Uganda: War Ravaged Gulu City Hosts East African Games

Below; Rwot Acana, second right, visits rehabilitation work on Pece Stadium

Rwot Acana at Pece“I have travelled across the length and breadth and have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of that caliber that I do not think we  would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural  heritage and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the African think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”-Lord Macaulay is quoted to have said.

GULU-UGANDA: Although the northern Uganda colonial regional city of Gulu was ravaged, and nearly destroyed by wars between the army of President Yoweri Museveni and the various rebel groups opposed to his government between 1986 and 2006, the city has since transformed and ready to host the East Africa Secondary Schools Games, come August 17- 27, 2017.

This game brings together secondary school champions from the East African Community member states of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Burundi and South Sudan.

About six thousand visitors are expected in Gulu to grace the games, where Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni, is expected to officially open it on Monday August 20, 2017. His wife, also minister of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Ms. Janet Museveni, will close on August 27, 2017.

The city has been undergoing rehabilitation works for the last ten years following cessation of hostilities and signing of permanent ceasefire between the warring parties in 2006. New investors are putting up structures and setting up businesses while the government is concentrating on infrastructural rehabilitation of schools, roads, health units and markets among others.

The last facility in Gulu which has been neglected by the government is Pece War Memorial Stadium, the main venue of the games. It is now undergoing a 700 million shillings (about $197,000 dollars) rehabilitation using contributions from the local community, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the business community readying it for the school games.

As you read this, the government has not yet contributed any money towards the rehabilitation of the Sports facility, built by the British Legion in 1956, which has a seating capacity of 3,000 fans, yet the game is two days away.

The site Engineer, Engineer Gideon Gumusireza, says rehabilitation works on the stadium still needs about shs.100 million shillings (about $28000 dollars) to complete.

“Hosting this event means a lot for Gulu and we cannot run away from it” Gulu district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, is quoted to have said in a local media. He is the man behind the rehabilitation works, which started about six months ago.

St. Joseph’s College Layibi, where a shs.300 million ($84000 dollars) swimming pool has been specially constructed for the games, and Sacred Heart Girls’ School, are the two other venues where the sportsmen and women will reside during the championship.

“People can now run on the track. We are left with lining the lanes where athletes will run”, says retired FIFA referee, Mr. Dennis Ojwee, who is the technical advisor to the committee rehabilitating the stadium on Tuesday August 15, 2017.

Mr. Ojwee says the main disciplines which will take place at the stadium are only athletics. Other disciplines will be held elsewhere in schools and other public places within the municipality.

Gulu, which is a cosmopolitan town, has a population of 152,276 people, according to the 2014 Census report. People speak mostly the local Luo dialect, English, Luganda and Kiswahili languages.

The name “Gulu” comes from a luo name for a “pot”, a reference to Gulu’s location in the depression of pre-historic floodplain.

Acholi cultural leader, Rwot David Onen-Acana II visited the site where rehabilitation work was going on, on Thursday August 10, 2017 and praised the local community for donating generously towards the rehabilitation of the stadium.

He says such unity should be replicated to other developmental works in the region on self-help basis instead of relying on government, which is not reliable at all times.

“This is a good sign of development. If we come together, we can make things work. Let this good gesture not end with the rehabilitation of Pece stadium alone. This is how we shall chase away poverty from the community”, says Rwot Acana.

President Yoweri Museveni must have read what Lord Macaulay told the British Parliamentarians in 1835 that if you destroy Acholi culture and their self esteem then “they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”

Just give ten more years of peace in Acholi, and then the region will look quite different from the time when rebellion ended ten years ago.

Their lost glory will be fully restored.

