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Former Warriors Recruited As Tour Guides to End Raids in Karamoja :: Uganda Radionetwork

Former Warriors Recruited As Tour Guides to End Raids in Karamoja

Several reformed warriors have been recruited to help in guiding the tourists and ensure they are safe.
Joyce Nakoya, the DEO Napak giving out certificates to some of the youth trained by Kara-tunga tours

Audio 3

A Tours Company in Moroto district has resorted to using the reformed cattle rustlers as their tour guides. 

Karatunga is a social enterprise operating cultural experiences, outdoor adventures Hiking, and Bicycle tours, and events aimed at creating job opportunities to preserve cultural heritage and biodiversity in Karamoja.

The company is operating in the region despite reports about insecurity and several reformed warriors have been recruited to help in guiding the tourists and ensure they are safe. 

Theo Modo Vos, the Secretary of Karatunga Tours company says they want to change the narratives of the warriors which people think are offensive but instead value them in the community.

Modo Vos, said they are committed to developing local tourism that will transform the lives of indigenous persons in the region. He also added that using the reformed warriors as guides limits the chances of attacks from the field.

According to Modo Vos, they are diversifying the Karamoja tourism product by developing a trail to make sure the local community benefits from the program.

‘’These warriors are very productive, the only option is to keep them busy and appreciate their effort, no one would think of going to the bush, and that’s what we are doing’’ he said.

He also added that they have started skilling warriors on leadership skills, catering, hygiene, and customer care in order to improve service delivery and to meet the satisfaction of customers.

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Joseph Siya, a 40- year- old reformed warrior from Kotido District said he resigned from raiding in 2007 and joined the tourism company to work as a tourist guide, an opportunity that has helped him transform his life.

Siya says that he was a notorious warrior who could terrorize the whole region without being disrupted by the security forces. He adds that because of his age, he could not continue with his education but instead joined the company as a tourist guide. 

Siya says that he is paid 50,000 Shillings and 250000 shillings per day for five trips. He says the project has really transformed his life, unlike the early days when he was trapped in the raids that could have risked his life.

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Yakobo Jimmy Apollo, another former raider said leaving cattle raids was not easy because he was taking care of a big family that all relied on him as a breadwinner.  Apollo said he was picked by a friend who directed him to the Karatunga company that admitted him as a local tour guide.

Yakobo says poverty drove him to the bush and he had no other alternatives for feeding his family apart from raiding cows which he sells to get money for buying food.

According to Yakobo, the tourism business has worked well for him because he has established an entertainment crew of reformed warriors who always perform traditional dances and the tourists pay them money.

He said this could earn them some money which they are using to boost their savings for the reformed warrior savings association.

Angella Lomongin a tourist guide at Pian Upe Game Reserve and a resident of Nakapiripirit district said tourism is now their savior because they are able to make money from tourists who pay for their products.

Lomongin explained that when she was at the age of 15 years, her father forced her to get married because he had no money to pay for her school fees. It’s on this ground she ran away from home and went to stay with a friend.

Lomongin said she could try education but it wasn’t easy since there was no one helping her with scholastic materials and this forced her out of school.

But, in 20018, Lomongin joined Karatunga tourism company where she was able to get something to raise her family.

Besides guiding tourists, Lomongin says she makes products like beads which they sell to tourists and the money is put into savings.

Herbert Byaruhanga, the President of Uganda Tourism notes that Karamoja has very important areas for tourism which include animals, the environment, and the culture which gives a better experience for tourists coming from abroad.

Byaruhanga emphasized more women to be trained and enrolled in the tourism business because it can change their traditional thinking of being a warrior.

“There is a need to empower the youth who are still tender and ready to learn and promote young women into tourism and these would get Karamoja out of poverty’’ He said.

Byaruhanga also warned the locals to drop their traditional thinking of being warriors and drop their traditional methods of surviving but instead tap into development activities.

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Karatunga tour company has developed a project dubbed ‘’a warrior Nomad Trail’’, to train the reformed warriors in the areas of customer care, leadership skills, hygiene and sanitation, and training of trainers. Already 65 former raiders have been trained across all the nine districts of Karamoja.