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History of iteso Abysinia to Kenya Journey of 5000 Years.

Gabriel De Mabior

Its a known fact that the Iteso people are a historical people from Abyssinia among the habesha people of the Solomonid Dynasty in the now Ethiopia . they are from The Empire of Ethiopia and Eritrea, historically known as Abyssinia, was in what is now Ethiopia and Eritrea.

At its height the empire also included Southern Egypt, Eastern Sudan, Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia and existed in various forms from 980 B.C. until 1974 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d’etat. Led by a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the “Derg”, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed Haile Selassie and established a one-party communist state. Haile Selassie was imprisoned and died under unclear circumstances, the most likely known rumour being that he was suffocated with an ether-soaked pillow ,endowed with a lot of resilience , wisdom and combat capabilities following wars with Arabs and imperialist powers the Iteso find themselves moving to the southern Afrika . history is littered with a more extensive and aggressive migration that left the Iteso in control of a large swath of territory that by 1850 extended as far as the western highlands of Kenya. European travelers record extensive fear of Iteso warriors; leadership, administration ,combat and transfer of knowledge has been a domain of Iteso for centuries .

The young scholars of Iteso ethnic nationality need to chart clear the map of Iteso history and demonstrate to their generation and the generations that history shall permit to come that indeed Iteso people are a historical people and they have an anchor in history , so . Sometimes it is necessary to go back in history in order to gain momentum in order to go forward.

To go back thousands of years so as to rediscover ourselves. Gain momentum and then move forward with the momentum of centuries to propel ourselves to the promised land of hope ,prosperity , unity ,activism and smash ourselves into history once again because we all belong to history .indeed this will be acorrect direction for rest of Afrikan ethnic nationalities because at the end of the day A common historical anchor for the entire continent shall be found , from their a continental basis for unity shall be found

Many accounts and our own Iteso traditions relate that the Iteso originated somewhere in what is now Sudan, which has kept changing names representative of Afrikan people as a whole and moved south over a period of centuries. It is a history of over 5000 years . A body of Iteso is said to have separated from Abyssinia (Ethiopia ) , Moved among the sudan Nilotic tribes of Dinka ,Shiluk and Anwak ,Luo , Topotha and the Karamojong and moved further south.they fall under one categirisation as Ateker together with Jie, Karimojong, Topotha ,Turkana, Toposa, Nyangatom , This may have been a very early separation

The move to the south up to Kenya resulted in Iteso suffering reverses that caused them to draw back to their current territory in Kenya. Since then, the Northern and Southern Iteso territories have been separated. Relations with other societies throughout the precolonial period were alternately peaceful and acrimonious. As a result of spatial intermixture and intermarriage, Iteso elements and customs can be found among neighboring peoples and vice versa. Intermarriage has always been extensive. It is likely that ethnic identity hardened during the colonial period, as it has since, when resources such as land were newly defined as belonging to “tribes.”

Iteso clan names reveal a history of long-standing ethnic interactions. Names of Bantu and Northern Nilotic origin are found among them that is why you find Akol among the Dinka sudan ethnic groups is also found among the Iteso ,ochan both among the sudanic luo and Iteso , uchalla for luo in Western Bhar elghazal and and Ocholla for Iteso .Ukello for sudan luo and Okello for Iteso and Acholi .

We should not be surprised when I say that we were citizens of the garden of Eden because of Iteso sudan roots , in the Bible, in the Old Testament, the Sudan was part of the Garden of Eden, where it is stated in Genesis Chapter 2, Verse 8 to 14, that the Garden of Eden was watered by four rivers. One of them is the White Nile, it is Pishon in the Bible. The one is the Gihon and there is a Gihon Hotel in Addis Ababa. It is the Blue Nile. And to the east by the Tigris and Euphrates. So the Garden of Eden was not a small vegetable garden. It was a vast piece of territory. . It will surprise many of you that the Prophet Moses was probably married to a Sudanese named Siphorah, as narrated in the book of Numbers who knows she could have been one of those beautiful Iteso girls ,

From the Biblical days, we move to the ancient Sudanese kingdoms of Awach, of Ritat, of Anu, of Maida, that are believed to be connected with the present day Dinka, Shiluk, Nuer, other Nilotic tribes and the peoples of central , western Sudan as well as the Norhern Ugandan peoples . And at the corridors of history we move to the Kingdom of Merowe that bequeathed an iron civilization to the rest of Africa. Merhawi got transformed into the Christian kingdoms of Nubia. Then followed the spread of Islam and Arab migrations into the Sudan and subsequent collapse of the last Nubian Christian kingdoms of Makuria, Alawa and Soba in 1504, followed by the rise on the etches of the Islamic Kingdom Sinnar, which was founded by the Fung and Shiluk people.by 1850 the Iteso migration had extended as far as the western highlands of Kenya.

