“We should not allow to lose track of our culture."
MOROTO - The young people of Karamoja have been urged to preserve their culture in a bid to preserve their glory and identity.
Speaking at the newly established Ateker Cultural Centre in Moroto town, the chairperson of Karamoja elder's forum, Jackson Angella, reminded youths that their main identity lies in their culture.
"We should not allow to lose track of our culture," he said.
The influence of other tribes, such as the Iteso, Bagishu and Luo, is affecting the Karimojong culture, said Angella, adding that language and dress code are increasingly also being influenced by tribes.
His appeal to the young generation in the region is to put to use the Ateker Cultural Centre which has been described as a symbol of development, unity and empowerment of the youth in Karamoja.
The facility will store data and information on cultural norms, dressing, myths, tales, tools and poems for future reference. It will also be used as a center of dialogue for the Ateker clusters in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
"We shall always discuss amicable natural resource sharing, particularly pasture and water, at this point," Angella observed. The centre will also be used as a pedestal to remind government of the development needs of the sub-region.
Peterken Lochap, the district resident commissioner of Moroto, urged women in the sub-region to establish cottage industries in settlements so as to uplift the centuries-long craft industry for sustainability.
Visiting the newly established Karamoja Cultural Centre in Moroto town on Monday, Lochap asked the acility to promote proven talents that uplift the standards of women in the villages.
"We want to see women moving in the right direction," he said, adding that making of necklaces, waist beads and wrist laces could open opportunities.
Lochap said the industry is economically viable as an income-generating livelihood for the Karimojong women who are family heads.
Peter Maruk, a resident of Rupa village, who also visited the cultural center, said spoke of his optimism. "I have been praying for this day when we would have a centre uniting Karamoja."
He said the facility should be used as symbol for peace and promote talents of the youth in the sub-region.
But according to Hannah Longole, the founder of the cultural centre, financial constraints have limited the development. "We are so far pushing on well with the meagre resource envelope."
Calling for support from Government and well-wishers, she hopes that once fully equipped, the centre will not only be used to preserve culture, but also to promote both local and foreign tourism in the region.
The facility, which is located along the Moroto-Kenya Road, holds Ateker regalia for the Tepeth, Jie, Bokora, Matheniko, Ik, Nyangatom of Ethiopia and the Toposa from South Sudan.