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Find Out the Meaning of the Word K-Road in Gulu.

By: David Martin Aliker

On Saturday, Radio Mega 102.1 FM in their program Te-Yat invited me and a few media practioners for a talk show to discuss a report on Gulu male sex workers that is trending on Ugandan social media.

August 20th 2019, The Weekly Observer in their edition had this screaming headline:

Gulu alarmed by rising number of male sex workers.

Their reporting was informed by a news report from Uganda Radio Network (URN), an independent newsagency that supplies news articles and programs to over 40 radio stations and other media platforms in Uganda.

During the discussion, it was observed that while there is a possibility that this vice exists; the reporting was so poor and had glaring editorial gaps.

For instance, the journalist’s audio recording only interviewed a suspected pimp and not a male sex worker as recommended by the local council leader, who fortunately was on the radio program.

The pimp was also not open about their office location which he confirms exists; and the interview with the pimp suspiciously sounded stage managed observed a radio caller.

However, what is in contention is; “Are there male sex workers in Gulu? What does it mean to be a male sex worker?

An elder who never had a chance to call in, reached out to me after the radio program and asked, “Why was K-Road named K-Road?”

While I have used this word numerous times, I have never bothered to find out why that place in Pece Vanguard which is now along Cemetery road was named K-Road.

The elder argued that K-Road is an acronym for Kuma-Road. Kuma  in Acholi means my body but in Kiswahili means a woman’s private parts(The V) which also happens to be her body, was nicknamed K-Road because the Acholi sense of decency not to keep mentioning the “V” word in ordinary every day interaction.

He further shared that in the past, that area was a busy hub for female prostitutes (Malaya) who preyed on male soldiers and police officers who during the insurgencies of the 70s and 80s were the only ones with money to invest in prostitution.

During “hostile business days” when there was less business; a number of this female sex workers preyed on young students who would go on a drinking spree at this hub.

These unscrupulous women with a strong urge for sex would invest in these young boys like preparing delicacies to trap young students. He emphasized that any meal with the ingredients of eggs was on top on its priority menu.

In some situations, these women even paid fees for these students especially the ones who were regulars. In other instances, they were motivated with pocket money or sugar for tea in school which was difficult to find.

These were certainly Sugar Mummies.

If this case study is anything to go by, then male sex workers are not a new phenomenon. What is different is how it’s being practiced today.

Now this raises the question, were these students male sex workers since they benefited from this exercise?

If yes, would you call a lady who is offered transport to go back home after a merry moment a sex worker? Would you classify any economic beneficiary of preferential treatment (gifts) from the opposite sex prior to or in the after math of a sexual encounter sex worker?

What then is the definition of sex workers? According to a World Bank report (2002) on, analysis of HIV prevention programming to prevent HIV transmission during commercial sex in developing countries defined sex workers as:

Women, men and transgendered people who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, and who consciously define those activities as income generating even if they do not consider sex work as their occupation.

According to this definition, receiving transport money or gifts from a grateful and impressed sexual partner after intercourse or before means you are a sex worker.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Sex Worker as: a person whose work involves sexually explicit behavior. It does not dwell much on the commercial purpose of the act like the definition by World Bank.

This implies if you are involved in any sexual explicit behavior whether for commercial gain or not makes you a sex worker.

Your desire alone for sex whether for commercial purpose or not makes you a sex worker yet we all don’t undertake work for commercial purpose. For instance Charity work for the good of others is not commercial in nature.

Work by its nature is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose equally includes sex.

Now, if the definition of sex workers seem to vary according to how one understands it; are there enrolled sex workers who do not know what they are doing is sex work? How then can Gulu leadership deal with a perennial vice that has existed time immemorial?

During the show, there were arguments that this kind of reporting will blur the good image of the new Gulu City to its previous negative narrative. Now, on this Blog (http://www.Lagulu.org) my focus is changing the negative narratives of Gulu and that was partly my argument.

However, in hindsight if we ask the question; is it time to openly talk about sex against our original cultural norms? Is it time to call K-Road by its name and not acronyms? As argued by one of the panelist, if we had denied the presence of Ebola disease, we would not have succeeded to end its spread.

Likewise, it is time to openly discuss this new vices resulting from changing internal migrations patterns, urbanization and old vices in Gulu that culture forbade us from discussing. It’s time to openly talk about sex education to our children since the cosmopolitan nature of this new city cannot make us rely on the cultural roles of aunties and uncles to educate our children. If we don’t, then their peers will.

If our local leaders begin talking openly about trending vices, then institutions mandated on morality like Churches, Ker Kwaro Acholi and the Community Development Officers can begin to prioritize it in their programs.

It’s imperative to note that openly talking about this vices will require facts, information and wisdom if it is to be productive.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu and can be reached on: mdaliker@gmail.com

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MTN EXPO@20: Sergeant Jennifer Nyatoo’s Love and Loyalty to MTN

Jennifer Nyatoo shows her first two MTN Phones

March 15th, 2019 as part of the 20 years in service anniversary celebrations, MTN held a special luncheon for its most loyal pioneer customers who have kept with it for 20 years at Boma Hotel-Gulu

MTN Uganda is all set to start a six-month-long celebration to mark 20 years of operations in Uganda. In 1998, MTN Uganda started operations, entering the Uganda market with an initial license of 20 years. MTN has since successfully applied and has been granted a 10-year extension to its license

The campaign will happen under the theme “Celebrating the past, inspiring the future”

In an exclusive classy and extravagant party in Gulu, to give back to its customers for their loyalty and love, MTN gave out gifts, recognized the contribution of many and accounted for what 20 years means to them.

In attendance other than the MTN dignitaries were Minister Henry Okello Oryem (Minster of State for Foreign Affairs and MP Chwa East), Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Maj. Santo Okot Lapolo.Celebrity Artist Jackie Chandiru, The Queen of the Nile treated her guests to a thrilling show defying odds and promised to get back to the top where she belongs in the music industry.

Today, a phone is a basic human need that even my illiterate grandmother in the village can afford to have and manage. But what did it mean to have a phone 20 years ago?

