The Karamojong people

 

 

I am writing this down because I have interacted with the Karamojong people and appreciated their uniqueness and richness in the culture as a way of life as a people. The Karimajong are believed to have migrated from as far as Ethiopia and get their name from the words Ekar Ngimojong meaning “got tired and stopped.” The people who continued walking are known as the Itesots. So it’s common knowledge that the Karamojong people and the Itesots are related. They put on Asuka. This is largely because of their nature as pastoralists and the Asuka can easily provide warmth in areas where it cold while grazing.

These people stay in Eastern Uganda in the districts of Kotido, Kaabong, Amudat, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Moroto and Abim. They are pastoralists and value their cattle so much. They stay in homesteads known as Manyatta which consists mostly relatives. Sorghum is their main staple food and a house without sorghum and cattle is not respected. Sorghum is used in making their favorite local brew called “Ekweete”.

The love for cows is exemplified in many ways; the karamojong used to ask for bride price as big as 100 cows and they also greet in the name of cows as a sign of respect. The men will also move many miles away to the green belts of Kapchorwa and beyond and leave their families behind to find pasture for the cattle. The most interesting part is that a young bull (Emong) is identified and a bell (Ekadong) put in its neck (that bull cannot be slaughtered for food, cannot be killed, stolen, or asked as bride price) to mark it as a treasured bull. If anyone raids on it, it will be followed wherever it’s taken no matter the distance and brought back. Stealing the bull with the Ekadong is equal to waging a war against a family.

Women don’t own cows in the karamojong culture but are given lactating cows to provide milk for the young children. The women own the land and spend most of their time cultivating it as they are responsible for feeding the family.

The Karamojong love animals and while they love (d) hunting, they had designated hunting areas to protect some animals from extinction. They have different traditional instruments they use in their homes that include;

  • Spears; these are used for hunting, fighting and protecting the home.
  • Ebur (Food flask); made of wood and animal skin. It’s used to keep food especially dried meat. They can keep it for over a year.
  • Etuo; this is a calabash used to keep milk
  • Adere; this is a calabash well shaped and used as a plate to eat food.
  • Ngitoroi; Tired on the men’s legs while dancing. Dances amongst the Karamojong include the Edonga dance.
  • Ebela; this a walking stick and is mostly used by the elders.

The Karamojong have different ethnic groups of people that included the Ethur (mostly found in Abim district), the Dodoth (found in Kaabong and are a result of intermarriages with the SouthSudanese), the Bokora (found in Napak), the Mathenike (found in Moroto), the Ik (found in Kaabong), the Upe (found in Amudat), the Pian (found in Nakapiriripirit), and the Tepeth (found in Moroto). The Ik and the Teleth live in mountains.

The Karamojong people value marriage and have a very beautiful traditional marriage ceremony called “Ekiitan”. Initially in the past, the father used to identify a bride for the son from a family they like most however things have changed. Today when a karamojong young man identifies a woman to marry, he will inform his parents who will write to the parents of the girl. Thereafter a day will be set where the parents of the boy visit the parents of the girl and negotiate bride price. And while in the past over 100 cows were asked as bride price, today due to poverty and other reasons, the number of animals depend on the negotiations between the two families.

In most cases relatives contribute to the bride price because they look at the wife as a wife to the clan and not for the individual.

Adultery isn’t accepted as you could even be killed. And if a woman was divorced, she would return the bride price paid for her and take all her children with her. This has changed however as the constitutional court of the republic of Uganda ruled against the refund of bride price.

Karamoja is full of many attractions including Mt. morungore (Home to the Ik) where you can have a panoramic view of Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, Mount Moroto (Home to the Tepeth). Here you can see cattle graze at as high as 2500m above sea level. There is also a volcanic mountain called Mount Kadam which is the 2nd highest and lies partly in the Upe wildlife reserve. The Karamoja region is one of the best destinations for cultural tourism as you will find very entertaining dances from the karamojong warriors and visit the smallest indigenous tribe in Uganda, the Ik people. There are known for their unique huts that go as far as 2metres under the ground and are also famous for bee keeping. You will be treated to a whole different way of constructing houses with the Manyattas (Homesteads with huts facing each other) that will give you a roller-coaster experience.

Karamoja region is also blessed with Kidepo National park with a variety of wildlife including Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, and is the only home to Cheetahs for the domestic tourists who may want to see a cheetah roaming the wild and charging at lightning speed to catch its prey! What next?? Go and visit Karamoja!

Story written by: Pius Muhamya

Photography: Pius Muhamya

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The War We should all Hate

​I remember being in the house that night. My Ex had visited and we had had very bad sex I must emphasize. All of a sudden a sound of gunshots that were being fired from a distance woke us up amidst ringing noises of neighbors that could easily tell we were under siege. We ran for our lives!

