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Karamoja Elders to Revive Traditional Disciplinary System :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Karamoja Elders to Revive Traditional Disciplinary System

Before colonial times, the Karamojong had a system of regulating community rules led by the Council of Elders at the Akiriket. However, the powers of the traditional systems for regulating conflicts declined after the colonialists created a new structure of leadership that sidelined the elders.
Papaa Angasuban Peter Adei while addressing the elders from the Akiriket in Lotisan sub county

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The Karamoja Elders Council is considering reviving the traditional disciplinary action locally known as Ameto.

Ameto is the traditional way of disciplining anyone who disobeys elders and violates the laws in society through canings.

Before colonial times, the Karamojong had a system of regulating community rules led by the Council of Elders at the Akiriket. However, the powers of the traditional systems for regulating conflicts declined after the colonialists created a new structure of leadership that sidelined the elders.

Papaa Angasuban Peter Adei, the Karamoja Cultural Leader said that the decline in their powers has created an opportunity for the youth to resort to acquiring guns for carrying out dubious activities.

He noted that since the elders took back seats in grooming their children after the British colonial rule, the region is experiencing high cases of alcoholism and drug abuse among the youth.

Adei observed that the armed youth have threatened the power of Elders and they can no longer risk to cane someone who has a gun in fear of revenge.

He recalled that they used to collect the youth who were accused of violating community laws and punish them by canning something which has been frustrated with the introduction of human rights.

Adei said that they want to revive the Ameto system as a means of punishing unruly youth and helping them bring up their children morally upright.

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Peter Lochoro, the Chairperson of Kotido Elders Council noted that the gun violence in the region has rendered them powerless and the youth are no longer respecting elders.

Lochoro said that they are now living in fear as the youth take control of everything including the Akiriket that used to be the chamber of Elders.

He said that when Elders tried using force to fix the youth on the right path, their effort was frustrated by police who kept arresting them for human rights violations.

"Before colonial times, the youth could listen to elders, take advice and respect but nowadays, things have changed, we can no longer speak against these youth because they are controlling us using guns," Lochoro lamented.

He appealed to the government and the human rights agencies to consider giving them back their powers to deal with the wrong elements in society that have continued destabilizing the region.

Currently, the courts of law in the region are experiencing hardships in getting witnesses, especially in murder cases because many are being resolved communally.

The traditional system which uses negotiation and compensation to resolve conflicts is chaired by the Elders councils. For instance, if it is a murder case, the perpetrator is tasked to pay 60 cows for killing a man and 120 cows for a woman or face the death penalty.