 

 

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UGANDAN THREATENS TO TAKE GOVERNMENT TO THE PERMANENT COURTS OF ARBITRATION (PCA) OVER LAND

Below: Acholi Prime Minister, Mr. Ambrose Olaa

AMBROSE OLAA“We are advising the government to refrain from the current activities on land matters. If this message is ignored, we shall not hesitate to refer the case to the International Arbitration Courts of Justice (Permanent Courts of Arbitration) and we will line up lawyers to prosecute the case”

“This is the opportunist position of government over Acholi land. They have understood the vulnerability, disunity and weakness in leadership in Acholi and are taking advantage of that to grab customary land. Give yourself fifty years from now; there will be no more customary land to talk of”

GULU-UGANDA: There is no love between the government of Dictator General Yoweri Museveni and members of the Acholi community on the way government is handling land matters. This is especially on how government is appropriating customary land system which is widely practiced in the region and turning it to public land.

One such voice is a Ugandan living in the United Kingdom, Colonel Wilson Owiny-Omoya, who has threatened to take government to the Permanent Courts of Arbitration (PCA) if government does not stop its illegal activities on Acholi land.

PCA is an International organization located in The Hague in the Netherlands which provides arbitral tribunals to resolve disputes between member states, international organizations or private parties arising out of international agreements.

“We are advising the government to refrain from the current activities on land matters. If this message is ignored, we shall not hesitate to refer the case to the International Arbitration Courts of Justice (Permanent Courts of Arbitration) and we will line up lawyers to prosecute the case”, Colonel Omoya.

Colonel Omoya wrote this advice to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda on Monday, August 7, 2017.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, one of the cultural institutions in northern Uganda, Mr. Ambrose Olaa, has said that government is downgrading customary land tenure system instead of putting it at par with other tenure systems like leaseholds as enshrined in the constitution because it wants to grab customary land.

Mr. Olaa, says whenever an investor buys large swaths of customary land from individual land owners in Acholi, government gives leasehold title certificates instead of customary land titles certificates. This will turn such land from customary to public land, which will be vested in the hands of government after such lease expires.

“This is the opportunist position of government over Acholi land. They have understood the vulnerability, disunity and weakness in leadership in Acholi and are taking advantage of that to grab customary land. Give yourself fifty years from now; there will be no more customary land to talk of”, says Mr. Olaa.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Mr. Olaa called Uganda’s minister of Lands, Ms. Betty Amongi’s, statement attributed to her in the media that the government will use force to survey a contested 10000 hectares piece of land in Amuru district for sugar cane project as “unfortunate, uncivil, reckless and a typical sign of unchartered arrogance”.

Government is set to go to Amuru district, accompanied by police and army personnel, to forcefully survey the contested land on Thursday, August 10, 2017 to give way for sugar cane plantation but is meeting resistance from both the local community and leaders in Acholi.

“We believe the issue should have not reached a level to threaten unleashing security forces. Such statements only create situations where violence would beget violence. We believe opportunities for dialogue were still open after all the land would still be there”, says Mr. Olaa.

On May 18, 2017, Mr. Olaa appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters in Uganda on behalf of Acholi Kingdom in which he stated that the Acholi viewed land as “a common good, a priceless commodity upon which every Acholi could access and use for the purpose of life’s sustenance”.

The Commission of Inquiry is headed by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugumereire and is mandated to travel throughout the country to investigate the rampant land conflicts and make recommendation to government how to resolve them.

“The great historical, philosophical understanding of Acholi societal construction places land as one of its central elements that are bounded together with people in a divine relationship. Land is therefore considered as sacred and its desecration has serious consequences”, warns Olaa.

Acholi sub-region encompasses about 28,500 square kilometers of land with a total population of over 1.8 million people. Most of the people lived in concentration camps (baptized as Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camp for the better part of President Yoweri Museveni’s administration.  They returned to their villages after cessation of hostilities between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group in 2007. Northern Uganda’s vast, rich, and fertile land is the envy of other nationals and foreigners alike.

All the above concerns came despite the fact that Acholi Paramount King; Rwot David Onen-Acana II met Uganda’s Prime Minister on April 10, 2017 and put matters which are intricate and deeply held by the people of Acholi which may “affect relationship with government”.

