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


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


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.

What You Missed at Gulu’s Wer Waa Art Festival

Recently, festivals have become the real deal in Gulu’s social scenes.

From Film Festival, Acholi Cultural Festival to Paul Mutanga’s Open Mic Festival and now Wer Waa Art Festival.

But what is an art festival?

An arts festival is a festival that can encompass a wide range of art genres including music, dance, fine art, poetry etc. and isn’t solely focused on “visual arts.”

I plead guilty as charged for not attending the 1st and 2nd editions of Wer Waa yearly festival.

Ignorance has never been an excuse and that’s why I will write this article so that ignorance should not be the reason for you to miss next years 4th Wer Waa Arts Festival.

At 6:00pm, Uganda had defeated Cape Verde to win itself a place in the African Cup od Nations (AFCON) finals in 2019.

It was a tense, nail bitting game from Uganda’s mediocre performance. Luckily, Kaddu Patrick nodded home a smart goal in the last minutes to the excitement of Uganda fans.

The mood for partying set in as fans in Gulu were spoilt for choices to either attend the Premier of the Movie “Tears of Akello” or attend Wer Waa Art Festival.

I finally chose to attend the festival which felt more fun instead of a passive moment watching Akello’s Tears.

If you have been to Gulu, the venue for Wer Waa Art Festival was in a quiet ambience in Senior Quarters at the extreme end of Upper Churchill Drive.

The quiet ambience with low volume music gave it a unique romantic experience.

At the entrance was a mini tail-agate of youths sipping beer at the bonnet of their cars. One would get a feel of young career youths with exclusively beautiful well dressed ladies that exuded pomp and confidence.

The dressing of the ladies portrayed absolute freedom as they showed a lot of modern culture and cleaverage defining their youthfulness.

There were all signs of love in the manner of their conduct. From their sexy smiles,  to the cuddles and caressing by their boyfriends.

As one approaches the point for payments, the aroma of the barbecue welcomes you.

Approximately, 5 meters from the payment point; a thick dark skinned young man is busy working at the barbecue, tossing my most pleasant of beer diets-pork from left to right.

As he works up the barbecue, he shakes his head to the beats of MC Wang Jok’s latest music Rec Agara. These are all delicacies that naturally instruct salivary glands to send saliva to the mouth and a good appetite.

The young man at the gate notices, who I am and out of respect decides not to receive my cash, only to say welcome sir. Your friends are the other side, turn left next to the bonfire.

This courtesy guarantees me already a very cold bottle of Uganda’s finest Bell beer. As a friend would say, BELL (Better Education Less Labour).

Walking beyond the barbecue, I approached the counter to get myself a drink. There is a racially inclusive crowd at the bar’s counter buying and sipping beer.

On a ratio of 1 to 5, you would find 1 African speaking to 5 Muzungus with a forged American accent. You can tell he has never been to the land of the White people but hopes to be there some day. His new accent is from listening to them speak.

A young friend comes over to keep my company. I open up the discussion. I asked him who are these naturally, strong young men with unimaginable dancing skills.

He answers,”these are street kids who come here to learn how to sing and dance. Wer Waa Art Festival which literally means Our Song is a platform to showcase different forms of creativity and art by young people.”

It hits me hard that the guy speaking with a forged accent could be a street kid with a natural artistic talent.He must have been speaking about his life and talent to interested Muzungus.

I excuse myself from this friend to try and trace “the guy with a forged accent”. He was no more at the bar counter.

I spotted him showing his Muzungu guests art paintings and drawings placed down on a well kept compound at the entrance and others hanging over a wall.

These were fantastic pictures that could earn thousands of dollars if it were being auctioned abroad. This talent could instantly change the life of this street kid if he were in the land of the White People.

But how did I miss to see this art pieces as I got in? Could it be that the aroma of the barbecue tampered with my attention to detail or the African in me failed me to appreciate creativity and art? For instance, there was a very meaningful art piece showing a picture of Legendary artists Okot P’ Bitek, Geoffrey Oryema , Lumix Da Don and Mc Wang Jok. The artist seem to say, the only Acholi living legend standing is Mc Wang Jok as the rest all passed on.

