By Michael Ojok
As technology continues to upgrade world over, its impact on social and cultural aspect is continuously being felt and Acoli a Nilo-Shemetic Luo ethnic group who are believed to have migrated from Bar El Ghazel to Northern Uganda is no exception.
Acoli`s case seems to be complicated given the fact they are recovering from the over two decade war between Ugandan forces and the Lord`s Resistance Army LRA and here comes the technological upsurge they have to adapt to and move together with.
Impact of technology on Acoli`s cultural practices
With 70% of Uganda`s population being youth who are the major beneficiaries or participants in the technological upsurge, most of the youth in Acoli have embraced and preferred technology to culture.
Ambrose Olaa is the prime minister of the Acoli cultural institution “Ker Kwaro Acoli”. He identifies the most affected cultural practices by technology as courtship and dating, cooking, dressing, and entertainment.
According Olaa, most of the youth today especially girls don’t know how to grind paste, flour using the grinding stones because of the invention of the grinding machines something he says, used not to be the case ten, twenty years ago.
“Today you find most people date on social media platforms like Facebook, twitter WhatsApp among others yet back in our days, a boy would ask his aunties to help in identifying and selecting for them marriage partners who are hardworking,” Olaa laments on dating and courtship.
Solomon Oyat Oketta the prime minister of ker Koch the cultural institution for Koch clan says the dressing code today is shaming and indecent thanks to the TV shows they watch.
“Today most youth want to attend musical concerts, watch football and other games on television among others for entertainment. Back in our days, we would play “Cubu Lawala”; a game for hunters where two groups pierces a wooden circle. This game is to improve on our shooting accuracy,”Oketta notes.
Daniel Omuge a Gulu based musician better known by his stage name Dan Mix says, most elders talk about the change in their dressing codes especially as musicians, but forget to understand the technological revolution that they themselves were part of.
Danmix agrees with Oketta on the dressing code saying as a performing artist, most fans want to see their artists dressed the current way because they are more appealing.
How can technology and culture inter-act?
Oketta believes that abolition of traditional birth in the villages has by government officials affect names given to children who are born from the health facilities and not through traditional birth attendants.
He identifies some names that were given to children depending on their normality or abnormalities that have continued to be given to children even when they are born from health facilities or not.
“Names like Ojara or Lajara for children born with six fingers and or toes, Auma or Ouma for children born while facing downwards contrary to the normal births when children face upright and Okot or Akot for children whose umbilical code has some rain resembling features among others are still being given up to today despite the high embracement technology and abolition of traditional birth attendants,” Oketta explains.
Jacqueline Acen thinks much as social media has greatly affected courtship or dating, there is still a point where culture comes in.
“For example one can date on social media, but when it comes to issues of introduction, payment of dowries among others culture takes center stage and social media has no role to play in convincing the parents of the spouse to accept or reject the offer for their child,” Acen says.
Origin of Acoli cultural festival.
For the last two years of 2017 and 2018, the cultural institution has been organizing the Acoli cultural festival in a bid to reintegrate culture to technology with more focus on youth who did not get the chance to practice some cultural activities due to the over two decade war among other reasons.
Rwot David Onen Acana the paramount chief says the ideology of organizing the cultural festival is to try and showcase some of the cultural heritage in Acoli despite the youth embracing technology especially social media.
“The idea behind the cultural festival is that we want the youth to know and understand that they can`t live without culture even if they look at technology as “superior” to all aspects of life,” Acana says.
Christine Aciro a youth in Gulu town says some of the things people look at as brought about by technology are just cultural practices that are being modernized.
“If you look at some of the dance styles for example that are being showcased in the entertainment sector they are basically modernized,” Aciro notes.