TNDQuestions: The 2018 interview with Eng. Odongo Okune, Tekwaro Lango Chief


Eng. Odongo Okune after his enthronement last in 2017. File photo

Lira – 10, August 2021: On 6, November 2018, the head of Tekwaro Lango—Dr Eng. Michael Odongo Okune had a one-on-one interview with this publication. On that day, he laid down his “preeminent schema” in order to develop and transform Lango’s lost cultural practices.

Aged 57 now, he said then: “It’s just a matter of time before my plans give impacts.”

Mr. Odongo was elected by the council of clan elders [Owitongi] who are loyal to him on 9, February 2017, in what he termed in November 2018 as the new ‘King of Lango’.

On the 12 May same year, the head of Tekwaro Lango was sworn in as Won Nyaci of Lango.

That election was questioned, and met a lot of protests by Mzee Yosam Odur Ebii, who later dragged Tekwaro Lango leadership to Lira High Court, accusing them of dethroning him from office illegally.

The Lira High Court years later ruled against them, “disorganizing the status quo”.

TND News today republishes part of the conversations  

Who’s Odongo, how old are you?

Eng. MOO: I’m 53 years old. I was born at Lira hospital [then] on Saturday 6th, March 1965. I convened the first ever Lango cultural conference in 2012, an achievement nobody has ever done. I worked with a committee of clan leaders, youth, and women, political and religious leaders, to have it end successfully.

Is there any impact [s] you’re proud of from that conference?

Eng. MMO: We have a constitution we are proud about—the Tekwaro Lango constitution is the product of that conference and it was upheld by the court. We also came out with Lango Development Agenda that Lango at different levels is now implementing it alongside government. Government of NRM gave us Lira University out of that conference.

Government has also finally designed Apac—Masindi road, and she is just looking for funds. Culturally, Lango is now critically aware of their cultural leadership and affairs.

From the conference, government gave us [appointed many] to be ministers, ambassadors, name them and the construction of Lango Cultural Palace is soon to start.

Who inspired you to join cultural leadership?

Eng. MMO: My grandmother Elizabeth Arao Odora who died in 2013 at 103 years. She groomed me, mentored me, and taught me into traditional leadership of Lango. She was the daughter of late Rwot Arum in 1930. She taught me tradition, culture, philosophies of the people of Lango; she drilled it all into me.

Another person was Honorable Joseph Okune [my father] and a former Minister of Planning and economic Development—he was extremely an intelligent person. One time he beat the whole East Africa in English in EACE exams.

He also studied from Ntare, where he met President Museveni. My father was an accomplished economist and up-to-date, I don’t miss reading a copy of the Economist published in United Kingdom.

They don’t recognize you as the Won Nyaci of Lango. What are your thoughts?

Eng. MMO: The only way is to accept that the change has come. The most powerful weapon in the country is an idea whose time has come. Time has come for leadership change at Lango Cultural Institution and you can’t resist it; it’s important we all embrace it because Lango Conference embraced it in 2012.

To resist it, you’re resisting the tide of history—we must all accept that the change has come through a constitutional order, not through anarchy, dominion or coup. Court has upheld that change.

Two, we need to accept that leadership is a sacrifice. Our cultural leaders must understand that leadership is not a source of living or earning. At the moment and once we accept that change is a constitutional process and leaders accept it’s a sacrifice, not a source of living, the cultural leaders can now settle down and plan for Lango.

What do you have for Lango?

Eng. MMO: We need to protect our language—what we speak now is a borrowed language. Since we came from Abyssinia in Ethiopia, we have inherited everything—from marriage to food we cook and eat.

We need to preserve our language by documenting it. Our children must be able to speak our local dialect right from nursery, primary and through secondary. Now it’s only some mothers teaching children with local language.

Once we are well organized as Lango and as cultural leaders, government can absorb it into their curriculum. This government listens to organized group.

Also, we need to register every clan and its leaders; document their practices, demography. Every clan must be documented and mapped.

Every clan must have a constitution. We must also identify, preserve and document our tourism sites and using such tourist sites as a source of income.

Read full interview here: 40 year plan


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