UGANDA:Open Letter to President Musevevi on tradition Luo Cultural Ryemo Gemo

Acholi cultural norms of Ryemo Gemo is a wisdom centred for mobilisation for creating awareness against COVID-19

By Christine  Oryema Lalobo

Your Excellency mention was made by you regarding the Acholi cultural ritual of Ryemo Gemo equating it to a cult. This is to provide clarity that through the a

ges, Acholis like all communities have witnessed emerging events some with devastating consequences. Culturally in Acholi whenever events of huge proportions emerges the community triggers an alert system known as Ryemo Gemo.

This alert system embodies strict rules and regulations including isolation (no movements from one homestead to the next), ensuring pending disagreements in households are speedily resolved, no courtships etc. Ryemo Gemo is similar to the current alerts sent through phone messages and embodies the government instructions and more. It can only be done in circumstances when the stake is huge with capacity of astronomical fatality and community members wherever they are get to know that ‘Two Gemo’ (Pandemic) has descended putting all at great risk and immediate actions must be taken. Each household makes noise and the next household joins till the message is circulated throughout the land.

Ryemo Gemo is emergency mode trigger. Once the alert is triggered there are no arguments, no questions, no delays, no refusal, no negotiations but compliance because the impending danger is not only mysterious but lethal. Everybody without exception descends into a survival mode.

The danger out there has the capacity to wipe out the clan and humanity. Ryemo Gemo therefore augments the government efforts in a manner that is understood from a cultural perspective. Most people only experience Two Gemo a few times in the lifespan. Other ‘Two Gemo’ recorded include Odye (Small pox), Anyo (measles) and until vaccines where found social distancing was used by the Acholi community to fight against the spread and devastating impact.

The act of Ryemo Gemo confirms the level of seriousness accorded to the COVID -19 pandemic.¡

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