In this blog, I share with you the testimony of Retired Sergeant Jennifer Nyatoo (Private then) who was so impressed with MTN for loving them back to recognize them and offer them gifts after 20 years.

Jennifer was so thrilled when she received her call inviting her for a party at the Northern Paradise-Boma Hotel. Jennifer said, this call was as important as the call she received on her MTN phone of her promotion to Sergent.

Jennifer then decided to come along to the party with her first two phones. She says, “It was too prestigious to own a phone and as a lady in uniform she had to save her salary and sell her goat to buy her first phone at 180,000/- Uganda Shillings”

Twenty years ago, this was a lot of money as her salary was only 44,050 Uganda Shillings. Since then she has never changed her number. She remains in love with MTN and loyal to their service.

Mario Puzo, an American Author and Journalist once said, “The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” Jennifer’s greatest loyalty has been to her country and to MTN and has won her recognition and respect.

In Jennifer’s life we learn that loyal and love has its own way of rewarding us. Therefore, find something or idea to be loyal to and be patient for it to pay. This could be family and this could as well still be MTN.

Kudos MTN. Congratulations on your 20th Anniversary.

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The Politics of Porridge at Gulu University Guild Race

Gulu University’s Guild Porridge Contest

By David Martin Aliker

In 1996, at the climax of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) conflict, a young ambitious lawyer who had previously been elected President of the then prestigious Makerere University Students Guild Norbert Mao competed against Former Minister Hon. Betty Bigombe.

Norbert Mao recognized that Hon. Betty Bigombe who had the backing of the state had more resources than him and stood a better chance to win in the MP Gulu Municipality elections.

So he designed a strategy coded: “Tuki Iya, Pe Ituki Wiya.”  literally meaning you may play around with my stomach but not my mind in making a decision in this election.

This were times when electorates listened to ideas and Hon. Betty Bigombe lost the election despite governments heavy campaign funding and involvement to influence outcomes of the elections.

A few days ago, students of Gulu University based in the same Gulu Municipality started their campaigns to elect its Students Guild President.

One of its contestants launched his campaign with a porridge contest and all competitors required, was to turn up with a big bowel for porridge.

In his opinion, this is a strategy to unite students of Gulu University and of course feed their empty bellies.

Electorates are currently trying to make sense of this strategy hence this blog post.This has generated a lot of online debate on the strategic nature of his proposition.

As a student, porridge was a preserve for the poor students or low cost colleges as others enjoyed coffee and tea.

It was also offensive for your mind to be referred to as full of porridge for not getting right a simple question.

In any case, the philosophy of porridge is that it may be cool on top but really hot inside. Could this be the real identity of the candidate? Only time will tell.

However, if my experience in the last unsuccessful Gulu Mayoral election is anything to go by; then this is a potentially winning strategy.

We live in unique times where ideas are not necessarily important to win elections but identity with the poorest electorates.

Politically, this is a strategy that immediately gets your message across and introduces you instantly to the electorates.

The candidate is speaking the language of his electorates and there is a possibility that majority of electorates whose lives relate to the porridge philosophy will identify with it.

This could be those from humble backgrounds (read poor) who could be the majority poor students vote.

It’s politically correct to identify with the poor electorates who normally determine the winners of the election since their turn up and commitment is guaranteed.

But step back and get to think it of it; what does this strategy say of the University as a fountain of the intelligentsia of our community? Are ideas still important at our University elections?

In the most likely event that this candidate wins the election, would the public contend that our university students voted for porridge? Is porridge (food) the only thing that unites our University students?

This are not questions that deserves answers but reflections. In most cities, their university is their identity. For instance, University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, University of Nairobi, University of Cape Town. What identity do we want?

This election is not just about the University’s identity but also about the identity of the post war new city-Gulu just like its name Gulu University.

In view of the fact that Hon. Norbert Mao later became a distinguished local and national leader and President of the Democratic Party (a contender of the presidency of the country); the university therefore is where our leaders are natured.

The type of local leaders we will have is exactly what we have produced while at the University.

The author is a blogger based in Gulu and can be reached on mdaliker@gmail.com

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Hon. Okin P.P’s Election Shines a Ray of Hope for Acholi Parliamentary Group (AGP)

Hon.Okin P.P

Early this week, Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) elected Hon. Okin Polly Phillip as its new Chairman.

Hon. Okin P.P is also an elected member of parliament for Chua West County, Kitgum District.

Besides, serving as the Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Local Government Accounts, Hon. Okin will have an uphill task to restore public confidence and cohesion in the current Acholi Parliamentary Group.

Acholi Parliamentary Group was formed in 1989 to address pressing issues that affected Acholi sub-region at the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA insurgency.

The group was essential in brokering peace to return in the region and it currently seeks to lobby for development for the Acholi people.

Bickering and personal vendetta is threatening to split the Acholi Parliamentary Group into two splinter groups.

One group is led by Hon. Odonga Otto, Aruu County Member of Parliament (MP)  and the mainstream is led by Hon. Ogenga Latigo, Agago North Member of Parliament (MP)

As of 2018 out of the 25 members, nine had reportedly left the group and also withdrawn their monthly 200,000 shillings contribution to the group. 

Historically, distinguished Acholi leaders were recognized for the position they took while representing the interest and aspirations of their people.

Ironically, Acholi leaders today are known for their wealth accumulated while in office than causes and ideas they identify with to lead their people.

While past Acholi leaders were selfless, our current leaders are so selfish that they would ask their mothers to strip naked to defend their land but be the first to receive compensation for the same land before their mothers are even dressed.

Distinguished Acholi leaders like Arch Bishop Janani Loum were known for their honesty as a leading voice of the voiceless in criticizing the excesses of President Idi Amin’s regime as he protested against the policies of arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances of civilians and soldiers. 

The death of political leaders like Tiberio Okeny Atwoma, signaled one of the last phases in the end of a golden era of some of the best politicians the Acholi has ever seen. He is remembered as the ‘bulldozer’ who valued human rights.

