Japadhola Culture

The Japadhola people thrive in the east of Uganda and are noted to have settled there in the mid-16th Century. The Japadhola people are enclosed by the Bantu group and the Nile-Hamites. Regarding the origin, the Japadhola have got a range of similar traditions like the Acholi, Alur and the Kenya’s Jaluo. It is note that the earliest migrants of the luo settled in the peninsular of Kaberamaido before being joined by the Luo from Pawir in Bunyoro. After that, other migrants from Teso, Busoga and Bugwere came in in the second half of the 18th Century pushing the Japadhola south wards and later to the east. They occupied the lands which was primarily vacant which helped them to maintain their culture free from foreign intrigue. And unlike the Bit- Luo who got assimilated in to Bantu setting, the Japadhola maintained a distinct Luo grouping the middle of the Nilo Hamitic and Bantu groups.

Regarding religion, the Japadhola has jok as their supreme king. The jok concept was later merged in to the belief of the Bantu named Were who was perceived as the chief of fertility to mankind. The traditions of the Japadhola indicate that they believed in Supreme Being named Were and physically Were was thought to be a white merciful and good being who had the power to manifest himself in a range of forms. The god of the courtyard named Were madiodiopo and was thought to be responsible for the defense of the family and the home. The god of wilderness named Othin was believed to guard and guide the Japadhola men while out for hunting, a journey or fighting. Every Japadhola home a shrine set up for Were and on the every side of the shrine there were two white feathers planted in the ground. As a practice, the family head would get up every morning and open the gate to the Were shrine to request him to bless the day and make it as white as the feathers. The person in the journey would also reach at Were’s shrine to ask for merciful and blissful journey. Apart from Were, the Japadhola believed in a cult named Bura and this thing is noted to be foreign to the Japadhola and it is believed to have been brought by Akure from Bugwere. However other traditions note that it was not Akullo but his Nephew Majanga who made a cult a universal institution among the Japadhola people. It was noted that it was under the leadership of Majanga that a range of Japadhola clans were brought together.

japadhola 2

Regarding Marriage, the Japadhola Parents would identify the girl for their son and then marriage arrangements would be entered to. The number of factors was considered in the selection of a wife including; the conduct, the physical strength, beauty and the relationship between the two families. The people to be married must be from different clans. After the girl identification, the parents of the boy would approach the girl’s parents and if they accepted, the girl would be earmarked as a form of engagement. The traditional method of effecting this among the Japadhola would be tying a ring on the finger of the girl or neck lace around her neck. Other aspirants would read between the lines that the girl was already engaged.

Alternatively, the boys would organize and carry the girl forcefully to the interested boy home for marriage. The boy would then go ahead and sleep with her and that would mean that the girl had become a wife. Arrangements would then be made to settle the issues with the parents of the girl. Regardless of the situation that the marriage had been conducted, bride price would be made. The parents of the boy would pay 5 cows, 6 goats, a knife, a cock, salt, meat and bark cloth. Seven confinement days in the hut would follow after the girl has been handed over to the boy or marriage. The girl would be fed on pea stew and after this time, the elders of the clan would assemble and the girl would be introduced to them. The Japadhola were polygamous people and could only be limited by age and bride wealth.

Regarding birth, the Japadhola woman during pregnancy would avoid certain wood types to lit fire or cook. The names of the snakes or the dead were not supposed to be mentioned at the presence of a pregnant woman. There was no other man that was supposed to pass behind the pregnant woman while seated except her husband. Because it was believed that it could cause a miscarriage or any other misfortune. The Japadhola woman would give birth in a hut in attendance of traditional mid-wives or her mother in law. Special banana leaves from specific banana Species would be used as bedding for the woman. After giving birth, the woman would be held in confinement for four (4) days for that sake of a female child and the 3 days in case of a male child. In the confinement days, the woman would bath only cold water mixed with herbs to better her health and that of the child. She would be fed on pew stew along with porridge as her initial meal every morning during the confinement days. If the born bay was a boy, goat and hen sacrifices would be offered to God in charge of fertility of women. Following the day’s of confinement, the child would be named and the grandfather of the child would the one to name him. The naming ceremony was a big feast marked by lots of drinking and eating as it was a way of accepting a child in the clan. The children would be given ancestral names and during the naming the ancestors would be evoked so as to accept the child in the clan. In case of twin birth, the father and the mother of the born twins would not leave the house for seven (7) consecutive days. The uncle of the twins would welcome them by offering the mother food, drinks along with other ritual gifts. No person would talk to the twin parents without offering gifts to them.

japadhola kongo brew

Regarding death, when a Japadhola died, the corpse would remain in the house for overnight. At night, a long drum would be played and the corpse would be bathed and wrapped in a bark cloth. A cow would be slaughtered near the grave so that it could go with the dead and feed him with milk in the world of the dead. The fire would be lit and people would remain seated outside until Kongo was brewed and a ceremony held that would mark the end of mourning.