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Languages in Uganda are interrelated

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th June 2007 03:00 AM

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s speech on the fifth extra-ordinary meeting for heads of state in the East African Community was great except for the use of the word kony. This word should not have been the yardstick to show how it has been bantuised to konyera. This could have alienated the Luo

Jenn Jagire

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s speech on the fifth extra-ordinary meeting for heads of state in the East African Community was great except for the use of the word kony. This word should not have been the yardstick to show how it has been bantuised to konyera. This could have alienated the Luo speakers to make them feel responsible for Joseph Kony and his atrocities. There are Luo speakers in the Sudan, DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

A Luo scholar, Prof. Bethwell Ogot (Kenya), has written many history books for all East Africans. Senator Barack Obama, a son of a Kenyan Luo is the most likable presidential candidate in the US. Luo speakers founded the mighty kingdoms of Bunyoro, Toro and probably even Buganda. In Mengo, the palace gate is called wankaki, which means gate in Luo. One of the founding kings of Buganda, Kimera Kato was a twin brother to one of the Luo-Babito kings of Bunyoro.

Omera means brother or son of my mother in any Luo language.

Luo names such as Owori, Oyo, Nyabongo, Winyi, Owiny, Okwiri, Akiiki, Adyeri, Abooki, etc, are also used by Banyoro and Batoro.

President Museveni mentions how a Luo word was bantuised, but the Jopadhola (or the Badama), a Luo speaking group, who live in an area surrounded by the Bantu, have luoised many Bantu words, regardless of Semei Kakungulu’s colonial expansion, on behalf of the British.

Some Bantu words assimilated and used by the Jopadhola include kifo meaning place, ngudo – road, weraba – good-bye, buli – every, kibanja – plot of land, etc. Maido, a word shared by both the Basoga, Bagwere and Jopadhola,means groundnuts. The Jopadhola have also luoised some of the Bantu names, for example Okoth Mukama. Such a person has both a Japadhola and Kisoga name.

The Jopadhola luoised some Basoga princes from their royal clans. Like President Museveni, members of the Jopadhola ethnic community usually understand all Bantu languages, not because they are bantuised, but because of their proximity to them. Many of them are often multilingual, speaking two or more Bantu languages, in addition to the language of their forefathers. Some examples of multilingual Jopadhola are, Ofwono Opondo and Major General Fred Oketcho. I believe that in mentioning linguistic interactions, not one group should be made to feel less than the other. Uganda is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic country.

The writer is a Ugandan living in Ontario, Canada

Languages in Uganda are interrelated

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