Karamoja-Turkana Trace Their Routes into Uganda

9275 Views Kotido, Uganda


Turkana pastoralists, occupying North Western Kenya are the largest of the seven ethnic groups that make up the ‘Ateker', alias Karamoja cluster.

These include, the Karimojong, Jie, Teso, Dodoth and Donyiro in Uganda, and the Toposa of South Sudan. Several sub clans of the Turkana agree that their origins lay to the west of their current homeland thus Uganda.

Olden times indicate that for centuries, the common ancestors of the Turkana, the Jie and all the other ‘Karimojong tribes, lived in a place called Apule, which was said to be in southern Sudan or Ethiopia. However, some 800 years ago, they began migrating southwards to their present homeland in the far northeast of Uganda.

Later, a group of young men from the Jie a clan in Karamoja currently occupying Kotido district were sent eastwards into the Looya Valley-northwest of Lodwar town in Kenya in search of an unruly bull, whose hoof-prints were tracking. They wandered far from their people, and finally met a lonely old Jie woman called Nayece who was gathering fruit. She led the young warriors into a lush, green valley, unoccupied by people but rich with wild berries that still form an important part of the pastoralists' diet.

Nayece also gave the men fire, and taught them how to cook, now impressed with the area, the men lured other young people into joining them, and together they moved in with their livestock. This women divided the men into territorial clans (the basis of Turkana and Jie clans today), hence becoming the mother of the Turkana.

Historically, this invention has never been doubted, most historians, accept that the Turkana broke with the Jie around the middle of the eighteenth-century, probably during extreme drought and migrated eastwards over the Dodoth Escarpment the present Kaabong district - in northeastern Uganda then moved southwards into Kotido district. Ends


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About the author

Olandason Wanyama
Olandason Wanyama is the Karamoja region bureau chief. Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Abim, Kotido and Kaabong districts fall under his docket. Wanyama has been a URN staff member since 2012.

The former teacher boasts of 20 years journalism experience. Wanyama started out as a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor newspaper in 1991 in Entebbe. Wanyama also wrote for the army publication Tarehe Sita, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) magazine and The New Vision. While not on the beat, Wanyama taught child soldiers at Uganda Airforce School-Katabi.

Wanyama is very interested in conflict reporting, climate change, education, health and business reporting. He is also an avid photographic chronicler of vanishing tribal life in the East African region.