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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Preliminary observation on the Oropom people of Karamoja, their ethnic status, culture and postulated relation to the peoples of the Late Stone Age
The significance of neighbourhoods for the collection of history in Padhola
Okebu iron smelting
The performance of Uganda African children on some Piaget conservation tests
The primary school curriculum in Uganda
A note on marriage in Bunyoro
Pollygyny in Kigezi
Uganda bibliography - 1970
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
The Uganda Journal
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
VOLUME 34 g FOR T2. 1970
CONTE -\ /L
ARTICLES EON THE Page
PEOPLE OF KARAMOJ., THEIR ETHNIC S-r .--'
CULTURE AND POSTULATED RELATION TO
THE PEOPLES OF THE LATE STONE AGE J. G. WILSON 125
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEIGHBORHOODS FOR
THE COLLECTION OF HISTORY" IN PADHOLA R. AI. PACKARD 147
OKEBU IRON SMELTING J. HADEN 163
THE PERFORMANCE OF UG.AND.A AFRICAN CHILDREN
ON SOME PI GET CONSERVATION TESTS B. OTAALA 171
THE PRIMARY SCHooL CURRICULUM
IN UGANDA H. W. R. HAWES 179
A NOTE ON MARRLAGE IN BUNYORO - S. R. CHARSLEY 195
POLYGYNY IN KJGEZI - -- M. T. MNUSHANGA 201
THE DISCOVER AND EVALUAI-IoN OF TF.RMITE-EATEN
WOOD OF THE TREE Heria Reticulala J. G. WILSON 211
VOLUNTARY SOCIETIES IN B\RAR R. MILLS 213
COSSITZA H. B. THOMAS 216
KULEKWA H. B. THOMAS 216
PLACE-NAMES IN KAMPALA. R. A. SNOXALL and H. B. T-HOMAS 178
QUARTZ CONE ARTEFECT FROM ACHWV. VALLEY AM. A. BARRETT 146
IRON COWS AND COPPER SPEXRS. : 1 HE ROYAL
INSIGNIA OF KR.\GWE H. SASSOON 200
The song of Ocol IB\ Okot p'Bitek M. MACPHERSON 217
Antelopes (By R. Bere) - A. W. R. MGCCRAE 200
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1970
Compiled by B. W. LANGLANDS - 221
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
KAMPA I A
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1970-71
Professor B. W. Langlands
The Hon. Secretary
The Hon. Treasurer
The Hon. Editor
The Hon, Librarian
Dr. W. B. Banage
Mr. H. J. Bevin
Mr. J. E. Compton
Mr. J. L. Dixon
Messrs Cooper Brothers & Co.
Professor H. El-Abd
Mrs. D. M. Etoori
Mr. R. Frankum
Mr. S. 0. Grimley, M.B.E.
Mr. W. S. Kajubi
Mr. D. Kavulu
Mr. J. Kingdon
Mr. A. W. R. McCrae
Mrs. M. Macpherson, M.B.E.
Mr. H. Sassoon
Mr. J. P. Ocitti
Mrs. J. Bevin
Professor B. W. Langlands
Mrs. F. Wapenyi
Hon. Legal Adviser:
Mr. R. A. Counihan
Hon. Vice-Presidents & Hon. Life Members:
Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa C.B.E.
Reverend Father J. P. Crazzolara
Captain C. R. W. Pitman, C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C.
Mr. E. B. Haddon
Mr. H. B. Thomas, O.B.E.
Professor A. W. Williams', C.B.E.
1933-34 Sir A. R. Cook, C.M.G., O.B.E.
1934-35 Mr. E. J. Wayland, C.B.E.
1935-36 Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., L.L,D.
1936-37 Dr. H. Jowitt, C.M.G.
1937-38 Sir H. R. Hone, K.G.M.,K.B.C.,
1938-39 Mr. J. Sykes, O.B.E.
1939-40 Mr. N. V. Brasnett
1940-41 Captain C. R. S. Pitman, C.B.E.
1941-42 Mr. S. Kulubya, C.B.E.
1942-43 Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins
1943-44 Mr. R. A. Snoxall
1944-45 Dr. K. A. Davies, C.M.O., O.B.E,
1945-46 Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins. o.B.E.
1046-47 Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
1947-48 Dr. W. J. Eggeling
1948-50 Dr. G. ap Griffith
Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffiney, w.F.
Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
Sir J. N. Hutchinson, C.M.F., F.R.S.
Mr. J. D. Jameson, O.B.E.
Dr. Audrey I. Richards, C.B.E.
Rev. Dr, H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
Mr. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E
Mr. M. Barrington Ward
Dr. H. F. Morris
Professor A. W. Southall
Mr. J. C. D. Lawrance, O.B.E.
Mr. B. E. R. Kirwan, M.B.E.
Mr. W. S. Kajubi
Dr. M. Posnansky
Dr. W. B. Banage
Professor S. K. Baker O.B.E.
Dr. M. S. M. Kiwanuka
Mr. J. L. Dixon
Mr. P. Zirimu
Mr. P. N. Kavuma
Mr. E. Kironde
, Secretary: Mrs. J. Bevin
Rev. K. H. Sharpe
Dr. F, Sempala-Ntege
The Journal of
the Uganda Society
P.O. Box 4980
Including Uganda Bibliography
published in association with
Milton Obote Foundation.
Uganda Society 1970
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATION ON THE OROPOM
PEOPLE OF KARAMOJA, THEIR ETHNIc STATUS,
CULTURE AND POSTULATED RELATION To
THE PEOPLES OF THE LATE STONE AGE J. G. WILSON 125
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEIGHBORHOODS FOR
THE COLLECTION OF HISTORY IN PADHOLA R. M. PACKARD 147
OKEBU IRON SMELTING J. HADEN 163
THE PERFORMANCE OF UGANDA AFRICAN CHILDREN
ON SOME PIAGET CONSERVATION TESTS B. OTAALA 171
THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
IN UGANDA H. W. R. HAWES 179
A NOTE ON MARRIAGE IN BUNYORO S. R. CHARSLEY 195
POLYGYNY IN KIGEZI M. T. MUSHANGA 201
THE DISCOVERY AND EVALUATION OF TERMITE-EATEN
WOOD OF THE TREE Heeria Reticulata - J. G. WILSON 211
VOLUNTARY SOCIETIES IN MBARARA R. MILLS 213
COSSITZA H. B. THOMAS 216
KULEKWA H. B. THOMAS 216
PLACE-NAMES IN KAMPALA R. A. SNOXALL and H. B. THOMAS 178
QUARTZ CONE ARTEFECT FROM ACHWA VALLEY M. A. BARRETT 146
IRON COWS AND COPPER SPEARS : THE ROYAL
INSIGNIA OF KARAGWE H. SASSOON 200
MONUMENTS - - - 215
The song of Ocol (By Okot p'Bitek M. MACPHERSON 217
Antelopes (By R. Bere) - A. W. R. McCRAE 200
UGANDA BBLIOoGRAPHY 1970
Compiled by B. W. LANGLANDS 221
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Uganda Journal. 34, 2 (1970) pp. 125-145.
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE OROPOM PEOPLE
OF KARAMOJA, THEIR ETHNIC STATUS, CULTURE
AND POSTULATED RELATION TO THE PEOPLES
OF THE LATE STONE AGE.
By J. G. WILsoN
The writer first came to Karamoja in 1952 and was resident from then
until 1959. He returned to Karamoja in 1962 and has been resident since.
During that time he has taken a close interest in both archaeology and
palaeontology, finding in 1956 the Napak Miocene fossils' and in 1958 the
Moroto Miocene fossils.2 He has also taken a close interest in the widespread
and abundant archaeological material, including stone tools and pottery,
which is to be found in the district. An early collection of this was forwarded
to Dr. Merrick Posnansky, who was then Curator of the Uganda Museum.
This collection included grooved pottery. Latterly a collection of several
thousand pieces of pottery and numerous microlithic stone tools including
scrapers and other objects have been collected and these are probably of a
Late Stone Age industry. Similar material has been collected in the area
until recently known as Karasuk, and in the adjacent districts of Turkana
and West Pokot in Kenya. The material collected, particularly the pottery,
reflects such a high degree of skill and artistry in its manufacture, that it is
obviously not connected with the much cruder pots of the present occupants
of these areas. Furthermore, numerous informants among the present resi-
dents have no tradition of having any connection with the manufacture of
these artifacts, with the exception of a few people who claim to be descen-
dants of a people known as Oropom. They are occasionally referred to as
Oworopom, Oyoropom and as Oropoi.
The second clue to the possible existence of people who were known as
Oropom came to light in a paper written by Captain Turpin in 1915 but
not published till 19483 in which he described the tradition of certain Kari-
mojong elders that a tribe known as the Oropom was broken up by the
Karimojong early in the nineteenth century. He also mentions tradition as
relating that the Karimojong occupied the Chemorongit mountains (Kara-
suk), which had up to that time been occupied by the Oropom people. Fur-
ther mention of people known as Oworopom is made by Wright4 and
Lawrance5 as being the original inhabitants of Teso district.
Distribution of people of Oropom descent and some of their traditions.
By 1966 a large collection of Late Stone Age artifacts had been col-
lected and notes made of the locality of the finds of the pottery fragments.
In that year in the course of famine relief work close contact was made with
vast numbers of Karimojong and the opportunity arose to observe a really
true cross-section of the various Karimojong groups and sub-tribes of the
district. This also provided an occasion to notice the full range of physiog-
nomic types that could be differentiated between individual and individual,
and locality and locality, it also became apparent that in certain places there
were variations in the kind of personal adornment worn by women. These
variants, both women and girls, and even infants, displayed a single cowrie
shell attached to a forelock, which rested in the centre of their forehead.
On questioning such wearers it emerged that they were people of Oropom
descent. In fact many were emphatic in stating that they were Oropom and
not Karimojong. The preponderance of the wearers occurred in Matheniko
and Pian counties, with a smaller incidence in Bokora county. They were
not observed at all in Jie county or Dodoth, while a few wearers were found
in Upe county and in Karasuk particularly around Kacheliba trading centre,
which borders Kenya on the Turkwell river. Numbers of such people were
also observed among the Tepes people of Moroto and Kadam mountains,
but not among the Labwor (Tobur) or Napore peoples.
The people distinguished referred to the cowrie shell as Esigir, the plural
of which is Ngsigir, which is a Karimojong word. The contrast with male
descendants of the Oropom who were without such decoration, naturally led
to closer observation of their physiognomy, and here it was observed that many
of the men bore an indented mark on the centre of the forehead which was
referred to as Esigirait. Having now isolated a group of people from the
main Karimojong body, differences in facial physiognomy were then observed
between the people of Oropom descent and those of Karimojong descent.
The most obvious characteristic of numerous Oropom was their mongoloid
features, with slant eyes and prominent cheekbones. The initial observation
was made at Lorengedwat in Pian county where many people of Oropom
descent are located. Latterly, also in Pian county at a place called Lolachat,
many people of Oropom descent displayed more pronounced physiognomic
differences. Here large numbers of people had a comparatively light pigmen-
tation of the skin, being reddish brown in appearance. Their facial physiog-
nomy too, was different, many possessing what might be termed pedomorphic
features, with prominent rounded foreheads, small upturned noses, with fine
bones and slant eyes. In some individuals, a further factor which is generally
associated with Bushmanoid peoples and is referred to as 'peppercorn hair',
was apparent. Lastly it was observed that many of the people displayed a
pentagonal skull conformation. These features added together suggest that
they were of Bushmanoid extraction.
The foregoing having been established it followed that these people
might have some interesting traditions which would explain their difference
in appearance and their insistence on being Oropom. To gather such infor-
mation it was obvious that those best informed would be old people of either
sex. Initially little information was gathered about cultural differences bet-
ween themselves and the Karimojong, but a great deal of information was
volunteered about how they came to be among the Karimojong. Turpin's
narrative about the break-up of the Oropom on the Turkwell was strongly
corroborated and enlarged. A battle had indeed taken place, probably about
1830 in, the neighbourhood of Kacheliba, in which a large group of Karimo-
jong of the Bokora, Matheniko and Pian sections had completely overcome
It is uncertain, how strongly they were opposed, or whether this battle
was not the climax of other battles that had occurred previously. However
this was the final battle and Oropom settlements virtually ceased to exist in
that area, though as late as 1927 according to a reliable informant, a few
relict Oropom villages survived between KachelibA and Karita. Many indiv-
iduals and families fled from the scene, some gaing in a westerly direction to
Teso and others even as far as Bukedi. Others fled south, seeking refuge among
the Nandi and Vukusu, but many went further, joining those who were seem-
ingly their relatives, the Uasin Gishu Masai. A few made their way to what
were then intact Oropom settlements in Pian county, particularly between
Lolachat and Namalu. One old man, a Pian of Oropom extraction, related
that as late as 1897 these refugees were still to be distinguished from the
people in whose area they had taken refuge. Apparently in that year. he hFc1
travelled with his father when still a youth, in order to seek food from their
relatives who were living among the Vukusu. On arrival there he relates
that the Oropom were clearly distinguishable from the Vukusu as the men
were naked and had red bodies (ochre), and though they were cultivating
bananas, finger millet and maize, as the Vukusu, their houses were different.
These he said, were constructed of three or four rooms while those of the
Vukusu had only one room. The significance of this will be seen later.
Not all the Oropom fled however, thousands were taken prisoner by the
Karimojong, roped together in lines, and abducted to the homes of their cap-
tors. Furthermore it appears that the Karimojong, in many instances made
whole Oroporn families prisoner, such families remaining intact after their
arrival at their captor's home. In this way Oropom tradition and in certain
instances language, was kept alive. Though they were confined by their cap-
tors to the owner's enclosure and were obliged to discontinue their own cultural
practices and adapt themselves to the Karimojong way of life. The reason
for this magnanimity on the part of the Karimojong is hard to fathom; the
reason given by one informant appears plausible, and that was that the Kari-
mojong feared the Oropom as witches who had the power of bringing famine
and disease to those who afflicted them. So by absorbing them they averted
this and at the same time might benefit by their absorption. Anyway these
groups of prisoners gave rise to the many people of Oropom descent that can
be found at Lorengedwat in Pian county and other places.
It would appear though that there were extant groups of Oropom living
in other parts of Karamoja who were not disrupted at the time of the Turkwell
battle. These were to be found as a small group in the area around Rupa and
Nakiloro and some distance northwards, in Matheniko county. Other Oropom
still survived in the area between Elgon and Kadam, still others in a line from
Namalu through Lolochat towards Nabilatuk and even Lorengedwat. Of
these, as will be related, the Matheniko group became largely broken up, but
the Pian group were to some extent absorbed peacefully. This took place as
the Pian settlements were established in Nabilatuk. The Pian themselves say
that until about 1890 their settlement did not extend far south of the Mani-
mani river at Lorengedwat. Even in 1952 Pian settlement did not extend
beyond Napianenya, which is a few miles south of Lolachat. While Namalu,
which is today thickly populated, was then virtually unpopulated.
Tradition on the past settlement of Karamoja and adjoining areas.
Tradition, as revealed by informants mainly in Matheniko, indicates that
in the distant past the Oropom were a numerically populous people, occupying
a very large area. This area is claimed to have extended over all Turkana
district to a point somewhere east of lake Rudolf known to informants as
Malimalte, probably in what is Boran country at the present-day. They also
relate having occupied the area from and including the Cherangani range
eastwards to lake Baringo, and much of the present-day Trans-Nzoia district
as well as territory south of this, now occupied by the Nandi and Uasin Gishu
Masai. They further claim to have occupied Mount Elgon but were driven
out by the arrival of the Kadam Tepes on the higher reaches and latterly by
the Sebei on the lower reaches. To the west of Karamoja they claim to have
occupied all of Teso district and further west. South of this they claim to
have occupied what are now Bugisu and Bukedi districts. There is little
mention of their presence in Acholi or Lango districts, but significantly a
clan name known as Orupo occurs among the Acholi people. They also claim
that the area now occupied by the Didinga and Topossa in the Sudan had
been 'part of their territory. A Didinga informant was able to confirm that
there is a tradition among the Didinga of having dispersed a people known
as Argit who were red in appearance and who were responsible for the many
remains of fine pottery and bored stones to be found in Didinga country. Some
informants who are descendants of the occupants of the Turkwell settlements,
claim that they were driven out by the Turkana when they occupied that area,
causing them to settle in the Chemorongit mountains and south to the Turk-
well. Turkana of Oropom descent occur today around Lokitaung and other
There is abundant archaeological evidence that at one time the Oropom
were much more widespread in Karamoja. This therefore poses questions
concerning the history of the various groups which inhabit the district now.
The following is an attempt to reconstruct the sequence of peopling of the
district as is available at present.
There are at present four sections of the Karimojong the Bokora, Pian,
Matheniko and Dodoth. There are also the lie who, though Karimojong
speakers, are not of the original group, as will be seen, and who were at one
time closely linked with the Turkana. There are also a number of smaller
tribal groupings which embrace the Tepes who occupy Moroto, Kadam and
Napak mountain areas; the Tobur (Labwor) and Nyakwai who occupy the
L abwor hills and the Nyangea, Napore and Teuso who occupy hilly areas in
northern Karamoja. Finally there are the Pokot (Suk) who occupy part of
southeastern Karamoja and the area known as Karasuk.
It is assumed that the primary occupants were Oropom and it appears
likely that the first invaders of their territory were proto-Kalenjin speakers
who may have included the Nyangea, Teuso and Tepes. These people at any
rate have traditional links and, as will be shown later, had connections with
a larger Kalenjin grouping who were known as Maliri. However, it is equally
possible that these people were preceded by the arrival of the traditional iron
working peoples who are the Nyakwai, the Tobur and the Napore. Archaeolo-
gical evidence shows that besides numerous remains such as slag heaps which
are to be found in the west of the district adjacent or near to the present
iron working peoples, there is evidence that an' iron working people passed
from the north of the district to the south along the eastern boundaries.6
Moreover since no trace of these people is to be found among the Tepes, it
is likely that iron working peoples preceded the first settlements of Tepes
and other proto-Kalenjin speakers. Whatever the case may be it would appear
TENTATIVE TRIBAL MOVEMENTS 1000 1800AD
TOPOSSA MALR A'N EARLy OE1000 RL
+++ + KARAMOJA
--10 Oropom enclave
100 Formerly Oropom
that the influx of Tepes, Tobur and Napore was numerically small as they do
not appear to have been able to occupy more than their present hill and
The next arrivals it seems pretty clear were the Maliri who spoke a Kale-
njin language and followed a pastoral way of life, who are known to the
Karimojong, Jie and Turkana by past tradition. They occupied with certainty
much of what is now Jie county and large parts of Dodoth county as well, and
probably extended into what is now Matheniko county, in the region of the
Koten and also the Orupoi river in Dodoth country, which is a Kalenjinisation
of the word 'Oropom'. This latter name indicates that they found Oropom
people in the area. Their arrival in the district cannot be more than guessed
at but it might be in the region of six hundred to eight hundred years ago.
Their arrival and stay must have been of sufficient duration to have influenced
the Oropom and to add some Kalenjin words to their vocabulary.
The next arrivals were probably the Karimojong and tradition indicates
that they migrated from eastern Acholi, leaving behind them such Karimo-
jong speaking remnants as the Ngiyen of Rom mountain, and numerous place
names in eastern Acholi. They appear to have settled first in the area between
the southern extremity of the Labwor hills and Napak, thereafter moving east
towards the Manimani river around Kangole and northwards towards the
Loporokocho river. Others moved eastwards to the Masupu river. Further
displacement of the Oropom certainly took place but it would appear that this
was followed by a lengthy period of peaceful relations. Tradition again relates
that the Oropom were at that time numerically superior, which may well
have been a actor in the maintenance of a status quo. Similarly as the Kari-
mojong increased and they felt the need to expand, they chose to move north
through Maliri held territory.
In this connection tradition relates that people known now as the Do-
doth, broke away from the Matheniko group and travelled north to the vicin-
ity of Loyoro, on the fringe of Maliri held territory. There is no tradition of
taking possession of the area by force, instead the settlement there appears
to have been peaceful. It is a strange fact that tenuous bonds still remain
between the Dodoth and the Maliri; in spite of the fact that many miles
separate them; the Maliri offered assistance to the Dodoth a few years ago
in dealing with their common enemies, the Turkana. The Dodoth however
did not remain one group for long, as after a short residence in their new
homeland, the people now known as Topossa broke away and travelled north
into the Sudan. The Topossa are to this day friendly with the Karimojong
and are accepted as Karimojong by all Karimojong groupings, except the
In the meantime it is likely that pressure of Lwoo expansion7 into Acholi
caused disruption there, whiich may have caused a further movement of
Lango speaking people to move away. It would appear possible that the Teso
might have been caused to move in this way, leaving a homeland in or adjacent
to Acholi and migrating to an area between the southern extremity of the
Labwor hills and Napak mountain. On arrival there they found 'the old
people', the Karimojong-Mojong, meaning 'old' in the Karimojong langu-
age. The Teso, however, being cultivators as well as pastoralists, did not blend
well with the dominantly pastoral Karimojong and after the occupation of
an area stretching north of Napak towards Longorikipi, they moved west and
south, occupying what is now their homeland.
While the Teso movements are conjectural, it is certain that the Lwoo
expansion into Acholi caused the breakaway of a group, who were initially
known as the Jie; these people came from the vicinity of Gulu and latterly
from the area around Madi Opei. Part of the group came from the vicinity
of a hill known as Got Turkan. Tradition indicates that these people advanced
eastwards and entered the present Karamoja boundary at Adilang. Infor-
mants further state that many were Luo-speaking, but, significantly, they were
governed by elders and not chiefs, as one would have expected if they had
been a group whose customs were Lwoo-ised.
The territory they entered was held by the Maliri who retreated east-
wards, delaying for some time in the vicinity of Koten mountain. Succeeding
events seem to have stemmed from the group of Jie who originated from
Got Turkan. These people now calling themselves Turkana, broke away
from the Jie at Kotido and advanced eastwards. This in turn brought ex-
treme pressure to bear on the Maliri around Koten and in turn, caused a
break-up of the Maliri into two sections. The first section still known as
Maliri among the Karimojong, but known as Merille elsewhere, moved fur-
ther eastwards, settling somewhere east of the Turkana escarpment, again
for a period of comparatively short duration. The second section calling
themselves the Pokotozek, who may have been the original Pokot (Suk) of
the present-day, migrated south and arrived at Nakiloro, which lies on, the
lip of the Turkana escarpment just north of Moroto mountain. They resided
there for a short time but found the area untenable and moved on again in
a southerly direction, proceeding down the eastern side of the Chemorongit
and Cherangani mountains, finally branching off in the direction of lake
Baringo. This Pokot incursion disturbed Oropom who were settled around
Baringo, causing them to migrate towards the Turkwell, both below and above
the present Turkwell gorge. Other Oropom migrated in the direction of
Uasin Gishu Masai held territory; others settled in what was still Oropom
territory in the Chemorongit mountains and in the area west of there and
south of Moroto mountain.
In the meantime the Maliri got no respite, the Turkana were harrying
them, and they moved eastwards again. This stopping place was not to be
held for long as apparently the Turkana were again on their heels and they
were forced to move north and east towards lake Rudolf, settling near Loki-
taung. Once again the Turkana pursued them, and finally they proceeded
to their present homeland, and possibly their original cradleland, around
:he Omo valley in southern Ethiopia. Shortly after their occupation of this
Maliri-held territory, the Turkana flexed their muscles and expanded south
through the Oropom occupied areas of present-day central and south Turkana
district. The Oropom as will be shown later, were at the end of a long cul-
tural period; they had become effete, after enjoying for a long period the
fruits of a highly developed culture This time, possibly three hundred years
ago, they had limited routes of escape, as the Pokot had passed before, and
now the refugees swelled the ranks of those already present along the Turkwell
and up the Suam rivers.
It is further related that with the Pokotozek finding that they were no
longer facing a formidable tribal grouping to the north and west of Baringo,
themselves expanded in that direction thus limiting the Turkana southern
movement and expelled the now less formidable Oropom people from the
Cherangani mountains and further west right up the slopes of Mount Elgon,
where a splinter group of the Pokotozek formed the people known today as
the Sebei. They found on arrival, Tepes people who had originally migrated
from Kadam mountain in Karamoja, and whose former area was known as
Entepes which gives rise to the area known as Endebess today. The Tepes
of Endebess had already been under pressure from refugee Oropom who
zame into the area in such numbers as a result of Pokot-Turkana expansion
that they had to clear out, and numbers of them returned to Kadam. The
newcomers to Entepes termed the Oropom the Sirikwa, but their density of
population, as evinced by Sirikwa holes was such that they were then immov-
able. It took the Karimojong dispersion, of the Oropom on the Turkwell in
the early eighteenth century, to finally submerge the Oropom-Sirikwa as an
extant grouping. ,
The Karimojong grouping who were both north and south of the Jie
grouping in former Maliri occupied territory, were strong enough to contain
the Jie expansion in either a north or south direction. Moreover they were
strong enough to move into former Maliri held territory from the southern
tip of the Magosi range to Koten mountain beyond the northern extremity.
When this took place is conjectural, but it did take place and a corridor
between the Matheniko and Dodoth-Topossa groupings was kept open, as it
is today. In the process of occupation the Matheniko appear to have assimi-
lated two small groupings known as the Ngimuno and the Mogos. Tnese
groups form part of the Matheniko tribe as it is known at the present-day,
but there are individuals living among this Mogos sect of the Matheniko
who claim to be of Maliri descent. Moreover in spite of the fact that the
Mogos clan speaks akaramojong and is in all ways identical with other Kari-
mojong, they have, unlike other clans of the Matheniko, for a considerable
time inter-married with the Tepes of Moro:o mountain and maintained friend-
ly relations with them. This gives a strong indication that the Tepes were
either an off-shoot of the Maliri as the Mogos-Ngimuno people must have
been, or that the Tepes were one people with the Ngimuno-Mogos who were
an earlier arrival of Kalenjins, or what might be termed proto-Kalenjins.
The Tepes being fortunate in having a more defensible environment than their
brother Mogos resisted submersion by the Karimojong. Further, Kalenjin
links are evident when tradition states that many Pokotozek joined the Tepes
at Nakiloro during their ephemeral stay there, when on route to Baringo.
The Karimojong expansion into the, eastern parts of Matheniko count,
isolated the Oropom into an ever narrowing enclave north of Moroto moun-
tain, where they still survive. Either concurrently, or some time after the
Bokora sect of the Karimojong occupied the land, the Teso had vacated on
their migration south and west, and with more land, it is likely that faoeir
cattle herds increased and with that the population too, and by about the
beginning of the eighteenth century the Karimojong group were again crowd-
ed Expansion followed this time in the area south of Moroto mountain
and settlements were formed in a line south of there, from Lokitonyala
through Loro and Amudat southwards. Oropom living in this area were now
forced to further swell the ranks of those on the Turkwell-Suam river. This set
the stage for the final blow which as Turpin relates took place about 1830,
which left only minor groupings of Oropom between Elgon and Kadam and
the Lolachat area, and the Matheniko enclave.
Tradition by Karimojong and Oropom about the Oropom.
The following is an account of a very old Karimojong about the final
days of the Oropom in Matheniko. The informant is known as Longoli and
is resident near Moroto; he claims to be more than a hundred years old.
From checking many of his statements, it is possible in fact that he is more
than a hundred years old. His eye-witness accounts of the Oropom would
anyway tax the imaginative powers of a young genius, let alone an old man.
Longoli has been questioned on a number of occasions and states that
when he was a youth, there were still Oropom settlements at Rupa and Naki-
loro. He states, "I remember the Oropom, it was shameful of us to kill them.
Their houses were well constructed, much better than ours, and had three or
four rooms, one or two of which housed their cattle and small stock, others
were lived in. They frequently placed rocks in the foundation, of their houses
and the roofs would often be covered with soil, not grass as we Karimojong
used. Their gardens were neatly laid out, far bigger than ours, and they
grew a lot of food, including maize, sorghum, finger millet, pumpkins and
white beans. Their plots were divided with grass bunds and paths led from
their houses to their gardens. They used to share their harvests communally,
so no individual starved. They kept cattle too, which had long horns, and
trained the horns of the cattle as we Karimojong do. They also drank milk
and blood. They had one trick which was very clever and that was when
concealing stolen cattle, they would excavate a great hole in the ground and
then cover it with trees and soil, and then hide the cattle in it. Sometimes
they would build a house on top and it was impossible to know that cattle
were concealed there. At night the cattle would be fed and watered and
they would remain there for about two weeks. At the end of that period they
would be brought out, no person could claim that they were his as the colour
had changed. We learned this trick from them and still use it today !"
"In appearance they were very light skinned and had pronounced slant
eyes. The women and girls wore skin clothing and applied a mixture of oil
and ochre to the hair and body; the men did likewise. Their women wore
large ear-rings like the Nandi, but did not plait their hair. The men wore
their hair long in a pigtail, like Indian women, and pierced their ears and
elongated the lobes like the Nandi. Both their men and women wore many
bangles, sometimes stretching from their ankles to their knees and from their
wrists to their armpits. The men wore no clothes like we Karimojong but
wore a belt which covered their penis.8 The old men, particularly if they were
fat, wore a cord on their foreheads, to prevent their skin from sagging over
their eyes, they had very loose skin."
