KARAMOJA – Women all over the world wear accessories to enhance their beauty, it could be a headscarf, earrings and hair clips or bands, for a Karimojong woman jewellery is a yardstick for beauty. The necklaces, bracelets and bangles a woman wears decide her beauty.
The jewellery the Turkana and Karimojong women wear is made out of beads of different colours mixed with others that are in gold, diamond, silver and copper.
one of the exciting things visitors to the Karamoja region lookout for are bangles, necklaces and waist belts made out of beads, which they buy without asking many questions.
A foreigner may wear the jewellery for fun or simply fashion, but for the Turkana and Karimojong woman, those beads and bangles are of specific interpretation.
Ms Grace Angolere, 54, a mother of seven, a resident of Kambisi village in Nadunget Sub County in Moroto District told PML Daily on September 20, that it is the beads have different interpretations.
Ms Angolere noted that some of the bangles and necklaces show that the wearer’s bride price was over 200 heads of cattle, other beads show that the woman wearing them is a widow; some indicate that the woman is already engaged while other beads shows imply the wearer is divorced.
She explains that there are particular beads that represent wealth. A woman who wears that type of beads is either married to a rich man or is a woman of prestige.
“We don’t wear these beads for fun. It is with purpose, although other women buy them out of admiring them,” she said.
Betty Nakut said during the 70s when they were growing up, young girls aged 10 to 15 years were not allowed to wear beads because they were considered young, unlike nowadays where every woman wears beads.
“A woman without a bangle, necklaces or earrings can’t associate with those wearing bangles, necklaces and the rest,” she said.
Magdalena Moru said the respect accorded to wearing the beads is slowly being lost, especially with the current generation of girls that do not take long dating before marriage.
Moru said most modern girls wear the beads wrongly as they mix them up. “They want to show off the traditional dress of Karamoja but they do not know the types of beads to wear,” she said.
“Even those still at school now wear mixed coloured beads including those representing a woman that is yet to be married off,” she added.
Veronica Natyang predicts that by the next 10 years Karamoja will lose 90% of the respect of its tradition because harsh conditions like hunger have forced people to begin selling their traditional items.
“We used not to sell the things that represent Karimojong tradition but now all those things are being sold and people buy without caring about the meaning of Item that are purchasing,” she said.
Mr. Joseph Loputhnyang an elder from Napak District said the stools which used not be sold are now sold because people are looking for survival.
“One day I was travelling by Gateway bus to Kampala and I saw many young women in the bus wearing copper bangles and beads, and those are to be which is being worn by a woman that lost her husband. I got shocked but kept quite because I didn’t want to ask since we were travelling, but it is wrong and shameful,” he said.