By David Martin Aliker
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