Iteso Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya : The Iteso community are the Nilotic ethnic group in the eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Teso refers to the traditional homeland of the iteso and Ateso is their language. the iteso people is divided in to 9 clans however today  6 major clans are in existence such as ikaruwok , ikatekok, igoria ,inomu ,ikomolo, irarak, iworopom and they are also existing sub clans in the region. Iteso clan is a network of families’ who have discovered their ancestry to a specific settings place. Teso clan is the second largest ethnic groups in Uganda .traditionally every each clan had a head member of the clan called “apolon ka ateker”.  According to the tradition papa of the clan was designated chosen from other elders at a cheerful ceremonial locally known as “airukorin” and was normally bravery, neutrality and intelligent person. The initiation ceremony involves opening up and cleaning of roads that have been intensonally blocked and bushy.  Traditionally, the apolon ka ateker was very much respected and honored by the clan members. And each clan meetings was known as “Etems” were organized to settle conflict. Each village community was known as Eitella while the leader was called eitella arwon. An eitella consisted of several clans and each clan had a leader known as Rwot.

The iteso were bound by strong ties of kingship, members of the same ancestry regarded themselves as brothers and sisters and always formed their own settlements. Marriage among the same or within the same clan was considered a norm because they believed that the fellow clan member is considered as your brother and a sister. And each clan group is associated with the specific names for a name identifies, clan, the land of origin of that person. In Teso for any person without a clan name is considered bond slave.  The iteso also had an age system “aturi” and each age system consisted of men of the same age and each age set was formed at the time of initiation.

Iteso  Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya : Ikaribwok; this clan is the largest clan among iteso also known as ‘ikaruok’ or ‘ikarebuok’. These are battle-hardened warriors or fighters. the history say  this clan group of people were the military worriers who fought , the Babylonians , the Assyrians , the Greeks , the romans and the Arab. Their brave and brilliant skills in battles made them the army to provide security for the iteso. The word ‘ikaruok’ refers to people who make sounds of victory after winning a battle.

Iteso  Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya : Irarak clan; this is second largest clan group of migrants whom they have said to have come from Ethiopia.  According to the history, these itunga were gatherers (ikerarak) of wild fruits and highly skilled animal hunters to feed the iteso. Their great father was called ojuruta who was well-known a great hunter and their women were known to be exceptionally good in fishing. The historians say, members of this clan were found telling stories about their past hunting and fruit gathering.

Iteso  Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya : Ikatekok; this this the third largest clan among the iteso.  These people are good at mediating (aitikokokin or aipur) conflicts between people, families and clans over grazing land, waters, food, war loop, pasture, care of orphans and discipline of those who disrespects the cultural norms would rest.  The word ‘ikatekok’ come from the atesot word ‘aitikokin’. Being good mediators, they also became good administrators who ensured discipline and conformity to the cultural norms of the Iteso and to punish errant members.

Iteso  Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya
Iteso  Clan groups in Uganda and Kenya

Ikomolo; the ikomolo were said ti have brought from intermarriage between the iteso and the Luo ethnic nationalities and they were known for food cursing. That is why they are called ikomolo (child of omolo). They are people well-known for food cursing. Basing on the believe people say on them “that if they ate the first fruits of a certain tree that fruit would make all the fruits to be bitter”. That is why we hear of some of them called ikomolo ‘amug’/’ituol’ (ikomolo who do not want to see live gourds in their live plants)

Inomu; these are the strong traditional medicine tribe in Teso.  They were medical practitioners of human health especially treat bones and muscle diseases.  They were the great pediatricians who could find solutions to human health of the entire clan and they were minding a lot in the bone and muscle pain.  They would perform all method of medical procedures that were aiming at the management pf fractured bones, sprained bones and muscle. They were the iteso pediatricians to whom people to whom people with sprains, fractures and muscle pains go for massage and bone fixing. They are experts in all wild medicinal plants and their parts that treat a range of ailments To date, the inomu still practice traditional medicine, especially the orthopedic treatment

Igoria; the iteso of the igoria clan were good at art and builders. They are impartiality very good at crafts and carpentry work and their women were good specialist in roofing a grass huts. Locally, there name ‘igoria’ is deep-rooted from the name of a small bird called hooded finch in English. This bird is smart, humble, and organized who makes smart and good nests. They make smart and nice nests

Ikuruka clan; these were mainly farmers,  the historian  believed  this clan was organized okori  in the second migration of iteso who opted to domesticate goats and cattle as well ,transfer fruits they found in the bushes home to be planted , they were settled subsistence farmers who supplemented their vegetarian diet with hunted wild game, the iteso foods emalakany, ecadoi, eboo,emaido,akokob, amukeke,emagira/edek,emuna,agaria ka aikiring na esudud and also known as well-built bodies.  Among other clans to thrill while on Uganda cultural tours

A traveler on a Uganda cultural tour to Teso regions will get an opportunity to interact with different clan groups in the region. You will also get to know different norms and beliefs of each clam and know the real history associated with the clan groups.

