There are things that are beautiful and wonderful about where I come from that most people tend to ignore. Often times, many have chosen to see/hear/lament about the bad that is happening in Uganda and yet there is so much beauty in and around us. This is my tribute to my home. Geoffrey Oryema sums up Acholi-land in his song “Land of Anaka”.
I’ve been learning more about my identity as I grow older. I am proud of where I come from. I sometimes marvel at myself. I failed to learn to speak Luganda, Swahili and French(well, not failed exactly.I just haven’t picked anything up in all my years except the occasional greetings) and yet I am very proficient with the Luo dialects.
A few days ago, I got hired as a volunteer for the Acholi Times, an online news and cultural website that essentially brings news about Acholi people that mainstream media would otherwise ignore. It is a wealthy resource for anybody researching about Nilotic ethnic groups especially the Luo grouping(in which the Acholis lie). I have taken this on because I now feel the need to be part of cultural and heritage conservation.
I would be sad if my children did not have any written or preserved literature or resources to let them know about their ancestors or where they came from. This is my way of making sure that even long after I am gone, some Luo somewhere will always know that he/she were the descendants of Gipir and Labongo and that before the days of colonization, there were chiefdoms that had highly organized systems of governance.
It is a struggle to find one’s identity in this world that has different viewpoints and that tries to suck us in to the viewpoints of the majority. Civilization is great. However, it is eroding part of who we are. I am what many in my village call a “Kampala Acholi” because when I get to the village, I don’t seem to speak my local language as well as the village elders would like me to.
So, I am starting a journey. A path of faithfully learning my traditional dialect all over again, of learning to write properly in my mother tongue, and being able to legibly translate that into information that can be preserved for my children’s children. (To my siblings who laugh at me when I speak Acholi; you will be surprised how well I will answer questions in Luo on my traditional wedding sometime in the future! 🙂 )