"The men had arrows, spears and shields, but did not fight with arrows.
Their shields were larger than ours, but were ineffective as they were made
of cowhide. Their spears were unlike ours, more like those of the Nandi.
When we were strong enough we desired their cattle which had long horns,
and we fought a great battle with them. However they were cowards and
their elders had to force the young men to fight us; in doing this, they gathered
them together in long lines, securing them one to the other by ropes, to prevent
them running away. This was very foolish, as when we killed one or two of
them, the whole line collapsed with the weight of their bodies, and we slaught-
ered them where they fell. After the battle we seized their cattle and plund-
ered their houses and gardens. This was shameful, as they had beautiful
houses and even beds which were raised on legs and covered with thongs. We
destroyed everything, even their pots which were much finer than ours. The
survivors fled towards Lorengedwat."
Longoli's account has received some corroboration from Oropom people
descended from the last Oropom settlements in Matheniko county and it
would appear from this that the elimination of the Matheniko enclave may
have taken place between 1870 and 1880. Other informants all elderly and
mainly the children of Oropom prisoners taken by the Karimojong at Kache-
liba were able to expand much of what Logoli related. Several of these infor-
mants came from Lorengedwat and had been reared by Oropom parents and
concomitantly had some knowledge of other traditions. A further informant,
a very old woman, who claimed to be a child of one of the residual Oropomn
families that had remained after the break-up of the Oropom there, as men-
tioned by Longoli, proved to know something about their religious customs
and was able to indicate two sites, where as she put it, would be found 'their
things'. This information was invaluable as besides pottery, other artifacts
including a polished stone hammer were found. The old lady remembered a
few words of the language and was able to differentiate certain pottery pat-
terns. The word had got around however that the writer was on the look-out
for people who had some knowledge of the language and after a number of
charlatans had been questioned, another old lady arrived one day who is
known by the name of Akol. Akol is descended from the prisoners taken by
the Karimojong on the Turkwell and besides being able to. furnish many
Oropom words, she has also furnished a great deal of information about their
customs, and the uses and types of artifacts that were known in the past.
Akol and other informants verified a great deal of what Longoli had
said. All informants agree that the Oropom at the close of their existence
as a distinct people were pastoralists and also cultivators. Their cattle had
pronouncedly longer horns than those of the Karimojong and they both
withdrew blood and milked the cattle as the Karimojong do. Similarly they
trained their cattle horns in various shapes and used for the purpose what
have been widely referred to as polished stone axes, but which were in fact,
polished stone hammers.9 They also trained the horns of their goats and
possibly sheep and used for the purpose a similar instrument to that used for
cattle, only smaller. Unlike Kalenjin peoples who they seem to have resemb-
led in mode of attire, they did not circumcise and in further differentiation
applied red ochre to all parts of the body, not only the head. The lower two
incisor teeth were removed and lip plugs usually of stone, but sometimes of
wood, were worn. In their later days, metal bangles were worn on the arms
and legs, this metal being obtained from traders. In the past, beads of stone
and seed and wrist bangles and pendants of stone, had prevailed.
They had no knowledge of the making of iron and had in the past, like
the Maliri and Karimojong, obtained their spears from the Nyakwai and
Tobur tribes. People on the Turkwell settlement obtained their spears and
some iron ornaments from a small iron-smelting group of people known as
the Orumpa or Mala, who were settled somewhere between Kacheliba and
Kanyarus, at the base of Mount Elgon. Irhn impements were not widely
PoUshed Stone Horn Hammers
-, Q 1 :
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
used for cultivation, though occasional mention is made of using iron hoes.
Much more general were two wooden implements; one was a sharp pointed,
v-shaped digging stick, the other was a long-handled hoe similar in outline
to the iron tipped type which is widely used in northeast Acholi and by the
Dodoth. This had a fish-tailed or duck-billed flange. For the making of
implements, wood of the trees Acacia nitotica var, subulate and Dichrostachys
cinerea were favoured.
It appears that an age set cycle was in existence but little has been record-
ed about it. Bride price was paid and this could vary from one to five cows
and a similarly variable number of sheep and goats. Honey, it is not known
in what measure, was also part of the dowry, this again could link with Kalen-
jin influence. Two informants have stated that a ring signifying the state
of marriage was worn on the left thumb of the wife and on the right of the
husband. On marriage the bride was customarily anointed with oil from
a special bowl by her mother-in-law, and surplus oil was poured into the bride's
cupped hands and then drunk by her. This apparently signified the sanctity
of marriage and if the bride thereafter committed adultery, she would not bear
a child from such a union. Marriage ceremonies were attended by the bride
and bridegroom's relatives and friends, and were marked by feasting and re-
joicing. On the birth of a child the husband would not lie with his wife until
a month had elapsed. A bundle of sticks which were known as Poloket, were
presented to the young mother by her mother-in-law after the birth of her
Religion was an important part of life to the Oropom. Religious rites
took place at special sites, often rock outcrops and were invariably held at
sunrise; information on this is still incomplete, but there are reasons to believe
that the sun was of symbolic importance. It is clear that at certain ceremonies
only the elders took part, at others everyone took part. One of the rituals
involved the raising of the arms and the face skywards and then reversing
the posture and placing the hands on the ground. Animals might be slaught-
ered at such ceremonies and cooked and eaten afterwards. It seems as if
individuals could also go independently to religious places and sacrifice
animals such as goats. At other ceremonies the community would gather
within the confines of stone circles, and on these occasions, beer would be
drunk and feasting would occur, and such gatherings may have been in
connection with the securing of a good harvest. One informant has stated
that at the sunrise ceremony, a religious leader would raise a bored stone of
particular conformation skywards, and this again, in fact, would suggest sun
worship. The Karimojong were never allowed to attend or witness religious
Rock paintings were known and recognized in Oropom tradition and were
referred to as Girigir. It is however very difficult to prove any direct associa-
tion with them in their last days as a tribal entity, but there is a direct connect-
ion between the pattern of concentric circles as found in the writer's find of
paintings and also those of Posnansky in the region of the Magos hills in eastern
Karamoja.10 There is also tradition of an Oropom dance known as Re.
passed on in a matrilineal or patrilineal succession. Certain names of such
People fulfilling the function of rain-makers, seers and healers were re-
cognised and respected, and could be either male or female, they were known
as Murwe. It is likely, though not certain, that such esoteric knowledge was
passed on in a matrilineal or patrilineal succession. Certain names of such
people survive in their tradition and include Apakorian, Apalamagal and
Ilomil. The last named was known as a seer and reader of animal intestines.
The Karimojong were said to have respected and even feared the ability of
such people to influence natural phenomena, such as rain and drought; and
even to respect ordinary individuals of the Oropom as being possessed of
unusual powers. Several informants have suggested that this was a cogent
reason for absorbing large numbers of them into their tribe after dissolution
at the Turkwell, otherwise the consequences might have proved disastrous.
Wizards and witches or those who practised 'black arts', were known to the
Oropom as Rimirim and Ariet respectively, but since such practices were
against tribal custom, they were uncommon and kept concealed. Reputedly,
hyenas were the familiars of wizards and cats of witches and such use of
hyenas finds parallel among the Dodoth people at the present-day.
It is not the puposes of the present discussion to describe in detail or to
illustrate all the archaeological finds that have been made but mention must
be made of the salient finds as they help to illustrate the fact that the
Oropom were until their last days, a stone age people. Furthermore their
pottery and other artifacts show such ingenuity and skill in manufacture that
one comes to the conclusion that their culture was one of very long standing,
having obvious connections with Late Stone Age finds elsewhere in Africa.
The widespread incidence in Karamoja, Turkana and parts of West Pokot
district corroborates their tradition of occupying these areas in the past, and
the incidence of many finds below the surface level in many soil profiles
vindicates their antiquity.
It is very evident that the pottery fragments found are very different
from the pottery used by Karimojong today. Karamojan pottery is not groov-
ed, it is frequently coarse and where made by people of Karimojong descent
it often displays the incorporation of amphibolitic asbestos. Oropom pottery
as made by their descendants today and much of that made in the past, shows
that powdered soapstone is incorporated, and asbestos is never observed.
Archaic Oropom pottery most commonly displays a concentric pattern of
parallel grooves, whereas that of today is not decorated in this way. Lastly,
reconstruction of fragments shows that the articles most commonly made
were small bowls and beakers with distinctive rim patterns in many instances.
Nothing that can be reconstructed as a water jar has been found, and no
round handles such as are commonly associated with Karamojan water jars
have been found in association with Oropom pottery. The Oropom pottery
is clearly therefore that of a different and earlier culture. Furthermore, when
all Oropom informants volunteer the information that they incorporated
soapstone in their pottery and many can describe different patterns without
reference to the physical sample, there is no possibility that the pottery is of
some other people. Further corroboration that the pottery was indisputably
that of the Oropom came when compiling a word list from an' informant.
The informant described a pot that was similar in other respects to the
common grooved type which is reddish to buff in colour; this type she said
was black, and was used for the storage of medical herbs or possibly oil; she
termed it Kiriente. Pieces of grooved pottery had previously been observed
which displayed a black colour both on the surface and in section. The
blackness might have been graphite or some other forms of carbon, but
testing of samples by heating to a high temperature with a blowlamp dis-
proved this. Later in a further compilation of a word list an informant con-
firmed that Oropom had applied ilmenite sand to the hair as Karimojong
do today, and the name of ilmenite sand had been given also as Kiriente,
so here was a clearly established link between black pots and the use of
ilmenite as a pigment and evidence that the informants were the same people
that had made the pottery.
It has already been mentioned that the commonest pottery finds dis-
play a grooved pattern; this pattern commences at the base of the pot, which
is usually conical, as a single dot and is followed by a succession of evenly
spaced concentric grooves which ring the pot in horizontal succession up to
the rim. Three pot bases of this type were shown recently to the Conservator
of Antiquities in Uganda, Mr. Sassoon, who mentions the grooving as -
"Being so regular and perfect that one is constantly thinking that the pot
must have been turned on a wheel".1 The beaker type of pottery is of rarer
occurrence and the pattern more variable with some pieces displaying the
most intricate stick incised patterns, while the sherds themselves are generally
thinner than those of the grooved bowls. Some sherds of the latter are only
a fraction of an inch thick and of extremely even texture reflecting the in-
corporation of talc. This may well also account for their durability.12 This
grooved pottery has been found in a great number of sites in Karamoja,
particularly on the central and eastern areas, often at the base of rock out-
crops and inselbergs where soil erosion has deflated the soil profile, to expose
sometimes whole pots fractured in situ. In such instances conical grooved pot
bases have been found, which are quite distinct from what are termed dimple
bases. A great deal of such material has also been collected on eroding soil
pediments around the base of Moroto mountain. Besides those areas, many
occurrences of grooved pottery have been found east of Moroto mountain,
below the escarpment in Turkana and eastwards from there to lake Rudolf.
Similar fragments some distance down the Marich pass in West Pokot district
have also been discovered.
Invariably microlithic stone tools occur with the pottery. These include
blades and scrapers and are commonly fashioned from chalcedony, quartz
and quartzite. Tools made from obsidian are much rarer in occurrence.
Besides microliths there are numbers of larger tools fashioned from hard,
fine-grained, volcanic material, which include some blades of lanceolate and
some of ovate outline. More distinctive~ artifacts are of elongate chisel-like
objects, flaked to give a chisel pointed surface at one end, with an elongated
stem, often four or five sided, with a distinct one-faceted, vertical face which
terminates the distal end. These vary in length from possibly two inches to
five or six inches, and may have been employed as gougers for boring soap-
stone or even for incising patterns on rock. One such specimen was found
close to a stone circle below Loteteleit hill where Morton described grooved
Also found in direct association with the pottery and tools on a number
of sites were bored stones, almost invariably of soapstone, but occasionally
of quartzite, quartz-numica schist and other minerals. The stones vary consid-
erably in size and conformation but may be subdivided into three main types.
A Wrist disc fragment
B Grooved pot base
C Necklace pendant
D Polished stone hammer
E Bored stone
F Hair pendant
The first of these are stones of irregular outline, though generally flattened,
which are roughly hewn and found close to the parent rock. The centrally
oriented orific is indifferently bored and the stones may occasionally weigh
several pounds. As these stones bear little or no evidence of fashioning and
since they are frequently found cdose to the source of material, they were pro-
bably pierced with a hole, possibly to ease carrying, as it would be much
simpler to transport them strung on, a cord than to carry them by hand. Tnese
roughly bored stones would be either crushed into a powder for incorporat-
ion with clay in the manufacture of pottery or they might be further fashion-
ed to produce an article of more defined outline.
The bored stones of more defined outline have almost invariably a
flattened surface being anything from half an inch in diameter to two or
three inches, and measure in length two to five inches. The margin of a
stone may display three or more sides so one finds trilateral or quadrilateral
outlines. These margins may in turn be rounded or flattened. The orifice is
generally centrally situated and has obviously been made by boring from
both sides, in convergent cones. Whether these stones may have had ritual use
is difficult to say; one informant suggested that they may have been used for
weights on a T-shaped digging stick, the stone being placed on the upper
arm of the T, the lower arm being the percussion point, and the stem, the
handle. Few of these stones weigh more than one or two pounds and as the
Oropom have a tradition of cultivating with wooden implements, it is quite
feasible that these found use as weights, which aided penetration into the
The third type which is invariably composed of a much harder mineral
than soapstone, is orbicular in outline with a carefully bored cylindrical hole
through the axis. The axes are slightly flattened and the stones when placed
in such a way that the central hole is horizontal are most suggestive of wheels.
Whatever their usage was, they display great precision in manufacture and
this, coupled with the fact that they are fashioned from mineral much
harder than. soapstone, would indicate that this was chosen because of the
abrasion and wear that they were subject to. The fact that they are orbicular
and not flattened like the previous two categories must signify their use as
being mechanical or ritual. One informant has stated that such stones were
raised to the sun at religious ceremonies.
Not unlike the previous, in that they bore centrally oriented orifices,
were two types of ornament. The first type can be described from two un-
fractured specimens found on a grooved pottery site on the southern side of
Moroto mountain. Both are flattened and wafer-like, with a centrally orient-
ed orifice; one is ellipsoid in outline and the other displays two long side
at right angles and then three further sides at varying angles. Both are strik-
ing examples of geometric design and reflect great skill in manufacture. That
they were uWed as ornaments is corroborated by a number of informants who
stated that they were probably used as pendants on a man's pigtail coiffure.
Both examples are only about one inch in length and bear circular orifices
from half to three quarters of an inch in diameter. A second ornament
which might be likened to a bored disc has been found as fragments at
various sites, but with particular frequency at a place called Alale in Kara-
suk, together with very delicate pottery shards. Fragments of this ornament
have been found at a number of sites which when complete would appear
as a corona-like disc, the corona measuring from half an inch to two inches
or more in diameter. Their usage was uncertain until Akol mentioned that in
the past old men had worn a circular stone disc on their wrists, not unlike
the Turkana wrist knives, and which are known to the Karimojong as Aguli.
Akol immediately identified such a disc fragment exclaiming, "Oh you have
our thing there, it is Aurare". Aurare, as will be referred to later, has in-
teresting connotations. Reconstruction of the discs indicates that they varied
in overall diameter from five to nine inches, the diameter of the corona be-
ing as mentioned. The composition of the stone composing the disc was very
variable, not infrequently it was composed of some slaty-schist, but some-
times was of soapstone and occasionally of quartz-mica schist.
A third ornament to be found was a needle-like pendant up to two
inches long, cylindrical in outline and about a third of an inch ir diameter,
and exhibiting a narrow orifice bored through close to th6 end and at
right angles to the stem. These were obviously ear or necklace pendants and
had been carved from soapstone.
Other archaeological remains that can be associated with the Oroporm
people are stone circles. Many occurrences of stone circles in the district
occur, including one on the summit of Moroto mountain at an elevation of
over 10,000 feet. They vary a lot in diameter, the smallest being possibly
three feet across, while the largest may extend to twenty feet or more. Some
are composed of a single line of stones, others are wall-like with many stones:
a third type to be seen around Loyoro displays large slab-like stones in
vertical aspect. Many of these circles have been excavated and few contain
artifacts or pottery, though two of the Loyoro circles yielded fairly abundant
pottery relating to Karimojong in the top foot of material and a few frag-
ments of grooved pottery relating to Oropom below the level at which Ka-
ramoja pottery occurred. Stone circles have already been referred to in
connection with religious ceremonies and their finding by Morton adjacent
to his find of engraved concentric circles on a rock on Loteteleit hill is also
connective. The finding of artifacts, albeit few, within the confines or closely
adjacent to stone circles can leave no doubt that they were Oropom.
Other finds included a block of coarsely crystalline marble which
measured about eight inches in length and was slab-like in outline; on both
the under and upper surface were displayed three fluted lines running the
length of the stone. This specimen was found by Morton near his stone
engravings. A similar stone, though larger, has since been found below the
eastern slope of Moruariwan hill which lies some miles south of Loteteleit
hill, in which four fluted parallel lines are displayed running the length of
the stone, on one side. This stone was found within ten yards of a group of
stone circles at the base of the hill, furthermore there is within a few hundred
yards, a site where grooved pottery is fairly abundant.
Rock paintings at Lokapeliethe hill, a few miles northeast of Moruari-
wan hill, display the same concentric circle pattern as Morton's engraved
designs on Loteteleit hill, and can therefore be clearly related. The rock
paintings also include a vivid depiction of a giraffe and a number of
A number of Oropom words have already been mentioned in the text
and a word list has been compiled. It is therefore considered appropriate to
expand the list of words given without going into, the subject at length, as
the process of collection is still going on. It must also be made clear that
there are probably two distir ~t dialects of the Oropom language which may
be recorded in Karamoja. The first dialect has been gathered from descend-
ants of people made prisoner in the Tuikwell area, and contains a signi-
ficant number of Luo words and some of Bantu derivation; the second
dialect which has been gathered from descendants of Oropom people who
remained in Matheniko county, has fewer Luo words. Both dialects contain
words which are obviously Kalenjin borrowings, but with regard to the Ka-
ramoja dialect, it is impossible to tell which came first. The language may
tentatively be ascribed to the Khoisan group but this is not certain. The
word list given in the appendix is taken' only from the Turkwell dialect.
This preliminary study of the Oropom establishes the following sali-
ent points :
(i) that there exists in Karamoja today a group of people who distinguish
themselves from other Karimojong by the name Oropom.
(ii) that many individuals represented in this group have physiognomic
features which relate to Bushmen.
(iii) that by tradition and archaeological evidence they appear to be des-
cendants of a large group which occupied Karamoja and much of the
neighboring parts of Kenya prior to the arrival of Karimojong, Kal-
enjin and other people in these areas.
(iv) that their displacement from their former territory can be traced by an
outline of the arrival of other tribes and their succeeding movements.
(v) that their pottery and other artifacts place them as Late Stone Age
people; but that their use of polished stone hammers for horn shaping
and their tradition of keeping domestic stock places them apart from
early hunter-food gathering peoples and that their pottery design, from
and composition places them as highly skilled artisans and that theit
use of talc as an ingredient of pot-clay distinguishes them from succeeding
(vi) that a word list may place them tentatively with Khoisan-speaking
peoples, though there are some borrowings from Bantu and Luo.
Some speculations on Oropom cultural associations in eastern Africa.
From these conclusions it is tempting to try to see the Oropom in a
wider field of reference. The Oropom may perhaps be considered to be
related to other Late Stone Age cultures in eastern Africa. In particular
an earlier occupation by people of Bushmanoid stock over much of East
Africa has commonly been accepted, and these may be supposed to have
produced the tools of the Wilton culture which have been found around
takes Victoria, Edward and Rudolf.15 Possible remnants of this Bushmanoid
stock are found elsewhere in East Africa today, and others have mentioned
small, brown-skinned Bushmanoid peoples as the predecessors of Teso who
were called Oworopom. Rock-painting and associated grooved pottery has
been found in association with Wiltonian tool sites, which supposedly pre-date
the Bantu influx. At other Wiltonian sites, bored stones, quartz cylinder
(lip plug?) and a cowrie shell (peg) were found. All these characteristics and
artifacts can also be identified amongst the Oropom.
A further field of speculation is open in the occurrence of certain words
as clan names and place names. Thus there is the clan name Orupo in
Acholi and the clan name and place name Laropi in Madi, both of which
are suggestive of and akin to Oropom.
Turning to the east, one is tempted to see the Oropom in relation to the
Sirikwa. Various aspects of the people referred to as the Sirikwa in the same
Turkwell-Suam areas have been reported on, though the term itself is con-
jectural. Weatherby supposes that the 'Sirikwa' did not circumcise, unlike
their Kalenjin neighbours. These mysterious people left behind them the
so-called 'Sirikwa holes', as well as multi-roomed dwellings and stone found-
ations.16 All these facts and the geographical location fit so exactly with
what has been found amongst the Oropom that they could only have been
It is possible, perhaps, to extend our view further afield. Grooved pottery
with other Late Stone Age artifacts have been' found near Khartoum in assoc-
iation also with lip plugs, conical based pottery and bored stones, an assemb-
lage similar to that found amongst the Oropom. Moreover a Khartoum
skull, presumably of the same age, had narrow nasal bones which has been
taken to be the earliest recognisable Negroid skull in Africa; but narrow
nasal bones may be a Bushmanoid rather than a Negroid feature. The same
commentator has drawn attention to the prominent supraorbital ridges in
some pre-dynastic skulls in Egypt, yet these are Bushmanoid features which
survive amongst the Oropom today. Furthermore Sonia Cole has mentioned
finding 'polished axe heads' at a Sudan Neolithic site which she tentatively
links with pre-dynastic Egypt, and likewise 'polished stone axes' of a two-
lugged type have been supposed to have been copied from Egyptian two-
lugged metal axes.17 Such 'axes' have been found in association with Oro-
pom pottery and even a two-lugged type is still in use amongst the Karimojong
These artifacts, however, pose interesting problems. It seems improbable
that stone age people would go to the trouble of polishing a tool just for the
simple task of cutting down a tree. It seems more probable that such care
would be devoted to an object used in a ritual or religious purpose; thus itis
suggested that these objects are not 'axes' but horn hammers. Horn hammers
are used by the Karimojong for softening the cartilage at the base of the
horns in order that the shape of the horn can be altered to a shape suiting
the owner's desire. The Oropom have the same tradition and claim that the
smaller ones are used for shaping goat horns.
These connections between the Oropom and pre-dynastic Egypt are
somewhat tenuous; but it may be possible to establish other links. The Oropom
corona-like disc may be related to sun-discs in use even in dynastic Egypt
and for which the Oropom name aurare may relate to the Egyptian worship
of the sun-god, Re. Finally one may speculate upon the wearing of the cowrie
shell on the forehead by Oropom women and upon the incision on the centre
of the forehead by Oropom men. Is this a parallel the sign of the serpent
worn on the forehead by Egyptian kings and priests which signify the same
occult powers that the Karimojong attribute to the Oropom?
All these various conjectures lead one to believe that the appearance of
similar artifacts and words, establishes the fact that the Oropom Bushmanoids
had language, cultural and religious borrowings from dynastic and pre-dyna-
English Oropom English
Muren Meat Apintoo iFire IEmaa
Nakwanta Milk Coko FSun Aca
Muto Food Araukoo Moon Pele
Mamunyu Oil Konoye Day Awar
Iyoo Fat Moda Night Riono
Lukiya Cooking Pot Kodo Rain Lat
Pese Ditto (Black) Kiriente House Apirgoo
Kuko Grooved Design on Pots Nacipa Tree Telegai
Kukuye Eye Kongiye Grass Purung
Yo Nose Torom White Pele
Lim Ear Ki-ito Black Timu
Bu Tooth Ne-et Red Kopurat
Mokorat Breast Kisina Blue Puthia
Bung Penis Oyaa Good Pau
Woth Vagina Kibunte Bad Girito
Murwe Hand Akeleng Hard Keter
Rimirim Foot Apaukoo Soft Lujuk
Ariet Hair Akopito Dry De-au
Kokuye Cowrie Shell Pel Wet Ret
Ariet Mark on Forehead Nageran To sleep Sanan
Ngobo Ear-ring Napiroi To walk Pauwo
Losogol Neck Bangles Gorom To bwim Redik
Pange Women's Apron Ongor To dig Chege
N oror Stone Wrist Bangle Aurare -fo cut Tubo
Merek Spear Ngokit To sit Paja
Ru Arrow Motit To lie down Lura
Meri Bow Terema To give We
Tuth Soil Nyapid To receive Aruka
Ongor Chalcedony Atunatun To cook Ipo
Kwolta Water Lata To burn Mala
Moro To boil water Mak
Karu To speak Dokol
Iken To marry Ritha
1. Bishop, W.W. Miocene mammalia from Napak volcanics, Karamoja. (Nature
London, 182, no. 4648, 1958, pp. 1480-1482.)
2. Bishop, W.W. and Whyte, F. Tertiary mammalian faunas and sediments in Kara-
moja and Kavirondo. (Nature, London, 196, no. 4861, December 1962, pp. 1283-
3. Turpin, C.A. The occupation of the Turkwell river area by thie Karamojong
tribe. (Uganda 1). 12, no. 2, 1948, pp. 161-165).
4. Wright, A.C.A., Notes on the Iteso social organisation, (Uganda J.), 9 no. 2, 1942,
p. 601. Wright in fact refers to Iworopom as a place, rather than as a people,
but as the place in the east from which the Iteso came.
5. Lawrance, J.C.P. The Iteso, London, 1957, pp. 8 and 10, and in A history of the
Teso to 1937, (Uganda 1., 19 no. 1, 1955). Lawrence, drawing exclusively on
pin, regards the Iworopom as the proto-Iteso.
6. Wilson, J.G. Notes on Karamoja use of naturally occurring minerals. (Uganda J.,
34 no. 1, 1970 pp. 81-82.)
7, Crazzolara, J.P. Lwoo migrations. (Uganda J. 25 no. 2, 1961).
8. This may have been a penis sheath, and a belt of similar form is still extant in
Matheniko today, known as aporiamabor.
9. It ;s Mr. Wilson'is intention to publish more information about these hammers
later. Little has in fact been written on the subject, but they have already been
described for the Sudan in Kronenberg, A. The Longarim favourite beast,
(Kush, 9, 1961, pp. 258-277). (Eds.)
10. Posnansky M. and Cole, G.S. Recent excavations at Magosi, Uganda. A prelim-
inary report. (Man, London, 63, no. 133, July 1963, pp. 104-106.)
11. Sassoon, H. Monthly newsletter. Department of Antiquities, Kampala, April 1970.
12. Quite possibly a re-examination of grooved and other patterned pottery shards
from known Late Stone Age sites' elsewhere may be worthwhile to see if they
also incorporate talc.
13. Morton, W.H. Rock engravings from Loteteleit, Karamoja. (Uganda J., 31, no. 2,
14. This would seem to be an independent discovery of a giraffe painting from that
reported by L. Robb-ns inl the previous number of the Journal: Rock paintings
at Napudeh hill, Karamoja. (Uganda J., 34, no. 1, 1970). Mr. Wilson intends to
write a note on his discovery later. In this section on archaeology it will be
appreciated that unless otherwise stated the references are to object, found by
the author. (Eds.)
15. Posnansky, M. The prehistory of East Africa. Chapter 3 in Zamani edited by B.A.
Ogot and J. Kieran, Na robi, E.A.P.H. and Longmans, 1968.
16. Weatherby, J.M., Kipkorir, B.G. and Sutton, J.E.G. The Sirikwbi. (Uganda J., 28
no. 1, 1964).
17. Cole, S. The Prehistory of East Africa, 2nd Edition, London, Weidenfeld and
Nicolson, 1964 deals with the topics mentioned in this paragraph.
QUARTZ CONE ARTEFACT FROM THE ACHWA VALLEY
By M.A. BARRETT
In June, 1968, a translucent white quartz cone weighing 46 grammes
was found on the surface of grassland at a position 3004, N :32035 E latitude
which is some 6.5 kms. from the Achwa River. The "tip." of the cone is
missing; there is no other fracture. The length along the side of the cone
is 63 mms. The base is slightly convex with a maximum diameter of 28 mms.
and a minimum of 24 mms. All surfaces, except the fractured tip, are ever
and polished. There have been no other finds in the immediate vicinity.
Uganda Journal, 34, 2 (1970) pp. 147-162
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEIGHBORHOODS FOR THE
COLLECTION OF ORAL HISTORY IN PADHOLA
By R. M. PACKARD
The oral historian embarking upon the collection of the traditional his-
tory of any society is faced with the question of what methodology he should
employ in' the collection of his oral data.1 It is moreover a question of consider-
able importance since the quality of data can be significantly affected by the
methodology decided upon. In deciding upon what methodology to use, one
must ask two questions. First, is the method relevant to the particular society
under study; and secondly, is the method relevant to the type of data one
wishes to collect. These two questions are of course related; for while one
method may be relevant to the collection of a. certain type of material in one
society, it may not be relevant to the collection of the same material in an-
other society. Moreover, a method which may be relevant to the collection
of one type of data within a given society, may not be relevant to the collection
of another type of data within that society. It is to this last point, with refer-
ence to the Jopadhola2 of eastern Uganda, that attention is given in this essay.