Iteso traditional Marriage

Marriage among the Teso people is recognized from two points of view. First and foremost, the consort come in conjunction as a convection between two heterogamous clans , secondly  traditionally , both the men and women  enter into polygamous marriage  Secondly, most Teso people, both men and women, enter into polygamous marriages  however this practice has reduced in the early colonial periods . As one man could marry about 4 or more women who will pay respect to their husband and the Divorce was rare thing since whenever divorced happened then the parents of girl were required to return bride wealth that was paid when taking the girl from their parents. .The Iteso people speak the Nilotic language and are further divided into two branches, the Teso Speaking people and the karamajong group such as the Turkana, Jie, and Karamojong’s as well as the Dodoth in Uganda and Kenya.

The Iteso people are believed to have originated from Sudan over some years back, although their movement is not yet known. Some literatures have assumed that Iteso originated from the Sudan and further moved to Karamajong then loiter continued the south direction. This was believed lack of similar cultural names and rituals like the Karamajong made them to migrate. Locally Most of the Iteso clan names are mixed with the Bantu speaking people and the Nilotic and others are mixed with the Japadola of Tororo due to their migration.

Traditionally, the parents pf the spouses could organize marriage for their children even without their agreement. besides  the boy could openly negotiate with  the desired  girl and if conversely  the girl excepts to marriage the boy , she would  inform her mother secretly and she  moves away to begin helping the boy in his house . Traditionally it’s considered a norm by the girl’s clan if she goes to stay with the man without the clan’s knowledge. As soon as the preparations and agreed date is made, the people from the boy’s clan would would visit the girl’s family for introduction as agreement for the payment of bride price would be agreed upon.  There after the bound will be officially allowed after paying bride price following the traditional wedding.

Traditionally the iteso marriage involves taking of items such as , cattle’s, goats, chicken , soap, “gomus” for the girls’ aunties and mother, stool, stick for men
traditionally, the  child was raised and monitored  by to the entire clan and not to a particular family. Following approval of the cows, one day was arranged on which the cows would be taken to the girl’s home and traditionally it was the same day on which the girl would be escorted by her aunt to the boy’s home to start taking care of her husband.

Child Births and designation.

Traditionally, the Itesots had a folkloric love and belief when naming their children, among Iteso, there are three forms of birth such as the single child, twins, and the spiritual birth.  According to them the first two types were seen to be normal but the spiritual births was believed to be in form of air or water.

Way back a child could be given names according occurrence of the season in which it was born like during famine, harvest or drought, and at time basing on a particular day of the week or the time at which was born can be morning, afternoon, or evening. On the or the pain in which were felt by the mother during pregnancy. The new born baby would be proposed into the clan by conducting the traditional ritual ceremony called “etale” as a warm welcome to be the member of the clan and usually after the child had been given the name. Normally, this ceremony was only restricted to members of the clan only but some clans would allow outsiders to participate. The roads and the paths leading to the home where the ceremony was being carried out were placed boundaries to prevent the outsiders from entering. they were having a believe that the outsiders would use there evil eyes to initiate on the child . This ceremony involved a lot of eating and drinking. The food was made up of millet not mixed with cassava and unsalted peas with ground-nut paste and oil. The use of pots was forbidden, only calabashes called “Adere” were used for drinking local brew called “ajon”.

According to the tradition, The Iteso community didn’t take up death as an obvious issue.  They believed that Death was connected to ancestral spirits and witch craft.  Whereby immediately a person died, a witch doctor would be asked to check the cause of the death. The dead person was bathed in the court yard and wrapped in abangut (backcloth) and there after it was buried. The body of a woman was made to lie on its right side as that of a man was made to lie on its left side. It was traditional to bury a dead body with objects needles or razorblades to put off cannibals who wished to use their witch magic to escarvet dead body from the graves. There was a belief that if the dead had a needle for example, it would say that it was still busy sawing its cloths and therefore decline coming out of the grave in case it is called upon by a cannibal.

Traveler on Uganda cultural tours to teso region will   give you a reason to embark on a cultural exploitation to the Teso people, one of the ethnic group in eastern Uganda. you will also visit  traditional teso settlements called “ etogo” and gain insights into their agricultural practices abmd rural way of life, also you eill engage in various activities like farming , gbskt weaving , or traditional food preparation, experianveing the cultural practices firsthand and also interact with the local community member and learn about their customs , tradition and folklore.

book a safari