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.



OPINION: Making Sense of Kenya’s Riverside Complex Terror Attacks.

Photo Credit : Kenya.co.ke

By: Herbert Ogwal
The terrorists have hit Nairobi again. This time it was not Wesgate or El Adde but the Riverside Complex killing an unconfirmed number of people (15 according to other sources and 45 according to Al shabbaab sympathizers) and leaving scores injured.
That this is a barbaric attack cannot be disputed and I condole with our brothers and sisters in Kenya.
However, it’s imperative that we learn from such incidents and explore ways of minimizing chances of their reoccurrence.
In part 1 of a series of my analysis of this terror attack, I will try to look through the incident and see if there are certain things Kenyan security can do better.
Lets take a look at what has been reported about the incident by the different sources particularly looking at the series of events and pick some talking points.
The media reports that there was a coordinated attack at the Riverside complex with the main target being the DusitD2 Hotel.
The word coordinated may not have easily surfaced many times in earlier attacks in the region as it has this time and this is not by mistake.
Most of the attacks that occurred earlier were indeed more lethal but lacked as much coordination as this one.
What this means is that the terrorists are becoming more and more organized, planning their activities in a manner that will not only bring out maximum damage and publicity but also show the world that they can be organized and indeed a force to reckon with.
It is also meant to show the world that they are better than some of the demeaning descriptions used against them by leaders of the world.
The reports also indicate that the attack was more complex than ever before. The terrorists came in three cars and accessed the complex through the main gate.
First of all, they did not kill the guards at the gate but just scared them off; then they exploded a car bomb within the premises as they entered the building firing before accessing the main target through the kitchen door.
It is also reported that they had suicide bombers too. The reason they left the guards to run was because they did not want to fire bullets and alert forces and other people which would compromise their mission.
Cameras show them walking through the compound like they owned the place firing their way in. The car bomb was meant to be a distraction for any would be first responders (Security Forces) to the crime scene to try and jeopardize their mission; and the suicide bombers opened the way. Even the car left at the gate was a scare crow to keep advancing response forces pondering their options first not knowing whether the car was armed with a bomb or not.
Most of the earlier attacks have been from either bombs only or active shooting but not attacks that deployed a combination of tactics like this one. So this in essence is a new trend in the region.
The heavy gunfire sent many people scampering for their lives. While this looked like a normal situation it could have also been a tactic to let people run around making it difficult for government forces to intervene quickly for fear of harming innocent civilians.
The Al Shabaab who claimed responsibility like many out there know what happened at the Westgate and are very sure the government would want no repeat of something like that. It’s difficult to know exactly what the terrorists wanted and what they actually did because certain information is privileged.
But the people scampering around actually gave the attackers more time to carry out their mission without being quickly contained by the security forces.
The bombs created fear not only in the public but also among security forces who may not have known how much more explosives these guys had. Consequently this gave the attackers more time to conduct their mission.
The terrorist parked the car bomb in the parking yard in between other cars. We need to always remember that our parking lot is a ‘mine field’ with massive litres of explosives in our tanks.
The impact of that bomb was much bigger because it was helped by the fuel in the tanks of the other cars.
The burning cars also distracted rescue efforts. The picture of cars burning emitting massive smoke in the sky is a good picture for publicity of a terror act.
The Dusit2D Hotel is located at Riverside, a complex that houses many international organizations and has restaurants frequented by foreigners especially from the Western World. The target thus was also chosen carefully. Truth is that Americans will always be prime terror targets and so is other Europeans especially from Western Europe. This does not mean they are the only ones that die in these incidents but the rest are usually just collateral damage.
This particular attack was no different and aimed at causing fear and destruction in one of Kenya’s’ most affluent areas targeting both whites and wealthy nationals.
Reports also indicate that the Terrorists breached the security barrier which was revered as one of the most efficient in Nairobi. “Most efficient” is the term security officers and practitioners should avoid.
Most efficient in what parameter? Tested by how many forms of attacks? How many scenarios were built to try and test its efficiency?. The message is very clear, there is no security measure that is most efficient in terms of providing security and if you start thinking with terms like ‘most efficient’ in mind then you may become complacent.
The terrorists carry out reconnaissance and plan according to what they see on the ground meaning they do not expect any surprises at their targets.
And finally, yesterday marked the third anniversary since Al shabaab attacked El – Adde military base killing about 140 Kenyan soldiers. Like we celebrate our anniversaries with parties, terrorist celebrate their anniversaries with other attacks and so it is always important to be alert on any such days. It may not happen in year 1, 2 or 3 but it will happen one day so such days for security officers should be like their wives birthdays that is ‘taboo’ to forget.
The author is a Senior Consultant with Bert Consults International Ltd.

