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Youths and Elders during the dialogue at the ongoing Karamoja Cultural event in Napak

By Lakareber Gladys Kasline

For many years till date Karimojongs have been accused of Raiding Animals from among them and their neighboring districts of Acholi, Teso, Turkana, Lango and Sebei, affecting their relationship and freedom of association while in such areas for fear that they would turn and steal animals.

As Ateker cluster they have been trying to handle the issues of raiding of which energetic youths have been blamed for constant engagement that has painted a bad image of Karimojongs within the neighbouring districts.

During the 4th day of 2023 Napak Edition on Thursday the 7th September 2023, a cross-section of youths from the nine districts of Karamoja sub-region opened up and expressed what forced them into the bush for raiding before Government later convincing them to return guns.

Francis Lowal a youth from Nabilatuk expressed that some of them they jumped to the bush to raid just to do revenge over their lost cattle because the Government was not supporting them in giving fair Justice.

He however said they are ready to convince those who are still in the bush to come back home if the Government accepts to compensate their lost cattle and create irrigation schemes to promote Agricultural activities since the region is experiencing drought.

Youths enjoying the Moments at the cultural event

Lowal says Karamoja sub-region has many drop out children which they look at raiding as their way of life. He however proposed that a satellite system be established that will help to monitor and identify raiders easily.

Paul Kubal, another youth from Kaabong district, confirmed that there is no raiding in his district, but the problem of Elephant invasions is the main cause of food insecurity. He decried that they have been feeding Jie from Kotido district who after eating their food turn to raid cattle, something he said was forcing some youth to revenge.

Kubal appealed to Government to quickly disarm the Jie by all means so that the two communities can continue to live in harmony and also called upon Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to compensate their food which has been invaded by Elephants because their Elders, Widows and children are dying due to shortage of food.

He also requested Government to speed up in implementing programs like parish Development Model-PDM which has delayed and now most of them are losing interest, forcing some of them who are struggling with life to go back into raiding.

Kabal points out that there should be creation of cattle boarder market and free boarder movement with those in South Sudan of which they hope will promote their standard of living.

Another youth who has only been identified as Francis from Karenga district reasoned that the Turkana and South Sudanese are the ones supplying them with guns and as such Government of Uganda should strengthen close monitoring at the boarder points.

Women dancing during day four of the cultural event

Francis pleaded with the youths who have friends that are still in the bush raiding to help and convince them to come back home and promote other economic activities besides nomadic pastoralism, and that government should also extend health and Education services near communities in hard to reach areas.

Jackson Nakosa, an elder from Turkana apologized on behalf of the Turkana communities to the youths who gathered during dialogue meeting in Naarakorio cell and asked that they be forgiven over what has been happening among them.

Nakosa accepted that they have guns in Turkana but even Karimojongs in Uganda have guns, but he tasked Ateker cluster to choose between guns and people. He begged them to act gently while identifying criminals and create peace as they share social services like schools and Health facilities.

Nakosa advised men in Karamoja to stop drinking alcohol which make them cruel and cause domestic violence or lea them to think about raids. He tasked them to use this cultural celebration to share ideas and get solutions for mistakes made.

Locals being served with a traditional delicacy

He also requested that rotational district security meeting by Ateker cluster should be extended to other areas that maybe hard to reach yet are harboring suspected raiders if the desired peace, development and production is to be realized.

Col. David Byaruhamga, the 407 Brig Commander based in Kotido district, says raiders should comply to President’s directive that all raiders must return the guns, come back home and that the Jie people should stop staying in the bush.

Byaruhanga explained that these issues started 10 years ago, but people are not following Government’s message and that the issue of Turkana will be addressed, although he added that these days the Turkana are not crossing to the Ugandan side.

Ateker cluster in Uganda are based in Eastern and North Eastern region of Uganda and others are the Turkana from Kenya, Nyangatom from Ethiopia and Toposa from South Sudan. All these have the same ways of life, cultural norms, beliefs and practices.

In this 2023 Napak Edition, the event is aimed at formulating a Karamoja agenda, causing reconciliation between the Karimojongs and other Ateker people with whom they had offended and to celebrate their identity for a possible everlasting peace in the region.

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