He is seen by many observers as a hardworking, transparent and honest man who stood his ground no matter the circumstances, to see that human rights are observed.

Cultural leaders like the late Rwot Justine Acana I, the Rwot Payira of Acholi (head of Acholi clan chiefs) left a legendary legacy for protecting land rights of his people at great peril but remained firm even before the adversity of the colonial powers.

So how are we going to remember Acholi leaders of today? Will we remember them for their hotels or the size of the cars they drive?

When shall we see our leaders representing us and still believe they are genuine and not just political merchants bargaining against us behind closed doors where our pedestrian eyes can’t see?

Hon. Okin PP, this is the team you lead today. It is an insurmountable task as we see today and so did the task the great Acholi leaders that I referred to faced in their time.

Hon. Okin PP your election as evidenced on social media brings us a ray of hope that the real purpose of Acholi Parliamentary Group as designed by its founders may take a new trajectory of progress towards Unity and Development.

May the wisdom and intelligence of our forefathers like Tiberio Okeny, who also represented Chua constituency in the 1994 Constituency Assembly that paved the way for the making of the 1995 Uganda Constitution,inspire you to lead Acholi Parliamentary Group to unity and progress of their people.

As you lead Acholi arm yourself with tolerance and endurance to back up the wisdom and intelligence that you have attained from the roots of our ancestry to be resilient as our torchbearer to flush the light of development and unity for Acholi to prosper.

The Acholi Agenda not designed by us but as set by the unique political circumstance we find ourselves in, is the land question in Acholi.

The fate of our land is our fate and that of our children. What you will do and how you will defend it and promote its access for use by our people to enhance development will be the hallmark of your legacy as a leader.

In your team are some great souls with clean hands and intentions, identify them; in your team are elders, tap from their wisdom; in your team are some successful political merchants, win their hearts and tap from their talents, put to good use their talents.

We hope with your leadership, Acholi will constructively engage government on land and the aspiration of the Acholi will be realized.

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Gulu’s Rising Film Industry

Every generation is remembered by the cause they choose to get involved in and how they change its trajectory by taking action.

Gulu experienced a new phenomenon in yet another movie locally made and offering a voice to its youths on their every day experience.

Nuhood Films,Fesivo Pictures and Signature Films are the brains behind this new sensational movies.

The double  movie premier of Save a Mother and Shame of Puberty were a great inspiration that The President General of Uganda’s oldest Party-Democratic Party Hon. Nobert Mao described it as “one of his most unforgettable nights in 2018.”

At 6:00pm the gates were open and rivellers marched straight to a ready backdrop for a photo moment with their new celebrities.

On screen were slides showcasing the shooting of the movies and complements to local supporting organizations.

The MC of the night Lucky Da Ladies Wine was well dressed and kept rivellers wanting more of his jokes as ladies giggled the night away.

Pre-Event Entertainment

The curtain raiser was Gulu’s youngest Hip Hop sensation Young Kemboy. He did renditions of his own song with great stage movement and gestures to the amazement of guests calling himself “bad boy”

There after were guest performances from Cameroon futuring Daughy Fresh, O’Kreezy,CMB of Valley Curve Records.

The Luo Revolution Dancers brought more life to stage with exceptional dancing strokes showing exceptional skills.

Sherry Princess crowned the day with great vocals and lyrics that rivellers sung to as they entertained themselves.

The Movies

Save a Mother is a story of maternal health challenges that mothers go through during deliveries and how simple things like not having Mama Kits could cost their lives. In the movie Daphine dies because she is too poor to afford mama kits and nurses neglect her.

In the second movie, Akello’s puberty experience of menstration makes her drop out of school because they are so poor to afford Medicare and Sanitary pads.

She laters learns to makes cheap re-useable sanitary pads and resumes school and becomes an agent of change..

In both movies the theme of poverty comes out exceedingly well with the help of great actors with strong characters. This indeed is the every day story of the poor living in our communities.

The  Panel Discussion.

This was the climax of the informative and entertaining event.

Guest were treated to great remarks on the film from Stephen Komakech of Irene Gleason Foundation (IGF); and reputable charity worker and Director of Christian Counseling Fellowship(CCF) Achan Alice. She reiterated the commitment of CCF on their mandate to save mothers and support girls to resume school after giving birth. Her message was “Pregnancy or no pregnancy, no girl should be denied access to education.”

In Hon. Mao’s remarks he castigated government on distributing free condoms and failing to distribute free sanitary pads. He said this is practising inequality. “If men and women are equal, why are there no lorries distributing free sanitary pads like they do for condoms” Mao remarked.

Mao also urged local government leaders to support such initiatives of young people.

The moderator of the panel discussion was Stephen Balmoi who did his job with great experience,class and professionalism asking great interview questions.

Over and above, this experience was a true testimony of the power of the film industry in advocacy and how young people can use their talent to voice out their concerns for their community as active and responsible citizens.

The Smiling Panda Bar and Restaurant remains the best venue to premier movies in northern Uganda and as an entertainment spot. Like the sub title of the movie mentioned, no voice raised is too small.

 

 

A Tribute to My Grandfather

Poetry like Prose are expressions of feelings. When faced with sadness or happiness, we sometimes discover our true selves through expressions of our feelings.
Recently, Acholi have been losing elders. They leave this earth with all their wisdom to their graves.But such memories have to be captured in Writings for the future.
Ojok Cornelius has never seen himself as a Writer; more-so as a Poet. But the death of his grandfather Rt. Rev. Canon FY Ogaba inspired him to express himself in writing.
He passed on at the age of 94 yrs.
As an Archdeacon Rt. Rev. Canon FY Ogaba opened 12 new parishes in Gulu to add on the existing 11 that he found. He also elevated a number of deaneries to deaconries
During his service as an Archdeacon, he bought a prime plots within the town centre for the church, one on Olya road, Bidco shop and one on Queens Avenue where the new building is being constructed near former O’café on the left side.
He served as the Chairperson Board for the following schools; Gulu High School, Gulu Senior, Awere SS, Awach SS, Keyo SS, Gulu Primary, Onono Memorial etc.
Below is a Tribute from Ojok Cornelius, his grandson:

