Kumam plot to secede from Iteso

Festival. The Kumam perform a dance during the cultural gala in Kaberamaido District last week. PHOTO BY EMMANUEL OLILA EUMU

What you need to know:

  • Reason. The Kumam say they want to revive their fading norms and culture.


Elders subscribing to the Kaberamaido Elders Forum (KEF) have threatened to secede from the Iteso Cultural Union (ICU) and crown their own interim clan king, whom the Kumam, an ethnic group of people in Teso, will pay allegiance to.
Mr Charles Ocen Ebayu, the chairperson of KEF, in an interview with Daily Monitor last week, said their urge to split from ICU was due to the desire to preserve the Kumam culture, which seems to be fading away.
Mr Ebayu said there are no ill intentions against the ICU headed by Emorimor Augustine Osuban, in their quest for a cultural king. “We think that in order for our Kumam elders to have later generations, we must have a king who will rally the various clan heads to embrace our culture,” he said.
The Kumam reside in Kaberamaido District, which was carved out of Soroti District in 2001. Others are scattered around Soroti, Serere, Amuria, Dokolo and Amolatar districts.
“The Wonatekerin (King for clan heads) will be our bargaining factor as a tribe; we feel there is little representation for the Kumams. Apart from the greying elders, many of our children cannot speak and write their mother language. They fear being identified as Kumam,” he added.
Mr Ebayu revealed that on Thursday a council of clan elders from the 148 clans among the Kumam will have a retreat where they will discuss, among other issues, the election of the Wonatekerin.
He noted that the idea of the kingship has been embraced by their tribemates in the diaspora.
“It is an issue we have put before government for a long time. Once we are done with the formulation of the Kumam Constitution and election of our leader, we will place this before Kaberamaido District council, Ministry of Gender and Culture, and Parliament for approval,” Mr Ebayu said.
Speaking at the Kumam cultural gala fete last Tuesday, Mr Moses Atayo, a member of KEF and resident of Kobulubulu Sub-county, said to redeem their dialect from complete extinction, government should grant them a kingship as a matter of urgency.
He added that the Wonatekerin will be mandated to address cultural issues which are seemingly not being handled under Iteso union.
Mr Moses Esemu, the LC3 for Kobulubulu Sub-county, said he is ready to rally all Kumam to embrace the need for the Wonatekerin.
“Apart from the political voice, we don’t have a cultural enclave that speaks for us, majority of tribes have , we should also advocate for this,” he said.
Ms Mary Ajilo, the area woman MP, who had organised the cultural fete said: “I promise to attend the first elders council and offer my total support.”