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Rev. Canon Erecenia Opito (RIP): The first headteacher of Aber Primary School 

(Last Updated On: 14 December 2023)

Aber | Agreeably, Erecenia Opito was the first Lango convert to Christianity under the auspices of the then Native Anglican Church (NAC) now the Church of Uganda (CoU).

He studied at Gulu High School, where he used to walk from Aber in Oyam to Gulu town, 45 miles (72 kilometres). He used to do the trek with his elder sister, Lucy Atim (RIP), who got married to Rwot Lakana Otim (RIP).

He later studied at Buwalasi Teachers Training College (TTC), Mbale, to become a teacher and then later at Bishop Tucker College (now Uganda Christian University (UCU), Mukomo, to become a Reverand. He was baptised in 1918 and started his teaching profession in 1919.

He was ordained the first Reverand of the NAC (now CoU) in Lango Sub-region in 1942. Then he was appointed the Rural Dean of the NAC, based at St. James CoU, Wigua Aboke in 1956.

In 1958, he was ordained the first Rev. Canon of NAC at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Aduku, in Lango Sub-region.

Erecenia also worked under Bishop Wilson and Associate Bishop Russel of the Upper Nile Diocese of NAC, which used to start from Tororo and stretched, covering the whole of Northern Uganda.

Some of his outstanding achievements include, inter alia:

  • Tutoring Archbishop Janani Luwum (RIP) while at St. James CoU Wigua Aboke.
  • Establishment, with others, several Churches and Schools under NAC, in and around Lango Sub-region.
  • St. John CoU Aber and Aber Primary School which celebrates 100 years today, is one of those he was a founding member. He went ahead to serve as the First Headteacher of Aber Primary School in 1923.
  • During the severe famine in 1947, he introduced a new method of planting cassava to achieve double yield. He instructed the farmers to plant cassava stems like a cross in the ground. This improved the cassava yield and greatly alleviated starvation caused by famine.

Erecenia Opito is from Arak Ocola Iyam Iyam clan in Lango. His father was Oryang Apea and his mother was Maliam Kerwegi, an Acoli lady from Kitgum.

Also read: Aber P7 @100 years: 83-year-old former pupil, Betty Ocwet recalls 

Oryang Apea gave one riffle (gun) as bride price for Maliam. Erecenia’s brothers were Jago Enoci Egwel, who planted the forest at Aber Sub-county. Erinasto Otim and Lucepo Obura.

Erecenia was married to Eceja Akello, daughter of Erukana Anyima of Abwor clan in Lango. They had their wedding in 1947 and God blessed them with seven children. Three of these have passed away and the surviving four are Perpetua Akullu, Gladys Tino Alele, David Egwel and Benson Owiny.

Rev. Canon Opito has a dormitory named after him at Dr. Obote College, Boroboro, while another dormitory, in the same school, is named after his cousin, Rwot Owiny Akullu (RIP).

He died on 7th November 1960 and was buried at the compound of All Saints Cathedral, Boroboro. Eceja Akello Opito died in June 1979, soon after Idi Amin Dada’s government was overthrown.

Because of the existing chaotic situation in the country at that time, her body could not be taken to be buried near her husband at All Saints Cathedral, Boroboro. She was buried in the family burial ground at Aber Sub-county.

Rev. Canon Erecenia Opito convinced his paternal uncle Rwot Okello Abong to give over 100 acres of land for the establishment of Aber Primary School.

Some of this area has been settled in by particularly families of members who worked in St. John CoU, Aber. The remaining fifty acres are now owned and already leased by Aber Primary School.

By David Egwel

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