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French Police To Escort Oryema's Ashes To Uganda

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Elders in Acholi chiefdom are afraid repatriating the ashes to Acholiland might provoke bad omen in the land including unprecedented massive crop failures, lightning strikes, hailstorms or outbreak of strange diseases capable of wiping out a massive number of people.
Geoffrey Oryema

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The ex-wife of former France based Ugandan Afro-pop-rock music legend Geoffrey Oryema is planning to return his ashes to Uganda with the help of French Police.

It follows the warning by the Acholi chiefdom to the family Erinayo Wilson Oryema against cremating the remains of the music icon and attempting to repatriate the ashes to Acholiland. The council of chiefs chaired by Rwot David Onen Achana II, the Acholi Paramount chief, said cremation is an "abomination with serious consequences under the Acholi culture". 

The warning prompted the family to petition high court in France seeking to block the cremation of the remains of the music icon. Oryema's will prevailed over an advisory letter the chiefdom wrote to the family on June 26th during a high court hearing in the capital of France Paris last Friday.

After losing the matter, the family has turned attention to interring the ashes in Oryema's home in Paris France. A source within the family says the ex-wife again petitioned court seeking police protection to deliver the ashes to Anaka and Soroti in accordance with Oryema's will.

"She told Court that she will use the French Police to repatriate the ashes to Uganda as the Will of her late husband demanded should the family resist the move to return the ashes and scatter it in Anaka and Oryema's birthplace in Soroti," the source stated.

Jude Ogik, the Family's attorney says Court has granted the wishes of Oryema's spouse and those who testified in his favor. Gertrude Auma Oryema, Oryema's elder sister says the family in Uganda is yet to get the full details of developments in France.

She says they will only communicate accurately after getting the details. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the presiding judge based his ruling on testimony filed by Acoyo Oryema, Oryema's daughter that it was the wish of his father to be cremated. It is still unclear when the ex-spouse will repatriate the ashes to Uganda. 

Elders Protest Move.

Elders in Acholi chiefdom are afraid repatriating the ashes to Acholiland might provoke bad omen in the land including unprecedented massive crop failures, lightning strikes, hailstorms or outbreak of strange diseases capable of wiping out a massive number of people.

Francis Ongaya Acellam, the personal adviser of the Paramount Chief of Acholi on cultural matters, says it was regrettable that the late Oryema left an unprecedented Will in the Acholi culture.

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Ongaya says cremation is considered an abomination under the culture of the Acholi people because ancestors never practiced it.

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Oryema's was cremated on Saturday after a well-attended funeral service in Saint Pierre De Ploemeur Church 56 in Morbihan, France. 

During the service, unidentified priest lifted a short wooden cross taken from East Africa several times over the casket bearing the body of the deceased.

According to Mzee Acellam, the ashes can only be welcomed in Acholiland if a cleansing ritual is performed to rid the land of bad omen, which could result from the deed. He stated that the ritual involves sacrificing an animal.

Getrude Auma Oryema, the head of the greater Wilson Erinayo Oryema family in Uganda says they are yet to receive the full details of events in France. It is unclear if the family will receive the ashes.

Oryema is survived by his wife Regine and Children Chantal, Ajoline and Oceng. 

Geoffrey Oryema's Funeral

The remains of the music legend were placed in a golden casket which was placed Eastward in front of the altar while the legend's personal guitar sat Westward. 

The feet of the casket pointed towards the altar with a large portrait of the fallen music icon held by a colleague facing the congregation.

The service was celebrated in a mixture of French and English by a French priest. Several pieces of music performed by the legend were played during the service. 

Several former colleagues who performed with Oryema stood shoulder to shoulder during the service to perform one of his favourite songs - Makambo. 

"I had the privilege to perform with Oryema on stage and what he loved the most was to see people join him in songs and dance along. So I invite you to join us as we sing in his memory today" a lead singer whose name was not readily available said during the service. 

Oryema's memoir was projected on a wide screen for the church congregation who later paid glowing tribute to the Ugandan music icon one after the other. 

Some mourners wept as they touched the casket while others placed flowers onto the casket. His family members were the last to pay respect to the musicians before his casket was led into the crematory.

Oryema was a son to the late Erinayo Wilson Oryema, Uganda's first African Inspector General of Police (IGP) who also served the country as Minister of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning. 

His father was brutally murdered under unclear circumstances - allegedly on President Idi Amin's orders.  Since leaving Uganda at the age of 24, Oryema returned home in December 2016 for the first time in 40 years. His last tour and concerts were in Kampala and Ouagadougou Jazz Festival in April 2017.