By Emmanuel Mwaka Lutukumoi
The British say “the real taste of the pudding is in the eating!” While the Lango say, when you only eat your mother’s food, you think she is the only and best cook! Try Lira.
The melancholy, the ambience, the sights and sounds in Lira betrays the old adage of the ‘north being a war zone, full of agony and desperations’ the hard working community of peasant and business background has redrawn the map of Uganda.
Lira is now a potential city with its people, the Lango becoming real bread wiener of the country and a bread basket at that. Lira now produces the highest amount of oil seeds in the country; it has enough tonnages of produces such as, sunflower, Shea Butter nuts, simsim, groundnuts, cotton, maize, and many others. It hosts more than 25 seed oil companies and factories. Mukwano Company, Guru Nanak oil mills are among the biggest producers of oil among others. Nanak produce high quality body lotion sold in Kampala malls, even Europe and Dubai. One can easily pick up Shea lotions in any Shoprite in Kampala and other parts of the country. It is estimated that farmers of sunflower alone go back daily with over sh700m from these companies from records available.
After the two decades war that devastated Northern Uganda, lots of negative images were sold across the World about Lira and other districts in Northern Uganda. The latest barrage being one from a writer, Dr. Ian Clark who opined that Lira is “Stinking city”. He was commenting on the poor state of drainages, sewage lines and the laxity of the leaders. Right or wrong Lira deserves the best. Thank God, the Government has put in sh5.6b to make Lira and other 14 municipalities be first class towns with first class roads, better drainages and lights. This will take Lira a decent town.
The Government has put in magnificent investments on roads; health centres, schools and the market. The new market brings owe to Lira and set it as a distinct city. The magnanimity of the sights of the two storied structured market capable of housing nearly 3000 traders, makes the critics of government nervous.
The President made pledges in billions to construct huge bridges that separate Lira from other Lango Districts like Otuke, Alebtong, Apac for better development. The Bridge in Ogur code named ‘Kaguta Bridge’, the Aromo and Agaili bridges, when made will no doubt boast Lira development. Besides the Busy Kyoga Ferry that bridges Lira to Nakasongola, the government’s commitment to improve energy and Agriculture is a clear indication of the country’s ambition to achieve vision 2040.
Politically, Lira is predominantly UPC given the life brought by a splendid home and sculpture of the late, Dr. Milton Obote, Uganda’s first Prime Minister, and son of the soil. In spite of UPC background, the leadership in Lira is not opposed to the Government programmes and besides being supportive, and they also vote President Museveni. In 2011, the President garnered 70% of the votes in Lango.
The youthful RDC, George Odongo, initiated the ‘Commissioner’s Forum’ that brings in motivational corporate speakers from around the world. They share experiences with civil, public servants, corporate and other business associates. This improves networking and development. The forum will host Robert Kabushenga of the Vision Group who is the target for the next motivational commissioner’s dinner this month. There is also ‘The Commissioner newsletter’ that highlights government programmes, challenges and opportunities giving access to information for better accountability.
After a week’s work, the inhabitants of Lira rests off their mind in the corporate night dance always organised on first and last Fridays of the month at Lira Hotel. If it’s Friday, the greeting is “happy Friday”…ok, I won’t comment on the beautiful women of Lira.
The writer is the deputy RDC-Lira