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Uganda Kingdoms

Not much is known about the origins of Uganda's five monarchies, mainly because their early history was not written down. Almost the whole vast region between the great lakes of Victoria, Albert, and Tanganyika is occupied by centralized native states headed by monarchies. They are all hereditary monarchies, sometimes with extreme distinctions of class and status.

All the people of Buganda, Bunyoyo, Ankole, Toro, and Busoga speak related Bantu languages, and it has become usual in ethnographic literature to refer to them collectively as Interlacustrine Bantu. These monarchies have had a history of contact with western culture for over 100 years, as well as their own traditional dynastic history that stretches back through the centuries.

They also share the concept of super-ordination and subordination: the notion that some people are always above others- the abalangira (royals) - and some are always below - the bakopi (peasants). The status destinations are more strongly marked in some kingdoms than in others, but in general they are not rigid, castle-like discriminations. It has always been theoretically possible for able bakopis to rise to positions of high authority in the state.

For the majority of these kingdoms, human history begins with a first family whose head is called Kintu, 'the created thing'. A legend shared by them all provides a 'mythical charter' for the social and political order. Nothing is known about the origins of Kintu. The legend maintains that the mythical man, who came from heaven, represents creation itself. Everything concerning the tribes was attributed to Kintu: it is said he must have been the first king of the vast area incorporating all the present five kingdoms and beyond, before they became independent kingdoms.

The Buganda monarchy is one of the best documented of any African monarchy. It remained almost the only kingdom where extensive historical, political, sociological, and anthropological studies have been carried out. Two important means in which the royal was geology was kept were the preservation of artefacts inside the royal tombs and the custom of removing and preserving the lower jaw bone of all the important people, which goes back to the earliest remembered history of Buganda.

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