Uganda’s Bakonzo: From the Unknown to the Known

Book Cover: Tom Stacey in 1963  just across the border in Congo from Uganda flanked by the rebel Bakonzo  leadership of those days.  Among the group is the 10-year-old Charles Wesley Mumbere, today’s King of Rwenzururu.”

By Tom Stacey

‘My’ Bakonzo tribe of equatorial Africa’s Mountains of the Moon, aka the Ruwenzori Mountains, the glaciered and snow-peaked range on the Uganda-Congo border, exemplify ethnic groups which so easily can be eliminated by sheer demographic ruthlessness, amid a welter of suffering and sorrow.

By God’s grace and a twist of political fortune, in which I have been privileged to play a key part, that potential suffering has been countered and, today, eliminated. The suffering of course is the result of the destruction of a people’s sense of who they are, be that in the form of the loss of their territory, language, way of life, or cultural or administrative autonomy. The Bakonzo now have their presence in their mountains in their own `Kingdom of Rwenzururu’ recognized by the government of Uganda, within whose borders the majority of Bakonzo have their traditional homeland.

Rwenzururu, with a population of around 800,000, is now one of the five constituent Bantu kingdoms which, as cultural entities, like with widely known kingdoms of Buganda and Toro, constitute most of the southern (Bantu) half of Uganda.

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