+256 704 671 286 bookings@ugandaculturallodges.com
+256 704 671 286 bookings@ugandaculturallodges.com

The Community

The People and community around the Lodge

Kigarama Wilderness Lodge is located in Kiruhura District in the Western Region of Uganda, about 30 km (19 miles) east of Mbarara District. The Lodge is surrounded by a high human population of the Banyankole, who are the dominant tribe around the community and famously known for rearing the long horned cattle (Ankole cattle).  Originally, Ankole was known as Kaaro- Karungi and the word Nkore is said to have been adopted during the 17th century following the devastating invasion of Kaaro-Karungi by Chawaali, the then Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara.

The word Ankole was introduced by British colonial administrators to describe the bigger kingdom which was formed by adding to the original Nkore, the former independent kingdoms of Igara, Sheema, Buhweju and parts of Mpororo.

The Origin of the Banyankole People

Like other Bantu groups, the origins of the Banyankore could be traced to the Congo region. Legends hold that the first occupant of Ankole was Ruhanga (the creator), who is believed to have come from heaven to rule the earth. Ruhanga is believed to have come with his three sons Kairu, Kakama and Kahima.

There is a story about how Ruhanga gave a test to determine which of his sons would become the heir. The test is said to have been that of keeping milk –filled pots on their laps throughout the night. At the end of it all, the youngest son, Kakama, is said to have passed the test followed by Kahima and last came the eldest son, Kairu. Judging from the performance in the test, Ruhanga is said to have decreed that Kairu and Kahima would=d serve their brother Kakama.

Thereafter he went back to heaven, leaving Kakama or Ruhanga, as he was also called, to rule the land. This legend portrays social stratification in Ankole society. It was concocted so as to make the Bairu accept their sub servant position to the Bahima as being supernatural.


Social stratification of the Community/People around the Lodge.

The Banyankole society stratified into Bahima (pastoralists) and the Bairu (agriculturalists). A caste-like system of the Bahima over the Bairu existed. The society is a dual pyramid with pastoral and agricultural legs. Within the two groups or castes (we call them castes not classes because within the Bahima and Bairu, there are those who have something in common), the clans cut across both the Bairu and the Bahima. The two groups recognize a common ancestry.

There was a general belief that what made a mwiru (singular Bairu) what he is was a hoe and what made a Muhima (singular Bahima) what he is  was a cattle. This kind of belief was not very accurate because merely acquiring cows would not immediately transform one from a Mwiru into a Muhima nor would the loss of cows transform a Muhima into a Mwiru. A Muhima who owns few cattle is called a Murasi. A Mwiru who owns cattle is called a Mwambari.

The two groups live together and they depended on each other. The Bairu exchange cattle products with Bahima and the Bahima equally received agricultural goods from the Bairu.  This is because the Bairu need milk, meat, hides and other cattle products form the Bahima, while the Bahima also need agricultural products from the Bairu, equally local beer.

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