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.


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


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.


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.



Striker Tito Okello Eyeing Uganda Cranes Dream.

Tito Okello after scoring against West Nile

By David Martin Aliker

Saturday 11th, 2019 as Manchester City was tussling it out with Liverpool to determine who the Champions of English Premier League 2018/2019 were; in Uganda’s Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) Drum, Acholi were playing West Nile in a thrilling match at the Green Light Stadium in Arua.

More than one thousand fans from Acholi traveled for more than 4 hours to Arua to witness this clash with last years’ runners up in the FUFA Drum Tournament.

Ordinarily, local football fans would have preferred to watch Manchester City play against Liverpool in the English Premiership League finals but something was different; a new breed of local football stars locally groomed had inspired a new sensation with local football under FUFA’s Drum Football Initiative.

The FUFA Drum is a football competition that is played by the 16 provinces of Uganda and is aimed at taking the game to the masses and its theme is ‘Celebrating Our Ancestry’

The FUFA Drum second edition is getting more exciting by the day as top contenders are losing in the first rounds and it may in the end; prove to be the most thrilling since the tournament’s inception last year.

One such player is a lanky center forward Tito Okello alias OT9 (1996) currently plying his trade for Vipers Football Club (Vipers FC).

Previously, Tito has played at Bul F.C (Jinja), Tanzanian duo of African Lyon and Mbeya City (Tanzania) as well as the reigning Uganda Premier league champions Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA).

Humble Beginnings

Like all stars with humble beginnings, their past is rarely known as they strive to become stars.

As a pupil of UNIFAT Primary School, Tito was a young and tiny player known for playing among the big boys at Kaunda Grounds in an Under 12 program by Alliance for African Assistance, a local charity with a focus on children.

In June 2004 when Trevor Dudley, the founder of Kampala Kids League (KKL) launched another league in Gulu; Tito got the opportunity to play in the Gulu Kids League (GKL) and excelled.

After the tournament, the Diocesan Football Club (D.F.C) identified him and recruited Tito to their club.

While at Diocesan Football Club, Tito was invited to join Gulu University Club then Coached by Peter Onen (Bul F.C) to participate in the Regional League.

It’s at this stage that Gulu University Football Club joined the big league but Tito would then win himself a slot at a real professional contract paid up league of players at Bul F.C where Peter Onen currently is Coach.

From Bul F.C, Tito got his first international opportunity to play for the Tanzanian duo of African Lyon and Mbeya City (Tanzania) and eventually returned to Uganda Premier league champions Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA).

It’s from KCCA that Tito had a brief stint in Asia with China based top football club, House of Sport Lisboae Benfica (Benfica De Macau) and eventually back to Uganda’s Vipers F.C with a focus on a national duty.

Cranes Dream

In October 2016, Tito told a Chimps Report journalist that,” I am working hard to put myself in the best shape possible not only for the team but also to catch the eye of the national team bench”

If this dream is anything to go by, then Uganda National Team Head Coach Sébastien Desabre must know that Tito’s eyes are on him and his team.

As evidenced, Tito has matured in the game and gained the much needed experience, talents and spectacular skills for national duty.

Patriotic Tito seem to have had his eyes on a national call up since resigning his professional stint in China and returning to play in the top national premier league.

Tito currently leads the scoring chart with 4 goals, with 1 goal against Karamoja, 2 goals against Bunyoro and 1 goal against West Nile where he also won the Man of the Match FUFA Awards.He has scored in all Drum 2019 matches.

As Uganda braces itself to play hosts and record tournament winners Egypt in group A alongside Zimbabwe and two-time African Cup of Nations (AFCON) winners Democratic Republic of Congo (winners in 1968 and 1974); there is a hungry Elephant waiting to blow its trumpet in Egypt.

The author is a Gulu Blogger and a member of Gulu Writers Club

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com

Why You Must Attend Ceed’s Gulu Go Green Marathon

Gulu Go Green,2019

By Aliker David Martin

Historically, the geographical place called Gulu was believed to have acquired its name from its environment.

It is reported that around 1910, a British man stood under a thick hermaphroditic Olam tree and asked for the name of the place with a fig tree (Olam) of the species of ficus sycamores which can live up to 800 years.

It’s at this point that water used to flow making that noise gulugulugulugulu….This water flowed from underground, and flowed north all the way to Oyitino dam, the storage site for today’s  Gulu municipal water supply.

