Acholi Foundation a solution for change
Excerpted from the website description:
- Acholi has suffered the most suppression of a people in African history. Acholifoundation is a start for solutions by the integration of acholi with technology to advance acholi unity economic and social values. See our Website at http://www.acholinet.com
About Acholi People being promoted by AcholiFoundation.org
The Acholi People Inhabit Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda. Their nationality has been fragmented by the international border of Uganda and Sudan. In South Sudan they number about 50,000 and inhabit what is now known as Magwe County, originally part of Torit District east bank Equatoria. The Acholi in Uganda number about 1.6 Million and live in the northern Part of Uganda.
Economy and Natural Resources
The Acholi land lies on the western slopes of Imatong Mountains and Acholi hills that rim the southern borders of South Sudan extending all the way into uganada comprising of the districts of gulu, Kitgum and Pader. Gulu Town in Uganda is the largest Town in Acholi Land with a population of about 60,000. The environment has influenced Acholi lifestyle and economy. They practice a form of mixed farming in which they keep cattle, goats, sheep and fowls in addition to subsistence agriculture;by growing sorghum, millet, simsim, beans, tobacco and sweet potatoes. In recent times, just before the war, commercial farming of Irish potatoes, tea and rice had been introduced. A timber saw mill powered by a small hydro-electrical power plant was operational until 1992 in Katire. There is potential in minerals like gold and chromite in Kit River area in southern Sudan.
Mythology and History
Different accounts attest that the Acholi group was formed from different people who inhabited the area as the result of Luo migration and therefore assert that the Acholi are a product of intermarriages between the Luo and the Madi; being Luo in language and custom and therefore closely related in history to the Alur of West Nile, the Jopadhola of eastern Uganda and the Joluo of Kenya, the Shilluk, Anyuak and other Luo groups in the Sudan. Others say that in Uganda the Luo groups, trace their origin to Rumbek in southern Sudan. It is believed that the major group of the Luo moved downwards uganda under the leadership of a chief named Olum(means wilderness of the bushes and Grass) and settled at Pubungu near Pakwach.
So Legend asserts that Luo was the first man. He had no human parents. He is said to have sprung from the ground. It was taken that his father was Jok (God) and that his mother was Earth. Legend adds that Luo's son Jipiti , whose mother is unknown, had a daughter called Kilak . Kilak was not known to have a husband. Then one time, she got lost in the bush from where she later emerged with a male child. It was believed the father of this child was the devil, Lubanga . The child was named Labongo and later had a brother called Gipir. Labongo was born with bells around his wrists and ankles and he had feathers in his hair. There were definitely magical elements in Labongo. It is said that he was fond of dancing all the t time and as he danced the bells jingled. The luo or acholi kin include the Alur of Nebbi district and Jopadhola of Tororo in Uganda and the Luo of Kenya.Moving in small clans, the Nilotics wandered around Uganda, trying to find pastures for their cattle and goats. Oral legend holds that a conflict arose between the leader, Gipir and his brother Labongo over a bead belonging to the other that eaten by a child of the other. Gipir moved west. His descendants include the Alur. Labongo's group moved east of the Nile by AD 1500. It is from this group that the present day Acholi in uganda and Langi emerged.
When Labongo grew up, he married and had a child in the normal way in spite of his peculiarities. Luo's home is said to have been at Bukoba, near Pakwach. He possessed an axe which he is said to have driven into the ground and out came the chiefs of many Luo groups. Labongo became the first in the line of the Rwots (chiefs) of Payera. The same Labongo whose full title was Isingoma(' Icing ngoma' means by the toils of the hands of my own lands) Labongo('means without' in his case it means without power as compared to his brother Gipir) Rukidi, is also remembered as being first in the line of the Babiito kings of Bunyoro-Kitara. He is said to have been the twin brother of Kato Kimera who is remembered in some quarters as the first in the line of the kings of Buganda. The first Namuyongo of north Bugerere is also said to have been a son of Labongo.