A lady friend noticed am in attendance and invited me to their company. I was fortunate to meet in this company Gulu’s top female music artists at the event. Janet Prisca and Pamela Peace welcomed me to their company.

A log was placed around the bonfire a reminiscent of life in the village around the fireside telling folk stories. Just that this time round, we shared urban stories.

As we all enjoyed great stories over beer about life and the festival, photographers comrades Pat Larubi and Walker were busy taking our photos giving us a little celebrity status.

Adjacent to our seats were a team of only Whites who presumably understand and appreciate better the meaning and importance of art festivals.

They sat on mats and car tyres decorated with artistic writings and improvised pillows in the middle making comfortable seats.

One could tell this companionship was purely of close and connected White community of Gulu.Ironically, as Pat Larubi focused on taking their pictures, Walker (Muzungu) focused on our team of “local celebrities.”

On stage, the music had changed to strong and fast Caribbean beats.Unlike many shows where the stage was lifted higher for proper viewing; this time round the stage was a laid carpet on grass with a unique artistic background showing creative unique drawings and writings giving it a beautiful artistic impression and a concentration of strong lights on stage.

The dancers were young, fast and physically fit as they made uniform twist and turns to the rhythm of   music. From acrobatic dancing styles to what looked like Acholi aerobics.

This was a highly rehearsed and perfected style of dancing. The climax was of one young tall and handsome black boy dancing Salsa dance with a polite and mild mannered jaw dropping beautiful Muzungu girl.

This certainly is life one must live before they die. Periodically you would hear jubilation and excitement from fans as they celebrated the night away by clapping hands to appreciate every stage performance.

Heaven threatened to open up and so the drizzle would only make it more of like the Tom Sawyer love scenes in the book.The drizzle only made it a more cosy and romantic night as fans dared the rain and never took shelter save for a few fans with no more beer and loved ones.

In conclusion Wer Waa Art festival was about culture, creativity and company.

While art has become more accessible, but interacting with paintings, installations or sculptures, or seeing them up close, often provides a deeper appreciation that could never be put into words.

Gulu has been known for its past record of insurgency, a new generation of creative youths is using Art to change its narrative using music, culture and film festivals.

Comparing MTN Marathon Negligence and Maternal Health Negligence.


Sunday, November, 11th, 2018 Gulu successfully held its MTN Marathon.

MTN Uganda has set Sunday 25th November 2018 as the date for the 15th Edition of the MTN Kampala Marathon.

Unlike the previous years where a single marathon was held annually, this year, as the leading telecom marks its 20th anniversary,  3 regional runs have been organized on 3 different weekends before the main one in Kampala.

The regional runs will be held in Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara.

The Marathon is a social responsibility initiative of the MTN Foundation in partnership with Huawei, New Vision, Stanbic Bank and Rwenzori Mineral Water as well as logistics company Spedag Interfreight Uganda limited.

The Mbale race will feature a 10km road race and a 21km half marathon. However, the Gulu featured a 5km and 10 km road race.

The theme for this year’s Marathon is improving maternal health in Uganda. This is through ensuring safe childbirth for expectant mothers regardless of their means or origin.

In Gulu’s MTN Marathon 2018, something that looks mild but stood out for me in comparison to maternal health is the element of Negligence.

While this looks perceptual errors but this is becoming a common marketing challenge for advertising companies based in Kampala that come to Gulu.

Failure to attend to the details that matter to the overall objective of the marketing drive to make the locals own up to their products.

It’s either the use of Luganda in promotions to a non Luganda speaking community to having a Kampala identity on products meant for Northern Uganda or Gulu precisely.

The Daily Monitor in its editorial piece in January 9th 2014 writing on; too many maternal deaths from negligence opined that, “Deaths of expectant mothers resulting from the suspected negligence of medical staff is becoming a rather too frequent occurrence.”

The editorial further notes; as a country, we already have one of the highest maternal mortality rates (MMR) in the world which Unicef estimates at 435 women dying annually from pregnancy or child-bearing complications.

