Monday, 23 November 2009

Lugbara Kari (The House of Lugbara)

There is a long awaited move towards forming an official administrative body of Lugbara. John Godo, a grey haired UPC (Uganda People's Congress) Party champion or stalwart in the Arua, West Nile Region (He is also a Member of the Ayivu County Elders's SACCO) and his associates are drafting a Constitution - Set of Rules (Lugbara Kari) for the said structure, the Household of Lugbara. It is not yet adopted by all the Lugbara on the entire Third Planet but many look forward to spreading it everywhere. Membership is simply by belonging to the about 13 Clans of Lugbara: Seven in Uganda (Aringa, Ayivu, Madi, Vurra, Terego, Maracha and Koboko also included because the schools there teach pupils in Lugbara) plus Six Bayia (Outside West Nile) Clans according to original counties known as "Collective" in the Eturi Province of Democratic Republic of Congo [I'm sorry I forgot to record the names but one interesting one is the Itso pronounced as "icho" meaning "able" in Lugbara. Nevertheless, some ethnologue reports list dialects such as Zaki, Abedju-Azaki, Lu, Aluru, Nio and Otsho with 840,000 speakers in DRC (Johnstone 2001). The last two are very similar to Ugandan Lugbara. Yes We Can form this Cultural Institution. There are also Three tribes in Sudan who speak a Lugbara-like language and may be included. Godo once asked, "Why don't we study Lugbara up to University and even get degrees in it?" With this institution in place, work can be done to bring that dream to life].

In Uganda, the Baganda have a Kabaka, the Banyoro have an Omukama, the Basoga have a Kyabazinga, Itesots have an Emorimor, and Batoro have an Omugabe but the Lugbara have NO KING. There are chiefs and sultans in different counties but there is no one with kingly authority. You wonder how they can be united, reminds me of lines in the Bible about Ants and other insects that have no leader but know when to do things and in impeccable order. Nevertheless, the Lugbara have someone called the AGOFE who is charged with the duty of preserving the culture through writing plus other assignments. He is elected to a five year reign that can be added with one more term, though according to the unpublished constitution, he can also be replaced in his term basing on certain failings. The current Lugbara Agofe is Jason Avutia whom many know as the Chairman of LULA - Lugbara Literature Association. Qualifications for an Agofe (Article 8: 2: 1) include: (a) A person with minimum age of 55 Years; (b) A person of high oral character and proven integrity; (c) A person knowledgeable in public affairs and with interest in cultural and developmental issues in general; (d) A person with a deep interest in the history and culture of the Lugbara; plus (e) A person with a minimum education of advanced certificate level or its equivalent.

Some of the Objectives for forming the Lugbara Cultural Institution include: 1.To forster, enhance and preserve the cooperation, unity, trust and understanding, dedication to work and mutual respect among Lugbara; 2. To promote cultural heritage of Lugbara and Lugbara ti; 3. To preserve, regulate the culture of traditional dances; 4. To encourage collection and preservation of ancient artefacts, social life as well as other traditional things; 5. To encourage research; 6. To promote cultural linkages; 7. To improve agricultural practices; 8. To promote industrial cooperation and land conservation; 9. To award and honour Lugbara who have excelled in various fields; 10. To set up a Fund for promoting culture; 11. To cooperate with government institutions in achieving the above objectives (The Arua District Local Government following its own community-oriented objectives has actually accepted to support the Lugbara initiative).

WHEREAS the Children of Lugbara wherever they may be located in Uganda, Congo and the Diaspora are desirous of constituting themselves into an institution that will preserve, promote and enhance their culture as well as their material, economic heritage so that they can consolidate African nationhood in a rapidly globalising world.
WHEREAS such cultural institution will enable the Lugbara to unite and live harmoniously with their neighbours and contibute to their role as active citizens of Uganda in a federated East Africa in the context of the African wide political union of African people.
WHEREAS all the Lugbara are united in their joint vision of promoting their oneness (Unity) and well being for the glory of their motherland and that of their ancestors, the living and the unborn.
WHEREAS the representatives of the Clans of Lugbara have met and resolved that such an organisation be established...

(This data is courtesy of John Godo)

Charles Bua from Vurra (Arua) comments that, "It is a matter of controversy among our people. Arua people want cultural leadership but elite class is worried of its influence. It is definitely going to unite the common people but alienate the self styled politicians who have become cultural leaders without interest, no responsibilty, no knowledge and those and many others do not believe that the spirit of a nation is the common and neglected community. There is hope. First, we need several dialogues and writing of our history. Then constitution be drafted by all the representatives of clans."

AJUA - Tara Origins

Some call this place "Tara-dise" because it rocks their world. You may marvel at heavenly views of breathtaking rock formations and mountains namely Liru plus Wati (in Terego) like when Clouds hug their tops or at Sunset - GOD surely painted better than Michaelangelo and Pablo Picasso combined; the plush-green vegetation is refreshing; the well arranged Maize, Cassava, Groundnut, Soya and Tobacco (Assets) Gardens plus simple rural lifestyle seem unmoved by urban chaos. Tara is found on the Northern Border of Maracha, about an hour away from Koboko Town and DR Congo.

A man called Ajua is the great-grandfather of Tara Parishes. Ajua (Abi pi ama tipi Tara'a woro) wanted to see where Ono (River Enyau or Anyau) ends. So he moved with his cows and found people dancing at a dog funeral in Onduparaka (North of Arua Town). He joined in the dance and was given a wife. She gave birth to Opodria who later birthed Naye, the father of the Seven True Parishes of Tara. Ajua left Onduparaka on his quest and went to Ovisoni (West of Arua Town). There he also found people dancing and was allowed to join them. He was given another wife. Some say he paid bride price. The woman gave birth to Otu (Lugbara for 'Umbilical Cord'), the father of Vurra, after whom a County was named in Western Arua District. Otu is the step-brother of Opodria, the grandfather of the other Vur(r)a, a Parish in Tara Sub-County which encompasses the villages from East/West Kololo, Pajuru to Odupiri. Vur(r)a's six brothers after whom Parishes are named in Tara Sub-County (Part of Lower Maracha created from Yivu Sub-County which used to be in the Maracha County of Arua District) include Ojapi (Angusara is the fore-father of Baria Village), Ajulepi, Yidu (Pajama Area), Oliapi (Oliyepi), Aruwe and Rendu. [Oral Tradition Courtesy of Kefa Bayoa Dobo]

When adventurers visit Tara, they write their names on the rocks and take small ones as souvenirs plus for research purposes. For instance, if you stand at the soccer field of Ojapi Primary School, the ranges anticlockwise from Mt. Liru include Kodro, Gala, Kadri, Adrofiya and Njeke (or Njakai). On the South Side of Ojapi as you move from Oliapi Primary School to Orani (which also has a rock named after the place), you will see Adada (which reminds one of big road construction trucks) and Luturujo (which translates to "The House of/ on a Hill). In the evening, after an honest day's work, men sit on the ground or the innumerable rocks, in circles (of four to five), around a calabash of Kwete or bottle of Umkhomboti and drink while chatting about politics and life in general. On market days like at Mabira, Ajira, Gili Gili and Odupiri, women sell foodstuffs as the sun sets. The Grasshopper is the Staple Food and Emblem of Maracha, a Lugbara Clan. Also famous for the Mairunji trade, it is as though Maracha was built on ROCKS. Other Sub-Counties in Maracha include Omugo, Aiivu, Uriama, Nyadri, Yivu (which used to encompass the whole of Tara) and Oleba.