Out and about: The land question needs an answer

While in Gulu town in March 2010, I met a youthful councillor, Gilbert Olanya. He represented Amuru Sub-county at Amuru district council.

My impression: Olanya, now Kilak County MP is an amiable person. He was passionate about his people who talked about developing Amuru which was a virgin fertile area whose residents were just returing from IDP camps after many years of war.

Olanya was then aspiring to stand for Member of Parliament in 2011. He told me that when he goes through, he would mobilise people to use their fertile land to “turn the district into the country’s bread basket”.

He also whispered to me that greedy politicians were grabbing land and turned around to accuse government of stealing it. Of course Olanya was not willing to undress his peers in politics.
Since this government is indefensible, given its bad image over the years, Olanya now knows better that the land card is convenient for the politician he is.

I left Gulu thinking about Olanya’s passion for his people. And I wished him good well.
Time flies very fast.

Olanya is now MP. Amuru is still fertile. But like we saw in photos of the old mamas’ nude protest in Apaa, Pabbo Sub-country, the area is still quiet impoverished. Blame it on government that puts money in wrong places but leaves its people in poverty.

It is worse that the youth of Apaa wake up to drink local brew and like they say, idle bodies are a devil’s workshop.

When I spoke with Olanya on Sunday over accusations that he incited the old mamas to protest, he told me calmly about the challenges at the contested border. He, however, emphasised that the old mamas’ action was spontaneous. I feared.

Old mamas of Apaa recently stripped naked before ministers to show disapproval in the manner government handles the border dispute between Adjumani and Amuru districts.

I won’t join those condemning old women because they might have a legitimate concern though showing their nudity was too much as a manner of expressing their disapproval.

No person of such age, unless they are high on something, can go publicly naked for protest’s sake.

The border problem will be solved of course with the Madi community of Adjumani and the Acholi of Amuru dialoguing.
But the mindset of stripping goes away slowly. It is embarrassing for old mama and of their children.

By the way, why are loud voices over the border from Amuru not Adjumani?
Lastly, I return to the old mamas of Apaa. We need to address the issue of post war trauma.
Jacob Zuma’s call for a “psychological cure” for the xenophobic South Africans reminds us that before people start killing others, some other signs beyond their control have manifested themselves.

How long therefore shall we wait to see naked protests turning into ugly scenes of killings?
We need to cure this problem now, and it should be a cure beyond border demarcations.

mssegawa@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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