Dr. B. A. Ogot has suggested that because the Padhola are a segmentary
society it is both more practical and historically more meaningful to work
through the clans in the collection of oral history. For his own research
he states that he employed a method in which he concentrated on the
collection of clan histories. It could be argued that for the collection of
the type of data that Dr. Ogot seems to have been primarily interested
in, i.e. the history of the migrations of the southern Luo peoples, the use
of clan histories is justified. For it can be seen that the history of the
migration of the Jopadhola is basically a composite of the histories of tne
migration and settlement of the individual clans. Thus clan histories would
seem to be a natural medium for the collection of this type of data.3
The use of clan histories may not, however, be the best approach
to the collection of data relating to the subsequent social and political
development of Padhola. The reason for this is that the clan seems not
to have been the focus for this development. It can be demonstrated that
the focus of social and political interaction within traditional Padhola society
was the localized composite settlement or neighbourhood (loka), which in
terms of the Jopadhola can be defined as a geographically delineated com-
munity made up of the localized clan settlements of various clans. Con-
sequently, the collection of the history of these localized settlements, and
not of the clans, is the most viable way to collect data on the traditional
social and political development of the Jopadhola.
Ogot has demonstrated effectively that the migration of the Jopadhola
occurred not as a mass movement of people from one place to another,
but as a coming together of a number of small and diverse family groups,
or clans, over a period of several generations. When these clans first settled
in West Budama, between ten and eleven generations ago, they formed
joint settlements as opposed to exclusive clan settlements.4 No doubt there
were a number of reasons for this process of joint settlement. The primary
reason would seem to be security.
During the period of initial settlement the Jopadhola were fighting
with the Josewe5 on the east and the Banyole on the north and west. More-
over, there is some evidence both in the form of place names and also
from Kinyole and Padhola traditions that there were settlements of Bantu
speakers in several of the areas in which the Jopadhola initially settled.6
These prior settlements seem to have been driven away by the incoming
Luo.7 Having arrived in small numbers these early Jopadhola settlers found
it necessary to band together in order to defend themselves.
The topography of this area of original settlement, known in Duopadhola
as Lut, seems also to have promoted co-operative settlement. West Budama
county consists of swamps interspersed with ridges of dry land (loka). In
effect, there was only a limited amount of inhabitable land. The Jopadhola,
out of necessity were drawn to these ridges of dry land, further promoting
a pattern of co-operative settlement. Furthermore, on some of these ridges
there exist large rock formations, such as those found today at Nyamalogo,
Maundo, Mwelo, Sere, and Nagongera. According to Padhola traditions,
these rock formations provided these initial settlements with natural fort-
ifications for defence. Moreover, because there were numerous caves within
these rock formations, the settlements surrounding them were able to hide
their women, children, and even some of their livestock during times of
fighting.8 These rock formations can thus be seen to have had a considerable
attraction for groups of settlers moving into an area which is generally
lacking in defensive positions, and thus to have helped to stimulate the
pattern of joint or composite settlement that seems to have evolved.
As the clan groups which made up these settlements grew in size, they
remained at first highly localized by following segmentary lineage principles
in their expansion and thus retaining a close correspondence between resid-
ential and genealogical patterns. However, as the land within the area of
composite settlement was taken up, a pattern of disjunctive dispersal evolved
with small groups of agnates hiving off from their original clan settlements
and settling in other parts of Padhola.9 This seems to have begun between
six and eight generations ago. It can be seen that the pattern of composite
settlement which developed in Lul was replicated in the areas of secondary
settlement, Mawele, and Yo Woko as well. Again small groups of settlers
moved into new areas where the continued problem of security and the topo-
graphy of the land resulted in the continuation of the pattern of composite
settlement which had begun in Lul. Dr. A. W. Southall describes this process
of secondary expansion as follows: "These settlements were usually founded
by bands of adventurers, sometimes as few as two brothers and their wives
and a few cattle, who finding that the land had become scarce in their natal
settlements, went out to seek their fortunes. Such tiny groups had complete
political independence in the ordering of their day to day affairs. Some were
lucky in finding unoccupied land beyond the boundaries of previous Padhola
settlement, but often they had to dispute possession with Tesio or Nyole.
Having won new territory, they often permitted other similar small groups
to come and settle with them. As long as land was adequate they were glad
to increase the number of friendly neighbours who could unite in defence."*'
Po LOKAOMWA MULANDA
-. PABONA MBOLERA
0ayo SIRONGO/^ PASSINDI
"ajul undo-- \
Selo / TESO Neighbouring tribes
eb y nma o -. Soni Composite settlements
/Muwf( *Tororo -- Border of West Budama
S o-- Area of primary settlement
- *Nyemer Swamps and Rivers
BASOGA BASAMIA 0 Miles 1o
Inset not to scale
Southall in this passage clearly emphasizes the importance of mutual
security in the formation of composite settlements. Topography can also be
viewed as a major stimulus for composite settlement within Mawele and Yo
Woko. There still existed the problem of a limited amount of inhabitable
land. Unlike in Lul, however, there are relatively few large rock formations
in Mawele and Ya Woko; thus this topographical attraction for joint settle-
ment was lacking. On the other hand, the lack of defensive positions can be
regarded as a stimulus in, its own right; since without natural defensive
positions, security became a more critical problem for the Jopadhola. There-
fore, composite settlement became even more essential in Maweue and Yo Woko
than it had been in Lul.
Finally it could be said that since the pattern of composite settlement
had already been established in Lul, it may have acted as a precedent for the
development of this pattern in Mawele and Yo Woko. This pattern of compo-
site settlement by small groups of settlers from different clans in fact, repeated
itself in more or less the same fashion, and for more or less the same reasons
until the Jopadhola reached their present limits around 1900. As a result of
this practice the whole of Padhola can be seen to have been occupied by
hundreds of these composite settlements.t1 Each composite settlement occupied
a ridge or Loka which varied in size from two to approximately five square
miles. Within each composite settlement there were from two to about eight
local clan groups. Today the population of these settlements vary from around
120 to over 1000, with the population decreasing the further the area is from
the area of initial settlement. It was these composite settlements which became
the focus for social and political organisation in Padhola.
It would appear that the members of societies which lack the structures
of state organisation would by necessity have to develop other structures to
ensure the social and political stability of their society. In many societies this
need for social and political stability was filled by the development of a strong
kinship-based organisation. The segmentary lineage systems of the Nuer and
Tiv are examples of a kinship-based response to this need for stability. Evans-
Pritchard has described how the structural organization of the Nuer segmen-
tary lineage system enabled that society to cope with both internal and
external stresses without the presence of state structures. In reference to this
system, Marshall Sahlins has observed that: "The segmentary lineage system
is a social means of temporary consolidation of this fragmented tribal polity
for concerted action. It is in a sense a substitute for the fixed political
structure which a tribal society is incapable of sustaining."12 Amongst the
Jopadhola, however it can be demonstrated that the effects of disjunctive
dispersal, accentuated by the difficulty of intratribal and thus intra-clan
communication pre-empted the development of such a kinship-based organ-
isation.13 Consequently the Jopadhola were forced to develop other organiza-
tional structures in order to ensure the stability of their society.
The same two stimuli which apparently necessitated the pattern of
composite settlement in Padhola, i.e. topography and the need for security,
continued to operate in Padhola until the coming of colonial administration
The continued presence of these stimuli, moreover, tended to discourage
communication between composite settlements. To begin with, it can be seen
that because of the general insecurity of the times, travel between settlements
could be dangerous. As a result of this members of individual composite
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY
settlements or neighborhoods tended to stay within the limits of their own
neighbourhood most of the time, normally limiting their travels to only
immediately neighboring settlements. When asking present-day elders about
events that occurred in areas of Padhola other than their own, one is often
told, "I do not know about that, I seldom travelled there." Another informant
in explaining why the Padhola did not settle in the area around Tororo until
recently stated, "The Josewe use to be in that place, then they were driven
away. Then the J'omia came, they were also driven away. That area then
remained empty, no people were living there... Most of the people were living
together... these people would dig trenches around them so as to avoid
enemies and that kept most of the people in one particular area. And you
know it was war time, people did not waist to spread much."14 This concern
for security seems to have kept the Jopadhola close to their homes thereby
discouraging communication between settlements.
With regards to topography, the swamps rivers and forests which were
prevalent in Padhola made communication between anything but immediately
neighboring settlements difficult. Many of these swamps and rivers dividing
the ridges upon which these settlements were located were often difficult to
pass during the wet season and swamps such a' Dumba, Ligaga, Osia, Were,
Mulaba, Mwenge, and Wadama were difficult to pass even during the dry
season. The importance which the Jopadhola seem to attach to the in-
troduction of roads under colonial administration seems to attest to the
difficulty of travel and communication before these roads were built.15
This does not mean that communication between settlements did not
occur. If for no other reason, the laws of clan exogamy would have neces-
sitated such communication.16 Moreover people did occasionally travel to
distant parts of Padhola to visit relatives. Yet the general pattern seems to
have been one of people limiting their travels to immediately neighboring
settlements. This pattern of localized communication is reflected in the
answers given by elders to the question, "From which clan did your grand-
father's wives come?" The answers to this question indicate that men living
in one settlement tended to marry women' from clans living within their own
settlement or within neighboring settlements rather than from clans living
in distant settlements.17
This difficulty in communication between composite settlements, given
a pattern of disjunctive dispersal, deterred the development of strong clan
organisation and unity in Padhola. This lack of clan unity and organisation
becomes evident when one compares the traditions and practices of different
sections of the same clan living in separate parts of Padhola. The variation
one finds in the traditions of separate local settlements of the same clan can
be seen' in the responses given by elders living in three local settlements of
the JoLakwar clan.
The JoLakwar claim to have travelled together with Adhola to Matindi
in Lul, and from there Lakwar moved to Paracham, in the present-day Ki-
tongole of Mwelo. After an indefinite period members of the settlement at
Paracham left and settled in Soni and Nyamalogo. From Nyamalogo some
Lakwar settled in Muwafu in Mawele. During the course of my research I
interviewed elders from this clan, living in the settlements of Paracham, Soni
and Muwafu.18 In all three cases I asked the local clan leader to collect the
local clan historians from his clan. In recording the traditions of these three
groups of elders, several variations became apparent. In general all three
groups gave a similar account of the clans' migration and initial settlement
in Padhola. They all claim that their clan had fought with the Josewe, the
Banyole, the Teso, the Bagisu, and the Baganda: and they all related stories
about Majanga,19 Bura20 and the coming of the Baganda and Kakungulu.
However, in detail and emphasis given to specific events, the three groups of
elders varied considerably in their responses. Some of these variations are
shown in the chart on the next page.
These variations when placed beside those recorded among the loca!
settlements of other clans indicate that 1) clan sections living in different
areas of Padhola underwent to some extent disparate experiences and that
2) these experiences tended to be incorporated into the traditions of the area
in which they occurred, but tended not to be incorporated into the traditions
of clan sections living in different areas. This in turn would tend to indicate
that 1) separate sections of the same clan did not, in any meaningful way
act as a single unit; and that 2) communication between separate sections
of the same clan was probably minimal.
This lack of clan unity and organization can also be seen by comparing
the local practices of various localized settlements of the same clan. One
example of this variation is observable in the Padhola institution of Joche-
mbe. Southall describes this institution as follows: "In the case of disputes
involving large clan settlements there was a peculiar system of interclan
arbitration on the basis of reciprocal burial obligations. Every clan had an-
other clan to bury its dead, usually on the basis of direct reciprocity. When
involved in serious dispute with another clan, as in the case of homicide,
a clan called in its buriers to arbitrate and arrange compensation and recon-
ciliation."21 This is, in fact, how each group of elders interviewed described
the system. However in asking each local clan settlement the name of the
clan that was their clan's buriers, or Jochembe, it became apparent that in-
stead of each clan as a whole having another clan as its Jochembe, localized
settlements of the same clan living in different parts of Padhola claimed to
have different clans as their Jochembe. It appears that the Jochembe relation-
ship was actually a localized arrangement between two settlements of differ-
ent clans living within the same or immediately neighboring Loka. This
variation in Jochembe can be seen in the limited sampling below.
Clan Settlement A Jochembe Jochembe
J'Amor Kasede Nyamalogo ...... Panyiringa Chowolo ........ J'Ojilai
JoLakwar Soni ............ J'Oruwa Muwafu .........J'Amor Kagulu
Jep-Odwi Kiyeyi ............J'Amor Polam Chowolo .........Panyirinja
JoBiranga Owini Paya ...............Paragang Nyamalogo ...... PaBendo
J'Oruwa Chowolo ......... P'Tikidiegi Kiyeyi ............ 'Amor Kijwala
It may be that this localization is a change that has occurred recently
and that traditionally each clan had only one clan as their Jochembe. This
seems unlikely. For if anything clan organization and unity have become
stronger and practices less localized since the coming of colonial administrat-
ion to Padhola.2 Moreover, the nature of the Jochembe relationship would
seem to dictate this type of localized arrangement. Because dead bodies had
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY
in: Padhola by
over clan affairs.
Where the clan
the clan in war
and the Baganda
We were the
first to settle
the Banyole but
with very little
detail as to
or causes. They
did not consider
the Banyole a
Could try cases.
Sent groups of
live on the
From Majanga -
we used to go to
Tewo forest to
No one had Bura
Fought with the
Baganda for only
a short time.
All of the
when we came.
We drove them
events in detail.
causes of specific
Banyole to have
been a consider-
They claim to
have settled in
Soni in order to
Same as elders
Same as elders
for a long time.
All of the
when we came.
We drove them
I did not seem
the Banyole a
threat to their
in matters of
Bura and in
Bura from a
man named Wesa
found Bura at
the home of
We did not
fight with the
only in Majanga's
to be buried quickly; and because disputes had to be settled before they
escalated, a clan's Jochembe had to live near at hand. Thus while one Jo-
,hembe relationship might be viable for the original settlements of two clans,
it may not remain viable for sections of these clans which subsequently
break-off and settle in other parts of Padhola; for the new settlement may
not be close to a settlement of the clan which was its Jochembe in the con-
text of the original area of settlement. If no settlement of the original Jo-
chembe clan was located in the new area of settlement, it would be necessary
to develop a Jochembe relationship with a localized settlement of a different
A second example of this variation in local practices can be seen in the
distribution of Kuni (sing. Kunu) shrines in Padhola. A clan's Kunu shrine
was where the members of the clan went to communicate with and make
sacrifices to their ancestors. If a man wanted help with the growing of his
crops or a woman was barren, they would go to Kunu. Kuni among the
Jopadhola were located in some outstanding geographical feature such as
a large rock formation or a large Mvule tree. Ogot has stated that despite
the process of disjunctive dispersal followed by the clans in Padhola, each
clan still had their Kunu in the area of their initial settlement.23 However,
each of the local clan settlements surveyed in this activity claimed to have
its own local Kunu. The following list, though by no means complete, either
in regards to the number of clans listed or in the number of clan settlements
claiming to have tneir own Kunu, gives some idea of this localization.
Clan Settlements Claiming Local Kunu
Biranga Owiny ............................ Maundo, Katandi, Namire.
JoLoi .........,................................. Korobudi, Nyamalogo, Mwenge.
J'Oruwa Demba ........................ ., Nyamalogo, Kiyeyi, Soni.
JoLakwar .................................... Paracham, Nyamalogo, Muwafu, Soni.
JoPaBendo .............. ................. Nagongera, Maundo, Nyamalogo.
J'Amor Polam ............ I................ Simwenji, Kiyeyi.
Nyakeno ................................... Katajula, Lwala.
When asked why they have their own local Kunu, clan elders living in
areas of secondary settlement state that when their grandfathers first moved
into the area they tried to return to their original settlement in order to
visit the clan's Kunu there. However, because of the difficulty of travellnig
between settlements and because their own settlement became more secure,
they soon began to develop their own Kunu locally. In connection with
this, F. K. Girling, writing on village spirit-shrines in Acholi, has suggested
that there seems to be a correlation between the possession of a spirit-shrine
and the political independence of a village.24 A similar correlation may exist
between the possession of a Kunu shrine and the political and social auto-
nomy of localized clan settlements in Padhola.
Another indication of the lack of clan unity and organisation in Padhola
is given by the absence of defined political leadership at the clan level. Clan
leadership of a specifically political nature, i.e. entailing the adjudication of
intra-clan disputes; the decisions regarding the initiation of raids, or the
decision to call in a rainmaker, seems to have existed only at the local level.
When asked to give a list of names of men who were regarded as the leader
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY
of the whole clan, present clan elders seem to have difficulty in remembering
more than a few names. Most of the names are of men who were clan leaders
after the coming of the Baganda and therefore after the adoption of the Ganda
hierarchy of saza, gombolola and muruka chiefs into the clan organization.
When questioned about their difficulty in remembering the names of men
who were leaders of the whole clan before the coming of the Baganda, some
informants answer that they were only children then and so cannot remem-
ber. Others state that the idea of a man with political authority over clan
matters had no real significance before the Baganda came. Before that time
each local clan settlement had its own leader. There was ritual leadership
at the clan level, but this had very little political significance. This interpre-
tation is reinforced by the fact that, with a few exceptions, the names of men
who were credited with having had authority over the whole clan before the
coming of the Baganda turned out to be, on further questioning, the names
of men who had lived in the same local settlement as the informant who
provided the name.
A fourth example of this variation in clan practices can be seen in the
possession of specific local customs by particular clan settlements. In theory,
each clan in Padhola possesses a set of customs relating to such things as the
birth of twins, the kinds of food which can or cannot be eaten during preg-
nancy, and the burial of the dead. Some of these customs are observed by
all of the Jopadhola, regardless of clan affiliation, while others are limited
to specific clans.
In actual practice, however, one can find considerable variation between
the customs followed by local settlements of the same clan. For example,
in theory, every clan in Padhola buries its dead so that the head of the body
points towards the direction from which the clan supposedly came when it
migrated to Padhola. Since among the Jopadhola one of the elements which
defines clan membership is the fact, or myth, of common migration, the
maintenance of the correct burial custom would seem to be of considerable
importance to the Jopadhola. However, the actual practices of localized set-
tlements of the same clan frequently vary from one another. In the village
of Kiyeyi in Mawele, the members of a local settlement of the Kijwala sub-
clan of the J'Amor claim to bury their dead with tae head of the body point-
ing east, while a settlement of the same sub-clan living in Muwafu claim
to bury their dead pointing towards the west. The local settlement of the
JoLakwar living in Muwafu claims to bury their dead pointing to the west,
while a settlement of the same clan living in Soni and another in Paracham
both claim to bury their dead pointing east. Finally a settlement of the JoKoi
Pawangara living in Nabuyoga state that they bury their dead towards the
east while a settlement of the same clan living in Maundo claims to bury
their dead towards the west.
Finally there is the question of land tenure. Ogot has noted that unlike
the Kenya Luo, there is no part of Padhola that is exclusively reserved for
a particular clan. In explaining this contrast, Ogot suggests that the reason
that the Jopadhola do not base their land tenure system on clan membership
is that when the Jopadhola came to West Budama they found it a virgin
territory, uninhabited by any other people. Therefore possession of the land
was not by conquest but by improvement, and since improvement is a con-
tinuous process anyone who could claim to have improved the land had a
claim to it. Thus the descendants of no one man could have exclusive claim
to any piece of land.25
The difficulty with this suggestion lies with Ogot's initial assumption that
the Jopadhola found West Budama uninhabited. There seems to be consid-
erable evidence that there were Bantu speaking groups living in several areas
of West Budama prior to the arrival of the Jopadhola. These prior groups
would have had to have been driven out before the Jopadhola could take
possession of the land. Padhoda traditions from Soni, Kiyeyi, Muwafu, Mbo-
lera and Passindi all state that the first Jopadhola to settle in the area found
Banyole living there and drove them away. These traditions seem to be sup-
ported by Banyole traditions which claim prior occupancy in a number of
areas of Padhola. This apparent lack of a clan-based system of land tenure
is more likely a result of the relative weakness of clan organisation in Padhola
than of any lack of opposition when claiming the land.
In light of the above variations in, 1) traditions; 2) the practices regard-
ing Jochembe, Kuni shrines and burial of the dead; and in light of the lack
of traditional clan leadership and the insignificance of clan membership in
questions of land tenure, it would appear that clan organization and unity
in Padhola were relatively weak, and that they failed to develop sufficiently
to provide the Jopadhola with an adequate basis for social and political
stability. Since the localised clan settlements were generally too small to exist
fmdividually as viable social and political units, the Jopadhola were forced
to develop other organisational structures to ensure this stability.
In a sense the history of the Jopadhola from the period of their initial
settlement until the coming of colonial administration can be viewed as the
history of the Jopadhola's attempts to solve this basic problem. The develop-
ment of Bura worship, the celebration of Akisit26 and the rise of Majanga
as a charismatic leader for all of the Jopadhola at the end of the nineteenth
century can all be viewed as Padhola responses to the basic problem of main-
taining social and political stability. The Jopadhola's primary response to this
problem, however, seems to have been to make their composite settlements
or neighborhoods the principal units of their social and political organisa-
tion. In other words, the composite settlement became the focus of social
and political interaction for each Japadhola.
Given the composite residential pattern that had evolved in Padhola
and the subsequent difficulty in communication and thus difficulty in social
and political interaction between settlements, a local focus for social and
political organisation would seem to be a natural response. Moreover, the
topography of Padhola alone provides a natural basis for this focus. The
swamps and rivers which separated the ridges, or Loka, formed natural bound-
aries between settlements located on these Loka. This in turn provided each
settlement with a sense of geographical unity and provided a further stimulus
for this type of territorial response.
The social and political importance of the composite settlement to Pa-
dhola life is evidenced by several aspects of that life. As indicated above the
composite settlement was the principal unit on which a Japadhola depended
for his security. In Lul this was brought about by the sharing of the natural
defence positions provided by the presence of large rock formations. In the
rest of Padhola it was necessitated by the lack of these positions and the con-
sequent need for local co-operation. Furthermore the difficulty of communi-
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY
cation between settlements made dependence on one's clansmen for security
impractical. The Jopadhola had to look to their immediate neighbours, re-
gardless of clan affiliation, for security.27
This territorial response was no doubt made possible by the general nature
of warfare before the coming of the Baganda. With very few exceptions the
warfare between the Jopadhola and their neighbours was fought on a very
limited scale. It consisted primarily of reciprocal raiding. A small party
from one side or the other would initiate a short term raid against a settle-
ment of the other side in order to obtain food, cattle or human captives. In
due course this raid would be avenged by the inhabitants of the settlement
that had been attacked. This type of warfare seldom required the Jopadhola
to look beyond the limits of their own loka for support, and thus for the most
part the composite settlement was a viable unit for defence organisation in
The degree to which defensive organisation was highly localized within
the loka, is evidenced by the apparent inability of the Jopadhola to respond
rapidly to warfare on a larger scale. Padhola traditions relate that between
two and three generations ago the Jopadhola suffered from a large scale
attack by a group known in Duopadhola as the JoNgaya. The word JoNgaya
means people with large shields, and most of the Jopadhola equate them
with the Baganda. It seems that for several days the JoNgaya roamed at
will through Padhola killing, pillaging and burning compounds as they went.
The Jopadhola were finally able to organize themselves sufficiently to drive
the invaders away, but not before they had suffered greatly.
In retrospect, the fact that the Jopadhola had found it difficult to orga-
nise above the level of the composite settlement is further evidenced by the
fact that shortly after this incident with the JoNgaya, Majanga rose as a
charismatic leader in Padhola. It could be argued that one of the forces
which led to his rise was the Jopadhola's realization, brought on by their
defeat at the hands of the JoNgaya, that their local basis of political organ-
isation left them vulnerable to large scale attack and that they therefore
needed to evolve a system of organisation that would permit a larger scale
As well as fighting together, men living within the same composite set-
tlement or neighbourhood also hunted together. Within each composite
settlement one or more men were regarded as hunting leaders (Jotuko).
These hunting leaders were chosen on the basis of their skill as hunters and
their knowledge of when and where to hunt particular game. As such they
were given the responsibility of organising the hunting activities of the
settlement. Their leadership was evidently marked by their possession of a
small hunting horn (gwara), which they used to assemble the men of the
settlement for hunting and for giving signals during the hunt. After the hunt
the division of the meat from any kill made during the hunt was directed by
the hunting leader, with a hind leg and thigh and the head going to the man
who first speared the animal, and the rest being divided among the other
members of the hunting party. Aside from hunting matters these Jotuko
apparently had no other authority over the activities of the settlement.
A local focus to political organisation is also evident in the area of
political leadership in Padhola. Beyond the rather limited forms of political
leadership represented by the leaders of localized clan sections, and the above
mentioned Jotuko, political leadership before the end of the nineteenth cen-
tury and the rise of Majanga, was limited to the leadership of individual
composite settlements. This leadership seems to have taken two forms. In
the area of primary settlement where composite settlements seemed to have
formed as joint enterprises, leadership was based primarily on merit. That
is to say, one or more men who had attained positions of respect within the
settlement, primarily by means of their military skill or their economic
position would be regarded as authority figures in times of trouble or dispute.
This authority was in no way despotic for there was very little in the way
of viable sanctions to enfotce decisions made by these leaders They can
best be- regarded as firsts among equals.
In the areas of secondary settlement a more clearly defined type of leader-
ship seems to have existed. As Southall has pointed out, these secondary
settlements seem to have been settled by one group of settlers from a single
clan. It was these initial settlers who then welcomed other settlers into their
area. Southall goes on to observe that, "The mode of land distribution was
for the earliest occupants of the land, whether by conquest or mere occupation,
to allot land to incoming groups nearby, digging a trench (keu) as a boundary
marker between them."29 The leader of this original group of settlers was
regarded as the leader of the composite settlement by rigrnt of his group's posi-
tion as giver of land. This type of authority seems to have been more sub-
stantial in that, in theory at least, the giver of land had the possible sanction
of being the taker of land.
The importance of the composite settlement for social organisation in
Padhola can be seen in the celebration of Akisil or age-set. Akisil was a tribe-
wide celebration to mark the "passing out of older men from active fighting
as warriors."30 The celebration was tribe-wide in that it was co-ordinated to
occur at the same time throughout Padhola. Moreover it seems that during
the period of initial settlement the celebration of Akisil brought all of the
Padhola together in, one place. Subsequently, and during most of the pre-
colonial period, the actual celebration and organisation of Akisil seems to have
been carried out within each composite settlement. The members of each
settlement would choose men within their settlement who had reached the
age of Akisil. These men would then choose a man and woman to act as
their servants (jago) during the celebration. Following this, these men with
their servants, would travel around to all of the homesteads within the settle-
ment. At each household they would be given gifts of food and drink. This
phase of the celebration lasted for three or four weeks. After it was completed
all the inhabitants of the settlement would retire to a shrine near one of the
swamps which bordered their settlement. Here in an open place the initiates
to Akisil would participate in a mock fight with sticks with the living members
of previously initiated age-sets. After this fight each of the initiates would
sacrifice a bull. This would be followed by feasting.31
It should be noted that a number of the aspects of this celebration seem
to emphasize the unity and co-operative character of the composite settlement.
First, the servants chosen for each initiate were chosen from clans other than
that of the initiate. Moreover all of the initiates travelled around the settle-
ment together rather than in clan groups. Both aspects would seem to cut
across clan membership and emphasize the unitary rather than the composite
nature of the settlement. The unity of the settlement is also stressed by thy
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY 159
actual act of travelling to all of the homesteads within the settlement. It is
interesting to note the similarity between this practice and the charnjeku rite
of the Wabwambo of South Pare described by Dr. Kimambo. One of the
principal aspects of the Wabwambo ceremony was the conducting of a white
bull around the borders of the whole of the Wabwambo state. Dr. Kimambo
suggests that this was meant to symbolize the unity of the whole state.32 The
Padhola practice of having the men to be initiated into Akisil travel around
to all the households within their settlement can probably be seen as symboliz-
ing the same sort of territorial unity though on a much smaller scale. Finally,
Southall points out that during the mock fight (temo mene), "... heavy stress
is laid on the good humour required of the fighters. It is said that if you all-
owed yourself to become angry you would die."33 This emphasis on good
humour can be viewed as stressing the critical importance of maintaining
harmony between the various groups which made up the settlement. The
fighting itself can be viewed as a means of releasing the tensions that must
arise between these groups without at the same time jeopardizing the unity of
the settlement. Thus in its organisation and execution the celebration 'of
Akisil can be seen as emphasizing the importance of the role of the composite
settlement in the social and political life of the Jopadhola.
Another aspect of Padhola social life which would seem to emphasize
the importance of the composite settlement in Padhola society is the relation-
ship that exists between a man and his affines. Among the Jopadhola, as in
other societies, a special relationship exists between a man and his affines.
