In our next field visit to Northern Uganda we will come across a mix of different tribes, including The Alur.
Location: The Alur live mainly in the Nebbi, Zombo and Arua districts in Uganda, but also reside in the Congo. They are part of the Luo group.
History: Alur society has adopted a socio-hierarchical system of politically independent chiefdoms, which was one of the only sytems that was unaffected by the Ugandan ban on traditional monarchies in 1966.
Language: Part of the Western Nilotic language group, their language is closely related to Acholi. Some Alur speak Lendu.
Origins: Their tradition states that they migrated from southern Sudan with other Luo following the Nile banks. Their original homeland is said to have been Rumbek on the confluence of the Nile and the Bahr-el- Ghazel rivers.
The Alur legend of origin says that there once lived a great King called Atira. He is said to have been a direct descendant of God and when he died, his son Otira succeeded him. Otira is said to have in turn been succeeded by Opobo. Opobo ruled from a place called Nyraka in Lango County. When Opobo died, he left three sons Tiful, Nyapiri and Labongo.
One day, Nyapir borrowed Labongo’s spear intending to spear an Elephant, but he instead failed and lost the spear. Labongo, he was very annoyed and he insisted on having back his own spear in spite of Nyapiri’s pledges to offer him a substitute. Therefore, Nyapiri decided to go follow the elephant and having crossed a big river, he found himself in a cool beautiful land where he met an old woman. The Old woman took him to Labongo’s spear and then gave him a bead.When he reached home, the bead was handed over for everyone to see and, in the process; Labongo’s son accidentally swallowed it.
Nyapiri, in revenge, also demanded that his own bead be given back. He refused all the possible substitutes. Left with no alternative, Labongo handed over the child to Nyapiri to open and retrieve his bead. Nyapiri killed the child and got out the bead. This caused a separation of the three brothers.
Tiful having been impressed by Nyapiri’s story of a good country beyond the river, moved with his followers including Lendu and Okebu to the highlands in the west. Nyapiri followed Tiful and traveled along the west bank of the Victoria Nile and finally camped with his followers in an area opposite Pakwach. The Land was not good for grazing and there being no salt licks his cattle began to graze away.
One day some of the cows which had disappeared were said to have come back on their own and they had salt licks adhering to their hooves. Nyapiri gathered together his people and followed the track of the cows into the highlands of West Nile. He left behind one of his sons caked Dosha to rule Pakwach. Nyapiri then established himself in the west Nile highlands.
Customs: The Alur subsist primarily from agriculture.
For more information about the Alur people, visit everyculture.com, or (website 1), (website 2) and (website 2) about Uganda and it’s cultures.