UGANDA: WAR RAVAGED GULU “CITY” HOSTS EAST AFRICA SCHOOL GAMES

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Acholi cultural Leader, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, second right, visits rehabilitation works on Pece War Memorial stadium.

“I have travelled across the length and breadth and have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of that caliber that I do not think we  would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural  heritage and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the African think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”-Lord Macaulay is quoted to have said.

GULU-UGANDA: Although the northern Uganda colonial regional city of Gulu was ravaged, and nearly destroyed by wars between the army of President Yoweri Museveni and the various rebel groups opposed to his government between 1986 and 2006, the city has since transformed and ready to host the East Africa Secondary Schools Games, come August 17- 27, 2017.

This game brings together secondary school champions from the East African Community member states of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Burundi and South Sudan.

About six thousand visitors are expected in Gulu to grace the games, where Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni, is expected to officially open it on Monday August 20, 2017. His wife, also minister of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Ms. Janet Museveni, will close on August 27, 2017.

The city has been undergoing rehabilitation works for the last ten years following cessation of hostilities and signing of permanent ceasefire between the warring parties in 2006. New investors are putting up structures and setting up businesses while the government is concentrating on infrastructural rehabilitation of schools, roads, health units and markets among others.

The last facility in Gulu which has been neglected by the government is Pece War Memorial Stadium, the main venue of the games. It is now undergoing a 700 million shillings (about $197,000 dollars) rehabilitation using contributions from the local community, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the business community readying it for the school games.

As you read this, the government has not yet contributed any money towards the rehabilitation of the Sports facility, built by the British Legion in 1956, which has a seating capacity of 3,000 fans, yet the game is two days away.

The site Engineer, Engineer Gideon Gumusireza, says rehabilitation works on the stadium still needs about shs.100 million shillings (about $28000 dollars) to complete.

“Hosting this event means a lot for Gulu and we cannot run away from it” Gulu district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, is quoted to have said in a local media. He is the man behind the rehabilitation works, which started about six months ago.

St. Joseph’s College Layibi, where a shs.300 million ($84000 dollars) swimming pool has been specially constructed for the games, and Sacred Heart Girls’ School, are the two other venues where the sportsmen and women will reside during the championship.

“People can now run on the track. We are left with lining the lanes where athletes will run”, says retired FIFA referee, Mr. Dennis Ojwee, who is the technical advisor to the committee rehabilitating the stadium on Tuesday August 15, 2017.

Mr. Ojwee says the main disciplines which will take place at the stadium are only athletics. Other disciplines will be held elsewhere in schools and other public places within the municipality.

Gulu, which is a cosmopolitan town, has a population of 152,276 people, according to the 2014 Census report. People speak mostly the local Luo dialect, English, Luganda and Kiswahili languages.

The name “Gulu” comes from a luo name for a “pot”, a reference to Gulu’s location in the depression of pre-historic floodplain.

Acholi cultural leader, Rwot David Onen-Acana II visited the site where rehabilitation work was going on, on Thursday August 10, 2017 and praised the local community for donating generously towards the rehabilitation of the stadium.

He says such unity should be replicated to other developmental works in the region on self-help basis instead of relying on government, which is not reliable at all times.

“This is a good sign of development. If we come together, we can make things work. Let this good gesture not end with the rehabilitation of Pece stadium alone. This is how we shall chase away poverty from the community”, says Rwot Acana.

President Yoweri Museveni must have read what Lord Macaulay told the British Parliamentarians in 1835 that if you destroy Acholi culture and their self esteem then “they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”

Just give ten more years of peace in Acholi, and then the region will look quite different from the time when rebellion ended ten years ago.

Their lost glory will be fully restored.

 

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