The hullabaloos by Okello Okuna is seem based on misconceptions and do not warrant a detailed response.

Mr. Okello Okuna, let me tell:

Thank you for your questions regarding my opinion on Rwot Acana’s  strategic mistake in denouncing the Rocco Paco Initiative. Before addressing your queries, I must note that they seem based on misconceptions and do not warrant a detailed response. However, I will respond to clarify my stance. Your questions appear to be influenced either by a lack of understanding or, as is common, pressure from your superiors. With this in mind, let me address each point to provide a clearer perspective.

  1. How sustainable is it after the retirement of Dollo as CJ? Your inquiry regarding the sustainability of the Rocco Paco Initiative following Justice Owiny Dollo;s retirement as Chief Justice reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of its essence. The initiative has never been, nor will it ever be, centered solely on Hon. Justice Owiny Dollo or Ambassador Olara Otunnu. It is not an initiative originating from the Chief Justice;s office, but rather a movement aimed at revitalizing the cultural heritage of the Acoli society. The longevity of this initiative hinges entirely on the commitment of the Acoli community to reclaim and celebrate its cultural identity, independent of Justice Dollo;s tenure as Chief Justice. His retirement will potentially afford him more dedicated time to contribute, given his demanding schedule in his current role. It is crucial to recognize that Hon. Dollo and Ambassador Olara Otunnu serve as leaders of the initiative, but they do not singularly embody its purpose and direction.
  1. Which Rocco Paco without handling the core of paco, which is KKA? Your question regarding the Rocco Paco Initiative, without addressing the core concept of "paco" which is KKA, reflects a significant misunderstanding of its meaning within Acoli culture. Paco goes beyond the mere geographic location of homes; it encompasses the entire value system that defines the Acoli people, precisely what the Rocco Paco Initiative aims to revive. Ker itself is not paco; rather, it serves as the institution safeguarding the cultural values of each distinct Acoli geographical enclave. KKA, on the other hand, is not synonymous with Ker but rather serves as a gathering place for leaders from different Ker. The British Colonial Government, attempting to impose the Buganda governance system on the diverse territories amalgamated into colonial Uganda, introduced this structure. It is crucial not to confuse the significance of Ker Payira with the institution known as Ker Kwaro Acoli.
  1. What did your two principals of Rocco Paco do at their youthful time for Acoli

with all those powerful positions held in the world?

Your inquiry into what Justice Owiny Dollo and Ambassador Olara Otunnu accomplished for Acoli during their youth, given their influential global positions, is surprising and somewhat disappointing. Let me clarify the concept of Gwoko Paco Acoli for you. In Paco Acoli, each age group has distinct responsibilities concerning gwokko paco. The youth, for instance, play a crucial role in ensuring economic prosperity and defending the community, responsibilities both Justice Dollo and Ambassador Otunnu fulfilled adeptly during their youthful tenure, advocating for peace and stability not only in Acoli but also across the northern region. Providing

Wod Pakele, Walter Akena standing up, file photo

strategic direction, known as tiro ki rocco paco, falls to the elders, a role they now fulfill with their status, offering invaluable advice and strategic insights into the community;s challenges.

  1. Are you aware that this is just the battle of supremacy in Acoli? Throughout this discussion, I have strived to avoid trivial matters, but I will briefly address this point. According to the National Order of Precedence, the Chief Justice ranks fourth, following the President, Vice President, and Speaker of Parliament.

Therefore, it is clear that Hon. Justice Owiny Dollo holds the highest-ranking position among the Acoli people. Any military, political, or cultural leader from Acoli is subordinate to the Chief Justice. Thus, the question arises: why would the Chief Justice involve himself in a supremacy struggle, and with whom? Similarly, Ambassador Olara Otunnu, having served as a UN Under-Secretary, achieved the highest international position ever held by an Acoli individual. Why would someone of his stature engage in a battle for supremacy, and against whom? Such a contest between these two figures would represent a significant setback.

What you perceive as a struggle for supremacy is, in essence, an expression of the insecurity felt by some actors within KKA. They have realized they have ceded a position that rightfully belonged to them. The Rocco Paco Initiative has achieved what the 54 clan chiefs have failed to accomplish, triggering their insecurity. As the saying goes, "nature abhors a vacuum," and the gap left by KKA had to be naturally filled by these two principals.

