This afternoon, I met an activist from the Tapeth people of Uganda and we had a very enriching conversation about his community, the challenges and success stories.
The Tapeth People are found in Moroto district of Uganda specifically they occupy Mt. Moroto. They are neighbors to the Pokot and Turkana people of Kenya. They interact more regularly with the Pokot people of Kenya through trade, marriage and sharing of pasture and water. The two communities share similar cultural practices such as circumcision for boys and previously Female Genital Mutilation which is now an outlawed practice in Uganda. Now an outstanding negative practice is that of child marriage.
The Tapeth forest people are estimated to be 36,000 according Mr. Omeri Simon an activist from that community. In 2016, the Monitor Newspaper of Uganda reported that the Tepeth people also known as So in the Constitution of Uganda do not like living in urban areas. According to the source, only 111 Tepeth lived in urban areas of Uganda by 2014. The main reason why they prefer living in the village is because the town is nearer. They only come to town to purchase essential goods and services and then in the evening return to their villages.
Moroto town which stands on land belonging to the Tepeth people is now occupied largely by other ethnic communities. The town is cosmopolitan due to the presence of civil servants. The Tapeth people are at risk of possible evictions as a result of numerous minerals such as gold, marble and limestone. Tororo cement is extracting limestone from Kosiroi area in Moroto. It is then transported all the way to Tororo where cement plants are located. Further, it is reported that there are 13 other companies conducting exploration for minerals in Moroto district of Uganda. If they happen to discover minerals then the Tapeth people’s land will turn into one large mine.
The biggest hotel in the town is known as Mt. Moroto Hotel which is owned by a Ugandan named Mr. Kodet Carolonius. The investor is also reported to be the owner of Aerobeach in Entebbe Town in Uganda.
Uganda’s administrative structure is made up of villages, sub-counties, districts and the national government. Each sub-county is represented by two Councillors (a male and a female). This is a good move on affirmative action. In Moroto district there are 9 women Councillors out of the 20 members of the council. Out of the 9, four (4) represent sub-counties, 1 represent the municipality, 1 rep people with disability, 1 represent all workers in Moroto (herself, she works with Moroto Hotel) and 1 represent the youth. In Uganda, there are no specific qualifications for one to become a Councillor. Pundits feel that this has made it possible for illiterate people to become Councillors making it a challenges for them to represent the citizens effectively.
They were previously hunters and gatherers but now they are agro-pastorists. In terms of political representation, since 2016, they are represented at the national assembly of Uganda by Lokoru Albert, MP, Tepesh Constituency.
At the Moroto District Local Government Council, they are represented by four (4) out of the 20 Councillors.
The Member of Parliament has so far pushed for the construction of a road and a secondary school called Katikekile Secondary School in his constituency. The school’s infrastructure is now complete awaiting official opening and then get operational.
We hope to share more positive stories about community and indigenous communities from around the world as we interact with me in various places.