With the exception of his wife's grandparents and his wife's brother, which
are treated the same as his own, all of his affines are to be treated with special
respect or even fear. This respect or fear is expressed by special politeness
and the avoidance of certain types of behaviour.34 Anne Sharman has descri-
bed this type of behaviour as follows: "In general terms special politeness
requires that a person dress neatly- so that his body be not exposed and
that he be restrained in his behaviour and in the topics of conversation he
chooses...He must not refer to sexual matters in their presence and because
milk is said to be like semen he should not drink it at their homes. He must
avoid wearing their clothes and must not go into their sleeping places, and
where he is very afraid of a person he should not even go into his house or
look at him directly when addressing him. When he has no great fear of a
person, but still respects him, he should not avoid him but be careful to be
polite."35 The observance of this type of avoidance behaviour decreases, the
greater the genealogical distance between a particular affine and a man's wife.
However, it would appear that all of the affines living within a man's own
settlement are treated in this manner. Granted there are other societies in
which this avoidance pattern occurs, it is the extension of this practice to all
of one's affines within one's own settlement, regardless of the real genealogical
distances, which makes this custom significant among the Jopadhola. It would
appear that the extension of this custom to all of a man's affines living within
his own settlement represents a further attempt to minimize tension and open
conflict within the settlement. Once again this emphasizes the importance
of that unit in the social and political life of the Padnola.
Finally, from contemporary evidence, it should be noted that when two
Jopadhola who do not know each other meet and wish to identify each other,
the first question they ask after the usual greeting is, "Where are you from?",
not, "What is your clan?" Since, as mentioned above, clan organisation and
unity have become stronger since the coming of colonial administration, this
practice would seem to reflect the relative importance of local residence in
Padhola life, rather than the weakening of the importance of kinship ties.36
From the above discussion it would appear that the pattern of composite
settlement which evolved in Padhola combined with the difficulty of commun-
ication between settlements, had two important effects on Padhola society.
First, they pre-empted the development of strong clan organisation and unity,
and thus eliminated the clan as a basis for social and political organization
and stability. Secondly, in the absence of strong clan organisation, they pro-
moted the development of the composite settlement as the principal unit and
focus of social and political interaction. Thus, in terms of the collection of data
on the social and political development of Padhola, the history of these com-
posite settlements and not the history of the clans should be the focus of
1. I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Michael and Susan Whyte for their
advice and suggestions in the writing of this paper. I am similarly indebted to my
2. The people ,are called Jopadhola (sing, Japadhola) meaning Jo, people; Pa, of;
Adhola, the tribes eponym. The country is called Padhola, and the language is
3. Ogot, B.A. History of the southern Luo, vol. I, Nairobi, 1967, pp. 22-23. I have
employed Dr. Ogot's system of dating, a generation being equal to 27 years.
Subsequent references to Ogot are to this source.
4. Ibid., p. 104
5. The identity of the Josewe is unclear. Ogot describes them as follows: "There is
no agreement as to who these people were.. In the majority of Padhola traditions
they are identified with the Masai probably the Uasin-Gishu Masai though
others identify them with the Sebei or Nandi." Ibid., pp. 93-94.
6. Higenyi, The history of the Banyolo, unpublished manuscript. Original MS in
Luganda, 1930. Translated into Lunyole by Higenyi, 1964. Translated into
English by WesanarChomi. The passage below is quoted from a typed copy
supplied to me by S. Whyte lip. The Acholi and the Langi took the south
eastern part where the Badama live today. The portion which these people occup-
ied has been the rightful place of the Banyole from time immemorial and that
portion covered the following places:
1. Maundo rock where Maundo the grandson of Munyole lived.
2. Senda and Negohe also the grandchilddien of Munyale, occupied
3. Mwelo belonged to Songo, a grandson of Munyole; this was the area
the Abalwa clan used to occupy. Even today some Abalwa are found
4. Kiyayi was occupied by the Abahanja clan, alio Munyole's grand-
5. Mulanda was the home of the Abagalo and Bagalo clans, also the
grandchildren of Munyole. There also used to be a place called
Loka Omwa which in Adhola means the land of the Banyole, our
Loka Omwa still exists today. See map for this and other areas mentioned. Hige-
nyi's reference to Kiyeyf is also supported by traditions from that area. Inter-
view with Noah Opio, 85, J'Amor P'Olam, Kiyeyi, 29 April 1970, Also interview
with Yona Owori Othieli, 73, Jo Ramogi (clan leader) Mbolera, 13 June 1970.
Field work noted in this paper was carried out between May 1969 and August-
7. This is the interpretation given to me by the majority of my informants. It
seems quite likely, however, that these groups of Bantu speakers were assimilat-
ed by the incoming Luo groups.
NEIGHBORHOODS IN PADHOLA HISTORY
8. Interviews: Noah Opio, 29 April 1970 in reference to Kiyeyi rock. Also Yona-
san Onyango 60, Ojilai, Wakisiki 16 March 1970, in reference to Nyamalogo
9. SouthaUll A.W. "Padhola: comparative social structure," EA.I.S.R. Conference
Paper, 1957, pp, 10-11.
10. Iblid., pp, 8-9. Dr. Southall in this passage is referring specifically to the settle-
ment of Yo Woko. My own research in the Mawele area, however, indicates that
a similar process occurred there.
11. The coming of colonial administration to Padhola brought a more secure
environment to the area. This in turn made the need for clustering settlements
lest necessary. Nonetheless if one looks at the current Uganda Lands and Sur-
veys map of West Budama County (Series Y732; Sheets 63/2, 63/4, 64/1 and
64/3; Edition 1.-D.O.S.), which shows the relative distribution of households,
this clustering effect is still evident. This is, especially true in the areas of
secondary settlement where population density is relatively low and the clusters
are thus more clearly visible.
12. Sahlins, M,D. The segmentary lineage system: an organization of predatory
expansion, (American Anthropologist, 63, No. 2, April, 1961, p., 342.) E.E. Evans-
Pritchard, "The Nuer,j" African Political Systeims, eds. M. Fortes and E.E.
Evans-Pritchard, London, 1940.
.13. Local lineages in Padhola form what has been termed a linear series' of line-
ages, They do not merge in the manner that lineages, merge among the Nuer.
They, "......stand side by side as it were, knowing only that they share common
blood, but not knowing the genealogical details." The Padhola lineages are thus
unable to interact wiht one another in the pattern of complementary opposition
that is found in Nuer society. R. Fox, Kinship and marriage, London, 1967,
pp.126-127, also Southall, op. cit. p.,6.
14. Interview with Sylvester Orach, 65, Nyapolo Orang, Senda,, 1 September 1969.
15. Looking at West Budama county today it is very difficult to imagine that
communication between various parts of Padhola was difficult. One must try,
howeverr, to put oneself in a 19th or 18th century mindset. It is necessary to
picture Padhola as a considerably different place from what it is today. To
begin with there were no roads or bridges before the coming of colonial admin-
istration to the area. There may have been paths of some sort but there seems
to be no indication that there was any formalized means of keeping these paths
up4 Given the way in which paths become overgrown even with today's' traffic,
one could assume that even paths were limited in number. Moreover, there
seems to have been considerably money vegetation to contend with then. Even
today areas such as Maundo forest would be difficult to pass through were it
not for the local roads in the area.
16 The clans, in Padhola ane exogamouss. Moreover as Southall has pointed out the
prescription of exogamy is far-reachingA A man must not marry into the clan
of his mother, his mother's mother or his mother's mother's mother. Nor may he
marry into the clan of hits father's mother or his father's father's mother.. It
should be obvious that such a far'-reaching prescription would make it necessary
for the men of one localized clan section to look beyond the limits of their own
composite settlements for wives. This in turn ensured a certain degree of com-
municatibn between these settlements. Southall op. cit p.12.
17. It is interesting to note that this pattern of getting wives from neighbouringi
settlements seems) to have broken down with the present generation of elders.
The wives of some of these men come from quite distant parts of Padhola. This
probably reflects the security and easier communication that was brought by
the introduction of colonial administration. Thente is also some indication that
men who were regarded as having been important leaders prior to the coming
of the Baganda married on a wider scale, obtaining wives from more distant
areas of Padhola, than their neighbours. Interviews with Aroni Magara, 67,
Jokoi Pawangara, Nyamalogo, 27 August 1970. Also Noah Opio, 21 August 1970.
18. Interview with Paulo Odoyi, 45, Gabriel Ondera, 75, and Domiano Olowo 80,
(Paracham) 9 May 1970; Donacio Magara, 60, Mikili Oburu, 70, Zacharia Ja-
both, 80, Bonaventure Odoyi, 50, Yowna Ofumo, 85, (Soni) 27 April 1970; Mu-
lekwa Wachalo, 84, Eriny Oboth, 60, (Muwafu) 3 May 1970.,
19, Majanga was a member of the Nyapolo Ogule clan who rose to a position of
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
chariatnatic leadership among all the Padhola in the last two decades of the
20. Bura is regarded by the Jopadhola as a personification of the Nilotic deity Jok.
According to Ogot it was introduced to Padhola from Bugwere. Bura worship
was of great importance to Padhola society for it apparently acted as a catalyst
for greater unity in Padhola. Seia Ogot, B.A., Traditional religion and the pre-
colonial history of Africa: The example of the Padhola." Uganda Journal, 31,
No. 1, 1967.
21. Southall op. cit. p.15.
22. In looking for a social-political system on which to base their administration,
early Baganda and British administrators in Bukledi tended to soe clan organisa,-
tions where they did not necessarily exist. Southall writes: 'By an enlightened
d(esiire to integrate the African local government with indigenous institutions,
clan organisatiin was stressed. The people were required to produce clan leaders
as their representatives, even where clans were not perhaps, the most important
basis of social organisation. This made the people self-conscious about their clans
and, in a situation like that of the Padhol'a, might well have encouraged the trans-
formation of clan organization." Southall op. cit. p.11.
23. Ogot, op. cit. pp.88-89.
24. Girling, F. K. The Acholi of Uganda, London, 1960, p.81,
25. Ogot, op. cit. p.86.
26. See below for description of Akisil.
27. Interviews with Israel Okong, 76, J'Amor Mugulu Kasede, Pabwok, 11 June 1970.
Noah Opio, 29 April 1970, Aroni Magara, 12 February 1970.
28. Oboth-Ofumbi, The Padhola, Kampala, 1960, in Duopadhola p.5. According to
Padhola traditions the JoNgaya (Baganda) came to attack Padhola in order to
avenge the defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Padhola who had allied
with Wakoli in Busoga. The Jopadhola state that they were finally able to
defeat the JoNgaya by surprising them while the latter were sleeping. They
claim to have killed nearly all of the invaders. There is a possible reference
to this raid in A. Kagwa, Bassekabaka be Buganda, Bunyoro, Kold, Toro, ne
Ankole (London, 1927) pp, 136-137. Thbe reference is to a defeat of a force of
Baganda led by a man named Waliomuzibu4 which had been sent to fight the
Bakedi. This event occurred during the reign of Kabaka Mutesa I sometime
around 1883-4. Also Ogot, op. cit. pp 106-7.
29. Southali op. cit. p. 11.
30. Iid.., pp. 11l-12.
31. Interviews with Yona Owora 13 June 1970; Israel Okong 11 June 1970; Saulo
Okado, 70 JoLoli, Mulanda, 25, May 1970. The following list shows a number
of loka and name of the shrine to which the residents of the Loka go in order to
Loka Site of Akisil
M ullanda.................................. Atongoile
Kiyeyi .................................... Ologweno
Katandi.................................. Odi M iel
See also Rafaeli Musajjawalulira, A Ceremony in Budama Munno, 1915, pp. 148-
149. For a contemporary description of Akisif. English translation provided for
me by Dr. Michael Twaddle.
32. Kimambo, I. N. A political history of the Pare of Tanzania, Nairobi, 1969, pp.
33. Southall, op. cit. p.12
34., Sharman, A. 'Joking' in Padhola: categorical relationships, choice and social
control, Man, 4, no. 1, March 1969, pi 104.
35. Ibid,. pp. 104-105.
36. This was observed as occurring on numerous occasions between my field assistant,
Simon Okong, and informants whom he had not met before. They would inevitably
ask him where he was from, that is, what part of Padhola. To which he would
answer "Chowolo", his village or loka. He was seldom, if ever, asked about his clan.
Uganda Journal, 34, 2 (1970) pp. 163-170.
OKEBU IRON SMELTING
By J. HADEN
The Okebu, one of the seven tribes of West Nile, are believed to be of
Sudanic origin, and now live between the Alur, the Lendu and the Lugbara
on the high grasslands that form the Nile Uele watershed, in the extreme
northwest of Uganda. They cultivate land on both sides of the Uganda -
Congo border in the region between Logiri and Kango in West Nile, and
stretching as far west as Aungba and Zani in the Congo. Less than a quarter
of the tribe live in Uganda and are known as Okebu by the Alur, and as Ndo
by the Lugbara, and it is by this latter name that they are known in the
Congo. Their language differs significantly from Lugbara, but is included
with it in the Madi-Moru group by Tucker.' Unlike both the Alur and the
Lugbara, who have been the subjects of detailed studies, the Okebu have yet
to attract the interest of anthropologists.2-
They have a reputation as expert ironworkers throughout West Nile, ano
have in the past, before 'Birmingham hoes' became readily available, supplied
the other tribes of the district with all their iron tools and weapons. Over
a long period, Okebu blacksmiths have also moved into the surrounding areas,
either as a result of local famines or in what appears to be a form of deliberate
'technical aid'. These emigre Okebu were respected and protected as valuable
assets to their new communities, and many have become assimilated into the
other tribes, so that today, Alur, Kakwa, Lugbara and Madi all have black-
smiths working within their areas who may or may not acknowledge their
Okebu origin. It appears that none of these other tribes actually smelted
iron, the technology of the process being the jealously guarded secret of the
Okebu until comparatively recent times.
Okebu tradition holds that they were the second group to migrate from
the north, and to cross the Nile, preceded by the Lendu and followed by
the Madi. They account for their monopoly of iron working by saying that
originally, all three 'brother' groups shared their smelting knowledge, but
that the Lendu and the Madi lost the skill as a result of a beer party. The
industrious Okebu, when all three were in mid-smelt, decided to finish the
job before sharing in the refreshments and thus avoided the accidental des-
truction of the bellows-skins of the other two groups when their unattended
furnaces caught fire. Even today the Okebu who still remember their smelting
activities lay great stress on the extremely arduous nature of their work, and
their doubt as to whether a European or even a Lugbara would be capable
There are still several small groups of Okebu smiths active in the ate.a
between Arua and Goli, making small weeding hoes, slashers and knives from
scrap iron for sale in local markets, but no smelting of iron ore has been
done in the area since the 1940's. In the Zani region of the Congo, smelting
continued up to 1950 when it was apparently stopped by government action?.
In 1969 two groups of elderly Okebu smiths were found at Pukia near Arua
and at Aligo, near Kango who demonstrated their smelting skills so that a
record could be made before it became too late. Both groups agreed to show
the complete process of smelting and smithing that they had learnt in youth.
OKEBU IRON SMELTING
A furnace of traditional pattern was constructed on a site in the compound
of Mvara Secondary School, Arua; raw materials were gathered and the
furnace fired on three occasions wita varying degrees of success.
Supply of raw materials.
Iron ore. (Kolomvo). The smelters in the Aligo area depended for their
supply of ore on the neighboring Alur, as the best ore is found as outcrops
on a hill, Amonze, near Zeu. In the past, Okebu smiths would bring gifts of
hoes and other iron objects to the elders of the area, and the Alur would
then allow them to dig ore from the surface of Amonze, and ensure their free
passage through Alur territory. This right of passage was vital to the smiths
as relations between the two tribes were often strained. Ore was dug from
this site in 1969. About 150 pounds of ore, identified by the Geological Survey,
Mines Division, Entebbe, as limonite, was taken from the shallow diggings
that are scattered all over the surface of Amonze, and carried by head load
to Aligo, 18 miles away. This ore was shown to be about 80% iron oxide,
as Fe 2 0 3 and was described as the best kolomvo by the Aligo elders. Small
amounts of other ores were also obtained, including a high grade magnetite
from the Zani area of the Congo and various low grade laterites from the
Arua area. The only preliminary treatment of the ore is to break it into
pieces the size of a shilling and to dry it thoroughly in the sun.
Charcoal. Charcoal burning for smelting was the task of both men and
women, and only particularly hard woods were considered suitable. The elders
produced some charcoal from Mupa wood (unidentified), but this had to be
supplemented with locally burnt charcoal. The charcoal is also broken into
Slag. (Iza, Lugbara : Aye ze, literally 'excrement of iron'.) This was describ-
ed as the most important raw material by the elders, and could only be
obtained from old furnaces, thus stimulating a search for old smelting sites.
Good Iza consists of a conglomerate of pieces of charcoal and partially smelt-
ed ore, (referred to as 'bloom' by some authorities.) For the first attempt
to smelt, only relatively small pieces of very weathered Iza with a lot of moss
and earth could be found; but the second and third smelts benefited from the
Construction of the Furnace. (Ubi)
Smelting goes on throughout the year, but as the site is open to the elements,
new furnaces are usually constructed at the beginning of the dry season
in December or January. Several male members of the clan would co-operate
in the building and operating of each furnace. Three men took about three
days to prepare the permanent structua1. The shallow top soil was first
removed from an area about 20 feet square, and a shallow pit (Kesi) dug,
roughly oval, 8 feet long and 6 feet wide and about '2 feet deep. The sides
of this pit were sloping and a narrow drainage channel was cut from the lower
end to carry off rain water. It is not clear whether this pit is an essential
part of an Ubi, or whether the shallow slope of the ground made its construct-
ion necessary. The Aligo elders suggested that it was always dug, but a report
from the Congo3 suggested that the pit was not normal.
At the higher end of the pit, a structure of sun-dried clay was built over
a base of stones, in the form of two converging clay walls climbing the bank
of the pit and meeting in a saddle just above the level of the surrounding
earth. The saddle was pierced by a hole about 6 inches across and 5 inches
high at the level of the earth. The face of the bank inside the walls was cut
to form a step 10 inches high with an almost vertical wall. The vertical and
horizontal faces of the step, together with the floor of the pit within the walls,
were surfaced with soft clay. This completed the permanent structure of the
furnace which was then left to dry for a week and the cracks were mudded
over with a clay slurry. A pair of fired clay bellows-pots (Iro) were then
sunk side by side in soft clay in the earth above the furnace so that the nozzles
of the pots pointed directly into the hole in the saddle of the furnace.
Technique of smelting.
Three attempts at a smelt have so far been made, the first by elders from
Aligo; the second by the students of Mvara school on the occasion of the visit
of the Conservator of Antiquities and the last by a different group of elders
from Pukia. The technique was substantially the same in each case and
although the first was least successful in terms of the amount of iron obtained
it provided the pattern for the others.
Three men started work at dawn, building a roughly semi-circular wall
of soft clay across the base of the furnace, and filling the enclosed space with
broken charcoal. The single tuyere pipe (Lia), about 1l inches interior
diameter and 26 inches long, is then fixed in a bed of wet clay packed into
the saddle of the Ubi so that the bellows' tubes converge into the mouth of
Lia but do not form a sealed joint. The lower end of the Lia projects over
the step in the Ubi above the bed of charcoal by about 4 inches and pieces
of Iza are then arranged around the Lia end to form a rough chimney from
the bed of charcoal to a height of about 6 inches above the charcoal. Burning
tinder is then dropped down this 'chimney' to fire the charcoal, and the fire
maintained by gently pumping the bellows. Fresh ore is then packed around
the Iza and a second retaining wall of wet day built around the ore stack
with a gap of about 1 inch between the lower and upper wall, exposing the
ore. More charcoal is then added to the top of the furnace, which is left
quite open. The furnace is now fully charged and the bellows operator has to
pump sufficient air into the smelt to maintain it at white heat for several
hours. The rate of pumping is such that one cannot maintain it for more
than about ten minutes, so a relay of workers is necessary.
After about two hours, a hole is made at the bottom of the retaining wall
and a place cleared in the charcoal inside to see if the molten slag is running
down to the base of the furnace. White hot slag should collect at the base
and run out of the hole into the pit. The upper part of the furnace retaining
wall is then broken away and a greenwood pole used to work the mass of the
smelt towards the centre of the furnace, in order to 'help the iron to come
together' as one elder put it.
The air blast is then maintained for a further two hours, with continuous
addition of charcoal and 'poling' of the smelt, before the furnace is broken
open to reveal a white hot lump fused onto the end of the Lia, above a mass
of molten slag, partially burnt charcoal and partially smelted ore. The lump
contains a high proportion of iron in a soft, spongy state, and is broken away
from the Lia and removed with the aid of a strap made by hammering the
middle of a greenwood pole and wrapping the wet fibres around the lump.
Some of the slag is knocked off the iron before it is quenched in a hollow
filled with water.
UBI-OKEBU IRON SMELTING FURNACE
Saddle of UBI
\ Bellows ski
Tuyere pipe N__UBI OMBE
Chaorcoal from MUPA LATuyerA
The lump from the first smelt contained very little free iron, but the
second was more successful and the third smelt produced a lump of mixed
iron and slag weighing 5 lbs. 9 oz. which yielded 2 lbs. of iron, enough to
make a hoe of traditional type. Another lump produced by the elders at their
last period of smelting in 1945, weighed 4 lbs. 12 oz. The quantities of the
raw materials used were 40 lbs. each of limonite and Iza and 60 lbs of
charcoal to yield 3 lbs. of iron and enough Iza for the next smelt.
Smithing of the crude iron.
Both smelting and the smithing of the crude iron seem to have been
carried out by the same people, there being no specialisation of skills within
the work group. Each group of smelters operating an Ubi would also have
an Oka, a simpler forging hearth, also with twin bellows, and a single, but
much shorter, tuyere, sending a forced draught into a shallow depression
in the ground filled with glowing charcoal. There are still several Oka of this
type being used, scattered around the district, and none of them have any
sort of hut or other protection from the elements. The lump of crude iron
from the Ubi, after much of the slag on the outside has been broken off, is
reheated in the Oka. Even when red-hot, a piece of iron weighing several
pounds can be handled with surprising ease in tongs made from a green
pole cleft at one end, and forged on a stone anvil (Oyi). In the case of the
Pukia group, this was a massive lump of quartzite. The iron at red-heat, is
beaten traditionally with a stone hammer (Awiri), into a rough bar, and then
forged into a hoe with a long spike at one end and a roughly heart-shaped
blade. As the iron never becomes more than very slightly soft, and rapidly
cools in the open air, this forging process involves continual re-heating and
hammering. To forge a hoe the Pukia group used a steel hammer, and three
men took the best part of three working days to complete the job. It was
then hafted in a wooden handle, the spike passing through a knot-hole in
the wood so that the handle, and the blade of the hoe formed an angle of
less than 900. This type of hoe is heavier than the standard imported type,
but said to last much longer.
Discussion of smelting technique.
There are several published descriptions of smelting techniques used in
Africa, with which the Okebu furnace may be compared. The furnaces
described are of two basic types:- (i) the shaft-furnace type is roughly
cylindrical with one or more pairs of tuyeres, and is the precursor of the
modern blast furnace, although it produces a bloom of mixed spongy iron
and slag rather thau molten iron, and (ii) corresponding to the 'Catalan'
furnace described by Cogdan4 atnd Forbes has a single tuyere in the
back of the furnace, and produces malleable wrought iron either directly or
via a bloom. In Uganda, the shaft type of furnace was used in the Kigezi
area, if the photograph which appears in Thomas and Scott's book6 is re-
presentative. There is no published account of smelting in Kigezi apart
from this. Wayland7 has described a Clatalan type furnace used in the
Labwor hills of western Karamoja, in which limonite was smelted, but the
description does not suggest close similarity with the Okebu furnace.
Two features of the Okebu furnace make it particularly interesting.
Firstly there is the extreme simplicity of the structure of the furnace, which
could be described as being of Catalan type, but is really no more than an
OKEBU IRON SMELTING
open hearth with a forced draught. Secondly there are two distinct stages
of smelting, the formation of a bloom of partially smelted ore, and the con-
centration of the smelted iron, which here take place simultaneously in
different regions of the same furnace. Whereas in other described smelts, the
ore and the charcoal are, as one would expect, deliberately mixed, either
intimately or in layers, the Okebu elders quite deliberately segregated the
ore, the Iza and the charcoal at the start of their smelts. A close examination
of pieces of Iza from smelts 1 and 2 showed that each lump of slag was
surrounded by a thin skin of free iron, where the molten ore had come into
contact with the burning charcoal and had been partially reduced by the
carbon monoxide produced. Iza is thus better described as iron "bloom"
rather than slag, being the source of fhe final product rather than the waste
material, although it is interesting to note that both the Lugbara (Aya ze =
excrement of iron) and the Okebu words mean simply a waste product.
When Iza is resmelted in the heart of the furnace, this skin of iron
presumably thickens as the proportion of free metal increases, and the
occluded charcoal is burnt away, to leave a spongy mass of iron which
slowly shrinks in volume. The poling process assists this natural shrinkage
and the iron is worked into a central lump. At the white heat of the furnace,
the iron does not melt, (if it did, it would solidify to form unworkable
cast iron, with tqo high a carbon content). It remains at the top of the
furnace, while the slag with a high proportion of silicates runs to the base
of the furnace. While this mass of iron is forming in the hottest part of the
furnace, the heat around it is enough to melt the new charge of ore so that
it runs into the bed of burning charcoal to form a new mass of Iza for the
Whether the Okebu furnace represents an 'earlier' or 'later'
development in African smelting techniques than the similar furnaces of
Catalan type reported from West Africa 8,9,10, must remain a matter for
interesting speculation. Arkell" suggests that the dissemination of the
knowledge of iron-smelting from the Meroitic region was via Darfur and
Lake Chad to the Nok culture of Nigeria, and thence south and east with
the Bantu migrations, but this would be a long route for the knowledge of
smelting to take to reach northwest Uganda. Perhaps the Okebu, Sudanic
in origin, and now less than 1000 miles south of the site of Meroe, represent
one link in a possible direct route up the Nile valley into east and central
Acknowledgements. The author is indebted for the help of the Okebu elders,
Ondiba and Johaanna Obdia of Aligo and Nduabayo, Ejidio, Cerestine
and Perisiko Karinda of Pukia, to the Mukungu chief of Aligo Mr. Oboko,
and Mr. Onessimus Edrevi of Mvara village. Tht work was pursued by the
Science Society of Mvara secondary school led by Peter Ogani. The advice
of Mr. Hamo Sassoon, Uganda Conservator of Antiquities, is greatly
170 UGANDA JOURNAL
1. Tucker, A.N. Eastern Sudanic languages. Vol. 1 19404 p.3.
2. The Okebu have recently been brought into the story of West Nile by Miss A.
Sutton in papers presented as seminar papers of the department of history, Make-
S. Miss Joyce Whitmiore, Aungba, Congo; private communication.
4. Conghlan H.H., Notes on Prehistoric and early iron in the Old World, Oxford,
Pitt Rivers Museum, 1958. (Occasional Papersi on Technology, no. 8).
5. Forbes, R.J., In History of technology, Vol, 1, edited by Singer, Holmyard and
Hall, 1956, chapter on Extracting, smelting and Alloying pp. 592-598.
6. Thomas, H,B. and Scott, R. Uganda. London, O.U.P.,1935.
7. Wayland, E.j., Preliminary studies of the tribes of Karamoja. (Journal of the
Royal Anthropological Society, London, 61, 1931, pp. 187-230).
8. Jeffreys, M.D.W. Some notes on the Bikom blacksmiths. (Man, London, 52, no.75,
1952, pp. 49.-51.
9, Sassoon, H. Iron-smelting the hill village of Suhur, northeastern Nigeria (Man,
London, 64, November 1964, no. 215, pp. 174-178).
10. Sassoon, H. Early sources of iron in Africa. (South African Archaeological Bulletin
Cape Town, 18, 1963, pp,176-180),
11. Arkell, A.J. A history of the Sudan to 1821, London, 2nd Edition, 1961, p.174.
Uganda Journal, 34, 2 (1970) pp. 171-177.
THE PERFORMANCE OF UGANDAN AFRICAN CHILDREN
ON SOME PIAGET CONSERVATION TASKS
By B. OrTAAA
Piaget was a pioneer in the field of child psychology who recognized
that a critical event in the development of a child's sense of perception was
the age at which the child understood that a quantity remained the same
after a transformation had taken place in the shape of the vessel containing
the initial substance. Thus, a young child may be deceived in believing that
when a litre of water is transferred from a tall glass into a short broad beaker
that a different quantity existed in the second vessel from the first. The
age at which a child would recognize that the quantity remained the same
was defined by Piaget as the age of conservation' (e.g. the age at which a
child is able to maintain that two amounts of a substance or liquid remain
the same after a perceptual transformation has taken place into a different
shape). Piaget did most of his analysis upon Swiss children, amongst whom
he found that the 'age of conservation' was between 6 and 7 years.
Validation studies on Piaget's work have tried to find if the stages of
development of Swiss children described by Piaget are identifiable in other
populations, and the; extent to which the relationships between underlying
abilities in any one stage are similar to those set forth in the Piaget theory.
The' aim of the exploratory study reported here was to enquire into the
validity of Piaget's claim concerning the emergence of conservation abilities
in African children. Studies done in West Africa by Price-Williams in 1961,'1
1962;2 Greenfield, 1966;3 Beard, 1967;4 and Etuk, 19675 have largely sup-
ported Piaget, but at the same time the radical difference in the achievement
of conservation and the mode of concept formation as between Tiv and
Wolof, as reported by Price-Williams and Greenfield, reveals the need for
studies in a variety of African cultures.
