The Alur People And Their Interesting Culture

If you have visited the West Nile region of Uganda, then you must have heard about the Alur people. They are an ethnic group who inhabit areas of north-western Uganda and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) occupying a number of areas that include Zombo, Nebbi and parts of Arua district while in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they mostly inhabit areas north of Lake Albert.

Alur are also part of the larger Luo group and speak Alur, a language closely related to Jonam, Adhola and Acholi (also Luo). Additionally, some Alur speak Kebu or Lendu but their dialects differ considerably with the Alur on the highland (known as Okoro) speak relatively different dialect from the lowland Alur (Jonam) and sometimes it becomes difficult to understand each other. They are said to have migrated from South Sudan with the other Luo following the Nile Banks and their original homeland was Rumbek on the confluence of the Nile River and Bahr-el-Ghazel and moved South along the Nile Pubungu where they later dispersed to Bunyoro, eastern Uganda, Acholi while others to Nyanza Province of Kenya and the Alur people moved to West Nile region. There are several legends that explain their origin including the famous story of Gapir and Labongo.

Alur Kingdom was one of the few that were unaffected by the ban on traditional Monarchies by former president-Dr. Apollo Milton Obote in 1966 and all Kings are referred as “Rwoth” with the current one being Rwoth Phillip Rauni Olarker  who was coroneted in 2010. These people were divided into ten chiefdoms when the Europeans arrived in their area and these included Panyikano, Angal, War Palara, Ukuru, Juganda, Paidha, Mukambu, Panduru, Jukoth and Padeo but according to the Royal spear head-bearing tradition, the Ubimu of Alur tribe, H.M Philip Olarker Rauni III is the ruler of the whole tribe.

The largest Clan of the Alur is Ukuru and was founded in 1630 when Ngira, a member of the Aryak family moved with few young men including his younger brother known as Ijira and took over the territory from the native Bantu inhabitants.  These people traditionally live in grass thatched huts with the homesteads being in the central part of the territory to ensure control and were farmer-herders who grew mainly cassava, millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, maize and green vegetable while they rear chickens, goats and sometimes cattle.

Men normally do most of the work including rearing domestic animals, growing crops and constructing huts as well as fishing and hunting while the women were in-charge of keeping the house clean, cooking and taking care of children but when it comes to socializing, men and women keep their space in social life and rarely mix so as to reduce aggression and jealousy from husbands. These people are naturally social which is generally the most important factor for male dominance by the Alur and land is not individually owned by the Alur people.

When it comes to marriage, ritual or religious marriages were conveyed in the “Mukeli gagi” rituals whereby a married woman is afflicted by ancestral spirits by her own people and the husband gets Cowrie shells to take them home and tied to the pole of her father’s ancestral shrine. The husband would be pledging to pay two goats-a male and female to rescue the Cowrie shells because they are not meant to remain at his father-in-law’s home for ever.

Therefore, details on the culture of the Alur people and other mysteries can only be experienced in you visit them within Zombo, Nebbi, parts of Arua district and the Democratic Republic of Congo during African safaris.

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