Thursday, 25 June 2009

Short Biography of Jason Avutia, the First Chairman of LULA

He started as a Primary Teacher 1951 – 2, then Tutor 1953 – 1963. He became the Assistant Education Officer (AEO) in Arua 1964 – 1979; AEO in Hoima 1969 – 1971 [This was the time he found placement for my mother]; and AEO in Moyo 1971 – 4 before being promoted to Education Officer. He was transferred to Ministry of Education Headquarters working on Education of teachers and registration, certification plus submission of discipline cases to the Teaching Service Commission. Jason was then transferred as Assistant Provincial Commissioner for Education in the West Nile Region 1977 – 9. Between 1979 and 1982, he was the Education Officer in Arua. After that he retired.

I chatted with Mr. Jason Avutia in June 2009 at his home opposite the Mvara Mission football ground and here are a few of the many wonderful things he shared with me, “GOD has given us (Lugbaras) millet, it makes us strong so that we work. If you don’t work, you will die. (Sir Winston) Churchill is the Greatest Man in British History because he won the war but after office work, he would go home, take off his shirt and perform chores such as weeding in his garden…”
The Lugbara do not have a king, that is someone who brings them together. They do have chiefs though but these do not perform cultural duties. The Agofe (Lugbara for ‘Pillar’) meanwhile has the task to keep Lugbara Heritage alive. He does not necessarily have to be the oldest. According to tribal trivia, Atanva Ezekeli Arinze is the Oldest Lugbara who ever lived 1797 – 1967 [Exactly 170 years]. Although retired, Jason was the Agofe (Tree in the middle of the house where small branches are attached) for some time, “Lugbara Culture teaches you to Respect your Parents (Elders), Not to kill nor murder, Not to commit adultery, Not to steal nor rob, Not to lie, and Not to covet a neighbour’s property…I am a teacher by choice. When a teacher is posted to a village school and after one year s/he leaves, I get angry. They never get to see their first pupils or students grow…”

Jason Avutia was the first chairman of LULA, the definitive authority on Lugbara Literature. Also known as ‘Amuti Lugbara Ti Sipiri’ – Lugbara Literature Association with an office at the Ediofe Highway Arua Resource Centre, LULA was founded in 1994 but registered as an NGO in 1999. It has not been so active in the recent past because of, as Jason says, financial constraints but the fire that has been lighted for the Lugbara community should never be put out…The success of any cause lies in the wisdom of many, so if many people get enlightened about and inspired to support LULA, it should definitely survive and grow bigger…