He lists appropriation of land in Acholi, security and respect of Acholi boundaries, the confused implementation of the land law and land policy, the issue of delayed cattle compensation, the problem of wildlife and the influx of South Sudanese refugees as some of the things which may affect relationship with government.

 

 

UGANDA: WHERE CHRISTIANS RESORT TO PRAYERS TO CURE MENTAL ILLNESS AS SUICIDE CASES ARE ON THE RISE

 

koch goma
A mentally sick woman in Koch Goma, in the foreground, during prayers to heal the sub-county of suicide tendencies. 

“We are declaring freedom from death, violence, poverty, adultery, idolatry, sorcery , hatred and jealousy”

“Koch Goma is burning (on fire) because the devil has laid his foundation here. You can even witness for yourselves; very few people have turned up for this very important prayer yet they were mobilized for it”

“Suicide tendencies are not recent developments in the region. It was recorded sometimes back in 1935, which was caused by depression, post traumatic disorder and some are inherited from genes”

NWOYA-UGANDA: “We are not here to try to pray. Prayer is the only solution to premature deaths due to suicide cases in Koch Goma. We are declaring a day of Freedom. The land of Koch Goma is blessed from now onwards. We are declaring freedom from death, violence, poverty, adultery, idolatry, sorcery, hatred and jealousy” declares Pastor Patrick Okecha on Friday July 28, 2017.

Pastor Okecha is the chairman of the Gulu based “Born Again Faith Federation”. This is the social harm (Community Based Organization ‘CBO’) of the Pentecostal Churches of Uganda, which is operating in Koch Goma sub-county in Nwoya district to address community needs.

The Community Based Organization (CBO) has been conducting a research on suicide cases and premature death which are on the increase in Koch Goma sub-county. The CBO recommended that prayers for healing be conducted in all the nine villages in Koch Goma; and July 28 was just the launch of their initiative.

Local media report indicates that at least 21 people have died in Koch Goma as a result of suicide alone this year (2017).

According to the Sub-county Local Council III chairman, Mr. John Bosco Okullu, Koch Goma needs God’s favor through conducting prayers in order to save it from the devil’s claws.

“Koch Goma is burning [on fire] because the devil has laid his foundation here. You can even witness this for yourselves; very few people have turned up for this very important prayer yet they were mobilized for it”, laments the chairman.

Suicide is defined as a deliberate act of killing oneself while attempted suicide is an act of injuring oneself with intention to die.

Committing suicide is an offense under Uganda Penal Code act, section 210. The offense is referred to as misdemeanor, and if convicted, it is punishable by five years jail sentence.

Dr. Henry Oboke of Gulu University Medical School conducted a research in 2014 in Koro and Lakwana sub-counties in Omoro district in northern Uganda to find the leading cause of suicide.

He found out that the reasons why one commits suicide is complex, but it includes conflicts-the over 20 year Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war, losses, shame, illness and hardships. Beneath the act is lack of problem solving skills, impulsivity, drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness, among others.

“Suicide tendencies are not recent developments in the region. It was recorded sometimes back in 1935, which was caused by depression, post traumatic disorder and some are inherited from genes”, says Dr. Oboke.

Is suicide curable or preventable?

According to Dr. Oboke, prayers alone cannot stop suicide tendencies if it has elements of mental illness and therefore has no cure but can be controlled through medications and psycho-social support.

“If the depression is not so deep and the patient agrees to put all the problems depressing him before God, then prayers can work; but you need medication and counseling to redress the problem”, says Dr. Oboke.

According to records of Mental Health Unit of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, between 700 and 900 patients with mental problems visit the unit on a monthly basis. However one hardly gets cases of attempted suicide reporting since they fear that police will arrest them.

According to Dr. Oboke, suicide in Koro and Lakwana has been controlled because they trained Village Helpers (VH) and Health Workers (HW) and deployed them in every parish whose main task is to identify families whose members are likely to commit suicide and give them psycho- socio support.

