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Elders’ Vote of Confidence and Thanks to CPAR

 

By Mr. Johnson Stanley Okullo Engole (sitting third from the left), a retired Civil Servant, former politician and who is now a farmer.

First of all, I want to say how grateful I am to you Norah (Ms. Norah Owaraga, Managing Director (MD) of CPAR Uganda Ltd) for conveying to me the message of my appointment to the General Assembly of CPAR Uganda Ltd. 

I attended the meeting here (CPAR Uganda Ltd Loro Base Camp) on 5th November last year (2015). I was a little late. I came and found some friends were already in discussion. The meeting was discussing the future of CPAR (the meeting was between CPAR Uganda Ltd, Loro Sub-County and Oyam District Local Government Officials). 

During that meeting of 5th November, I was invited to say a few things and one of the things that I said was that I actually felt proud that I brought CPAR here. It is true whether anybody wants it or not (applause). The first ever contact CPAR made with Loro was through me. 

A representative of CPAR, a lady called Beth Fellows, wrote a letter to the late David Atim, may his soul rest in peace, suggesting that they wanted a place in Oyam where they could locate CPAR’s base camp.

 Atim looked at Acaba and he couldn’t immediately find a suitable place in Acaba. So he walked to a place where I was working, handed me the letter from Beth, which I read and I assured him that Loro would host CPAR. That was the first contact CPAR had with Loro.

Immediately, I walked to our late brother Dr. Ekullo Epak (RIP), I said Epak, there seems to be some opportunity here. He read the letter and he said: 

“Yes, I think there is an opportunity here.” 

I asked him: can you reply this letter offering Loro to host CPAR? Epak wrote the letter. When he wrote the letter, within two weeks, CPAR responded by saying they are sending a representative to look at Loro. 

On a Friday, I was here, all of a sudden I saw Beth with Dr. Rita Laker-Ojok. They arrived here. They looked for me, fished me out and asked: “are you Mr. Engole?” I said yes. They said: 

“We have come to look at the place which you say you are willing to offer for the base camp of CPAR.”  

We had already agreed with Dr. Epak that we should offer this place (the current location of the CPAR Uganda Loro Base Camp), which we had originally earmarked as an open space for Loro. We agreed to reallocate from open space to CPAR base camp.

Also when they (Beth and Rita) found me, we walked down. There was a gentleman called Ewai George at that time he was Cadre Ewai. So we walked together with George to the market, it was a Friday. We announced to the people that we had received visitors from Canada who are willing to come and stay with us here in Loro. 

There was ululation, people made dulu, they were very happy. They welcomed CPAR.

From there of course the representatives (Beth and Rita) went back and wrote their report and very quickly Gizaw (the first Country Director of CPAR Uganda) was here and work started. 

We gave this land and said CPAR we want you here. We want to see Loro progressing and developing. 

They said we will try our best. As Norah was saying the original idea was agro-forestry. Later we suggested that we also have health concerns, we have sanitation concerns and water concerns. These were also incorporated into the plan. So, CPAR was born and started working. 

When I shared this in the meeting of 5th November of last year, I think she (Norah) was moved and from that moment she got interested in me and started interacting with me. She came and called me and we sat there (pointed at the location nearby). She requested me: 

“I would like you to help me to identify some elders of Loro who can help me to re-start the CPAR programmes of Loro.” 

Because I was concerned that CPAR was dying. I was getting ashamed by going around saying I brought CPAR which was rotting. I personally felt that I was let down. 

We interacted very well and Norah assured me that CPAR would come back. I said please I want to see CPAR looking different from what it is now in the next six months. She promised she would try and do it. Later, she came and asked me: 

“Can you identify some elders who will help me generate ideas which we can put into action to rejuvenate CPAR Loro Base Camp?” 

Hence, I went round thinking, thinking and thinking, until I assembled you people sitting here (long applause).

The most important thing ladies and gentlemen is that Loro welcomed CPAR in 1991. Loro started progressing but over a certain moment the development started dragging, until it completely disappeared. What we could actually count on were about three things:

  • First, the agro-based nursery, which we were earlier talking about was very well started and run. Unfortunately, when you move around Loro you don’t even see those trees that were produced. Where were they planted? 
  • Secondly, I personally, again, feel proud. I got involved in the Agurulude Health Centre and Adigo Health Centre (both health centres were built and equipped by CPAR), because I was LCV by then representing Loro. In my capacity as LCV I raised my concerns about insufficient health care and Gizaw acted. Gizaw was really my best friend. Whatever I told him he would act. We worked well together and we saw the health centres established. 
  • Then of course there was this gentleman from Otwal, Tom, if you remember Tom, I forget his other name, oh yes, Omach. He was working here (CPAR). He is the one who actually took CPAR to Otwal (where CPAR constructed and equipped another health care facility).

Our concern as we sit here today is to see CPAR activities reactivated and seriously pursued for the benefit of the people of Loro. Am not concerned with who owns this land, I think I want to see activities that bring development actually being pursued seriously. 

