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?

UGANDA: GULU UNIVERSITY REMAINS “LANDLESS” AS LAND OWNERS AND LEADERS PLAY PING-PONG

Below; Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Professor George Openjuru-Ladaah, one of the four candidates in line to succeed retiring Professor Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi addressing the media after the interview recently. Will he make change?

PROF. LADAAH“A major development like this cannot be done without land. You cannot build a house in the air”

“He is just corrupt and incompetent. Why do you want more land when you have failed to utilize the one provided for you? Let him utilize the 92 hectares we gave them first and we shall give more land. If he can’t, we hope the one who will succeed him will get more of the forest land”

GULU-UGANDA: In June 2001, Uganda government set up a task-force which was headed by former legislator from Acholi, Professor Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi, with the aim of establishing an Agricultural and Environmental public university in Gulu Municipality, northern Uganda.

The Gulu University opened its doors to students a year later, in 2002, at the then Gulu District Farm Institute, pending getting its own land around the Farm Institute, with the same Professor as its founding Vice Chancellor.

According to Prof. Pen Mogi, the new university drew up a Master Plan for infrastructural development and accordingly he put forward a request to local authorities for 742 hectares of land around the temporary site. This is a densely populated area.

Fifteen years down the road, the University has not been able to get the kind of land it wanted because, in the professor’s own words, the leadership in Gulu “came with negative political messages”, which has affected the vision of the university.

“A major development like this cannot be done without land. You cannot build a house in the air”, he says on Tuesday, 20 June, 2017, adding, “I appeal to the Acholi Community to leave the land and government compensates them”.

Professor Pen Mogi, who admits he is media shy, was addressing members of the press from his boardroom on the revised number of hectare the university wants around the Farm Institute from 742 to just 315 hectares of land.

“The new district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, has been helping us since he became the chairman of Gulu. However, his problem, like mine, was caused by previous leadership when one of them stated in a public forum that modern universities do not need 742 hectares of land. Others even said they will campaign hard to make sure that the university doesn’t get the land it wants. These kinds of remarks are historical poisons. We are disappointed by our leaders and they are the source of our frustrations”, says Pen Mogi.

Pen Mogi accused local leaders of politicking over the university land, saying some of them allege that he wants such swatch of land for President Yoweri Museveni. He says if leaders don’t give land to the university in Gulu Municipality in the next three months, then he will be forced to transfer some university courses like Chemical Engineering and Tourism & Hospitality to Nwoya district, where the university have been donated some large swaths of land.

He revealed that the university has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Italian company, FESTO C.T.E, a scientific company, to construct a $146 million facility for the two new programs on a loan payable in fifteen years.

“Going to Nwoya is not what we had wanted but we cannot just sit to wait how we shall move. We shall wait for two or three months for their responses. If they don’t respond, we shall be forced move to Nwoya”, says Pen Mogi, whose three-year-term expires at the end of 2017.

However, according to the Mayor of Gulu Municipality, Mr. George Labeja, who says the blame for the university not getting land rests squarely in the hands of the Vice Chancellor.

He reveals that the Municipal Council requested National Forest Authority (NFA) to de-gazette part of the forest land within the Municipality and give it to the University, but Professor Pen Mogi failed to utilize the 92 hectares of land given to the university in 2012. He says instead of building university structures to international standards, the university administration decided to lease out part of the 92 hectares to a private developer who constructed a flat for accommodations.

“He is just corrupt and incompetent. Why do you want more land when you have failed to utilize the one given to you? Let him utilize the 92 hectares we gave them and we shall give more land. If he can’t we hope the one who will succeed him will get more of the forest land”, says the Mayor.

Meanwhile four candidates have been selected to compete for the position of the University Vice Chancellor, which falls vacant at the end of 2017. Those selected include the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor George Openjuru Ladaah, Professor Byaruhanga Rukooka, Professor Paul Wako and Professor Joseph Obua.

According to the University Deputy Public Relation Officer, Mr. Mahmud Khelil, the programs/courses at the University include Medicine, Agriculture & Environment, Law, Science Education, Humanities, Business Development, Peace & Strategic Studies, among others. Graduates of Medicine and Agriculture &Environment compete very favorably with other public universities in the job market while Peace & Strategic Studies program attracts the least number of students.

