Bakonzo people and supports the idea of a separate district in Toro for Bakonzo and Bamba. A District that would have equal status with Toro, Buganda and Ankole.

1964 Rwenzururu under Isaya Mukirania takes over schools and announces Mr. John Basigirenda Minister of Education to take charge of the Schools within the Rwenzururu territory. The Kingdom assigns teachers and supplies books to schools within its territory. 

1965 Isaya Mukirania is fully installed King of Rwenzururu at Buhumbania, Buswagha in Kibahimbandi’s family on the midnight of 29th /30th June, 1965. On that day Isaya Mukirania asserted the throne following the BanyaRwenzururu traditions.

1966 Isaya Mukirania died on 2nd September, 1966.

Charles Mumbere is crowned Second King of Rwenzururu on 19th October, 1966. He is named Charles Wesley Mumbere Kibanzanga II under the guidance of Regent Minister Yohana Mwambalha and the Queen Mother, Christine Mukirania. Hon. Samwiri Mukirania remains Prime Minister till 1971 when he retired. The office remains vacant for one year until 13th March, 1972 when one of the King’s advisors Hon. Yolamu Mulima was appointed to become the second Prime Minister of Rwenzururu Kingdom. Omusinga Charles Wesley Kibbanzanga II becomes Omusinga CharlesWesley Irema-Ngoma I.

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