By Odongo Lango
There is enormous angst among the Lango talking class. Parasitic in nature, these are people who would rather fester divisive public discourse on the cultural leadership of the Lango people rather than cooperative issues-based conversations.
I am an eternal optimist about our great and storied people. The Lango people provided Uganda with its first field marshal and an Olympic gold medalist.
These people, out of their ingenuity, also sent a son to LEGICO in the late 1950s who went on to become the First Executive Prime Minister of Uganda. Almost numbering 4 million people, Lango is a central thread in the story of Uganda.
The great Lango people are egalitarian and detest hereditary central kingship. To the Lango people, each man is a king in his household. They cannot withstand someone lording over others. And certainly, they don’t bow down to others.
Some years back, some greedy copycats thought they might transplant a “Bantu-like” royalty to Lango. They created a central king named Won Nyaci.
Like Aesop’s story of frogs who prayed to Zeus to send them a king, a fine elderly gentleman, named Yocam Odur was selected to be the King of Lango.
He started enjoying the state allocation of a monthly stipend of 5 million shillings for cultural leaders and a nice station wagon. He was feted as “Won Deo” or “the most handsome”. Very soon, he got addicted to the sweet chair.
Traditionally, the Lango people are organised into clans headed by Awitong. This, according to history, is the highest office a Lango man can attain. Each clan member is highly loyal to their Awitong (meaning Army General or Head of Clan).
When the Clan Heads from all over Lango meet in Council, they elect one of them to be the first among equals who become the paramount chief.
This is exactly what the clan heads did and another fine gentleman, Eng Dr Moses Odongo Okune, the Executive Director, and emeritus of Uganda Road Fund was elected. This is when things fell apart.
Mzee Yocam Odur, already addicted to the sweet perks of office, became disgruntled and went to court. He lost. He appealed again to the constitutional court and lost again.
Having lost in the courts of law, he and his acolytes decided to fight the war in the court of public opinion. They launched a vicious media trench warfare on the cultural chiefs who legally elected Eng Odongo.
They were so successful in their media campaign that even the President couldn’t dare recognise the legally elected paramount chief of Lango, Eng Odongo.
Just like the jealous woman in the biblical story of the dead child before King Solomon, they would rather kill the cultural institution of Lango, than let it be led by Eng Odongo Okune. Which is saddening. Currently, the cultural institution in Lango is in a virtual stalemate.
The writer, from the great Okarowok clan, hails from Minakulu.