The crucifixion of truth
We lie to get food
We lie to get a wife, We lie to get a husband
We lie to get a job, We lie to get business opportunities
We lie to get education, We lie to get a certification
Yes, Nasser Road is a thriving university
Can a house build on sandy foundation last long?
We lie to kill, kill even the unborn
We lie to survive, is it true?
We lie to win elections
We lie to gain favour
Don’t the current rulers have a ministry for lying?
Lies are peddled as information
In my country the best liar wins,
The loser claim threats of death from mafias
Truths are as sporadic as what?
Haven’t you heard liars apologising for speaking the truth?
Who says truth has a forum?
Elections in my country is a lie competition
The most exotic carries the day
Habitually we enjoy lies?
And revere lie peddlers?
Lies are trendy in my motherland
Ask those who clings to the truth like “Koti Khaki”
Is unambitious to say the least
A shrewd liar is a rare talent
He often eats big with “big people”
His success becomes a benchmark to many
After all repeated lies become the truth, Not so?
Don’t ask how 25th became 26th then
The Bible truth has become the sole interpretation of the Bible holder
In all these the Truth is a “Gwok Cuk”,
Yes an old filthy “Market Dog”
The truth is crucified more than Jesus Christ himself
After all we all leave a life of lies
We simply can’t handle the TRUTH!

UBL: Stop Importing Kampala to Gulu

By: David Martin Aliker

On Saturday, 24th 2019, Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) introduced a new sales and entertainment concept dubbed Tusker Neon Wave Concert.

The event was hosted at Acholi Inn with leading performances from Kemishan, Beenie Gunter, and Coco Finger.

Inits program lineup, were 3D Cinema hosted by Almost Famous DJs and fan games.This was all at the cost of 10,000 UGx and you get yourself two bottles ofTusker Lite beer.

Everyshow organized by Uganda Breweries Limited has had a huge audience; but why didthis new concept receive a slow attendance and fun less attendance? Why wasthere no climax in the event?

Inmy opinion, Corporate Companies based in Kampala should stop importing Kampalato Gulu and hope that Gulu will buy into whatever Kampala offers.

Its not that Gulu audience are against anything “Kampala like” but Gulu audience has its unique interests and identities that every business must be aware of whenever it does its branding.

From the inception of the program, one would hear the MC who also doubled as the headline DJ, Crim cry out to minimal success asking his audience to abandon their comfortable beautiful small cozy tents with a superb set up and join him nearer to the stage.

One would ask, where are these zealous crazy UBL audiences whose life time dream is to be within reach of leading artists and feel their fingers or stand a chance to receive free corporate goodies?

This was strategically a mistake because those taking selfies and cuddling at this beautiful set up are the corporates of Gulu who are never excited by being by the stage nor within access to free corporate T-Shirts but getting entertained,looking cool and keeping to themselves as they dialogue, cuddle and make merry at the backdrop of a great show from a distance.

Unfortunately, MC Crims request had a few guests show up by the stage ruining the beautiful scenes by the small tents which would have benefited from photogenic moments in spite of the minimal number at the beginning of the show.

Thefew who showed up by the stage and interacted with the artists would surelyplay poorly to its image or branding as what the camera would cover onlydefines a poorly attended show.

At one point, the MC who seems more proficient in Luganda than English in an effort to find out whether revelers were enjoying the show asked, “how is it? A guest on microphone answered, “It is going inside” literally losely translated in Acholi to mean Tye Kadonyo which of course as an imagery means am enjoying but could mean something else both in English and Acholi.

He eventually won himself a T-Shirt. But why would you stress a man who has come to relax his mind by speaking a language he is not conversant with when you can hire a multi lingual Mc?

Again, in my opinion it’s simply because Kampala corporate companies don’t respect local content but prefer to just use certain characters only to identify with local content even when northern artists could be cheaper, more reliable and popular with personal fan base and more entertaining.

Let’sget back to absence of revelers whose life time goal is keep by the stage tofeel the fingers of their leading artist and receive free corporate goodies.

Onthe same day, legendary local music promoter Juma Jummie had a show at his lowcost venue at Da Link.

Juma strategically invited his guests to a free show as long as they would buy a drink. His headline artist included Gulu’s greatest names like Eezy, Polite Mosco, Judas Rap Knowledge and Eddy Wizzy to mention but a few.

How else would one explain why a local businessman would out compete a leading brewery company in the country?

The logic is very simple; we love our artist and identify with them. So if you intend to brand your product to Gulu people, why would you not identify with their identities and interests?

The choice of which artists would sell your brand is very important especially when marketing a new product to a conservative audience.

While I have alot of musical respect for the line artists, I would imagine blending them with local artists would get their branding home.

The DJ notices this important fact and keeps mentioning Coco Fingers name to maintain his audience only to create an impression he is the biggest artist with a northern identity only to sacrifice Beenie Ganter who can not say he had a good show in Gulu.

If only, Kampala Corporate Companies can learn to respect northern Uganda artisans not only will they stop cheating their loyal customers of value for money but also be able to sell their brands to the intended audience.

Definitely,Juma stole the show because he understood his market base and identified withit as a smart business man. He knew these artists have a big following andbasic advert would get him the desired business target.

Like all shows, massive advertising is important. In a place like Gulu, there is no better advert like word of mouth.

However, to receive this recommendation one must first access information through all forms of outlets.

TheTusker Lite Neon wave concert was poorly advertised and marketed like on astring budget. It had no noticeable presence on radio and the different socialmedia platforms or posters except for banners and not strategically placed.This possibly was for a week than the recommended two weeks or a month.

Experiencehas shown that there are young folks that informally run the banner businesses.If you know them and rely on them, you get your word out; if you ignore them,you risk your business. For them, it’s a way of life and not just anopportunity cost.

Last but not least, Gulu market is totally a different market with its uniqueness. It runs on impression. This impression is created by certain characters or businesses that locals have over the years relied on for what they consider worth value for their money.

