UGANDA: ACHOLI NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON DEVELOPMENT AGENDA AND HEALING WOUNDS OF WARS

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Author of the ANC concept, Ms. Christine Akello Lutara (in black dress), flanked by some members of LOC.

After a bloody five-year military campaign, Mr. Museveni took over power on January 26, 1986, and, while swearing in, he is quoted to have said that his takeover was‘not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change’.

“We make up only 3% of the national population. But our tribulations have forced many of our brightest and best to flee our homeland, seeking refuge, rest and opportunity in Europe, USA, Canada and even Asia draining us of the numbers and skills that we so desperately need. All this is not paranoia”

GULU-UGANDA:When Uganda’s first Dictator, President Idi Amin, came in the political limelight by overthrowing Dr. Apollo Milton Obote on January 25, 1971, he took Acholi ethnic group as his number one enemies. He killed thousands of the elite Acholi sons who were holding high offices, including Archbishop Janani Luwum, whom he killed on February 16, 1977.

Thousands others fled into exile in Europe, America and Australia from where they acquired education and are prospering. Others went to Tanzania to join Dr. Obote from where they led the war which eventually saw the end of Idi Amin on April 11, 1979 with the help of Tanzania.

When Dr. Obote bounced back as president following the 1980 general election, he recruited thousands more into his short-lived government army as the current Dictator; General Yoweri Museveni, took up arms to fight Obote’s government on February 6, 1981.

After a bloody five-year military campaign, Mr. Museveni took over power on January 26, 1986, and, while swearing in, he is quoted to have said that his takeover was ‘not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change’.

Since he took over the leadership of this country in 1986, Northern Uganda, especially Acholi sub-region has never been the same again. Over 1.2 innocent people were herded into concentration camps from where for over two decades lived in abject poverty, living on handouts from non-governmental organizations.

Thousands again fled to exile for greener pastures and running away from the insurgencies which rocked the region from 1986. Those who remained behind lost their livelihood, especially cattle wealth. Social services, education, health and infrastructures were destroyed by the over two decade insurgencies.

When people returned to their homesteads after guns fell silent in 2007, a good percent of the working age bracket, which missed on education, did not know the value of land or knew how to utilize it to make money through farming. Many turned to alcohol, gambling and drug abuse. The region is still engulfed in abject poverty despite the rich fertile land.

It is with this in the mind of an Acholi girl, Ms. Christine Akello Lutara, penned an open later to all Acholi elites on Food Friday, April 19, 2019 calling for  conference to sort out the mess in Acholi.

“We make up only 3% of the national population. But our tribulations have forced many of our brightest and best to flee our homeland, seeking refuge, rest and opportunity in Europe, USA, Canada and even Asia draining us of the numbers and skills that we so desperately need. All this is not paranoia”, she wrote in her eight-page open letter.

According to the concept note organizers wants the conference to be a platform for the Acholi to discuss and agree on their goals and aspirations for the development of their people and sub-region.

“Our aim is to host a nonpartisan, all-inclusive conference that will offer the Acholi people, as a constituent part of the Nation of Uganda, the opportunity to articulate and formulate an agenda that will inform their internal decision making, and also their engagements with Government and other development partners”, says the concept note in parts.

This concept of Acholi National Conference (ANC) was unveiled to the media in Gulu by members of the Local Organizing Committee, led by the chairperson and author of the concept note, Ms. Christine Akello Lutara on Thursday, September 4, 2019. It is slated for Thursday December 19, 2019 to Saturday, December 21, 2019 at Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu district. It is expected to attract at least 3000 participants drawn from both the Acholi from the Diaspora and those from within the country.

“We have been in prolonged insurgency where the kind of disorder is enormous. When a group of community comes out of a similar situation, there is always chaos. The war is on; our children lack basic education, health care and the backbone of the economy is in shambles. Some of us sat down and asked ourselves how our people can come out of the situation”, says Vice Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, Mr. Timothy Jokkene Okee.

The budget of about shs.360 million (about US$10,000) for the three day conference is expected to be met by contributions from the local community and contributions from those from the Diaspora without handout from government to avoid influencing the proceedings of the conference.

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