Monday, 23 November 2009

Lugbara Kari (The House of Lugbara)

There is a long awaited move towards forming an official administrative body of Lugbara. John Godo, a grey haired UPC (Uganda People's Congress) Party champion or stalwart in the Arua, West Nile Region (He is also a Member of the Ayivu County Elders's SACCO) and his associates are drafting a Constitution - Set of Rules (Lugbara Kari) for the said structure, the Household of Lugbara. It is not yet adopted by all the Lugbara on the entire Third Planet but many look forward to spreading it everywhere. Membership is simply by belonging to the about 13 Clans of Lugbara: Seven in Uganda (Aringa, Ayivu, Madi, Vurra, Terego, Maracha and Koboko also included because the schools there teach pupils in Lugbara) plus Six Bayia (Outside West Nile) Clans according to original counties known as "Collective" in the Eturi Province of Democratic Republic of Congo [I'm sorry I forgot to record the names but one interesting one is the Itso pronounced as "icho" meaning "able" in Lugbara. Nevertheless, some ethnologue reports list dialects such as Zaki, Abedju-Azaki, Lu, Aluru, Nio and Otsho with 840,000 speakers in DRC (Johnstone 2001). The last two are very similar to Ugandan Lugbara. Yes We Can form this Cultural Institution. There are also Three tribes in Sudan who speak a Lugbara-like language and may be included. Godo once asked, "Why don't we study Lugbara up to University and even get degrees in it?" With this institution in place, work can be done to bring that dream to life].

In Uganda, the Baganda have a Kabaka, the Banyoro have an Omukama, the Basoga have a Kyabazinga, Itesots have an Emorimor, and Batoro have an Omugabe but the Lugbara have NO KING. There are chiefs and sultans in different counties but there is no one with kingly authority. You wonder how they can be united, reminds me of lines in the Bible about Ants and other insects that have no leader but know when to do things and in impeccable order. Nevertheless, the Lugbara have someone called the AGOFE who is charged with the duty of preserving the culture through writing plus other assignments. He is elected to a five year reign that can be added with one more term, though according to the unpublished constitution, he can also be replaced in his term basing on certain failings. The current Lugbara Agofe is Jason Avutia whom many know as the Chairman of LULA - Lugbara Literature Association. Qualifications for an Agofe (Article 8: 2: 1) include: (a) A person with minimum age of 55 Years; (b) A person of high oral character and proven integrity; (c) A person knowledgeable in public affairs and with interest in cultural and developmental issues in general; (d) A person with a deep interest in the history and culture of the Lugbara; plus (e) A person with a minimum education of advanced certificate level or its equivalent.

Some of the Objectives for forming the Lugbara Cultural Institution include: 1.To forster, enhance and preserve the cooperation, unity, trust and understanding, dedication to work and mutual respect among Lugbara; 2. To promote cultural heritage of Lugbara and Lugbara ti; 3. To preserve, regulate the culture of traditional dances; 4. To encourage collection and preservation of ancient artefacts, social life as well as other traditional things; 5. To encourage research; 6. To promote cultural linkages; 7. To improve agricultural practices; 8. To promote industrial cooperation and land conservation; 9. To award and honour Lugbara who have excelled in various fields; 10. To set up a Fund for promoting culture; 11. To cooperate with government institutions in achieving the above objectives (The Arua District Local Government following its own community-oriented objectives has actually accepted to support the Lugbara initiative).

PREAMBLE:
WHEREAS the Children of Lugbara wherever they may be located in Uganda, Congo and the Diaspora are desirous of constituting themselves into an institution that will preserve, promote and enhance their culture as well as their material, economic heritage so that they can consolidate African nationhood in a rapidly globalising world.
WHEREAS such cultural institution will enable the Lugbara to unite and live harmoniously with their neighbours and contibute to their role as active citizens of Uganda in a federated East Africa in the context of the African wide political union of African people.
WHEREAS all the Lugbara are united in their joint vision of promoting their oneness (Unity) and well being for the glory of their motherland and that of their ancestors, the living and the unborn.
WHEREAS the representatives of the Clans of Lugbara have met and resolved that such an organisation be established...