UBL has not learnt from its previous experience when street gangsters (Aguu) disrupted the Bell Show at Acholi Inn, in protest for their desire for local content. I certainly don’t support impunity of any kind but as a business person I care about potential risk factors especially in events management.

However, its prudent to ask, why does UBL hate northern Uganda local artist so much that even at home they dont get a chance on their platform?

Certainly, from how the event was organized with poor show of  local content, some careful guests preferred to keep safe than risk again another insensitive UBL promotions.

Conclusively, while the show had a slow turn up; certainly in comparison to the UBL shows in Mbale and Kampala and the level of beer sales which is the prime purpose of marketing, UBL could still do better.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu and a reputable consumer of Bell Beer. He can be reached on: mdaliker@gmail.com

Gulu Arch Diocese Failing its Own Catholic Schools

Gulu Cathedral

By David Martin Aliker

On Saturday August 10th, 2019 Sacred Heart Old Girls Association (SHOGA) organized a re-union for its Alumni Association.

Notably, on their list of invite were Bishop Angelo Negri College Old Students’ Executives, Layibi College Old Students Association (Layisco) Executives, Sacred Heart School Senior Citizens, Sacred Heart School Alumni Members of Parliament and Alumni Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde .

In the program, the incoming leader of the old girls Association lamented, just like the Minister the poor performance of the school as compared to their time at the school.

They then launched a fundraising drive to renovate their sick bay to ensure students get better medical services.

While, I am tempted to dwell on the historical rivalry between Layibi College and Bishop Angelo Negri College students over Sacred Heart Girls; this competition at our time included academic performance.

Recently, most Alumni Associations of historical schools are beginning to question what has gone wrong with their schools. This is inspiring them to come together as associations to support their schools retain their lost glory.

The obvious questions in their minds despite the lamentation were: Why are all former Catholic Schools a shadow of its self in its academic performance? Who is responsible? What should be done?

Two decades ago, most of this Catholic Schools were being managed by White Verona Catholic Nuns or Priests or Comboni Missionaries.

They excelled in educating the poor as much as the rich but now, even the poor shun them. Has Gulu Arch diocese failed in its previous commitment to educate the poor?

 Is this poor performance a result of a change in the leadership structure of the Arch diocese from Missionaries to diocesan priests?

To answer all this questions, I will in my Blog posts share my thoughts and experiences on these key issues as a former employee of the church and as a Catholic who attended most of his education at the level of Nursery, Primary and Ordinary Level education under Catholic Church Schools.

The intention of this blog posts will be to tickle and inspire catholic stake holders to publicly, openly and responsibly SPEAK UP about the poor state of catholic schools in Gulu Arch Diocese.

To begin with, I would like to commend Gulu Arch diocese for doing a commendable job during the conflict and working hard to inspire peace to prevail in the aftermath of the two decade conflict.

I also commend Gulu Arch diocese for its sacrifice and continuity despite the challenges experienced during the days of conflict where some Catechist, Priest and Nuns lost their lives.

Now that there is a normalcy, the question of who is responsible for the poor performance of Catholic Church Schools in the Arch diocese? And why are our schools a shadow of its previous academic excellence lies precisely in my opinion with the leadership of Gulu Arch Diocese.

Gulu Arch diocese is directly responsible for quality of education in Catholic schools in the diocese. While government has taken over some schools; Gulu Arch Diocese is still responsible for ensuring an accountable and transparent leadership in catholic schools.

At the highest level of accountability in the Catholic schools; the system of accountability in the Catholic Church structure in the diocese has broken down.

The Arch Diocese is responsible for identifying, reviewing and recruiting members of the Board of Directors in all this schools.

The Catholic Church in its wisdom rewards loyalty hence most families that have served over time from their great grandparents easily stand a chance to serve in these boards irrespective of their competence and record of performance. They are only accountable to their Patrons and not performance.

This are the same personalities despite the numerous young talented and competent members within the diocese, they recommend to 2 to 3 other catholic schools hence sharing their inadequate competence in 2 to 3 other catholic schools hence uniform challenges of mismanagement in all this schools.

A case in point, a senior Head teacher is recommended to lead the Board in one school and his contemporary in the same school is recommended to head the Board in his school. Over the years, there has been no noticeable improvement nor have any yardsticks of measuring progress been put in place but their positions remain guaranteed.

How do they account to each other? How do they offer checks and balance to financial management and human resource management procedures in the school. Technically, they are all scratching each other’s backs.

In essence, it’s the same Board that recruits teachers which more often than not is related in one way or another to their former colleagues in the diocese in these challenging times of employment. Hence, the loyalty and accountability of these teachers are to the conservative catholic culture of “promoting and protecting our own.”

It’s the same teachers that recruit students of known catholic families irrespective of their performance in the school. These students are not as much accountable to the less influential prefects and teachers, but to the influential teachers whose influence is from family loyalty to the diocesan system of patronage.

In conclusion, the system of accountability and responsibility within Gulu archdiocese is failing the education sector in the diocese. No amount of effort from Alumni Associations can improve the performance in Catholic schools for as long as the diocese cannot ensure an accountable and transparent system of leadership in Gulu Arch Diocese education department.

Once leadership is addressed within the education sector in the diocese and accountability is enforced by both the diocese and other school stake holders like Alumni Associations, Parents and Teachers Associations, education performance in catholic schools in the diocese will improve.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu and can be reached at mdaliker@gmail.com

Gulu Gets New Digital X-ray Equipment

Dr. Drale Desmond attends to a patient

By David Martin Aliker

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that two-thirds of the planet does not have access to basic radiology services: simple x-rays, which can show a cracked bone or lung infection, and ultrasounds, which use sound waves to picture a growing fetus, track blood flow, or guide a biopsy.

Early this year (2019), the death toll on Kampala-Gulu Highway between January and March had reached 32 reports Daily Monitor. If the death toll in 3 months is 32; what will be the number of survivors in the last 6 months? Try and imagine the number of survivors who would succumb to death if the traditional x-ray method which takes time and has a higher margin of error was the only means of scanning their injuries?

