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History of Kigyezi from 1500 to 1930

 The pre-colonial history of Kigyezi is not written. It was orally passed down to us. Clearly we must always be tentative in our statements that consider the period between 1500 and 1900.

 The following sequence of events (up to 1930) was agreed at a conference of Kigyezi Historians that was held in Kabale during the Easter weekend (March 27-29) in 1970. The conference was organized and chaired by Mr. Charles Kabuga who was, at the time, the Resident Tutor for Makerere Centre for Continuing Education. 

The papers that were written in the aftermath of that conference form the book: A History of Kigezi in South-West Uganda, edited by Donald Denoon and published by The National Trust, Kampala.  Where necessary, I have added more recent information from Omugurusi Festo Karwemera, Kigyezi’s chief historian and custodian of the region’s traditions and the accounts by Paulo Ngorogoza in Kigezi N’Abantu Bamwo, and oral accounts by Ezra Kisigo Mulera, Daneiri Sigirenda, Mugyerasaano and Eli Nasani Bisamunyu.



Firm establishment of Rwanda under Ruganzu Bwimba


Series of crises in Rwanda, including Banyoro invasion. Babaanda expel Barengye from Nduga – some Barengye flee to establish kingdoms in Kinkizi and Kayonza. Banyigyinya then overthrow Babaanda, some of whom follow the Barengye and take over Kinkizi. Some Bazigaaba flee from Mubari to South Kigyezi. North and Central Kigyezi occupied by pastoralists including Abashambo, Abeishekatwa, Abanyonyi and Abashengyera.


Mpororo Kingdom, small in size, ruled by Abeishekatwa. Rwanda-Gisaka conflict encourages Abatimbo and others to escape into South Kigyezi. Abazigaaba continue to move into South Kigyezi for the same reason. Abashambo, defeated by Rwanda and Gisaka, move into Mpororo Kingdom, straining the state whose queen is Kitami.

c. 1720

Immigrant Abashambo capture power in Mpororo, seizing the royal drum Murorwa from Queen Kitami. Birth of Kahaya Rutindangyezi.


Kahaya Rutindangyezi of Mpororo fights against Rwanda and expands Mpororo to its maximum extent, covering most of eastern Kigyezi, western Ankole, and northeastern Rwanda. In old age, having lost the drum, he loses control.


Death of Kahaya, fragmentation of Mpororo into regions, each ruled by Abashambo lineage.


Bigyeyo bya Mureire rules over parts of central Kigezi.


Muhoozi consolidating control of Rujumbura. Bigyeyo consolidating control over Central Kigyezi. Rwanda fails to incorporate Bufumbira.

c. 1860

Nyakeirima ka Muzoora traverses the region foretelling events that came to pass.  Ba Mugyiri (clan) arrive in Bukimbiri and Rubanda via Mpimbi za Muganza ya Rubuuzibwa-mahano near Congo.

c. 1875

Massive immigration of Abasigyi and other cultivators, obliging the pastoralists to evacuate central Kigyezi. Only a few pastoralists stayed. They were members of the following clans: Abagyeyo, Abagunga, Abazoobiki, Abarihe, Abahitira and Abanzira.


Mwami Rwabugiri rwa Rwogyera, the king of Rwanda, establishes control over Bufumbira and raids south and central Kigyezi and Nkore Kingdom with the help of Abatwa (pygmies).


Rinderpest epizootic decimates the cattle population.


Epidemic of yaws.


A coalition of Buganda and Nkore armies invade Rujumbura and take off with many cows. Makobore and his army, commanded by Miranda, flee to Kambuga.  

c. 1891

Belgians pass through Rujumbura. They rob people of their cows.


Emin Pasha (Isaac Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer), a German doctor, naturalist and governor of the Egyptian province of Equatoria, visits Rujumbura and meets with King Makobore.


Second epidemic of yaws.


Count Gusav Adolf von Goetzen, a German colonialist reaches the Birunga volcanoes. He later becomes governor of German East Africa, suppresses the Maji Maji rebellion and overseas the mass killings and starvation of the people.


The great Famines of Rwaranda, Mushorongo and Rwanyakizooba.


Rucuncu coup in Rwanda. Musinga succeeds Mibambwe. Disputed succession encourages Muhuumuza (Nyiragahuumuza) to rally support in Kigyezi in order to enter the succession contest and install her son Ndungutse on the throne.


Disturbed times encourage Katuregye and others to raid extensively in South Kigyezi. Refugees flee to Makobore in Rujumbura, and to Kinkizi. Abasigyi and some Abaheesi oppose Muhuumuza in South Kigezi.


Ikumba Conference attempts to establish a British hierarchy for the whole district, confirming Makobore, Ruhayana, Nyindo and Katuregye in office. Anglo-Basigyi Alliance breaks down, and Baganda administrators become common.


War encourages Nyindo to rebel and join Mwami of Rwanda; Muginga and Makobore suspected by British of neutrality; Katuregye killed while in revolt; Nkiibiri at large until 1919.


Abanyakigyezi people gradually replace Baganda and pre-colonial rulers. Kigyezi District administration firmly established. Beginning of complete incorporation of Kigyezi into Uganda.



To be continued……………….


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