Keeping Ankole Culture alive at epitome of Modernity.
Keeping Ankole culture alive at the epitome of modernity.
Ankole kingdom existed as a sovereign entity until October 25, 1901 when it was incorporated into the British Protectorate of Uganda by signing of the Ankole agreement. The kingdom located in south western Uganda like any other Kingdoms was also abolished in 1967 by President Milton Obote.
But unlike the rest of the Kingdoms which were later restored Ankole Kingdom has never.
The Kingdom has had 23 recognized kings from the time of Ruhinda to Gasyonga II. His son the Late John Patrick Barigye died in 2011 when he had never been officially recognized as the King of Ankole. Attempts to have him installed on November 20, 1993 in Nkokonjeru, Mbarara town collapsed after government nullified his coronation.
He was succeeded by his son Charles Aryeija Rwebishengye and like his father has never been installed as a king of Ankole because the Kingdom has never been restored.
Government has since been advancing that failure to restore the kingdom was based on a notion it’s not supported by majority people of Ankole. Even after the Late Barigye was ‘illegally’ installed President Museveni threated to arrest him if he dared traverse Ankole region as Omugabe (king)
Since 1993 the pro and anti-restoration of Obugabe groups have had disagreements on whether the 600-year-old traditional institution should be revived or not.
The former Kingdom has since been divided into several local governments that include Mbarara, Bushenyi, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Sheema, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Ntungamo, Rwampara and Ibanda.
The Ankole community is divided into two stratified castes; the Bahima (known for pastoralism) and the Bairu (known for agriculture) who live together in the land of Ankole.
In Ankole, cattle were the most treasured possession in their lives; providing milk, ghee, beef and hides, cows were the state of the value and a medium of exchange. Cows were the mode of payment of bride price and some special cows were used in religious rituals. Long horned Ankole cows were adapted to the climate of the region and resistant to most diseases.
The rich Ankole culture that included Ankole folklore, rites of passage, relationships ,living conditions, clothing, food, education, language, religion and family life played a significant role to survival and well -being of its people. But most of the cultural practices are no more, this coupled with the absence of a cultural institution, modernity seems to have taken the steering on defining the social, economic well-being of the people of Ankole.
For survival of Ankole kingdom culture and values, young people were targeted. Legends and tales used to teach proper moral behaviour to the young. Riddles, storytelling, proverbs were all intended to create a moral sound society but all these have now been neglected and substituted with TVs and Smart phones in the name of modernity.
Ankole kingdom monarchists urge that failure to restore the Kingdom has led to declining moral values, undermining of the family unit which used to be foundation of the society as modernity seems to define the events in the former Ankole kingdom.
In trying to keep culture alive stakeholders urge that cannot roll back modernity and thus their efforts is now to blend in the Ankole culture traditions in modernity.
Some private players have tried to keep the Ankole culture alive for example Igongo Culture and Country Hotel in Biharwe on Mbarara –Masaka road the management has documented the history of Banyankole for easy reference. The place tries to keep the Ankole culture alive through a collection of books on Ankole literature, artifacts, hosts performances, dancing, storytelling, replication of architectural constructions, and traditions like marriages, cooking, and food preservation.
At Excel Hort Consult Agro-tourism center in Mbarara city there are a host of initiatives that are intended to transform communities in both modernity and cultural context. These include an agro-tourism museum, and activities like campfire, agri-stars day, blacksmith and skills and talent development.
At this agro-tourism center visitors how in the past our grandfathers used traditional means to harness nature and survive like issues of food security, environmental conservation and agriculture among others
The agri-stars day that happens at the end of the month where young children come to enjoy fun but also learn farming using both traditional and modern ways.
There is also Ankole Cow Conservation Association (ACCA) was established in 2009 to breed and conserve the cultural herd.
The Association also has a cultural center –Enyemebwa Cultural and Educational center in Lake Mburo National Park aimed at promoting cultural based tourism showcasing the rich cultural values, practices, knowledge and attitudes towards wildlife management. Visitors at this center can also participate in Ankole cow milking, looking after calves, games like wrestling, throwing javelin and playing Omweso.
East African Revival Museum: The East Africa Revival Museum located at Ankole diocese headquarters in Ruharo, Mbarara city has a lot of ethnographic collections, library, and artifacts that has natural history addressing information, religion and cultural gaps.Visting this museum besides spiritual nourishment, and you can get acquainted with the history of Ankole kingdom.