Gulu Medical Imaging Consultants have purchased new digital x-ray equipment worth approximately 150 million shillings.

This is the first clinic in Acholi Sub- Region to invest in digital x-ray equipment. It can serve more than 80 patients in an hour.

Traditionally, to carry out an x-ray on patients; medics would have to operate in a dark room, take pictures and use chemicals to process the film in order to make a diagnosis.

The challenge with traditional x-ray systems is that the margin of error is high depending on one’s expertise in mixing chemicals and there is possibilities that the picture may not be clear hence misdiagnoses.

It also takes a lot of time to traditionally carry out an x-ray on patients besides the inconvenience of keeping the traditional x-ray films in big envelops.

A Digital radiography / X-ray is a form of X-ray imaging, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film.

Its advantages include time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and enhance images.

This computerized Radiography (CR ) system consists of an image reader/digitizer, cassettes containing imaging receptors (photostimulable-phosphor plates), a computer console or workstation, software, monitors, and a printer. Imaging plates are inserted in a radiographic table’s cassette holder and images are acquired using the x-ray system.

Computed radiography (CR) cassettes use photo-stimulated luminescence screens to capture the X-ray image, instead of traditional X-ray film.

Digital x-rays benefit the patient in a variety of ways. Decreased radiation, clearer image quality for diagnosis, and less wait time for the patients.

According to Dr. Drale Desmond,” Gulu Medical Imaging Consultants can directly share scanned images with any medical institution with digital x-ray equipment without having to print the scans because it uses digital image and communication (DICOM).systems”

Digital x-rays have picture archiving and communication systems to review and compare results to even see an improvement ones sickness.

“Our plan is to improve access to imaging medical services to the community and this equipment makes work easier for us to carry out an x-ray in two minutes.” remarked Dr. Desmond.

Unlike other big medical institutions, the costs of their services are exceedingly low depending on the nature of sicknesses. The cost ranges from 20,000UGX to 250,000 UGX.

This is majorly to service the equipment and maintain the workforce otherwise most patients are unable to afford the cost of digital x-ray services.

Therefore, if you have any health related challenges especially with your bones or internal body parts that need scanning; visit their facility on Acholi road in Gulu and get served by the best radiologists in town.

Gulu Medical Imaging Consultants prides itself as having the highest level of expertise on radiography in northern Uganda with a dedicated and passionate team to serve you.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu and can be reached on mdaliker@gmail.com

Acholi Must Initiate Acholi Education Trust Fund.m

Anena Harriet receives the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature

By David Martin Aliker

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” President Nelson Mandela

Last year, Ugandan social media was trending with the story of Anena Harriet.

Harriet is the first Ugandan to win the biennial writing prize, awarded to the continent’s best writers.

She won herself the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. From a total of 110 submissions from 11 nations in Africa, two works of poetry stood out this year. One of them is by a Ugandan – Harriet Anena.

A few months ago, Harriet Anena again was trending in Uganda’s social media for being admitted to the prestigious Columbia University’s MFA writing program.

However, this time round she was not granted financial aid. Apparently, she is singing, dancing, reciting poems and writing to strangers begging for people of good will to come to her aid and sponsor her $100,000 bill for her education.

Similarly, another writer with a familiar background Anena Mercy; a Senior One student who excelled in her Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) like Anena Harriet is writing to any person of good will to aid her education.

She has written to the Chairman LC V of Nwoya District to forge away to support her education because she does not want to drop out of school. Unfortunately, the LCV Chairman seem overwhelmed and not able to help.

My District Nwoya is nationally known for the worst performance in Primary Leaving Examinations. It also has one of the highest drop out rates with an increasingly terrifying story of early child marriage and child labour.

My bet is unlike Anena Harriet who possibly had parents, Anena Mercy will be part of the statistics of increased school drop out rates, increased statistics of early pregnancies and of course early child labour in the next two years unless a God sent good samaritan comes her way.

Certainly, Anena Mercy is walking in the footsteps of Anena Harriet and may become our next winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

For now, a few social media enthusiasts have paid up her fees for a year.My experience in sponsorship programs is that this is never sustainable and open to abuse.

But as a country, why would an intelligent girl like Anena Harriet and Anena Mercy; intelligent as they are beg to realize their full potential if we live in a merit based society?

Secondly, why would a young intelligent orphan ask for a favor from the District LCV Chairman whom she barely knows; yet as a country we are signatory to international frameworks like The Dakar Framework of April 2000 that binds us to the education for all dream?

This country is blessed with great opportunities and programs that should come to the aid of such girls instead of waiting until they bring national pride and we are not even ashamed to identify with them.

There are thousands of scholarship opportunities; from state house scholarships, district scholarships to non for profit scholarships but the problem is that it is not merit based.

Instead of waiting for our dysfunctional political state structures to come to the aid of such intelligent youngsters, the community need to focus on local community initiatives that are within their scrutiny like Children Up, Dero Kwan by Mega Fm, Invisible Children Uganda, Acholi Education Initiative and faith based institutional scholarships to educate the poor.

Acholi Sub Region should emulate their brothers in West Nile with West Nile Education Trust Fund to mobilize the community to stand for itself to initiate a publicly transparent merit based Acholi Education Trust Fund to support the likes of Anena Mercy and others.

When we wanted a football stadium, we surprised ourselves and mobilized enough resources locally and rebuilt Pece Stadium to host East African Secondary School games without government support. Today, the FUFA Drum in Pece Stadium is the biggest uniting factor in northern Uganda and so should the education of our children.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu

Gulu Gets First Beauty and Fashion International College

By David Martin Aliker

Be sure what you want and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong. Adriana Lima

As a Corporate Master ofCeremony (MC) based in Gulu, northern Uganda, I have noticed that mostcorporate weddings in northern Uganda hire the services of Kampala FashionDesigners and Beauticians. Why are are we not confident of our own fashiondesigners and beauticians?