Why We Should Include Men in Promoting Women Empowerment

By: Aliker David Martin

A few days ago, I got an invitation from Women in Action for Women (WAW) to make a presentation on,”Strengthening the process of participation of women and girls in applying UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions.” at Churchill Courts Hotel in Gulu.

Major Okot Lapolo -Gulu Resident District Commissioner(RDC) Speaking at the Workshop

This was a workshop that would host more than 10 women focused charitable organizations from most of the districts of greater northern Uganda.

WAW is a charity organization based in Gulu District whose focus is improving the quality of life of women and girls by enhancing their knowledge and skills.

Amidst my busy schedule I wondered, “Why can’t they find a competent lady to address fellow women on how to strengthen their participation in peace building in their communities?”

I called back and informed them I would not and thought it would be unfortunate to deny another lady such a great opportunity in their empowerment solidarity movement.

The lady then retorted, “That is why we need you; we need a man who believes in the competence of women but also the involvement of model men in our cause.”

In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1325) formally acknowledged through the creation of Resolution 1325 the changing nature of warfare, in which civilians are increasingly targeted, and women continue to be excluded from participation in peace processes.

The resolution specifically addresses how women and girls are differentially impacted by conflict and war, and recognizes the critical role that women can and already do play in peacebuilding efforts.

UNSCR 1325 affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict, the delivery of relief and recovery efforts and in the forging of lasting peace.

The goal of this resolution is to increase the participation of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.

While discussing the challenges of domesticating the UNSCR1325, women leaders shared their frustration with the culture of masculine dominance in peacebuilding.

So why are men dominating the peace building processes even when research confirms that the participation of women guarantees more durable peace?

In an effort to address these concerns, this women leaders agreed to the need to involve men in their empowerment campaign in promoting the participation of women in applying UNSCR 1325.

But why would women involve men in their empowerment campaign?

First and foremost, the empowerment of women is a fact and reality that our generation has to live with. Therefore, living in denial is not an option but men have to rediscover themselves and their new role in this new world order of gender parity.

In any case, at the birth of every man is a mother next to a nurse(possibly a woman); in sickness and joy potentially is a mother, sister, daughter, or wife and similarly in a man’s death bed.

Development agencies increasingly argue that patriarchal culture norms are standing as the key barrier to women’s empowerment, henceforth projects must target on changing attitudes of men and boys in order to create lasting improvements for women and girls.

The role of men’s attitudes and behaviors should not be ignored in the debate and the design of gender related policies. If you don’t change men’s attitudes towards women, then gender programs which focus on women first won’t be successful. There is need to think of men’s real gender realities if men are to support women in their empowerment campaign instead of becoming protagonist, they can be stakeholders in this campaign.

A case in point is; a woman was asked what was wrong with men in their village disowning their responsibilities? She says, “men are pretending to be mad yet they are hiding their irresponsibility behind drunkenness.” Another man observed that men are only silently protesting the new changes in family roles that make them vulnerable to their women.

Therefore, men have to be brought into those efforts in a meaningful way. This approaches should be gender transformative [challenging deep gender norms and discrimination]; they shouldn’t just be inviting men in the door or setting quotas so that we have a few more women or a few less men.

Conclusively, the approach to empowering women needs to change from that which disenfranchises men to that which appreciates our cultural values and norms to that which makes men equal partners in their progress.

The author is a Weekly Blogger based in Gulu, Uganda.

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com


The Boys Junior Team Vs Fields of Dreams Clubs at the Launch of Troy Buttimer Foundation.

