Letter: To Acholi MP to be: Why Uganda needs national reconciliation

Reading Time: 10 minutes

By Mwaka Lutukumoi

MWAKA LUTUKUMOI LETTER TO ACHOLI MP TO BE AND NEW BREED OF UGANDA’S LEADERS.

THE LETTER TO MR ORYEM KISSINGER AND UP COMING LEADERS:

Dear Comrade Oryem Kissinger and upcoming leaders;

Grace and peace be with you from the Lord Almighty! You are a candidate for Acholi, but all candidates running in Uganda can pick a leave.

A fortnight ago you passionately wrote to me about your resolve to run for Parliament, Kitgum Municipality 2021.

You are moved by the silence you made over years, the silence good people like you make. Martin Luther King once said “In the end, we will listen not to the words of the enemies but the silence of friends. “and added, “our lives begin to end the moment we keep silent on things that matters”. Your resolve to run is a testament to the above. You are the Acholi friends, a tribe in a crossroad and generational/ leadership threat.

Mr. Oryem, you are not only bold, determined, committed and efficient with integrity, but you are born a leader. When I was posted to Kitgum as Deputy RDC in 2016, you exhibited true leadership as a counselor, helped me to fight corruption which is endemic in Kitgum beside helping me launch KITI NA campaign, cleaning and greening KITI. Changing the weather by planting 2 million trees to improve the socio, economic wellbeing of the people.

Comrade Oryem and all the new breed of leaders coming up in Acholi, you are the future of Acholi, we have lacked leaders and have leadership deficiency. We have leaders who are afraid to groom, work for the people but their next election. Acholi went through decades of trauma, and from war time leaders, we expected pro people leaders with the sole aim of transforming the socio-economic wellbeing of our people to bridge the 3 decades lost. We need leaders who will rally to push for Acholi Agenda, both in government and opposition. Acholi must go beyond emotional politics but demand based. Whether in Government or opposition we must be vigilant to remove the worms from the mushroom. Our ship as a tribe is sinking, and must scuttled, else we will continue being political of Uganda.

The COVID- 19, the poverty and desperation needed a united leadership from Acholi to understand the intentions of our enemies, the enemies we know!

MY MANIFESTO WOULD BE LIKE BELLOW AND I ENCOURAGE THAT YOU CONSIDER.

ACHOLI AGENDA MANIFESTO- MARSHIAL PLAN.

The manifesto informs Acholi’s agenda in parliament representing a post conflict community. Acholi Agenda. To me, the manifesto helps leaders from Acholi to deal with problems of the people, there are two problems we must address. We must create an opportunity for people to earn a living fast, and the second one is to find something of value in our culture and trade. Most of our children and current generation do not know their mother tongue. Therefore culture will be of essense.

NOTE; The North and especially Acholi sub region went through a devastating war. As a Ugandan tribe, it must commit to strengthening the collective capacity of our labor and cooperative movement for peaceful action and negotiations but also strengthening our determination to increase our productivity and contribution to economic development of the country we love so much. Our people know their rights and roles. We as a people will petition the government and the world on enacting a “REPARATION LAW” that will see the main agenda, on Education, Agriculture, Socio Economic transformation, and culture upheld to compensate for the lost 20 years.

Further, the constitution, under the National Objectives and Directive Principles of state policy defines critical duties expected of citizens as follows: a) To be patriotic and loyal to Uganda and to promote its wellbeing;

b) To engage in gainful work for the good of the citizen, the family and the common good, and contribute to national development; c) To contribute to the wellbeing of the community where the citizen lives; d) To promote responsible parenthood; e) To foster national unity and live in harmony with others; f) Promote democracy and the rule of law; g) To acquaint him or herself with the provisions of the constitution and to uphold and defend the constitution and the law preamble. These are a must understand.

REPARATION; Post war laws.

We must note that the conflict in northern Uganda between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) lasted for over 20 years, leading to thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions. Following the 2006 ceasefire in Juba, the internally displaced population either returned to their villages or went to newly established settlements. One outcome of the conflict was the launch of the government’s Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) to tackle the root causes of the conflict and improve the welfare of the people of Northern Uganda. Unfortunately, it became political. The area of operation widened to include districts in central Uganda. This must inform you as a member of parliament to advance the people’s cause.