The Iteso in Kenya and Uganda were conquered by African colonial agents of the British and indirectly ruled through them. Western Kenya was transferred from Uganda to Kenya in 1902. As a result, the economic and political histories of the Northern Iteso and the part of the Southern Iteso living in Kenya have taken vastly different courses.

At independence, the Ugandan Iteso were far more wealthy than their Kenyan counterparts. This difference resulted from the status of Uganda as a protectorate reserved for “African development which in essence for Afrikan under development ” and Western Kenya’s Iteso status as a labor reserve for the European-owned farms in the “White Highlands.” As a minority people in Kenya, the Iteso are not well known and have been viewed with some suspicion by surrounding peoples. On the other hand, the Kenyan Iteso have not suffered from the political destabilization in Uganda since 1970. Events in the colonial period and since have elaborated cultural differences among the Iteso that were regional in origin.

The language of the Northern Iteso, for example, was extensively influenced by the Baganda people, who ruled the Iteso on behalf of the British colonial regime and The basoga Through Semei kakugulu , whereas that of the Southern Iteso is in some ways closer to Turkana. So one can not talk of original Ateso .

As a result of living among Bantu- and Nilotic-speaking peoples, the Southern Iteso have probably been subject to a greater variety of cultural influences. The economic infrastructure is far more developed in Kenya than in Uganda, and cash income is also higher, reversing a pattern found in the 1960s. The Kenyan Iteso undertook considerable labor migration: most men between the ages of 60 and 80 have worked outside their home territory; many served in places such as Burma during World War II. In the early 1980s government-sponsored cooperatives that ran cotton ginneries in western Kenya failed to pay for cotton delivered by the Iteso. Consequently, they began experimenting with new cash crops. But one should not misunderstand me to be implying tha the Iteso in Kenya are better of , for this would amount to a comparison of midgets , you can not poor people , the truth is that they all poor , so we compare poor ones with rich , politically and economically privileged ethnic nationalities

So in attempting to trace for original a teso language one has to contend with the realities of the external language influences , the influence of Bantu , and Kaleinjin ethnic nationalities.
But where do we go from here, two directions have to be taken:


1. Go back to History in order to move forward

To go back thousands of years so as to rediscover ourselves. Gain momentum and then move forward with the momentum of 5000 years , let the knowledge of who the Iteso are , where the come from , their military social , political and economic exploits be passed on to all young and old , church and mosque, nursery and primary , secondary and tertiary as well universities , at home and work places it from that we begin to realize a sense of oneness in origin and destiny and its become the nucleus for unity and there we find a true anchor in the corridors of history .

2. Ethnic unity through pluralism and democracy for transformation
The contemporary Iteso, have language, economic , social ,political and religious diversities .
The modern view should be that the teso people are one the regions where they inhabit now belongs equally to all Iteso and its history, its diversity and richness is the common heritage of all Iteso. Groups and associations investment companies , businesses established by them should adopt an all-inclusive form of governance that ensures that all Iteso people are equally stakeholders irrespective of where they come from in terms of the colonial legacy and boundaries we have today ,the suffering of an Etesot in one area geographical location is the concern of all Irrespective of the boundaries of the European project called Kenya , Uganda or Sudan and this is what will keep our people together moving forward to achieve prosperity through this we can once again become a great people that is voluntarily united in diversity .

3. Economic and social development
To combat this pervasive and humiliating poverty and political disenfranchisement among Iteso communities , a general policy framework has to be chartered out and published by Iteso intellectuals –one should be familiar of the fact that every generation has a historical mission to full or betray … the test of wisdom is Iteso youth ability to find out their generation mission ……