By David Martin Aliker

A new community based football club has been launched in Gulu. The Troy Buttimer Foundation (TBF).

The focus of The Troy Butimmer Foundation is to identify, tap raw talent and develop the football talents of youngsters in the age bracket below 8 years and below 10 years.

Troy is a youngster aged 7 years plying his talent at a club in Oxford, UK in a club that has already identified and tapped his talents for professional football.

Troy’s Mum (Brenda Clair Butimmer) is originally Ugandan from Gulu and his father (Neville Benjamin Buttimer) a Briton but Troys dream is to support football of youngsters in Gulu that he has been meeting as a child since she started visiting Uganda every Christmas Festive Season.

The Troy Buttimer Foundation is registered in England and is undergoing registration in Uganda.

However, locally the team is already established in Gulu and talent identification has started and will end in February.

The President of Nyamityobora Football Club, Ben Misagga on 2nd January 2019 opined a piece in the New Vision News Paper on the different yardstick of assessing progress in Uganda’s football.

Nyamityobora Football Club, also Nyamityobora FC, is a football club based in Mbarara, in the Western Region of Uganda.

They currently play in the Uganda Premier League after their promotion from winning the FUFA Big League Rwenzori Division in the 2017/2018 Ugandan football season.

In his piece, Ben argued that if Uganda is making football progress, Uganda should be capable of developing a player able to play in mainstream European leagues.

However, “most players have miserably failed trials for professional stints at European Clubs, partly due to lack of professionalism and cheating age. We all know our average of Cranes (Ugandan National Team) age is in the thirties yet on paper we have one of the youngest squads. The age-cheating habit has derailed our football to the extent that we are result-oriented at the expense of building for the future”.

So why are Ugandan players failing miserably trials for professional football? Why are they resorting to the unprofessional conduct of cheating age in football?

In my opinion, Uganda needs to focus on its national grassroots football structure at an early age to build for the future the game of football.

Just like to ensure we attain quality education up to University, learners start from an early age in nursery education, Uganda needs to focus on skills and provide access and a platform to develop the game at an early age.

This will ensure early identification of talent and its development in time so that, when players are in their teens they are fully developed and aware of their potential and ready for professional football without having to cheat on their age.

Unfortunately, our players today get to realize their talent and full potential when its already late and they are in their late teens or 20s; only then do they begin to prioritize the game as professionals.

This is why they are caught up in the age dilemma and their only choice is to cheat age hoping to get better opportunity to get to the professional league.

Secondly instead of exporting cheap casual labor, Uganda needs to begin looking at football as a business worth a long term investment if it is at all to benefit from its proceeds.

Already individual Ugandans are taking initiatives to start clubs and football academies; however, government needs to come up with strategies that directly support such initiatives.

In Gulu, The Troy Buttimer Foundation will be the local face of football talent identification and promotion at elementary level.

This will not only contribute to the pool of local players for local and national football but also help address unprofessional conducts like cheating age in football by undertaking authentic documentation and profiling of players.

The Author is a Director of The Troy Buttimer Foundation-Uganda Chapter

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com

Karin Marathon: Gulu’s Starface Using Creative Art to Serve Humanity

By David Martin Aliker
The 1st Annual Karin Health Marathon 2018 successfully took place today. The event was organized by a christian based Charity Karen Community Initiative Uganda (KCIU)
Karin Community Initiative Uganda (KCIU) is a local faith-based, not for profit organization providing health care in the communities, founded by Christians who realized a need to support governments efforts in arresting the country’s disease burden.
KCIU was registered in 2001. A full-time secretariat, supported by Pentecostal Churches of Uganda and partner churches in USA, UK and Norway, strengthen coordination among other partners and communities.
The theme of of this maternal health and child care marathon and health camp was “Saving mothers, Helping Families”
Gulu Catholic Arch Bishop John Baptist Odama flagged off the athletes after a brief prayer asking for divine guidance on how to serve humanity better and a safe and successful event.
In attendance was also the District Chairman Hon. Ojara Mapenduzi and Hon. Betty Aol, the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Parliament of Uganda amongst many other distinguished guests and participants
One of the most outstanding performance during the Marathon Winners Award Ceremony was a Christian Group of Artist- Starface Art Camp.
Lately,so much negative narratives-from Gulu is about the street kids (Aguu) and its new found identity of young prostitutes and drug addicts and alcoholics.
One would imagine, there are no youths trying to make a positive change in their lives in the aftermath of the war.

