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Traditional Leaders in Gulu Restore Fireplace Meetings

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On Sunday night, dozens of elders and young people converged at Lukodi Primary School Playgrounds for the fireplace meeting under the stewardship of Rwot Justin Ocan of Patiko and elders from different clans. T
Rwot of Patiko Justin Ocan (M) and elders during a Wang Oo at Lukodi Primary School. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

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Traditional leaders and elders in Gulu district have revived the fireplace meetings locally known as ‘’Wang Oo’’ to restore the fast-degrading culture.  The leaders of the Patiko clan under the Acoli Cultural Institution, say that the Acoli tribe is faced with moral decadence and immorality among the young people.  

These manifest through incest, alcohol abuse, prostitution, teenage pregnancies and indiscipline among other unbecoming behaviours such as domestic violence and suicide. They blame the unbecoming behaviours and practices on technological advancements, poverty, and the effects of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA insurgency, which forced people into Internally Displaced Person (IDP) Camps.   

On Sunday night, dozens of elders and young people converged at Lukodi Primary School Playgrounds for the fireplace meeting under the stewardship of Rwot Justin Ocan of Patiko and elders from different clans. The maiden event was supported by the Foundation for Justice and Development Initiative (FJDI) with funding from the Education Justice and Development Network.

Sarah Nkayimbi, the Program Manager for FJDI, says that the initiative seeks to restore the eroded cultural practices due to the LRA insurgency and tame the unbecoming behaviours among people.  She notes that the event involved a number of activities such as knowledge sharing about culture and how the war affected them, cultural practices, traditional dances, and norms and showcasing traditional local dishes among others. 

//Cue in: ‘’in the wang oo…  

Cue out: …for learning purposes.’’//   

Justine Ocan, the head of the Patiko Clan told URN that the fireplace meeting is paramount in preserving the environment, restoring morals, proper child upbringing, moral guidance and understanding cultural values.

//Cue in: ‘’man pe yot…  

Cue out: …lutino matye ni,’’//   

Gaudensio Oker, an elder from Patiko, says that the fireplace meeting is a learning center in Acholi. 52-year-old Alice Adong Onying, says the fireplace meeting should also focus on curtailing alcohol abuse among the youths, prevent increasing cases of murder and offer moral guidance as well as create avenues for reconciliation.  

//Cue in: ‘’Acoli onongo ka…  

Cue out: …lumuku dong peke,’’// 

Jackline Oola, 82, and Joska Aber admit that reinstating fireplace meetings will contribute to responsible parenting, prevent immoralities and restore the lost cultural values.  

//Cue in: ‘’Acoli macon gi…  

Cue out: …weng marom aroma,’’//   

Cabina Atim also says that the fireplace meetings will instil discipline and unity, mend broken relationships, bond families and facilitate proper allocation of resources. 

//Cue in: ‘’ber pa Wang…  

Cue out: …lamera eni omera,’’//