Nwoya Woman MP on why exorcism [ryemo gemo] is key in ‘fighting’ COVID-19

MP Lilly Adong. Photo credit Sunrise


  • The Nwoya district Woman MP, Hon. Lilly Adong also says ‘ryemo gemo’ is practiced all over the world.

It’s so sad that a people practicing their culture to complement government efforts to echo social distancing is being condemned to cultism. I implore those who misreported to the President to clarify to him, and explain to him exorcism in the African way being a celebrated Pan- Africanist.

Exorcism is the practice called in Acholi ‘RYEMO GEMO’. All religions cultured with origins somewhere practice it. The Christians practice exorcism in Churches, example; baptism, speaking in tongues, prayers to chase demons. All the intercessions in Churches are forms of exorcism.

Who doesn’t know that Africans are notoriously religious is all aspects? That’s why we even pray to stop the spirit of corruption from ravaging our land. How many national prayers have been organised and by who? That would be prayers of ‘RYEMO GEMO OF CORRUPTION IN ACHOLI’.

In Acholi, when an epidemic befalls the community, there is an old tradition of sounding alert called ryemo gemo (exorcism), in which each homestead or household gather at their doors usually in the evening or in the early hours of the morning and they make the loudest notice; banging objects ranging from empty tins to doors or any object that can amplify notice like it’s done in Churches when people are possessed by holy spirit.

They use is to also announce presence of other epidemic e.g., small pox, measles, etc., that used to kill people in big number, which is believed to be brought by Satan (bad spirit) or gemo. The chase or notice starts from East to West normally after pronouncements by the chief with some strict rules and punishments for failure to follow. 

Actually in one Chiefdom, people have been instructed for two days not to move out of homes, not even to go to their gardens, not to drink alcohol, not to eat cold food etc., 

With this COVID-19, what do you expect a traditional chief to do to rally his people to avert the looming gemo when the messages all over the TVs, radios, and villages are telling people of a looming disaster and to stay home something that Acholi did from time immemorial?

Besides, it has been done within the Acholi geographical area. Any non-native who feel offended must appreciate and learn the history of our culture as we are also doing it outside our sub-region such as, Imbalu in Bugisu, pulling, sleeping with daughters-in-laws to test where the cows are going etc., in other regions.

So, the Chiefs are simply re-echoing the social distancing and stay home and follow guidelines ordered, but in an African way. They [Chiefs] invoked their powers to complement government efforts. It did not involve people gathering for big meetings or going to the Chiefs’ place, but from each homesteads.

Culture is a right practiced in conformity with Article 2 of our Constitution. Prejudices is ignorance of the importance of culture.

The Chinese is becoming world power, they stuck to their culture. To prejudice that Acholi is a cult because of practicing their culture, is a violation of fundamental human rights.

The author is the Nwoya district Woman MP – 10th Parliament. All published herein are her opinion.

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