In this year’s Gulu MTN Marathon, the attire (Vests) were majorly of small size and a few medium scale sizes especially for a community that prides itself as Elephants.

This meant not many participants were able to pay for the attire which could have supported more mothers and many more participants could have benefited from maternal health messages.

On Facebook, a disappointed participant described the tops as bras than vests for the marathon.

Many participants had to use their own attire which made it lose its uniformity for great photogenic moment to illustrate Gulu’s support for maternal health like any other regional district.

In essence, Gulu lost a photogenic opportunity with a big company to showcase the new post war northern Uganda with great passion and love to support maternal health of our mothers as a result of low turn up.

The caps were clearly marked “MTN Kampala Marathon 2018”. Why would one not think of MTN Gulu Marathon 2018? Fortunately, Gulu’s Brand Ambassador Hon. Norbert Mao was captured in White and not the MTN Colours.

It would have been counterproductive for Gulu’s brand to have its brand Ambassador donning on a cap inscribed Kampala MTN Marathon in a Gulu MTN Marathon.

Organizationally, MTN can do better to get more organized to avoid last minute maneuvers and preparations. For instance, the community kept waiting for what the routes will be till the last moments.

Also, the flag off according to MTN organizers was meant to be in Pece Stadium but it ended up along Jomo Kenyatta Street adjacent to a Church with ongoing service. This was such a disruption for the Anglicans at Christ Church.

I suggest if MTN will next year have Gulu MTN Marathon, they should localize the regional organizing committee to ensure a sense of ownership and better participation.

The local organizers will connect better with most of the formal and informal groups already into local athletic bodies or civil society members involved in the theme like this year’s maternal health for effective mobilization and messaging.

MTN’s effort will not only complement their activities but also avoid glaring errors and negligence that could make this great effort counterproductive.

Conclusively, while this perceptual errors looks like an oversight, it’s important that when entrusted with responsibility; we are held accountable to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

Author: Aliker David Martin


Is Our Memorials to the Dead Doing More Harm Than Good?


By: Aliker David Martin

Saturday November 12th, 2016 Kenneth Akena Watmon, 33, a   Kasese Child Protection Specialist, was shot in the stomach and died at Norvik Hospital on Sunday morning.

Next week will mark two years since Akena died and a number of memorial activities like a Pool Tournament, Public Lecture and Prayers have been organized in his memory under the organization Akena Foundation.

For those who lost a loved one and those who lived through it, such a day will forever be ingrained in their memories.

An online poster was sent out inviting the community for the car wash to fundraise to support the activities of Akena Foundation.

A good friend then argued that, “In my opinion, I think friends should allow Akena’s family to forget about the painful death of their son. This kind of Memorial event will keep on reminding the old parents and the wounds in their hearts may not heal.” My friend’s opinion seems unwise but raises fundamental questions on the transition while morning.

Mourning marks a dramatic transition beginning with the trauma of loss and concluding with acceptance of, control over, and separation from a loss (Volkan, 1981; Volkan & Zitl, 1993).

A person can separate from a loss by internalizing the loss to memory and remembering positive aspects of the loss (e.g., fond memories of a dead parent, feelings of self-reliance).

To do this, the person openly admits the loss by repeatedly disclosing his or her thoughts to trusted individuals (Janet, 1925; Lifton, 1973)

Through their designs, memorials represent and commemorate losses (Wolschke-Bulmahn, 2001). In doing so, memorials can help individuals make sense of and recover from losses (Rowlands, 1999).

Being that memorials are public activity, they help entire communities mourn a loss by providing settings for communal ceremonies and rituals (Wasserman, 1998).

So how does memorials facilitate a healing processes?

While memorials may in itself rekindle hatred and anger, more often than not memorials support the healing process in the following ways:

An essential part of healing rests on the ability to tell one’s story to have someone listen and acknowledge pain and suffering.

Stories help people make sense of their experience. Stories can provide a release of emotions and help one connect to others when learning to live with loss.

Studies show that if one is surrounded, for example, by people who refuse to acknowledge some one’s loss, it will be a more traumatic experience than being in a culture that recognizes the loss.