Gulu’s Starface Dance Group at the Marathon

Starface Art Camp is one such group creating a positive change in the lives of youths through creative Art.
In an effort to address the challenges of urban youths such as prostitution, alcoholism, betting and drug addiction, they offer music, dance and art design lessons and practice to any intending youths with passion for art.
They don’t only reduce the youths contact hours with these vices but also offer their skills for a few to support their livelihood and promote their initiative.
It’s this group that Karin Community Initiative Uganda offered a platform to entertain and show case the benefits of keeping young and healthy.
Their performance was exceedingly great that got every one off their seats. Their break dance skills meets any global standards. This was characterized with perfected and well rehearsed summersaults
As Gulu seeks City status,one way it can fight urban crime and poverty is through promptings Arts and Craft and supporting informal art groups like Starface Art Camp.
Today, Karen Coommunity Initiative Uganda granted them a platform, tomorrow another organization may offer them another platform but the district leadership must pick keen interest in the talent and trade of this youths and set up social community programs that promotes youths who come together using their art and skills to bring positive change, if Gulu City is ever to be a model city.

The author is an Opinion Leader based in Gulu

Email: mdaliker@gmail.com

ACF 2018: Why Did Hon. Jacob Oulanyah Close his Eyes?

By David Martin Aliker

Hon. Jacob Oulanyah Enjoys the Larakaraka Dance

The 2nd edition of the 3 day Acholi Cultural Festival 2018 (ACF 2018) ended December 15th,2018; but why is this event important to the Acholi People?

While the motto of the Acholi people is Ribbe Aye Teko (Unity is Strength); ironically, it’s not so often that Acholi Unite but the Acholi Cultural Festival United the Acholi People.

Keen observers will notice that the answer to this question is captured in a trending picture of Hon. Jacob Oulanyah deeply taken up with closed eyes and a smiling face and a clenched fist holding the calabash as he strikes it with exceptional ecstasy,passion and skill like a Rock Star in the climax of his most loved hit and all he can see with closed eyes are in his mind.

So why did Hon. Jacob close his eyes?

In his Twitter handle Jacob writes,

“In Acholi even the toughest warrior must show skills on the dance floor less you easily get stripped off your glory. The #AcholiCulturalFestival is a uniting festival meant to revitalize and awaken a diminishing pride in culture. Had such fun today, reliving and making memories.”

Metaphorically, Hon. Jacob in the eyes of his mind could see Acholi as warriors rising to regain its lost glory.  

Hon. Jacob with closed eyes can see that the Acholi culture is beginning to unite his people and their love for culture is reinstating the relevant roles and respect for cultural leaders.

This is seen with the humility with which he greets Rwot Acana II.

Jacob who is known for being pompous relishes his title as Deputy Speaker of Parliament of Uganda and postures before the Rwot as if to say, “You are my Leader.” One would imagine, this gesture implies if I respect the Rwot as my leader who are you not to respect him?

Those who know Jacob well know him for also being very emotional.

In February 28th ,2018 edition of the Observer Weekly News Paper, Moses Khisa writing about Hon. Jacob’s response to nodding disease in his constituency notes,” Mr Oulanyah appears to be a person predisposed to deep introspection and honest self-reflection.”

So when Jacob twits, he had fun reliving and making memories; he emotionally submerges himself to his sub conscious mind to relive the memory of Acholi past glory and the dignity of their culture that he experienced as a child.

Memories are a part of people. Human beings are incomplete without them. Memories are what humans have been through.

Memories make us, us.It’s this ability to have a deep introspection and honest reflection that makes Jacob a unique leader passionate about the Unity of his people.

