Why Ugandans Tolerate Acholi Genocide

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Ugandans must wake up and not behave like the proverbial ostrich or the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, because what has happened in Acholiland during the last 20 years could one day repeat itself elsewhere in our country.

[Africa: Op-Ed]

In Uganda the Acholi had suffered widespread resentment in recent years—especially from the Bantu of southern and western Uganda.

In the West Nile region the Acholi are resented because they are associated with the horrendous human rights atrocities committed by the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) for six years following the overthrow of the notorious dictator Idi Amin Dada on 11 April 1979. It is unfortunate that a whole populace could be associated with crimes committed by an army that, not withstanding, contained mostly Acholis.

There is also some resentment within the Acholi community. For example, some locals of Kitgum are not fond of Acholis from Gulu although both are of the same Acholi ethnic group. 

At a time when Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) leadership is busy committing genocide in Northern Uganda, one would think the Acholi would bury their internal differences and stand united to face their common enemies—the National Resistance Army, now known as Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF).

Such divisions between Gulu and Kitgum in a tragic way plays into the hands of their enemy.

The Langi, who speak Lwo like the Acholi, blame the Acholi faction of the UNLA, led by the late General Tito Okello and the late General Bazilio Olara Okello, for overthrowing Milton Obote’s second regime on July 27th 1985, which paved the way for the bandits of NRA to take over the reins of power on January 25th

1986. Obote had prophetically warned Acholi elders at a stormy meeting held at the Nile Hotel in July 1985 before his downfall that, if they overthrew the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) government which he led, they would suffer more than they have ever done in Uganda’s history. 

Only the late Otema Allimadi, who was then prime minister, among the senior Acholi in government at that time, stood by the late President Obote. Some Acholi elders mocked him by alleging that after all he was a Madi, not a pure Acholi.

The Banyankole/Baganda alliance, a.k.a NRA/NRM, which launched and fought the Luwero bush war from 1981 to 1986 was inspired, founded and sustained by their common resentment of the Acholi in particular and northerners in general. That alliance is now falling apart as all dubious deals made on this earth eventually do; but the enduring legacy of the NRA/NRM is the shameless and short-sighted revival and use of ethnicity as a means to achieve political ends; which act will haunt Uganda for a long time.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that as the genocide in Northern Uganda continues to unfold, most Ugandans could not care less? Most Ugandans have chosen to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the gross human rights violations committed jointly, in Acholiland, by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and UPDF.

Both combatants are responsible for the genocide in Northern Uganda. The International Criminal Court (ICC) must hold the LRA, the UPDF and, especially the permanent leader of the NRM, accountable for the thousands of men, women and children who have suffered and perished in Acholiland since 1986.

Ernesto Che Guevara once said that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. Hence, a leader who is motivated by hatred and greed is a false revolutionary and a fraud. This is the inconvenient truth about the hatemonger and self-proclaimed visionary leader of the NRM, a man who has taken Ugandans for a ride for 21 long years.

Ugandans must wake up and not behave like the proverbial ostrich or the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, because what has happened in Acholiland during the last 20 years could one day repeat itself elsewhere in our country.  We are all our brothers’ keeper and must play an active role in putting an end to the despicable and obnoxious human rights situation in Northern Uganda. 

The tragedy of Acholiland must not be seen as some form of poetic justice, because the vast majority of the Acholi people are innocent of the atrocities committed by the undisciplined UNLA in Luwero, the West Nile region, Lango and elsewhere in Uganda.

Too many Ugandans wrongly believe that the Acholi deserve what they have gone through during the last 21 years. This explains, to a large extent, why the enormous suffering inflicted upon the Acholi people by the LRA and the UPDF has not met with universal condemnation at the national as well as international level. 

It is time to call a spade a spade and put an end to the conspiracy of silence about the genocide in Northern Uganda. The culprits of this crime against humanity must not be allowed to get away with their evil deeds by holding so-called “peace talks” in order to exonerate themselves from the just anger of the vast majority of the people of Uganda.

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