Toro Culture

The Batooro inhabit the districts of Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kitagwenda, Ntoroko, and Kasese. Their area has been a host of many migrants from other parts of western Uganda, particularly the Bakiga, bafumbira and Banyarwanda. The areas of Tooro area close to Mountain Rwenzori are mainly inhabited by Bakonjo tribe. To their east live Banyoro; to their north are the Bamba and Bakonjo; to their southeast and west live Banyankore and to their east live the Baganda. The Batooro are Bantu speaking. Their language is Rutooro.


There existed conflicting legends about the Batooro. One legend asserts that the Batooro are indigenous to Toro and that they originated from the Batembuzi and the Bagabu who are said to have been pioneer inhabitants and rulers of the earth. Some other traditions assert that the Batooro are related to the Bachwezi and the Babito line. What can best be said is that the Batooro being Bantu originated from the Congo region where the other Bantu groups are said to have originated.

The Kingdom of Toro

The kingdom of Toro, of the Babiito dynasty, aptly claims its rightful origins in the ancient empire of Kitara. The first son of Omukama Kyebambe III of Bunyoro rebelled and annexed the southern part of his father’s kingdom, forming his own kingdom. He placed the northern border of his new kingdom at River Muziizi. The kingdom of Toro was born, under the reign of Rukirabasaija Omukama Kaboyo Kasunsunkwanzi Olimi I.

Following the death of Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, there followed several other kings and princes on the Toro throne. Some of them reigned for very short periods of time, during which they were still referred to as “Omubiito” (prince), not by the right title of “Rukirabasaija Omukama“. When we include such princes, the number of batooro kings comes to 8. The present Omukama is Rukirabasaija Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV.

The people of Tooro are known as the Batooro (singular, mutooro; adjective, kitooro; language, rutooro). They are a proud tribe of about one million strong. They enjoy a rich culture of oral tradition, tribal customs, indigenous handicrafts, patriotism, and very high self-esteem. Like all African children, batooro children are taught to respect and value their elders. They are also taught to love and be proud of their tribe and country. Pride in being a mutooro is a value of paramount importance that is inculcated into every mutooro child from birth. There are certain behaviors, manners of speech and personal conduct, therefore, that are considered to be beneath a self-respecting mutooro.

Traditionally, for instance, a mutooro is not supposed to speak words or make any utterances that distort the mouth and make the person look undignified. Unfortunately, the observance of this norm made it difficult for many batooro to pronounce certain foreign language words effectively! A mutooro has to make a conscious effort to break with tradition in order to utter some foreign expressions that end in an open mouth or a distorted facial expression.

Traditional eating habits of the batooro left them prone to malnutrition as their choice of acceptable cuisine was very limited. Many of the good, nutritious foods that abounded in their kingdom were taboo. A mutooro did not eat “birds” or their eggs. So, for the longest time, the batooro did not eat chicken or eggs. A mutooro did not eat “frogs” (a derogatory name generalized over everything from the water, including fish). It was ironic; therefore, that while Tooro boasted of having two fresh water lakes teeming with delicious tilapia nilotica, they considered it beneath them to eat the fish! A mutooro did not eat the meat of any animal that had upper teeth, because such an animal was like a dog. This ruled out pork. For some reason, batooro women were, and still are, expected to be even more dignified than their male counterparts. Whatever the taboo was, it went double for the women. As modern times slowly caught up with us, we slowly started breaking some of our long held traditions. To this day, however, there are some old batooro women who will not allow chicken, fish or pork to be cooked in their kitchens!