Whether true or false, this legend brings forward the complicated interrelationship between the various peoples of Uganda. It is quite interesting that the Banyoro and the Acholi, different as they seem, could claim common origin. Some groups in Acholi such as the Pajule trace their origin directly to the Bagungu of Bunyoro. It is said that after settling in Pawir, while some Luo (Biito) moved southwards, others also moved northwards and settled in Pajule.
He had no human parents. He is said to have sprung from the ground. It is taken that his father was Jok (God) and that his mother was Earth. The legend adds that Luo's son Jipiti, whose mother is unknown, had a daughter called Kilak. Kilak is believed to have conceived a son, Lubongo, whose father was said to be the devil, Lubanga. Lubongo was the first in the line of Rwot – the chiefs of Payera, the dominant Acholi clan.
The Acholi speak leb Acholi [literally Acholi tongue] which is close to Alur, Anyuak especially in syntax and structure. Like other Nilotic languages, the Acholi count only up to five which correspond to the five fingers of the hand. They then add one to five [abic] until ten [apar] literally meaning have become equal.
Society: Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions
The Acholi society is a sedentary, agrarian community organised in chiefdoms, which vary greatly in size but consist of a cluster of villages including the surrounding territory used for agriculture and hunting over which the Rwot exercise his authority.
This territory comprises of the aristocrats who are the agnatic kins of the Rwot commoners who are not related to the Rwot. The villages formed a protected ring around the royal village ‘gang kal'.
The structural configuration of the Acholi into aristocrats and commoners definitely is as a result of the unequal distribution of wealth and the social relations in the Acholi society.
The members of the royal lineage kaka pa rwot are known as the ‘people of the court' or ‘jokal' (sing) lokal or jobito (sing) lobito or the ‘people of power'- joker, while the commoners' lineage is called luak meaning bulk or mass. An ordinary person is known as dano.
The Acholi observe an elaborate system of social norms, customs and traditions:
Among the Acholi, marriage is a lengthy process. It begins by courting until the young man wins the girl's consent. He goes to her father and pays a small instalment of dowry [otono keñ] after which the pair is considered betrothed.
This may last for a long time depending on the final completion of dowry payment after which the bride's status changes from girl [nyako] and becomes a house wife [dako ot]. Acholi dowry is traditionally settled in sheep, goats, spears, hoes. In recent times, money is now accepted.
A curious custom attends to the birth of a child. For three days after the birth of a girl (four in the case of a boy) the mother has to abstain from certain acts, varying from village to village, including eating certain foods and the baby is not allowed out of the house.
At the end of this period the mother calls her women friends together for meat and formally commits the previously forbidden act. The baby has various charms hung around the neck for protection against diseases and ‘evil eyes'.
The Acholi can take as many as five names. The first one ‘nying kwan' the name taken from some event at his birth e.g. Ulum -born in the grass; Okec - born at a time of famine.
Some of these names may be split into two or three, e. g, a man named Okec may also be called Langara (locust), because the famine at his birth was caused by locusts; flirtation name [nying moc ] a curious name taken from some curious event and acclaimed by others e.g. olwiyo, she whistles - a man's wife calls him to food by whistling for him; yo dok olan -a man courts his girl by telling her she sways her buttocks like a bell; okwuto cet pa mare.
He broke wind at his mother-in-law's. There are war [spear] names [nying tong]. There are also drum names [nying bul] shared by the youth among themselves.
The Acholi women enjoy great freedom to divorce once not satisfied with their husbands but on condition that the new husband pays the dowry that her earlier husband had paid. Fornication and adultery are punished in the Acholi tradition. It costs 5 sheep for fornication and 15 for adultery.
The Acholi entertain extended family [blood] relationships and this may affect distribution of wealth. However, the closest relations after the father and mother are his brothers by the same mother and next his maternal uncle.
A man has to give one tusk of his first elephant to his mother's brother and one to the chief. Inheritance is always in the male line and runs roughly as follows: sons, brothers, half-brothers and then uncles. On a man's death his son or failing which, his brother sson takes over all his wives.
On a person's death all the friends and relatives gather together f forthe death dance. Sheep are killed and sorghum beer is brewed and the man is mourned from 2 - 5 days according to his age and importance.
