The Karamajo cultural experience

The name Karamojo means “the old tired men who stayed behind. Karamoja region is located in the northern Uganda, on larger plateau between the mountains of south Sudan and the escarpment of Kenya in the Eastern rift valley. Karamoja and manyatta society is a home to unique people proudly still surviving as pastoralists, and were less affected by western civilisation.

The Karamojongs originated from Nilotic group, and their language has Nilo-Saharan Kalenjin roots which is the common family of languages for pastoralists in South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

They migrated to the Northern region of Uganda around 1600 from Ethiopia and settled near Mount Moroto. The climate is dry and windswept, but reveals beautiful panoramas, sunsets over the mountain peaks and amazingly starry nights.

The Karamojong villages (Manyattas) are located near Kidepo valley national park. And the Manyatta community is one destination with amazing cultural activities, meet the karamojongs, a proud and fierce group of semi nomadic pastoralists with the richest cultural heritage in Africa.

The Karamojong still believe that all the cattle existing in the area was given to them by their god AKUJ, and that the cattle of the neighbouring tribes also belong to them. This belief is probably the root cause of continuous tribal wars and cattle rustling, because the neighbouring tribes have the same belief about themselves.

During Idi Amin’s regime, there was an increase in violence in the region mostly due to the increase in supply of weaponries especially guns. The the national movement government has been gradually disarming the Karamojongs of their weapons in a bid to restore peace to the region and civil stability.

The Karamojong consider cattle royalty and it is the measure of a man. A man is valued according to how many cattle he has. These people live for their cattle. They will do everything as possible as they can to find good pasture and water for their cattle which is a difficult task considering the fact that the Karamoja region of Uganda is a very dry region.

Each individual plays a role in the manyatta society for instance, men go out to find pasture and water for the cattle, while the women stay back in the Manyatta to take care of the homestead and the children and both women and children attend to the gardens to supplement their diet.

In Karamoja, there is a communal system of living meaning; Things are done together and for the good of the entire community not a family or an individual. Men marry as many wives as they can, as long as they have the dowry to pay to their parents and gaurdians. In the society, dowry is extremely vital.

It is pretty more of unexploited and undiscovered African wilderness, there is improvements in the accessibility since it can be reached by road or domestic flight to kidepo valley national park.

Visiting the Manyatta society is a unique experience from the village setting, the homesteads, to the people and the language, all gives you a sense of communal work and togetherness.