Introducing yourself

We are providing you with the literal translation so that you actually understand the words you are using, but don’t take on the literal translation as an actual translation.

Your name(s)

In Teso, every person has a number of names. Usually name giving follows this scheme: There are mant with Christian (like Marc, Mary or Emmanuel) or Islamic name (like Ali, Fatima or Mubarak), and a traditional name (like Oselle, Omoding, Eboku, Maraka, Oromait, Agiru, Amunyelet, Odeke, Ilima, Atim, Acan, etc.) which are also family names. Traditional names were given on the basis, relatives,family friends, ancestors, season or prevailing events. Traditional brews Ajon and specific clan practices was central to naming ceremonies whereby a baby was given a name and acceptance of the given name was symbolified when the baby sucks a finger dipped in Ajon.

Additionally, people are also named according to the prevailing season such as drought (like Okolong/Ocakolong) during rainy season (like Okiru/Akiru, Ekidon/Ikidon, etc), during farmine (Otenge/Atenge) among others. People were also named according to where they were born (e.g. Arot/Orot – born by the roadside). People were also named after the event during which they were born e.g. Ayiet/Ikinyom during planting season, Odwenyat/Adwenyat during harvesting season. During disaster/problems/war/ etc are called Emariat/Amariat. Children born after a series of deaths of preceding children are called Etyang/Atyang, Emodo, Etawoi/Atawoi.

There is no predefined order where to place which name and there is no point in asking for somebody’s first or last name, but usually the family name is mentioned first and then the British/Christian/Islamic name. Neither is there a rule as to which name is used by family, friends or strangers. Usually though the last name is used by strangers, the first name by friends and the traditional name by family and friends/colleagues. In Uganda it is therefore common to ask for somebody’s ‘names’.




Ingai bo ekiror kon loka aipule?

What is your surname?

Ekiror ke ‘Toto odwe’/‘toto k’odwe’.

Her name is ‘mother of twins’

Ekiror ke ‘papa odwe’/ ‘papa k’odwe’.

His name is ‘father of twins’

Ekekiror Opio emuut

His name is ‘Opio the first born twin’

Ekekiror Odongo/ Ocen emuutu

His name is ‘Odongo/ Ocen usually the second/last born twin’

Your origin

As a foreigner in Africa it is pretty obvious that you will be asked where/ which country you are from. When asking an Etesot on the other hand it is common to ask for somebody’s place of birth or home area.




Aibo ibunitor ijo?

Where are you from?

Aibo ipolounitor/ipolokit ijo?

Where did you grow up?

Apolounit eong ko Teso/ Apolokit eong Teso.

I grew up in Teso.

Erai ngina nes eurikinitai auriak kon da?

Is that where your parents were also are born?