LIRA, December 20, 2023 – Preparation are in high gear in Lango to elect a new Paramount Chief to replace Won Nyaci Yosam Odur who abdicated office over two months ago.
On Oct 10, 2023, Odur stepped down and released a roadmap for the election of his successor. “I the Paramount Chief of Lango, His Highness, Yosam Odur Ebii hereby present the roadmap for a smooth transition of cultural leadership,” he said.
Odur was elected in 2003 by clan leaders and inaugurated to the throne in 2005 by former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya.
According to Odur, the election of the new Paramount Chief will take place on January 31, 2024, while the handover will be done in December.
“As I present this roadmap, I want to send my sincere appreciation to everyone I worked with during my tenure of service,” he added.
Though he didn’t outline the reasons for his resignation, a section of cultural leaders attributed it to old age and a long-standing leadership row. Odur is aged 94.
Daniel Omara Atubo, a clan chief of Otengoro Olang, welcomed Odur’s decision to step down, saying it will pave the way for a peaceful transition.
Omar said under the new constitution of Lango, Odur is above by 14 years since the age established for one to relinquish office is 80 years.
Tom Otim, the chairperson of the electoral commission, said Odur’s resignation will bring peace the in the Long cultural institution.
“What we need now is only everlasting peace which has never been there for the last 15 years,” Otim says.
Bosco Ogwang Edola, also a clan leader said Lango needs peace and unity. He said the region cannot negotiate for better service delivery when the cultural leaders are engaged in wrangles all the time.
The council of Owitong [clan leaders] in November approved six members of the electoral commission to head the electoral process including 21 members of Itogo [council of elders].
Others member of electoral commission include Benson Otim Ogwete, former Chief Administrative Officer, Lira district, Mike Abwang Otim, a lawyer, Beatrice Amongi Lagada former Oyam District Woman Member of Parliament and Obong Acuda, the Apac District Speaker.
Under the new arrangement, the Paramount Chief to be elected through an electoral college, should be 55 years and not aged more than 75. The electoral college includes clan heads, chief woman leaders, youth leaders, representative of people with disabilities, among others. Lango has 149 clans as at the end of 2020.
Though there is no definite term of office, a person elected Paramount Chief shall leave office when he clocks 75 or when he dies.
According to Lango Cultural Foundation Strategic Plan 2021-2025, Lango culture is changing very fast, especially in relation to cultural practices, values beliefs and norms. “There is ‘cultural dilution’ taking place as a result of the changing education, poverty levels, displacement, migration, inter-tribal marriages, influence of other cultures, changes in regulatory policies, civil influence, little emphasis on cultural education, little influence by elders on children, politics and advancement in technology.”
Similarly, there concern about the declining quality of the Lango language. Traditional dances, songs, proverbs, and riddles are disappearing from Lango communities. All these changes influence Lango social behaviours, with the youth increasingly moving away from their cultural root while the families are increasingly losing their cultural authority.
Lango culture is further increasingly being distorted by the rampant internal divisions arising from conflicts related to land issues, leadership struggles, and intrigue which end up dividing the people of Lango. The land conflicts are mostly related to access, control and use of land which in the end negatively impact agricultural production, leads to divisions and sometimes death.
However, there is a growing recognition of culture in promoting modernity and development.
Although some of the traditional values and practices may disappear or become modernised, people shall continue to use cultural resources to generate income.
Nonetheless, there is still heavy dependence on donors to fund cultural activities since financing of cultural activities by government or clans still remain inadequate. Government support in form of office space, allowancesto heads of cultural institutions may not be relied on for sustainability and independence in the years ahead.
The Lango sub-region is currently divided into nine districts of Alebtong, Amolatar, Apac, Dokolo,
Kole, Lira, Oyam, Otuke and Kwania. It’s a relatively urbanized region with one city in Lira and
one municipality in Apac.
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