A wedding is a lifetimemilestone that most times happens only once in a life time. Imagine yourwedding as the most important day in your life and your beautician fails toshow up from Kampala or you fail to make it for your wedding because of theoften public transport challenges we all experience on Gulu-Kampala road?

While northern Uganda doesnot lack talented fashion designers and beauticians, those in Kampala havedeveloped a professional brand to their business.

Beauticians and fashiondesigners like any profession thrive on training to develop expertise.

Unfortunately, the mindsetin northern Uganda is that fashion designers and beauticians are for Kampalaslay queens who don’t mind looking like stray girls of the night life.

Emilliana Fashion andBeauty International College is the first of its kind established in Gulu,northern Uganda to train professional fashion designers and beauticians thatcan meet the demand of northern Uganda’s international guests and Residents.The School is located in Pece Division, African Quarters, Musa Ali Road, Plot5.Gulu Municipal.

Class in progress

In one year, they havealready enrolled 68 students for its two years program with support fromComboni Samaritans and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).

The School offers UgandaNational Examination Board recognized Diploma in 2 years and 1 Year certificatecourse.

Its fees structure likeany other secondary school in northern Uganda is affordable. Students areexpected to pay six hundred thousand Shillings (600,000/=) per term for itsdiploma program and four hundred and fifty thousand (450,000) for certificatecourses. Students are expected to bring along their own requirements.

The School also offers dayand evening programs to enable those who are working to join them and learn howto make extra money from their passions.

“We hope to trainbeauticians and fashion designers who understand people’s shape and skin colorfor makeups and dressing.” remarked one of the school administrators.

The schools greatestchallenge is that some instructors have to travel from Kampala because northernUganda does not have qualified and experienced instructors for Cosmetology andfashion and design.

However, in two yearsgraduates from this school stand a chance of getting employed in the schooldepending on their passions and performance.

In the meantime, theschool is partnering with Tina International School of Beauty in Kampala.

“I got inspired to jointhis school because every time I pay for a beauty therapy artist to work on mynails and make up; most of them are from Kampala and I keep imagining how muchthey make to keep them in the business in northern Uganda.” remarked Brenda astudent and former graduate of Gulu University.

According to the CollegeDirector, more local beauticians and fashion designers need to be more creativeand professional. She encourages people to join the fashion and beauty world tobe able to create more jobs and compete with the rest of the world.

Emilliana Fashion andBeauty International School was privileged a few months ago to be visited byMiss Uganda in her regional tours and she encouraged them to show case Beautyfrom northern Uganda to the world.

Finally, Gianni Versace anItalian fashion designer once said, “Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashionown you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way youdress and the way to live.” Emilliana Fashion and Beauty InternationalSchool is here to enable us express ourselves by way of dressing and beauty.

For inquiries, you canreach out to Emiliana Fashion and Beauty International School at: Email: Emillianafashion497@gmail.com

Tel: 0780956888

The author is a Blogger basedin Gulu and can be reached on mdaliker@gmail.com

FUFA DRUM: ACCOUNTABILITY Vs IMPUNITY DEBATE!

Poster Advertising Acholi Vs West Nile Game

By David Martin Aliker

In the last one week, there has been a great concern on accountability for the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) Drum football games between Teams Acholi and West Nile.

Acholi Technical Management Committee (TMC) released a financial report to FUFA that seem to contradict the report they gave to their fans.

On Sunday, Team Lango that played against Buganda and had a good attendance but in a clear observation was less than the attendance at Pece Stadium when Acholi Province played against West Nile Province.

Lango TMC declared that they raised eighty one million shillings (81m) while previously Acholi TMC declared sixty one million shillings (61m).

There is no doubt that Acholi Province Technical Management Committee (TMC) is a very competent, hard working group of passionate volunteers. They have over time done commendable work with the highest level of integrity and dignity.

But this time round, there is a lot of doubt, distrust and low public opinion of their accountability.

Many fans who think they care about the future of the game think, this issue should be ignored and it should be business as usual. But another school of thought who stand impunity can’t think this issue should be challenged and that Acholi TMC should come clean.

Acholi TMC has in their ranks very reputable public characters with unique public standing hence the confidence entrusted to them to lead Acholi Province. The individual silence of these personalities on the issue of accountability who are reputed for honesty is so loud. Is this all about collective responsibility or it’s because ‘fish begins to rot from the head?

Tomorrow is Thursday, TMCs proposed date for a comprehensive accountability. Other than figures, these are issues that can guide you to restore public confidence.

Lapeny pe labal is a proverb in Acholi. Since it’s not wrong to ask questions; I have 10 questions that should enhance accountability.

10 Questions to TMC

In 2009, American Rapper 50 Cents played a song titled 21 Questions. In the lyrics of the song, he asked,” Would you love me if I was down and out? Its 2019 and 10 years since he played the song and I have only 10 questions after which TMC can ask,” Would you love me if I was down and out?.

  1. Other than the sealed FUFA tickets, where there any other an authorized printed tickets?
  2. In your report to FUFA, it was signed by one Makmot. Was he permitted to act on your behalf or he impersonated as a member of Acholi TMC?
  3. Did you write receipts on making payments to all your volunteers?
  4. One 04 served you as sales representative and claims his remittance has not been reflected in your accountability. Is it true he handed to you as a team 2.8million Shillings?
  5. Did TMC permit all the sales persons (volunteers inclusive) and sales points? If not who were your official delegated sales persons?
  6. Did Acholi TMC approve the financial report sent to FUFA on its letter head signed by your representative Lamex?
  7. Is it true that your bouncers were paid at different rates with no receipts and requested not to speak up with the corporate bouncers? If so, who did you delegate to make payments?
  8. In your FUFA report, it indicates you paid for a public address system at 1.2 million shillings. Is this true? If so, which service provider?
  9. Did Acholi TMC delegate a member to receive money from MPs on its behalf? If so, has it been reflected in your official report to FUFA?
  10. Was money counted, saved and disbursed from Gulu District Council in accordance to your plan?

In the event that most answers to this questions is a YES, then its only imperative that the responsible persons have to ask the fans the same question, Would you love me if I was down and out? To answer this question one has to also question their own morality whether they stand for impunity or against impunity.