It is his limited words that made him capture the historical moment by referring to the place in reference to the noise water made that gave Gulu its name.

Gulu will be hosting its second conference in a month on its environment on 26th April, 2019 organized by Ceed in partnership with Gulu District Local Government (GDLG).

Ceed is a non for profit organization that seeks to empower young people to become the most positive change agents in their communities.

Last week, April 11th -12th, 2019 Cambridge Centre of African Studies, Makerere University School of Social Sciences, Gulu University, Human Rights Focus (Gulu), and the Centre for African Research (Gulu) hosted a major international conference on Rethinking Sustainable

Development from Northern Uganda  at Bomah Hotel, Gulu.

So why is the environment becoming of interest to Gulu’s academia, NGOs and the people of Gulu?

Post-war northern Uganda is facing a multidimensional environmental crisis at present, involving deforestation, land grabbing, destructive resource extraction, unsustainable urbanization and climate change.

Environmental justice has been ignored by post-war transitional justice, peace-building, and reconstruction agendas among key actors, graft is getting deeply rooted in the regulation of these environmental crimes and valuable tree species like Shea nut trees and Afrizelia Africana (Beyo) trees are being destroyed.(Arthur Owor,2019)

A year ago, I opined in Chimpreports an Online News Source my opinion on, “Climate Change: Gulu Going Green in Preparation for City Status.”

In this article, I reiterated that Gulu Municipal had started the process of integrating its Green City Action Plan into its Development Plan.

Gulu Municipality through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) in partnership with Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) were piloting the green growth model of development to develop the Gulu Green Growth Action Plan (GGGAP) to integrate green growth in its Strategic Development Plan (SDP)

This included mainstreaming climate adaptation and mitigation strategies into all aspects of the municipal policies, planning and projects; and incorporating policies to help implement the municipal’s plans for high-density urban development into all sectors and to integrate social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects into housing policies.

Ceed therefore, intends to complement Gulu Municipal’s efforts in the process of integrating its Green City Action Plan into a reality

In its third edition of the annual Gulu Go Green Conference for the 2019, its rallying theme is “Carbon Offset, Our Responsibility”.

So what is our responsibility as stakeholders?

Our responsibility is to act now to avert the negative consequences of climate change and make Gulu city a Green City.

You can act now by attending the conference scheduled for Friday 26th, April 2019 from 2:00 pm-5:00pm at Boma Hotel in Gulu.

Other than the conference, you may register to participate in the Gulu Go Green Marathon on 28th April, 2019 to create awareness on Greening Gulu.

Finally, the Gulu Go Green Campaign is a community’s call to live in an environmentally friendly place in line with the city’s vision of a Transformed, Industrial, Hospitable and Sustainable City.

So attend the marathon and receive seedlings and at the convenience of your home, plant a tree in your compound every year and conserve the environment to make Gulu a Green City.

The Author is a Blogger Based in Gulu and a member of Gulu Writers Club(GWC)

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com

Gulu Gets its First Lingerie Only Shop

XO’s Lingerie World in Gulu

By Aliker David Martin

Ugandan media a few weeks ago was awash with debates on Miss Curvy contest and how it can promote Tourism.
The State Minister for Tourism Mr. Kawanda Godfrey Ssubi supported this event by saying, “Uganda’s Miss Curvy is meant to promote beauty in diversity.”
Uganda is honestly blessed with well curved beautiful women with big boobs and booty.

But where do they find fitting bras and underpants?
Have you ever imagined up country where our sizable ladies find fitting bras and underpants. Certainly, their plight is left to the indignity of buying second hand bras and underpants bought in bails and never bought in the open.
Their sense of fashion and design is more reason to think ladies from up country barely understand the latest fashion and design.
A few Chinese nylon new panties are also an option in the market sold by vendors at the park and road side markets.
According to an online health expert, a healthy lady should replace her underwear every three to five months.
As Gulu gears up to become a city, this will no more be the plight of your sizable and model looking ladies.
XO’s Lingerie World has opened its doors to ladies who appreciate and understand trending Lingerie.
Last Sunday, XO’s Lingerie World launched its products at O’café Open Mic Sunday Show.
A group of Models were identified to showcase the beauty of having this Lingerie on; giving its guests new meaning in looking great inside as well as outside.
If a lady feels good when well dressed from the outside, how good does it feel to look and feel good both in and out?
XO’s Lingerie World product variety includes: matching bras and panties in all sizes and wide variety of fashions, shape wear, swimwear, nightwear and hosiery.
In the event that your preference is unavailable, it takes them two weeks to import their products from the UK.
This products can be found in their shop above Sinabel Super Market.

