The world is digging deep to know who Iteso are, how strong and practical Iteso cultural laws are and the extent to which the Iteso associate and treat cultural leaders.
By Ecungu George William
Soroti – February 17, 2022: On Saturday, February 5, 2022, the Paramount Chief of the Iteso tribe known as His Highness Emorimor Papa Iteso Augustine Osuban Lemukol passed on.
Sad news about this tragedy broke out when Mike Mukula, the NRM Vice Chairperson for Eastern Uganda tweeted: “…I do hereby regret to announce the untimely death of the Iteso Paramount Chief His Highness Emorimor Papa Iteso Augustine Osuban Lemukol…”
This was confirmed by one of the Iteso Cultural Union (ICU) executive members whose voice was heard from one of the radio stations in Teso, “…we have lost Iteso Paramount Chief His Highness Emorimor Papa Iteso Augustine Osuban Lemukol this evening from Mulago National Referral Hospital…”
When the news about the death of the Paramount Chief of Iteso reached President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, he stated accord the fallen Paramount Chief a state burial.
The mere fact that through the order by the President to accord the fallen Paramount Chief a state burial awakened the country’s attention. Everybody wanted to know who the fallen Paramount Chief of Iteso was and what is unique about Iteso.
This, therefore, means that from Saturday, February 5, 2022, when the Paramount Chief died, all eyes of the nation are directed to Iteso. A lot of surveys are undergoing and a lot of things are being revealed.
The world is digging deep to know who Iteso are, how strong and practical Iteso cultural laws are and the extent to which the Iteso associate and treat cultural leaders. All these areas have been revealed following the death of Emorimor Papa Iteso.
Concerning Iteso cultural laws, Iteso is united by ICU and the union is headed by His Highness Emorimor Papa Iteso, a position where the late has been serving.
ICU has a constitution, and this constitution is one of the Iteso cultural instruments that the majority of the opinionists, analysts, and critics have gone through several times to understand the legal structure of Iteso.
As a senior political and cultural activist, with experience of over 10 years, the current ICU constitution needs to be revised. ICU has a council, the council should review the constitution to fit the ethics of modernity.
It is because of the weakness of the rules that, Ateker has faced a lot of challenges in regards to the administration of the cultural legal aspects.
Additionally, the ICU constitution should be reviewed and a provision on cultural assets be provided. It should be made clear which assets belong to the cultural institution, and how should ICU cultural rules be administered, in simple terms the mode of jurisdiction should be redefined.
The question of where all Paramount Chiefs of Iteso are to be buried when they die should be addressed by the ICU constitution. It should be made clear that all Paramount Chiefs of Iteso upon their death should be buried at the cultural burial ground.
The absence of this section in the ICU constitution has brought confabulation between the family of the fallen Paramount Chiefs and the culturalists of Teso. Why they should be buried in the cultural burial grounds is for record and historical purposes.
This can not be made possible if our cultural laws do not provide it in a written law. This implies that the incoming Emorimor Papa Iteso and his cabinet should consider this as a key area.
Much as the government has played its role of according the Paramount Chief a state burial, this has gained Iteso respect and pride, but it shall be a total shame without a defense when the first EMORIMOR Papa Iteso, who served for over 20years is buried outside the cultural premises.
About the character and relationship of the late Emorimor Papa Iteso and his people, his death has also exposed the laziness and arrogant character of some people who I can not mention.
First of all, we the Iteso were not notified about the sickness of the late. Because of this, we have attained shame, not fame. We are now known as cultural dependants. This is because when the late was sick, no financial support was rendered.
I agree it is not a mandatory role but Iteso would have joined their hands together. We always see other cultural institutions, they even mobilize money and their cultural heads are even fled abroad for further treatment. To make matters worse, our Paramount Chief died a common man’s death, which has shocked the whole world.
Disappointingly, the first Paramount Chief of Iteso to die having served and sacrificed himself to the institution is to be buried in his home yet he has been serving the Ateker speakers. This must be worked upon to avoid much shame.
It is on records that Iteso is the most unique tribe in East Africa in a way that they have got a sub-tribe under it. How the burial program has been drawn is segregative. We have our fellow clan members called the Kumams. It would have been better for the body of the late Emorimor to have been taken to one or two Kumam speaking districts as a way of showing unity and brotherhood.
Additionally, when you go through the organizing committee for the burial, the Kumam has been outlined. The fact that the Kumams have not been engaged in this painful moment, based on this, it shall be very had for any Itesots to advocate for unity between Iteso and the Kumam.
This is adding salt to the fresh wound since we have been battling to advocate for unity. This shall in the meantime result in cultural intrigue, divisionism, and antagonism between Iteso and the Kumam.
The unity and the heart of loving our tribe which has been revealed during this mourning period should not stop the day Emorimor is buried. It should continue such that we shall not fall back to the previous Paramount Chief’s regime which faced a lot of rejection, mistrust, and above all faced a lot of intimidation and critics among the fellow Ateker speakers.
It is the right time every person gets to know the value of promoting and preserving Iteso culture. This can only be achieved when we have a common approach to tackle the common problems affecting our culture.
The late Emorimor pronounced it on January 3, 2022, when he had a meeting with the newly elected district chairpersons and municipality mayors.
He said: “ …I want to urge you to derive a common approach to tackle the common problems we the Iteso are facing…distance yourself from the war as a way of solving problems because war is destructive…we have undergone through the war in several instances so it is not proper to drive Ateker to war again…”
The writer is a senior political activist and opinion leader in the Teso sub-region