Langi Culture

The Langi people are known to belonging to the Lango family which consists of the Kumam, Iteso, Labwor, Karamajong and the Jle. The Langi are known to have originated from the Mount Otukei which is also referred to as Mount Awil and denote that they came from mountains that hard plenty of of rain. This land could be Kaffa and this traces the Langi to the Abyssinia – the present day Ethiopia. The original home land is north of Lake Turkana where they lived along with the Karimojong and the Jle. This shows that the Langi are also related with the Dodoth, Lotuko, Topsa and Turkana of Kenya. Along with the Kumam, Iteso and the Karimojong combine to form the Atekerin family in Uganda.

Regarding religion, the Langi believe in a supreme being called Jok who was considered to be a super being. The Jok- Lango was a specialist in diseases while Jok – Man controlled all demon possessions. Others included Jok – Atida and Jok – Orongo. The Langi people were not so much bothered by life after death and they believed that when someone died, the spirit did not die but went to the world of the dead. Nothing was known about the world of the dead but the souls which did unsatisfied with the relatives would ally with the evil Joggii to acquire more power after which they haunt those that they had grudges with. Every Langi family had an ancestral shrine be offered to appease the relevant Joggi. In case the family member was possessed by an evil spirit, a sheep would be killed to please the spirit and ceremony would be conducted to drive out the spirit out of the person. If the evil spirit refuses to get out, it was called Cen and the witch doctor would be contacted to come and drive it out. He would capture it into a calabash or a pot and unless it repented of the past malice, the object in which it was contained would be buried in a swamp and that would mark he end of it.

Durung the time of sowing, the Langi would invoke the blessings and powers of Jok in a ceremony called Rubo Koti meaning a mixture of seeds. The sacrifice of a sheep or chicken would be made. The throat could be striped and the blood would be allowed to drip into the seeds. The langi believed that without blood, the seeds would not germinate.

lira and lango

The Langi had a family Shrine called Abila and would be located in front of the home and was identified by specific plants. The shrine has a considerable degree of sacredness surrounding it. It was a considered a resting place for the ancestors ad it was also a place where the spears would be blessed after and before the hunt. The animal skulls killed during the hunt would be placed at the Abila unlike for the very elderly. The women were prohibited for changing anything placed in the Abila.

Regarding the community setting, the Langi lived in villages and the village would contain more than 100 huts which would be built in a line. The line of granaries was lined in front of the huts belonging to the particular families. The community cattle Kraal was also beyond them at a distance. If a person wanted to build on a new site, he would the chicken and beer to the new site and leave them thee for the count of two days. Upon his return and find that something had eaten the chicken and drunk the beer, he would definitely abandon the place as it was considered an ill omen. The Langi also feared building near swans or stony places for fear of evil spirits.

Regarding dressing, the Langi were not used to dressing clothes but had a lot of personal adornments. When they were still living in Karamoja, men would be completely naked. The langi would put on a skin. When they came into contact with the Acholi during their migrations and settlement, they altered their dress code and also dropped their Ateker language and spoke Luo. The Jo-Aber clan men were the first to put on goat skins. Regarding the personal adornments, the Langi girls would be tattooed both on the back and front while men were tattooed only in the back. The two lower teeth would be removed while the ears would be pierced to ten holes to accommodate gilo beads. The metallic ornaments were also worn on the nose and the upper lip. The piercing was sat times extend to tongue to accommodate the two beaded ornament. They wore a range of ornaments on their legs and arms and had a large quantity of bracelets which were both below and the above the knees and around their wrists and ankles. Their necks were also encased with lots of bracelets which would make it even stiff. The Langi women would be rubbed by sim sim on their heads and their hair would be twisted. Oil and Ghee was a common smearing element for both women and men..

Regarding the political set up, Lango was a segmentary society whose leadership revolved on the clan basis. The Chief (Rwot) controlled the entire clan and he would be helped by the council of elders. The council was responsible for general can administration and the maintenance of law and order with in the clans. He council would organize the payment of fines of fornication and adultery debts along with bride wealth. The council was also responsible for the distribution of th deceased’s property.

lira and lango

Regarding military, the Acholi had no standing military and all able bodied person were considered warriors and before the declaration of the war, a foreteller would be consulted to predict the outcomes of the war. If luck was proved, the old men would sit and place their hands on the warriors before setting off. The Olwendo leases would be put in the path that worriers would use to the fight ground as it was believed that it would add on the luck. The person who looted the war booty would retain it after the war the Langi would hold a ceremony where the ranks would be awarded. The worrier who killed an important person would be given Anuk and thus privileges would increase by adding tattoo marks in his left shoulder and the neck. The highest rank (Moi) was called Abwangor and during this function, a goat would be slaughtered and blood stripped on the warriors and then it would be stripped and the meat would be distributed accordingly.

Regarding the Judicial system, the Langi were rather harsh and the offender would be dealt with on spot by whoever got hold of them. For example, there was no answer if the man speared a fellow man after finding him sleeping with is wife. There was no case of man slaughter since the murderer would be killed if caught. Even the notorious thief would be killed by his own people. Usually after the intervention of the elders, the compensation for murder would be like goats, cows or a young girl. If the person who was killed was a man and the girl surrendered gave birth to a boy, she would be set free to return to his people. If the lady had proved good, she would be married to a young man and arrangements for bride wealth would take place. The murder victim used to be men since it was considered cowardly to kill a woman. In case if the woman killing the husband, she would be returned to her parents family and bride wealth would be refunded. Other cases in the Lango community included fornication and premarital pregnancies. In case of the boy impregnating a girl and the refuse to marry her and then the girl dies in Labor, the case would tantamount to murder. If she gave birth successfully, the child would remain on the side of the girl’s parents and would be redeemed when the boy married the girl.

Regarding the economy, the Langi were initially pastoralists who ate meat and would drink milk with a mixture of blood. They had a non-monetary economy and would barter goats, cattle, grains with the Acholi, the Labwor, Kuman and with the Arabs later. As they continued down to the Lake Kyoga shores, they discarded their pastoral economic setting. They grew crops including millet, (Okama), amola (hyptis species), atunuru ngor (pigeon peas), adura (eratocheca sesamoides), alao (crotalaria species), otigo (corchorous species) and okwer (a species of cucumber).