 

 

 

 

CHURCH OF UGANDA TO COMPLETE JANANI LUWUM CHURCH HOUSE IN 2017

Below: Archbishop Ntagali at Palabek Kal Dicwinyi Church of Uganda.

Arch-Bishop Ntagali“The construction of this sixteen-floor centenary building was initiated by Archbishop Janani in 1977 as part of celebrations to mark 100 years of Christianity in Uganda. The Hose of Bishops recently re-named it Janani Luwum Church House”

“I was also a catechist, who by the Grace of God became the Archbishop. You should not despise yourselves. You are actually “spiritual cadres”. A clergy has no job without a catechist”

LAMWO-UGANDA: Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Province of the Church of Uganda has revealed that the Church is in the final stages to complete the construction of Janani Luwum Church House by the end of 2017, 40 years after the project was initiated by the late Archbishop Janani Luwum. The building is located along Kampala Road in the Capital city.

“The construction of this sixteen-floor centenary building was initiated by Archbishop Janani in 1977 as part of celebrations to mark 100 years of Christianity in Uganda. The Hose of Bishops recently re-named it Janani Luwum Church House”, said Archbishop Ntagali.

Archbishop Janani Luwum was murdered by the former dictator of Uganda, General Idi Amin, on February 16, 1977 along with two other cabinet ministers on allegation that they were planning to overthrow his regime.

Archbishop Ntagali made the remarks during his maiden pastoral visit to Palabek Kal Dicwinyi, Lamwo West Archdeaconry headquarters, in the Diocese of Kitgum, Church of Uganda, on Monday July 24, 2017.

He appealed to all Christians to contribute money to their sub-parishes, parishes, archdeaconries and dioceses of the Church of Uganda to enable them buy shares, at shillings 100,000 per share.

A total of about shs.15, 550,000 Uganda shillings ($4,326 US dollars), totaling 155 shares, was raised by Christians of Lamwo and Lamwo West archdeaconries. The Lamwo woman Member of Parliament, Ms. Molly Lanyero contributed a total of 14 million shillings while Lamwo District Council contributed a total of one million shillings of this money.

“Some dioceses have bought shares worth 7 billion shillings. These dioceses will get good dividends when the church will share out profits after completion of the building. I encourage you to buy as many shares as possible”, urges Archbishop Ntagali.

He assured the Christians in the Diocese of Kitgum that the care-taker bishop of the diocese, John Charles Odur-Kami, will continue in that office, although he will retire as the bishop of Lango Diocese on August 13, 2017, until there is “peace and unity” enough for the election of a new bishop for Kitgum.

Ntagali appealed to catechists in the province not to despise themselves because they are the lowest cadres of the church, saying, he also began church work as a catechist.

“I was also a catechist, who by the Grace of God became the Archbishop. You should not despise yourselves. You are actually “spiritual cadres”. A clergy has no job without a catechist”, says archbishop Ntagali.

He said the church world over, prayed for the end of the war in northern Uganda so as to stop the suffering the people were going through. He thanked God that there is now peace in the region.

He appealed to the youths, majority of who were born in concentration camps, to change their mindset from “laziness and overdrinking out of frustration”, but to utilize the potential that God has given them , like vast fertile land, to eradicate poverty from their midst.

“Why are people living without hope yet there is vast fertile and virgin land? Why are people miserable? What has gone wrong that there is no peace in families? Unless our mindset changes from laziness and sin and use the potential that God has given us, we shall not be able to chase away poverty”, says archbishop Ntagali.

He decried rampant witchcraft practices and land grabbing which are being done by practicing Christians which has affected family values negatively. He praised our forefathers for having protected our land.

The head of laity in the Province of the Church of Uganda, Ms. Christine Kintu Mulira, praised the people of northern Uganda for having good lifestyles by not being obese.

She however expressed concerned with the way some African youths adopt dressing styles of homosexuals a thing she says is Western culture.

