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Akaki is wrong on Peter Otai

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Added 25th February 2020 09:08 AM

When Jimmy Akena spoke about the heroism of Peter Otai when his body was received at Entebbe Airport and at his funeral in Oderai near Soroti in Uganda, he was not speaking out of ignorance. He spoke because he knows that Peter Otai is a UPC and Ugandan hero.

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When Jimmy Akena spoke about the heroism of Peter Otai when his body was received at Entebbe Airport and at his funeral in Oderai near Soroti in Uganda, he was not speaking out of ignorance. He spoke because he knows that Peter Otai is a UPC and Ugandan hero.

OPINION

By George Okurapa

In the New Vision of Monday February 10, 2020, “How Otai betrayed Obote” Sam Akaki, writing from London said:

“Then last week, two screaming headlines which can not go unchallenged appeared in the New Vision, exalting Peter Otai. In one, “UPC mourns Peter Otai” (January 30), UPC President Jimmy Akena told reporters at Entebbe International Airport that Peter Otai had served the UPC Government and country diligently.

Really? In another headline, “Peter Otai: A Ugandan Hero Departed too soon (February 3) George Okurapa wrote “I thank President Museveni and the Government of Uganda for honouring our true hero, Peter Otai. I want to reflect on the life he lived and pay tribute to his courage and dedication to his country Uganda. Really?”

While I was shocked to witness a display of unmatched ignorance and bias in Akaki’s writing about Peter Otai’s heroism, I was equally not surprised that Akaki would write this while Ugandans are still mourning the death of this great son of Teso and Uganda.

In speaking to those who were close to Peter Otai in London, the consensus opinion seems to be that it would have been a miracle if Akaki had said anything positive about Peter Otai in death. He did not agree with him in life and would obviously celebrate his death by attempting to wash away any credit that this great hero deserves.

Despite how Akaki related to Peter Otai in life and with all due respect to Akaki, his lies and attempt to undermine Peter Otai’s heroism can not go unchallenged.

Akaki obviously needs help understanding why both Jimmy Akena, the UPC president, myself and many Ugandan leaders, Ugandans in the Diaspora and all-over Uganda mourned the death of Peter Otai and are still praising him as their hero.

Akaki may have his own definition of a “hero” which he is entitled to, but to help understand why Peter Otai is being praised as a hero, the definition of a hero by Dictionary.com may be a good starting point for Akaki.

It defines a hero as “ a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal” Peter Otai had special abilities and was a quality man who many regarded as their role model.

On January 25th, 2020 hundreds of Ugandans in London gathered at Holy Trinity Church, Tulse Hill, London, to pray for their departed hero Peter Otai, followed by a dignified reception where various Ugandan Community leaders in London UK and those who were able to travel from North America or send written tributes from Africa and Europe, took to the microphone one by one and spoke of the heroism of Peter Otai.

If Akaki had put aside his differences with Peter Otai and attended either his funeral service or the tribute reception that the Ugandan Community put together in honour of this great man, his selfish bias towards Peter Otai would have been dwarfed.

He would have seen how almost every Ugandan community was represented and he would have heard tributes to this great man from leaders of the Acholi, Lango, Busoga, Japadhola and other Ugandan communities as they spoke how Peter Otai always went out of his way, utilizing his own limited resources, to make sure that he provided support to any Ugandan who arrived in London and needed his help.

He would have heard how Ugandans narrated how this great man would jump into a train on short notice to defend any Ugandan who arrived in London and needed immigration help.

He would have heard from the glowing tributes, how a tribe where one came from did not matter to Peter Otai. To him, a Ugandan was a Ugandan no matter where they came from. He would have heard glowing tributes from UPC party leaders like Joseph Ochieno as he narrated the heroism of Peter Otai in UPC and Uganda.

He would have heard Ugandan elders in London like Jack Alecho who spoke of his closeness to this great man and the heroism he displayed and Okia Takan who delivered a moving and emotional testimony of a great hero in Peter Otai. This is how heroes are defined.

When Jimmy Akena spoke about the heroism of Peter Otai when his body was received at Entebbe Airport and at his funeral in Oderai near Soroti in Uganda, he was not speaking out of ignorance. He spoke because he knows that Peter Otai is a UPC and Ugandan hero.

He spoke because he knows the role Peter Otai played in the UPC strategies to make Uganda a better place for all. He spoke because he knows the role Peter Otai played in the liberation of our country Uganda from dictatorship. He praised Peter Otai’s role in the UPC Government because he knows the brilliance, courage and excellence with which Peter Otai performed his duties as a Minister in the UPC Government.

It is this courage, brilliance, and dedication that define this man’s heroism in serving his country and no selfish biased innuendos will take that away from him.

If Akaki had followed Peter Otai’s funeral in Oderai near Soroti where he was laid to rest, he would have heard how the Prime Minister and other Government leaders paid tribute to Peter Otai for his contribution to his country.

It would have helped him to understand the Teso war by listening to the founding commanders of the war who spoke and laid out how the war started and why. The narrative by Musa Ecweru, a minister of Disaster Preparedness and a founding commander of UPA, on how the Teso war started would have saved Akaki the embarrassment of writing about what he does not know when he talks about the Teso war.

I was privy to have been very close to both Peter Otai and Apollo Milton Obote when they lived on earth. I worked with both very closely and I have a very clear understanding of the vision that these two great men had for Uganda.

It was not a vision of betrayal of each other as Akaki, devoid of facts, would like us to believe. The connection and the bond between these two great Ugandans goes as far back as the time when Peter Otai was a student.

Milton Obote admired Peter Otai’s brilliance, eloquence and dedication to his country and when Peter Otai got a scholarship to the University of Reading in UK where he graduated in 1972 with a BA in Politics, because of his courage and dedication to liberate his country Uganda, Peter Otai instead of taking up a job, opted to study War Studies at Kings College London where in graduated with a Masters degree in War Studies in 1974.

He did this because he wanted to play an active role in the liberation of his country from dictatorship. He was admired by many on how he utilized the knowledge that he got in school to liberate his country. Akaki may not want to hear it but this is what defines our heroes.

We should learn to put our differences aside and give credit where it is due! May Peter Otai, a true Ugandan hero, rest in peace! Amen!

okurapa@hotmail.com

 

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