Last November 2018, Theo (founder/director of Kara-Tunga) asked me to come to Moroto to coordinate the research for the Karamoja Tourism Academy. I never hesitated and resigned from my job in the Netherlands. A few weeks later I was there, fresh in Karamoja.
Theo gave me time to settle in and asked his head guide Peter, to guide me around the region and introduce me to her people. I realised very soon that Karamoja is a country by itself within the Pearl of Uganda. It is not as green as the rest of the pearl, but that makes it even more special. With a very unique landscape and the challenges that come with the savannah kind of nature, this region is one of a kind.
The people of Karamoja seem though, a result of years of isolation, conflict and drought in the region. As I was given the chance to visit several communities and tribes, I got to know the nomadic pastoralists better and personally. Karamojong are not shy or tough, they show respect and keep a pleasant natural distance. Karamojong have a natural interest in other cultures, they look after each other and after visitors like me. The way the Karamojong have welcomed me and made me feel at home is a way of hospitality that is rare to be seen in this world nowadays. They even gave me the name Napeyok, what means visitor in a hospitable way.
You will never hear me say that the people of Karamoja are poor, as they have a very rich culture that they are proud of and they consider the number of cattle as their wealth. What is a different form of prosperity than used in the west, but not one that should be considered less in my opinion. I have to avoid revealing all the insights about this best kept secret destination as you should discover it yourself and visit this wonderful area and her people. Something that is possible now, thanks to Kara-Tunga.
Kara-Tunga is the first sustainable tour operator who created the possibility to visit this area and positively influenced the image of Karamoja. Karamoja is save nowadays and the roads are getting better every day. The local staff of Kara-Tunga will do anything to give you a great, unique and authentic experience.
I had the chance and took the opportunity to share my knowledge and live here for half a year. It was an amazing and unique experience and it brought me a lot. I am proud that the Karamoja Tourism Academy is a fact and gives the people of Karamoja the opportunity to improve their livelihoods and share their culture and region with other visitors. Sustainability is very important in this regard and I hope that the potential development will be accompanied by respect and preservation of culture and nature of Karamoja and her people.
With pain in my heart and the promise that I will be back one day, I say goodbye to my community and family in and around Kara-Tunga.
Alakara nooi karatunga.