It was that unfinished work, which was finalised into a book “The Masters’ dogs and other Tales” by his family members.
KAMPALA - Entering into an open arena where the book launch was, I saw a portrait of the author, Innocent Onika Atubo. He looked young with an amiable face. I had earlier envisaged the physique of this tall dark skinned gentleman but instead I saw a portrait. unfortunately, that is when I heard that Innocent Onika Atubu died on September 2017, leaving behind some unfinished work.
It was that unfinished work, which was finalised into a book “The Masters’ dogs and other Tales” by his family members. It had a collection of short stories and poems, which Onika had penned down before his demise. The book launch brought together people of all walks of life at St. Cyprian Kihangire Secondary School on February 22,2019.
The chairperson Lango Development Forum, Robison Isaac Ogwanga, said Onika’s life is a story itself to the country, family and the world. “He matured at very young age. He was a visionary and forward looking young man, ahead of his years,” he said adding: “Onika put together a book but did not finish it. The book is very important to the government, Church and those in the academic world.”
Ogwanga noted that although death had snatched him away early, through the book, the reader can project where he could have been 20 to 30 years ahead.
The guest of honuor Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, former Speaker of the third East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) applauded the late for living behind a book and encouraged the rest of the young people to emulate him. “This should encourage the rest of us to cultivate the culture of writing,” she said.
In spite of that, Zziwa noted the author used a lot of western names instead of the local ones owing to the fact most of the literature the young generation has been exposed to is from West.
She called upon the administration of St. Cyprian Kihangire to encourage every student to be a writer in school that is writing about their own stories in order to shape the future of African writers.
Zziwa noted that Onika’s book is a very important one in developing people’s careers. “If Onika can do it, then you can do it,” she told the young scholars.
Beverly Namboozo, an acclaimed poet and author marked Onika as a great story teller. “The book could be looked at with two lenses: leadership and identity,” she said. “He himself said that in a world where we cannot be ourselves, let the story make our dream come true.”
Namboozo zeroed on the story of giraffe to ring a bell with students who had insecurities about their bodies as a result of the way other people perceive them. She encouraged students to avoid fitting in the crowd and instead opt for standing out thus making their true potential shine.
“His stories and poetries were profound and strong. His dialogue was that of a transformational leadership creating leaders not followers, which Onika was trying to say,” Namboozo argued. “Leaders create other leaders, but not followers.”
The father of the author, former Lands, Housing and Urban Development minister Daniel Omara Atubo said Onika was a special child because he was the youngest, he was a friend, driver, cook and good companion. “He was an intelligent, cute, friendly, industrious, humorous and innovative young person. He referred to himself as a young story teller who believed in the power of transformative leadership to effective positive change in society,” he eulogized. “I am proud of my son because he died leaving behind the legacy of this book.”
Harriet Anena, the 2018 Wole Soyinka winner encouraged young people to begin to write now instead of waiting to be an adult.
Innocent Onika was born on 23rd may 1991 to Omara and Margaret Otubo and he died on 17th September 2017, at the age of 26.