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Acholi Culture

Acholi people belong to the Luo Nilotic ethnicity that originates in the northern Uganda famously referred to as the great Acholi land. This land covers the district boundaries of Gulu, Agago, amuru, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo and Pader. According to the 2002 Uganda population census, about 1.17 million Acholi people exist in Uganda and more 45,000 Acholi people thrive in South Sudan. The Acholi people speak western Nilotic Language which is classified as the Luo.

It is originally with the Lango, Alur and other Luo Languages. The Luo inhabit parts of Eastern Uganda, West Nile, Northern Uganda, South Sudan and Western Kenya. It should be noted that Acholi word was adopted for convenience over the years that referred to people that are locally known as the Luo Gang. Their neighbors in Lango refer to the Acholi people as Ugangi meaning people of the home. Acholi people are known to have their origins in Bahr-el-Ghazel in the Southern Sudan in 1,000 CE up to present day northern Uganda.

In the end of 17th Century there was a new socio-political order that developed amongst the Luo people in northern Uganda marked by Chiefdoms of Rwodi or Rwot which literally meant King and Chiefs emerge from one clan and that chiefdoms had a range of local villages that were made up of various clans.

In the 19th Century, around 60 small chiefdoms existed in the east of  Acholi land and in the 2nd half of the 19th Century, Arab traders who had came to the area and started calling them Shooli a term that later turned into the Acholi. The Acholi Communities lived in circular huts that are marked with a peak with a sleeping platform, fire place with jars of grain. The women used to smear the walls with mud with conventional decorations of grey, red or white.

The Acholi Men were originally hunters as they used nets, spears to capture wild game to get meat. They kept livestock which includes sheep, goats and cattle. Acholi women were known to be agriculturalists that grew crops, processed a range of crops including millet, simsim, sorghum, and vegetables among others. In war times, men were so active with their spears, shields of giraffe that are long and narrow made of hides of ox. When the British came to Uganda, Acholi people were preferred for manual labour and military services creating all sorts of military expertise.

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