Acholi ministers demand 726UGX compensation for their lost cows

Two ministers; Hillary Onek and Henry Oryem Okello, are demanding 726 million Shillings as compensation for 1,210 head of cattle lost to National Resistance Army (NRA) fighters during the bush war.

A dossier of the Acholi War Debts Claimants Association, a loose coalition comprising of 22,000 members, indicates that Henry Oryem, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs is seeking additional funds for 182 goats taken alongside his herd of 640 head of cattle.   Each animal is valued at 600,000 Shillings.

The document is however silent on whether the government officials are claiming livestock owned by their parents or not. It says Henry Okello is a member of the association from Lapana village in Pugoda parish in Namokora Sub County, Kitgum district.

Eng. Hillary Onek Obaloker, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Refugees and Relief, on the other hand was registered as a claimant in Lanywang West Village, Labigiryang parish in Palabek Kal Sub County, Lamwo district.

The Acholi War Debts Claimants Association was formed by 14 people in July 2005 to seek compensation from government for the property and livestock lost during the NRA-led rebellion which ended in 1986. Government has already agreed on an out-of-court settlement of 1.4 trillion Shillings in compensation for property and livestock lost during the war.

The claims are based on the fact that NRA soldiers who had just come to power in 1985, looted about 500,000 head of cattle, 12,000 goats, 2000 sheep and 200 pigs and destroyed a number of properties.

However, Joseph Ojara, a retired veterinary officer and member of the association in Gulu district says government facilitated many claimants to fraudulently inflate the number of their livestock by ignoring veterinary records of the last animal census conducted in 1989.

At least 10 billion shillings has been advanced to members through two different sets of leaders; Eng. Noah Opwonya and Norbert Adyera. In 2016, government conducted fresh verification of members in a bid to ascertain the extent of the claims.

But Dr Fredy Oyat, another member of the association says the silence on findings of the verification exercise is worrying. He appealed to government to make its findings public to facilitate payment of members.





Music composers caught reproducing Acholi anthem without permission

Some artists in Northern Uganda are on the spot for pirating the Acholi Anthem. So far there have been three attempts aimed at changing the order of the wordings of the anthem.

Some local music composers have introduced parallel versions. The original composition, with two stanzas, was the brain child of the late Prof. Okot Pa Bitek, a former novelist, scholar and poet in 1956.

Currently, the anthem is made up of three stanzas. The first stanza calls for the divine protection of the paramount chief, the second, Acholi ethnic group and third, Acholi land.

Denis Ojwee, a choir instructor at Christ’s Church Gulu says the original composition by Prof. Okot Pa Bitek had only two stanzas. He says the silence of Ker Kwaro Acholi on the right version of the anthem is giving room for pirates to distort the anthem further.

Although he vehemently denies wrong doing, Ojwee is one of those accused of pirating the anthem.  According to Ojwee, he came into contact with the original anthem through his deceased father, Luka Labeja.

According to Ojwee, the third stanza of the anthem was introduced by the late Janani Okot, the father of Jolly Andruvile Okot, the co-founder of Invisible Children in Uganda
Another music composer accused of circulating a parallel version of the anthem is a female musician based in the diaspora trading as Nyinomugisha.

In 2014, Nyinomugisha recorded a song titled “Ot Ker Pa Acholi” as the official Acholi anthem and circulated it over the internet, music vendors and some radio stations in the region.

On You Tube, the song plays in Luo dialect with an English translation running over photographs of various dancers putting on the costumes of Acholi tradition dancers.

Uganda Radio Network obtained a copy of the audio but could not verify how it came to be known as the Acholi Anthem alias Lubaro Pa Acholi.

Felix Apire Opoka, is an instructor at Bright Way Band and a junior music instructor in Gulu’s UPDF 4th Division army barracks. He says the anthem has also been transposed by Col. Abenego Orec, the former military music director at the 4th Division barracks.