 

The Raging Storm: A Reporter’s Inside Account of the Northern Uganda War (1986-2005)-Book Review

 

The Raging Storm.

Ms. Caroline Lamwaka’s book-The Raging Storm. She did not live to see it in print

“There was no way I would have survived if I had not left, because the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) virtually scorched the room” a quote from the book.

 “There was a great deal of anti-northern rhetoric within the NRA/M, followed by a general wave of anti-northern sentiments among the various ethnic communities in central, southern and western Uganda” another quote from the same book.

GULU-UGANDA: The sentence; “When you see me, don’t touch me” begins the introduction of a book titled; “The Raging Storm” which was written by a young female war reporter, the late Ms. Caroline Lamwaka.  Ms. Lamwaka was born on the January 1, 1963 but died on March 5, 2006 from St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. She was one of the brave female journalists who witnessed and covered series of armed conflicts which engulfed Northern Uganda between 1986-2005; for the State-Owned New Vision newspaper.

 

The man who edited the 643-page book, Mr. Ronald Atkinson, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of South Carolina, was quoting a telephone conversation he had with Ms. Caroline Lamwaka who was calling from Gulu on November 17, 2000. He stressed that Ms. Lamwaka passionately emphasized “When you see me, don’t touch me”.

 

Ms. Lamwaka had rushed to Gulu from her work station in Kampala to cover the outbreak of the extremely contagious and often lethal Ebola virus in October 2000 which claimed a total of 173 lives in Gulu district. The number included medical workers, among them the then Medical Superintendent of St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Dr. Mathew Lukwiya, who succumbed to the deadly hemorrhagic fever on Tuesday December 5, 2000.

 

Before his death on that fateful day, Dr. Lukwiya was quoted by his colleagues at Lacor Hospital to have said; “Oh, God. I think I will die in my service.  If I die, let me be the last” before he breathed his very last.

 

By saying “when you see me, don’t touch me”, Ms. Lamwaka could have been warning Mr. Atkinson on the danger and risks in coming in close contact with her as a journalist covering the situations in northern Uganda at that time. It was not just wars, but also the new Ebola outbreak.

 

Despite the risks of operating from northern Uganda, Ms. Lamwaka was determined to sacrifice her own dear life in order to tell the story of northern Uganda to the international community. For her, the safety of others was most significant at a critical time that handshakes were prohibited.

 

Indeed the storm of the time was Raging. As Ms. Lamwaka’s curiosity peaked, it dawned on her to pen down her experiences in what she termed The Raging Storm. Divided into 16 chapters, she integrated her personal accounts based on her years of experience and time as on the ground war correspondent to others she drew from fellow journalists and secondary academic sources.

 

For the chapters covering time periods before or after 1986-2005, Ms. Lamwaka relied heavily on extensive interviews, both in Kampala where she was often based, and field research in Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions – primarily the epicenter of the wars.

 

Chapter 2 deals with the political history of Uganda, mainly focusing on successive post-colonial administrations prior to the 1986 revolution, which brought in President Yoweri Museveni to power, and the violent demise of each administration. It also has a few pages on colonial economic practices and stereotypes that privileged the south and characterized northerners as being especially suited to be soldiers.

 

Chapters 5-8 and the bulk of chapter 10 cover her period as an on-the-ground war correspondent in Acholi (from December 1986-1993) in which she details how some of the worst atrocities unfolded and the last portion of chapter 10, which covers the period from 1993-1997, is based on follow-up research trips to the region.

 

These chapters are rich in details that cannot be found anywhere else. They also afford insight into Ms. Lamwaka’s professional integrity as well as her personal commitment and involvement in the events of this period, often accompanied by considerable costs and risks.

 

While chapters 12 and 13 are essentially narratives of the chronological events covering the period from the late 1990s to 2001, chapter 14 deals with some of the effects of the war on health and education and the Ebola outbreak in Gulu.