The CEO of XO’s Lingerie World, who also doubles as the CEO of Artisan Apparel -Uganda Ketty Promise says,”They intend to redefine Lingerie fashion and design up north of Uganda.”

She also says, their next event will be to show case men’s Lingerie.
It’s price ratings are: panty sets are 130.000, single panties range from 10k to 20k bras in different sizes range from 50,000, 80,000, 100,000, 150,000, swimsuits 40,000 upwards, nighties from 50,000 upwards.
While this costing may worry a hand out minded post conflict community, the life style industry is not for your every day hassle but trending and fashion geek slay queens .
Besides, one wonders how much would you pay to avoid the indignity of a second hand bra or panties that possibly has lost shape.
Why not regain back your pride and freedom to dress how you feel by avoiding products that sends butterflies in your stomach when shopping by the road side and a passer-by can’t allow you the freedom to make a choice.
The Easter Season is at hand and the Open Mic Festival is scheduled for 20th April,2019.

It’s also a moment for gifts and surprises.
The men who like to see them on should love to pay for them too. Change the tide in your relationship surprise your loved ones with a trending Lingerie from XO’s Lingerie World.

XO’s Lingerie Products

The author is a Blogger based in Gulu

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com

Article Review: Assessing the Health Risks of Consuming ‘Sachet’ Alcohol in Acoli, Uganda

By Aliker David Martin

Last week, Daily Monitor reported on a Study that found deadly metals in sachet Waragi sold in Acholi. 

This is a scientific scholarly article of more ten thousand words in over than twenty pages

In this blog post, my intention is to review this scholarly article to a more user friendly and shorter article. 

Since it’s a scientific report and I am from the arts orientation, there is a higher chance I would not digest this reading in totality but hope to make meaning from it like any literate.

The Research article, “Assessing the health risks of consuming ‘sachet’ alcohol in Acoli, Uganda” is the work of 3 distinguished scholars. 

Other than Tom Juma whose original nationality is not known to the blogger, Ochan Otim (PhD) and Dr.Olara Otunu are Ugandans hailing from Acholi sub region. 

The blogger believes this could have inspired their interest in this research in view of the fact that the authors received no particular funding from any publicly known research funding agency for this research.

The scholars Ochan Otim (PhD) is from the Department of Humanities and Sciences, University of California—Los Angeles, California. 

Tom Juma identifies with the Environmental Monitoring Division, City of Los Angeles, Playa Del Rey, California.

Olara Otunu is Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, New York, New York, United States of America respectively and former President of Uganda People’s Party (UPC).

Catherine Haighton, Northumbria University, UK of Plos One Journal edited this work. Plos One is a nonprofit open-access science, technology and medicine publisher, innovator and advocacy organization with a library of open-access journals and other scientific literature under an open-content license.


As an introduction, the scholars opin that the sub-Saharan countries of Africa are currently experiencing an increase in adult mortality partly believed to be due to the heavy consumption of cheaply and widely available spirits in the region. Acholi sub region is referred to as a case in point.

To define the context of their research, the authors use Acholi sub region as their sample study area and share details on the Acholi demography.

The conflict background of the Acholi community is also placed into perspectives. This later helps to illustrate the factors driving alcohol production and consumption in Acoli.

In comparison, the scholars argue that historically, the cultural or recreational consumption of alcoholic beverages (wholly unrefined or ‘opaque beers’ in current lexicon) in Acoli was a highly controlled social affair, going as far back as the ‘discovery’ of fermentation (immortalized in a classic Acoli play Yom Cwiny Oneko Latina–Generosity Kills the Generous One.)

They further argue that  most of the opaque beers (lacoi/ malwa  and kwete in Uganda, and several in Tanzania are not only rich in nutrients , but also have no known side effects.

However in today’s industrial world of technology, the scholars argue that these opaque beers have been largely replaced by industrially distilled and blended spirits sold in easily affordable sachets or tots. Ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the main intoxicant in the sachets, has no known nutritional values, but has strong physiological effects. 