(This data is courtesy of John Godo)

Charles Bua from Vurra (Arua) comments that, "It is a matter of controversy among our people. Arua people want cultural leadership but elite class is worried of its influence. It is definitely going to unite the common people but alienate the self styled politicians who have become cultural leaders without interest, no responsibilty, no knowledge and those and many others do not believe that the spirit of a nation is the common and neglected community. There is hope. First, we need several dialogues and writing of our history. Then constitution be drafted by all the representatives of clans."


AJUA - Tara Origins

Some call this place "Tara-dise" because it rocks their world. You may marvel at heavenly views of breathtaking rock formations and mountains namely Liru plus Wati (in Terego) like when Clouds hug their tops or at Sunset - GOD surely painted better than Michaelangelo and Pablo Picasso combined; the plush-green vegetation is refreshing; the well arranged Maize, Cassava, Groundnut, Soya and Tobacco (Assets) Gardens plus simple rural lifestyle seem unmoved by urban chaos. Tara is found on the Northern Border of Maracha, about an hour away from Koboko Town and DR Congo.

A man called Ajua is the great-grandfather of Tara Parishes. Ajua (Abi pi ama tipi Tara'a woro) wanted to see where Ono (River Enyau or Anyau) ends. So he moved with his cows and found people dancing at a dog funeral in Onduparaka (North of Arua Town). He joined in the dance and was given a wife. She gave birth to Opodria who later birthed Naye, the father of the Seven True Parishes of Tara. Ajua left Onduparaka on his quest and went to Ovisoni (West of Arua Town). There he also found people dancing and was allowed to join them. He was given another wife. Some say he paid bride price. The woman gave birth to Otu (Lugbara for 'Umbilical Cord'), the father of Vurra, after whom a County was named in Western Arua District. Otu is the step-brother of Opodria, the grandfather of the other Vur(r)a, a Parish in Tara Sub-County which encompasses the villages from East/West Kololo, Pajuru to Odupiri. Vur(r)a's six brothers after whom Parishes are named in Tara Sub-County (Part of Lower Maracha created from Yivu Sub-County which used to be in the Maracha County of Arua District) include Ojapi (Angusara is the fore-father of Baria Village), Ajulepi, Yidu (Pajama Area), Oliapi (Oliyepi), Aruwe and Rendu. [Oral Tradition Courtesy of Kefa Bayoa Dobo]

When adventurers visit Tara, they write their names on the rocks and take small ones as souvenirs plus for research purposes. For instance, if you stand at the soccer field of Ojapi Primary School, the ranges anticlockwise from Mt. Liru include Kodro, Gala, Kadri, Adrofiya and Njeke (or Njakai). On the South Side of Ojapi as you move from Oliapi Primary School to Orani (which also has a rock named after the place), you will see Adada (which reminds one of big road construction trucks) and Luturujo (which translates to "The House of/ on a Hill). In the evening, after an honest day's work, men sit on the ground or the innumerable rocks, in circles (of four to five), around a calabash of Kwete or bottle of Umkhomboti and drink while chatting about politics and life in general. On market days like at Mabira, Ajira, Gili Gili and Odupiri, women sell foodstuffs as the sun sets. The Grasshopper is the Staple Food and Emblem of Maracha, a Lugbara Clan. Also famous for the Mairunji trade, it is as though Maracha was built on ROCKS. Other Sub-Counties in Maracha include Omugo, Aiivu, Uriama, Nyadri, Yivu (which used to encompass the whole of Tara) and Oleba.

