Empaakos In Tooro culture And Their Meanings

Written by: 

Empaako, which in English translates to pet name, is a praise name or a name of respect used among the Banyoro, Batooro, Batagwenda, Batuku and Banyabindi and Banyaruguru.

Among these tribes, we are specifically going to look at the Batooro. In Kitooro culture where mpakoos respected and preserved, empaako is something that can't be under looked, even those that are from tribes that don't have pet names are given one once they are in Tooro.

After birth, every Mutooro is given this praise name by the parents, which selection is determined by cultural aspects like who in the clan had that pet name, and passed on long time ago. For twins, their pet names are pre- determined. Kato (Abooki), Nyangoma (Amooti), Nyakato (Abooki), Isingoma (Amooti).

Even those who follow twins, their pet names are always the same even if they are from different families. What should not be forgotten is that it's not one's choice to have a particular Mpaako.

Having that background in mind, let's look at all the twelve mpaakos and and what they mean in the land of the soft-spoken. Some of the eleven mpaakos that start with letter "A" are believed to have Luo origins, with one with starting with letter "O" claimed to be have originated from Bunyoro.

Abbala: Is akin to the Luo word Abalo meaning I have spoilt it. According to our Kitooro culture, it means someone who loves other people unconditionally. It was formerly reserved for those close to the king, a reason it's rare.

Abooki: This comes from a Luo word Aboko which means I have narrated to you
The person who is given this mpaako is expected to be someone who cherishes the roles of parents, teachers, elders, mentors, counsellors and leaders.

Abwooli: Comes from a Luo word Abwolo which means I deceive you. However, in Kitooro culture,
it has to do with diplomatic relationships. The reasoning behind it is that “not all truth needs to be told always, because it might cause unnecessary and often avoidable hurt and pain”.

Acaali: This one also traces its origin from Luo, it relates to the word Acalo, meaning I resemble you In Tooro, it refers to someone who resembles another in nature and character and who easily relates to other people.

Adyeeri: In Luo the word that gave this Mpaako origin is Adyero which means that I have sacrificed you. In Tooro, Adyeeri is someone who is friendly, affectionate with a larger- than-life heart.

Akiiki: Is one who upholds national, community and family interests with great love, care, kindness, honesty and such attributes. This, probably, explains why this is a very popular mpaako among parents. It has no Luo root, and it is the only praise name whose root is in Bunyoro-Kitara.

Amooti: From a Luo word Amoto meaning that I greet you. In Bunyoro-Kitara, however, Amooti refers to someone who genuinely
respects other people, thinking and speaking well of them.

Apuuli: Means one who has powers, abilities and skills to attract other people, exhibiting qualities often observed and admired among children.
Araali: One who saves other people and is perceived to have the power of thunder, giving the expression Araali Nkuba.

Ateenyi: Is derived from the Luo word Atenyo, meaning I have left it. I n our culture, Ateenyi is someone who loves and understands a wrong doer without condoning wrong doing.

Atwooki: One who embraces or punishes –as the case may be-other people either physically or
spiritually. In most cases people who have this pet name are strict.

Okaali: Comes from a Luo word Okalo, meaning S/he has jumped over you. In Bunyoro-Kitara, however, it implies someone with the highest responsibility as a leader in the kingdom Rukir’abasaija Agutamba Omukama.

It's used by Omukama ( King) only and even then by men only when greeting him.
What is important note is that Akiiki, Apuuli, Araali and Atwooki seem to have no definite Luo roots. It is important to remember that there is no mpaako exclusively reserved for
women, while four; Araali, Apuuli, Acaali and Abbala are exclusively for men. The rest are unisex, save for Okali which is only for kings.