Folklores, Heroes & Creatures
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The ones with one god - Dodoth Peoples
THE FOLLOWING IS A PROMPT FOR THE NEXT ISSUE OF KIRO MAGAZINE . Submit your story of about 1000 words in one of these five genres; Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Dystopia, Alternative History and Magical Realism to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is 31st May 2023.
From conversations with a Dodoth Elder, KORYANG MARIKO APAADIIM.
The Dodoth have a god, AKUJ, the sky god who oversees everything. The intermediary being elders, the ngikathikou, who mediate with Akuj through animal sacrifices.(Because of this, the Karimojong religion has been compared to the jewish religion.)
The name Dodoth originated from the word colostrum, the first milk of the cow since our people love taking it. This is because it is so nutritious and energy giving.
The Karamojong (and all groups within) are said to have originated from Ethiopia. They started their journey as one and due to the nature of their nomadic lifestyle, they decided to move up to Upe (currently Nakapiripirit), this became a dispersal point where some turned back and moved northwards to Dodoth (currently Kaabong district), some moved to Mathenik (Moroto currently), others remained in Bokora (Napak district) and those who loved fighting remained in the dry lands of Najie (Kotido district) hence the origin of the name Jie which means fighting or war-loving. The major reason for the movement was to look for water and better areas for grazing.
The Dodoth (and all other Karamojong groups) have no gods. They have no Kingship either, but they have elders who perform rituals when problems arise, usually, by killing animals (especially goats of specific fur colour e.g. black for rain) and to also celebrate events like the harvest. Every clan has a shrine and there is also a main shrine where the whole tribe can meet. Here, they seat together and advise the young. They delegate responsibilities and ranks to men within different age groups.
When the Dodoth and the Jie, for example, want to have peace, they come together and kill animals, prepare drinks and share together. As a sign of accepting peace, they pick one long bone of a cow and they break it. To remove misfortunes and bad lack in the clan and in the area, the elders sit together and kill an animal and then they perform rituals by asking their god to remove bad happenings.
Types of Elders/Ngikathikou
- Prophets (ngikadwarak) attributed with the ‘know how’ of the society,
- diviners (ngimurok) who foretell the future,
- dreamers (ngikejurak) who interpret important prophecies,
- black magicians (ngikapilak) known to do evil, but when they do good to save the community, they are exalted and become reliable.
There are specific places, ngakiriketa most commonly hills and valleys where all clans and sub tribes always gather and kill animals to bring rain, good luck and during harvest. Performing these rituals other than, brings bad luck.
Elders Vs Clan heads
Elders who head these shrines are the highest authority in the land, only second to clan heads, and sometimes, equal or above of them.
There are specific elders (from particular families) who are gifted in performing certain rituals, others can dream, while others can read from their shoes and from the intestines of animals and they give advice on what to be done basing on the outcomes.
There are also specific times of the year where the youth begin dancing traditionally, such as; celebrating new harvest, better performance of female animals in terms of milk production, marriage ceremonies, and many other events.
The Special Stool and stick
The Dodoth carry around the small stool because because one never knows when they just have to take a seat. This could be during grazing or during a journey or when you visit the in-laws home, you don’t use their seats as culture dictates.
The stick is for protection and in case you find some animals on the way home, you use it to drive them away.
The marriage system was purely decided by the elders and the parents of those involved, a clan chose an eligible girl or man from another clan and the number of animals given as dowry was determined by the elders of that particular clan. This points to the fact that dowry wasn’t for women only. Things have changed over the years and the practice has stopped as it is now left in the hands of the children involved in a relationship to decide, except in a few very primitive areas, but very rare because of the law against forced marriage.
There are specific foods and parts of an animal that young children, youth and women should not eat e.g. young children do not eat the pancreas, women who just got married do not eat intestines of animals, and millet porridge and milk is best for a woman who has just given birth.
During milking hours (morning and evening) the youth who are shepherds should not make fun and instead, should focus on sharing information on how to milk a tough cow, how to graze animals on good and quality pasture for better milk production, and how often animals should drink water (for cattle once in 36 hours i.e. one and half days during wet season and daily during the dry season).
Note that some information could have been lost in translation.
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The Frog and the Snake - from Bunyoro
On the rocky path to the market, Mr. Frog was blocked by Mr. Snake who sneered at him and asked, “Do you have to walk that slow?” Mr. Frog answered, “Why is it any of your business what I do with myself?”
Angered by Mr. Frog’s answer, Mr. Snake said, “As my prey, I have every right.”
And then he seized Mr. Frog with his mouth and tried to eat him.
Mr. Frog raised an alarm, attracting the attention of people who had gathered at the market. They beat Mr. Snake and killed him, freeing Mr. Frog.
LESSON: Never judge or assume superiority over someone weaker than you, the Creator, Ruhanga, will fight for his creation.
Abada – Western Uganda
It is said to bare resemblance to a goat or Impala. Unlike the unicorn, the Abada has two horns.
It makes its home in the rain forest of present day Congo and Western Uganda.
Its horns are said to contain cures for diseases and antidotes for poisons.
It could be said that the importance of ‘mahembe’ (horns) in healing rituals stemmed from here.
Lukwata – from Buganda
Similar to the Atego (Luo), Lukwata, serpent plumed or ringed with reeds always made its presence known to fishermen when they failed to give offerings or acted inappropriately and angered god Mukasa. Whenever a boat capsized, Lukwata was often the culprit.