They further reiterate that the sachets/tot packaged spirits do not only have higher concentrations of ethanol than the opaque beers (up to 40% by volume), but contain toxic metals and organic pollutants as well (unpublished material), or blended with toxic substances by unscrupulous producers and sellers of alcohol.

Ethanol, a prime health risk suspect

In justifying their research on Ethanol (alcohol) as a prime health risk suspect responsible for the increased mortality rate in Acoli, the scholars argue that the well established research evidence on causal relationships between alcohol consumption and cancer of the larynx, and liver is reason good enough for this study.

Study design 

In their study design, the main goal of the study was to initiate an investigation into the link between alcohol consumption and health risk in Uganda in general and Acholi region in particular. 

Their approach was to assess the health risk associated with consuming heavy metal contaminated alcoholic products sold to the former internment camp residences.

The hopes and aspiration of these scholars is that their findings will help authorities in Uganda in developing the necessary and appropriate alcohol quality assurance standards and enforcement policies to minimize health risks associated with unsafe alcohol consumption.

Materials and methods

In this study, the methodology was intensely scientific and statistical in nature. Thirteen brands of 100-mlsachet-packaged spirits were used for this study. 

These purchases were done without attempts to pick true random samples because of the logistical challenges and the restrictions encountered in attempts to collect representative samples of the sachet types sold and consumed in the study area. 

That said, they mention that much diversity as possible was included on a first encounter basis.

Factors driving alcohol production and consumption in Acoli

The Scholars also noted that while it is important to establish that alcohol consumption in the Acoli population increases health risks significantly; there were majorly 3 factors driving alcohol production and consumption in Acoli namely:• The positive effects of increased economic activities that occurred after the war.• The rise in income that came with the end of the war.• The relative peace now prevailing in the region. 

Besides these 3 factors, the scholars observed that there are also lingering negative effects of the 20-year war. For instance, deprivation of livelihood in the internment camps during the war led to other downstream effects such as trauma, idleness, depression, violence, theft and others.

Cynically, the scholars also argue that the alcohol economy may also be driven by the dynamics of national politics in which regional marginalization is often a handy tool in the hands of those in power. 

For example, the increased supply of alcohol in the region may be a conscious or sub-conscious act of regional marginalization. Alcohol production and consumption may also be deliberately encouraged to serve certain political interests.

Study limitations. 

Several factors which are known to increase health risks of alcoholic consumption were not considered in this study. For instance, lack of materials used in the production of the Ugandan spirits studied to its health risks. 

The information of the ‘pots’ used for fermentation, distillation, or for storing the distillate before packaging, for example, was not available. 

Similarly, the soil in which the grains, cassava, or the potatoes used in the brewing process are grown, and the water used during the entire production process could account for the high level of metals and the variability observed in distillates.


The study found that consuming sachet packaged spirits in Uganda over a lifetime correlates with pronounced health risks in the Acoli population of Uganda.

This finding emphasizes the need to include ethanol as a factor in any estimates of health risks due to the consumption of alcoholic drinks in this population.

Other than public education about the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption, fun and productive socio economic activities must be developed to engage people away from excessive drinking. 

Finally, new policies based on the principle that no amount of alcohol is safe should be adopted to address the causes of alcohol related mortality in Uganda.

The review is by a Gulu Based Blogger and can be reached on mdaliker@gmail.com

Friday Nights: Castle Light Beer Redefines Corporate Night in Gulu

Gulu’s Friday Night Light

Sometime last year, our company had a guest from a leading media house in the country.

Since it was the last Friday of the month, she was feeling loaded and asked that she reciprocates the good gesture by hosting us to a night out.

Before a decision on the venue of the night out could be made, a truck loaded with loud speakers announcing corporate night in Gulu passed by and she bought into the announcement of attending a corporate night.

I had heard weird stories of Gulu’s corporate night but had not experienced it.

Since, our guest expressed interest, it could be counterproductive to underscore a Gulu week-end hang out; more so when you are not doing the spending.

To cut a long story short, the disappointment was so terrible that it confirmed my fears of my guest thinking Gulu has no corporate class.

At this particular spot, were revelers with dirty worn out sandals. The uniform dress code was free NGO t-shirts, and Sporty like Jerseys since Arsenal was playing a team that night. The customer care was traumatizing at best.

The music was purely old school Lingala interjected with some South African rhythms.

Certainly, none of the revelers looked corporate; neither did the outlook of the venue nor the decoration.

Why do I am share this reminiscence of one of my worst hang out days in 2018?