Opoka says the various copyright violations have resulted into confusion among band members to the extent that different versions are played at parallel functions.

Uganda Radio Network couldn’t trace retired Col. Abenego Orec for an interview. Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister of Acholi Cultural Institution, says the official version of Acholi Anthem is that composed by the late Prof. Okot Pa Bitek in 1956.

The Prime Minister says Bitek’s version was formally gazetted as Lubaro Pa Acholi by the then joint Acholi district Council meetings in Gulu district.

He says the major change in the anthem is on the title of the paramount chief, the Lawirwodi which was previously Laloyo Maber (the good leader).

Olaa says recently the Council of Elders, the institution’s policy making organ resolved to produce and distribute copies of the anthem to institutions of learning, local governments and lower chiefdoms to popularize and eliminate pirated versions in circulations.

Although Uganda Registration Service Bureau is attempting to enforce the existing copyright law to protect intellectual properties, the agency is yet to crack a whip on offenders in the country.

Below is a copy of the Anthem being distributed by Ker Kwaro Acholi:

1.     Lubanga gwok Lawirwodi
Kure ikom tic mere
Mi gum ki kuc i gang Kalle
Ot Ker me Acholi
Walegi Rwot madit
Pi Lawirwodi wa
Kure-re, tire-re
I tic merre pi Acholi.

2.     Lubanga gwokiwa Acholi
Wadyero kwowa i cingi
Mi gen, ribbe ki mer ikinwa
Ki kaki murumuwa
Walegi Rwot madit
Mi mar aye oloo lobowa
Rib-wa, tel-wa,
Wadong lobo me Acholi

3.     Lubanga gwok lobo Acholi
Lonye pi pitowa
Mi ceng ki Kot muromo pi
Gin aketa ma iiye
Walegi Rwot madit
Pi lutelawa weng
Rib-gi, tel-gi
Ki ngee ni in aye Won twer.





By Alice Lubwama

Members of parliament from Acholi sub region want government to come up with a clear plan of reducing poverty and accelerating development in the region.

The law makers say that though the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan -PRDP for northern Uganda had contributed a lot in the resettlement process, a lot needs to be done to enable people adequately access basic services in the region.

One of the members also Lamwo woman MP Molly Lanyero says that government should formulate another comprehensive development framework for northern Uganda.

She made the remarks during a meeting where the new executive of Acholi parliamentary caucus was unveiled, professor Morris Ogenga Latigo is the new chairperson replacing Reagan Okumu.


Petitions to government haven’t done much- Women in Acholi

By Deo Wasswa

Women in Acholi region decry increasing marginalization that has deprived them of their rights especially the rights to own land. The situation has been worsened by the discovery of oil in the region and now men feel women should not own any piece of land that could have the black gold beneath.

While giving testimonies during the northern Uganda conference organized by action aid and land alliance solidarity, to forge a way forward on the question of women land rights, the land victims said that Widows are losing land to investors and rich men and not even petitions to government have done much to solve this and they now demanding a turn around.

Land has become the biggest source of conflicts in northern Uganda, especially due to the culture that deters women from owning land. In the event that a woman is widowed, in most cases the land is taken away by the husbands’ relatives, leaving women and children landless and suffering.

In recent years, several petitions by women have been forwarded to government to address this but little help has come from the central government. The local leadership attributes the problem to the complex culture where women cannot own land and women looking at themselves are possession by men

Government has found itself in a complicated situation, given the fact that land in Acholi is culturally owned. Government is now engaging the area cultural leaders to resolve the land issues and issues of women rights and land acquisition

The situation has been worsened by the discovery of oil and land conflicts have shot over the last two years. Investors are flocking the oil rich region, especially in Nwoya and Amur district and women have found themselves on the disadvantaged side, as men sell of land without their consent. They want this addressed

Efforts by civil society to mitigate the problem have only served as a drop in the ocean but the women hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.