By Awitong Eng. Dr. Michael M. Odongo, Awitim me Lango/Rwot Cokere 2012
LIRA, 15 NOVEMBER 2012: Preparations for Lango Conference 2012 (LC12) are in high gear. The conference shall be held in Lira on the dates 27th, 28th and 29th December 2012 and shall be attended by a cross section of Lango leaders drawn from home and Diaspora to discuss critical issues pertaining to development of Lango. The overarching conference objective is to come up with a Lango Development Agenda (LDA). This could possibly be a basis for a social contract between the people of Lango and governments at both central and local levels, and development partners for a coordinated effort in improving the quality of lives of the people. The desire to craft a Lango development agenda stems from a strong realization of development deficit in the region as a result of numerous events of the past. Ranked alongside other regions of the country against various indicators of the quality of life, Lango currently scores dismally. The challenge of resettling a population of nearly one million people displaced by war and cattle rustling over the last 30 years adds a dimension of social conflict especially over land and related resources.
Lango Conference 2012 is a project of the Owitong (Clan Chiefs) of Lango through their umbrella Council and under the leadership of His Highness Won Nyaci to attempt a response to these challenges. Within the current legal framework governing and/or regulating activities of cultural institutions in the country, His Highness Won Nyaci and Council of Owitong derive the mandate to organise LC12 from Section 9 of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act 2011. This states “a traditional or cultural leader shall promote the development, preservation and enrichment of all the people in the community where he or she is recognized as such”. There is thus no creep on mandates of other leaders and governing groups in respect of this pursuit.
In pursuit of this noble objective the Chiefs have built a strong alliance with professionals and academics both at home and in the Lango Diaspora, as well as business leaders, youth, farmers, faith-based groups, community groups and political leaders in pursuit of a suitable development framework. There is a strong yearning for unity in the community underpinned by the theme of the conference, which is LANGO UNITED FOR DEVELOPMENT. The resulting LDA is designed within a framework that considers four Strategic Objectives i.e. Cultural Values and Traditional Leadership, Building Capacity for the Future, Mobilizing Resources for Sustainable Development and Active Participation in Politics and Governance. Discussion papers shall be presented within each of these strategic objectives. The underlying principle in this framework design is that a properly constituted traditional leadership imbued with the right cultural values will be a pillar for Lango unity and main engine for development.
A 72-person Steering Committee operating through eleven sub committees has to date advanced conference arrangements on many fronts. Logistical issues associated with venue, preparation of conference papers, drafting the LDA document, refreshments, public communications, mobilization and others are fully on track. The enthusiasm for the conference has seen ordinary people to date raising well over UGX64million shillings (still growing), about 10 heads of cattle and sundry requirements for the meeting. There have also been numerous expressions of support, encouragement and criticisms proffered by members of the community which the steering committee has taken into account in packaging the conference.
The three-day conference will start with a youth conference on 27 December 2012 to feed into the main conference on 28 and 29 December 2012. Proceedings shall be in Leb Lango, except for technical presentations that shall be in English but with accompanying summaries in Leb Lango. His Highness Won Nyaci shall open the conference on Day-Two i.e. 28 December 2012 and closure on Day three i.e. 29 December 2012 has been reserved for Government, at the highest level possible.
As part of preparation, His Highness Won Nyaci visited Lango Diaspora communities in USA and UK in October 2012 to meet and brief them about LC12 and to invite them home in December 2012 to participate in the Conference. The main outstanding task is now registration of delegates based on clan structures and various groupings recognized by the Steering Committee.
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure some Langi, both abroad and at home, who have expressed fears and reservations about its organization, that LC12 is apolitical and non-denominational. It is not and shall not be a forum for partisan politics or settlement of political scores. It transcends all these unavoidable divisions in the community for it answers to the higher cries of our people who long for a better quality of life in the coming years. On behalf of the Steering Committee, duly established by the Won Nyaci Won Deo through the Committee of Owitong, I urge all leaders of Lango to support this imitative and actively participate in it for the betterment of all our people.
I say all these for KUC, YOTKOM kede NYODO!
It was immediately after Christmas 2012 when a number of Langi from around the globe who are focused on development came together at Uganda Technical Collage Lira to discuss Lango Development Agenda.