 

Chapter 15, which is the longest chapter in the book, discusses the various peace attempts in 1988, 1999 and the 2005. The book ends with the government’s all-out assault on rebel fighters in what it coined ‘Operation Iron Fist’ and the rebel’s vicious retaliations against civilian soft targets in response.

 

Much has changed in northern Uganda since Ms. Lamwaka wrote the last chapter of this book, most importantly the end of the long and costly wars in northern Uganda that is described so compellingly in this book. It was followed by a slow, halting, and difficult emptying of the concentration camps in the region and a post-conflict transition that is still underway.

 

Unfortunately, death robbed this courageous journalist the opportunity to witness or cover the 2006 Juba peace talks that would end the vicious cycle of war she passionately covered.  The talks began with the much anticipated July 2006 cessation of hostility agreement signed between the government of Uganda and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Juba, South Sudan.

 

Although the talks were painstakingly difficult and contentious, by February 2008, it had produced a “Final Peace Agreement” which was endorsed by both delegations. However, distrust, disagreements about the process and the wild card of outstanding arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against top rebel commanders would haunt the process forever.

 

The final blow to getting permanent peace in the region came in December 2008 when troops of Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) attacked the LRA camps in northeastern Democratic Republic Of Congo where the rebels had gathered during the peace talks after LRA leader, Joseph Kony failed to add his signature to the final Peace Agreement on several times.

 

This attack began what was to become a protracted expansion of the LRA conflict to foreign territories as the group scattered in disarray over large swathes of northeastern DRC and adjacent areas of south-eastern Central African Republic (CAR). To date they remain hiding and committing atrocities there. Various intelligence and civil society reports have implicated the LRA for remaining an active force, disruptive and destructive in areas where they operated, killing, abducting and displacing many thousands of people despite the fact that an array of other forces from the United States and African Union has been pursuing them.

 

Meanwhile in northern Uganda, by 2009-2010 the gradual process of people leaving the concentration camps had largely been concluded. Given the poverty and deprivation caused by camp life, the vast majority of the people of the north feel that the only productive asset they own is the vast virgin land, although accessing such land has resulted into new land right conflicts.

 

It is sad that Ms. Caroline Lamwaka did not live to see this book, which she worked so hard to write and produce, published and in circulation. It is also sad to note that Ms. Lamwaka’s untimely death, few months to the Juba Peace Talks prevented her from witnessing the silencing of the guns of wars in northern Uganda.

 

 

 

UGANDA: UNGODLINESS, CORRUPTIOIN, KILLINGS, ADULTERY AND LYING MAKE THE COUNTRY “SICK”-RETIRED BISHOP

 

bishop onono
Retired Anglican   bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng leads senuior citizens from All Saints’ Cathedral Kampala to a luncheon in Gulu on July 9, 2017

“I want you to open your bible and read the book of Prophet Hosea; chapter four and begin to read from verses one to three. This text describes the situation in Uganda today. Ugandans have ignored God, many leaders are liars, and many are immoral and corrupt”

“Uganda is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. They worship idols yet our motto is ‘For God and My Country’ and our anthem says ‘May God upholds you’. We are murderers who kill with impunity. Look at the way we killed former Assistant Inspector General of Police, the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi.  How can a man have sex with one’s own daughter, pigs and fellow men? They see in terms of your tribe but not your personality”

GULU-UGANDA: God has a quarrel with Ugandans because the people “live un-godly life, have lost faith in God, have no love; have abandoned God, the people break promises, they lie, murder, steal and commit adultery” without any remorse.

“I want you to open your bible and read the book of Prophet Hosea; chapter four and begin to read from verse one to three. This text describes the situation in Uganda today. Ugandans have ignored God, many leaders are liars, and many are immoral and corrupt”

This was the statement by the retired Anglican Bishop Edward Muhima of North Kigezi Diocese on Sunday, July 9 2017, at St. Phillip’s Cathedral in Gulu during a service to commission members of the “Senior Citizens’ Fellowship” of the Diocese of Northern Uganda.

