My grandfather, abaa dwong Otim Raymond, is a very interesting man. He decided to add to his name: ”Gi Nono Pe Nayi”, meaning: “don’t get so used to free things.” He even marked most of his assets like chairs, benches and others, with his new name, “Gi Nono Pe Nayi Otim Raymond.”

He did so, because his strong and able-bodied friends and even his own children who are boys used to always run to him to seek for help. This is even after him marrying for them wives and also giving them plots of land.

Abaa dwong Otim Raymond (centre)

In 2020, after my graduation, I went to visit him and he told me:

“My grandson greatness is earned by working hard. that’s why at my old age, 95 years, l still do my garden work.”

Gi Nono Pe Nayi Otim Raymond

In my village Atwar Ayabi Sub-County in Kwania District, my grandfather is recognized as one of the ‘big men’. This is because he has many hectares of land and cattle.

In my clan, currently, they also consider a man who has at least managed to educate his children in school to the Ordinary Level of secondary education or who has given them some skills on welding, for example, as a ‘big man’.

Someone who has roles and responsibilities in the community, the church, and who has a stable family may also be considered a ‘big man’.

Jimmy Ezra Okello is a beneficiary of our CPAR Uganda programme, “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators against Poverty,” and for that reason he is currently also participating as an innovator, a research assistant really, on our project, “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” which we are implementing in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia, UK. His commentary herein was in reaction to a blog post: “To be a ‘Big Man’ in Teso is earned not inherited” posted by Norah Owaraga on her website; a post which discusses findings of empirical research that was conducted by Dr. Ben Jones in Teso. Dr. Jones is the Principal Investigator of our Challenging Categories project.

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