Fort Portal is the only town in Uganda to have a British name. It got its moniker from the British fort that was constructed between 1891 to 1893, Fort Gerry, which in turn had been named after Sir Gerald Portal, who was the British Special Commissioner for Uganda.
Fort Portal is the seat of the Toro kingdom, which is one of Uganda’s five traditional monarchies. Toro broke away from neighbouring Bunyoro kingdom, which is headquartered to its north, in 1822, when the eldest son of the king of Bunyoro, Prince Olimi Kaboyo rebelled and seized the territories of Toro from his father. He crowned himself king, and ruled until his death in 1865. However, there was a succession crisis as his sons fought each other for power, until his relatives in Bunyoro invaded. The Toro royal family fled to neighbouring Ankole, where all but one of them were massacred on the orders of the Queen Mother. The sole survivor, Kasagama, fled to Buganda, where Captain Frederick Lugard, who was at war with Bunyoro, so helped Kasagama to reclaim the Toro throne. Fort Gerry was then constructed to protect the kingdom from further attacks from Bunyoro.
What remains of the fort has now had a golf course built over it. The palace of the current King, Rukidi IV, is in the town, and the graves of the last three kings is just outside it.
Visit Fort Portal on our Mountain of the Moons tour, and witness the totems of a kingdom.