  1. Why not support the already existing Foundations like Jacob Oulanyah, Ogwang Clipper, etc instead of creating a parallel team?

These foundations are limited by their association with the personalities who initiated them and the specific areas they address. For instance, the Jacob Oulanyah

Foundation primarily focuses on education, while the Ogwang Clipper Foundation centers on Acoli Cultural Art and Music. However, the societal breakdown in Acoli encompasses broader and more complex challenges beyond these specific aspects.

The Rocco Paco Initiative surpasses the operational boundaries of these foundations by aiming to address a wider array of issues affecting Acoli society. These include cultural revival, community cohesion, economic empowerment, and sustainable development. Addressing the profound societal breakdown in Acoli requires a comprehensive approach that integrates various facets of community life and addresses systemic issues rather than focusing solely on specific sectors like education or cultural arts.

  1. The two principals are all politicians unless you don’t know, how do you separate the politics of UPC and NRM from it. What exactly constitutes politics? Politics can be defined as the art and science of governing a society.
  2. Those involved in KKA are inherently engaged in societal governance, which makes them political actors. Before colonization, the Acoli governance system revolved around Ker, which conducted wars, secured loyalty from subjects, and formed alliances with other Ker—activities akin to those of modern states. Taxes were levied, and governance included executive powers vested in Rwot, with policy implementation overseen by Laor pa Rwot, an equivalent of a Prime Minister. Hence, Rwot is recognized as a political figure, and Ker functions as a form of government. Interestingly, the first Lawii-Rwodi election in 1959, known as Lawang Rwodi in the Acoli District Council, operated under a party system, with candidates Yona Odida and eventual winner Rwot Pilipo Adonga (Laloyo Maber) contesting under UPC and DP tickets respectively. This establishes KKA as a fully-fledged political entity.

As Aristotle famously noted, humans are inherently political beings. It is noteworthy that while the principals of the Rocco Paco Initiative may have political leanings, the initiative itself remains non-partisan. Similarly, individuals in KKA may also have political inclinations. For example, Nera Rwot Onen David Acana and Rwot Martin Otinga are renowned supporters of the NRM party, actively participating in various NRM events and subtly supporting their campaigns. From your standpoint, one might argue that no one with political leanings should be involved in the affairs of the Acoli Society. If that is the case, then why shouldn’t KKA, which consists largely of NRM supporters, be disbanded? It is important to understand that while the principals of the Rocco Paco Initiative may hold political perspectives similar to key figures in KKA, the initiative itself operates independently of partisan affiliations.

  1. What structures are there to run the affairs of the Rocco Paco Initiative? As I mentioned earlier, the Rocco Paco Initiative centers around the Acoli community rather than focusing solely on Hon. Chief Justice Owiny Dollo or Ambassador Olara Otunnu. Importantly, these principals have not launched the initiative in isolation nor have they established their own organizational frameworks. They acknowledge the pivotal role of Ker in preserving the cultural values of the Acoli people. During Rocco Paco Initiative meetings, Ludito Ker have consistently participated, and the principals have passionately urged them to continue the efforts to rejuvenate Acoli;s core

values. Once again, I appreciate your questions, though I must reiterate they seem to be based on trivial matters and influenced by ignorance and pressure from your superiors at Ker Kwaro Acholi. My stance remains firm that Nera Acana made a strategic error in denouncing the Rocco Paco Initiative. His opposition, along with others from KKA, stems from their inherent insecurities. However, Acana;s path to redemption lies precisely within the initiatives like Rocco Paco. During his 19-year tenure as the titular head of KKA, there hasn;t been a single initiative aimed at reversing the societal breakdown in Acoli, unlike the proactive approach taken by the Rocco Paco Initiative. One notable achievement of Rocco Paco, even in its early stages, is its success in uniting Acoli people from Got Apwoyo to Lapono. In contrast, Acana has often sowed seeds of discord, frequently meddling in the internal affairs of various Ker. Despite cultural norms dictating otherwise, Acana has exceeded his authority by appointing chiefs in places like Palabek, which has only exacerbated divisions within the community. His insecure and narrow-minded stance is increasingly isolating him, reflected in the plummeting approval ratings of both Acana and KKA if a survey were

conducted today.


Walter Akena

Okeyo Payira Kal.

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