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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
Ugandan inventors condemn ideas pirates
By Abraham Odeke
BBC, Kampala, Uganda

Karamajong sandals
The Karamojong invention of tyre sandals has been pirated
The pastoralist Karamojong people in the North Eastern region of Uganda are a very unhappy lot - they say that people are impoverishing them by pirating their inventions and technology with impunity.

The Karamojong blacksmiths are particularly annoyed that their special rat traps which used to sell like hot cakes countrywide, including in the capital Kampala, have lost their share of the market because some producers have stolen their technology and fabricated the rat traps.

People who use the Karamoja portable rat traps claim that these traps, made using crude technology, guarantee good results.

Just one Karamojong trap is capable of netting as many as 10 rats at a go, while the traps imported from places like India are capable of killing only one rat at a time.

Sandals

The Karamojong have also earned themselves the reputation of being the first tribe in Uganda to invent the most durable sandals using old tyres from tractors and heavy goods lorries.

These cheap and durable sandals are very popular among Ugandan villagers.

Then there is the unique haircut, nicknamed the Kajong Cut by the barbers in Uganda and which is in great demand among the youth and the not so young, which the Karamojong also 'invented'.

The theft of these inventions has forced the Karamojong to incur heavy losses leading to poor revenue collection in their semi-arid region.

Official complaints

The Karamojong artisans are lodging an official complaint to the Ugandan parliament, according to Joseph Lokile Lomongin who has been doing research on the Karamojong's diminished incomes.

"I have written a letter to the leader of the Karamojong Parliamentary Group in Kampala so that his group can arrange a debate on how best to stop the pirates from tampering with our products and the crude technology from the Karamojong," said Mr Lomongin.

He said, however, that the Karamojong were happy with the barbers who thought it wise to nickname the unique Karamojong haircut as Kajong Cut.


SEE ALSO:
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Country profile: Uganda
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