Lango Web

The Independent Voice of Lango, Northern Uganda, since 2007

About Lango Diaspora Conference

 

Lango Diaspora Conference August 24-26th 2007 was conceived by Langi in the Diaspora after the realisation that Lango sub-region in northern Uganda has lagged behind in development, especially in the last 20 years, compared to the rest of Uganda. Lango is characterised as the 6th least developed region in Uganda. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency has been a major contributing factor to the underdevelopment of Northern Uganda and of Lango region in particular.

 

The conference came at a time when the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army LRA, are holding peace talks in Juba-Southern Sudan. Since the peace talks began one year ago, there has been a spell of peace in Northern Uganda. The people formerly living in internally displaced people’s camps have started to return to their villages. The conference was therefore timely in its deliberation to discuss how best the region can be rebuilt after two decades of conflict.

 

The conference focused primarily on Lango sub-region. The dire humanitarian situation in Lango sub-region appears to have been overshadowed by those of her neighbours Acholi and Teso. As a result, Lango sub region has not received deserved attention, as her neighbours have.   

 

The conference adopted a non-partisan approach to development. This was done to unite the people of Lango, regardless of their loyalties and affiliations, for the noble task of rebuilding their motherland.

 

This report contains summaries of speeches, conference papers and presentations. It is a blueprint for the development of northern Uganda.

 

The conference was made possible through financial contributions from individual members of the Lango community in the UK and Lango community globally. The Government of Uganda also contributed £5000 towards the facilitation of the conference.

 

Wide ranging views and ideas for the conference from individual Langi worldwide were collected through Yahoogroups of Lango Development Forum and Lango Association UK. Additional input to the conference came from radio talk shows. Radio North FM and Radio Unity FM enabled discussions to take place on air before and during the conference.

 

Numerous volunteers in the UK, Uganda and other countries gave invaluable support for the success of the conference.

 

Objectives  

 

The objectives of the Conference were:

 

·           To enable the Langi in the Diaspora and back home to discuss the development of Lango sub region.

·          To identify factors hindering the development of Lango sub-region, and make recommendations.

·           To raise awareness of the international community about the humanitarian situation in Lango sub-region.

·           To enable the Langi in the Diaspora to have meaningful discussions about the development of the sub-region with the Government of Uganda, members of parliament, Lango professionals and opinion leaders.

·           To produce a document that can be used by development partners in the re-construction of Northern Uganda and re-construction of Lango sub-region in particular.

Source of information

Information contained in this report was compiled from four different sources:

- Papers and speeches presented during the conference
- Recordings of the conference proceedings done by the Secretary of LA and by external media specialists
- Papers meant for the conference but were not presented due to various constraints
- Views from members of the Lango community world-wide, generated from Lango Association and Lango Development Forum internet groups. 

 

Participation

 

The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from various countries. There were 5 categories of delegates;

 

(a)    The Langi in the Diaspora. A majority of the Langi who attended the conference were from the UK, where most of the Langi in the Diaspora live. Other delegates came from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden South Africa and USA.

 

(b)    The Langi from Uganda. These included the Lango Paramount Chief (Won Nyaci) Yocam Odur, members of parliament, local government leaders, teachers, businessmen, opinion leaders and women representatives.

 

(c)    Uganda Government representatives. The government delegation was headed by Hon Amama Mbabazi - Minister for security. He was accompanied by Hon David Wakikona Minister of State for Northern Uganda and Hon Daniel Omara Atubo, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban development.

 

(d)    British Government representative. Her Majesty’s Government was represented by Hon Steven Timms- MP for East Ham and Minister for Industry. He conveyed apology from Hon Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour party and Patron of Lango Association who was not able to attend due to prior arrangements.

 

(e)    NGO representatives. Although several NGOs were invited, only the Danish-Uganda Friendship association was represented and made a presentation.

 

 

Conference programme overview

 

As stated earlier, the conference focused on the development of Lango sub-region. Organisers made it clear that this would be a non-partisan gathering aimed at involving all stakeholders in the reconstruction of Lango sub-region.

 

Day 1, Friday 24 August 2007: Maiden Session

 

The maiden session of the conference took place on Friday evening at East London Rugby Club. It was hosted by the Secretary of Lango association, Robert Olet Egwea. In his opening speech, Mr. Egwea stressed the non-partisan nature of the conference, maintaining that for the sake of development people should put aside political, religious, clan and other differences. Speaking at the same gathering, the Chairman of Lango Association, Alex Okullo, warmly welcomed delegates to London. He called for concerted efforts by all Lango stakeholders in rebuilding the sub-region that had been devastated by the 20 year conflict.