Friday last week, was Women’s day celebration. Castle Light Beer in partnership with O’café launched Friday Night Lite. Every Friday, O’café in partnership with Castle Lite Beer Companies will host you to a special Friday night.

At the launch, Castle Light Beer was at a discount of 3 beers for 10,000 Ugx and entrance at O’café was free unlike other customized nights.

The night was dedicated to Utaker music selection from Uganda, Tanzania Kenya and Rwanda. Utake nights as it was a common Kampala phenomenon.

The DJ of the night was visiting from the Almost Famous DJs. DJ Virus has cut a nice niche with his Gulu’s audience since the Almost Famous DJs started visiting Gulu for O’ Café’s Silent Disco . The Silent Disco is one of the new Gulu innovations by O’café entertainment categories.

The music was simply epic and phenomenal with no repetitions but offered diversity of classy corporate music.

Apparently, there is no night hangout as Romantic as O’café with a unique lighting system and wild park like ever green trees giving it a very rosy cozy sight.

In attendance was the real and right corporate audience. The different tables had known corporate families and corporate company colleagues.

From Government Parastatal employees;  to renown banking fraternities and reputable families with means.

Noticeable personalities were man around town Omiyo, Don, all the way from Arua, Akuso from Laoo Ltd and Sales Reps of different beer companies also enjoyed the night away.

The dressing clearly like any other O’café party night had a great sense of style, cost and fashion tending attires. The revelers exuded confidence and spoke in charming ways that a by stander could not resist the temptation to join them.

On the menu was a full Halal Cania of spicy Sambusas, pieces of Chicken meat, French fries, Sausage and Salad to mention but a few.

Whoever bought Pizza was instantly offered a free bottle of Soda for a polite swallow and great taste.

While we congratulate Harriet (Castle Light Sales Representative) for such a well thought out business idea; the challenge remains maintaining standard already set in place.

Certainly, Paul Mutanga(CEO) of O’café and Harriet (Castle Light Sales Rep) have to be complemented on adding to Gulu’s sensational hangout options and placing class and style to all they do.


A Terrorist Takes Guard

By Carsten Ogwal

A few months back, newspapers in Uganda were awash with news of an Al- Shabaab attack on UPDF soldiers in Somalia killing 08 men according to official government records.

Just recently we had two bomb attacks in Kenya in the space of a week; one at the Dusit2 hotel and the other at Latema.

These attacks plus attacks like those that took place at Westgate in Kenya and Manchester in the UK indicates that terrorism is still a problem to reckon with.

The attack at Westgate not only left us and indeed many Kenyans with painful memories but also provoked a lot of statements and opinions. I was perhaps struck particularly more by a statement of the then Uganda Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda in an article in the New Vision of 08th/Oct/13.

Ankunda wrote that “ the recent attack on Westgate has gone a little too far; not in terms of casualty but the way and style in which it was conducted” This confirmed my greatest fear and thought. The Ankunda  was surprised in short by the way and style of the attack.

For most career counter terrorism officers, terrorism is about bombings and in some occasions hijacking and hostage taking. Attacks by shooting are ‘farfetched’ because allegedly terrorist are cowards considering all their bombings are always called ‘cowardly acts’. This also explains why the guards at the malls only check under the cars and boots and occasionally the dashboard.

This attack therefore, brings out a couple of issues;

One that counter terrorism officers are thinking mainly within the box and should start thinking outside the box. You are wondering why the security forces in Kenya took long to respond to the Westgate attack?. Because they did not believe it is possible and were still debating whether these were terrorists or armed robbers because for many, terrorist just bomb.

The other issue is the versatility of the terrorists. Terrorist live on edge all the time and know their vulnerability even amidst their unquenchable thirst for innocent blood.

Consequently they think ahead of time and this is further facilitated by the predictability of state security units. So when a bomb explodes then all places in the country start to look for bombs and forget other methods of attack.

So while you are preoccupied with looking for bombs they take advantage and surprise you with AK47’s. It is therefore, important that counter terrorism officers remain aware of this. I actually think, it is time for the world to start guarding water and food sources because who knows where their interest could be next?

In most countries especially in Africa, security organs are reactionary instead of being proactive. Well, the heads of such units will talk about being proactive but their good officers will do the exact opposite either because they are not interested or most times because the same bosses do not see the point in supporting them until a threat appears.

