The Tooro Kingdom

Fort portal lies at the physical and political heart of Tooro, the youngest of Uganda’s traditional Kingdoms, ruled aptly by the world’s most youthful monarch, not quiet four years of age when he took the throne in 1995. Corresponding roughly with the present day administrative districts of Kabarole and Kasese.

The Palace of Tooro Kingdom

The palace of Tooro Kingdom

Tooro started life as southern principality within the Bunyoro Kingdom, from which it broke away to become an independent kingdom in the late 1820’s under Prince Kaboyo, the son of Bunyoro king Nyakamaturu. In the mid 1820’s Nyakamaturu, reaching the end of his 50 year reign, was evidently regarded as a weak and unpopular ruler.

As a result, Kaboyo, the king’s favourite son and chosen heir to the throne, had become impatient to claim his inheritance. In part, Kaboyo’s haste might have been linked to a perceived threat to his future status. Nyakamaturu had already survived at least one attempt overthrow by a less favoured son, while the elders of Banyoro openly supported his younger brother Mugenyi as the next candidate for the throne.

while on a tour of Tooro circa 1825, Kaboyo came to realize the full extent of his father’s unpopularity in this southern part of Bunyoro, and he was persuaded by local chiefs to lead a rebellion that left Tooro a sovereign state.

Nyakamaturu’s army had the better of the rebels in the one full scale battle that occurred between them, but the ageing king was not prepared for his favourite son to be killed, and he eventually decided to tolerate the breakaway state.

It has even been suggested that Kaboyo was invited to succeed the Banyoro throne after Nyakamaturu’s death in the early 1930’s but declined, leaving the way clear for Mugenyi to be crowned King of Bunyoro. By all accounts, Kaboyo’s 30 year reign over Tooro was marked by a high level of internal stability, as well as a reasonably amicable relationship with Banyoro.

The death of Kaboyo circa in 1860 sparked a long period of instability in Tooro. Kaboyo’s son and nominated successor Dahiga proved to be unpopular leader and was soon persuaded to abdicate in favour of his brother Nyaika, who was in turn overthrown, with the assistance of the Buganda army, by another called Kato Rukidi.

Nyaika was exiled to the present day Congo, where he rebuilt his army to eventually recaptured Tooro, Killing Kato Rukidi and reclaiming the throne as his own. Tooro enjoyed a brief period of stability after this, but Nyaika was not a popular ruler and the long years of civil strife had left his state considerably weakened and open to attack.

The start of Nyaika’s second term on the Tooro throne roughly coincided with the rise of Bunyoro’s king Kabalega, who avowed to expand his diminished sphere of influence by reintegrating Tooro into the ancient kingdom, along with various other smaller breakaway states.

In 1876, Kabalega led an attack on Tooro king who was crowned, but he too was captured by Kabalega and toured to death, as was his immediate and short lived successor. The remaining Tooro princess fled to Ankole where they were granted exile and for the next decade Banyoro rule was effectively restored too Tooro.

Had it not been for a fortuitous meeting between the prominent Tooro prince, Kasagama and Captain Lugard in May 1891, at the small principality of Buddu in Buganda? Kasagama was eager for any assistance that would help him to restore the Tooro throne. While Lugard quickly realized that the young prince would prove a useful  ally in his plans to colonize Bunyoro.

When Lugard left for Kampala in the late 1891, leaving behind a young British officer De Winton, the Tooro Kingdom had to all intents and purposes been restored, this oversaw the construction of a string of small forts along the northern boundaries of Tooro, designed to protect it from any further attacks by Kabalega and named by 6000 Sudanese troops that had been abandoned by the Emin Pasha on his withdraw from Equatorial a few years earlier in early 1862.

Kasgama briefly enjoyed his first real taste of royal qutonomy, but this ended abruptly when Kabalega attacked his capital in November of the same year. Kasagama retreated to the upper Rwenzori where several of his loyal followers died of exposure, but was able to return to his capital in early 1864 following a successful British attack on Kabalegas capital at Mparo.

Tooro functioned as a semi autonomous kingdom throughout the British colonial era. Kasagama died in 1929, to be succeeded by King George Rukidi II, a well educated former serviceman who is regarded as having done much to advance the infrastructure of his Kingdom prior to his death in 1965.

In February 1966, king Patrick Kaboyo Rukidi 3 ascended to the Tooro throne only eight months before the abolition of Kingdoms in Uganda, he however enjoyed a distiuished diplomatic care serving in Cuba and Tanzania.

In July 1993, the traditional monarchies were restored by President Yoweri Kagutta Museveni and two years the Tooro King returned to Fort portal for a second coronation. He died a few days before this was scheduled to take place, to be succeeded by his son Prince Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV only three years old when he came to power. Kaboyo’s sudden death shocked many till now which in the end left a by then Tooro Prime minister John Katuramu arrested in Luzira prison till now.

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