Kabake Playing a Part in Strengthening Acholi Culture
Residents of Olwo ‘B’ village in Alero Sub County, Nwoya District who were forced to leave their homes and live in squalid conditions in camps for Internally Displaced Persons’ due to violence perpetuated by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have tasked Kabake radio program to do more in reviving the Acholi culture.
They argue that the over two decades of armed conflict has greatly eroded the culture and there is need that radio help to rebuild it.
Nicholas Ojok, aged 33 who lived at Langol IDP camp for the displaced persons said Kabake has not replaced Wangoo, and should take the mantle to lead the way in ensuring that Acholi culture is restored.
“Children who were born in the IDP camps do not know the importance of our culture. They don’t value our culture at all. Our culture is rich and they need to know that it’s our identity,” Ojok adds.
Another former displaced person, Josephine Agenorwot, aged 42 says the youth do not know the importance of culture in their life.
“Young people are going astray because they do not get to know culture deals with certain issues. For example, how Acholi manage land conflict,” notes Agenorwot.
She said Acholi beliefs and norms are under threat with the coming of western culture and religion.
“We are facing a lot of challenges at the return sites. I think Kabake, Conrad (Andenuer Foundation) need to do more in reviving since we have returned to our villages.
Agenorwot noted that with radio being the most listened too and widely available even to poor families, radio programs should be focused towards rebuilding the culture.
The communities also noted that there need for a deliberate efforts to ensure that the intangible cultural heritage among the Acholi tribes is protected.
Kabake is a Luo (Acholi) word which translates into a search for an answer to a problem or an attempt to find a solution to an issue affecting the communities generally in northern Uganda who are covering from the effect of over two decades brutal war.
It is a program sponsored byKonrad Adeneur Foundation Uganda where communities affected by LRA war discussed post-conflict issues as they recover from the effect of the over 22 years of brutal war that which over 1.5 million people displaced in Acholi and Lango sub regions and dozens of children abducted and recruited as either child soldiers, sex slaves or porters.
The debate is recorded and aired on 102 Mega FM, one of the leading radio stations in Gulu district (northern Uganda).
James Onen Kabiri, aged 68, an elder in the area said Acholi culture such as rituals for the twins are slowly dying and radio have to do more to preserve it.
Kabiri blamed it on western religious beliefs which he said has made some cultural practices look evil in the eyes of the young generation.
Rwot David Onen Acana II, the Acholi paramount Chief said apart from the war, eroding Acholi cultural practices and heritage is due to the strong influence of the western culture.
Rwot Acana explained that the advent of technology is spreading western culture fast, and this is putting pressure on African cultures.
Speaking recently at his place at Wii-Got in Bar-Dege Division in Gulu Municipality, Acana says since independence, the advance in technology has made the world a global village virtually without any secret to hide, and in the process, it has influence the way Africans live.
He cited mobile money transfer saying within minutes, some who live in the remote part of the world can receive money from the a family abroad.
He noted that the young generations have been most affected considering the facts that most Africans past their tradition from generations to generations orally.
The paramount says unless Africans start to write their history and make it available, the African tradition will continue to die.
Acana says some such as; riddles, proverbs, dressing, dance, wangoo (fire place) and other intangible culture heritage are on the verge of dying.
In a bid to preserve the dying Acholi cultural practices and norms, Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi cultural institution plans to go digital.
Prime Minister of the institution, Ambrose Olaa revealed that plans are underway to develop a website that will serve as an archive.
“If the dream is realized, Ker Kwaro Acholi plans to upload materials such as Acholi traditional dishes, marriage ceremony, cultural heritage, folklores and other cultural values, says Olaa.
Olaa says although they are eager to ensure that they take advantage of the digital age, they are faced with the challenge of fund.
In 2014, UN agency, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) documented at least 20 ceremonies and rituals practiced by the Acholi tribe as part of their cultural beliefs have been documented.
In the process, arti-facts such as pots, shield, bangles and other art works were also collected with support from UNESCO which in an attempt to revive the dying intangible culture heritage among four tribes in Uganda.
Others are; mato oput among the Acholi (the Acholi traditional justice system), dances, customary marriage, dressing and rituals among others.
There are growing fears among Acholi elders that the local Lwo (Luo) language spoken by majorly the Acholi tribe is under threat because of neglect and outside influences.
With Uganda being one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world with 60 spoken languages, Luo or Acholi is the fourth widely spoken language.
UNESCO has warned that half the world’s 6,000 languages could disappear by the end of the century unless steps are taken to preserve and encourage their use.
Alfred Ongaya -Acellam, an Acholi says culture is identity as well as a centre of human existence and there is need to safeguard it.
Ongaya-Acellam says the documentation will help to preserve it for the future generation.
Cecilia Ajom, the Principal Cultural Officer at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the government has noted with concern that some of the cultural practices are under threat.
Ajom says the documentation will go a long way in preserving and protecting some of the dying practices so as to protect the identity of the affected tribes.
She urged parents to keep teaching their children the good cultural values so that they can treasure the spirit of peaceful coexistence with other cultures.