Okot’s musical journey started when he was aged 12, inspired by the experience of a street kid who had been abandoned by his family. He was born blind in a family of seven children in Pangira Parish, Lokung Sub-county then Kitgum and present-day Lamwo District.
The adage “disability is not
inability” best describes the life of 38-year-old Pastor Richard Okot, a familiar name in the gospel music industry in Acholi and Lango
Okot’s musical journey started when he was aged 12, inspired by the experience of a street kid who had been abandoned by
his family. He was born blind in a family
of seven children in Pangira Parish, Lokung Sub-county then Kitgum and present-day Lamwo District.
Being the only child with a disability in their family, his parents saw him as
a liability and eventually gave up on him. At the time, Okot had not even been to any school when he was abandoned in Bweyale town, Kiryandongo district. The only weapon he had was his music talent, and the ability to play musical instruments.
From the streets of Bweyale, he found a friend in a thumb piano, which he played for both solace and a living. At his rented home in Kitgum
Municipality, Okot recounts that on several occasions, he felt worthless and contemplated ending his own life.
//Cue in; “I start playing…
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For three years from 1995 until 1997, Okot’s life rolled upside down; he became a street drunkard, trading his talent for alcohol which was usually bought by people he entertained in bars.
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His life changed in 1997 when he took a firm decision to turn to God; The streets had become hostile and there was no one to help. That same year, Okot moved to Kampala and later got a chance to be mentored in salvation
by Bishop Julius Peter Oyet of Life Line Ministries, Pastor Robert Kayanja of
Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral and Apostle Peter Okello.
In 2001, Okot ventured into
gospel music and released his first song, off his six albums using a thumb
piano titled “Jami ma Ilobo” chronicled his hard life on the streets. He boasts of performing the song on
the same stage when celebrated Musician Dr Jose Chameleon was also performing at
Sharing Hall Nsambya, the same year.
Okot didn’t however only stop at
Music, he also went on to study theology at Portable Bible School in Entebbe
where he learnt English and attained a Diploma in Theology thanks to
sponsorship by the East African Resources Ministry. In 2002 when he relocated to Lira
District to embark on ministry work through his Church, Jesus Testimony
Ministry, Pastor Okot says he revived his music career and begun recording songs
Among his first recorded studio
Afro-reggae fusion songs are, Jesus reign, my God you love me, he is the Lord,
Disability is not inability, come back to the Lord, Jesus is A Winner Man, Arise and Shine.
Pastor Okot does not write down his lyrics and all his songs are performed off the head as he plays
the piano or guitar in the studio. But despite recording more than 200
gospel songs, Okot says he hasn’t benefitted much from his talent since he
doesn’t have a good promoter to take him to heights.
//Cue in; “for me I…
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Pastor Okot currently has two
children; both girls, and expecting the third child with his 24-year-old wife
whom he met in Lamwo District in 2015 after relocating from Lira District for
pastoral work. The couple currently live in
Pandwong Division in Kitgum Municipality.
Pastor Okot however says they are
faced with numerous challenges since his source of livelihood, Music and
pastoral work aren’t sustainable. He pastors his flocks within Kitgum
Municipality in a rented church room.
His wife Anna Amo says that their marriage hasn’t however been blessed by her parents who
have since abandoned her.
Amo says due to Okot’s
disability, he is unable to fully provide for the family since the music and
pastoral work he relies on is sometimes not welcomed by everyone. She appealed to well-wishers to
support Okot’s music career and pastoral work.
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What people say about Pastor Okot
Kilama Tony, a resident of Kitgum
Municipality says he hadn’t believed the gospel songs he used to hear were sung by the visually impaired pastor until onetime he saw him perform it during a
ceremony. Kilama says Okot’s songs are an inspiration to many persons to work hard.
Anna Laker, a vendor and one of
the Christians who pray at Okot’s church notes that there is no difference
between Okot and other pastors who preach the gospel of Christ. She says that
on several occasions, his preaching and prayers have helped her achieve in
Pastor Alfred Komagum of Christian Community Church in
Kitgum Municipality says Okot has proved beyond doubt that despite disability,
one is not short of showcasing God’s talents.
//Cue in; “I know him…
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Pastor Komagum says Okot is an inspiration to many people and a
testimony that God truly works miracles through the less privileged.