African Cultural Regeneration Institute(ACRI)
Accredited UNESCO Cultural Advisor for Africa
Member of the UNESCO Consultative Body ICH (2011-2012)

Kakapel Annual Teso Cultural Festival

1. Kakapel Annual Teso Cultural Festival

This festival is organized on 26th December every year by elected members and the patron who is also an elder of the Iteso cultural Union (ICU). They do it to teach the current generation about their Culture and the traditions of the past through the display of cultural artifacts, herbal medicine, traditional Teso weapons that were used during war and when young men were grazing animals, presentation of the Iteso traditional songs and dances, Iteso traditional marriages practices, traditional ways of cooking vegetables and how to extract fat from milk. In the Festival, there is a narration in form of speeches, giving the current generation the history of how people lived in the past. Apart from the promotion of the Iteso culture, values are shared and passed on through this festival. These include the promotion of interaction with other people from different parts of the district, teaching the current generation on the moral values expected of them, encouraging girl child education, and, overall, promoting unity among the Iteso community.


They have a budget of approximately Kshs 500,000 with expected attendance of about 8,000-10,000 people. This festival was sponsored through Members' contributions; the patron, who is also an elder of ICU, gets support from organizations like the Coca-Cola company, TARA (Trust for African Rock Art), and (National museum of Kenya) NMK . The people also conduct organized fund raisings.


Members of the community hope that, through this cultural festival, the current young generation are able to change their way of life; for example, through traditional cooking, some diseases can be controlled; marriage among relatives can be avoided to achieve good health against problems related to inbreeding; the use of the mother tongue is healthy; decent dressing of the girl child can promote decency and respect in the community; the daughters in-law should respect their fathers in law, which is not the case today. The people managed to acquire a small piece of land where they can accommodate the numerous festival participants. They have an operating museum already. In future they hope to buy more land for accommodation the tourists and they have good infrastructure, such as electric power, macadamized roads and piped water. They are seeking full support from the government; they want to incorporate their museum with learning institutions, open clinics where the current generations are being tauught moral values and their mother tongue. They also plan to open up the activity to the world and get support from well wishers.


By getting people employed in their community museums, the people are able to make these festival activities happen on a daily basis, not once a year; for example, there are those that sing, dance, and sell herbal medicine and traditional weapons to the local community. Promoting the wearing of their own traditional attire can be used for identification and pride of the community.


The community was ruled by 'Emomer' in the past but currently the Iteso cultural union is headed by a King called 'Emorimori' who has a Prime Minister called 'Ekirigi', who in turn has three Deputy Prime Ministers, a cultural elder and then ministers. The King rules the Teso community of Uganda and Kenya. But he lives in Uganda.


The Festival has attracted local tourists from many counties: Busia, Bungoma, and Nairobi, including others from neighboring Uganda. There are some international tourists who attend from USA.


2. Iteso Cultural Union Festival

The festival is at its initial stage, being organized by the community through a committee elected by the members. It is funded from members' monthly contributions and annual subscriptions, with support from the locally employed potential stakeholders within the community as well as from well wishers and donors. The average budget is about Kshs. 250,000 with approximate attendance of 3000-5000 people. The purpose of the festival to promote and sustain the Iteso cultural values, enhance cultural leadership skills, promote cohesion and unity among the Iteso community, be a constant reminder of useful traditional norms within the society, educate and entertain the community by sensitizing through drama on the issues of discipline and conflict, and retain of Ateso language for identity. The festival aspires to promote unity among the Iteso people and to sustain their traditional values, identity and heritage.


The community fears that intermarriages may water down the importance of Iteso culture which will make the children fail to master their mother tongue through integration to other communities. Financial constraints are likely to disable the organization from hosting the festival. The effects of HIV/AIDS have compelled men into circumcision practice which has not been a element of their culture.


The Iteso came from Abyssinia in Ethiopia - through Sudan Donyiro area to Turkana, Karamoja, Soroti, Kuman, Toposa Tororo then arrived in Kenya.