As we ran through the plantations and bushes to save our lives at least for another minute, bullets rained and from a distance you would see the terror looks of rebels on army trucks each driving in zig-zag to find the right target! The fear accrued from that single sight of rebels would mean you would easily breathe your last albeit accidentally if you envisioned a soldier coming close even when no gunshot was fired.
There was fear, trembling, hopelessness as the wild became dark and the sight of dead bodies became unbearable and torture in itself. I and my friend decided to get a place to hide and a few minutes before we made a decision, a rebel must have seen a standing man in our radius and right away started to fire bullets in our direction at a nonstop rate. We quickly took cover (who doesn’t know this cover thing here in Uganda associated with soldiers in war) on the ground. I could hear and even see bullets passing an inch above my head.  When the bullet sounds fell silent, we ran to an abandoned mud house some of our friends refusing the suggestion and only opting to help close us from outside with a nail lock so that no one suspects they are people inside.  How wrong we were!

With extreme darkness covering the room at the time we entered, we thought we were only two people. However as we would later learn there was a boy who had hid close to a hole; you know those “holes” in mud houses (a son or daughter of a minister won’t know what am talking about) and as the worst lack would have it, we were called in the rudest ways to come out of our hiding. It was coming to morning now but I had not blinked throughout the night.

Out we moved, three of us, and worst of all I had a panga and one of them noticed. I swear I still can’t remember where that panga came from. Why does he have a panga? He exclaimed, does he want to kill us? Trembling with fear and shaking my head horizontally as though attacked by a ghost, I said I didn’t know about the panga. They then led us to a line where they were registering everyone who had been captured; they would take away all you had (phones, bags, money etcetera) and give you a big stick like “Kiboko” and then send you to join the bigger group.

By the look of things now, they had set up a camp at a place that was formerly a school; chairs, desks and blackboards being sighted. As we jazzed with acquaintances few hours after our capture at the rebel camp, a mean looking soldier came to us and asked why we were discussing and even threatened to drink someone’s blood if we continued to do so (he had a bucket and sword in his hands). The big headed thing in me asked why and that’s when hell broke loose for me! I was dragged to the ground and pulled on my knees like 50metres away and before I could blink, a bucket was on my neck and a sword in my neck. That was within a second! A damn second! I remember I said, “God receive my soul”.

Now this fool had dug a few centimeters inside my neck. He asked, “do you now know why Tumbavu?” I first fell silent and acted as though dead. He then asked again but now with more rage. I responded with a faint voice, “Yes Sir! “And I apologized.  He pulled the sword out of me and I hurriedly touched my wound (a hole) to stop bleeding. I remember I added some soil. Damn!

We slowly walked away with my friends insisting to go and have a sight of what the other rebels were up to. I had my friend Rogers who always insisted. If you know how T.I behaved himself in movie #ROOTS5. They peeped and with luck came back alive. The news was we were in a valley and the rebels had deployed all artillery on the whole upper side of the hill to smash any possible enemy. You would clearly see mambas, tanks and high level machine guns.

Our shelter is in a class now and we are so many people and all of young people. They did not mix young with old people and I still don’t know why. My two new friends (a girl and a boy) were crying profusely. I reached out to them and told them to stop crying. They wouldn’t stop! It’s now that told I them how I was actually in a worse situation having greeted death with the right hand and escaping with the left hand. I still had a fresh wound, still bleeding, and with few hopes of healing soon. I told them to think of the grief of their mothers who couldn’t even see them (their children) or even be sure that their children were still alive. They sobbed for a few minutes.
In the middle of the night we moved out to see what was happening and to our astonishment saw our friend Josh with a gun. I still don’t know why it had to be you Josh! And he was not willing to help or even show sympathy let alone allow us to get close to him. There were people with in the camp that they were planning to rush to exile. For a moment I wondered where our mighty UPDF that had kept peace beyond the boundaries of our country was. I asked a lot of questions (inwardly of course) and sometimes broke down because of what had befallen us, a blood war!

No one amongst the rebels wants to listen or even give a damn whether you die in the next minute I tell you. To them it doesn’t even matter how you die; bullet, hunger, suicide, sword, disease??? I mean no rebel in this world cares about human life not even a government soldier especially when the war is tense. In the morning, people would be flogged, beaten, girls raped, I still don’t know why but every day it happened. That morning, a group of people were brought to the camp amongst them two whites. Of course you wouldn’t talk to any even when you knew them, would you? Any person talking to another or suspected to have talked to another for a little while would be suspected, accused and in a matter of minutes convicted for planning a rebellion or escape. Each crime attracted death. Did you hear that right? And the warnings (indiscriminate killings daily) being enough, you wouldn’t want to risk.

The group of people were taken into a tunnel (call it cave “Empuku”) in the inside of the hill and if am to report they are alive, that would be the biggest call it greatest optimistic stunt Mother Nature has ever seen. I really hope they survived but I never saw them AGAIN, I only saw the soldiers that took them to the tunnel. As the clouds turned dark and hopelessness ensued, something happened that would bring a quick sincere hearty smile that at least took over my life for a minute. A new people were being brought to the camp and far away on top of a cliff, I saw my mother. It was a complete spectacle!

