The Karamojong tribe in north east Uganda has a reputation for being violent, uncivilised and stubborn. They are cattle rustlers and have in the past stolen animals from people in Katine. For people in the Teso region, and for most Ugandans, the Karamojong are seen as a backward, violent people.
In official and popular representations of the region, the Karamojong are presented as uncivilised, stubborn and trigger-happy, a sort of vestigial reminder of a past most Ugandans have left behind. At best the region is seen as some sort of Wild West, where guns make the law and where “decent people” are only be found in the towns.
The Karamojong are a tribe of fierce warrior pastoralists found in the north eastern corner of Uganda bordering southern Sudan and Kenya. A region that is relatively unvisited.
These are the first things coming up when you try to search some information about this fascinating people.
After visiting Kidepo Valley national Park we decided to drive through the Karamojaland from the North to the South. Having an opportunity to do that and drive through their land remains deep in my memories. If you behave respectfully, you can meet people of Karamoja with no problem. Whenever we decided to visit any of villages we passed and asked the permission from authorities of the village, they were very welcoming. When we needed a help or direction, they were helpful.
There are Karamojong villages (Manyattas) located near Kidepo valley national park. Manyatta is one destination you should add to your itinerary. (Choose from our offer HERE).
In this village you will meet the Karamojongs, a proud group of semi nomadic pastoralists with a rich cultural heritage.
This region, including the Kidepo valley national park, are rarely visited. The average visitor to Uganda does not know about the existence of the Karamojong people.
The Karamojong have lived in the North Eastern region of Uganda for hundreds and hundreds of years. During colonial times the British colonial governments failed to control this tribe of people and their area was simply set off limits.
Unlike the rest of Uganda where most of the people have adopted a foreign religion either Christianity or Islam, the Karamojong still follow their traditional religion and believe in a god –Akuj.
The Karamojong believed and many still believe that all the cattle in their known world was given to them by their god AKUJ. This includes the cattle of the neighbouring tribes. This belief is probably the source of years and years of tribal wars, because the neighbouring tribes believe the same about themselves.
The Karamojong consider cattle royalty and it is the measure of a man. A man is valued according to how many cattle he has. Since childhood, these men live for their cattle and they would do anything to protect them and find them water. To consider Karamoja is very dry region, it is a difficult task.
Gender roles are simply defined in Karamoja. While men go out to find pasture and water for the cattle, women stay in the Manyatta and take care of the home and the children including the garden. To get an invitation to their home is a real privilege.
Life in Karamoja is communal, so all women participate during the day. All things are done together and for the good of the entire community. Communities follow the guidance of the elders and things are done according to democratic lines.
Men can take as many wives as they want as long as they have the dowry to pay. Dowry is still taken very seriously in this society.
Even if the weather and nature is harsh in Karamoja, people live in complete harmony with it. They do not dress up much, they are usually half naked and decorated in tribal markings.
Visiting Karamoja village is a unique experience and all gives you a sense of community and togetherness. Scarcely dressed children will greet you in a very welcoming manner and the rest of the community will simply observe you going around the village.
Visit would not be complete without cultural dance and singing. If so, join in and jump as high as you can!
Do you want to meet people from Karamoja? Check our offer HERE. It will be unforgettable experience!