Mr. Omona David, receives his oxen and ox-plough from Acholi Cultural king, Rwot David Onen-acana II
“I want to thank the government of Uganda for putting in place the amnesty law and the peace which people are now enjoying in northern Uganda, which has enabled some of us who returned from LRA captivity to resettle at home in peace”
“I had lost all hope that Omona was still alive. I want to thank God for guiding him throughout the twenty-three years he remained in LRA captivity”
GULU-UGANDA: Omona David was born in 1981 from Bwobo Manam village in Alero sub-county in Nwoya district. That was the year in which Uganda Dictator of 32 years, General Yoweri Museveni, was just beginning to wage his five-year National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) bush war which eventually saw the end of two regimes; that of Dr. Milton Obote and General Tito Okello-Lutwa in 1985 and 1986 respectively.
His ambition to be ‘somebody’ in the future through education was dashed at a tender age of thirteen years when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of warlord Joseph Kony, abducted him on September 15, 1994 and conscripted him in their ranks alongside seven other boys of his age from the same village.
After spending twenty-three years in LRA captivity, his luck came on April 27, 2017, when he escaped and has since been repatriated back to Uganda from the Central African Republic (CAR) by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). He received repatriation kits like clothes, shoes and soap. He then went home in Alero to try to live a peasantry life like his parents through subsistence farming.
On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 he was one of the ten former LRA returnees who received a pair of oxen plus accompanying ox-plough each from a local non-governmental organization, Pathways to Peace Uganda during a function held at Ker Kal Kwaro of Acholi, the headquarter of Acholi cultural institution.
“I want to thank the government of Uganda for putting in place the amnesty law and the peace which people are now enjoying in northern Uganda, which has enabled some of us who returned from LRA captivity to resettle at home in peace”, says Mr. Omona, moments after receiving his pair of oxen and ox-plough.
The shs.30 million Uganda shillings (US$48300 dollars) package was made possible with funding from the United States Department of States under their Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). This grant ensures continuous support to Ugandan LRA defectors, specifically their repatriation, reintegration/reunion and rehabilitation.
He appealed to the returnees not to misuse what has been given to them as resettlement packages since it will send wrong messages to donors that the returnees do not care about the kind of life they went through.
Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP), a local non-governmental organization working with former abductees, estimates that over 7,000 children out of over 30,000 who were abducted from northern Uganda are still missing. They could still be in captivity or have since died in captivity.
Speaking on behalf of parents of the returnees, Rwot Peter Lawot of Bwobo clan, to which Mr. Omona belongs, says his family had lost hope that Mr. Omona was still alive in LRA captivity.
“I had lost all hope that Omona was still alive. I want to thank God for guiding him throughout the twenty-three years he remained in LRA captivity”, says Rwot Lawot.
According to the Director of Pathways to Peace Uganda, Mr. David Ochitti-Okech, his organization has so far reunited 87 LRA returnees since 2014 with their families through its reunion and reintegration program.
The Political Commissar of the Fourth UPDF Division, Major Charles Ojatum, says the UPDF did a ‘professional job’ of rescuing the former LRA abductees and that the onus is on the returnees to be law abiding, join government programs like Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) to enable them fit in society.
The paramount King of Acholi Kingdom, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, praised the new NGO, Pathways to Peace Uganda, (P2P) for intervening in peace work where other NGOs had left undone during the peak of the insurgency like reuniting former returnees with their families and family tracing.