Dodoth people


Dodoth / Dodos

The Dodoth (or Dodos) are an ethnic group in north eastern Uganda. They belong to the Karamojong Cluster, which also includes the Karamojong and Jie people. Their language is a dialect of the Karamojong language.


The Dodoth live in Kaabong District in the northeast of Uganda, a region of semi-arid savannah, bush and mountains. Their tradition says that they arrived in their current area from the north. In the mid-eighteenth century they separated from the Karamojong and moved northward into more mountainous territory. The heartland of their country is a bowl surrounded by mountains and hills on all sides. The tallest peak, Mount Morungole, is over 9,000 feet (2,700 m) high, near the point where Kenya, Sudan and Uganda converge.The land was once rich in wildlife including lions, elephants, buffalo, giraffes and rhino. Today, a small remnant of this wildlife is preserved in Kidepo National Park.

dodoth people location

The climate is harsh. Some rain may fall in April and there is usually a longer rainy season from June to early September, but these rains are not dependable and in some years fail altogether. In good years, the Dodoth mainly live on sorghum and millet. To survive in tough years they depend on livestock - cattle, goats and sheep. As well as providing nutrition, the animals represent wealth, and are central to many aspects of their culture.

The Dodoth language is called "Ngadotho".

The Dodoth belong to Dodoth región (part of Karamoja región) and are governed in a clan system composed of clan elders and opinion leaders.



The Dodoth homesteads are usually in valleys, and have dry season pastures on nearby hillsides. Unlike other people of the region, they therefore do not have to migrate with the seasons. Dodoth homesteads are isolated from one another, surrounded by a strong wall made of upright poles with interwoven branches cemented with mud and cow dung. Cattle are kept within the walls at night. A homestead may include up to forty people. Each wife has her own hut and fireplace. Her adolescent daughters will often build their own huts next to their mother's hut. Adolescent boys live in a larger "men's house" until they marry. A woman will often have a small garden near her hut.



The Dodoth are pastoral people but also do agriculture. They keep livestock mainly short horned cattle, and farm sorghum, maize, and beans. Their staple food is Sorghum and Maize. Just like the Jie tribe, Sorghum is called "Ngimomwa", and Maize is called "Eburai". Sorghum or maize bread is eaten with "Ngimare"(beans). A drink called "Ngagwe" is made from sorghum and maize.


Dress Code

The Dodoth traditional dress code is a Maasai shuka and beads jewelry. Men dress in a Maasai shuka tied diagonally from their shoulder, or in form of a skirt. Men may also wear a cap/hat called "Akopiya". Women dress in a Maasai shuka skirt with a beads belt. Women also wear skins and hides. Both men and women wear a series of bangles, necklaces, bracelets and headbands made out of beads.


History and legends

They originated from the 16th century migration from Ethiopia which composed of all the Ateker people in Uganda (Karamoja tribes in North-eastern Uganda, and the Iteso tribe). It's said that they carne from the Habesha people of Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) who were part of the Solomonic Dynasty that existed in present-day Ethiopia from AD 1270 to 1974. Another legend connects their origin, like ali Karamoja tribes and the Iteso, to the Egyptian wife of the biblical old-testamentjoseph, who was a prime minister in Pharoah's government. In all legends, from Ethiopia they moved southward to North-eastern Uganda.



The Dodoth dance is called "Ewoya", just like all Karamoja tribes. Ewoya dance involves a series of high verticle jumps made by both men and women. According to the them, the man or woman who jumps highest gets the most beautiful woman or the most handsome man respectively. The Dodoth culture is similar to that of the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania.



The Dodoth, just like all Karamoja tribes, are known for their tiny wooden stool called "Ekicolong". Dodoth homesteads are called "Ere". Each Ere is comprised of one big wooden fence with about 10 households called "Akal". Each Akal is made up of grass, wattle and mud huts. Just like the Manyattas of other Karamoja tribes, the Dodoth's Ere are an impressive African community design.



The scarcity of resources and high value of cattle have led to a culture where men are noted for their bravery in raiding and warfare and their resultant wealth. Bride prices are paid in cattle. The Dodoth share the habit of constant low-level warfare, mainly to capture cattle, with their neighbors. According to P.H. Gulliver, writing in 1952, "Turkana made war on all their neighbours with the exception of the Jie, with whom they occasionally allied themselves against the Karamajong and the Dodoth. Karamajong similarly made war on all their neighbors with the exception of the Dudoth, with whom they occasionally allied themselves against the Jie. Jie claim friendship with the Toposa, but since they have no common boundaries this would have been of little importance. Toposa and Donyiro did not fight each other, and are known to have formed an alliance against the Turkana. Toposa and Jiye were enemies".

Plans for cattle raids, and other important decisions, are decided by the menfolk, with the views of the elders carrying great weight. The Dodoth are less well armed than their neighbors, and in 1979–81 lost practically all of their cattle to better-armed raiders. In 2004 there were violent clashes between the Dodoth and the Turkana people of Kenya, to the east. Several Turkana were kidnapped and had begun to be integrated into Dodoth families by the time a peace conference was held in 2005. At this conference it was agreed to forget the past and return the captured people.