Providing Public Bonds. Research shows that many people develop continuing bonds with individuals who have died.

Often people want to keep a deceased loved one’s memory in their lives. Remembrance events can present opportunities and rituals to help in sustaining those connections.

A person establishes private bonds with the deceased, through internal conversations, private rituals, or holding on to symbolic objects.

Documenting history through Stories. Storytelling does not just benefit victims’ families. Individual stories can help the victim’s community to understand and come to terms with the magnitude of such tragedy to a family or its community. For instance, Articles in the popular press and photograph books claim war memorials like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) in Washington, D.C., are highly therapeutic for veterans (Grunwald, 1992; Meyer, 1993)

Inspiring healing movements. Stories can also help inspire healing movements for other tragedies. For instance, as a healing process, Akena’s family has establish The Akena Foundation to keep his memory alive.

This simple gesture could inspire others dealing with the loss of a loved one to establish any other healing movements in the community of those dealing with the loss of their loved one.

In conclusion, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ― Richard Puz, The Carolinian. From an Irish headstone. “It’s high time, all bereaved are allowed to mourn as they seek justice with love. The pain of death should not make us lose our loving nature because this is who we are.


The 5 New Things in this Year’s Acoli Cultural Festival (ACF 2018)

By: David Martin Aliker

Marcus Garvey a Jamaican-born Black Nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism Movement once said, “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” In an effort to connect with their history, origin and culture; Ker Kwaro Acoli and the Acoli people intend to build on the success of Acoli Cultural Festival 2017.

The three-day event conducted on December 14-16, 2017 brought together various groups from all corners of Acoli to showcase various aspects of their heritage.

It was a colorful display of music, dance, drama, cuisine, dress, tools and artifacts.  The Acoli people will host its second edition of the Acoli cultural festival from December 13th to 15th, 2018.

The theme of ACF 2018 is: “Promoting Acoli heritage for greater productivity” This is a simple, straight but loaded theme.

It hoovers around using heritage to increase output per unit effort of the Acoli people, thus deriving greater dividends from Acoli human effort, skills and knowledge, physical and spiritual attributes, overall taking advantage of “who we are”, “What we have” and “what we do”.

But what is going to be different in ACF 2018 as compared to last years’ ACF 2017?

First and foremost, there is a change in the leadership structure of the Central Organizing Committee (C.O.C). In this years’ ACF 2018 Senior Citizen and Rotarian (PP) Charles Odora Oryem is the Chairman Organizing Committee. The Prime Minister remains the overall Chairman of the Cultural Festival.

The position of Festival Director has also been introduced to guide and coordinate the different events that will be taking place in the 3 days event to ensure quality.

The Program Manager of CEED Benard Loum (Work Horse) has been chosen to serve in this role. Most of you will remember his tireless hard work and attention to detail in last years successful event.

Secondly, a Corporate Affairs Committee (C.A.C) function has also been introduced in this years ACF 2018 organization. The role of this committee is to sell the brand of ACF and mobilize resources and coordinate with other industries and corporate companies.

The Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Mark Ochitti has volunteered his expertise to ensure we have the required resources to make ACF 2018 a success.

Thirdly Authenticity, in last years’ festival many groups improvised from using jerricans as warrior shields to clothes designed as animal skin costumes. This was not in tandem with promoting our culture.

While we expect more exhibitions with a clear demarcation of zones for foods, dances and crafts; the only groups that will perform are those with the right regalia that Acoli use and not improvised options.

Last but not least, ACF 2018 will have Awards to Acoli people who have excelled in the area of this years theme.

An Awards committee has been put in place to identify what to award and eventually who to award for their excellence in special recognition for outstanding performance as an Acoli. This was an idea that was mooted last year but was not possible because of time constraint and resources.

Finally in promoting Acoli contemporary music  industry, the Acoli Music Show now takes place at Kaunda Grounds at a defined location that permits those who want to enjoy it as they sip their beers, spirits and local gin within the background of barbeques to give the day a great sense of life and fun.

Unlike last year, it will be free and not be hosted in Pece Stadium. The tentative location identified is the football field behind Gulu Senior Secondary School


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.




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