The Kotido Elders Council has resolved to boycott this year’s Karamoja Cultural Festival, which is ongoing in Abim district. The seventh edition of the Karamoja cultural festival commenced on Aug 30th and will run up to September 3rd, 2022 under the theme, “Security in Karamoja, the role of culture and traditional mechanisms in steering a peaceful Karamoja.”
John Bosco Akore, the secretary of Kotido Elder Council, says that they have decided to skip the event because those behind it don’t understand the culture of Karamoja. He also says that they were never invited to the celebrations, which means the event is for something else and not culture as purported. According to Akore, it would be better if all elders are invited to the event with clear objectives and not just for the sake of enjoyment.
“We shall not waste our time to participate because even if we go there our work will only be to listen but not perform any activity and yet we matter a lot in this kind of gathering,’’ he said. Akore explained that this would be the best time for elders from different clusters within Karamoja to come together and explore possible solutions to some of the issues affecting the region but not to enjoy when their people are dying of starvation due to hunger.
Paul Abul, one of the organizers and the secretary Karamoja Elders Association, says that the festival is aimed at fostering cohesion in the region that has been riddled with conflicts resulting from cattle rustling, hunger, and competition for the scarce resources in the region. Abul says the event involves the exhibition of traditional food, songs, dances, and memories of the devastating drought and hunger that have hit the region.
He noted that such events bring together all Karamojong elders to enjoy and reflect on their cultural practices, which does well for the development of Karamoja. According to Abul, this year’s event comes with a lot of issues affecting the region and needs urgent interventions from the elders to brainstorm on how best they can handle the crises of hunger and insecurity.
“It’s not about who should attend or not, everyone is welcomed, I don’t think you need to be invited to celebrate your own culture, the event is for those who cherish Karamojong culture,” he said. Abul also revealed that he picked five elders from each district to participate in the event then others shall join voluntarily.
This is an annual event conducted on a rotational basis across the nine districts of Karamoja. The event brings together leaders and government officials from different parts of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan under the Ateker cluster.