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The Karamajong of Kidepo valley national park

The Karamajong of Kidepo valley national park

Taking your safari to Kidepo valley national park could be the best way to spend time and learn about the Karamajong people. A visit to the community of the Karamajong gives you an opportunity to learn about their history, their way of living, and much more. The Karamajong are a Nilotic ethnic group of people living in the northeastern part of Uganda including the areas around Kidepo valley national park.

The Karamajong of Kidepo valley national park live on the park boundaries next to the famous Turkana people of Kenya. The Karamajong were displaced from their homes to create the present day Kidepo valley national park. Kidepo valley national park was gazetted in 1962 to protect the wildlife and vegetation that was in the area at the time.

The Karamajongs are one of the best cultures to visit in Uganda because they have stuck to their ancient ways. Their culture is differentiated by the way of dressing, arts and crafts, traditional dancers, marks on their bodies, food, and marriage among others.

These dark people are a group of Nilotic speaking cattle keepers living in the southern part of Karamoja. The nilotics migrated from Ethiopia, moved to Kenya and here they split to form two groups. One group stayed in Kenya forming Masai and Kalenjin and the other group moved to Uganda. The group that moved to Uganda was called Ateker and this further split to form other groups among which include the Karamajong, Iteso, Jie, Turkana, Dodoth, Jiye, Toposa, and Kumam among others.

Of all the above tribes, the Karamajong is the most famous in northeastern Uganda because they kept their true African culture. This is why they are among the most visited in northern Uganda and those that live close to Kidepo valley national park received the highest number of visitors. This is because so many tourists visit Kidepo valley park and among these include those that love to explore the African culture.

The word Karamajong means the old ones who stay behind and it was brought up at a time when different tribes continued to migrate to different locations looking for water and food yet for them, they stayed around. Long time ago, the Karamajong used to be hostile, they could fight whoever could come into their land thinking they are thieves.

The Karamajong are cattle keepers who move from one place to another looking for fresh vegetation and water for their cattle. It’s the men who graze cattle and the women stay home looking after children and growing crops for food. In the communities of the Karamajong, a man who has the highest number of cattle is the riches and can marry as many wives as he can if he is able to pay the bride price.

The Karamajong men can leave home with their cattle and come back after several months. They move to neighboring districts looking for grass and water for their culture, especially in the dry season. The cows are mainly kept for milk and blood as well as bride price. It’s said that there are some Karamajong who migrate and make new homes where there is plenty of grass and water.

The Karamajong are good at stealing other people’s cattle and in doing so they cause some small wars in the area. They can even move to neighboring countries such as Kenya, and South Sudan to steal cattle from the weak people. This has resulted into so many people losing their lives and properties have been destroyed.  Some Karamajong had gotten firearms during Idi Amin’s regime but the new government is trying hard to make sure that all the guns are removed from people.

Visiting the Karamajong

A visit to the Karamajong can be morning or evening hours based on the traveler’s itinerary. In their community, you will meet so many small houses called the manyattas made of local materials such as mud, dung, and grass. They fence their homes with plants that have thrones so that thieves or intruders from the outside don’t enter their area.

When you arrive at the homes of the Karamajong you are welcomed by traditional dancers who dance and sing traditional songs. A local guide steals with the elders of the community and translates all they have to say. These locals are good at telling stories of long ago among which include where they come from, the foods they eat, cattle, and their culture.

At the homes of Karamajong, you will realize that these people have failed to copy the way of living of most tribes in Uganda. Their dressing alone is different because the young males wrap a sheet around their waist, and pair it with a vest while the old men tie the sheet across their and over their shoulders. Then women wear skirts from animal hides which are first sundried for some weeks. The skirts are paired with vets to cover their front bodies, especially breasts, and do wear beads around their arms, head, and neck to look attractive.

At the end of your cultural tour, the traditional dancers will perform different local songs and even dance for you. For travelers who stay for a night, the women will sing around the fires and your tour will be a memorable one. A visit to the Karamajong is one of the things you shouldn’t miss out on while on a safari in Kidepo valley national park

In conclusion, visiting the Karamajong people is such an amazing experience for travelers who love African culture. A visit to Karamajong manyatta is educational and interesting. A visit to the Karamajong people in most cases is combined with a safari in Kidepo valley national park. After or before visiting the locals, tourists can engage in activities such as game drives, bird watching, hiking and nature walks to mention but a few.

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