Ankole (Mbarara) District was founded in 1901. The abolition of Ankole federal and kingdom government in 1967, gave rise to Mbarara District Local Government (MDLG). Mbarara, the main town of Ankole District became a township in 1957. Following the Coup of 1972, the name Ankole District was changed to Mbarara District, and the township was transformed into a municipality in 1974.
In 1973, Bushenyi District was created out of Mbarara. In 1995 Ntungamo District was created and in 2002, the sub-county of Itojo, formerly part of Mbarara, was added to Ntungamo District. In 2005, the boundary was significantly reduced and the district was further split into three other district Local Governments namely, Isingiro (comprised of Bukanga and Isingiro counties), Kiruhura (comprised of Nyabushozi and Kazo counties) and Ibanda (comprised of Ibanda County).
The sub-division left the current Mbarara with three counties of Kashari, Rwampara and Mbarara municipality. Recently, in August 2015, Parliament passed a resolution to create Rwampara District out of Mbarara District, effective 1st July 2019. Based on that decision, Mbarara District boundaries will further be altered to include Kashari County and Mbarara Municipality.
The district was named after its municipal center, the city of Mbarara, where the district headquarters is located. It is said that the word ‘Mbarara’ is derived from a common type of grass in Mbarara known as ‘emburara’
The shield signifies the traditional authority of the people of Mbarara to defend their area. There are three images on the shield: the handshake which symbolizes friendship with other communities; the spear which represents the traditional weapon of defense; and the cow which represents the nomadic culture of the people of the area.
The shield is flanked on the right and left by banana and coffee, the two main cash crops of Mbarara district.
In addition to the cash crops, the livelihood of the people is dependent on Cattle (the cow) which is the biggest contributor to the local economy.
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