People of Karamojja - Affordable Uganda Safaris Limited
Karamoja is populated by the Akaramojong who are popularly refered to as Karamojong people. Theirs is a society whose outward representation is similar to that of the Maasai pastoralists, who move their cattle around a tough landscape in search of grazing.
Karamoja has a cattle culture and the Akaramojong are notorious as cattle raiders. Unlike most other Ugandans, many Akaramojong shun western-style clothes and instead wear "traditional" dress of a light blanket -like shawl, often in red and black. The women wear elaborate beadwork.
There is the national park in Kidepo; the guns come in from Somalia, Kenya and Sudan. There are church missions, schools and medical centres and NGOs doing development work. There are mining companies interested in gold and other minerals.
The pacification of Karamoja in recent years has involved a large army presence there. The tribalism that pervades the way Ugandans talk about Karamoja also permeates the way soldiers think and act. The historian Ben Knighton writes of government soldiers forcing women to eat the traditional beads as a way of promoting "civilised dress" - a reminder of what civilisation often means.
Karamoja’s climate is harsh. In many areas, rains do not often exceed 800 millimetres per year, sometimes hovering around a mere 500 millimetres. (At least 1,000 millimetres is needed to sustain people in a land without infrastructure.) The precipitation that does fall usually comes sporadically between June and October with the desert winds and the hot dry season taking over the land from November to March. In recent years, drought has become more frequent and severe.
Beyond natural and national borders, inter-regional conflicts have kept Karamoja cut off from the rest of the world and its own country. The longest running civil wars in Africa have surrounded and spilled into the region between southern Sudan and northern Uganda. The Karimojong themselves, however, also have contributed to the region’s isolation. Like other pastoral people, the Karimojong have immeasurable pride in their traditional way of life, and many have remained resistant to change no matter the force trying to change them. After all, in a desert-like land, the Karimojong have survived for centuries, and sometimes survival is all that matters.