All the life in the wild from the day the bullets rained and I ran out of my house to protect my life at least for one more minute, I had not seen my sisters, my brother, my father, my cousins or even any relative. It had been the darkest time of my life. For a moment, and indeed many times during that tragedy, a lesson was learnt: “whether in government, in opposition or in none, there is one thing that we should never wish for or allow to happen, a war or a military coup”. I realized that there is a WAR WE SHOULD ALL HATE, a MILTARY COUP. Fellow youth, all Ugandans don’t be like a young monkey that wishes to see a forest that has caught fire because it wants to see what it looks like. This is our country and in all disagreements and at all times when we feel we are tired, let’s look at that one percent chance to solve our conflicts peacefully.

BY: MUHAMYA PIUS

Ugandan Citizen and Photographer at Marine Photography.

The Revolution of Wireless Internet in Bars, Hotels and Restaurants

I have been impressed recently by the growing number of Hotels, Bars and restaurants that have invested in Wireless Internet. I can clearly say this has diversified the hospitality and hotel business in Uganda with a touch of Technology whose impact on growth of the sector and the Ugandan economy at large can’t be underestimated.

Last week I was in Mbarara and I was particularly struck that all the Bars, restaurants and Hotels that I visited provided free WiFi to their customers . With the increasing need and use of the internet in the country and world, this has given a competitive edge to those that have that incentive. First and foremost, its easy for customers to identify with such places and also market them through customer kind of marketing. This is killing two birds with one stone. Customers loyalty especially among the young people that identify too much or are either too addicted to the internet find these places both perfect and convinient to hangout. You will indeed be astonished to learn the number of people flock these places just to access the internet and catch up with friends and what is happening in the world.

That of course shows how it has been a big plus especially to clients. Information sharing has been made so easy with WiFi and existence of high speed internet only adds a good taste to an already existing range of apps available for usage particularly in Uganda.

If a survey was to run now, you will find out that almost half of the population in Urban areas owns a smartphone in Uganda. If your guess is as good as mine, it was only inevitable for Bars, restaurants and hotels to introduce free internet access in a bid to pull customers to their side. And at this rate if you find WiFi at a #washingbay you shouldn’t be surprised as this is the way to go.

With increase in the number of Telecom companies providing cheap internet, it also becomes easy to finance such an investment. However there are organised that are still stuck in the wild (either seeing the Internet as an enemy to their businesses or completely unnecessary). I remember a friend of mine who used to make a stop at Cafe Ark before reporting at work to finish online assignments because they was no such fast internet at her workplace. This informs why organisations should find this a lucrative venture to aid their workers complete assignments on time and efficiently, respond to emails timely, grow their careers by taking on online courses and collaborate easily in a fast changing world. I have seen many Journalists collaborate on whatsapp, at Hima Cement Ltd almost all departments have whatsapp group for easy collaboration on work related activities. Therefore employers should start looking at the internet and across range of apps as friends and not enemies to their business and therefore empower their employee to use such tools to improve their productivity.  Someone may ask, what are the lessons other businesses can learn from the various investments in this Venture (Wireless Internet)? I have exemplified that in a few lines above. Its simple! Embrace Technology.

Well in this information dominated age; in a Society where information capture, sharing and retrieval have become an essential part of our lives all these aided by the Internet, what are we doing to make it easily accessible, affordable and fast?

I invite my friend Mr. Muzaphal Kimbugwe and Willaps Uganda Ltd to write a full blog and answer that question? You will be making good money if you consider providing an enabling environment answering the above questions.

#Technology #WirelessInternet #Business #Trends #Uganda

 

 

Nature Photography, my Love!

I  have always loved nature and everyday i want to learn something knew about it. Sunday was another day i wanted to listen to myself and the beautiful scenery surrounding me gave a perfect opportunity to meditate and rethink my life goals and strategies to achieve them. I was not selfish. I took a few shots that you might  love; they speak life, hope, love and beauty. They speak a language of calmness, one that heals, one that gives life to a hopelessly dying souls. I preach peace and gentleness as you enjoy them.

#MubukuRiver #Nature #Photography #Environment #Sunset #Waterfalls

SPINNING WEBS

Lying is a bad effort. A wasted effort! An effort that can only yield temporary pleasure but has capacity to cause undesirable and irreversible unpleasant effects.

WhosThatChic?

This will probably be my least read post, but oh well.

“If you love her / him, lie to her / him. The truth will hurt her / him.”

“I lied to protect you.”

“You don’t need to know the truth.”

Whatever happened to the good old “the truth will set you free”. I do not understand why people convince themselves into believing that telling lies will save them from one situation or other. In telling lies, what starts off as a simple altercation will escalate very quickly into a really sticky and / or hairy situation. Lies do nothing but drag you deeper into a web that you may never be able to get out of or an irredeemable situation. Or if you do, you may need the help of a Horcrux, a Titan’s might and the intervention of a Scandinavian god. I believe that lying is tedious  work…

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