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The language of the Banyankore

The Banyankore speak a language called Runyankore. Runyankore translated means "the language of Banyankore".

    Although there will be some people that will contend, the most remarkable characteristic of the language is that Runyankore does not have "l" in its alphabet. The actual Runyankole alphabet is like the English but with that one letter missing. The "l" is usually replaced by "r" into any other language. When visiting a home, please inquire for further clarification should they ask your child to go outside to "pray" football with other kids. More often than not they have kicking the ball in mind, rather than kneeling before it in intercession!

    The reason why Runyankore is commonly known with "l" is an interesting story. During the colonial times the British signed pacts with the existing kingdoms. At that time there were no 'educated' Munyankore to sign nor read the contents of the agreement signed between the British and the then Ankore kingdom. Usually a Muganda (a person from the Baganda kingdom) stepped in to help writing the agreement on the behalf of the Ankore kingdom. And since the Baganda lack the gift of "r", they opted to write Ankore with limited alphabet hence Ankole. It was not until many Banyankore went to school that this mistake was corrected. But since some of the literature still available goes through the hands of Baganda and since some Banyankore have never redeemed themselves from this fallacy, the mistake goes on...



Runyankole has diverse similarities with languages spoken among the Bantu. From as close as the neighbouring tribes, such as Bakiga, and as far as the Zulu in southern Africa, there are outstanding similarities in syntax and diction. "Inkatha", which is a large Zulu based political party, has the same meaning as Engata in Runyankole. Just across the border into Tanzania the Bahaya people speak what is locally called 'fluid' Runyankole.
    One of the most interesting features in similarities with other Bantu people is the way they name their children. For example, the maverick president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has a very Ankolish name; a king in Runyankole is called Omugabe.

    Although there are millions of miles geographically between Ankole and Japan and although the two cultures have nothing substantial in common, most Japanese names mean something in Runyankole. Take for example some common Japanese names. Toyota in Runyankole would roughly be Otayota which means "do not sit by the fire side". Honda in Runyankole would not change and when translated it means "to hit". Nagoya in Runyankole is a word that means "to mingle millet flour".

It's all in a name

Children are named depending on a variety of reasons. For example, Kabateraine means "a person who unites people". Bamwesigye refers to "a trustworthy person". Ndimurungi means "am beautiful" and Bwengye stands for "a smart person".
    Names also tell stories. When a family desires a girl and they get so many boys and finally a girl arrives, Byabagye is a likely choice for a name. It means literally "things are now okay". Baryatangara is Local class rooma name given in hope that when one day the child grows up, they will be a spectacle for all to see. Generally this is given to a child when the circumstances under which they are born are uncertain.
    Banyankole also boast some of the longest names. Two names of a very typical Munyankole person can make a short paragraph.


Some local words
  Banyankore - Habitants of the Ankore kingdom
Munyankore - Singular of Banyankore
Bahima - Cattle keepers
Muhima - Singular of Bahima
Good morning - Oraire ota
Good evening - Osibeire ota
Good night - Orare gye
How are you? - Agandi?
I am fine. -


What is your name? - Izina ryawe oryoha?
My name is... - Nibanyeta...
Where do you come from? - Norugahi?
I come from Spain. - Ninduga Spain.
Welcome - Twakushemererwa
People - Abantu
School - Ishomero
Teacher - Omusomesa
Child - Omwana
Village - Ekyaro
Thank you - Webare
Thank you very much - Wabare mononga
Yes / No - Eego / Ngaha
Food - Ebyokurya
Drinks - Ebyokunywa
I am happy. - Nashemererwa.
I am tired. - Naruha
We go - Tugyende
Goodbye - Kare / Mugume ho gye


  One  -  Emwe Six  -  Mukaaga
Two  -  Ibiri Seven  -  Mushanju
Three  - Ishatu Eight  -  Munaana
Four  -  Ina Nine  -  Mwenda
Five  -  Itaano Ten  -  Ikumi


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