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Pomp as Acholi Cultural Festival Gets Underway in Gulu

Pompous display is filling the air at Kaunda parade grounds in Gulu Town as Acholi cultural dancers display the ethnic groups heritage in the inaugural annual cultural festival. The dancers are donning various costumes made from animal skins and hides, head crowns made from imported Ostrich feathers with traditional jingles strapped around their feet. They perform in rhythm round and round each other as they happily sing joyous entertainment songs.
Dancers Display Acholi War Dance (Otole) During The Procession in Gulu Town

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Pompous display is filling the air at Kaunda parade grounds in Gulu Town as Acholi cultural dancers display the ethnic group's heritage in the inaugural annual cultural festival.

 

The festival attracted people from all walks of life including school children, and young men and women from across the eight districts making up the northern Uganda sub region. Members of different ethnic groups in neighbouring Karamoja have also joined the event.

 

The dancers are donning various costumes made from animal skins and hides, head crowns made from imported Ostrich feathers with traditional jingles strapped around their feet. They perform in rhythm round and round each other as they happily sing joyous entertainment songs.

 

Women with carefully folded dresses locally known as Marina and holding dancing sticks known as Oleyo have their bodies well decorated with beads and bangles. They dance in style shaking their heads as they stamp their feet on the ground.

 

Julius Labeja, the Festival's event coordinator says 3,000 cultural dancers are expected to perform in the three-day ceremony celebrating the beauty of the Acholi people.

 

Otole cultural dancers armed with spears and body shield put on a show of aggression each time they encounter on-coming vehicles during a procession from the palace of his highness David Onen Achana II, in Bar Dege Division where they were flagged off to march through the streets of Gulu town to demonstrate Otole war dance.

 

Their body armors were made from toughened animal skins and hides derived from old cattle. Bishop McLeod Baker Ochola, the retired bishop of Kitgum Diocese, says the ceremony marks the full-scale restoration of the lost Acholi culture.

 

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The festival is being graced by several chiefs making up the council of chiefs in the Acholi cultural institution. His Highness David Onen Achana II, the Paramount chief is the guest of honour.

 

Washington Opio Obita, a teacher says he is grateful to be alive to witness history being made.

 

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Geoffrey Odong Ojibu, the Chief Executive Officer of Forum for Human Rights—FORAMU—says the festival is a unique platform for teaching the young the various cultural values and practices including courtship, morals, marriage and other family responsibilities.   

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