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Hope and struggle for political space and eventual defection

Pat Robert  Larubi - 18/03/2014 11:03 CDT

Kampala, Kampala, Uganda

Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukmoi an Acholi rising Star who shocked the World by defecting to NRM appointed deputy RDC Lira

ON a sunny hot day yesterday following the wide spread appointment of resident district commissioners, I caught up with Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi, a young charismatic leader who was once described as ‘Acholi Rising Star’. At 30 he became that National Spokesman of Democratic Party. Mwaka a total orphan who once spent over two years as a street kid in Kampala, abducted by LRA in 1994, educated self  to climb political ranks in the country was believed to be a replacement of Norbert Mao given his oratory prowess. He shocked the world when he crossed to the ruling Movement Party, his appointment has left many people in Acholi sub region debating if it’s a reward for his defection?


Mwaka can be described as incurable optimist. His life is about struggles, In Democratic Party; he stood twice as a candidate for DP Parliamentary elections in Gulu Municipality. In 2006 he came 3rd as an Independent candidate and in 2011 he was second after losing in one Division of the 4 to Hon.  Christopher Acire to become Gulu municipality MP

 He blames all the two loses to his former Party leader who did not campaign for him. Mwaka says intrigue, malice and unfairness in his former Party against him made him lose and quit the Party.  


“Imagine a Party candidate and national Spokesman denied microphone by his own Party at the last Gulu DP rally!”  Mwaka recalls….The climax was when he was tortured at walk to work and he got himself battling alone in courts with broken limps without Party solidarity.


According to Mwaka, transition to NRM has not been and isn’t a bed of roses. Many blamed him for the wrong choice and timing in joining or defecting to a new Party when there wasn’t any political activity. When Mwaka crossed to NRM on 23th /07/2011, it was breaking news. He was discussed for over two months. He was officially welcomed at Kyadondo NRM offices by the Party General Secretary Hon. Amama Mbabazi, many people expected to see Mwaka active again as he was vibrantly a mouth piece in opposition.


Mwaka tells the world that he is an incurable optimist who believes in success. As a young man fresh from Makerere University, Mwaka mobilized resources from Japan, set up the first Night commuter’s center that kept over 10,000 homeless children in Gulu for four years.


 According to Mego Alal Grace of Kabedoopong Key A village, “Mwaka was the first to remove our children from the streets, children who would have been abducted by Kony and made sex slaves. We always pray for him” she says.


 Mwaka commands a lot of support from the local people for the little things he has done in the community. Besides the shelter for children he made in 2003, Mwaka built a vocational (Teokono) school with support of a Japanese group called Ardhi Na Opepo.


 Teokono vocational school has educated more than 800 formerly abducted children for the past 8 years “The school provides Tailoring, business skills, liquid soap making and candles to empower women and they study for free” says Arach Milly, the Head teacher of Teokono Vocational school, Laroo.


Besides the vocational school, Mwaka writes stories on brilliant but poor children. “I started writing stories on clever children who would also sleep at the night commuter center; I would identify them during the informal Wang oo, or fire place class. I initiated fire place education to educate and instill morals on these children rejected by a society entangled in war yet unprotected by the government that should protect them” Mwaka says.


 Through his writing skills, with a friend and other friends he met in Japan, like Naoko Sakuragi, a writer, Mwaka has educated 13 students from primary to University with one girl now Assistant lecturer in Makerere University Forestry Department, Akera Nancy. 


 Mwaka also initiated and registered a local NGO called United Youth Action for Progress(UYAP), UYAP gives a lot of support to young people through it’s HIV/Aids program-The Mobile clinic, Food security, and other economic engagements like group Village Savings and loans (VSL) to empower women and Youth. “Together with Mwaka we were able to achieve a lot! I was award a certificate by the US Senate for excelling in USAID funded livelihood project under UYAP” Confirms Opoka Simon, a former UYAP leader and Co-founder now heading Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) in Kampala. The NGO has been applauded by many for its community development.


 Mwaka is a typical inspirational youth, as a member of Democratic Party he would religiously contribute monthly for its development; he gave his whole to the Party.  On 24th July Newspaper Observer quotes “Mao regrets defection of DP spokesman to NRM” Mao acknowledges his contribution to the Party. His defection hit all headlines and was breaking news.


Mwaka has never written any application for a job. He is disappointed that NRM gave him no orientation and since he joined in 2011. He has opted to work in private consultancies and civil society. “I tried to get audience with the President but failed, I attened four functions in Acholi where President Attened but I wasn’t introduced, I think I am bored. I joined NRM not because I love it so much, or hate opposition so much, but love my people more. After 25 years of war and opposition, I felt we need national unity; we need to work with government to improve the livelihood of our people. I joined NRM not to sit and watch but to influence bad policies for the better. But unfortunately, they haven’t seen the sense. My defection was to add my bargaining power for my people but I am slowly realizing it in civil society” Mwaka says.


 Mwaka is a fellow and Young African Scholar with Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation-US. He will present his Thesis in Sussex University in September this year. Currently he works with African Center for Policy Research and Accountability (ACEPRA) as Director Corporate Affairs. Mwaka visited Waseda University in Japan several times as a visitor and gave lecturers.


 As a consultant, Mwaka was hired in December 2013 as IRI- International republican Institute Consultant in Juba and trained Parties on Governance. “ Latin pa lacan liro war ne kekene”, he says in Acholi, meaning an orphan makes his own hunting shoes, indeed Mwaka is a self-made man with incurable optimism.


 He believes that the country needs to set up a truth and reconciliation commission so that peace and harmony can prevail, besides a reparation la that can compensate people for the lost decades.


 “The opposition and war in Northern Uganda has been like a vagabond poisonous mushroom that gate crashed Acholi Progress and now we need to work” He says.