He is buried by the entrance of his hut, and trees are sometimes planted on the grave and a sheep sacrificed. Chiefs are buried in special chief's burying grounds wrapped in clothes and placed on a bed.
The grave is kept open and watched by a young man and girl until decomposition sets in when it is thought safe to throw sand on the body and fill up the grave. The grave is then planted with trees and a fence built round it.
It is thought to be a great misfortune for a man to die a natural death and not be buried in his house. A man who is killed in the bush during hunting or fighting, however, is thought to be lucky, even though he is not buried at all and his body is eaten by vultures.
A special ceremony is then performed under the direction of the ajwaka to call the spirit back to the village.
Social and Political Organisation, Traditional Authority, etc.
The Acholi had a centralised system of government organised in chiefdoms under a hereditary ruler known as Rwot. Like the Räth of the Shilluk, the Acholi Rwot exercised judicial, executive and legislative powers.
He also enjoyed spiritual prowess linking the two spheres of living and the dead. He offered sacrifices to the ancestors on behalf of his people. The Rwot's wife [dakh ker] exercised authority over the junior co-wives and adjudicated their petty quarrels.
A chief establishes his reputation and maintains his following by the hospitality he is able to provide. He is expected to provide for the marriage of his indigent subjects lacan by giving them a girl or cattle for bride-wealth. This form of distribution is considered both a duty and a privilege.
The regalia [jam ker] of the chiefly power i.e. traditional right to the chieftainship consisted of a sacred drum [bul ker], a leopard skin garment [la ker] and a sacred spear [tong ker], on which he administers oaths.
The position of the war-leader [oteka, ‘oteka lawil mony' or ‘ladit me tong'] was clearly distinct from that of the chief or Rwot. He was appointed by or with the approval of the warriors of the chiefdom.
However, he had no authority of his own to engage in war without the approval of the Rwot or his counsellors. Spirituality, Belief and Customs
The Acholi believe in the supreme being God [Jok] to whom they build a shrine [Abila] where all sacrifices are performed. The spirits of the departed are worshipped and offered meat, pudding, beer and simsim in order to protect the living from diseases or to assist in successful hunting.
Culture: Arts, Music, Literature, Handicraft, and Dances
The Acholi culture is expressed in songs, music and dance. The Acholi compose tuneful songs to incidences of interest and colourful communal dance [myel]. As a result they have evolved different instruments and artefacts for music and dance.
The Acholi usually sing about everyday incidents but some of their songs refer to well known incidents in the past. Songs are tuneful and dancing s communal. Solo dancing is rare. The Acholi have eight different types namely: lalobaloba, otiti, bwola, myel awal (wilyel) apiti ladongo, myel wanga and atira. In the lalobaloba dance, no drums are used. The people dance in a circle. The men form the outer ring. A man may move an hand above his head. There are no special occasions for this dance. All dancers carry sticks.
In the otiti dance, all male dancers carry spears and shields. The dancers encircle drums which are usually attached to a post m the middle of the arena. This dance involves more shouting than singing; in the end, spears and shields are put down and the dance converted into lalobaloba.
The bwola dance is the most important. It is the chief's dance and is only performed on his orders. The men form a large circle a of them carries a drum. The movement of the feet matches rhythmically with the beating of drums. The girls dance separately inside the circle without beating the drums. The dance has a definite leader and he moves by himself within the circle. He sets the time and leads the singing. He is considered important person and traditionally he was to wear a leopard skin.
The myel awal dance was a funeral dance. The women wail around the grave while the men, armed with spears and shields dance lalobaloba. Apiti was a dance for the girls. Men were not supposed to participate. The girls danced iqn a line and sang. It was usually held in the middle of the year when the rains were good.
Ladongo was danced following a successful hunt when the hunters were still away from their homes. In this dance, men and women faced each other in two lines and jumped up and down clapping their hands. In the myel wanga dance, all men sat down and played their nanga (harps) while in front of them, the women danced apiti. This dance was usually held after marriages or at beer parties. Then there was the atira dance. It is now completely outdated. It was held on the eve of a battle. All the dancers were armed and they went through the motion of spear fighting and thrusting.