Alumni’s testimonies

Mr. Genesis Acaye (30), graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 2011 and a Master of Science in Applied Tropical Entomology & Parasitological Science in 2017.

He says the biggest challenges he faced while at University includes inadequate practical facilities and laboratories, lack of funding opportunities for research and innovation and lack of hands on skill experience.

Mr. Acaye, who works as an Agricultural Extension worker with an NGO, says he wants to go for further studies and to do more Research and Innovation so as to “solve the challenges that are facing the Agricultural sector in Uganda”. His wife, Sarah Amarorwot (24), who graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Education majoring English and Literature in English, also wants to go for further studies and write novels.

 

 

 

 

UGANDA CHIEF JUSTICE DESCRIBES CORRUPTION AS A “CANCER” AS LAWYER PLEADS FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE

 

Ugandachief justice (1)

Uganda Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, addressing litigants and stake holders on JLOS in Gulu recently.

“I want a ‘corrupt free Judiciary’ during my tenure, because corruption is a “cancer” that is eating away the heart of our country and we must address it as Ugandans.”

“There is evidence of inefficiency, incompetence, and corruption in the judiciary and unethical conduct by members of the bar.”

GULU-UGANDA: Uganda’s Chief Justice, Justice Bart M. Katureebe, has described corruption in Uganda, especially in the Judiciary, as a “cancer” that is eating away the hearts of the country and appeals to Ugandans to address it.

“I want a ‘corrupt free Judiciary’ during my tenure as Chief Justice because corruption is a “cancer” that is eating away the heart of our country and we must address it as Ugandans”, says the Uganda Judiciary boss.

Mr. Katureebe made this observation on Thursday, 15 June, 2017, during his maiden visit to northern Uganda during the “court open day” session held in the Gulu High Court Circuit. This is an annual event which brings together members of the public/litigants and all the stakeholders involved in Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS). The meeting is meant to discuss matters affecting the administration of Justice in Uganda, and how to address such matters.

Transparency International reports in 2015 that Uganda’s widespread corruption is highlighted in the country’s poor ranking, 139th out of 167 countries, in the Corruption Perception Barometer. Pernicious effects stretch from sub-standard public services through elections and the judiciary to stunted economic development.

“There is evidence of inefficiency, incompetence, and corruption in the judiciary and unethical conduct by members of the bar”, reports retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice George Kanyeihamba in 2015.

Black Monday Movement, an anti-corruption coalition of civil societies in Uganda, estimates that the government lost more than 24 trillion Uganda shillings ($6.8 million dollars) to corruption between 2000 and 2014. This is enough to finance Uganda’s 2015/2016 budget. (ActionAid Uganda 2015).

The Chief Justice says he decided to come to Gulu to listen and learn the troubles affecting the judiciary in the troubled Acholi sub-region in order to fast tract solutions to such problems.

“I have come here this time as Chief Justice to listen and learn about the troubles affecting the judiciary in the troubled Acholi sub-region so that together, we can fast tract solutions to such problems. I want to find out why, Acholi sub-region with a troubled history in the country have attracted the largest crowd I have ever seen on a one “Open Court Session”, says Justice Katureebe.

Mr. Walter Okidi-Ladwar, one of the practicing advocates in the region, reported that 90% (percent) of the youths growing up in Acholi sub-region were born in concentration (Internally Displaced Persons’ -(IDP) camps or in captivity, who have been prepared by the situation for crimes such as defilements.

“They have been prepared for crime right from birth. They are becoming full-time criminals. Our systems seem to be destroying them instead. It is a passionate problem in the region which is on the door steps of the judiciary to solve. There is urgent need for a rehabilitation center in Gulu”, says lawyer Ladwar.

According to the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Gulu, Mr. Santos Okot-Lapolo, there are “corridor magistrates” who are causing damage to the image of the judiciary because they get bribes from clients/litigants. He said such criminals in the judiciary are responsible for backlog of cases, re-cycling of hard core criminals in society, poor investigation and the emergence of mob-justice.