This has created a big challenge. Without any offence intended, I think we need real and true strategists not just those with pips following and developing trends in terrorist activities, building scenarios and making projections.  

Perhaps the biggest issue is complacency. It is common to hear supposedly professional heads of such units assuring us of how we have controlled and defeated the terrorist and how our borders have been sealed that no ants can pass through.

The truth is, we cannot eliminate terrorism, and however, we can mitigate the effects of their activities. Besides, it is important to know that no measure is good enough to contain a problem if it is not closely monitored and assessed to be sure it is working well.

Most security managers in several institutions sit back and watch TV after deploying a few guards at the various entry points with gadgets that the guards may not even know how to use. It is important that persons and equipment deployed to control access are regularly checked on and assessed to be working well.

So how do we mitigate the risk of terrorism when the Mall owners are only interested in their rent from the tenants and do not care what the tenants do after that? Or when delivery trucks still deliver goods without anyone inspecting? Or when cars are still accessing all the major malls without being checked and all that the guards do is to remind you how hot the day is and how they would do with some water from you? A terrorist would be more than delighted to give you even a carton of water.

It is therefore, important that sniffer dogs are provided to help with delivery trucks because it may not be practical to offload all goods at the gate for checking. But well trained and well used sniffer dogs can detect any unusual deliveries.

It would also be better for Mall owners to profile their tenants and be interested in what they do with the room they rent just to be sure their houses are not being misused. They could also occasionally send a staff on unannounced checks just to make sure all is well.

Security managers and supervisors of the various premises should be interested in the performance of their guards whether contracted or company owned to avoid predictability and routine.

State functionaries need to be more proactive and avoid complacency. However, it is also important that they be supported in their work logistically in order to perform better. It is interesting as JB Kakooza noted in one of the weekend papers how the Police have details of how a terrorist moves and which buses they use but cannot arrest the terrorist. Is it because we do not want to close cases because then the taps will stop flowing? The truth is terrorists will always be there and there is no need to worry about the tap; it will keep flowing just catch the terrorist you can for now. Who knows, it could be your child’s school next.

The Author is a Security Consultant and can be reached at carstenog2012@gmail.com

How a Community Can Care for Its Mental Health Patients


By: Aliker David Martin
Pope John Paul II once said, “Nobody is so poor he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich he has nothing to receive.”
In 2010, as a graduate student of University of San Diego (Kroc School of Peace Studies), I carried out my thesis research in Coo Pee (A Place with No Men) village.
One sunny day, the wind was wild and my respondents kept cleaning sweat from their faces.
We took shelter beneath a dilapidated hut that looked in every way the marks of post war.
My respondents looked poor, hungry and tired but anxious to find out what brought a young man to their village.
Suddenly, someone in a loud excited voice called out my full name. It was akin to how we were called while at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School days.
I turned to find my former head boy (Head of Prefects) Kidega Robert. I turned and called him back in his full name too.
We were excited to meet after close to 20 yrs. Robert looked dirty, skinny and with unkempt hair that contained mud. He certainly had not showered in years and he was all smelly.

The community referred to him as a mad man who lived by an old scary and bushy abandoned dilapidated structure with bullet marks all over it.
Robert was an exceptionally bright student who got the dream score of aggregate 4 and joined a dream school St. Henry’s College Kitovu. Robert had dropped out of Law School at Makerere University.
Like fate would have it, here was a once bright boy who always topped his class but was feeding on rubbish pits; had no shelter and no clothes for close to 14 years then but still had a sharp mind and humor.
If I am a graduate student of University of San Diego (USA)on a scholarship then Robert would have been in Harvard Law School.
After my studies, I returned to Uganda got a job and in 2015 decided to look for Robert and support him through with his mental health challenge.
This is when I met Aloyo Jok Vicky (52 yrs old). Vicky is not as old as she looks,just that poverty and her disability has taken its toll on her too in the aftermath of a conflict.

The community informed me to find her if I have to find Robert. Vicky is an elderly looking mother who runs a small restaurant called Mego Lapit literally meaning grandmother’s care.
Here she was caring for a mad man by donating him food every day in a restaurant where food cost less than $1.(2000/= UGX)
I and other former students then met Robert’s family and mobilized to get him to the country’s best referral mental health hospital (Butabika).
The old students of Bishop Angelo Negri and a few from St. Henry’s College Kitovu using Facebook fund-raised for his medical bills and welfare.
In 5 months Robert recovered and was discharged. We returned him to his family looking healthy and smart. He was productive again. We trained his family on how to manage mental health and the need for medication for a life time and social support.