Bishop Muhima was part of 40-strong members of the senior citizens’ fellowship from All Saints’ Cathedral, Kampala who were on a visit to the north of the country to initiate a similar fellowship for senior citizens in Gulu.

“Uganda is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. They worship idols yet our motto is ‘For God and My Country’ and our anthem says ‘May God uphold thee’. We are murderers who kill with impunity. Look at the way we killed former Assistant Inspector General of Police, the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi. How can a man have sex with one’s own daughter, pigs and fellow men? They see in terms of your tribe but not your personality”, says the bishop.

Uganda scored 25 points out of 100 on the 2016 Corruption Perception Index as reported by Transparency International watchdog.

The bishop also blasted the current leaders of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for running-down the city which in 1967/68 was voted as the cleanest city in East Africa by “Flamingo” magazine.

“Kampala was the cleanest City in the region and people from across the region would flock here to buy goods. Today, Kampala city is one of the dirtiest city in the world. Why? This is because people have turned away from God.”

The bishop appealed to Ugandans to “wake up from sleep” and return to God so that He (God) heals the nation.

Senior Citizens’ Fellowship brings together retired elders who are sixty years old and above to share the Word of God, chat, pray and to assist and counsel one another in case one has a problem.

The chairman All Saints’ Cathedral senior citizens’ fellowship, Mr. Charles Atwooki-Kagenda says their fellowship started ten years ago with just 117 members and has since expanded to 600 members.

They have fellowship every Thursday and prophets Simeon and Anna are their patron saints, whose day is celebrated in January-February. The fellowship has already established a Savings & Credit Co-operative Organization (SACCO) and they intend to open up a health center.

“Seniors in the church are not useless people. They are important. The entire church should recognize them. If you don’t pay attention to the seniors, you lose track of the future. We have since learnt that the church is headless without senior citizens”, says Atwooki-Kagenda.

The bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, Bishop Johnson Gakumba, says he decided to invite this group of senior citizens to Gulu so that they senior citizens could be inspired to start a similar group in Northern Uganda.

“Those who are retired who live lonely lives in northern Uganda and suffer from neglect by their youthful children. Many die in misery. Even if they are sick, they hardly get visitors or medical help. I thought we should start this fellowship to cheer them up”, says bishop Gakumba.

According to reports, Uganda has the lowest percentage of citizens who are 60 years old and above in the region, standing at 3.7% of the total population compared to Japan which stands at 32.3%.

In 2012, Uganda instituted “Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment” (SAGE) of the elderly where the elders are given grants of shillings 25.000.00 (About 7 dollars per month. Uganda is yet to roll it over to cover the entire country.

 

 

 

UGANDA’S UNENDING LAND CONFLICTS: COULD IT BE WATERLOO FOR MUSEVENI REGIME COME 2021?

 

Lakang

Locals of Lakang village in Amuru district listen to their leaders over the fate of their land which is wanted by government for sugar plantation. they are resisting the move.

GULU-UGANDA: The 1995 constitution of the republic of Uganda vests land on the people of Uganda.  Article 237 (1) states that “Land in Uganda belongs to the citizens of Uganda and shall vest in them in accordance with the land tenure systems provided for in this Constitution”.

The tenure systems under which land is held in Uganda are customary, freehold, mailo and leasehold.

During the promulgation of this Constitution, President Yoweri Museveni is reported to have expressed “displeasure” with some of the clauses of the Constitution. His preference was that land should have remained public land as was the case with 1967 Constitution.

In Acholi sub-region, where customary land tenure system is practiced, land is gazetted for homesteads (settlements); farmland, grazing land, water sources, woodland (firewood and herbs), rocks and mountains (grinding stones and quarries) and wilderness (hunting game meat).

Since the end of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in 2006; and people left concentration (Internally  Displaced Peoples’) camps, and returned to their former homesteads, they witnessed unprecedented level of land conflicts; both within themselves and with its neighbors.