Specific questions to which this exploratory study sought answers were :
1. What patterns of thinking do Ugandan African children reveal on some
of Piaget's conservation tasks?
2. Are there differences in the conservation abilities revealed by boys and
The conservation tasks used included those of conservation of number,
conservation with counting, conservation of an amount of liquid, conservation
of an amount of clay, and conservation of area. The first three tasks were
taken, with modifications, from those used by Almy and associates.6 The
remaining tasks were taken from Vernon's (1969) "Piaget battery".7
Task one involved the conservation of the equality of number in two
rows of buttons (one row with 11 red buttons atd the second with 11 yellow
buttons) through two transformations ot bunching one row, and then
spreading the other out. After each transformation the child was asked, "Are
there more red buttons or more yellow buttons or are they the same?" Then
he was asked for an explanation, "Why do you think so?"
Task two involved the counting of a set of eleven buttons, followed
by two transformations of bunching and spreading the buttons. After each
transformation the subject was asked, "How many?"
Task three involved the conservation of an amount of liquid when it
was poured from one of two identical glasses into a shallow dish. The sub-
ject was asked, "Is there more here (in dish) or more there (in standard
glass) or are they still the same?" He was then asked for an explanation,
"Why do you think so?" The same questions were asked after the water
was emptied from the shallow dish into a narrower, taller glass.
The fourth task involved the conservation of an amount of clay when
it was rolled from a ball into a "sausage"; and when it was rolled back
into a ball. After each of the two transformations involved in this process.
the question put is, "Now have you got more clay, or have I, or have we
both the same amount?" This was followed by, "Why do you think so?"
The fifth task involved the conservation of an amount of area when
six one-inch square blocks are spread on a green blotting paper 12 inches
by 9 inches and the same number of blocks are placed in a row in one
corner of a blotting paper of an identical size. The question then put to
the child is to determine whether he considers there is the same amount of
"grass" in each "field" after the farmer has built houses on them. An ex-
planation is then sought after he has given his response.
Each task included orientation or practice which enabled the inter-
viewer to ascertain whether the child's attention was appropriately focused
and whether he appeared to understand the questions.
Each of the five conservation tasks was categorized independently, but
the procedure for categorization was basically similar. It consisted of weigh-
ing total evidence within each task for or against conservation, and then
scoring it as correct or incorrect. It is recognized that this procedure prob-
ably failed to do justice to the intricacies of the children's thinking and
to the obvious relationships among two or three responses associated with
each task, but since the study involved ranges of ages and had a large variety
of conservation tasks, such a procedure seemed feasible.
The subjects of this study were selected in two phases. In phase one
a total of 102 primary school children were selected from two rural schools
in Teso. In phase two, 20 children were selected from alternate classes
from these two schools and from four schools in and around Soroti. Alto-
gether 180 children were interviewed in the second phase. The results re-
ported here apply only to the children shown in Table 1.
The interview schedule was translated from English into Ateso (the
language of the children) by two Iteso teachers. These translations were
then compared with each other and with that made by the investigator him-
self. The translations Owere then discussed and a common version agreed
upon. The investigator (himself an Etesot) administered the interviews and
recorded the responses of the children, translating them directly into English,
except in the cases where some doubts as to the child's intent arose. In the
latter cases, the child's responses were written verbatim in Ateso and trans-
lated into English later. The children were interviewed individually and
each interview took from twenty to thirty minutes. The interviews were
conducted, sometimes under a tree, but mostly in a corner of the staffroom.
TABLE 1: School, Sex, and Classes of Subjects
School Sec P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6 Total
Koloin Boys 19 19 22 9 69
Girls 11 8 6 5 30
Both 30 27 28 14 99
Mukura Boys 21 6 10 8 12 9 66
Girls 14 4 10 3 6 2 39
Both 35 10 20 11 18 11 105
Soroti Boys 1 3 3 7
Muslim Girls 8 3 3 11
Both 9 6 3 18
Fr. Hilders Boys 2 4 6
Girls 8 2 10
Both 10 6 16
All Boys 43 6 36 8 37 18 148
Schools Girls 41 4 23 3 12 7 90
Both 84 10 59 11 49 25 238
As for the scoring of the data, on the "counting" task, to be clearly con-
serving, the subject had not only to count correctly, but had to be able to
give the correct number after the buttons had been "bunched" or "spread
out." On the "conservation of number" task, for a child to be correct, or
clearly conserving, he had not only to demonstrate that two groups of buttons
remained the "same" number after the transformations; in his explanation
he had to indicate that this was so "because the two rows had the same num-
ber before" or "because if put back in rows they would be the same" or "none
has been taken away or added to the rows." A similar explanation was required
for conservers on the "conservation of an amount of liquid" task. The same
was true of the "conservation of an amount of clay" where, to be conserving,
the child had to indicate that the reason why the "clay ball" and the "sausage"
were still the "same" was because "if the sausage was rolled back they would
be the same" or "they were the same before." The task on "conservation of
area" required that the conserver be able to explain that grass would be
equal in the two "fields" after "houses" had been built because the houses in
each field were the same size and number. Because the questions were stand-
ardized, responses had to be taken at their face value.
The study dealt with the extent to which Ugandan African children
were able to conserve on some Piaget "conservation" tasks. It also dealt with
the relationship between the ability to conserve and the class level of the
children (it proved difficult to obtain the exact ages of the children). It further
dealt with the relationship between, the ability to conserve and the sex of the
Table 2 was prepared to indicate the, number and percent of childrei-
conserving in classes P1 P6, for each of the conservation tasks. Exami-
nation of the table shows the extent to which the subjects in the various
classes conserved on the five conservation tasks. For all schools, generally
speaking, the percent of conservers in each of the tasks rises from P1 P6.
This generally conforms to what one would expect on the basis of Piaget's
theory. The fact, however, that even by P6 level, where children are about
12 years old, not all children, are conserving 100 percent, seems to suggest
that this group's progress seems to be slower than Piaget's theory would suggest,
although Piaget recognized that the rate at which conservation abilities appear
might be affected by different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds. This
TABLE 2: Number and Percent of Children Revealing Conservation
Tasks in which
P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6
N=84 N= 10 N=59 N=11 N=49 N=25
N %N %N %N %N %N %
Counting 59 70 9 90 58 98 11 100 47 96 25 100
Number 11 14 3 30 31 53 3 27 41 84 18 72
Liquid 8 10 5 50 33 56 9 82 37 76 23 92
Clay 9 11 3 30 19 32 6 55 30 61 15 60
Area 2 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 4 8 4 16
finding also seems to differ from that of Patricia Greenfield who found that
her Senegalese school children of bush and town yielded the familiar develop-
mental sequence, "vvith conservation virtually always attained by sixth grade
(Primary six)." However it should be recalled that Greenfield's scheme of
categorization seems to have been more "lenient" for she states: "The achie-
vement of conservation was said to be present when a child gave equality
responses to both quantity comparisons with the standard beaker, that involv-
ing the long. thin beaker and that involving the six small beakers. A child who
changed his mind was given credit for his final answer."8 (emphasis, mine).
The finding is also not in agreement with that of Vernon who found that
the eleven year-old boys he tested (Primary five) made very low scores on
Piaget tasks he gave them. He claims, "The worst deficiencies were in all the
conservation, tasks, over 50 percent being nonconservers in every item; they
were very low, also, on number concepts."9 Except for the scores on conser-
vation of area, the scores for all the other conservation tasks for the Primary
five class in this investigation were all above the 50 percent mark. Vernon's
subjects were, however, interviewed in English, and as he himself observes,
"much of the difficulty may be one of communication of ideas."
Conservation abilities seem to vary with the specific task, and also with
the age of children. For this group of children, conservation on counting
seemed the easiest, followed by conservation of a number of buttons, an amount
of liquid, an amount of clay, and area, in that order. The order of difficulty
of the various conservation tasks also seems to be in agreement with previous
findings, except in P2 and P4 and P6 classes, which however, had very small
numbers of subjects.
Table three indicates the number and percentage of children conserving
in Pl, P3, P5 and P6 classes, in four conservation items, in the two rural
schools, Koloin and Mukura.10 Generally the trends of the two schools are
similar, both in terms of the increase in percentage of conservers by class
(P1-P6); and in the order of difficulty of the four conservation tasks. There
are, however, some differences with respect to the percentages of conservation
of counting and number in P1 and P5
TABLE 3: Number and Percent of Children Revealing Conservation, in
P1 P3 P5 P6
Tasks in which N=30 N=27 N=28 N=14
Children Conserved N % N % N % N %
Counting 26 87 26 96 26 93 14 100
Number 4 13 9 33 24 86 11 79
Liquid 4 13 14 52 19 68 13 93
Clay 3 10 8 29 13 46 7 50
N=35 N=20 N= 18 N=11
Counting 22 65 20 100 18 100 11 100
Number 6 17 15 75 14 78 7 64
Liquid 4 11 11 55 15 83 10 91
Clay 6 17 6 30 13 72 8 73
and on number in P3, P5, and P6. The differences are in favour of Koloin
School in PI (counting); P5 (number) and P6 (counting),. and in favour of
Mukura School in P1 (number); P3 (counting and number) and P5 (counting).
The differences are practically, but not statistically, significant. Since counting
and number are more likely to be influenced by practice effects of teaching,
than are the other conservation tasks, and since Uganda teachers at primary
level have a tendency to drill children in mathematics, these differences may
reflect merely the spurious effects of the degree of teaching effectiveness in
those classes in the two schools.
Table 4 indicates the percentage of boys and girls revealing conservation,
by class, in PI, P3 and P5. Investigators in Africa have suggested a tendency
for boys to perform better in all school matters. These data suggested a dif-
ference in favour of girls in P3 and in P5. Since the drop out rate is much
higher for girls than for boys, this difference probably suggests that the girls
who remain in school are a select group and should be expected to perform
better than boys.
TABLE 4: Number and Percent of Boys and Girls Revealing Conservation
PI P3 P5
Tasks in which N=43 N=36 N=37
Children Conserved N % N % N %
Counting 31 72 35 97 35 95
Number 5 12 15 42 30 81
Liquid 4 9 19 53 26 70
Clay 5 12 12 33 21 57
N=41 N=23 N=12
Counting 28 68 23 100 12 100
Number 6 15 16 70 11 92
Liquid 4 10 14 61 11 92
Clay 4 10 7 30 8 67
The quality of explanation of non-conservers seemed to vary not only
from child to child, but from class to class; and there was evidence that these
children were at various points on the operational path to conservation. As
the questioning was standardized it was not possible to probe some of the
responses as Piaget's "method clinique" would prescribe in such cases. It
seemed reasonable to give some of the flavour of the descriptions and respon-
ses of these non-conservers.
In tasks one and three after the orientation, the interviewer bunched or
spread out buttons in task one, and in task three asked the child to pour the
water from one glass into. a bowl, and later from the bowl into the taller,
narrower glass. Questions were then asked which required the child to de-
monstrate conservation. The procedures described earlier were followed for
the other conservation tasks.
What seemed to emerge from the responses of the younger children in-
dicated their concern for the perceptual differences arising in the bunching
or spreading of buttons; the pouring of water from one container to another
container of a different size and height; the rolling of the ball of clay, etc.
Older non-conservers seemed to vocalize their own uncertainty by indicating
that the two elements being compared appeared to be the same.
Concerning explanation, one thing which dearly emerged was that an
adult not experienced in listening to or following children's explanations can
be at once frustrated and amused by the apparently naive statements. Frus-
trated because what appeared a simple, short explanation is not easily cate-
gorizable; amused for the same reason. When, for instance, a child explains
that the water in the bowl is the "same" because "it was in the glass" is he
referring to the fact that it was the same water that was in the glass that
has been transferred there, or is he saying that the amount is the same?
However, despite these ambiguities, it was possible to some extent to see
a pattern in the most frequent explanations. The younger children tended
to refer to their actions, "because I poured it there;" the examiner's actions,
"because you bunched (or spread) them;" or to the act done on the objects
"because they were bunched (or spread)y'. In contrast, the older non-conser-
vers tended to give the greater number of ambiguous explanations "because
it was in the glass," or to give a correct explanation through one tranfbr-
mation and an incorrect or ambiguous explanation through the second
transformation. The latter category of non-conserver was clearly nearer to
his destination on the road to operational thinking than the earlier one.
The results of this exploratory investigation of the abilities of Ugandan
African. children, illustrate the usefulness of Piaget techniques in such areas.
Certain developmental trends are suggested which seem to indicate not only
that the children understood the questions posed to them, but also responded
to these questions in a way which reflected the experiences they brought to
the tasks, and the way they viewed their world.
When the P5, and P3 and P1 children are compared, some progress
toward a more stable concept of conservation is suggested, but the contrasts
between the various groups are not as striking as one might expect from the
Piaget theory which stipulates achievement of conservation by age seven or
eight. In this investigation, even by P6 level, when children are about twelve
years old, and when they should be expected to be thinking operationally
according to Piaget's theory, not all children were conserving 100% (see
The lack of striking differences between the group may reflect a number
of factors, some of them arising from the children's own background, and
others stemming, possibly, from inadequacies in, the interviewing procedures.
1, Price-Williams, D.R.A. A study concerning concepts of conservation of quan-
tities among primitive children (Acta Psychologica, 18, 1961, pp. 297-305).
2. Price-Williams, D. A. R. Abstract and concrete modes of classification in a
primitive society. (Brlitish Journal Educational Psychology, 32, 1962, pp. 50-61).
3. Greenfield, P. On culture and conservation. In Bruner (Ed.) Studies in cognitive
growth. New York, Wiley, 1966.
4. Beard, R. An investigation into mathematical concepts among Ghanaian children,
Part 1 (Teacher Education in New Countries, 1, May, 1968).
5. Etuk, E. The development of number concepts: An examination of 'Piaget's
theory with Yoruba speaking children. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
Teachers College Columbia University, 1967.
6. Almy, M., Chittenden, E.IA. and Miller, P. Young children's thinking: studies
of some aspects of Piaget's theory. New York, Teachers College Press, 1966.
7. Vernon,, P. E. Intelligence and cultural environment, London, Mathuen, 1969.
8. Greenfle'd, op. cit, p. 234.
9. Vernon, op. cit, p. 184.
10. P2 and P4 are not included in the table because no children were interviewed
in these classes in Kolhin school as table I shows.
PLACE-NAMES IN KAMPALA
By R.A. SNOXALL and H.B. THOMAS.
Mr R.A. Snoxall, a Past-President of the Uganda Society, who gave his Pre-
sidential Address on 'Some Buganda place-names' (Uganda J., 10, no. 2,
1946, pp. 43-53), has written to comment on Miss Solzbacher's article on Ki-
buli in the Uganda J., 33, no. 2, pp. 163-174.
The origin of the name Kibuli always eluded me. I now feel fairly cer-
tain that the name derives from the Swahili-Arabic Kibla or Kibula,
meaning 'the direction of Mecca, the point to which Muslims turn in
prayer.' The root is common with the Swahili verb kabili = face towards.
This name would identify the area with a religious faith, and alth-
ough it is true to say that: "Kibuli was not an allotment to the Muslim
community such as Nsambya and Rubaga had been, to the Catholics and
Namirembe to the Protestants",, yet it has more religious significance
than any of the other three names. And how very true it is to say of the
fine mosque which now adorns the hill-top that "it serves now as a
maker, (or Kibula, my italics), in Kampala comparable to the cathedrals
at Namirembe, Rubaga and Nsambya."
But when was Kibuli given its name? Can oral tradition substan-
tiate that it began in 1900, when the original grant of land was made to
Prince Mbogo "for himself and his adherents', or did it form a Kibla
for devout Muslims even before that date?
Mr. E. C. Planning in drawing attention to, typographical flaws in his article
on Kikukule (Uganda J., 32, no.2, 1968) notes that on p. 144 Simoni should
read Shimoni. Mr. H. B. Thomas later informed him that he recalls that in
1911 the Nubian Lines' were near what became the Kampala Sports Ground
(now to become the O.A.U. Conference Centre). At that time the 'lines' were
just going out of commission and were named 'Shimoni' (Swahili, shimo =
'in the ravine') after the Ravine Station in Kenya where the Sudanese troops
were frequently stationed.
Uganda Journal. 34, 2 (1970) pp. 179-193.
THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN UGANDA
By H. W. R. HAWES
In 1968 the O.A.U./U.N.E.S.C.O. Conference on Education in Nairobi
called for radical reform in the curriculum of primary education in Africa.
"The aim of that reform should be the replacement of a merely theoret-
ical education for a minority by an education for the Masses whih
should be such as to- contribute towards the training of producers, parti-
cularly agricultural producers, citizens and adults well integrated in
their social and cultural lenvironments.'4'
Thus national leaders are, with justification, concerned about the irrel-
evance of what young children learn in schools to what they are likely to do
later. It is often assumed, as a corollary to this, that what they learn in
schools is a legacy of a colonial past where school syllabuses and text books
were lifted with scant adaptation from metropolitan countries for use in
their colonial possessions.
This article attempts an examination of Uganda's primary school curric-
ulum from the founding of the first recognisable schools to the achievement
of independence in 1962, in an attempt to assess how far these criticisms are
justified. Throughout, a notable discrepancy will emerge between the intent-
ions of those who framed curricula, and what actually happened in schools.
An analysis of the reasons for this discrepancy, besides being of interest
historically, may also serve to illuminate some of the problems facing those
who seek to reappraise Uganda's primary school curriculum today.
The first primary schools in Uganda developed from bible and catechist
classes. The first teachers were European missionaries and the Ugandans
they had trained as evangelists. Indeed it is often very much a matter of
opinion when these classes could actually be termed schools, for instruction ir.
basic school subjects took place informally from the very first missionary
contact. Mackay in a well known passage describes his methods, which few
modern teacher trainers would fault:
"Reading, I am teaching by the "look-and-say" method, and for this
I prepare a series of large type sheets in the Luganda language. It is
wonderful how rapid progress my pupils are making in this way."2
As this passage indicates, first priority in all instruction was in teaching
children skills of basic literacy so that they could read and understand the
bible, the catechism and the prayer book, together with instruction in the
basic elements of the Christian faith. These remained, very naturally, the
core of mission primary education throughout the years which followed; but
almost from the beginning, other elements were present. The following
quotation from a letter of Mackay to his sister illustrates well the deep and
varied nature of the aims of the first religious leaders:
"A powerful race has to be won from darkness to light; superstition and
idolatry have to be overthrown; men have to be taught to love God and
love their neighbour, which means the uprooting of institutions that have
lasted for centuries; labour made noble, the slave set free, knowledge
imparted, and wisdom implanted, and, above all, that true wisdom taught*
which alone can elevate man from a brute to a son of God."3
This passage is quite unambiguous in its priorities. Knowledge of God and
the ability to love God are vital above all, but there are other important
elements. Knowledge is to be imparted and labour made noble. These objec-
tives fne early missionaries set about achieving as soon as possible.
A first and necessary step was the provision of schools for children and
the gradual broadening of their curriculum beyond the mere teaching of
reading. Hence the first recognisable schools developed in the last years of the
nineteenth century.4 By 1902 the White Fathers could announce that their
23 primary schools in mission stations all taught reading, writing and singing
and that they were gradually introducing English, geography and arithmetic,
though in their 700 village schools only reading was taught ... "but we hope
to raise the level of their teaching rapidly by assembling teachers at regular
intervals to receive instruction."5 In the same year the C.M.S. reported
that in their elementary schools, reading, writing, geography and scripture
were taught together with "other subjects."6
In schools such as C.M.S. "Central Schools'"7 or the White Father'
"Little Seminary" schools where teaching or supervision by Europeans was
possible, more ambitious schemes were pursued.
Reports from both missions indicate a desire to increase the intellectual
demands of the syllabus and a marked pride in the achievement of Baganda
children. Favourable comparisons with capabilities of European children
frequently occur. There is a desire to stretch children to see what they are
capable of. Fr. Macou's report of the Little Seminary at Kisubi stresses the
value of what he calls "intellectual gymnastics."8 Such exercises were cer-
tainly practiced at Mengo where the "C.M.S. Gleaner" for 1902 reports that
some boys were told to add up the cost of: "100 cows at 56. 3. 2d; 85
sheep at Rs. 5 annas 8 (at Rs. 14 annas 10 to 1); and 120 goats at 5,000
shells each (at 850 shells to the rupee and Rs. 15 annas 2 to 1). Several
arrived at the correct answer 5,694. 9s. 4d. 45944". The report adds,
"We may be thankful that boys with brains like this arte being trained as
leaders of the church and state in years to come"9
The training of such leaders was seen, quite Inaturally, as an early priority.
Thus schools mainly for the sons of Chiefs, were founded first at Namilyango
(1902), later at Mengo (1905) and Budo (1906) in course of time to develop
according to public school models into the country's first secondary schools.
But the missionaries needed their schools to provide them with more than
leaders. They needed teachers and clerks and storekeepers and interpreters.
In providing a curriculum suitable for the training of such people, they were
also serving the interests of the government. Indeed, in his Special Commis-
sioners's report for 1901, Sil Harry Johnston notes that he has stressed to
the mission societies that:
"If the more intelligent natives were taught to read, write and speak
English, and to acquire a sufficient knowledge of arithmetic in English
they would be able to occupy many of the minor posts in the service of
the Administration, posts which at present are filled by British and British
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
To this the missions responded though never losing sight of their own main
aims. In 1903 a provisional regulation recorded in the Namilyango College
log book states :
"Boys on whose education time and money have been spent but who
are incapable of becoming catedhists, will either be sent away, or if their
characters are good, will receive additional education to fit them for
To this end also "Central Schools" and later "High Schools" offered instruct-
ion in English.
In the process of widening the range of curriculum offered at school, the
need for developing manual and vocational training was not forgotten. The
task of "making labour noble" was seen both as an educational goal and an
economic necessity, as a means of teaching skills and attitudes of mind to fit
a new generation into life in a modem Christian community, but also as a
means of producing farmers who would grow export crops and artisans with-
out whom, neither missions, government nor trade could prosper. In two
letters to the Buganda regents Stanley outlines the imperial position. In 1901
he urges them to convince the British that Uganda is worth spending money
on by stimulating production of "skins, ivory, rubber, gums and such things"
and by teaching men to be carpenters, blacksmiths, brickmakers and even
stonemasons." He concludes:
"The Waganda are very clever, I know personally, but they can be
cleverer, and when the railway reaches the lake there will be a great
demand for all kinds of workmen to build houses, shops, churches,
Later the same year, after congratulating the Baganda because "day by day
you are becoming more and more like ourselves", he concludes in a letter:
"Therefore let us go on. You on your part to see that your children go to
school regularly and learn to read and write, and when they are strong
enough, to see that every boy learns some trade whereby he can add
something, however little, to the wealth, the beauty and sanitation of
Uganda. And we (on) our part will send our clever young men to teach
your youths the use of tools, the beauty of work, the value of your trees
and plants, and the riches that lie in your soil, and how to grow things
that when sold will bring money to Uganda, and make everyone more
Some of the first formal education provided, therefore, by both missions
was vocational in character. Perhaps the largest undertaking was the very
successful Uganda Industrial Mission founded by C.M.S. missionaries J.B.
Purvis and K. Borup. Here effective instruction was offered in carpentry and
joinery, printing and bookbinding and in the techniques of building.14 In
1901, Bishop Hanlon of the Mill Hill fathers reported that industrial training
was offered in all twelve of their missions. There would not have been any
feeling at that time among the Baganda that vocational training represented
anything in any way inferior. A letter from a Muganda clergyman writing
to an English missionary in Liverpool proudly, though somewhat incorrectly,
"now in every place throughout Buganda they send all their children to
be taught; not religion only but other things-carpentry, arithmetic,
brickmaking, building and blacksmithing."115
In the earliest years of educational development it seemed, therefore as
if the Primary School curriculum might be developed by the missionaries as
an instrument of change in society, not only by providing literacy through
which the faithful could read the scriptures, but aso by providing an academic
training for the social and intellectual elite to fit them for leadership, and a
vocational training aimed at establishing a, middle class of artisans and:
agricultural innovators. Such would have been- Stanley's ideal, also Mackay's
and probably also Tucker's; but the mission* system of education carried
within itself elements which rendered thie achievement of these ideals
The first lay in the character and educational backgrounds of the mission-
ary leaders themselves. With the institutionalising of education and thie
arrival from Europe of missionaries whose concern was to be entirely with
school education, it was almost inevitable that the formal educational tradi-
tions of England and France should be transferred to Africa, and moreover,
that African education should not reflect the current educational practice in
the metropolitan country, but that obtaining at the time when the missionary
teachers themselves were at school. In African educational systems more
developed than Uganda's, elementary school codes clearly reflected this. A
comparison between the Revised Code of 1862 in England and its subsequent
modifications and the various elementary codes for West African colonies
published in the Board of Education Special Reports for Educational Subjects
between 1900 and 1905 reveal that whole sections had been lifted from one
to the other. In Uganda the same principle obtained. The first professional
educationalist employed by the Anglican church was C.M. Hattersley who
was invited by Bishop Tuckier in 1898 to organise the church's first system of
primary schools and the training of teachers for them. Dynamic and commit-
ted as he was, Hattersley's horizons remained those of his own very limited
education and training. The present General Secretary of the G.M.S.
describes the result:
"With immense energy he at once set about providing the, Baganda
children in their thousands, the same kind of schooling that he had
experienced himself and if that was educationally hidebound, Hat-
tersley himself was not to blame."'16
Two further factors contributed to the process of rendering the curri-
culum both more academic and less efficient. These are, first the attitudes of
the community towards education and second the relation between the
volume of education provided and the means available for its efficient ad-
ministration. In the earliest years of the century when white men were few,
when the ted miques of the new material revolution, were still new and
exciting, when main contacts were with missionaries who were as prepared
to dig, build and do carpentry as they were to teach and pray, when colo-
nial pressures were towards the agricultural exploitation of Uganda, there
was no reason for an intelligent schoolboy or his Ugandan teacher to question
the occupational value of technical or agricultural training. But this state
of affairs did not last. Kenya developed, Indians arrived, and more wite
men came. White men in administrative and teaching posts were observed
to enjoy more prestige and often to earn more than white men in technical
posts. With the exception of a few planters, agriculturalists advised; they
did not farm. Furthermore as jobs became available it was observed that
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
the majority of them were clerical, that clerks and interpreters enjoyed re-
gular wages, status, and, through their access to information, a "window
into the establishment," which carpenters and farmers did not. Hence child-
ren, and their teachers, began to judge the effectiveness of education, as
they still do, in terms of the differential rewards accruing to it.117 Another
influence tended to sway rural communities towards a more "bookish" type
of elementary education. This was the mission policy of making literacy a
condition of baptism. Baptism was attractive to communities both for spirit-
ual and material reasons. All the chiefs were Christians, so were all the
teachers and nearly all the wage earners. Consequently many thousands of
village schools sprang up, particularly in Buganda and other Bantu areas.
Communities were fiercely proud of these schools and in, a way they were
far more closely integrated into village life than are schools today. Yet parents
and local leaders did not tend to regard them primarily as preparing a child
for further schooling or for employment, but rather as places where children
could be prepared to pass their initiation test into the Christian community.
Viewed in these terms only the acquisition of literacy assumed any importance.
The second factor, the efficiency of elementary education, is closely
related to the equation of baptism and literacy mentioned above. Because
both missionaries and native communities saw education as a road to con-
version, schools multiplied to an extent only equalled in East and Central
Africa, by those in Malawi. In Uganda, as in Malawi, the educational
system thus became over-extended. Facilities for inspection, for supply ot
educational materials and above all, for the supply of educated and trained
teachers proved totally inadequate in the face of the numbers enrolled.18
Village schools usually shared accommodation with churches, possessed io
educational materials other than printed reading sheets and were taught
by pupil teachers, themselves products of the same system. A, Busoga mission-
ary writing in 1913 describes a typical problem.
"It is most pathetic when you find, as in some places, 3 slates have to
supply the writing needs of 40 scholars; and some of the children where
they have no pupil teacher, sending their blackboards to a teacher four
or five miles away to have a copy chalked on for them."19
At elementary schools in mission stations similar constraints operated. Here
the standard of accommodation and instruction was a little higher and
European supervision usually available; but trained teachers and sufficient
equipment were largely lacking. Such deficiencies necessarily affect both
the quality and type of teaching possible. An ill-trained teacher in poor
accommodation, without supervision without equipment, with too many
pupils, must resort to highly formal methods of instruction. He has no alter-
native. He, in turn, indoctrinates others, and a self perpe'.uating tradition
of poor instruction is created. Writing in the "Uganda Notes" in 1913 the
Rev. J. Britton, principal of the Mengo Normal School issued an impassion-
ed plea for better facilities for teacher training "if the 55,000 children en-
rolled are to blie given any education worthy of the name."20 Two years later
an educational conference was held by the Protestant church at Budo (April
17-26, 1915) with a view to tightening up the system of school organisation
and control; but sheer weight of numbers, lack of staff and of funds made
any practical action largely impossible.
It was this situation which the international Phelps Stokes Commission
encountered when it visited Uganda in. 1924- The commissioners visited
Uganda for two weeks in March. Their report is highly critical. Indeed no
territory in East or Central Africa came in for quite such abuse. Lack of
supervision is castigated, as also are lack of organisation and administration.
