Acholi: The Regional Context


Uganda is an extraordinarily diverse country of approximately 40 million people, and Acholi is but one of the many languages, regions and identities found there. As such, it’s important for anyone seeking to travel, study or conduct research in and around Acholi to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary surrounding the topography, geography and cultural setting of the region.

Travel & Transport

Cardinal Directions: 

  • Kumalo: north
  • Kupiny: south
  • Kunyango: east
  • Kupotoceng: west

Gudu (pl. gudi): road

Mutoka: car/truck

Bac: bus

Taksi: Blue and white minibuses, often decorated with decals professing allegiance to God, Allah, Manchester United or Arsenal, which are a staple of public transport in Uganda. These vehicles are more popularly known as matatus in Kenya and daladalas in Tanzania.

Dege: airplane

Bar dege: airport/airfield

Dwoyo: to drive

Cito: to go

Woto: to travel

  • Woto ki tyen: to travel on foot
  • Woto ki mutoka: to travel by car

Bino: to come

Aa: to come from

Oo: to arrive

Wot: Journey

-cok: near, close

-bor: far, long


Got (pl. godi): mountain

Kulu: stream, brook, small river

Nam: large body of water

Lum: the bush, forest

Tim: wilderness

Kabedo: location

Boma: city

Tung boma: neighborhood

Taun: town

Cuk: market

Caro: village

Paco/gang: home

Tung lobo: region

Lobo: country/world

Wang lobo: border

Slang Terms Regarding Space and Place in Northern Uganda:

Wod ngom (pl. wegi ngom): son of the soil; used to refer to those believed to be the indigenous inhabitants of a particular area.

Latedero (pl. lutedero): ordinary inhabitants of a place; the locals.

Lokka/lokkalokka: the other side; often used to refer to the regions of Uganda south of the bridge over the Nile River at Karuma Falls.

  • Leb Lokka: the language of the other side; refers to any of the Bantu languages spoken in southern Uganda (Luganda, Lusoga, Runyoro, Rukiga, etc.).

Namma: a somewhat derogatory term used to refer to Bantu-speakers from southern Uganda.

Munu (pl. muni): foreigner, usually referring to white people.

Alok (pl. Elok): a derogatory term used in the eastern Acholi region and in the Leb Thur dialect to refer to pastoralists from the Karamoja region to the east.


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.