By Dennis Ojwee
THE Democratic Party (DP) President, Norbert Mao has described the late former Gulu LC 5 chairman, Col. Walter Ochora-Odoch as leader with ‘Legacy of Patriotism’.
“Col. Walter Ochora was a potential politician, a soldier, a farmer and a businessman. Even if he reaped losses after losses in his farm, you would not know because he was a courageous farmer who knew to recover from those loses”, said Mao.
He said Ochora was a good and intelligent soldier because he attended the best military academy and knew the power of the gun but learnt to hate dictatorial rule.
“Ochora was not a double-dealer. He denounced rebellion once as a rebel leader and rebounded back to the bush war again because he loved peace. He listened to advice of the elderly people who gave him a just course locally known as ‘Lapir’ because he (Ochora) fought battles and survived death from many attacks”, added.
Mao said Ochora is remembered as a man full of humor, a man who stood by the people and worked for the people and he would also be invited as chief-mourner at most funerals. He was not a sycophant.
Ochora's widow breaks down in tears during the ceremony. Photo by Dennis Ojwee
“So, it is for some of these few mentioned reasons why we (Acholi people) will live to remember Col. Ochora”, Mao added.
Mao added that Ochora had a big contribution in the areas of economic development because of his deeds as a businessman.
On peace and security, Mao alluded that Ochora’s vision was to see to it that the people of Gulu and Acholi live in peace and harmony despite the effects of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel war that ravaged the region for over 23 years.
He said he made his lecture full of stories and humour to try and depict those qualities in the late Ochora who was a man full of stories and humour.
Mao appealed to the current Gulu Resident District Commissioner, Catherine Lamwaka not to waste time on some actions such as ‘walk-to-walk’.
He said the office of the RDC that chairs the district security committee should be able to work together with the police and other security organs to deal with suspected hardcore criminals who might be of great danger to the district’s security if not dealt with.
UPDF 4th Division commander lays a wreath on Col. Walter Ochora’s grave. Photo by Dennis Ojwee
He added that Ochora was a strong promoter of government decentralization programs and a practical patriot and was elected the regional chairman for his distinct character as a potential leader in Acholi region.
Mao, speaking Acholi, made the lengthy remarks while addressing a large audience gathered at the Gulu district council hall, formerly Acholi District Council Hall in the 1960s.
This was a first public Memorial lecture that was a resolution passed by the current Gulu district council to annually remember Col. Ochora Odoch.
Former MP Agago County MP and ex-leader of Opposition in parliament, Prof. Livingstone Ogenga Latigo, said that Col. Ochora was a brave, jolly, peaceful, and straight-talker who never tolerated nonsense during his leadership and who indiscriminately loved the people of Acholi.
Ogenga appealed to the people of Acholi to re-unite as one tribe and regain their past glory by getting back to the true ways the past Acholi leaders led their people with dignity, truth, humility, love and reputable culture.
Gulu RDCs lay a wreath on Col. Walter Ochora’s grave. Photo by Dennis Ojwee
Tonny Kitara asked the memorial lecture to publish a book in the name of Ochora or name an institution that shall remain forever. Ameda said the problem of Acholi is not leadership but lack of unity among the leaders.
Anthony Akol challenged the people of Acholi to be exemplary in the future when they die. He appealed to the people of Acholi to strongly unite and speak one language and sends their children to school and attain high levels of education.
The UPDF 4th Division Commander, Col. Emmanuel Kanyesigye, said he was impressed by the brilliant presentation Mao made.
“Hon. Mao, the way I knew you has now changed. I had never heard you speak like this. Now I respect you. But I appeal to you to join President Museveni in the quest for peace, harmony and national development in the country”, Kanyesigye said as he sparked laughter.
Kanyesigye added that for the UPDF, Ochora served diligently and rose through the ranks without any disciplinary problems until he retired.
He said Ochora was a very good a man and a professional UPDF officer who fought for the future of the Acholi people and diligently served the people of Uganda.