NABITALUK, UGANDA: Authorities in Nabilatuk district, Nothern Uganda have resolved to ban traditional shrines in Kosike sub-county following an incident on September 18 where locals teamed up and beat three men from Amudat district who were following their cows stolen by suspected warriors from Nabilatuk district.
The victims identified as Emmanuel Lonyangara, Paul Amokwang and one unidentified man were rushed to Nabilatuk health centre IV but later referred to Moroto Regional Referral Hospital for further management.
It is alleged that a decision to beat up anyone who crosses to Kosike sub-county to track stolen animals was crafted from the shrines by the elders who usually visit them as part of the traditional gatherings locally known as Akiriket.
The shrines banned are located within forested areas, from where rituals and sacrifices are performed.
Nabilatuk district LC5 chairperson Paul Lokol says that initially, the elders would organize the gathering and invite all the local leaders to be part of the session.
However lately, they conduct the meetings in secret places which creates suspicions that the motive may be very different from matters concerning the community.
Lokol says that the area leaders have detected a hidden agenda and clear indications that the elders are fuelling violence and insecurity in the district. ‘’We don’t know what these elders discuss from their gatherings but whenever they sit, there is something wrong that happens, so we want to stop these gatherings as we monitor the situation,’’ Lokol said.
Nabilatuk Resident District Commissioner Kyeyune Ssenyonjo said that the elders have undermined the leadership of the sub-county and ordered that their activities must be streamlined. Ssenyonjo says they will not allow elders to continue with their gatherings without the knowledge of area leaders, adding that the community should report to authorities once they come across such meetings.
He adds that the shrines were once used to discuss issues affecting the community but since it has changed their purpose, there is no need to maintain such destructive meetings.
In July 2022, the UPDF in Karamoja proposed a ban on shrines, accusing them of misleading the cattle rustlers by giving them false protection against being killed during the raids. However, the proposal met resistance from the elders who said the shrines are their traditional churches and banning them may invoke curses.