The Ankole Cows of Uganda – Rwanda – The Cattle Of Royalty
A Sight to Behold -Ankole Cows in Uganda – Rwanda – the Cattle of Kings
Ankole Cows in Uganda – Rwanda – the Cattle of Kings – As you venture across Southwest Uganda and Rwanda – you will come across not only magnificent scenery, wildlife, primates, birds in abundance but the most imposing creature among domesticated animals found in Africa – the Cattle of Kings and Royalty, the long-horned Ankole Cattle.
Ankole Cattle has been called “the Cattle of Kings” because of their close ties and importance to the royalty of Southwest Uganda and Rwanda and once you see these majestic cows you will understand why they are referred to as the “Cattle of Royalty.”
Since the Middle Ages Ankole Cattle have been in Uganda and Rwanda descended from the Ethiopian Sanga Cattle – that originated in Eurasia with a lineage that goes back for thousands of years, images of long-horned cattle have been found in Egyptian drawing and art.
The Ankole cattle survived and thrived – living on meager pasture and not needing much water – a hardy breed of cattle unlike most cattle. What sets them even further apart is the size of horns that can exceed 2.5 meters in length and when you see a herd of Ankole cattle visitors to Uganda and Rwanda are amazed – surprised by the sight of the length and size of Ankole Cattle Horns.
Ankole Cattle were bred to produce long horns and colorful skins, the long horns also protect Ankole cattle from predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas where they form a tight circle and their horns will face outward toward the predator.
Ankole Cows were valued because of the status signifying wealth for the owner. A man’s wealth was seen in the size of his Ankole cattle herd, the size of the horns of his cattle and the coloration of the hides.
In Rwanda – the most prestigious, noblest cow is “Inyambo” with a blackish or brownish – red hide, large – beautifully shaped horns and large hoofs. Other Ankole cows of any coloration are calles Ibigarama while short cows, cows that are not lean are called Inkuku which may be a version of the Bantu word for Chicken.
Physically, these magnificent creatures are marked by their very long horns and dignified appearance; but their historical and cultural importance is even more impressive including their presence in special ceremonies for the King for which they were decorated and spruced up and even learned how to dance by listening to a trainer’s songs referred to as “amahamba” and “amazina y’inka” and even follow dance like movements.
In southwest Uganda and Rwanda – cattle was royalty – the Pastoralists of that region saw their lives intertwined with their cows and their lives rotated around their cattle. The Bahima people of Uganda divide the day into 20 periods – 19 of those daily period have to do with their cattle related activities.The Ugandan and Rwandan pastoralists looked down on farmers, fishermen, even hunters – only Buffaloes and the large Eland Antelopes were hunted most likely because they had some cattle related qualities.
The diet of those who kept Cattle in Uganda and Rwanda did not consist of meat, but of the blood tapped from the veins of cows which was combined with milk and consumed.
Slaughtering a healthy cow was seen as a form of cannibalism. Infertile cows and extra bulls were at times slaughtered for special occasions and no part of the slaughtered cow would be wasted – hides would be made into mats, drum-coverings and clothing, the dung of cows was used to plaster buildings and even used to create art on buildings, an art-form called Imigongo that can still be found in Rwanda near Akagera National Park where women create cow-dung art now on wood that is sold to visitors and gift-shops. the horns were made into musical instruments and ornamental jewelry.
Today Ankole Cows in Uganda – Rwanda – the Cattle of Kings are used for:
- Status – Ankole Cows are and remain a status symbol.
- Ankole Cattle are used to pay the Bride’s Price by the groom in negotiated settlements between families.
- Ankole Cattle remains one of the best gifts for special occasions.
- Food – its tasty low-cholestoral is tasty and not tough. Milk – Ghee-Butter-and more recently cheese and yoghurt.
- Income for the cattle-keeping Pastoralist as they sell cattle for market.
- Hides from Ankole Cattle are still used as Drum-coverings – clothing, sleeping mats and more.
- Cow-Dung is still used to fertilize – plaster and paint homes.
- Cow Urine is seen by some as having medicinal qualities.
- Ankole Cow Horns are used for decorations and creating jewelry which often is sold to tourists.
You will enjoy the Ankole cattle of Rwanda and Uganda, if you are not a vegetarian or vegan you will enjoy the taste of the beef from steaks to stews but most of all you will enjoy the large Ankole Cattle Herds that you will come across all over Rwanda and Southwest Uganda.
You can also include a day in a traditional Village in Southwest Uganda on the border with Kenya where you water the Ankole Cows, milk them, create Ghee, go about a day in the pastoralist village of Nshenyi and learn the ways of old that are still practiced in Rwanda and Uganda.
The Ankole Cows in Uganda – Rwanda – the Cattle of Kings – you will not miss them while visiting Uganda and Rwanda.