Robert at Butabika

Last Sunday, 20th January, 2019 I and a few former students decided to make a follow up visit to Robert to find out how he was doing.
Sadly, he had relapsed again and looked just the same way we had found him in 2010. His family gave up on supporting his medication and providing social support but one woman never gave up on him. The elderly looking lady with a low cost restaurant-Vicky!
As it happens with many old students Associations, they are only comfortable identifying with those who “made it in life”.

Robert in 2010 with I and Sam

Our individual monthly remittances had failed. We owed Vicky 250,000 Ugx ($100) for food bills for Robert but she still welcomed us and offered updates on Robert and how she has struggled to take care of him.
Vicky rents a small space where she has built a restaurant with un-burnt bricks and mud and iron sheets.
She uses a bench and one table to serve her customers. She offers food for less than $1(2000Ugx).

She is supported by two young girls to serve her customers in a restaurant of only 3 saucepans and less than a dozen plastic cups and plates and in return she cares for them too.

Her floor is clear dirt from the ground and not cemented. She separates the kitchen and the customers table using a bed sheet yet she has never run out of business in over a decade and has been able to feed and care for Robert every day.

 To ensure that Robert is not stigmatized she ensures that he is clean shaven and once a while gives him soap to take a bath.
In my interview with Vicky I asked her what inspires her resilience and generosity. Vicky says she was once married to Roberts’s family as a young girl but she divorced after bearing two children and she moved on.

Then Robert was a young handsome boy. Robert’s mother did everything she could to save her marriage and would host her whenever she faced domestic violence. If she lived her son would not suffer like he is suffering now. So in death she feels like giving it back to her by standing in to support her son before she dies.
The Sustainable Model
In  was clear our previous monthly remittance initiative from the old students was not successful; so our mission this time round was to find out what community model works to support people like Robert.

Since our intellectual ideas were failing, we needed a grassroots approach to what will work. We met Vicky attending her village savings and credit community meeting.

She excused herself to meet us and we placed these ideas to her. She responded with humility that she has no idea but she will continue supporting Robert for as long as her business is running.

Then Anthony who comes from a business family noted that, it’s simple we need to make sure her business keeps running and runs better.

We then discussed how Robert can be helped in a more sustainable way. We noticed that since Vicky’s restaurant has never closed despite its poor state and has been helpful in supporting Robert; we will start a membership community based organization and fundraise 20,000/Ugx ($10) each every month from anyone interested to donate to support Robert.
This funding will go to supporting Vicky’s restaurant to ensure she supports Robert better. Members present immediately started with their donation.
In return, Vicky is to ensure Robert takes his medicine after every meal like he has been having. Vicky will also ensure Robert travels for medical care monthly and update us on his progress. Besides, she will ensure he is clean and keeps both his medical records and accountability for how she has used these funds in her business.
Get Involved.
In the aftermath of the conflict in northern Uganda, the challenge of mental health is real. The cost of treating mental health is much more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

The choice to get involved is normally personal but the challenge is communal. We may do nothing about it because we are blessed with a clean bill of health but the reality is that as a community we will get affected.

That’s why we have more cases of suicide and we still think it’s their family issue not until we lose those we care about or one that society needs.

A mother who lives with the reality of a son struggling with mental health challenges cannot say she is mentally healthy when she has sleepless nights and so is a brother and a sister and just like his friends.

Other than donating $10 every month or making a one off donation to this cause; you may as well donate a dozen of cups and plates to Vicky’s restaurant.

You may as well donate chairs and tables to Vicky’s restaurant. But most importantly you may donate your time or bricks and we rebuild Vicky restaurant.

You don’t have to be Roberts old boy, you just need to care about community members with a mental health challenge.
The Bible tells us blessed is the hands that give for it shall receive. This simple act of kindness is enough to make the world we live in a better place. Vicky will offer her time and restaurant services, as old students we will offer funds and expertise.

Hopefully, the community based organization develops to serve others in his community who could be challenged too.

If you like to support Robert, Call Ojok Cornelius(0776800804), Chairman Bishop Angelo Negri Students Association-Gulu

The Author is a Blogger and Mental Health Activist and can be reached at: mdaliker@gmail.com


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