At the heart of the Iteso think tank is the creeping grass (Star grass) philosophy “Emuria Koliai-Let the seed grow” which espouses their aspiration to grow, conquer, and enlarge their influence and values just as the star grass firmly hooks its tendrils to the ground while it decisively takes territory. When they make these chants, they are motivating each other to stick to their identity and roots while they advance. It also signifies the importance of multiplication among the Iteso as the most popular song in Teso; Emaali signifies that children are a source of wealth. Everything is done in reverence to their omnipotent God, papa Elo’ima also referred to as Ng’akuj.

It is however sad that this aspiration has been hard to achieve as many factors threaten to wash the entire culture including its language within the next 59 years if nothing is done about it.

To visualize my research in which i would like to forge Iteso cultural identity by investigating their traditional music and performances, I will use the analogy of the mastered seed

Borrowing from the parable of the mustard seed in the Bible. Authentic Seeds can grow anywhere given a favourable conditions , therefore it should be possible to ensure that the seed of Iteso cultural identity will continue germinating and taking territory wherever it finds itself in this digital global village.

The seeds that fell on a fertile soil are those from well popularised western cultures that squeezing out the Iteso seeds. Iteso cultural seeds are predominantly growing on a rock, being impacted by constant pastoral transformations, cattle rustling, war, calamities and above all colonization etc but despite this, all hope is not lost just like the mustard seed which is very small yet resilient enough to germinate and thrive into a big tree, Iteso cultural identity will always find a way to survive and the essence of this archival research is to make this possible before much is lost.

The unifying factor is that when both seeds are underneath the soil or the rock, in that quiet dark place, they both think they have been buried to rot and die. On the surface things look normal with the western popular culture but not all that glitters is gold so the young Iteso generation should not abdicate their own seeds for the glowing once in the west because they will not fully understand the root of this popular culture with its underlying faults.

The focus  needs to tend towards their own seeds that are resiliently trying to germinate on the rock, with all the limitations, Iteso identity has been growing thouw not thriving yet, we can make it thrive by utilizing the same soils, manures and waters that fertilize the western popular culture until they can equally compete for the same audience in academia, media, arts, etc, with a popular culture that goes with the latest trends, new popularized identities stand a great chance of dominating being that they are highly unique

In the end, just like the star grass, the seeds will innevitably hook their tendrils and bear fruits for the whole world to see through digital media, audiovisual ,ethnographic tools same as have been used to popularise western cultures.

With this , Iteso will enjoy their culture and identity wherever they go and will start to influence the rest of the world then truely , the star grass will have grown. EMURIA KOLIAI?, KOLIAI!

For today the tree has grown out of the rock and a hard place, splitting the rock and asserting its independence and taking up space to thrive and continue thriving. It’s presence, and it’s leaves whistling to the tune of the wind . The colorful lush petals are enticing and blinding. The fruits are healthy and sweet.


Epitane;Iteso Identity;   (2) Sounds of Africa Project: Music of The Iteso-Abarilela- Einono Iteso – YouTube

Emuria Koliai-Let the seed grow:  (2) Akogo Iteso ; Emuria Koliai, Daniel Okiror L’Orungo – YouTube