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‘Big Man’ in Teso is he who can ‘shake mangoes’

Some time ago, as I was growing up, as a young girl, a ‘big man’ in Teso was classified as one who possessed a lot of wealth in form of large herds of livestock; extensive land; married many wives; had homesteads and granaries of food stuffs; and had produced many children. This has changed in the recent years because of many factors.

Now, a ‘big man’ in Teso is one with a lot of money and has political influence; can offer cash gifts for funerals, school fees; and cash gifts for building churches, mosques, schools and so on.

Age does not matter, but it is somebody with ability to ‘shake mango trees’ (able to give us money), that is who is regarded as a ‘big man’ in Teso today.

By Stella Rose Aguti, a beneficiary of our CPAR Uganda programme, “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators against Poverty,” and for that reason she is currently also participating as an innovator, a research assistant really, on our project, “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” which we are implementing in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia, UK. Her comment herein was in reaction to a blog post: “To be a ‘Big Man’ in Teso is earned not inherited” posted by Norah Owaraga on her website; a post which discusses findings of empirical research that was conducted by Dr. Ben Jones in Teso. Dr. Jones is the Principal Investigator of our Challenging Categories project.

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