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Karimojong Elders Hand over Cultural Powers to Matheniko :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Karimojong Elders Hand over Cultural Powers to Matheniko

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The transfer, expected 19 years ago, faced delays due to regional instabilities. The ritualistic transfer of power occurred at Akiriket, one of the largest shrines in Lotisan Sub County. It involved the sacrificial offering of a black bull, symbolizing the transition from darkness to light within the community.
Elders generating new firefrom the to peices of woods. The fire will be used for roasting the black bull and then after they distribute the fire to the Elders who will take to their kraals for households to pick

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The Karamoja Elders Council has officially transferred cultural powers from the Ngimoru clan, locally known as the Mountains, to the Gazelles clan, known as Ngigetei, in Moroto district. Among the Karimojong community, three major clans—Bokora from Napak district, Pian in Nakapiripirit and Nabilatuk, and Matheniko from Moroto district—prevail. 

Other clans like Dodoth of Kaabong, Jie from Kotido, Ethur from Abim, and Pokot of Amudat are categorized as Visitors. For the last 60 years, the Ngimoru sub-clan under the Bokora Clan held power and is now passing it on to the next generation within the Gazelles clan.  The transfer, expected 19 years ago, faced delays due to regional instabilities. The ritualistic transfer of power occurred at Akiriket, one of the largest shrines in Lotisan Sub County. 

It involved the sacrificial offering of a black bull, symbolizing the transition from darkness to light within the community. Ngigetei became the first sub-clan to inherit the cycle of cultural administration in the Matheniko clan, with the powers slated for transfer to another sub-clan after fifty years. Papaa Angasuban Peter Adei, the Karimojong cultural leader overseeing the ritual, observed that the Bokora and Pian clans had already completed their traditional initiation, leaving only the Matheniko. 

Adei explained that in a previous attempt in 2013, the Matheniko initiation went awry, leading to improper initiations. Thus, several rituals were conducted to rectify those erroneously initiated before the power transfer. The ceremony involved driving the black bull around Akiriket thrice before its sacrifice, accompanied by the singing of the zebra anthem, signifying the transfer of power. 

The newly kindled fire from this ceremony would be used for roasting the sacrificial bull, and afterward, elders would take the fire to their homes as a symbol of new leadership. Post the transfer, the Matheniko clan will appoint a cultural leader responsible for internal affairs, reporting to the highest priest at the Elders council. 

Adei highlighted that all cultural leaders from the primary Karimojong clans would oversee, mobilize, and manage cultural affairs before reporting to his office as the general overseer.    

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John Baptist Lokii, a representative from the Clan, expressed readiness to manage Matheniko's cultural affairs, affirming they now represent the first cycle of cultural administration within the Gazelles clan. He mentioned their cleansing and their capacity to actively engage in elder forums to address peace, security, and cultural issues among the Matheniko. The elders foresee Ngigetei's leadership bringing total peace, increased food production, and other positive developments. 

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Lokii stressed their commitment to fostering peace, coexistence, and development and reinforcing their cultural values through community meetings. Mark Illukol, a member of the Gazelle clan, emphasized their intention to collaborate with government institutions to develop the region's cultural institutions. 

He highlighted the need to focus on sustainable solutions for lasting peace and development. Illukol lamented that certain elites opposing the cultural institution were driven by personal interests, hindering development in the region. He advocated for strengthening the Karamoja cultural institution with a cultural head overseeing Karamoja's affairs.

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David Koryang, an elder and LC5 Moroto district member, underscored the unifying role of culture among Karimojong communities and its impact on fostering respect based on age. Koryang highlighted the cultural efforts addressing issues like forced marriages, early marriages, and cattle rustling, contributing to community-wide respect and peace-building. 

He revealed that those granted power were mandated to avoid conflicts within their family for a year, aiming to earn total respect within the Karimojong communities. 

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The elders appealed to President Yoweri Museveni to relocate the military detachment from their traditional shrine at the Kobebe grazing area in Lotisan Sub County. They accused the UPDF soldiers of encroaching on their sacred space, cutting down trees, and settling within the area. 

Remigio Achia, the chairperson of the Karamoja parliamentary group, mentioned the elders' request to evacuate the military from the contested area to allow the community to perform their traditional rituals without disruption.   

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