Youth unemployment has been particularly marked in this region: There has been limited investment due to prolonged insecurity, which has hindered job creation, and where there have been job opportunities, skills development has been damaged due to displacement. In addition, young people have limited access to key assets and are poorly educated. As a result, they depend on subsistence Agriculture and the informal sector for their livelihoods. All these came as a result of herding people for decades in the internally displaced camps. According to the UNICEF report in 2001, over 1.8 million people were forced to live in a sordid situation in camps, with hundreds dying daily of preventable disease. Besides, over thirty thousand (30,000) children are estimated to have been abducted. But these are speculations. The government and NGOs have not taken the trouble to do actual counting from each village, households and local leadership at the grassroots, it could be more. NB Members must ensure this a a necessary research.

Internationally, even the UN sat and watched as the war raged on and people suffered. The war has left devastating effects. It first destroyed the cultural fabric that brought our people together. In 2001, Ian Egeland, UN under Secretary General on children in conflict was amazed to see the suffering of the people of northern Uganda.

He noted, “This is the world’s most forgotten human situation”. This sent a message to the world. The war had many shapes. It evolved from a popular resistance against injustice, revenge war against the people of Dr Milton Obote, Gen Tito Okello, and General Olara Bazilio. The rebel leader who took over Uganda in 1986, General Museveni called it liberation. To date the country celebrates Liberation and Heroes day; the Heroes are not the people who brought independence, but people who killed Ugandans from northern Uganda they blamed for killing Ugandans from the central and west of Uganda. NB; with all these, there is need to pass a law on truth and re-conciliation. Besides, the polarizing celebration of the so-called hero’s day must be stopped.

They award medals and celebrate. This has not only hurt those who lost their children in the different wars but polarized the country. Northern Uganda has had a real row deal and total broken promise of independence time. Uganda is in dire need for truth and National reconciliation and must start with reparation laws benefiting Ugandans who suffered war, murder and group massacre. This includes but is not limited to Acholi, Lango and other tribes that suffered the war.

EFFECTS OF THE WAR.

It must be noted that 77% of Uganda youth according to the data available at Uganda statistics, of the labor force in Uganda is dependent on Agriculture. The North is at almost 90% because of the war. The entire population is dependent on Agriculture. There are many effects besides youth unemployment, but poverty, sickness, poor Agriculture market-fall in prices, lack of education, poor health systems, poor infrastructure, decay in culture, Trauma, hunger etc. There is need for a deliberate policy to ensure various strands together to feed into a regional context of this conflict-sensitive area. Therefore, this will directly fall under your thoughts.

As noted above; the war has had a toll on women, children and youth. Before the war in 1986; each and every household in Acholi had plenty of wealth, in terms of cash, living and nonliving wealth. After 20 years in war, tears and burials, Acholi are now the poorest in Uganda. Poverty perpetuated by the war has brought the following in the Acholi community.

  1. Hunger
  2. Prostitution among young people in town centers.
  3. Increase in suicide rates, in Acholi, suicide has become common. In Pader district in the month of January 2020 alone, according to the versatile Pader Mayor, Mr Wod Acholi Fearles Kilama, 4 people committed suicide. One sad story was because after investing tobacco, the price fell, and he had no hope with many loans he had, he had to die. Many middle men are taking advantage of Acholi farmers. They encourage people to produce a specific product. They set the price and intentionally throw down the price to cheat these vulnerable people. People have been conned, to produce Simsim, cotton, millet etc. NOTE, As a leader, ensure that you reinstitute cooperative societies and pass laws to protect Uganda farmers.
  4. Cutting of trees and depletion of the environment. People because of poverty have resorted to looking for quick money. They have no alternatives.
  5. Alcoholism. Because of poverty, people have resorted to Alcoholism, which also leads to suicide.
  6. Poverty has also led to insecurity, we have seen lots of groups image, from boo kec, to Tumbafu squad to current Agur. Robbing and killing people. It must be noted that Gulu is now a city and only 320KM away from Kampala. Therefore, help in job creation initiatives.
  7. There has been increased sickness. HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B is on the increase. This has led to death and orphans. People tend to be swayed by poverty into prostitution for no option. Besides as leaders, investigate the source and solution to nodding disease.

CULTURAL DECAY.

Acholi culture was so strong that elders would intervene in any case

Cultural decay has led to the following.

  1. It was a Taboo for people to commit incest; today relatives are marrying each other because of dying cultural practice of together., there work hard to participate in revamping culture.
  2. It was a Taboo to cut trees, and for men to become drunkards, today people are even destroying traditional trees like BEYO (Afzelia Africana) and YAA (shea nut trees). The shea trees for charcoal.
  3. People are dying of traditionally treatable disease and conflicts. Acholi had a culture of reconciliation (mato oput), that would solve community conflicts.
  4. Cultural decay has led to land conflicts. Land conflict has seen people killing themselves.

EDUCATION DECAY.

