Acholi (ethnicity)

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Acholi (also Acoli ) is an ethnic group with a little more than one million members who live east of the White Nile in northern Uganda in the districts of Gulu , Kitgum and Pader as well as in southern South Sudan . The region is therefore also called Acholiland . The Acholi people speak the Nilotic language Acholi . The most closely related groups are the Langi , Alur , Luo, and Schilluk .

Today their religion is mostly Christianity (Protestant or Catholic), partly also Islam . But there are also strong elements of the old religions with guardian spirit and ancestor worship that found their way into the new religions. The martial Holy Spirit Movement , founded in 1986 by the ethnic Acholi Alice Lakwena, includes many religious mixed forms of Christianity, ancestral cult and Islam.

Traditionally, they added decorative, wavy or zigzag scars on the temples and cheeks and snail-shaped scars on the thighs. They settle in round huts with pointed roofs. The interior walls are plastered with clay and decorated with red, white and gray decorations. They hunt with nets and spears and keep goats , sheep and cattle . Spears and long, narrow shields covered with giraffe or ox skin were used in combat . Many have given up their traditional way of life, however, especially since the beginning of the rebel struggle of the Lord's Resistance Army under Joseph Kony , an Acholi. Many Acholi were expelled and went to the numerous refugee camps.

During the British colonial rule over Uganda, industrialization was concentrated in the south of the country, while the north, with the Acholi region, received relatively little attention. The Acholi made up a large part of the members of the military. The growing conflict led to a coup d'état by the Acholi under General Tito Okello . This was however suppressed by the National Resistance Army under the current President Yoweri Museveni . The majority of the parliamentarians from Acholiland are members of the opposition.

A famous Acholi is the writer and ethnologist Okot p'Bitek (1931–1982), whose main work is Lawinos Lied .


  • Ronald Raymond Atkinson: The roots of ethnicity: the origins of the Acholi of Uganda before 1800 . Fountain Publishers, Kampala 1999, ISBN 9970-02-156-7 .
  • FK Girling: The Acholi of Uganda . ( Colonial Office . Colonial research studies vol. 30) Her majesty's stationery Office, London 1960
  • Reto Kuster, Martina Santschi: War in Acholiland: Ethnicity, Violence and Politics in Northern Uganda . (Worksheet No. 36) Worksheets of the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, 2007 ( summary ( Memento from January 21, 2010 in the Internet Archive ))
  • Sverker Finnström: Living with Bad Surroundings: War and Existential Uncertainty in Acholiland, Northern Uganda. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 35, Uppsala 2003

Individual evidence

  1. Wikileaks : Cablegate , UGANDA / DRC: OPERATION RUDIA II UPDATE ( December 22, 2010 memento on the Internet Archive ), Cable June 29, 2009, published December 17, 2010, accessed December 19.

Web links

Commons : Acholi  - collection of images, videos and audio files