Bunyoro Empire

Bunyoro Empire was an empire in present day westerm, central, and southeastern Uganda. It was successor to the mythic and mysterious Kitara Empire. Major settlement sites affiliated with Bunyoro are Ntusi and Bigo. Bigo is an encampment ditch that is six miles in circumference and twenty-two feet deep, enclosing two square miles.


Oral tradition has it that a Luo clan from Pabungu, the Bito, laid claim to the defunct Kitara Empire in the early 1400s. They settle among the Nyoro, a Bantu speaking people. The Bito eventually assimilated Nyoro culture and became the ruling elite. They ruled by assigning land to lesser chiefs who paid tribute. These chiefs were required to reside in the capital. Chiefs were also required to provide soldiers for cattle raiding expeditions. Bunyoro, at its height, also acquired tribute from lesser states including Buganda. By the seventeenth century, Buganda had eclipse Bunyoro in the region as the most important power.


Bunyoro's wealth lay in cattle. The king owned large herds and was a cattle redistributor. Tribute and legal fines were paid in cattle. The empire would sometime engage in major cattle raids, as far south as the Kingdoms of Rwanda and Burundi. Bunyoro also controlled major centers of iron and salt production. During the 1500s through 1600s, important trading markets developed in the empire where commodities such as barkcloth and banana flour from the Kingdom of Buganda, dried fish from lakeside regions, sorghum and sesame from the southwestern region of the empire, and iron and salt, would be traded.

Related Article: Timeline of African History ,

Works Cited

Ehret, Christopher (2002). The Civilizations of Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, p. 392, ISBN 0-8139-2085-X.

Collins, Robert O. and Burns, James M. (2007). A History of Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 122(3) ISBN 978-0-521-68708-9.

Shillington, Kevin (2005). History of Africa. Revised 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 204 ISBN 0-333-59957-8.