Neighbours and Relationships
The Acholi neighbour the Madi to the west and southwest, the Lokoya and the Lotuka to the east and northeast, the Lulubo and Bari to the north. The Acholi have cordial relationships with the Madi but not with the Lotuka or Lokoya.
The Acholi land was affected by the first [1955-1972] and the present [1983-2003 ] wars. Many of them took refuge in Uganda, where they settled among their kins. The southwards displacement during this war was accelerated by the influx of displaced people from Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal to kitgum and gulu in Uganda and the differential or rather selective favourable treatment at the hands of the international humanitarian agencies. Diaspora The Acholi have moved en masse and now live in northern Uganda; A small Acholi Diaspora exist in the Americas, Europe and Australia.
To use the internet, so as to establish a centralized one stop web portal for inter communication amongst Ugandans, Acholi and Friends of Acholi. The aim is to provide a starting point in which acholi and friends can productively interact using internet technology so as to assist in achieving some positive objectives in economic and or social recovery for acholiland.
- - We believe that the acholi people must organize to help themselves and depend less on international help. A do it your selves approach.
- - Economic goals rather than political, are a quicker salvation to our dire situation. Acholi's need to over haul what was, and embrace what should be, to initiate an environment for strength and Unity to allow faster recovery from our down trodden state.
- - The Acholi need to use the widely available modes of media technology such as the internet in the creation of publicity of the situation back in acholiland and help rewrite false propaganda and perceptions that have developed over time about who the acholi really are.
- - There are numerous acholi in diaspora who are relatively well off, and if only they could band together and contribute their skills and money in the re-development and reconstruction of acholi, then we will truly have a foundation from which to work on.
What We Hope To Achieve
- - A better method of communication and public relations so as to help raise international awareness of the plight of the Acholi.
- - A mechanism to raise funds to start or support strategic programs to assist the Acholi at Home.
- - A means to harness human resources for the skilled Acholis so as allow them to also contribute their time, skills and money. (Adopt the UNDP TOKTEN method)
- - Our Goal is for Acholinet.com to be an online human resources directory and a one stop web portal for Acholi and friends of Acholi.
- - Some form of Unity amongst the acholi for a common cause, even if it is to hang out online.
What Can You Do at AcholiFoundation.org?
At AcholiFoundation.org. you can:
- - Read the latest news feeds On Uganda and Acholi as well as international News All on one page
- - Write your own Personal Journal and own your blog space on Acholinet.Com Blogs Journal
- - Participate in a Live Forum on various topics of your choice on the Forum Board
- - View a contact and directory listing of Acholi People and there freinds in diaspora on the Directory Listing
- - Find yourself a date or a life long Partner on the Dating Portal
- - View or post the latests announcements on deaths, Birthdays, Weddings, events etc on the Notice Board
- - Buy and sell any kind of acceptable articles in the Classifieds Section or simply sel your products in the Market Place.
- - Participate or write your own survey or opinion poll on issues of your choice on the Polls Board
- - Apply for, or view job vacancy or be considered for United Nations Tokten Job Vacancies in Our Jobs Board
- - View others pictures and post your own favourite pictures in the Picture Galleries Board
- - Write and post any of your articles for others to read and comment.in the Submissions Board
Come and spend some time browsing on topics of Culture, History, Politics and much, much more...
Contributed by Solomon Akena
- (also Acoli, Akoli, Acooli, Atscholi, Shuli, Gang, Lwoo, Lwo, Log Acoli, Dok Acoli) is a language primarily spoken by the Acholi people in the districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader, a region known as Acholiland in northern Uganda. Acholi is also spoken in the southern part of the Opari District of Sudan.
Solomon, I think that your ideas here are wonderful. Your vision for the Acholi people to have a place to organize and help achieve a level of self awarness is also what I hope for AboutUs. Let me know if you have any questions or would like a tour around the place. Best, MarkDilley