Karamoja Gets its First Cultural Leader

Papaa Angasuban Peter Adei, the Interim Karamoja Cultural leader. PHOTO/COURTESY

Moroto, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | For the first time in the history of the Karamoja sub-region, elders have designated a cultural leader. Prior to this appointment, the Elder’s Council held supreme authority over cultural matters in the area.

The newly appointed Karamoja Cultural Leader, named Papaa Angasuban, was chosen by representatives of the Elder’s Council, who were selected from various districts within the region. Each district sent two delegates to the meeting where 81-year-old Peter Adei, hailing from Abim district, was named as the interim cultural leader. Additionally, they decided to adopt the cow as the symbol of the cultural institution to symbolize unity.

Adei, as the interim Karamoja Cultural Leader, has pledged to unite the diverse Karamojong clusters and advocate for strategies that will foster the development of the region and its people. He emphasized that disunity among the Karimojong communities across the nine districts has hindered progress in Karamoja.

Adei pointed out that persistent issues such as insecurity resulted from the government sidelining the Elders during disarmament efforts, despite their crucial role in decision-making in the region. They are also committed to streamlining Karamoja’s culture as numerous cultural associations have emerged without a clear vision, often serving self-interest rather than the greater good.

Mark Ilukol, the Advisor to the Elder’s Council, mentioned that Karimojong communities across the nine districts have been organized into clusters, with each having representatives in the central council regulated by Ugandan laws. Additionally, each district will establish an Elder’s cultural council comprised of elders from traditional shrines, locally known as “Akiriket.” These district-based councils will report to the Karamoja Central Council.

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Matayo Lochoro Lochan, the chairperson of Kotido Elder’s Council, expressed the desire for the council to include representation for women and youth, highlighting the importance of involving all community members in advancing the institution. He also mentioned that the council aims to improve the image of elders, who have at times been criticized for blessing raiders. Lochoro added that the elders are now actively promoting unity and combating criminality to ensure peace in the region.

Maj Gen Don Nabasa, the UPDF 3rd division commander, welcomed the elder’s initiative, acknowledging its potential to contribute to peace in the region. He noted that security challenges in the area were exacerbated by the motivation provided by elders who blessed raiding activities. Nabasa expressed support for the cultural institution, emphasizing its role in bridging the gap between security forces and cultural leaders. He also pledged to organize an educational trip for the elders to learn from the military and cultivate a development-focused mindset.

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