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Women’s Emancipation in Africa – Reality or Illusion?

A Case Study of Mbarara, Western Uganda

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Paul Mutume

Women’s emancipation in Uganda is one of the most successful ventures an African country has ever undertaken. The reality of its success, however, remains a challenge in a society with a long-held structure of patriarchy and institutional, cultural beliefs.

After a critical analysis, the study challenges policy makers to ensure an environment free from all forms of violence and oppression against women – be it physical, economic, social, religious or psychological – and to empower them through education, ensure their financial independence and enhance their psychophysical stability. The study gives credit to women of all ages and indeed all walks of life who have effectively turned their sufferings into joy. It critically analyses the institutional mechanisms and concludes suggesting concrete measures and strategies towards gender mainstreaming.

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Chapter Two: The Status of Women among the Banyankole

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2.1 A Short Historical Background of the Banyankole

Precisely, the Banyankole are a people; Ankole or Nkole designates a place, and Runyankole is a language. Banyankole are Bantu by ethnicity. They are among the half-dozen major ethnic groups in Uganda. Like other Bantu groups, the origins of the Banyankole remain unclear, but many historians assume they could have originated from the Congo region.23

Ankole was one of the four most important kingdoms of the Great Lakes region that were prestigious and well populated. The kingdoms of the Great Lake region referred to the kingdoms that were established around Lake Victoria and other lakes in central and southern Uganda. The date when the Ankole Kingdom was first established remains unknown, but historians have speculated that it might have started as early as during the fourteenth or fifteenth century. The Banyankole were the earliest group to occupy Uganda between 1000 and 1500 AD.24 It was ruled by a monarch (Omugabe = king) who had political and cultural powers. Ankole only became a focus of study and research in the 1920s and 1930s, as reported by some anthropologists such as K. Oberg and historians such as F. Morris.25 The monarchy still exists but only has cultural powers.

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