By Abalo Irene Otto
Ker Kwaro Acholi, the cultural institution that brings together all the Acholi as an ethnic group is organizing a three days’ cultural festival this December to converge the Acholi community in a bid to rejuvenate and celebrate their cultural heritage.
The festival is expected to host over 10,000 people, from all parts of the world, and invited guests including chiefs, kings and friends from Kenya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania among others to showcase progress in Acholi after over two decades of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency. The festival also aims at bringing back the lost glory of the culture.
According to the Acholi Cultural Festival Legacy Awards chairperson, Julius Labeja, the festival aims to bring back the cherished heritage of the Acholi people and reward hard working individuals.
“We aim to bring together our people in this festival and appreciate them for their efforts in various disciplines. There are those who have excelled academically, those who worked hard in the peace process, there are some exceptional Acholi leaders and children need to learn from them that in our culture, hard work is appreciated with gratitude,” said Labeja.
“We shall see how the Acholi and friends love home by contributing towards this event that is meant to bring us together as children of the land. We want to teach our children to know where they come from and appreciate who they are,” Said Atek.
She added that among the activities that will run from December 14 -16, 2017, are; cooking competitions, testing foods and Acholi local brew, Fashion shows in Acholi tradition attire, Wang O or bone fire and the legacy awards gala.
The event will take place at Ker Kwaro Acholi in Bardege Division, Kaunda Grounds, Taks Centre and Acholi Inn depending on the scheduled activities. She revealed that restaurants will strictly serve Acholi dishes and exhibitions will focus on the cultural heritage.
The Acholi Paramount Chief, Lawirwodi Rwot David Onen Acana II called for unity among the Acholi after a long rebellion that crippled cultural heritage in many home settings.
“For a long time, the Acholi went through a lot of difficulties that affected our culture. Some people have never came back home. Come back home and rebuild our culture together. Our children can no longer speak the fluent Acholi that our parents taught us. The influence of modernity is a threat to our own identity. It is time we bring our children home to know where they belong,” said Rwot Acana II.
He added that there are some Acholi living in the diaspora who have never come back to their root, they only send money through technology yet their physical presence would make a difference in the lives of other children in that home.
“Time has come for us to put aside our differences and come home. There are those that do not bring their children home. Bring them home. This festival is about sharing love and passing knowledge to one another especially the young ones. We know that many have lived out of Acholi land. We want them to come back home,” the Paramount Chief emphasized.
Rwot Acana II also said that there is need for Acholi to expose their heritage which is potential for tourism to the outside world to demystify the belief and thinking that the Acholi are backward and from camp life.
“We want to show the world that the Acholi are progressing in life. We want to show a different side of Acholi, not the Acholi people call backward and from camp life. We also want people to come and see our civilization in terms of dignity, respect, hospitality and progress in life. We love people and we want those who love us to join us as we unite,” Rwot Acan II explained.
The paramount Chief urged the Acholi and government of Uganda to protect, develop and promote tourism sites in Acholi land that include; Guru Guru Hill in Amuru where the 1911 Lamogi rebellion took place, the Amuru Hot springs, Fort Patiko for Slave trade during the era of Sir Samuel Baker the missionary, Acholi foods and Artifacts among other cultural resources.
This is the first festival to be organized by Ker Kwaro Acholi, the cultural institution that brings together all Acholi people after over two decades of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency that squandered lives destroyed homesteads and displaced thousands of people.