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Cultural Safari Africa, The Karimojong in Uganda

Updated on October 8, 2008

The Karamojong North - Eastern Uganda The Karamojong are a group of people that originated from Ethiopia ( Hamites) together with the Iteso, they intermarried with the Nilotes also called the Sudanic group to form a race called the Nilo Hamites. History has it that during their exodus, this group that latter came to be known as the Karamojong were moving is search of pasture for their numerous animals. However a number of them became very tired of the movements and decided to settle in North Eastern Uganda at the Horn of Uganda.

The Iteso proceeded to the present day Teso, thus leaving the tired people whom they later came to call ekar amojong meaning the old woman is tired.The Karamojong occupy an area equivalent to tenth of the country,their language is also known as Karamojong, their region is the remotest and least developed areas of Uganda.

The Karamojong have families and the clan, which usually extends only three generations, they are primarily a social units, two other units are of central importance in Karamojong society, and provide the basis for political action. Territorial groups create units of common interest, allegiance, and action. Age groups, by allocating authority, determine the roles of individual members of territorial groups in any corporate action. Territorial groups range in size from small settlements and neighborhoods, to larger localities and finally to sections or tribal groups.

The Karamojong members recognize social ties , offer mutual hospitality, utilize common natural resources, take common ritual action, and meet together frequently for social interaction. This is the setting where most face-to-face encounters take place. Subsections are enduring social groups; their continuity derives from coresidence, corporate activity, and the establishment of a distinctive name that ties each to some natural object. Subsections are also religious congregations, each with its own ritual specialist and ceremonial grounds. Karamojong adult males are organized into a series of groups based on varying degrees of common age. These age sets are an integral part of Karamojong social organization and provide the basis for political authority. The highest sources of authority are the elders of a community. The channels of authority are provided by the relationships that are created by the organization of people into age categories.

The use of authority is occasioned by public ritual gatherings, council meetings, and public disputes. Decisions and sanctions of the elders are carried out because subsenior age sets adhere to the norms of obedience established with age rankings. The elders are also considered to have divine authority-or at least to be closely linked to divine authority. The consequence of violating the elders' authority is punishment inflicted by younger obedient men, or by deity, leading to the misfortune or death of the disobedient and their dependents.

Livelihood. The almost totally dependant, on livestock farming, which has social and cultural importance. The Karamojong are complexly dependant on the cattle for both economic and social terms. Milk, blood, and meat provide sustenance; fat is both a food and a cosmetic; urine is used as a cleanser; hides make sleeping skins and clothes, shoulder capes, skirts, bell collars, sandals, armlets, and anklets; horns and hooves provide snuff holders, feather boxes, and food containers; bags are made from scrota; intestines are used for prophecy; chyme has a ceremonial function (anointing); and droppings are used for fertilizer.

Due to the semi arid conditions the semi patrol Karamojong are forced to camps in the eastern and western portions of Karamojong territory. However they are very mobile because of the need to respond to changes in grazing conditions and the availability of water. Men carry out most of the activities of the camp, which are primarily pastoral, and the food consumed-primarily milk and blood-is almost exclusively produced from the herd.

The wealth of the Karamojong is literary used to establish families, acquire political supporters, achieve status, and influence public affairs. Also the Karamojong the cattle are used, as bride-wealth, to a girl's kin is an essential step in arranging a marriage. A man is only the genitor, not the father, of children he engenders, unless he transfers cattle in a bride-wealth for their mother. Furthermore, the acquisition of an extended range of kinsmen through affinity is almost as significant as the acquisition of a bride and, potentially, a family. In other words, the more cattle a man provides in bride-wealth the more kinsmen he creates who receive a share of cattle, and the larger his range of affinal ties-a very important social asset.

Uganda Safaris

The Karamojong have a due to a traditional belief, that all the cattle belong to them by divine right ,therefore are always involved in various conflicts centered on cattle rustling from their neighbours, the Iteso, Dinka's in Sudan, Kenya due to frequent cattle raids. To the Karamojong, cattle are also an important element in the negotiations for a bride; young men use the raids as away of increasing their herds to gain status. During the 1979 war in which President Idi Amin Dada was over thrown the Karamojong broke into the Moroto barracks , acquired the AK47s by the Karamojong. The Karamojong also trade their animals for guns with their neighbours the Somali, Pokot from Kenya, and they turn those guns to the same people for raiding animals.

Uganda Culture Safari

The permanent settlements are in the central part of Karamojong territory and are the locii of cultivation and continuous habitation due to availability of reliable permanent water, and their mobility, limited store garden implements and grain activities related to these permanent settlements are carried out by women. With the exception of some milk products, the only food consumed in the permanent settlements is generally the product of women's agricultural efforts. Sorghum is the staple crop of the Karamojong and planted with cucumbers and marrows. Beans and gourds, and sometimes maize and millet, are also grown. However heir environment, the Karamojong cannot fully depend on cultivation alone; they therefore attach greater economic importance to raising livestock. Their form of pastoralism is to exploit the products of the stock rather than slaughter the stock. They consume milk, milk products, and blood rather than meat, which is eaten only at public ceremonies or when an animal dies.

Traditional Dress The Karamojong men dress with sheet-like cloths they adorn and the oblivion with which they leave their supposedly private parts exposed, accompany it with plastic bangles. The Karamojong worrier would have markings on his forehead and around the face, the head is colored head gear with feathers of an ostrich and a spear. The woman's attire entails just a skirt, colored beads around the neck and elastic or metallic bands tied around their ankles.

Safari to Uganda with Great Lakes


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