The genesis, development and impact of cattle rustling in Teso sub-region, 1600-2001: a case of Katakwi district, Uganda.
Okoboi, John Amodoi
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This study examined the genesis, development and impact of cattle rustling in Teso sub-region in the period 1600-2001. It analysed the early history of the Iteso, origins of cattle rustling, the causes of cattle rustling, the changing dimensions of cattle rustling and the impact of cattle rustling on the people of Katakwi district. A case of Katakwi district was taken because of its proximity to Karamoja sub-region where the rustlers came from. In analysing the genesis, development and impact of cattle rustling in Teso sub-region, the theories of social conflict, ecological and materialist paradigms were applicable. The study considered cattle rustling as a form of conflict brought about by ecological factors and materialist gains. The descriptive survey research design was applicable in the study because the information collected from respondents, archives and secondary sources was analysed as regards the genesis, development and impact of cattle rustling in Teso sub-region. The study revealed that the Iteso and the Karimojong originated from South West Abbyssinia (Ethiopia) where they had once lived together as pastoralists. The two communities migrated into Karamoja where they separated in about 1620s. The study found that the separation of the Iteso and Karimojong partly contributed to stealing of Teso cattle by the Karimojong because the Iteso had moved with the cattle from Karamoja. The burning of the carcasses of the Karimojong captured cattle in 1952 largely sparked cattle rustling in Katakwi district as a wayof revenge.The acquisition of modern weapons ( machine guns) escalated cattle rustling especially in the 1980s. This changing dimension from using traditional weapons (spears, bows and arrows, clubs) to modern ones adversely affected the socio-economic and political development in the area of study. Though cattle rustling had been brought about by ecological disparities between Teso and Karamoja sub-regions thereby leading to conflict, this was overshadowed by materialist gain in the post-independence period. The study is significant as it contributes to the growing historiography of cattle rustling within the East African region and Uganda specifically. The study is also significant to the policy makers who cherish the value of peace and living in harmony in North-Eastern Uganda, Uganda as a whole and East Africa in general.