Uganda’s State-owned daily, The New Vision newspaper came out with a screaming headline on Monday, July 3, 2017; “District Boundaries to be Drawn Afresh”.

The move is necessitated by inter-district land conflict which has engulfed fifty districts throughout the country forcing government to draw up a supplementary budget of 3.8 billion shillings ($1.1 million dollars) to conduct a fresh land survey for the purpose of re-demarcating all district boundaries in Uganda.

“We have requested for 3.8 billion shillings to conduct the exercise. We shall initially start with the re-demarcation of boundaries of districts where conflict tendencies are high such as Karamoja, Northern, West Nile and Eastern Uganda”, the paper quotes State Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza.

At Independence in 1962, Uganda had six federal states and ten districts only; but by 1986, when Museveni came to power, there were already 43 districts. This number has increased over the years to now 118 districts, most of which are being created for political reasons according to political commentators, making Uganda spend most of its revenue on administration.

Amuru district in Acholi sub-region has had its fair share of land conflicts. One such conflict involves a boundary dispute with its neighbor Adjumani district in West Nile sub-region which has been dragging on for over six years and have claimed at least ten lives.

The second conflict puts the local community of Bana, Lakang and Kololo villages in Pailyec parish, Amuru sub-county in Amuru district against Uganda government and Madvhani group of companies since 2006. In that year, Amuru district land board leased out 10,000 hectares of land to Government and Madvhani for the establishment of sugarcane plantation and a factory.

This move to give away part of what local leaders argue is a customary land, and not public land as the land board says, did not go down well with a section of local leaders in Amuru who decided to go to court.

On February 2, 2012, Justice Wilson Masalu Musene, the Gulu Resident Judge ruled in favor of government and argued that the land in dispute was not customary land but public land. He ruled thus “In the result this court finds no merit in this application and the same is hereby dismissed”.

On October 3, 2012, leaders of Amuru appealed against this judgment to the Courts of Appeal and while a section of those leaders have withdrawn their names from the appeal, arguing that they prefer settling the dispute outside courts through negotiations, a section of leaders want it settled through courts.

On June 26, 2017, a nation Television (NTV) telecasted a news clip filmed from State House showing cultural leaders of Pagak, Pamuca and Toro chiefdoms signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government and giving away the 10,000 hectares of the contested land to government for the sugar project. The team, who signed the MoU before President Museveni and Lands Minister, Ms. Betty Amongi Akena, was led by the outgoing Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Professor Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi.

The newscast did not go down well with the local community who are actually occupying the land in question. They therefore called for a general meeting on Monday July 2, 2017 which they invited the delegates who signed the MoU with President Museveni together with their elected leaders.

During the meeting, the Local Council 5 councilor, Amuru District Council, Mr. Apollo Okello said the chiefs had no authority from the litigants who took government to court to go to State House to sign the MoU with government.

“This MoU is null and void. The Court of Appeal will not honor their signatures since they were not part of the litigants. I don’t know what actually took them to the President. I want to assure you it should be business as usual. If you had not yet planted your rice you should plant it. Government will not take your land”, says the councilor.

“We shall fight and make sure that the appeal is concluded, even if it means going up to the Supreme Court. Let us loose the case from court, but we would have tried to protect our people’s land from being grabbed forcefully”, says the area Member of Parliament, Mr. Gilbert Olanya.

On Monday July 3, 2017, Professor Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi told listeners of a local FM radio station that he feels pain to see that the Acholi people wallop in poverty yet they have large swaths of virgin land which are not being put into productive use.

Museveni’s waterloo

On June 18, 1815 the British fought and defeated the Emperor of France, Napoleon at Waterloo in present day Belgium.

Since he came to power in 1986, President Museveni gave away all public lands to investors and there is no more land to give out. He now wants to amend land law to allow for compulsory acquisition of land from Ugandans for national programs and compensate the owners later.

Will this move not cause regime change come 2021?