Families were able to educate their children to top most schools. The schools in Acholi like Sir Samuel Baker School, Layibi College, Sacred heart girl’s school, Kitgum High would compete with schools in other parts of Uganda.

  1. Today schools in Acholi district cannot produce one graduate. Quality has died due to war and there are no teachers. There is no motivation.
  2. In Acholi, in a community of ten thousand (10,000) people, you hardly get two graduates today. Even in other parts of Uganda the numbers are few. This has denied the region from having its own people at a professional level. This is dangerous when the country adopts federalism in future as a system of governance.

HEALTH SICK.

As noted, the health system remains poor.

  1. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and other diseases have escalated. A new virus nodding disease has also cropped in, now with negligence of government, like the Ebola time, we now lead Uganda in the pandemic.
  2. Poor maternity services for our women.
  3. Remote areas with poor transportation/infrastructure.
  4. Health insurance for the people needed.

WHAT ACHOLI MPS MUST DO.

KEY FUNCTIONS OF A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT.

There are four (4) major roles of a Member of Parliament.

Legislation

Members debate and pass laws through which the institutions of government Endeavor to guide the country’s process.

Budget Approval/ Appropriation.

Members of Parliament (analyze) and pass (approve) the National Budget every financial year. This is very important, since Uganda , has over 77% of its citizens dependent on Agriculture and over 80% from Acholi region, the allocation was 300billion shillings, just made it to 12trillion shillings (3.2%) in the 2019 budget. It must be their role to advocate for better allocation so that we benefit. Besides, the budget on Education and other key areas.

Oversight

Monitor and bring to the attention of ministers and the public, government misuse of funds, violations of rule of law and unlawful activities. This is a very important role, not to be left with local government and government. Many schools, hospitals and other infrastructures, including salaries for teachers and civil servants, have to be followed. This will be a leadership role to improve service delivery.

Representation

Represent their constituents’ views in Parliament.

MPs bring to the attention of relevant ministers, different matters of national concern. When a member goes and keeps quiet in Parliament it’s a disservice to the people. They must recall these members. A member must at least speak for not less than 100 times in 5years.

In the constituency

Hold consultative meetings with their constituents, update them on the activities of Parliament and government policies, and gather their views and concerns on issues, which affects their livelihood. How many times have your MPs held rallies to follow up on pledges? They come for reelection. MPs must attend district council meetings to understand what their people need/want.

What MPs do not do:-

MPs do not construct or repair roads and bridges in their constituencies.

They also do not build hospitals or schools. Additionally, MPs do not have an obligation to contribute to voters’ weddings and similar activities; or to pay school fees for children or students in their constituencies. But can open up constituency development funds to help these. The divisions, and sub counties should receive financial training through leaders’ initiatives and they should be taught how to mobilize funds for community welfare. This will help repair boreholes, water sources, roads and help pregnant women.

WHAT YOU CAN PRESENT.

  1. PRESENT a motion on reparation. After 20years, 1.8million people lived in camps, no livelihood, no education but desperation. The government must take responsibility, and not only pass a law on children born in captivity, but for the whole region and people. This law will see, preferential openness on education, all children from Acholi and Northern regions be given a bursary from secondary to university and other institutions. It must give economics; capital to the households that suffered in the war. It must facilitate the socio- economic and economic emancipation of the people. It is possible.
  2. Education. As Members of Parliament together with the education sector of the district, civil society and religious people, we set up the Acholi Scholarship Trust for Acholi. All needy, but smart children will study. We will have to increase and lobby for support of vocational schools and promote skilling.
  3. Restocking. Laws on restocking both cows, goats and others will be a priority.
    LEADERSHIP GROOMING AND MENTORSHIP ((Acholi Leadership)

Generation gap, leadership gap.

We deserve and must work for a leadership that is selfless, disciplined, responsible and inspires people to believe in themselves. One that will liberate our thinking past failures and provide leadership to a future of solidarity, dignity and opportunity.

The Nile Divide-created by our colonial and our historical post-independence political conflict and the fact that for a long time the military used in different governments was predominately recruited from Northern Uganda a divide that runs along the River Nile of Uganda pitting the Northern/Eastern Uganda mainly Nilotic peoples on one side and the Western and Central mainly Bantu peoples on the other. With each side of the Nile Divide prejudiced against each other with such negative grading and name calling such as beasts (Bakoko), killers (Batemu), thieves (Lukwo or Bashuma), etc .

Important proverbs.

‘Learn how to see! Realize that everything connects to everything else’ Leonard de Vinci

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing..” Edmund Bburke, 1729-1797

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world”.. Howard Zinn.