"There is probably no British colony in Africa more immediately in need
of educational supervision as Uganda... The chaotic condition of edu-
cational organisation in Uganda is quite equal to the inadequacy of super-
vision. . .
The Educational objectives and adaptations discussed in the first chapter
of the report are notably lacking in the schools of Uganda. With all the
wealth of agricultural resources of the Protectorate, there is not a single
agricultural school to prepare the Natives to take advantage of their
wealth. The few institutions that give any attention whatever to the
subject are negligible. The extreme neglect is almost equalled as regards
industrial training. The teaching of hygiene is poor and limited. Nature
study and physical science are almost entirely neglected. Under such
conditions it is obvious that the educational content of the school curric-
ulum should be radically supplemented. The courses of instruction
should be re-arranged from the highest to the lowest."2'
Criticism in such terms invites disagreement. It could be pointed out
that some very promising experiments in vocational training at primary level,
at Ngora, at Mukono, or that initiated the year previously by Mathers in
Bugisu, had been overlooked. It could also be claimed that the report, draw-
ing as it did, so largely on the experience of Mr. Garfield Williams was slant-
ed towards consideration only of the C.M.S. schools and that, particularly
in the matter of teaching vocational skills, the three Catholic missions exhi-
bied a considerably more practical approach. It could be noted that in its
criticism of elementary education the commission took the widest interpre-
tation of the term "school". Thus what easily might have been classed as
useful catechism centres were, in fact, criticised as "educationally futile"
schools.22 Yet, in substance, the criticisms of the report were valid. Curric
ulum in schools was disorganised and decentralised; narrowly and unproduc
lively academic. Where the real weakness of the report lies, is in its naiwv
assumption that a new direction can be given to education merely by rear-
ranging courses of instruction.
Over the next twenty five years many attempts were made to effect such
rearrangements in order to achieve such "objectives and adaptations". Their
success or failure was to depend far more on the ability of their teachers, and
the willingness of the community to accept the changes, than on the contents
of the new courses.
The publication of the Phelps Stokes reports was one of a series of in-
fluenaes23 which, in an era of reconstruction, was responsible for a radical
change in Colonial Office education policy, leading to the appointment in
Uganda, as in many other African territories, of a Director of Education, and
to the creation, in 1924, of the Advisory Committee on Education in the
Colonies which was to dominate and unify curriculum policy throughout
Africa for the next twenty-five years. The Advisory Committee's first and
probably most important memorandum on Educational policy in British trop-
ical Africa was published in 1925. It expresses with great force and clarity
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
the principles of adaptation to environment already argued in the Phelps
Stokes report and to be echoed the following year in the "Hadow Report",
The education of the adolescent,24 which was to exercise such a great influ-
ence on the history of education in Britain.
The memorandum is quite specific in its aims and priorities. The task
of education is first:
"to render the individual more efficient in his or her condition of life.
whatever it may be, and to promote the advancement of the community
as a whole through the improvement of agriculture, the development
of native industries, the improvement of health, the training of people
in the management of their own affairs and the inculcation of the true
ideals of citizenship and service".25
Elementary education, conceived as being mainly in the vernacular, should
be related to local conditions. There should be co-operation in curriculum
"among scholars with aid from Government and Missionary Societies in
the preparation of vernacular textbooks. The content and method of
teaching in all subjects, especially History and Geography, should be
adapted to, the conditions of Africa".26
The memorandum is equally specific on the need for establishing a thorough
system of educational supervision and for adequate facilities for the training
and re-training of teachers which it states, should receive "primary conside-
As a statement of objectives for curriculum reform the Memorandum
is an admirably clear document and, in respect of its advice on syllabus con-
struction and textbook reform, certainly possible to implement, provided the
will to do so was present. It was present in Uganda. One of the first acts
of the newly appointed Director of Education was to convene a syllabus and
textbook committee which met in July and October 1925 and, with commend-
able speed, planned and authorised a provisional syllabus of studies for Ele-
mentary Vernacular and Intermediate schools. Early the following year
cyclostyled syllabuses for normal schools were drafted. In 1928 special
syllabuses for girls' schools both at the Intermediate and Elementary levels
were issued. Syllabuses for the vocational Central Schools followed in 1930.
These schools were designed specifically to provide a three year course of
terminal education for pupils in the fifth, sixth and seventh years of schooling.
The medium of instruction was Luganda or Swahili. The syllabus, which was
designed to vary in emphasis according to the school or area, included an
elementary business course, instruction in the ordinary routine work of native
court records and the collection of poll tax, training in agriculture and in
carpentry with liberal time allocations for practical work. By contrast, the
parallel "Intermediate A" Schools, taught in English, had a considerably more
academic syllabus. In addition to syllabus making, very considerable efforts
were made in the production of textbooks in English, Luganda and Swahili,
nda for use in the Buganda Province."27 The, Annual Reports of 1929 and
dum is clearly present. By the end of 1927 the Director of Education could
report, "We have practically completed a good range of text books in Luga-
nda for the use the Buganda Province."27 The Annual Reports of 1929 and
1930 list no less than twentyfive new publications, many available in more
than one language version.
Examination of the content of both syllabuses and textbooks reveals a
genuine attempt to translate the principles of adaptation into practice, often
with considerable imagination, as in the Elementary Vernacular combined
geography and history syllabus with its emphasis on what present-day edu-
cational jargon would term "environmental studies." Among the first text-
books prepared were those on agriculture and on nature study written by
E. G. Staples, the Agricultural Department's Superintendent of Agriculture;
a textbook on hygiene, by Dr. H. B. Owen, the medical tutor at Makerere Col-
lege; a book on poultry keeping by a Mr. Richardson, the Assistant Chief
Veterinary Officer and "a special Hygiene book for girls' schools . com-
piled by the ladies of the C.M.S."28
No amount of good will and co-operation alters the fact that the intro-
duction of new curricula into a school system involves problems of implement-
action and of acceptance. The former is very largely an administrative matter
involving problems of production of syllabus materials, training and retraining
of teachers, ensuring adequate supervision, all ultimately dependent on ade-
quate planning and adequate funding; the latter depends on the absorptive
capacity of the school system, the understanding and acceptance of the aims
of the curriculum by those who administer and supervise, by those who teach,
by those who learn, and by those who send children to school. The framers
of the new curricula in the 1920's faced massive problems on all counts.
Administratively they had to contend with an over-extended school system,
which, because of its fundamental links with evangelisation, the mission so-
cieties were unwilling to limit. They rad to train teachers for this system
and, if possible, provide inservice training along the lines envisaged by the
Memorandum. They had to retrain or replace present staffs of existing schools
and classes and to find suitable staffs for new ones. 'Tey had to provide
increased and effective supervision in a country where schools were scattered
and communications poor.
Nevertheless, with the good will and co-operation which existed, much
could have been achieved had adequate money been available. It was not. It
was a serious blow for African education that the change of policy in the
mid 1920's took place so shortly before a world economic clump; to be fol-
lowed by a world war, so that both attention and funds were diverted from
African colonies. During the next two decades both government and mission
education services carried on their work in conditions of extreme penury.
Thus supervision was curtailed. The total staff of the Education Department
in the 1930's at no time exceeding eight, and facilities for teacher training
were sadly limited. Teachers in the field, far from receiving the increased
support and recognition they deserved, had their salaries cut.29 This did
not improve their morale.
Perhaps the most outstanding effect of the financial crisis was that only
a small proportion of primary schools could be selected for government aid.
In 1934 only 16 per cent of the total school population of the Protectorate
was studying in aided schools.30 The vast majority of the rest were in all-
age bush schools, for which 'literacy centres' might be a more adequate name.
Mission societies could not ignore these schools, for it was through them that
the process of building the foundations of a Christian society depended, but
neither could they afford to aid them adequately. Attempts to do so were
made: colleges and courses for bush school teachers were created and they
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
were visited when possible by local missionaries and travelling teachers; but
the size of the problem quite outweighed attempts to deal with it. As a result
of attempts to grapple with the problem, mission facilities for supervision of
aided schools were seriously weakened while the bush schools themselves re-
mained, for the most part, as they had done before 1925, miserably housed,
staffed and equipped.
In schools where it could be implemented, the new curriculum had a
mixed reception. A government syllabus was welcomed, still more the text-
books which were written for it and its academic content was readily accepted.
Attitudes to the ideas of adaptation, particularly as interpreted through the
more practical elements of the syllabus, remained sceptical. Society had not
changed, rural opportunities had not increased, nor had openings for clerks
and interpreters diminished. Moreover it could be readily observed that the
majority of those who taught teachers and those who supervised them might
preach adaptation; but tended to reward examination success. So agricul-
ture, nature study and craft work were accepted in schools very much in
proportion to the enthusiasm of those who introduced them. If craft work
and agriculture were encouraged in schools with the energy and devotion
displayed by Mathers in Bugisu results would have been very impressive; but
even he was forced to admit "that the pupils tire sooner over handwork than
over reading and singing and have to be rerninded and continually urged
to stick to it."31
With the majority of pupils and teachers in primary schools, however,
there was no question that vocational elements in the syllabus were accepted
with little more enthusiasm than they had been ten years before. In the
Central Schools where these elements were supposed to provide the basic core
of the curriculum, the syllabus broke down completely, so that by 1935 it
had to be admitted by the Director of Education that the syllabus had proved
a failure :
"The chief reason for this would probably be that the African master
in charge was equipped neither by his training nor experience to ensure
the fulfilment of the aims concerned, and hence that he failed particu-
larly on the practical side to convince the community that his school was
of much worth. Given half-hearted and largely ineffective practical in-
struction, a smattering only of much coveted Ehnglish, little recognition
during the course and, apart from Farm School admission, practically
none at the end of the course, it is not surprising that many Africans
and some of the Educational Secretaries regard the results as disappoint-
The Central Schools were closed in 1937 and in 1938 a new pattern of
schooling was introduced a six year primary followed by a three year Junior
Secondary course. Existing official syllabuses consequently virtually ceased
operation and there began a period later described by a postwar Director of
Education as "a period of experiment"33 in fact a state of curricular anar-
chy notable for the singular lack of unanimity in educational effort between
missions, and between missions and the Education Department. During this
time, despite official pronouncements, few indications remained in schools
either of the philosophy of "adaptation" or of the spirit of co-operation in
curriculum planning so evident in the 1920's.
During these years, however, the Department of Education under the
guidance of a wise director, Harold Jowitt, made two decisions which were
to have a great effect on later curriculum development. The first was in res-
pect of language, when in 1937,34 before the de la Warr Commission, and
again in 1945,35 the case, for English as a future lingua franca was argued
and successfully defended against protagonists both of the vernacular and of
The second concerned teacher training, and involved a clear recognition
not only of the need to raise the quantity of teachers in Primary Schools, but
also their quality. This recognition of the need for quality, for a higher
standard of basic education in trainees, for the need for them to develop a
"self-reliant attitude" and a real understanding both of the material they
teach and the -community they teach in, was central to Jowitt's educational
thinking. It is exemplified in his three wise books for teachers in training,36
in the report of the 1944 conference chaired by him on Primary Teacher
Training37 and in his persistent attempts, despite financial stringencies, to raise
the basic educational standards for entry to professional training. The effects
of these efforts have been felt over subsequent decades. No single factor
influences curriculum in Primary schools more than the quality of its teachers.
When a new Primary syllabus did emerge it proved to be a logical
sensible, and workable document reflecting the'experience of the considerable
numbers of teachers and teacher trainers who had been brought together to
draw it up. Its introduction indicates clearly that the main purpose of the
primary school lies in the training of those for whom education is terminal
so that: "Even if they do not proceed to Secondary schools they will be ab'e
to regard themselves as having completed one stage, which besides the
general benefit which it has conferred upon them should, in the case of those
who return to their villages, have equipped them to take an intelligent
part in the more primitive economics of peasant cultivation and rural
Analysis of the content of the syllabus reveals a sensible and practical
attempt to translate this statement of the theory of adaptation to the needs
and conditions of postwar Uganda, and certainly no valid criticisms could
be made of it on the grounds of lack of relevance.
Less attention seems to have been paid, however, to the matter of
relating material to the age and ability range of the children and problems
created by this lack of grading became more apparent as children began to
enter school younger.
The limitations of the 1949 syllabus, like, those of syllabuses before and
after it, lay not in the manner in which it was drawn up but in the difficulties
teachers had in teaching it; both because their own backgrounds were
inadequate to the demands made on them, particularly in the English,
Arithmeticc and Art syllabuses, or because necessary materials were too costly
to procure, as in the Art and Health Education syllabus for upper primary
classes, or because the materials just did not exist. The dearth of books in
vernaculars other than Luganda was rendered more! acute by the national
language policy and exacerbated by the inharmonious relations which existed
in that period between government and missions and between the two deno-
minations themselves. Local squabbles over orthography on occasion either
hampered or completely frustrated schemes to produce text-books.39
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
It would, therefore, be unwise to over-estimate the extent to which the
1949 syllabus reflected the real curriculum in the schools. Like those before
it, it was probably capable of implementation only in full primary schools
with trained staff with a certain scale of equipment and facilities for using
it. These represented no more than a quarter of the aided schools in 1949.
Elsewhere it is likely that all efforts would have been concentrated on
achieving sufficient literacy and numeracy for children to gain entrance into
the full primary schools.
The 1949 syllabus remained in force for over ten years, but during this
time there can be detected a gradual change of official emphasis towards the
purpose of the primary school.
The change is gradual. The two major planning documents of the 1950's,
the report of the Nuffield Foundation's East and Central Africa Study
Group4o and that of Uganda's own African Education Commission,41 both
published in 1953, re-affirm the rural basis of education. Indeed the Nuffield
Report advocates a return to a four year middle school system, a pattern
too close to that of the old Central Schools for Uganda to consider adopting.
Yet even in these documents there can be discerned the beginning of a
new concern that the approaches and methods of teaching children in British
Primary schools, advocated in the Hadow reports and by now gradually
making their impact in Britain, should be adopted in Uganda. The Nuffield
report's plea for 'active education' in which all work in the infant classes is
to be group work and "the class should always be subdivided into 4 groups
of 7 or 8 children"42 working by themselves with appropriate furniture and
equipment, represents a very high order of wishful thinking.
At the same time it is possible to observe a change of attitude among
those responsible for curricular policy. The men, of the 1930's and 40's, like
Sykes, Jowitt or Snoxall may not have been sufficiently in touch with the
latest trends of educational theory; but they knew Uganda and the peoples
of Uganda, spoke its language and were passionately interested in its socio-
cultural heritage. Those who succeeded them, men such as D.S. Miller and
J.T. Gleave, were not. They were highly competent professionals but never,
in their bones, 'Ugandans.' As a result something important was lost to the
Primary Schools curriculum.
Yet there is not the least question that during these years the quality of
primary education, if not its relevance to tne community, improved
dramatically. This was largely due to simple economic factors. There was
more money to aid and equip schools and supply teachers. But it was also
due to the fact that teachers were trained to a higher level, and it is precisely
in this insistence that priority should be given, to quality in teacher training
that the African Education Commission of 195~ made its greatest
contribution to the improvement of standards in primary schools.
It was not until 1959 that the two year printed syllabus of Junior
Secondary Schools was issued,43 while the Primary School syllabus did not
appear until early the following year.44 When they did appear they reflected
in many respects this change of attitude. There is no longer a preamble
stating the objectives of the syllabus, nor do subject syllabuses, on the whole,
contain any, but from analysis of the subject content it seems likely that the
framers of the syllabus, consciously or unconsciously conceived of it, first and
foremost, as preparation for further studies.
Gone, too, in certain instances, is the Ugandan emphasis in the early
years. Local history has been replaced by a study of 'Landmarks of World
History.' Yet it is in the attitude to the more rurally orientated syllabuses that
the differences are most apparent. The teaching of Handwork is dismissed
in less than half a page and the Nature Study syllabus, now separated from
that of gardening, has acquired distinctly bookish overtones. Nor does the
Junior Secondary syllabus show any serious indication of the vocational
bias proposed by their Binns and D.e Bunsen Reports and even reiterated in
the 1959 Sessional Paper.45 Thus was the principle of adaptation finally
While it would be unrealistic to suppose that the 1960 syllabus was
followed in any but a proportion of Uganda's Primary schools, it is also
certain that it was more widely followed than any that preceded it. Economic
reasons and the quality of teachers were probably one major reason for this,
but another, certainly is that there was' increased identification of the aims of
society-the parents, the teachers, the children---with those of the syllabus.
The syllabus laid stress on the acquisition of 'book knowredgei' on the learn-
ing of English and of a sound grasp of arithmetical processes. Emphasis on
environmental study, on aesthetic and on vocational aspects was reduced.
Society approved, in the main, of these changes, because they saw in them
a very direct relevance to the goal towards which nearly all aspired, that of
entrance to a Senior Secondary School, hende to School Certificates hence
fol the. fortunate few, to the ranks of the new elite.
Throughout the seventy years of Primary curriculum evolution one is
conscious of certain elements which occur and recur and which have exercis-
ed an important effect upon the nature of the curriculum and its quality.
The first is that 'never at any time has it been possible for the majority of
teachers to teach or even to attempt to teach what has been laid down for
them in the official curriculum. From the earliest times the primary school
system has been over-extended, partly because of its close link with baptism.
From the very beginning too few teachers with too little training have taught
too many children with too little equipment. Il-trained teachers in difficult
new circumstances can seldom innovate. They must take refuge behind a
fence of formality. Each noiw generation of hard pressed teachers indoc rinates
the next so that there is created a self-perpetuating tradition of poor instruct-
ion. It is only when serious attention begins to be paid and money spent on
training of teachers that the situation, begins to improve.
The second is that only at the highest levels of curriculum planning
was the philosophy of adaptation firmly appreciated. Men such as Mackay,
Jesse Jones, Huxley or later, in Uganda, Jowitt might appreciate the need
to relate education to the rural environment of the child. But the majority
of European educators in the field, from Hattersley onwards, were products
of an English education system, dominated by traditions born in the rough
and tumble of the Industrial Revolution-literary, competitive and essentially
urban in character. Such were the men whno headed Normal schools and
Training Colleges. The extreme pressure under which they worked gave them
little time to re-evaluate their educational philosophies. Towards the end of
the period there is evidence that their views were supported, tacitly if not
overtly, by those in a. position to frame official curricula.
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
The third is that at no time during the period in question did the rewards
of rural life and vocational education appear to match those of urban
employment and literary education. Only through the latter could regular
employment, prospects of further education and promotion to. the highest
social and econndmic brackets available to Africanrs in colonial times be
assured. Rural society, bound to tradition, dull, conservative and inert offered
even less attractions to an energetic young person than it does today, and
for that reason nearly all children, most parents and most teachers were pre-
pared to support a school curriculum which contributed to their children
passing their examinations and thus obtaining the chance, however uncertain,
of their getting out of the village and climbing still further up the economic
and social ladder.
Ten years have passed since the issue of the last colonial syllabus, yet,
if we are honest, we must admit that the generalisations made above remain,
on the whole, valid today and that the position is changing only very gradually.
The primary system remains over-extended. There have been improve-
ments in the training of teachers, but much wastage within the profession
particularly in the case of Grade III teachers. There are still many rural
schools understaffed, overcrowded and very poorly equipped, quite unable
to teach the material laid down in the 1965 syllabus. Yearly the school age
population grows. Yearly more schools have to be, erected, more still if the
targets set by the current five year development plan are to be met. Rises in
local and central revenue harldy keep pace with this expansion, so that
schools still exist.
Recent evidence from Busoga would indicate that here, at least, their
numbers are very great and certainly many still operate in Buganda, Ankole
and Kigezi.46 It is in these schools that the 'handed down:' curriculum sur-
vives in its purest form and there is little reason to doubt that, in certain
cases, the curricular approaches of the early years of the century survive,
having been passed on from one untrained teacher to another in much the
same way as oral tradition. One thing is for sure. The 1965 curriculum is
not followed in these schools.
Nor does the 1965 syllabus for Primary Schools reflect any wholeheart-
ed return to the policies of 'adaptation'.47 True, it has shed many of the
more formal and English centred elements which characterized the previous
document and certainly more attention has been made to base studies on
the child's experience in a rural environment. But equally certainly tKe docu-
ment remains primarily orientated towards the preparation of leavers to-
wards wage earning employment or, preferably, entry to higher education.
This orientation is farther strengthened by the manner in which the docu-
ment is interpreted by the teachers who teach and by the pupils who learn.
In fact neither the syllabus nor the way it is interpreted have much in com-
mon with the philosophy expressed at the Nairobi Conference.
It remains to ask whether, in fact, parents, teachers and, in more recent
years, syllabus framers, have merely been obtuse in failing to recognize the
arguments so strongly put forward by their betters over the last half century;
or whether in 1968 as in 1925 it is still worth everyone's while to try, what-
ever the cost, to get an education which will help to secure entrance to
further education or at second best to a wage earning job, preferably a white
collar job. There is much to support the argument that given the present
wage and social structure of Uganda, it still is; and that few educationalists
who preach the virtues of rural education would in fact seek it for their
It would seem, therefore, somewhat naive in the face of past history
or present facts, to expect any immediate and overwhelming support for a
new policy of 'back to the land' education for primary school leavers. Change
must go much deeper than mere syllabus revision and Uganda's 'Move to
the Left' policy can be seen at at least one way of providing a social context
in which the Nairobi recommendations could become a reality. But, as this
article has repeatedly stressed, there is yet another essential. Untrained or
undertrained teachers with few facilities and little equipment cannot innovate.
They must have the training and, within reason, the means to carry out a
1. O.A.U./U,N.E.S.C.O. Final Report, Conferencel on Education and Scientific and
Technical Training in relation to development in Africa, Nairobi, 16-,27, July,
2. Mackay of Uganda by his sister, 1890, p.106. He goes on to praise his teacher
training at the Free Church Normal School 'and at Moray House and wishes it
were possible that "all missionaries were taught how to teach."
3. Ibid., quoted in the Foreword,
4. Perhaps the school started by Miss Chadwick in Mengo in 1895 has as good a
claim as any to be considered the first.
5. Board of educationn Special Reports on Educational Subjects 1905, pp.189-90
6. Ibid., p.196.
7. Different missions used different terminology. At this time the C.M.S. refer to
their rural elementary schools as "village" or "bush" schools, their schools in
mission centres as "central schools". Mengo was the first and largest of the
-entral schools, founded in 1898. By 1915 the organisation had become truly
complicated comprising Village Day Schools, Junior Day Schools, Senior Day
Schools, Central Schools and High Schools. This nomenclature is, however, some-
what misleading asi it seems to refer to the situation of the school and the standard
of staffing and accommodation rather than its educational level.
8. Special Reports, op. cit., p.191.
9. C.M. Gleaner 1902, p.27.
10. Colonial Office, Report by His Majesty's Special Commissioner on the Protector-
ate of Uganda, Cmd. 671, 1901, p.18.
11. H.P. Gale, Uganda and the Mill Hill Fathers, Macmillan, 1959, p,246.
12. H.M. Stanley to Zakaria Kisingiri, Mengo Notes, January 1901, p.36.
13. H.M. Stanley to Buganda regents, Mengo Notes, May 1901, p.50.
14. "Mengo Notes" for September 1900 records proudly: "It speaks well not only
for the intelligence of the Baganda, but for the sound training the boys have
received at the Industrial Mission that three boys were able to compose and set
up the whole of the type of our last number, and to print it too whilst Mr. Borup
was away. They had no European assistance whatever beyond correcting proofs
and a few suggestions as to the position of the various articles."
15. Rev. Silas Alwonya to Rev, C. J, Jones, C.M. Gleaner, 1901, p.119.
16. J. V. Taylor, The growth uf the Church in Buganda, S.C.M. Press 1958, p.93.
Also quoted in G.P. McGregor, Kings College Budo, O.U.P., 1967.
17. There are close parallels with the situation in West Africa, ably described by
P. Foster in Education and social change, in Ghana, 1965.
18, By 1922, 157,000 were enrolled, Uganda Blue Book, 19224
19. Uganda Notes, April 1913, p.76.
PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
20. Uganda Notes, August 1913, p.188. In a very outspoken plea, Britton states,
"We cannot possibly go on as we are, the position from the Native's point of
view is intolerable."
21. Education in East Africa. Report of the Second African Education Commission
Chairman, Thomas Jesse Jones, Ph.D., Phelps Stokes Fund, New York, 3924, p.167.
22. The case is argued in C.M. Outlook, 1925, pp.220-228.
23. These included the influence of the League of Nations principle of Trusteeship
(1919), the influence of colonial governors such as Guggisburg and Lugard and
pressures from the International Missionary Council.
24. Consultative Committee, Board of Education, Education of the adolescent, 1926.
25. Educational policy in British tropical Africa, Cmd. 2374,N 1925, p.4. There is
-evidence that at least one committee member wanted to suggest even more
radical changes. Dr. Julian Huxley writing in 1930 (Oversea Education vol. 2,
pp.l-13) envisages a unified curriculum designed around a "central organic core",
the study of man and his relationship to his rural environment.
26. Iblid., p.6,
27. Annual Riport for the Education Department for 1927, p.10
28. Annual Report for 1926, p.12.
29. Diocesan Gazette, Uganda Diocese, Nov. 1934, lists new scales to be paid in the
diocese to Protestant teachers. At their higher levels they are considerably less
than those recommended by the Education Department, yet the N.A.C. were
unable to pay more without cutting down their teacher force. For similar reasons
voluntary agencies were forced to cut down their entries to Training Colleges.
30. Annual Report for 1934, p.11.
31. South of the Sudd and on thA backwaters of the Nile, October 1929, p.21.
32. Annual Report for 1935, pp.18 and 19.
33. Syllabus for African Primary Schools, Uganda, 1949, p.5.
34. Provisional Memorandum on Language Policy submitted to the Makerere Com-
mission 1937 H., Jowitt.
35. Report of Conference to consider Language in African School Education. Nov-
ember 1944. Entebbe Government Printer, 1943.
36. Principles of education for African teachers. 1932, Suggested methods for the
African school, 1934. Suggested organisation for the African school, 1949. Harold
Jowitt, Longmans Green.
37. Report of Conference on Primary Teacher Training. Entebbe Government Prin-
38. 1949 Syllabus, pA4.
39. Annual Report for 1949, p.22.
40. African Education, Nuffield Foundation and Colonial Office, O.U.P., 1953 p.67.
41. African Education in Uganda. (De Bunsen Report). Government Printer, Entebbe,
42- African Education, op. cit., pp. 88-89.
43. Uganda Protectorate, Syllabuses for Junior Secondary Schools, Uganda Book-
shop Press, 1959.
44. Uganda Prote-torate, Syllabuses for Primary Schools, U nda Bookshop Press,
45. Education in Uganda (Sessional Paper), p.19, and Annual Report for 1958. p.6.
46. H. Hawes and S. Bwanswa-Sekandi Unaided Primary Schools in Uganda (Teacher
Education in New Countries. 10, Number 1, pp.26-35)..
47. Government of Uganda Primary School Syllabus 1965.
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
Simon Charstey contributed to the previous issue of the Journal. He is a
lecturer in sociology at the University of Glasgow and had spent two years
in Bunyoro as a research fellow attached to the Makerere Institute of Social
John Haden is a science teacher at Mvara Secondary School, Arua where
he is in charge of the Scientific Society and it is from this connection that
the present article derives.
Hugh Hawes had taught in Uganda secondary schools since 1953 and
became a tutor at the Makerere Institute of Education prior to accepting
a similar post at the Institute of Education, Ahmadu. Bello University, Zaria,
Nigeria in, 1969.
Rosemary Mills was the director of the Makerere Social Welfare unit from
1964 to 1968 and is at present a Reader in Social Administration at the
New University of Ulster at Coleraine.
Musa Mushanga contributed to the last number, of the Journal and is the
extra-mural tutor of the department of Continuing Education of Makerere
stationed at Fort Portal.
Barnabas Otaala is a lecturer in the department of Educational Psychology
at present on study leave at Teacher's College, Columbia University, New
York, where he has recently been awarded a doctorate.
Randall Packard is a research student from the U.&A. who first went to
Bukedi district as a Peace Corps worker on a Trachoma eradication project,
but has now spent two years working on the oral traditions of the Jophadola.
Hamo Sassoon is the Curator of Antiquities for the Ministry of Culture and
the brief note in this issue of the Journal arises from his work in a similar
capacity in Tanzania prior to coming to Uganda two years ago.
John Wilson explains in his article that he has been interested in the Oropom
problem since his first introduction to Karamoja in the early 1950s. He is
still resident at Moroto and hopes to publish more thoughts on the subject
of the pre-history of Karamoja later.
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
The editor regrets that this issue is rather shorter than recent numbers.
This is in response to the need to reduce printing expenses pending the intro-
duction of new subscription rates for 1971. Natural History readers will
regret the absence of an article to meet their interests, but unfortunately
what otherwise would have been a timely article on the embalassassa pro-
blem did not materialise before the translation of one of the co-authors to
Ministerial status. It is hoped to rectify this omission later. The main
shortening has been upon the bibliography and the reviews, though the
number of pages of bibliography for the two numbers of the combined volume
is certainly no less than usual. Also a financial saving has been made in
not using half-tone plates or in producing a volume index, which the editor
suspects is seldom used. The numbers for 1971 should resume their normal
size and part of the increased expenses of producing the Journal should in
future be off-set by carrying advertisements.