As Ama Ata Aidoo notes, “humans, not places, make memories.” Certainly, Jacob was filled with memories of his people in his past and present and possibly not places.

In view of past history of war in northern Uganda, memories are all Acholi are left with and Acholi were losing this as well till the Acholi Cultural Festival sparked the thrill to identify and Unite through culture.

Acholi were once great people until the indignity of war, poverty and ignorance subdued them.

The Acholi Cultural Festival therefore, makes it feel good to relive these memories and many other positive adventures in power in previous governments but they too are fading fast but no one seemed to be that much concerned until the cultural festival united the Acholi people and they begun to see themselves as great again.

Finally, in Jacobs closed eyes Acholi listen to the rhythm and raw beats of their true identity in their culture. They see in closed eyes a great people ready to listen to each other again as exemplified by the attendance of political leaders in government and opposition determined to get back on its feet and ready to rise to the top again.

In this closed eye are the sight of the restoration of Acholi dignity and pride as a United people dreaming as warriors and dedicated to reliving the past, ready to rise again.

For the Jacobs, can prepare the way for time will come when the real messiah will proclaim his throne.

All Acholi need is to live by their motto of Ribbe Aye Teko (Unity is Strength). This Unity is not only Unity among themselves but their neighboring communities too.

Acholi will rise and Shine again.

Author is a Blogger Based in Gulu

Reasons to Bring Children for Acoli Cultural Festival (ACF 2018)

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born black nationalist leader who sought to connect people of African descent worldwide once said,” a people without the knowledge of their past history,origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

The 2nd edition of the Acoli Cultural Festival started today at Kaunda Grounds in Gulu with immense dignity and pride of the Acoli people.

As they say, humans are cultural beings. Everyone has a cultural identity. While there were numerous sparkling dances, foods and drinks, the sight of two boys caught my attention as they played Coro. Coro is a cultural game similar to board games. Just that, this time the holes are made on the ground and stones are used as marbles to drop in a sequence in each small hole. (See Picture)

What came to mind was; where are other children? What are they doing? Rightfully thinking, they could be watching T.V or playing video games or possibly reading story books.

Children need to be exposed to their culture at an early age. The sounds and sight and text of life as seen in the different cultural songs and dances need to be experienced firsthand for children to develop a creative mind.

Books are wonderful but not enough. Why are we not concerned that our children’s value systems, beliefs and ways are like all they watch on T.V or in their video games? Is that the culture we want to inculcate in our children?

Culture helps children to learn to communicate and understand the world through the context of their languages, traditions, behaviours, beliefs and values.

Our cultural experiences and values shape the way we see ourselves and what we think is important.

That is why in the past as a result of low self esteem, many children from the north tried to convert their names to sound like they originate from central Uganda.

Traditions, beliefs, food and even the way a particular culture dresses influences a child’s development. Values are established and set by cultures.

 Exposing children to culture teaches them about different points of view, different ways of seeing things, which makes for a well rounded child.

For instance, many modest people detest witch craft however the only person without a tent that never lacked guests despite the rain and hot sun was a lady claiming to have powers to predict any ones future by consulting our ancestral gods.

Why would people not leave her alone since they detest witchcraft? It is because they are searching for meaning in their lives; the things that books and humans could not answer them convincingly.

Culture reminds us of our history in times of trial and unease. It gives one a sense of structure, ritual and habit.

One of the most outstanding dances during day one of Acoli Cultural Festival was the Otole dance from Pabo in Amuru District.

This team distinctively looked serious like worriers heading to battle; they held real spears and shields and made patterns like taking positions at war time.

Certainly, this did not only remind us of our history of war dances but also helped guests understand why they sing and dance to war. Otole is the Acoli war dance.

As parents, we don’t know what exactly a child is going to be passionate about or good at. Exposing them to different things help the child discover themselves.

Conclusively, in my personal experience, when people move to a new country, they inevitably hold on to their original culture more tightly, even when embracing the new cultures.

Most of our youths today never got a chance to identify with their culture at an early age because of the war.

Don’t make your children serve the same verdict if you can expose them to their culture to enable them discover themselves and learn their true values, beliefs and identity.