Karamoja’s Beautiful food culture

Akuring – fried dried meat, it is roasted in its own oil, without any additives – no onions, no tomatoes. The meat has to be a little bit fatty. That oil that comes from the fat of the meat itself is a preservative. The own oil from the cow fat preserves the meat. The meat is fried until it is dry and then it is kept in its own oil fat – that is how it is preserved.

 When the meat (akuring) dries, we keep it in a gourd. We have special gourds which can keep the dried meet for even over a year. So long as no one tampers with it by touching it with fingers. So when we scoop it, we scoop it with a wooden spoon.

 We have what we call emuna – sun dried meat mixed with cucumber seeds, groundnuts and mixed in honey. The meat is boiled and then after it is dried. After boiling then we pound and then let it dry again. Then we get the seeds of the cucumber that we roast, pound and mix with the meat. Then we get honey and use it, honey is a preservative. Then we add groundnuts, roasted and pounded; may be sesame.

 Honey is a preservative and it can keep emuna for three to five years. Emuna is also kept in special gourds.

 Then we have what we call angodich – sorghum meal in ghee – ground sorghum without mixing it with cassava. Or for us now, the ‘modern’ ones, we go for maize ugali. Cook it nicely, it doesn’t have to be hard, it should be a little soft. Then you get the fresh ghee, which has just been boiled, and then you pour it in. And then that is what you eat.

 I am telling you if you eat that food you don’t have to eat again the whole day. You only need water. Those are beautiful foods.

This description of the beautiful foods of Karamoja is extracted from a “Policy report on agriculture in Uganda – a cultural anthropological perspective.” The report is available online in PDF from the CPAR Uganda Ltd website.

Section 5 of the report: “Resilient ‘African-Ugandan’ food systems” utilises case studies of the Karamoja Food System (pages 45 to 51) and of the Iteso Food system (pages 51 to 56) to demonstrate why it is wise for Uganda to promote its own beautiful foods.

As one who is proudly a descendant of the Iteso, who are believed descended from Karimojong, and who in turn are believed descended from Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia, I wonder:

Why aren’t akuring and emuna, “those beautiful foods” of Karamoja, produced and packaged to international standards; and marketed in a similar manner as the NRMO Administration markets coffee and tea?

Why is Karamoja and Uganda as a whole not known for its akuring and emuna in a similar way as South Africa is known for its Biltong?

The NRMO Administration, instead, plans to import semen of the Belgian Blue animals, for the purpose of breading them for beef for export. How is this more efficient than providing the relevant extension services for the Karimojong Zebu animals so that Uganda can produce, consume and export tons of akuring and emuna?

Photo Credit: Photo of Exhibition stall of Karamoja Cultural Association taken by Norah Owaraga.

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