Okebu Culture

The Okebu people are among the seven (7) ethnic groups that are settling in the West Nile and they thrive amidst the Alur, Lugbara and the Lendu.   The Okebu are noted to have also migrated from Sudan and are known to have been the second to move south crossing the Nile following the Lendu people and then they were also followed by the Madi people.

The Okebu people settle and cultivate on both Uganda and Zaire sides in the and between Kano and Logiri. The quarter of the Okebu population lives in Uganda. The Alur call these people the Okebu however, the Lugbara call them Ndo. The language of the Okebu is very different from that of Lugbara though the group tends to be groped along with the Lugbara among the Madi-Moro group.

Regarding the economy, the Okebu carry out mixed agriculture growing a range of crops and practiced cattle rearing, along with sheep and goats. There were also re-known artists with a strong and in iron smelting. As a result of famine outbreaks, the Okebu started to migrate to other areas taking along with them their Iron smelting skills and as of now, they can be traced among the Kakwa and the Alur along with the Madi and Lugbara communities where they are known for their workmanship.

The Okebu have got a legend that justifies their monopoly of Iron work. They assert that initially, the Okebu, the Lendu and the Alur had this common skill but the other two lost theirs at a beer party. The story shows that when the three groups were undertaking their Iron Smelting as usual and within the middle there, the Okebu hesitated to join taking beer before finishing off their work. While the other groups were taking beer, the furnace caught fire and their skin bellows were destroyed as they were away taking beer. The Okebu survived this because they had remained at their furnace.

The Okebu were re-known Iron smelters and doubled the capacity of others including the Lugbara and even Europeans. But with the coming colonialism local production was totally discouraged. In Congo, the Okebu continued to practice their Iron smelting until it was completely outlawed in 150 by the colonial government of Belgium. Small Iron works among the Okebu still exist in the area between Godi and Arua where they manufacture slashers, small weeding hoes and knives which are then sold in the local markets.