Uganda Journal, 34, 2 (1970) pp. 195-199.
A NOTE ON MARRIAGE IN BUNYORO
By S. R. CHARSLEY
This note compares two sets of data on marriage in Bunyoro, one collected
in the early 1950's by Beattie from the village of Kihokoi in southern Bunyoro,1
and my own obtained in the course of a study in 1966 of a village in Kigumba
sub-county in northeast Bunyoro, to be referred to here as 'Kimina'2. There
are certain marked differences between the two sets of data. The Kimina data
are relevant particularly to Beattie's important finding that in Kihoko there
was no tendency for marriages in which traditional payments had been made
to be more stable than those without. I follow- Beattie in using the term
'marriage' to cover "any sexual union between a man and a woman which
is or may be, relatively enduring, the partners to which refer to each other
as 'my wife' (mukazi wange) and 'my husband' (iba nyowe) respectively,
and the offspring of which have a recognized status as the legitimate offspring
of the spouses".
There is unfortunately no evidence that either village was in any way
typical of Bunyoro as a whole. Each undoubtedly had its peculiarities, and
one of these in the case of Kimina concerned marriage directly. There were
in this village relatively few extant marriages, 24 in 31 households, 77% as
opposed to 90% estimated in a sample census for the indigenous population
of Kigumba as a whole. This affects the Divorce Ratio C discussed below,
but as a measure of the situation at one particular time, it is not necessarily
relevant in any way to the typicality of the total record of all marriages of
all inhabitants over the period of their lives to date. A factor of greater likely
relevance to the long-run record is the difference between the villages that,
whereas Kihoko was long-settled and indeed chosen by Beattie partly for this
reason,3 Kimina dates only from 1919. This does not necessarily make each
atypical of its area, for the two villages, to add still further to the difficulties
of comparison, are in part of Bunyoro which differ considerably. Kihoko is
in the conservative and culturally homogeneous south of central Bunyoro,
whereas Kigumba is in the far more heterogeneous northeast, where indige-
nous Nyoro, Palwo and Ruli meet, and large-scale and varied immigration
had been occurring for at least a decade before this present study in 1966.4
The data on Kimina were collected in the course of village census work
and refer, except for the figures in Table 2, to all marriages (104) reported
by the indigenous inhabitants of the village. These marriages were contracted
during the previous sixty years or so, as also were Beattie's cases, and this
allows some comparison between marriages reported from different periods.
In many cases the informant was at the time of thie marriage living in a dif-
ferent village or even in a different part of Bunyoro altogether, a fact which
provides some slight grounds for treating the marriages recorded as a sample
drawn from the total universe of Nyoro marriages.
The data are reported in three tables. These indicate, first, a weakening
in traditional and more demanding forms of marriage, second, an increasing
localization of marriage, with spouses being sought less widely, and third,
the unions formed becoming less and less enduring.
The weakening of traditional and more demanding forms: The full range
of marriage types described by Beattie could still be observed in Kigumba
in 1966. These ranged from traditional ceremonies carried through their
several stages with due payments and little concession to new circumstances
or ideas beyond changes in the value of goods and money; to entirely free (kya
busa) unions with neither formality nor payment of any kind. 'Ring' marri-
ages according to the rites of the Church of Uganda or of the Catholic Church
were also still found. The difference, as compared with Kihoko, was that the
balance had tilted towards the 'free' type. The traditional pattern of enqui-
ring for a suitable girl, followed by arrangements between the suitor and such
a girl's father, with the girl herself contributing little more than her consent,
and not always even this, had become rare. The first stage was much more
commonly a mutual attraction between a man and a woman, with a sexual
relationship readily entered into, followed by the establishing of a domestic
arrangement. If formalities or payments were to occur at all, they were far
more likely to follow than to precede these events. One couple in Kimina,
for instance, began to live together in 1952, undertook the traditional for-
malities in 1957, and were married in church in 1961, having been forced
into it, according to the wife, by the priest. Conversion of the status of a union
does occur, but not sufficiently regularly for it to be expected or for 'free'
marriage to be considered merely a trial union.5
Table 1: Types of marriage.
Kihoko (1953) Kimina (1966)
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Traditional marriage 53 52 39 38
normally with payments
Inherited 6 6 4 4
Uxorilocal 2 2 1 1
'Ring' marriage, normally 12 12 5 5
Initial payment only 4 4 10 10
Free (kya busa) 25 25 45 43
102 101 104 101
It will be seen that the first three categories, the traditional forms, account
for 60% at Kihoko, but only 42% at Kimina. If marriages with substantial
payments i.e. those in the traditional and 'ring' categories (with one Kihoko
exception) are considered, the contrast is between 63% and 43%. These
figures provide some evidence of a decline in the formalization of marriage.
MARRIAGE IN BUNYORO
The range of marriage becoming more localized. '1 he Kimina marri-
ages showed a greater tendency for the couple to be living in the same village
before their marriage and a correspondingly lesser tendency for spouses to be
found beyond thie neighboring villages. Table 2 shows the measure of the
difference and suggests that it is in part a progressive one. The Kimina figures
are given in two parts which show that the marriages contracted since the
period of Beattie's study have been more highly localized than those cont-
racted earlier. The pattern of the latter is less unlike the Kihoko pattern of
marriages extant in 1953, though it already shows a greater localization.6
Table 2: Location of homes of husbands and wives at time of marriage
Extant marriages Marriages (male informant only)
1953 1921/55 1956/65
Number % Number % Number %
Same village 7 15 13 33 14 48
Neighbouring village 17 36 9 23 7 24
Other 23 49 17 44 8 28
47 100 39 100 29 100
The difference between the two periods is probably connected with the
change already noted in the way in which unions come to be contracted.
Where men and women associate in common activities and partnerships deve-
lop out of this by self-selection, it is, other things being equal, out of the area
of most regular association that they can be expected most often to appear.
This area is primarily the village itself, secondarily it is the immediately sur-
rounding villages, with a constant round of inter-visiting and drinking in
which the women nowadays play a full part and with frequent opportunities
for casual interaction. Where marriages are 'arranged', on the other hand,
though there has always been approval for marriage with neighbours, other
particular considerations are often important, such as the cementing of friend-
ships between men or the formation of useful affinal connections. This may
well result in a different and, in the circumstances of Bunyoro, probably less
localized distribution of spouses' homes than is likely under a 'love-match'
regime. In Bunyoro there can be little doubt that the direction of change
is towards a predominance of self-selection on the part of spouses, and hence
also an increasing localization.
One important consequence of this is that, even in conditions of high
mobility between villages, the extent of kinship and affinal ties between
villagers remains considerable, with single men and women of incoming fami-
lies rapidly taking their places in the marriage market and contracting alliances.
Indeed the high mobility may itself contribute to the localization by making
available within the village potential spouses who are not barred from mar-
riage by clanship or close kinship.
Marriages becoming less enduring. This is suggested by a calculation of
standard divorce ratios, which also allow a comparison, with other societies.
The two most significant ratios have been termed 'B' and 'C'7 Ratio B is the
number of divorces experienced by a given population as a percentage of all
terminated marriages, i.e. those terminated by the death of a spouse as well
as by divorce. Ratio C is the number of divorces as a percentage of all mar-
riages ever contracted by members of the population, except those that were
terminated by the death of a spouse. Table 3 (a) shows Kihoko ratios, deri-
ved from Beattie's Table I, and Kimina ratios, together with those of Luvale
and Ndembu, the two highest in the list of 14 African rates cited by Mitchell8
Table 3: Divorce Ratios B and C*
a. Kihoko 1953 69 45
Kimina 1966 77 73
Luvale 70 45
Ndembu 80 61
b. Kimina marriages with 56 66
Kimina marriages without 96 81
Marriage in Bunyoro has long been considered unstable, even notoriously
so. Beattie's 1953 figures showed that the belief was well justified and there
is every reason to think that it had become even more so in the succeeding
period. Kimina figures, particularly for Ratio C which is influenced by the
fewness of extant marriages, are extraordinarily high. Even when a weighting
is applied to take account of the lower probability of surviving than broken
marriages being recorded when sampling all members of a single community,9
this ratio is lowered only to about 60%. Even so emended, the rates are scar-
cely lower than those for the Ndembu, the highest recorded by Mitchell.
Beattie's figures suggested that there was no connection between the
stability of marriage and whether payments had been made. In Kihoko 55%
of "free" marriages were surviving, against 45% broken, whereas of dratitional
marriages with payments 49% were surviving. This finding is not supported
by the Kimina data, which show that marriages without payments had been
considerably more unstable than those with payments (Table 3b). Such
differences may have no more significance than the reflection of idiosyncracies
in one or both the populations studied. Nevertheless it is still worth consider-
ing them seriously. If there is a genuint difference in the relation between
payments and stability, then it may be suggested that such a difference arises
from the changing significance of traditional marriage procedures and pay-
ments. Formalization of all kinds now tends to follow the establishment of
conjugal relationships. Marriage ceremonies are often a semi-optional public
validation rather than the means to the creation of conjugal relationship.
Such validation is in many cases only undertaken when the relationship has
MARRIAGE IN BUNYORO
proved itself satisfactory, often over a period of years even. The Kimina
figures may show, therefore, not that payments are conducive to stability but
rather that payments are often only made when a measure of stability already
exists. Whether the making of payments or other formalizing procedures affect
the subsequent course of the marriage, making it more or less likely to endure,
is a matter which it would require more detailed study with larger numbers
to be able to say.
1. Beattie, J. Nyoro marriage and affinity, (Africa, London, 28, 1958.)
2. Charsley, S. R. Mobility and village composition in Bunyoro, (Uganda, 1. 34,
3. Beattie J. Understanding an African Kingdom: Bunyoro. New York, Holt, Rine-
hart and Winston, 1965, p. 14.,
4. Charsley, S. R. Population growth and development in northeast Bunyoro, (East
African Geographical Review, 6, 1968.)
5. In classifying such cases, only the latest status of a particular union has been used.
6. Figures for extant marriages in Kimina are not shown but resemble those for all
marriages in the more recent period.
74 Barnes, J. A. The frequency of divorce, in Epstein, A.L. (Ed.) The craft of social
anthropology, Manchester University Press, 1967.
8. Mitchell, J. C. On quantification in social anthropology, in Epstein, A.L. (Ed.)
The craft of social anthropology, Manchester University Press, 1967, Table 1.
9. Barnes, op. cit. pp. 57-60.
Mobility and village composition in B yoro, S.R. Charsley, Uganda
Journal, Vol. 34 no. 1, page 16. The editor regrets that the top line of page
16, of the above mentioned article was omitted. The following line should
be inserted :-
But is there such a social unit as a community? Beattie has stressed the
lack ...... ......
IRON COWS AND COPPER SPEARS: THE ROYAL INSIGNIA
By H. SASSOON
Summary of a talk to the Uganda Society
In 1861 the explorers Speke and Grant were at Bwerenyange, the court
of Rumanyika, then king of Karagwe. They were shown "a number of brass
grapnels and small models of cows made in iron". Grant also recorded a
copper "grappel" and two copper kettledrums. Stanley visited Bwerenyange
in 1876 and was impressed with Rumanyika's house of treasures; he made
sketches of many of the objects and these were published in Through the
By 1965, the kingdom of Karagwe was past history, and Bweranyange
was deserted; but the royal collection, or most of it, was still kept in a small
hut there, because Bweranyange was the spiritual centre of the old kingdom.
Sirteen selected pieces have been in a museum in Stuttgrant since 1906; if
these are included, the whole collection amounts to 120 objects of iron,
copper and brass.
Studied as archaeological specimens, some of the pieces throw valuable
light on Karagwe's relationship to the surrounding kingdoms. The "grap-
nels" for example have parallels in the insignia of the former kingdoms of
Rwanda, Ankole and Buganda. In Rwanda, iron anvils with horns are called
"nyarushara", which in Runyankole is the name fort a bull with down-
turned horns, and in fact Grant was told in 1861 that the copper "grapple"
at Rumanyika's court represented the horns of cattle. In Buganda at Kasubi
Tombs there are three copper objects which are obviously related to "nya-
rushara", yet their original name and purpose axe forgotten, and now they
are dubbed "two-bladed swords" which clearly they are not! Originally,
all the objects of this type must have been ceremonial anvils. In the Karagwe
collection the anvils form a series leading from an ordinary smith's anvil to
the fine copper specimen seen by Speke; and in Rwanda the iron "nyaru-
shara" is easily reconisable as an anvil, although it has two horns projecting
from its sides. Finally, in a recent publication of the royal ritual of Rwanda,
details are given of the ritual re-forging of the royal ironwork, using "nya-
Uganda Jouri, 34, 2 (1970) pp. 201-209.
POLYGYNY IN KIGEZI
By M. T. MusHANGA.
Kigezi, the home of the three ethnic groups of the Bakiga, Bahoror and
Banyarwanda, is a very small district with a -total area of 2,040 square miles,
of which 1,969 square miles is land and swamps, while 71 sqaure miles-, is
open water.11 The country is characterized by high mountainous. forested
land and small lakes with an average altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level.
It borders on Rwanda in the south, Congo in, the west and the district of
Ankole lies in the east and northeast. Kigezi is one of the most densely
populated districts in Uganda. The 1,959 census showed a mean of 260 people
per square mile which rose to about 325 in 1969 with as many as ,over 1,000
people per square mile in some areas such as the Gomborora of Bukara.
According to the 1969 census, Kigezi has 642,300 people as against 494,488
ten years before. &
Kigezi is a district with an admixture of polyglottal ethnic groups of.which
the Bakiga are the autochthonous and dominant group. The other signofi
cant Bantul groups are the Banyarwanda mainly in the southwest, area of
Bufumbira, and the Bahororo, a group akin to the Bahima of Ankole, in the
northwest in the county of Rujumbura. There is a very small group of
Batwa in Bufambira and Kinkizi counties who are akin to the Bambuti of
Ituri forest. All of these three. main ethnic groups are mainly endogamous,
with very little intermarriage across ethnic barriers; and this is more so between.
Bakiga and Banyarwanda than it is between Bakiga and Bahororo. There
is some mild conflict between' these groups which very rarely flares up to
open hostility but which mitigates against cross-ethnic marriage. Each of
these ethnic groups is organized on a patrilineal clan structure. Clans are
exogamous but tend to be endogamous ethnically. Clan endogamy, as is the
case in most Western Lacustrine Bantu, is unfnown;,with the exception of
the so-called rolay clans of the adjacent areas.
* The ideal type of marriage is polygynous and is widely practised. Tra-
ditionally no marriage was possible without the payment olf l idewealth
(Enjugano). Bridewealth is still the most important legitimising element in
present-day Kiga, Hororo and Nyarwanda marriage.
There is no need here to give an account of traditional 'marriage in
Kigezi (especially Kiga) as this has been clearly detailed by Edel.2 In brief,
marriage was contracted by the father or paternal uncle of tie groom -on
behalf of the groom. Bridewealth was raised by the agnates of the groom, -the
father paying most, and in most cases, all the required cattle, goats, and b"i.
The negotiations for the transfer of the bridewealth took a very long time,
sometimes as long as a year. The amount of bridewealth differed fronmj gdp
to group and from family to family within each group. The cattle-keepaing
Hovreo paid their bridewealth in cattle, the Kiga in goats, sheep,; and hoes
in addition to great quantities of beer. The age of the' groom at marriage
differed from one ethnic group to another, but on the whole Hororo tended
to arrange the marriage of their sons at a much latqe age than the other
groups. Males tended to xnarry when a' bit older than females, and 18-20
seemed to have been, the average for males as against 14-16 for females. The
tendency was for the richer families to delay the marriage of their daughters.
Mate selection was done by the father or elder brothers of the groom. The
announcement of the intended marriage followed a secret investigation into
the moral, economic, and social status of the family of the bride. The brides'
family too, as soon as it became aware of the other family's interest in their
'daughter, carried out a counter secret investigation in the family of the
groom. If either of the families discovered something unacceptable, such as
witchcraft, or laziness of the' girl, or any other negative attribute, the process
of marriage was given a hasty end. All animals paid for bridewtealth such
as cows; or goats were, in most cases, used to pay for the marriage of the
girl's brother, or for the father's additional wives. No such animals were sold,
and it was taboo to slaughter such an animal. In anr already polygynous
family, all beasts that are paid as bridewealth for a daughter went to the
hut of the mother of that girl; if she had no mother, this duty would fall
upon the senior wife of the girl's father. Cattle and goats paid as bridewealth
would not be used to pay for the girl's step-brother if she had a brother, even
if still young. Marriage was a lineage concern,'and not simply a family's bus-
iness 'as it is tending to be in recent times. At the paying family, the paternal
uncle: of the boy had an obligation to contribute, so did his blood-brother
(Omwuyamukago) and other near agnates. At the receiving family, there were
-relatives' who, because of their religious-magical and ritual positions, had to
receive some share of .the bridewealth; the most notable being tfne maternal
uncle (Nyinarumi) and paternal aunt (Ishenkazi). It was believed that if
either of these two relatives went away angry, the girl would be barren, and
since children, were a very important consideration in every successful marri-
age, this obligation was very rarely, if ever, infringed. There were, occasion-
ally, cases of elopement (Okusigura) and other emergency types of marriage
.n which the girl was to be married the very day the emergency was declared
(Okuteera oruhoko). These other methods of acquiring a wife were the resort
of those in special circumstances. A rich man who did not enjoy a favourable
reputation in the village could find it difficult to get a girl for his son, so he
could do so by using these alternatives; but these were rare. A rich man usually
returned one or two beasts to his son-in-law as a contribution to assist him*
to establish a horn (Okushagarira) and the beasts would not be demanded
for return in case of a divorce.
Polygyny was the ideal type of marriage, and tended to be enjoyed
by the rich members of the society. Even today one can tell the economic and
,social -status of a 'nead of -a family by looking at the physical structure -of
his -home. The richer the man, the larger the herd of his cattle or goats,
the .larger the acreage of the land he owns, the more wives he is likely to
,marry and so the larger the homestead. This orientation has been disrupted
,by. immigrant religious beliefs which preached the goodness of monogamy
and the badness of polygamy. The missionaries did a great deal of work to
convert the people of Kigezi to accept monogamy. The missionaries from
the' beginning were against the -institution of :bridewealth which, through
their lack: of adequate knowledge of African culture -and philosophy ;of life,
POLYGYNY IN KIGEZI 2Q
they regarded as 'selling' and 'buying' of women. This seems to have pre-occu-
pied the missionaries, very much, in fact it seems as if marriage of one wife
was the only criterion of being a 'good' Christian.
Priests of Catholic and Protestant churches3 preached not only against
ancestor worship but also against polygamy and the institution of bridewealth.
The missionaries went further and preached against customary marriage
that it was pagan and- therefore not good. The missionaries' efforts to stamp
out these "evils' of paganism and of 'buying' wives had the tacit support of the
British administration who, at the time of their coming to Kigezi, were en-
gaged in fighting against the forces of the Nyabingi cult which was growing
into a semi-political secret organisation. This religious cult which was spread-
ing into Kigezi, Ankole and Bukoba had already been established in Rwanda,
and was, also the main pre-occupation of European missionaries. People who
has been initiated into Nyabingi were also accepted to become Christions,
but both Nyabingi and Christianity were new religious cults; the differences
were that the latter was led by-white people, forbade drinking, condemned
traditionally valued marriagepatterns and insisted that people must give "up
their ways of life to live the new life. However, the two new beliefs spread.
Nyabingi was spread mainly by women. It was not against polygamy or the
traditional practices that went along with it. It was propagated by people
of the same colour, and who knew the more acceptable rationalisations and
meaningful explanations; it did not require a person to read and write, nor
did it require a person to travel distances to go to worship. Christianity, with
the support of the administration and with educated leaders spread and sup-
pressed Nyabingi. Nyabingi being more akin to the traditional 'beliefs, was
very easily accepted, but lacking official support, was soon driven underground,
to be practised by both Christians and pagans, both doing so in secrecy. In
the Kigezi of today there are very few people who still belong to this Nyabingi
In spite of more than half a century of Christian work in Kigezi, poly-
gyny is practised quite freely by both Christians and non-Christians. Everyone
who is familiar with conjugal relationships in Kigezi will testify that polygyny
is not an exclusive monopoly of non-Christians.
With the assistance and ready co-operation of the chiefs in Kigezi, it was
possible to collect data on marriage throughout the whole district. Question-
naires were sent to each Gombolola (sub-county), chief in 'the district, with
instructions to fill them and return them to the Saza chief (county chief), who
in turn passed them to the Administrative Secretary. A secret check was.made
by sending more forms to the chiefs of Rukiga and Rubanda counties four
months later for comparison with the previous returns, and this second exercise
showed very little variation, from the first. In 1969 the returns indicated that
there were 75,515 married men in hte whole district. This figure is rather
smaller than would be expected in a population of 643,300, but it must be
remembered that there are thousands of Bakiga and, to a lesser degree, Banya-
rwanda, working as migrant labourers outside. Kigezi; mostly on tea estates
of Igara in Ankole; in Buganda coffee, cotton and sugar estates; in industries
in Jinja; and there are about 3,000 working at Kilembe copper mines, and
about 2,000' more are working in Toro tea estates. It is estimated that 60,000
men leave Kigezi annually to seek employment.4 This: not only reduces. the
number of married men in the district, but also makes it all., the, more
possible for the men staying at home to acquire more wives because labour
migration significantly affects the female-male ratio in the district. The survey
showed that there were 55,227 men married to one wife and 20,288 more men
maitfid to more than one wife, that is roughly one in every three married
men was a polygamist. Of those, 13529 were married to two wives, 4,253 to
three wives, 1,6662 to four wives, 643 to five wives, 149 to six wives, 32 to seven
wives, 9 to 8 wives, 8 to 9 wives and three men were married to ten or more
wives. In most of these cases, the figures fall by about one-fourth, up to the
eight wives group. In all, there were 50,972 women married in polygynous
ThI question may be raised whether some of the women married to men
who- were already married to one wife were not in a form of concubinage
'rather than true marriage. Contubinage seems not to be known among
the people of Kigezi, though a special status is given to the first wife. The
first wife (Omuka4i omukuru -principal wife) occupies a prestigious position,
a position of respect from her husband, co-wives and the wider society. Her
house is usually the largest of all, and is centrally located in the homestead.
Important guests and visitors are received and entertained in her house; she,
on the average has more land plots and may be delegated with the duty of
caring for the husband's ageing parents. The principal wife was primus
itdter pares. Her co-wives are as legitimately married as herself and enjoy
the respect that society accords to all married women. There is no stigma
attached to such marriages and therefore the concept of concubinage is not
applicable. The children born to these extra women are as legitimate as
those of thle first wife, and, since the rules of first-son inheritance are not
enforced, children of subsequent wives may inherit not only the property but
also the status of the head-of family; as is the case in neighboring Ankole.
Preliminary data on crimes of violence against the person show very little
open conflict between co-wives; in a sample of 98 cases only 0.26 per cent
of the homicides committed by women involved co-wives. This does not mean
that there is no ill-feeling between co-wives. What it shows is that the conflict
between, co-wives' is no more salient than it is among the rest of the people.
The study shows that out of seven criminal homicides committed by women,
out of -98 cases in the sample, only one case involved co-wives. One might
expect a much higher homicide rate involving co-wives if polygamy engen-
ders' conflict. On the whole there is very little resentment among/girls to
p6olygyny; the practice being a common social institution and is widely accept-
ed. Polygamy seems to attract men above thirty years of age, and more so
for those above fortyfive. It is also a phenomenon in which the 'educated'
seem to be excluded. The more education a man, has, the less likely he is to
marry more than one wife. In the same way, the more education a girl has, the
more likely she is to remain married only to her husband. There are 'explana-
tions for this tendency. Polygamy is a status symbol for those who are rich but
with less education. It is something which confers 'manhood' (Obusheija) to
a man. For the one who has some 'good' education this is not the case. High
governmental position, possession of a car, or a relatively high salary are the
main coveted social indices of social prominence; not a large number of wives,
children or cattle as the case is with men with less education. There is very
little to suggestt that the educatede' are monogamous because of their Christian
beliefs; but it must be noted that this is very difficult to indicate. What must
POLYGYNY IN KIGEZI
be dismissed at once is the suggestion that the more educated are more reli-
gious than those with less education. The difference between the less educated
polygamists and the more educated monogamists hardly lies in religious beliefs,
but in differentiated social values held by the two groups of society. The one
being tradition-oriented, while the other is modernistic, more western-oriented;
and economically motivated towards monogamy.
In 1969, there were 7,523 marriages of which 3,386 were arranged and
finalised under customary law; 1,167 were done in Catholic churches; 1,009
in Protestant churches; 30 were done under Islamic law. That is roughly one
marriage in every three was Christian or Islamic. There were 1,931 cases in
which no bridewealth was paid, but were likely to be paid in a post-facto
way; that is, bridewealth to be paid after the girl is already livingwith her hus-
band; a practice that is quite widely adopted in Toro.5 The data shows that
more marriages are arranged under customary law than are arranged in neo-
religious bodies; and bridewealth is still the socially approved way of legit-
timining marriage. It is interesting to compare these figures with Professor
Perlman's findings in one area of Toro. Of 78 cases of marriage which Per-
lman studied, 64 had started as concubinage, (i.e. with no bridewealth, and
therefore legally illegitimate) of which 44 or 68.7% remained concubinage,
19 or 29.7% became customary marriages (i.e. had to go to the church), 10
(out of 78) had originally been contracted as customary marriages, 4 had
started as 'ring' marriages and, of all these cases 82% had started as concu-
binage, and 56.4% remained concubinage. It is self-evident that concubinage,
the type of marriage that requires no bridewealth, no lengthy negotiations
and no ceremony, is the approved way of marriage in this area of Toro, PerL
man also breaks down his figures to show that the tendency to concubinage
is on the increase. This means that almost four marriages in every five are
likely to be concubinage.
The amount of the bridewealth, whether in terms of cattle or cash (as is
the case with the educated) varies with the social status of each family and
the level of education especially of the girl. The more prestigious the family
of the girl or of the boy, the higher the bridewealth is likely to be. Again, the
higher the :educational level of the girl, the higher the bridewealth. In Kigezi
a girl with post-primary education is married at the average of 3000 to 4000
shs plus several goats, several pots of beer and other gifts; will a girl. with
post secondary education may fetch upwards of 5000 shs in addition, to the
rest of the goods. The Bakiga argue that the parents of the girl took a lot of
trouble and sacrifice to prepare the girl and that she is more useful for her
husband than if she had not received any education. This is made more
complicated by the attitudes of the.parents vis-a-vis their daughter. The more
faith they have in her, as a hardworking and good mannered girl, the more
the bridewealth is likely to go up; but if parents have little faith in their
daughter, that is, if they axe not sure that she will make, a successful wife, the
bridewealth is likely to be less. This is due to the anticipation of refund of
the bridewealth. Thie amount of bridewealth also determines the villagers'
and the affines' attitudes towards the new wife. The more that was paid
for her, the more respect and higher status she is accorded; and this also af-
fects her conception of herself as a worthy wife and member of her new group.
The Bahororo, on thle whole, pay more cattle than the other groups. This
is because they keep more cattle than the Bakiga and Banyarwanda.
Bridewealth is one of the several explanations why people of Kigezi,
especially tne Bakiga, emigrate to' work outside. Young men have to spend
several years in labour camps before they can raise enough money to buy
cows with which to pay for a wife where cattle are demanded instead of hard
cash. The average among the Bakiga is three cows and a bull and may be
twice this amount among the Bahororoi. A cow may cost from 350 sh to
500 sh or even more; and a bull costs slightly less' than a cow; and a young
cow, a heifer, costs much more than an old cow. Goats range between, 40 and
100 sh;; sheep, on the average cost less than goats. This means faat in a
society where the majority of the people live at a subsistence level, with the
average annual income of no more, than 120 shs to get married is a
very costly undertaking which, forces young men to spend very protracted
periods away trying to raise the required money. This has tended 'o raise the
average age at which the men get married from 18420 to 25-30 years;
and of the women from 14-16 to 18-20 years. The girls' first hold on as the
young men remain abroad labouring to' raise bridewealth, and eventually
give up to be married as the second or third wife of an older man.
In 1969 there were 686 cages of divorce in the whole district. This ap-
pears to be a very small rate, but it is very difficult to say so with certainty
as there are no other societies in the neighbourhood with which to compare
this figure. This, two, is an indication of a low rate of conflict in these poly-
gamous families. The main causes of divorce are the barrenness of the wife;
marital incompatibility; and laziness of either the husband or the wife. Very
rarely is infidelity the cause of marriage break down. As Edel observed
over thirty years ago, the situation seems hardly to have changed. Sne
wrote: "Marriages are on the whole fairly permanent. Divorce can and
does occur, but many attempts are made to resolve difficulties by other
means....... If a man and woman, quarrel the elders of. the village may act
as the first court of arbitration, or the woman. may go away in. anger to her
father's home, the woman is given a chance to present her case as much as her
serious consequences. A woman may return voluntarily, having got only as
far as one of her neighbour's houses, where she took shelter for a night until
her anger cooled. Or her husband may come after her and fetch her back."7
S'A lot of would-be divorce cases are settled in these arbitration tribunals
of elders. At these tribunals, which, in most cases are held at the woman's
father's home, the woman is given a chance to present her case as much as her
husband; even witnesses may be called upon to explain what happened. The
history of the couple's behaviour is retold, the people 'who know more about
each of the disputants' characters are allowed to say what they have to say, and
finally the elders decide the case depending on what they think are valid
points. In the case where a woman wins, a fine is imposed on the husband.