“You should strengthen security of the facilities around your courts.  They are responsible for re-cycling of criminals by the courts and interfere with investigations and the emergence of mob-justice by frustrated members of society”, says Mr. Okot-Lapolo.

Mr. Lapolo reported that 90% of all cases in the Gulu High Court circuit are related to land disputes and that there is a land case which has taken 18 years and to date it has not yet been resolved.

Mr. Katureebe (67), has been a State Attorney for eight years, private practice for ten years, in parliament thirteen years and as Minister of Justice and Attorney General for five years. He appealed to parliament to increase the budget for the judiciary so that his ministry could recruit more staffs.

 

 

 

 

 

“UGANDA SAVANNAH HONEY” TAKES WIDOWED MARGARET OGABA TO PLACES AROUND THE WORLD

 

Margaret Ogaba

Ms. Margaret Ogaba, shows some of the “oduru tree fruits”, one of the indigenous trees, whose flowers are liked by bees.

“For processed honey to qualify as organic honey, the apiary must not be located in areas where there is an intensive agricultural practice where pesticides are used or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) food crops are grown”

“Whether we in Africa process “organic honey” or not is not an issue here, because when we take our processed honey to exhibitions, people always run for our Uganda Savannah Honey”

LAMWO-UGANDA: On Monday, June 12, 2017 at her family farm at Palabek Kal in Lamwo district in northern Uganda, I sat Ms. Margret Ogaba, who has been widowed since the 1970’s, to talk about her honey business, for which she is known all over the world by its brand name: “Uganda Savannah Honey”.

“Whether we in Africa, process “organic honey” or not is not an issue here, because when we take our processed honey to exhibitions, people always run for our Uganda Savannah Honey”, says Ms. Ogaba to my inquiries whether her Savannah honey is classified as organic or not.

For processed honey to qualify as organic honey, the apiary must not be located in areas where there is an intensive agricultural practice where pesticides are used or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) food crops are grown.

Such apiary must be located where living organisms in the soil, natural trees such as Shea-nut trees and other planted tree species like Teak or Acacia to supplement the natural trees are in abundance.

“Look as far as your eyes can see! What you see are only natural trees and some farmland where my neighbors grow some food crops, but this is not intensive agricultural practices. When bees from my hives travel for nectar from flowering trees, they don’t come back with contaminated nectar and therefore don’t affect the quality of the honey I process” says Ms. Ogaba.

Just as she was finishing the statement, her phone rings. I could hear her making appointment to supply the caller, who lives in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, located about 300 miles (over 400 Kilometers) away.

“Even within Uganda, I travel a lot between home and Kampala. To ensure quality product to the satisfaction of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), I have only three employees helping me in the process of processing. This particular caller wants me to take for him some honey to Kampala in two week’s time”, she proudly says.

Ms. Ogaba packs her honey in 300 grams, 500 grams, one kilogram and five-liter containers. She is currently looking for additional capital to inject in small packets of one tablespoon for hotels, airlines and hospitals.

“I look forward to the day when I can acquire more equipment like Manual Centrifugal Honey Extractor and packing materials which can pack only one table spoonful to enable me supply hotels, hospitals and airlines with Uganda Savannah Honey”

Ms. Ogaba, who a member of The International Bee Keeping Association (Apimondia), has visited several countries around the world including Belgium, Slovenia, France, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Ukraine, Britain, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda promoting and selling her honey.

She has received four technical awards as the most outstanding African lady Bee Keeper who is inspiring other women to involve themselves in bee-keeping for rural development.

“Traditionally, bee-keeping has always been a male dominated activity. When I first started bee-keeping in 1981 when I left teaching job for farming, some people used to despise me arguing; why are you taking on bee-keeping as you are a mere woman? I want to inspire other women to join the trade”, says Ms. Ogaba.

She is also a life-member of the International Honey Show Exhibition which brings together exhibitors from all over the world which takes place every autumn.

“I have gained a lot since I learnt the trade from my mother, the late Naomi Olana Langoya and my late uncle, Andrea Ono. I have made friends all over the world with whom I always network”, asserts Ms. Ogaba.