Mahatma Ghandi once said, “It’s wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” While the public may never hold any volunteers to be criminally liable; the reputation of this members if proven so  remains dented as corrupt and undeserving members of this society and what the leadership decides to do after failing to meet public confidence is how it will be remembered in the future.

Author is a Blogger based in Gulu.

How Football is Uniting Northern Uganda.

By David Martin Aliker

Last Sunday, more than five hundred Acholi football fans travelled to Lira to support their Langi brothers who were competing against Buganda at the FUFA Drum football competition.

This was to reciprocate the gesture by Lango football fans who previously came in a big number to support Acholi as they played against Westnile.

In both games Lango and Acholi lost to their visiting teams but the fans never lost but gained more love and friendship from each other.

The FUFA Drum is an idea inspired by the management of football in the country to inspire unity and love for football in the country.

But where did this love for each other between Acholi fans and Lango fans begin ?

A year ago, in the first FUFA Drum football competition between Teams Acholi and Lango that took place in Lira; something unique happened after the host team Lango lost.

A business woman famously known as Arao Susan who owns Gastapo Bar at Ojok Oyite lane in Lira in the company of her bar patrons invited successful Acholi fans to her bar and freely offered them 6 crates of beer.

The fans who were organizing to travel back to Gulu decided to extend the time of their journey back home.

This gesture moved the fans to party mood and the celebration went on till late. As the party went on, other bars that loved the good gesture invited Acholi fans and hosted them to more partying.

In return, Acholi fans from their base in Guru Guru Bar in cemetery road decided to reciprocate the gesture and host Lango fans to a two day party after a return match and this sparked great love.

It’s important to note that historically,there were hard feelings between the two ethnic groups since the Langi blamed Acholi for bringing down a government led by their own son President Milton Obote.

But this simple gesture of a drink is changing the narrative of this two ethnic groups that have so much in common to agree about than to disagree on.

Prior to the match last Sunday, Acholi team that was playing in Karamoja passed by and delivered a gift of a bull to their Langi counterparts after they felt indebted to the huge support they gained from their Langi counterparts when they played Westnile.

During last Sunday’s celebrations in Lira, Gastapo again pioneered a platform on WhatsApp and called it Acholi/Lango Platform to keep and maintain the harmonious relationship currently shared among this two ethnic groups.

Already, Westnile is in the hook. When Acholi hosted them a few weeks ago, despite losing Acholi Paramount Chief hosted them to a party and many mini parties were organized by fans in love with each other.

Unexpectedly, this party took two days and now they are planning to keep the love at all cost.

It’s also important to note that historically, Westnile had nostalgic feelings about the Acholi for perpetuating atrocities in the past regime blaming Acholi military leaders for especially the Ombaci Masacre while Acholi leaders blamed them for the killings by President Amins soldiers. Amin hailed from Westnile.

All this unfortunate narratives have been broken down by football.

It’s important to note that this new initiative has no formal structure of leadership. It’s like any informal grassroots movement that desires a leadership with a clear idea on how to nature and promote and protect this new found love.

In conclusion, the love for football has united the north and enabled them to put to past their unfortunate history. Every one’s biggest fear is politicians and the electoral season that is due. Every generation chooses how it ought to be remembered. Northern Uganda should shun any one who will come in between this unity and love for each other.

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu.

Gulu to Plant One Million Trees Every Planting Season

By David Martin Aliker

Today Gulu which will soon turn into a city is celebrating for the first time World Environment Day.

CEED Uganda organized a community dialogue with support from GIZ in partnership with Gulu District Local Government, Ker Kwaro Acholi, Advance Africa,Gulu University and Afrigreen Sustain.

The theme of the dialogue is: Fight Air Pollution to Protect Human Health and Environment.

A few days ago, great pictures of a green Gulu captured the attention of the nation.

Social media was awash with praises and complements for Gulu’s leadership. But how prepared is the district to keep Gulu Green and it’s zero tolerance to its air pollution? How can Gulu engage its community to promote and protect its environment in a sustainable manner in view of the prevailing large scale tree cutting for commercial purpose?

According to World Health Organization (WHO) Ugandans are more likely to die from air pollution than those in Tanzania, Rwanda, and twice as likely as those in Kenya.

Uganda lacks real-time, sufficient and publicly accessible air quality monitoring network. Scarcity of reliable data and air pollution exposure information is a major issue in Uganda.

Air pollution in Uganda is driven by rapid urbanization and population growth in urban areas.

Uganda’s dirty air is characterized by smoke from car exhaust, industry, residential trash burning, road dust, and soot from indoor biomass-fuelled cookstoves for cooking.

Air pollution in Uganda has reached worrying levels and exposes people to health risks.

The number of respiratory tract infections has soared in the recent past – a warning that air pollution is rapidly becoming a serious environmental threat.

Several studies have linked mounting respiratory tract infections such as asthma and chronic bronchitis to air pollution.

The effects can be extremely serious. Research shows a connection between air pollution and lung cancer, and suggests it may contribute to childhood mortality.

Gulu District is currently one of the leading districts in the country’s urbanization process with a high influx of internal migration.

Way forward

Gulu District is already working on an ordinance to manage its environment in a very sustainable way. Ker Kwaro Acholi in partnership with Gulu District Local Government is commendably working on this ordinance, it’s challenges not withstanding. The involvement and participation of the community remains a major challenge for the community to own up to this idea.

The Program Director of Ceed Uganda, Benard Loum speaking at this event on behalf of the commitment of civil society made a pronouncement that they commit to ensuring that one million tress are planted every planting season.

Just like other cities around the world, Gulu must ban the most polluting cars from entering city centers as its zero-emission zones and regulate its urban transport system. It must also promote the use of environmentally friendly cooking stoves and abolish random residential trash burning in the city.

As we celebrate World Environment Day, Gulu must move from talking to action. There is need to involve the cultural institutions and grassroots organizations on how to promote, protect and restore the environment.

The Blogger is an Author and member of Gulu Writers Club

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