This may be a goat, or a few pots of beer or ip more serious cases, a cow.
Once the fine is paid, the man is allowed to return home with his wife after
promising that he will not repeat the offence. In the case where the woman
is found to be in the wrong, the fine may be paid by her father or her brother
and she is sent back with her husband but with a lot of rebuking and caut-
ioning. There are, indeed, very few cases of divorce which do not go through
these tribunals. A man who mistreats his wife is laughed at, and divorce
may bring dishonour to a man as much as to a woman. In the case of
divorce, all the children remain with their father under the care of his mother
POLYGYNY IN KIGEZI
or, if he has other wives, with the senior of these; but in some cases,. the
divorced woman may take the small children with her till they are of age
to join their father's home. Brideweilth is returned at divorce but only
after protracted negotiations. A woman who is divorced is free to marry
another man but at a reduced amount of, bridewealth because she is not a
virgin and is known as Omushumbakazi. When a woman remarries, it is
most likely that she will stay permanently with her sew husband because
to be divorced twice makes it is almost impossible for one to be married once
In 1969 there were 701 reported cases of girls who became. pregnant
before marriage. According to Bakiga Bahororo Banyarwaiida people,
this is a very serious misdeed which was punishable by death in years past.
Such a pregnancy not only brings shame to the girl herself, but also to all
her kin group. It is the grossest misconduct a girl can commit. Pregnancy
very much reduces the chances of the girl to get married and therefore
denies her father of bridewealth. When such a girl happens to get married
which is most unlikely, she fetches much less bridewealth even than, a divor-
ced woman. There were many taboos which were related and were to be
observed in respect of such pregnant girls. One taboo was that she may not
go to fetch water from the well, because the well would dry up. As soon
as a girl suspects that she is pregnant, she may reveal this to her close friends
who may bring it to her mother's notice. Immediately she will. quit her
father's or her brother's home and go to live with another distant female
relative till she is delivered, whereupon she may return, or go to get married
to the man who impregnated her, or she may go to look for a job as a house-
girl or barmaid in order to earn some money to maintain her child and
herself. But she may be sure that she will never be warmly received at her
Of 98 criminal homicide cases taken from Kigezi for study, 14 are of
infanticide. This is a very high figure when compared with Toro where in-
fanticide is not heard of at all; and old women and men exclaim with horror
to hear that such a thing can happen among human beings. The point is that
pre-marital pregnancies are a common feature among the Batoro, that even
girls speak about it with no shame at all, and are an accepted norm.
Though there may be cases of deliberate abortions in Toro, and in Kigezi too,
these are induced because of employment problems especially among serving
women in education, nursing and other related occupations. When this
question of Bakiga girls committing infanticide was discussed, one old Mutoro
said that Bakiga girls are precious economic assets of their fathers while this
is not so for Batoro girls. On the average a Mutoro parent can only expect
200 to 300 shs for his daughter, while it is more' than ten times that much in
Kigezi. Perlman recorded the lowest bridewealth in Mwenge area as being 30
shs. In most cases, girls who get impregnated eventually get married to the
men who impregnate them; and it is in such cases that the payment of bride-
wealth follows after the conjugal relationship of the man and the. woman is
already established. These are the ones who tend to increase the nufnber
of additional wives. In additional, there are women who are inherited by their
husband's brothers or even their husband's sons, but these cases are becoming
less and less.
In conclusion, Kigezi figures prove the theory that the higher the bride-
wealth, the more stable and permanent the marriage, which is negatively
proved by Perlman's figures in which concubinage and divorce or separation
is high, in accordance with a low bridewealth. It must be noted that there
are people in Kigezi, especially the Balokoli (the revivalists), who say that the
institution of bridewealth is pagam and liken it to the 'buying' and 'selling'
of women, but their protestations do not seem to have any appreciable impact
on the society as a whole.
This essay is based on raw data collected through chiefs during 1969.
Questionnaire forms were sent to the county chiefs who passed them to the
Gmrnbolola chiefs, vwho in turn distributed them to the Miruka chiefs who
filled in the required information. After the completion, the forms were sent
back to Kabale. Four months later a check was carried out by sending more
forms to the chiefs of Rukiga and Rubanda counties. These were sent to the
Miruka chiefs, they were filled and returned for comparison. There was
hardly any variations from the original data. But this exercise does not imply
that the data are correct. It is almost impossible to collect precise data on
a district level. They take much time and effort to collect and in some cases
there are wrong entries on forms. The data on Polygyny in Kigezi presented
in this essay are indicative of the real institution of marriage in Kigezi.
My thanks go to the Kigezi District Administration for their co-operation
iin collecting the data especially Mr. E. Mbareeba, the Administrative Secre-
taiy, Mr. Eridadi Kangye, now Saza Chief in Rujumbura, Mr. Katabazi, now
Saza Chief, Rukiga who, not only agreed to tarry on the exercise of checking,
but also enjoyed being involved in, the survey.
1. Taylor, B.K., The western lacustrine Bantu, p. 114.
2. Edel, M.M., The Chiga of western Uganda, chapter four.
3. There. are about 200,000 Protetltants and 202,741 Catholics in Kigezi. Personal
correspondence, withheads of churches, January, 1970.
44 Timothy, KY, MA. thesis, Makerere University.
5' Perlman, M.L.t Some aspects of marriage stability in Toro. E.A.I.S.R. Conference
Papers, no. 120 of 1960 and no. 134 of 1.962.
6. Timothy, op. dit.
7... EdeL. op. cit, p. 73.
MEN MARRIED TO X WIVES
MARRIED MEN 75,515
To 6 To 7 To 8 To 9 To 108
or more -.
68 14 6 6 3 0<
13 3 -
43 5 3 1
1 1 -
22 10 -
149 32 9 8 3 Q
894 224 .72 72 30
MARITAL ARRANGEMENTS IN 1969
MARRIED IN MARRIED
PROTESTANT IN ISLAM
THE DISCOVERY AND EVALUATION OF TERMITE-EATEN
WOOD OF THE TREE HEERIA RETICULATA
By J. G. WILSON
The writer believes that he was the first person in East Africa to collect
termite-eaten specimens of wood from the tree Heeria reticulata. Termite
eaten specimens from Karamoja are now being sold to collectors of objects
The tree is listed in' The indigenous trees of Ugiandaj, as occurring in
savanna, in the districts of Mubende, West Nile, Madi, Acholi, Lango, Teso,
Karamoja and Mbale. It has also been found in Ankole and Sebei districts.
It is described by the authors of the above, as a tree sometimes attaining a
height of 30 feet, (but it is usually much smaller is Karamoja). The leaves
are elliptic to lanceolate in outline and measure between 4 and 8 inches in
length, with a breadth of from 1 to 3 inches; the undersurface is silvery in
appearance. The bark is grey wnen mature, and the wood appears. from
pale to deep red when freshly cut.
It is known to the Karimojong as Emuturun, and is a fairly common
constituent of several savanna communities in Karamoja. Interest in it
arose when carrying out a soil2 and vegetation3 survey of the district, between
1955 and 1959, as relict; living and dead trees were occurring in bushland
which had succeeded the original savanna. This led to a closer study of the
situation and it was found that termite activity was exalted when overgrazing
by cattle precluded customary annual burning. In the due process both
perennial grasses and trees were subject to such increased attack that they
died out to be replaced by more resistant elements. During this observation
it was noticed that Heeria trees were more resistant to, attack than, say,
Combretum species; it was also observed that the mode of attack by termites
on Heeria wood differed from that on the wood of other trees. This led to
closer observation of the phenomena, the most outstanding feature of which
was that Heeria wood was not, as in many other trees, eaten to exhaustion,
since both living and dead trees displayed prominent areas of weathered
termite-eaten wood that were patently not being consumed in one phase of
attack. It also become apparent that Heeria wood was extremely resistant
to destruction by the' agents of rot, and secondly, that few if any signs of
damage by boring insects were evident. lit was surmised therefore, that there
is probably a substance in Heeria wood which has not only a preservative
action, .but which is also distasteful to insect predators. Further observation
of the phenomena showed that termites preferred the under layers of un-
weathered wood to that of 'the weathered outer surface. Concomitantly
numerous skeletal pieces were found which were cylindrical in outline with
a hollow centre. Another factor observed was that on the death of its roots,
Heeria sheds its bark quickly. This leads to rapid exposure of the outer wood
to weathering influences. By contrast, in many other savanna trees, the bark
was not shed quickly, and the wood was observed in many instances to be
eaten from the outer layers progressively inwards.
The skeletal pieces of Heeria wood exhibited one more feature which
distinguished it from that of other trees. This was the structure. Firstly
there was no pronounced lignification of the heartwood, cut sections showing
an even profile throughout. Secondly, examination of dead branches and trunks
showed that in many cases, the annual growth increment appeared as a spiral
of rib-like tissue. In some instances where several such layers overlapped,
it was apparent that one year's growth might proceed in a clockwise direction,
while the succeeding year's growth might follow an anticlockwise direction.
This final observation on the unusual structure was dearly evinced by the
pattern of termite attack which appeared to follow the softer tissue between
the spiral rib-like structure, in such instances where growth had been made
in this fashion. The results are most intricate patterns, and where these
coincide with intermittent destruction followed by intermittent weathering,
the most extraordinary shapes result. The natural comparison to any other
object is to driftwood, such as may b1e found on sea and lake shores where
etching by the action of abrasive sand had worn away the softer tissue, leav-
ing a combination with weathering, this had resulted in the appearance of
exceptionally beautiful sculpted forms.
.Being at the time concerned with the botanical composition of Karamoja
vegetation, it was consequential that investigation should be made as to whether
these sculpted forms were confined to Heeria trees only; or whether they
appeared in the wood of other trees as well. Study along these lines quickly
eliminated other common trees such as Acacias and Combretums, but not
surprisingly, trees of the same family as Hteeriaj, namely Anacardciaceae, to
a lesser extent exhibited the same phenomena. These included members of
the general Rhus, Sclerocarya, Lannea, and Pistacia; it may be of interest to
add that the cultivated Mango also belongs to this family. Some sculptured
forms were also noticed among members of the genus Commiphora, which
belongs to the family Burseracease. However, the sculpted forms of Heeria
were far and away more striking than anything stemming from these other
The artistic appeal of the termite-eaten Heeria has since become widely
accepted. In the early 1960's a certain amount was sold through a gift shop
in Kampala, and some has even sold in London where one piece has fetched
500 sh. Currently the wood is sold, after polishing, by the Uganda Foun-
dation for the Blind. One fine specimen is known to have found its way to
fte desk of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
1. Eggeling, W. J. and Dale, I. R. The indigenous trees of the Uganda Protectorate,
Revised Edition, 1951.
2. Wilson, J. G. The Soils of Karamoja District, Agricultural Department Research
Memoir. Series I, No. 5, 1959.
8. Wilson, J. G, The Vegetation of Karamoja District. Agricultural Department
Research Memoir. Series 2, No. 5, 1962.
VOLUNTARY SOCIETIES IN MBARARA
By ROSEMARY MILLS
Most of the voluntary societies in Uganda ade of European or Asian
origin having been introduced by, missionaries, businessmen and' colonial
officers, and their wives. They are co-ordinated by the National Council of
Social Service for Uganda which is a representative non-government agency
developing co-operation and understanding between the voluntary societies
and statutory authorities. In 1966 the Council was interested to find out
whether the organisation of the societies affected participation in voluntary
social service; and, because of the unfortunate history of religious conflict in
Uganda, whether persons of different religions were willing to come together
for social service. Mbarara in Ankole was chosen for this purpose as it had
branches of most of the Societies found in Uganda.
A list of registered householders within the Mbarara town boundary
was obtained from the town clerk. A total of 208 houses were selected by
random or systematic sampling from a list of 521 dwellings. Permission was
refused to interview the residents in the police, prison, or army barracks and
the residents in four houses refused to co-operate. All residents in the 204
houses contained in the sample who were aged 13 years or over and who had
lived in Mbarara for at least three months Were interviewed by first year
social work and social administration students from Makerere University
The probation officer prepared a list of the voluntary societies and
government committees in Mbarara. Schedules were designed to find out
whether the resident had heard of each society or committee and if he had
ever been a member. Those who had only heard about the voluntary societ-
ies were asked if they would like to become members. The members were
asked what they thought about the leadership, the quantity and quality of
the activities and whether the place and time of the meetings were con-
venient. Those who had stopped being members of a voluntary society were
asked if they would be willing to give time or money to the society. The
residents were asked particulars about their age, marital status, ethnic group,
education and religion and with which religions they were willing to co-
operate for social service when they were in agreement with the objectives.
In spite of selecting the students to interview residents according to their
ability to speak the required language, a few students said that they had
experienced difficulty in communication and in addition some residents
were suspicious and co-operation was only achieved after much persuasion.
A total of 283 men and 273 women were interviewed. There were 177
Roman Catholics, 145 Protestants, 150 Muslims, 66 Hindus and 18 who said
they had no religion. The results showed that fewer men than women had
not heard of any organisation and more men than women had belonged te
one or more. Three quarters of the residents were under 40 years of age and
a smaller proportion of these residents had heard of no organisation and a
larger proportion had belonged to an organisation than those who were over
40 years old. There were twice as many married as single residents, but the
majority of married men had belonged to an organisation in contrast 'to the
married women. The number of Europeans was small but all the women
and half the men had joined an organisation. Asians were more interested
in joining organizations than Africans. The less well educated were more
ignorant about organizations and less frequently became members. The
majority Roman Catholics had heard of at least one organisation bust a
,higher proportion of the Protestants, Muslims, and Hindus had joined an
Of those who had. joined an organisation 124 residents had joined one,
122 had joined 2-5 and 10 had joined 6 or more. This included a Hindu
who had joined thirteen. The Roman Catholics and Muslims were slightly
below and the Hindus slightly above the overall average of 2.2 organizations
On an average of all the voluntary societies, 68 per cent of the residents
had not heard of the society, 28 per cent had heard about it and 4 per cent
had belonged. There was considerable variation. The Grail which was
situated a few miles outside Mbarara was the least well known. Only one
resident had belonged and 94 per cent had never heard of it. In contrast 12
per cent had belonged to the Boys Scouts, and 33 per cent had not heard
of it. The Y.M.C.A. Red Cross and Girl Guides were also quite well known.
More women had belonged to the Community Development women's clubs
than to the Roman Catholic Women's Clubs and to the Mothers Union.
Seven were members of the Uganda Council of Women. Although 42 per
cent had heard of Save the Children Fund only 9 residents had been memb-
ers. The Muslim Associationr was better known than the Asian Community.
About a quarter of the residents knew about the main commercial organisat-
ions and as would be expected in an urban area the Chamber of Commerce
and .Public Employers Trade Union had a considerably higher membership
than the Farmers Club.
The government committees in general were less known than the
voluntary societies. On an average of all the committees 73 per cent had
not heard of the committee, 26 per cent had heard about it and 1 per cent
had belonged to it. The Literacy Committee with 19 members was the best
known as over half the residents had heard about it.
The non-religious voluntary societies which catered for both sexes had
the greatest potential for increasing their membership. But if allowance is
made for the small number of boys and girls who would be eligible to be-
come boy scouts and girl guides; for women's clubs catering for women and
for religious organizations tending to be more attractive to residents of the
same religion, it would seem that almost all of the societies could extend their
membership if they wished.
Of those who had belonged to an organisation on an average four-fifths
of the membership assessed the leadership as good and none had left the
organisation because, of weak leadership. On an average about 70 per cent
of the members gave a good assessment for the quality, quantity and time
of the activities and 80 per cent for the place. One member had left the
organisation because of the poor quality of the activities and three because
there, were too few. Sixteen had left because of the inconvenience of the
place. Nearly all of the ex-members of voluntary societies were willing to
contribute money to the society and two-thirds were willing to render a
service, such as selling flags. This suggests that most of those who had left
the society still retained some interest in it.
In all religions a high majority were willing to co-operate with their
own religion. Forty-three per cent of the Muslims said that they would only
co-operate with their own religidh in contrast to 24 per cent of the Prote-
stants. The proportion for Roman Catholics was 33 per cent and for Hindus
35 per cent. Only eight people would not co-operate with any organisation
but about 20 per cent of the Protestants, Muslims and Hindus and 14 per
cent of the Roman Catholics were willing to co-operate with an organisation,
run by any religion or which was non-religious in character where they were
in agreement with th- objectives. More Protestants were willing to co-
operate with Roman Catholics than Roman Catholics with Protestants but
the Muslims showed equal interest in co-operating with Roman CGatholics
and Protestants. A higher proportion of Roman Catholics and Protestants
were willing to co-operate with Muslims than with Hindus. ThE willingness
of many of the members of different religions to come together for social
service where they were in agreement with the objectives suggests that in
spite of the serious religious conflicts in the past, religious barriers are break-
A recruitment campaign which included all religions could result in. a
large memIership in voluntary organizations. Most of the members who had
joined an organisation were satisfied with the leadership, quality and
quantity of the activities and the time and place of their occurrence. Al-
though a few persons had left the organisation because they were dissatisfied
most of those who had left were still interested. and willing to help. Others
who had heard of the organisation wished to become members. The most
important area for organizational improvement would be the establishment
of better methods of communication so that the objectives and activities of
the organizations become better known. For the less well educated, talks on
the radio or in small groups in the villages would be appropriate. The better
educated could also read about the organizations' activities in the press or
The Conservator of Antiquities, Mr. Hamo Sassoon, has written to the
effect that he is compiling a record of the historical inscriptions of Uganda.
Some of the monuments no longer have their inscribed plaques, and photo-
graphs of these inscriptions would therefore be helpful. If any readers of the
Uganda Journal have old photographs of Uganda's monumental inscriptions
he would be grateful to borrow them and have them copied. Would any .
person with such photographs please contact Mr. H, Sassoon. at P.O. Box
7136, Kampala. .
By H. B. THoMV, O.B.E.
At Uganda Journal 23 (1959), p. 179 is a description of 'a sketch map
of Gordon's Equatorial Provinces', in which Colonel C.G. Gordon designates
the Ripon Falls as 'Cossitza'. The name makes a few appearances in Gordon's
letters printed in Birkbeck Hill's Gordon in Central Africa 1874-1879, but
never gained wide currency. Its provenance has, long been unknown. It
defeated Dr. Stuhimann when he came to transcribe Emin Pasha's Tagebil-
cher (See German edition, Vol. 1, p. 118).
Clearly it was not an African word, and I did wonder if Gordon might
have adopted it from Rumania, since, for two years from the end of 1871
until shortly before his appointment to the Sudan in 1874, Gordon was the
British member of the International Commission for supervising the Sulina
branch of the Danube and was stationed at Galatz, as H.B.M. Vice-Consul.
Soon after the Uganda Journal article was published Sir John Gray
referred me to a letter in the British Museum ,(Add. Ms. 40.665) from
Gordon to one Richard Spiers Standen, dated Dufile, 18 February 1876, in
which Gordon makes a rough sketch to explain his plans for future opera-
tions in Equatoria. Ini this he writes, as a footnote to the name 'Cossitza,'
"Station called after Cossitz of Galatz. Refer to Mrs Carnegie." Thif
enigmatical note did not make it clear who or what was Cossitz. I have
been unable to identify either R.S. Standen or Mrs Carnegie.
In 1963, Gordon's last remaining nephew, Lieut.-Col. F.W. Moffitt
bequeathed to the British Museum a further large collection of Gordon's
papers, thus filling many gaps in the Museum's already extensive holdings.
Sir John worked on this new material and told me of a letter from Gordon
to his sister, Augusta, dated from Abyssinia, 2 October 1879. "Will you
kindly send to Monsieur Cossitz, Galatz, Roumania, one of my Egyptian
I asked the cultural attache of the Embassy of the Rumania People's
Republic in London if any details of M. Cossitz of Galatz were on record;
but nothing could be learned rom, the, appropriate institutions in Bucharest.
There the matter now rests.
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
In Uganda Journal, 25 (1961) pp. 50-51 is an account of the early 'Church
Missionary Society Boats in East Africa'. This referred to the Gabunga as
beitg under construction by Alexander Mackay at Usambiro when he died
there on 8 February 1890. In the following May it was completed by the
C.M.S. missionaries Walker and Deekes and was launched as the Kulekwa.
It was wrecked about eighteen months later. The article states that the rele-
vance of the name "is not very apparent". But, Omulekwa is the Luganda
for 'orphan'; and so registers very appropriately the fact that the Kulekwa
was Mackay's orphaned child.
THE SONG OF OCOL
By OKOT p'BrrEK
Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1970, 86p. 5sh. (E.A.)
We are all incorrigible askers for more and like Oliver Twizt are cons-
tantly disappointed with the more we get. Queen Elizabeth asked Shakespeare
for another play about Falstaff and must have been disappointed with The
Merry Wives of Windsor. We asked for more from Dr. Okot p'Bitek after
The Song of Lawino; of course we did. That vigorous, humorous and very
positive expression of the traditionalist viewpoint cried out for an answer.
I wouid guess that the author has heard over and over again the request
"What would Ocol say". Well, here is the answer. Couched in the same
vigorous language though with less exuberance of image. Obviously Lawino
is far more likely to fall back on the colourful images of her own language
than her sophisticated and de-tribalised husband. It is extremely entertain-
ing and readable and the illustrations by Frank Horley are ofl considerable
power. But it does have the faults of so many sequels. Rarely can the second
attack at the same subject have the same clarity, vigour and panache as the
first; and The Song of Ocol is no exception. Lawino's case was presented
with enormous singleness and integrity, both her moments of attack and de-
fence made a coherent satirical picture. The author used' Lawino in order
to attack many aspects of the contemporary scene but retained coherence
because the attacker was Lawino, the immediate object of her assault was
her husband and through him all the influences which she saw as corrupting
him. There is no longer such a single vision from Ocol although I suppose
one could argue that this is in character. He does not really know where he
is going or what are the principles by which he lives and so he may well be
the sort of person who will hit out wildly.
The poem rings with passion but it lacks direction. Ocol begins with
dismissing his wife but as the poem goes on he attacks indiscriminately and
draws his evidence not only from all over East Africa but far and wide
throughout the continent and, whereas when Soyinka does this in A Dance
of the Forests it has symbolic meaning, it lacks it in The Song of Ocol. The
satire and irony of Lawino's song was firmly controlled and we never lost
the speaking voice of this abandoned wife. In this poem one feels at times
Okot is merely using Ocol as his medium and there is a kind of love-hate
relationship between author and character that leaves one in doubt what
reader reaction is asked for. The satire of Lawino was never unrealistic. One
was compelled to sympathise with the singer even while the mind was deve-
loping counter-arguments to her viewpoint. Her ideas were an encouragement
to vigorous and thoughtful discussion just as Okot's poetic technique (however
much he may, with false modesty, claim to have clipped the eagle's wings
in writing in English)l has already been paid the compliment of counttlss
imitations. But here it is almost as though the author himself is afraid Oco's
viewpoint will be too compelling if he does not pull his punches sometimes
and the satire of the singer occasionally, therefore, becomes a little close to
caricature. After a passage of vigorous abuse on traditionalism (and there
are some splendid moments nowhere perhaps is he more moving than in
his image of the exiled monarch) he will temper the wind to the shorn lamb.
In section 3, for instance, after a powerful and biassed picture of divination
in the "curing" of malaria Ocol concludes he will drop all the diviners in
the lake. He then goes on:
"We will arrest
All the village poets
Musicians and tribal dancers,
Put in detention
Folk story tellers
And myth makers
The sustainers of
Obviously Ocol is to alienate us here but it is laid on too thick and when
later in the same section he makes Ocol reject Cesaire, Senghor and the rest,
I feel it is not in the character of Ocol or at least not in the character of Ocol
as I have pre-conceived it from Lawino's picture. Lawino's Ocol would surely
be an apostle of the still fashionable negritude attitude. But side by side with
the vivid description of the young woman dragged to premature old age
by servitude to tradition came moments which conflict poetically and also
.effectively as in the lovely
"I hear the lowing of cattle
A forest of long white horns
(here the reader is led to make his equation
between cattle and women by the force of poetry)
I hear the wild song
'Of the herdsman
He is singing praises
(and so far so lovely)
To your ugliness!"
(the bathos makes the satirical point)
'.Obviously Ocol is a mixed up man and so cannot have the directness of
attack of the single-minded Lawino. Is this further evidence of the differing
attitude of the two sexes which has been so often stressed by writers? But
self-questioning does not allow the same purity when the author is aiming
:to combine satire and poetry.
It is an invigorating poem.. Ocol's rapid anthropological survey of the
mixture of East African traditions will invite immediate recognition in most
readers, recognition because of the vividness of the poetry. The review of
tribal customs at the beginning of section 5, for instance, is made with admir-
able economy. Ocol himself comes to life once or twice; in his descriptions
of his love for flowers, his naive delight in his "Mere" and his pride in his
modern farm. Some of the symbolism is extremely exciting and even moving.
Like the last three lines in a minor key after a passage of fairly crude hyper-
bole which is suddenly given new depth by this last moment:
"What proud poem
Can we write
For the vanquished?"
Obviously Ocol might pursue his studies in literature a little further to dis-
cover that the proudest poems are those written for the vanquished in East
Africa as elsewhere. The heroism of the Battle of Maldon and of the singer
about death in Uganda is enhanced by the fact that they cannot win.
The Song of Ocol is very well worth reading but it will disappoint be-
cause it does not make the excellent whole the first poem did. It suggests
that the author is ready to move on to new things, that he has a store of
poetry in his word hoard that might next find a completely serious voice.
Ocol keeps hauling himself back by the scruff of his neck from seriousness
and there are moments very much of the "Eheu Fugaces" type.
For the village world
That you know
And love so well,
By the fierce fires
Of progress and civilisation !"
This is evocative in a way his attacks (to hell with your pumpkin;) are not.
"That walk to the well
The cool bath in the stream,
The gathering of the family
Around the evening fire".
I think the real trouble is that Ocol is at times only two dimensional
and then suddenly there is life in him and so we can neither believe or dis-
believe in him in the long run. Too often if we scratch him we do not know
whether it will be blood or didactics that will flow from the probe.
By R. BER"
Arthur Barker Ltd., London, and Arco Publ.Co.,Inc., New York 1970
96 pp., 76 photographs, 16 in colour. 25 shs. (stg).
This attractively produced book will be appreciated by a wide range of
readers; Well-chosen illustrations are combined with a text which reflects the
author's painstaking appraisal of the literature and his long experience
close concern for African wildlife. Apart from a few "atmosphere" passages
the text is compact, informative and unsentimental, and is quite up to the
standard set, for example, by Leslie Brown's Africa: a natural history.
The first chapter is a descriptive introduction, and picks an interesting
path through a subject which could so easily have been presented as a tiresome
catalogue. Selected details of each species are given in an appendix at the
end of the book. Chapter two, on distribution, habitat and food, is packed
with the kind of information which is the foundation of game management
and responsible conservation, as is Chapter three, a fascinating account of
antelope social behaviour of special interest to tee Uganda reader. The
fourth chapter, "Antelopes and Predators", is inevitably more anecdotal, but
contains valuable references to recent studies on hyaenas, wild dogs and
other misunderstood predators. A few details of man as a predator-hunting
and trapping methods would have added considerable interest. The final
chapter "Survival and conservation", provides a very brief review of disea-
ses, leading in to the disastrous effects on ungulate ecology of rinderpest fol-
lowing its introduction from Asia ip about 1890. The author, not unnaturally,
attacks tsetse control policy of shooting out wild animals to make way for
cattle, which he states to be inferior to antelopes both in terms of meat pro-
ductioh and of damage to natural vegetation. Indeed, if what Rennie Bere
and many others have been saying is established fact, it remains obscure to
this reviewer why the ranching of game animals has advanced so little in
East Africa,. unless social and logistic difficulties are the real obstacles. If
this is so, 'hen to be effective, conservationists' arguments should be present-
ed in a broader and more practical context. Doubtless these shortcomings
in the present book are a matter of space, but I can think of no better person
to do this than Rennie Bere who, as the first Chief Warden of the Uganda
Game Parks, should be: highly respected in this country and who stands aside
from the international jet-set termed by John Hillaby the "evangecologists".
My principal adverse criticism of this book is that the. selected biblio-
graphy is far too short, especially with reference to recent original studies
which add so greatly to its value. It has been pointed out to me that one
photograph (p27) is incorrectly titled as a blue duiker. The picture is in fact
of a suni
One's first reaction to the appearance of this little book is that it is of
the superficial Christmas present variety, an impression quickly dispelled by
the high standard especially of the second and third chapters. By reading it,
one's appreciation of Uganda's antelopes will be greatly enhanced.
A. W. Mo CrA
E.A. Virus Institute, Entebbe.