THE SOR OR TEPES OF KARAMOJA (UGANDA)
ASPECTS OF THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE
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THIS BOOK is a study of the Sor or Tepes, a mountain people of southern Karamoja in Uganda, north of the Kalenjin area. It focuses on the most salient elements of their culture as well as on their clan movements during the 18th and 19th centuries, and on other aspects of their pre-colonial history. It also contains a wealth of linguistic information. Among the Sor customs singled out for particular scrutiny are their very ancient institutions of rain-making, and their cult of the Spirits. The persistence of this cult, which is built around practices of mediumship exclusive to an esoteric group of initiated elders, was of decisive importance in shielding the Sor communities from intrusion from other, stronger groups, thus playing, in the author?s opinion, a central part in the survival and continuity of their culture and language. Weatherby undertook this study, which was completed in 1974, as part of a concerted effort by Makerere University scholars to reconstruct the pre-colonial history of the area. He therefore had access to what was in all likelihood the last contingent of elderly Sor who harbour more or less direct memories of the remote times he was trying to investigate. Unfortunately, the political conditions in Uganda became in the early 1970s virulent and quite adverse to anthropological field work. They remained so for long enough to provoke the probably irretrievable loss of much evidence. For this reason, this study still remains a unique and valuable source of information about a small, yet important group of Karamoja people. Some parts of this book have appeared before in article form. It is hoped that even these parts may be seen as more complete when related to other parts of the study.