The Lost Story of Uluo Atyak

The story of Ulwo Atyak is of a man who ushered a whole new generation of people who today are known as the Luo. In 1010 AD, the Nuer king took over reigns from his father, King Rubanga, who, after several invasion from the Arabs moved the Kingdom capital to Wau in Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. The new King established himself in the area through acquisition of many wives from the conquered Madi tribe. Inflection of the Nuer language by the Madi tongue gave birth to a new language – the Luo language, and with it a new Kingdom the Lwo-Atyak dynasty (followers of Atyak).

For 400 years, the dynasty grew through commerce, wars, and agriculture until 1365 when the bastard son of Queen Nyilak killed the King and the tribe split into two. One Sudanic led, and the other Madi led (Acholi). It is in Acholiland where quarrels on succession led to the split of the tribe witth Owiny Ramogi moving to Kenya, Onongor Adhola starting the Padhola tribe and Queen Nyilak forming the Alur tribe. Currently, it is only the Alur tribe that still refers itself as Lwo-Atyak.

The Reign of Lwo-Atyak Kings
King Rubanga: (Wau -970-1010)
King Ulwo Atyak : (Wau -1010-1050)
King Komrach: (Wau -1050-1090)
Nuer Kingdom Ended Here

King Utike: (Gondokoro-1090-1130)
King Alu: (Gondokoro-1130-1170)
King Cimvor: (Gondokoro-1170-1210)
King Atira: (Patiko -1210-1250)
King Chuwa: (Patiko -1250-1290)
King Ulei: (Pajau -1290-1330)
King Kyabambi: (Pajau -1330-1370)
Queen Nyilak: (Pajule -1365- 1390)
End of Lwo-Atyak

Today, the only remnant of this Kingdom is the language spoken by the various sub-tribes that broke away further from the two major splits. I set to reconstruct this history by the studying migration and variations in the Luo languages.

So I began a project to measure the different pronunciation of words among the sub-tribe to reconstruct point of origin. I sampled basic words from 8 sub-tribes namely; Joluo (Kenya and Tanzania), Shilluk, Jur Chol (South Sudan), Anyuak (Ethiopia) and Acholi, Lango, Padhola (Uganda) as shown below.

The next process is to measure the average string (words) distance between the tribes. An interesting pattern occurs when a network diagram is constructed out of the string distances and the population. In the diagram below, node sizes indicate tribe population and edges represent the degree of similarity.

 

Correlation of Language Among Luo Subtribes

Correlation of Language Among Luo Subtribes

The image shows a separation of the Southern Luo and the Northern Luo. This lends credence to the story of the great schism in the Lwo-Atyak dynasty that led to a Sudanic led group and a Madi led group with the former migrating southwards and the latter northwards.

An equally interesting facts is the measure of centrality on the nodes. The Acholi language is at the center of the other half of the network – this confirms that all southern luo tribes are highly related to it and support the theory of the split among the brothers Owiny and Adhola. In addition, we can also tell the Anyuak tribe in Ethiopia broke off from the Shilluk.

Mapping the ancestral home of modern day Luo sub-tribes reinforces part of the story. The map below indicates towns where Luo tribes are a majority. It worth noting that the North South divides is clearly shown in the lack of a Luo tribe around Juba – only clusters in the north and south. Given this is close to Wau (Bar-El-Ghazal), it could be true the Lwo-Atyak dynasty exited and radiated from the area.

 

Therefore, the Luo language has been around for about 1,000 years.

Special Thanks to
Roselyn Otim
Isaac Owere Odumo
Philips Odele

Advertisements
  1. […] The Lost Story of Uluo Atyak […]

    Like

    Reply

  2. Rejecting the tyranny of conformity May 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

    wow!

    Like

    Reply

  3. Dear Orwa, this is gold. Thank you for such an indepth, informative and analytical piece.. A treasure for many generations to come. Good job

    Like

    Reply

    1. Dear Chao,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’d equally commend you an a good job on your website.

      Cheers!

      Like

      Reply

  4. Hi Orwa. This is some dope stuff. I’m working on a similar kind of article on the migration of Eastern Bantus from Shungwaya to their present day locations. I’d wanna do something similar to the network to test a theory I have. Can we engage on email please? Thanks

    Like

    Reply

  5. Hi Orwa. This is some dope stuff. I’m working on a similar kind of article on the migration of the Eastern Bantu from Shungwaya in present day Somalia to their present location. Can we engage on email please? Thanks

    Like

    Reply

    1. Yes, drop me an email on the Get in Touch tab.

      Like

      Reply

  6. Great article! This has been 1000 years of UNPLANNED existence with random actions and major disruptions from Arab and British forces.
    The next 1000 years must be PLANNED.

    Like

    Reply

  7. Such an informative piece. Also, all my life I have known kado to be soup and not salt. Great insight, keep it up.

    Like

    Reply

    1. Glad you found it informative. I was also brought up knowing kado is salt.

      Like

      Reply

      1. Your research is well done and the writing impeccable. Keep up the great work.

        Like

      2. Thank you once more.

        Like

  8. Thanks for the great research. Am thinking to visit Wau one day to see where my great grandparents came from

    Like

    Reply

    1. Welcome! Bring back knowledge that can be shared.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Advertisements
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: