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Kumam Community Prepares for Election of Cultural Leader :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Kumam Community Prepares for Election of Cultural Leader

According to Charles Ebayu Ocen, the chairperson of Kumam Cultural Heritage, the Kumam elders started seeking recognition in 1989 under the leadership of Mzee Joseph Ekemu, the former Kaberamaido County Member of Parliament who also served as Attorney General between 1997/1998 before his arrest over the allegations of corruption.
Kumam Cultural Heriate Logo.
Preparations for the elections of Won Atekerin, the cultural leader of the Kumam community in Kaberamaido district are in high gear.

The preparations are steered by the Kumam Cultural Heritage, the brain behind the establishment of Won Atekerin-Papa Kumam, an entity that came to the limelight in 2017 when some of the leaders from Kaberamaido expressed concerns over their waning identity.

The Kumam community has in most cases been categorized as part of  Teso, under the Iteso Cultural Union. But some of the leaders in Kaberamaido and Kalaki districts, predominantly occupied by the Kumam say that their language is fading away and  they now want a cultural leader to help promote their values and cultural identity.

According to Charles Ebayu Ocen, the chairperson of Kumam Cultural Heritage, the Kumam elders started seeking recognition in 1989 under the leadership of Mzee Joseph Ekemu, the former Kaberamaido County Member of Parliament who also served as Attorney General between 1997 and 1998 before his arrest over the allegations of corruption.

Kumam Elders were actively involved in the establishment of the Iteso Cultural Union- ICU and the installation of Emorimor, the Teso Cultural leader in 2000. But Ocen says they started hatching the idea of splitting from Teso following difficulty in communication during meetings.

“Meetings that would take two to three hours would go for a whole day because of a communication gap. Not all Iteso understand or speak Kumam and the same thing with the Kumam community. It became more difficult to hold meetings with interpreters. We then asked the Uteso Cultural Union to allow us to form our own institution”, he said.

He says that after some discussion, they formed Kumam Elders Forum under the leadership of Mzee Charles Emunyu Oyugi with 16 Members. The Forum lobbied for the creation of Kaberamaido District from Soroti district in 2001.

“Mzee Emunyu served for six years where we were able to develop some literature in Kumam with the help of Land and Equity Movement in Uganda in 2011. Due to health challenges, Mzee Emunyu requested to retire from active participation and that is how I took over leadership,” Ocen continues.

Under the leadership of Ocen, Kumam Elders’ Forum was changed into Kumam Cultural Heritage and Ocen says they have been mobilizing Kumam communities within and outside the country for the election of the cultural leader, Won Atekerin- Papa Kumam who will now be elected on Saturday, June 5.

According to the constitution of the Kumam, all the 60 clans registered as Kumam will send three representatives each to elect the cultural leader. Other participants eligible to vote  include county leaders (Won Ebuku), Youth leaders (Atel ipongai), Women leaders (Atel mon me Ebuku) and the disability council among others.

The Kumam constitution gives a period of three months after the election, for the installation of Won Atekerin- Papa Kumam.

However, the Kumam constitution limits Won Atekerin- Papa Kumam leadership to persons aged 60 years and above. Besides Kaberamaido and Kalaki districts which are predominantly occupied by the Kumam, Soroti, Serere and Dokolo districts have pockets of Kumam that will be participating in the election of Won Atekerin- Papa Kumam.

Hellen Enenu, the treasurer of Kumam Development Forum wants participants in the election of Kumam cultural leader to consider women in the leadership. She notes that the recognition of women in cultural leadership will go a long way in resolving domestic issues in the community.