If CPAR leaves here today because we say we don’t want CPAR. If they leave what shall we do with this base camp? What are we going to do with the land? I don’t want anybody to be misled. I don’t want you to get confused. It is not easy to bring development ladies and gentlemen. 

You play around with one NGO, whether it is local or not ... Some of us who are old used to go fishing. We used to do so during certain times of the year. I think it was mainly August, when there is heavy rain. There is this small fish that is the time that they migrate from deep water to come to the shallow water and lay eggs. 

They come in big numbers. They only way to get them is to stand in one place. As they go past you, you put your spear through them, one by one as you drop in your basket. You don’t make any noise. If you make a mistake by hitting it on the head, all its fellow fish will turn back running and disappear. You will not even catch one.

Now what am I liking these two? Here is development creping slowly to come back. If we start making decisions which drive them away as we made with the dam, Loro will be finished. (Hon Rose Obuga, LCV Councillor representing Loro in Oyam District Local Council, interjects, that dam is still there it is soon happening). 

I don’t know about that. You are in government you know. I was certainly hurt to see people of Loro behaving like hooligans. Driving away government programmes, development. And you are the same person tomorrow saying this government has not given us anything. Can you see that? It is like children playing in the sand. 

All am saying here let’s commit ourselves to CPAR coming back in full force to help us. My appointment on the General Assembly as I have already described to you what I did should not come as a surprise. Nobody should come up with:

 “Engole is doing this because he wants a job.” 

I don’t need a job. At my age I don’t need a job. But at the same time if there is something that I can do for the community I am willing to do it (yes, respond other elders and with applause). I don’t need a job and nobody must mistake me about this. I don’t need a paying job.

You have already heard from Norah that when they are calling me for a meeting they will pay bus fare, may be some small room somewhere, may be some food, I will be happy to do that. (Norah interjects or the other members may come and hold the meeting here in Loro, they used to hold their meetings here). 

Yes, I would be happy to see those PhD fellows, Doctor so and so, those big shots, if they can come and stay here and we sit with them in that compound and really talk, would Loro still be what it is today?

I thought I should say this to guard against certain people who might come up and say Engole is doing that because he wants a job. At 80 years old I do not need a paying job (prolonged laughter). I have done enough and I think if it is salary I don’t need salary. I have salary on my farm. 

I will be quite willing and happy to make more contribution by way of advising, by way of encouraging people to work together. 

So, you are talking to big people who have big ideas it means Loro is developing. Let’s be open hearted, open minded and welcome development when it comes. There are certain developments which are dubious. When they come we will analyse them and see. If they are not in our interest we will reject them. 

But here is our own organisation which we started, it grew, flopped and is coming up why don’t we welcome it back?

With these words, I would like to thank Norah in front of you for the efforts she made to get me onto the General Assembly. You have seen on the list of the directors, there is nobody from Loro. There is somebody from Apac. By the time we started CPAR, Loro was part of Apac. I think that is how Anyuru comes in, because we were part of Apac. 

But now we are in Oyam (interjection from another Elder, you are now the CPAR director from Oyam). We should be proud about that that we have somebody now who is going to take our views directly to the General Assembly (prolonged applause).

Representation to me is not a very difficult thing. I have represented Loro as Apac District Councillor for 12 years. I think I did not let you down (response from other elders, No). Although there are a few people who said that I did nothing (aaaah no, the other elders respond, let them talk).

With these few words, I ask Norah to take back my gratitude to the Board Chair and say I have accepted the appointment. God willing I will serve (prolonged applause).

Mr. Engole moved this vote of thanks and confidence in CPAR Uganda Ltd during a Loro Elders Forum Conversation that was hosted by CPAR Uganda Ltd at its Loro Base Camp on Tuesday, 15th August 2016. During their meeting of April 2016 the CPAR Uganda Ltd Board of Directors resolved that Mr. Engole should be invited to join the CPAR Uganda Ltd General Assembly, which de facto is the legal owner of CPAR Uganda Ltd. Mr. Engole accepted the invitation and he now joins eight others, thus bringing the composition of the CPAR Uganda Ltd General Assembly to nine living members. One of CPAR Uganda Ltd founder members , Prof. Fred Opio Ekong (RIP), passed away in 2014). Mr. Engole brings to CPAR Uganda Ltd a wealth of knowledge and experience. In 1962 he worked as a Revenue Clerk in Kampala City Council; from 1963 to 1977 he worked for the East African Airways Corporation (EAAC) in different capacities; from 1978 to 1979 he was in exile where he taught as a secondary school teacher in Nakuru; and in May 1979 he return to Uganda and until 1988 he was the Marketing Manager for Uganda Airlines. Of note is that from 1968 to 1988 he was the Chairman of Wanahewa – i.e. the EAAC Credit and Savings Cooperative Society; from 1967 to 1968 he was the Chairman of the EAAC Workers Union; from 1968 to 1971 he was a Councillor at Kampala City Council – serving on various committees; and during the period 1988 to 2005 he represented Loro as an LC V Councillor of Apac District Local Council – serving as Secretary for Production (1996 to 2000) and Speaker (2001 to 2005). Since 1997 to date he is the Chairman of Lango Cooperative Union Ltd.

 

 

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