The Karamojong: native people of Karamoja

Kidepo National Park Travel Blog

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I visited Kidepo many years ago and I, honestly do not remember why I was there in the first place, what caught my attention, were the naked people that lived there. Kidepo National Park lies in the Northern most part of Uganda and the boarder of Sudan in the semi-arid valleys. Here nature is as wild as was always meant to be and the views are great. Some of my bird watching crazy British friends spent months in Kidepo in a bid to film and document the over four hundred species of birds in this National Park.

I want to tell you about the Karamojong people: they are some of the most distinctive people I, have come across. They remind me of the herdsmen of Namibia and the Masai in Kenya. They are an ethnic group of herdsmen who live a very pastoral life with make-shift homes. Their cattle are their livelihood and they have been known to get into cattle raid conflicts that have lasted months on end. I was very interested in the cultural and social aspect of their living: The men are normally grouped together according to their ages, it is a part and parcel of their 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 groups of people into age set. The use of leadership authority is set during cultural gatherings during which rituals are performed by the council of elders. Disputes are also settled at such gatherings by the council of elders. Decisions and sanctions of the elders are carried out because the younger men/ youth follow 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. I love Cultural education.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain. 

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Kidepo National Park
photo by: sarahelaine