By Moses Mulondo
Amidist excitement, the deputy speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, flagged off the West Nile torch which is aimed at creating awareness about the region’s historic commemoration of 100 years since it became part of Uganda in 1914.
West Nile is a region in the Northern part of Uganda composed of 8 districts which include Arua, Koboko, Yumbe, Nebbi, Maracha, Adjumani, Zombo, and Moyo.
The area was originally part of DR Congo under the Belgian colonial rule before it was annexed to Uganda by the British colonial rulers.
Oulanya flags off the torch at parliament
Standing at the steps in front of the parliament building Monday, Oulanyah hoisted the torch after which he gave a speech in which he congratulated the leaders from West Nile for the various activities they have organized for the celebrations.
“It is important to commemorate events because it helps us ask fundamental questions on where we came from, where we are and where we should be. It is a fundamental process of assessing our progress and challenges,” Oulanyah said.
He implored the region’s leaders and all Ugandans not use history to lament but to use it to prepare for a better future.
“I am happy to flag off the torch. Although some roads are still bad, West Nile now has better roads than it is used to be. Let the people of West Nile know that remaining part of Uganda is important. We should be proud of our country,” he appealed.
The deputy premier Gen. Moses Ali, commonly known as the lion of West Nile, said, “We are grateful to God for enabling us to reach this celebration. As elders, we shall be handing over the next 100 years to the young generation.”
Richard Oput, the coordinator for the events, said the theme for the celebrations will be celebrating our heritage, providing hope for the future.
The climax of the celebrations will be in Arua next week on Monday (April 21, 2014) during President Yoweri Museveni will be the guest of honour in the company of his ministers and foreign diplomats.
Speaking on behalf of elders, commissioner for lands, Hellen Oyeru said, “It is a great honour for us to be celebrating this occasion. There has been a lot of progress made in West Nile especially in the last 25 years.”
Former Prime Minister Dr. Erick Adriko said, “It will be a great pleasure for Ugandans to come and witness this event. The NRM government has rendered so many services to our region. We thank all our leaders who have brought us this far.”
He also thanked the colonialists and the missionaries for the social services like education, health services and religion which got them out of ‘darkness.’
The state minister for investment, Dr. Gabriel Ajedra, said they will use the occasion to profile West Nile as a tourism and investment destination.
“We have already identified 44 tourism attractions and many investment opportunities which we shall be promoting in West Nile,” Ajedra said.
Ajedra said during the occasion in Arua, the President will launch Vision Group’s Urban TV and UBC’s Arua One TV for the region.
The state minister for finance Fred Mandir Omach said, “It will be an opportunity for us to showcase our achievements in the last 100 years. We shall use it to emphasize unity in diversity because our region is made up of so many tribes.”
Omach said the eclipse monument and the place in Koboko district boarding three countries (DR Congo, South Sudan and Uganda) are some of the tourist attractions they will promote.