Some of the challenges she and other bee-keepers in Africa face includes mites/diseases which reduces the number of bees in a colony, expensive improved bee-hives, vandalism, theft, lack of equipments and the fact that African bees are not easily adoptive to the new bee-hives.

“Our bees are dying because Bee diseases which are affecting our hives. The problem of bees dying was not there twenty years ago. I got only one ton of honey this season, yet I used to harvest over three tons every season”, she concludes the interview.

 

 

 

 

 

UGANDAN SOLDIER ALLEDGES BRIBERY FOR ONE TO BE DEPLOYED IN SOMALIA

 

UPDF Brass Band

UPDF brass band in action: President Museveni has devised ways to occupy redandant soldiers.

“Soldiers pay up to one million shillings in order to be deployed in Somalia on a one-year contract. But for us in units, it is better because if they want to deploy a particular unit, all soldiers in that unit are deployed without any bribe to the officers at the Chief of Personnel and Administration (CPA) office”

 

GULU-UGANDA: Two weeks ago, I had a very rare opportunity to hold a one-on-one interview with a Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier who has so far served in three foreign military missions against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in South Sudan and Central African Republic and Al-Shaabab in Somalia.

Lance-Corporal Kumbuka (not real name) a thirty years old officer serving in 65th Battalion of the UPDF, says most soldiers who are not in basic units like his Battalion, bribe senior officers in order to be deployed in lucrative but deadly Somalia mission. He says the minimum these officers charge is one million Uganda shillings (about $300 US dollars) for every soldier not in regular units.

“Soldiers pay up to one million shillings in order to be deployed in Somalia on a one-year contract. But for us in units, it is better because if they want to deploy a particular unit, all soldiers in that unit are deployed without any bribe to the officer at the Chief of Personnel and Administration (CPA) office”, says Mr. Kumbuka.

A UPDF soldier at the lowest rank of private earns less than $100 dollars (shs.310, 000.00) per month but the soldier who gets deployed in Somalia gets a net allowance of 17 million Uganda shillings (about $4,280.00 dollars) for the one year contract plus additional per diem of $100 per month.

According to Mr. Kumbuka, CPA office in Kampala has paid him only $300 dollars for three months’ per diem instead of $1200.00 dollars for the service he rendered in 2015 in Somalia and that he is still claiming a total balance of $900.00.

Mr. Kumbuka says although the leadership still owes him $900.00 dollars, he has managed to buy a piece of land in the village where he built a four roomed house for his family and continues paying fees for his children and siblings with the little he received for his service in Somalia.

“Without the deployment in Somali, I wouldn’t have been able to buy land, build a four roomed house and still be able to pay fees for my children and other siblings. Government should consider increasing soldiers’ salaries to a minimum of shillings 500,000 (about $150 US dollars)”, says Mr. Kumbuka.

He revealed that soldiers, who served in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Central African Republic (CAR) to hunt the elusive LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders, don’t get the kind of pay those deployed in Somalia get.

United States of America has been spending millions of dollars yearly since late 2000s in military assistance to help the government of Museveni capture or kill Kony after the US gazetted the LRA as a terrorist organization.

Because of such assistance, Uganda has been able to deploy its troops outside the country to countries such as DRC, South Sudan and CAR in its effort to get Kony.

Troops deployed here do not get benefits of being deployed outside Uganda as their counterparts serving in Somalia against Al-Shaabab. Mr. Kumbuka says he supports the position of the new American President, Donald Trump, on withdrawal of support to hunt down the LRA in CAR.

“It is good for us if we (UPDF) were withdrawn from CAR. It will enable us rest a bit. We shall wait for them (LRA) from within our country”, says Kumbuka.

A day in the life of a Ugandan soldier in Somalia Mission

A Ugandan soldier serving in Somalia begins his or her daily routine at 5.00 am local time with foot patrols around the defense up to 7.00 am local time where soldiers move in groups of 20-30 soldiers.

After 7.00 am they return to the defense to wait for situation reports, “sitreps” from informants and reports of any bomb scare for follow up. Lunch is served at 1.00 pm.

Another important role of such soldier is to go and receive and escort convoys of friendly forces to enable them reach safely to their bases; otherwise they just sit around the defense doing nothing in particular.