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.