Iteso Culture Heritage celebration in Soroti, Uganda, December 2012

IWA is a cultural organisation and because of this, cultural preservation is our top priority. Culture is a defining feature of a person’s identity, contributing to how they see themselves and the groups with which they identify.

Given the changes that Teso has gone through, and the detachment of Iteso in diaspora from daily cultural reality, and to cultivate a sense of belonging among its members, we are working to establish a multiple purpose online learning platform for education and cultural promotion; we organize cultural events and we are working to establish a cultural education and social centre where we will promote various cultural artefacts, Ateso music, and other materials.

We are actively promoting the involvement of a cross section of our members including children and elders; support online discussion forums; and document the culture and history of the Iteso, among other activities.

 

 

Paramount Chief appoints Cultural Ambassadors

Chief/Ejakait Michael Okwalinga Emokol (L) and Chief/Ejakait Solomon Emong (R) and Akaliait Beatrice Okwalinga and Akaliait Helen Aretor Emong, behind the chiefs

In May 2017, His Highness, Emorimor Papa Iteso, Augustine Lemukol Osuban, the Paramount Chief of the Iteso people appointed 2 Iteso elders in the UK to be chiefs/Ijakaa and cultural ambassadors to the United Kingdom and Europe.

The cultural ambassadors were appointed to mobilise the Iteso in the Diaspora; promote Iteso cultural heritage and mobilise support for the construction of the Palace/Eree Iteso. They are also charged with attracting investment to Teso Uganda and Kenya, and promoting health, education, agriculture, technology and trade for the benefit of the Iteso people in Uganda and Diaspora.

In July 2017, the 2 chiefs were inaugurated in a colourful ceremony that was attended by royals from other communities/countries and a cross section of people.  The ceremony took place at the Haversham Community Centre, Milton Keynes outside London.

During the inauguration ceremony, a branch of Iteso Cultural Union (ICU), an institution headed by the Paramount Chief based in Uganda and that exists to unite and promote the interests of the Iteso and is recognised by the constitution of Uganda was launched. The UK branch will coordinate all the affairs of ICU in the UK and Europe.

Speaking at the ceremony, the representative of Buganda Kingdom, in the largest and most organised kingdom in Uganda, Owekitibwa Dr. Ronald Mayanja lauded the Iteso for their unity and for promoting their cultural heritage.  He said the new appointees had a challenge to promote development of their people.  He further called for the regionalisation of governance in Uganda to more meaningfully empower people to develop their communities.

The 2 chiefs promised to work hard to fulfil the responsibilities given to them.  They particularly pledged to mobilise their people, friends and well-wishers to support various development efforts aimed at social, economic and cultural advancement of the Iteso people.

 

Royals and dignitaries with the chiefs at the inauguration.

Chief/Ejakait Okwalinga addressing the audience during the inauguration flanked by his wife, the Akaliat and the MC, George William Agiru.

 

 

Prime Minister/Ekirigi Initiates Chiefs/Ijakaa

Elder Richard Kedi (L), Chief/Ejakait Solomon Emong (second left) addressing the audience after initiation. Second right is Chief/Ejakait Michael Okwalinga and extreme right is Prime Minister/Ekirigi, Paul Sande Emolot.

In September 2017, the Iteso Cultural Union cultural ambassadors to the UK were initiated into their roles at a colourful ceremony held at the Royal Hotel in London. The ceremony was performed on behalf of His Highness, the Emorimor, Papa Iteso by the Prime Minister of Teso Chiefdom, Paul Sande Emolot.

Like the inauguration, this ceremony was attended by many dignitaries drawn from the different communities. In addition, the ceremony was graced by several Members of the Ugandan Parliament who were in London to attend the 4th Teso International Development Conference. The ceremony was also graced by Professor Venansius Baryamureeba, one of the Key Note Speakers at the conference.

In his address, the Prime Minister called upon the 2 traditional chiefs/ambassadors to be custodians of the Iteso culture. He particularly stressed the need to promote the Ateso language as a basis of protecting the cultural heritage of the Iteso. He called upon the ambassadors to promote unity among the Iteso, arguing that unity makes us strong and resilient.

Prime Minister/Ekirigi of Iteso Cultural Union, Paul Sande EMolot (centre) addressing the audience after initiating the 2 chiefs

Traditional Iteso dancers lead a procession during the initiation.