 

The session was designed to create an atmosphere of harmony amongst the delegates before the official opening the following day. Speaker after speaker expressed gratitude to the organisers for bringing the Langi together, and called for concerted efforts, regardless of political, religious and other differences in ensuring the development of Lango sub-region. There was a consensus amongst delegates that Lango was lagging behind in development and that the best way forward was a non-partisan approach to development.

 

The delegates had refreshments and discussed various issues related to development in a relaxed and friendly environment.

 

Day 2 & 3: Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August 2007 – Main Session

 

This session took place in the University of East London, Docklands campus, and was relayed live on radio Unity FM and Radio North FM of Lira in Northern Uganda. The Masters of Ceremonies were Eddy George Ococ and Dr Mike Wacha.

 

The opening session on Saturday started with the Ugandan national anthem in English and Leb Lango, led by Lango children with guidance from Ruth Atubo, a teacher and member of Lango Association management committee. This was followed by prayers led by Pastor Tom Okello of Lwo Gospel fellowship.

 

The presence of various delegates was then acknowledged: Distinguished delegates included: Won Nyaci Yocam Odur the Lango Paramount Chief, Hon Steven Timms, British MP for East Ham and Minister of Industry, Hon Amama Mbabazi Minister of Security, Mrs. Joan Rwabyomere Ugandan High Commissioner in London, Hon David Wakinona, Minister of State for northern Uganda and Daniel Omara Atubi, Minister of Landa, Housing & Urban Development. 

 

The presence of delegates from various countries was also acknowledged and this included: Dr Mike Ogwal from USA, Dr Oku Oleng from Australia, Adam Odwar from Canada, Edward Ojuka   from South Africa, Peters Agea from Denmark. Also introduced were Lango Members of Parliament, namely: Hon Omara Atubo, who is also Minister of Lands, Housing & Urban Development, Hon Ben Wacha, Chairman of Lango Parliamentary Group, Hon Rebecca Otengo, Hon Beatrice Lagada, and Hon David Ebong Abongo.

 

The LC5 Chairmen present were also introduced, namely: Franco Ojur (Lira), Rtd Col Charles Okello Engola (Oyam), Adoli (Amolatar). Other people introduced included Sam Engola-a prominent Lira businessman, Major (Rtd) Olila- aide to the Won Nyaci. 

 

After the introductions, speeches and papers were presented, summaries of which are published in this website.

 

End of Conference dinner: Sunday 26th August 2007

 

After the two-day marathon of speeches and presentations, time came for delegates to relax. They were invited to East London Rugby Club for a grand dinner prepared by over 20 Lango Women.  The closing session was hosted by Alex Okullo, Chairman of Lango Association. In his closing speech, the Chairman thanked the Government of Uganda for accepting invitation to attend the conference. He also thanked all the delegates for their participation. The Chairman introduced the Executive of the Association as well as all the people who organised the conference under different committees.

 

Speaking at the same gathering the head of Uganda Government delegation Hon Amama Mbabazi thanked Lango Association for inviting the Government of Uganda to the conference and said that they would be waiting for recommendations. Mr. Mbabazi called upon the Langi to build on the warm relations that had been established in London.

 

Other people who spoke at the closing ceremony were Won Nyaci, Yocam Odur who called upon the Langi in the Diaspora never to forget home. Daniel Omara Atubo praised the organisers of the conference for bringing the Langi together, and challenged every member of the Lango community to work hard for the future and not just rely on their father’s names for success, for those whose fathers were famous or well-to-do.

 

An atmosphere of harmony, tranquility, joy and relief prevailed during this gathering. There was a smile in everybody’s face. The presence of Won Nyaci gave the Langi a real sense of belonging as could be seen from the numerous people who queued up to say hello to the Paramount Chief while bowing down so low or kneeling down.

 

People chatted freely and even cracked jokes with each other including government officials. Hon Amama Mbabazi summoned it all when he said “This is the closest I have ever got to the Langi. …. Apwoyo, apwoyo, apwoyo matek”. He said the Langi are like the Bakiga – they can tell you things on your face, but do not hold grudges and can be very friendly.

 

When the time came for people to dance, everyone was on their feet to the first tune: “Won Nyaci wa, Won Nyaci wa, Won Nyaci megwa …..”  The Paramount Chief, Yosam Odur stood up and waved to his people amid loud applause and cheerful ululations.

 

The gathering came to very positive conclusion. No incidents were reported. The security personnel from Scotland Yard and Uganda who were on standby had no job to do because everything was ran and concluded so smoothly.

 

 

NOTE EN TEKO


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