(Book Review): Sultan Isara

Born in 1886 (the same year Arsenal FC, my favourite club, was formed), he was the first contact with the British colonial administration in Vurra, Western Arua. Savour the story of a kind, peaceful African farmer and celebrated artist who performed in traditional dances, songs and telling myth stories plus was appointed the cultural leader of Vurra people in 1919 before turning Sultan in Lugbaraland. This biography, published in 2008, is fantastically woven by Charles Kiri Kiri Bua [Mobile (0712)678214 or Box 737 Arua] and authorised by the Isara Memorial Cultural and Community Library (IMCCL) Board of Trustees. It respectfully and comprehensively connects the past to the present documenting very interesting Lugbara history and other research ideas worth 10,000 UgX (about 5 US Dollars) a copy. Contents in this compelling book include Isara’s Story; The Myth Story; Who are Lugbara?; The Origins of Lugbara; The Main Migration Groups; How Isara became Sultan; Vurra is a Ma’di term; Clans in Vurra; What made Isara successful; What Others say; Isara’s own Words; and The Last Days. Dr. Eric Adriko, one of the people acknowledged by the author for encouraging him to record the past and preserve Lugbara identity, once revealed how while in Kenya he heard that Hon. Rajab, one of the members of the Kenyan Parliament in the 1980s (representing Kibera Constituency) was said to be Isara’s descendant and there were many Vurra people living there. Some historians say the Lugbara originated from Sudan but it is more believable that they came from West Africa (Cameroon Mountains) basing on the similarity of African names shared today (despite differing translations) such as President Abubakar Atiku of Nigeria; Bayo of the Big Brother 3 House; Didier Drogba - Chelsea FC striker. Personally, I have also made a few interesting observations for instance President Omar Bongo of Gabon; Dramani - Ghana National Soccer team striker; Drabo, Atiku and many others.

Bua writes in his introduction that, "The book is a collection of consecutive interviews, commentaries by elders, sons and daughters, friends, relatives, politicians, workmates of Isara and research on Lugbara of Uganda and their culture by various scholars. The relationship between Opi Isara and the Lugbara culture is very important. He led people in the house of chiefs not only in Vurra but also in the counties of Ayivu, Terego who had houses of chiefs (In short, he was a Sultan). To others he was a building block between different groups of people. He married at least nine women from various clans and left over 60 children who form part of the Arua District population. Isara’s creative lifestyle had transformed Vurra from traditional leadership to modern British politics. Now that Isara’s descendants under Isara Memorial Cultural and Community Library have formed an association, what Opi Isara failed to achieve will be accomplished. The Lugbara cultural values will be analysed, some preserved and promoted especially the Language, Literature, Art and Craft, Entertainment and its history. The demise of Isara on 26th July, 1949 marked the end of an era in the history of Lugbara."

The Isara Memorial Cultural and Community Library was opened in Ezuku, Vurra 50 years after his death and copies of this book can be purchased there.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Mvara S.S. (Arua) Lyrics

Lyrics for these songs were created by the talented REGINA DRICIRU.

"Stop Child Sacrifice in Africa" is a Cry by the Mvara S.S. Music Class calling on all evil people to end their practice of Human Sacrifice. On Sunday 11th October 2009, a six month old Maracha baby was kidnapped (from Christ the King Church, Arua) by Lucky A. The baby's eight year old caretaker had been duped by the 23 year old Alur. The reason for his kidnap was not clear but most probably thought he had been sacrificed and many people gathered near a haunted point on River Enyau only for a big heinous looking snake to come out after some self confessed prophetess claimed that she could show where the kid was. Some doubted her after the hoax. However, when Lucky was caught in Nebbi less than two weeks later trying to bury a corpse that happened to be the kidnapped baby, it was discovered that she had wanted to make peace by showing this baby to her former lover whose baby she had earlier aborted in order to move out with another man. Everything did not work out the way she planned, and even when she escaped after her first arrest, she was recaught. The only time she got lucky, like her first name suggests, was when Arua dwellers tried to stone the car transporting her to court. Police sprayed tear gas to disperse rioters though one stone thrower near the Red Cross Roundabout managed to break a windscreen on the Patrol Van whisking her away. She had ignorantly fed this baby with juice and maybe caused its death unintentionally but killing her first baby wasn't the way to get what she wanted. Am not a lawyer but I feel abortion should be categorised in the same groups as witchcraft, murder or child sacrifice. This song by Mvara S.S. was produced a number of months before the Lucky A. saga but it speaks a lot to all those with similar intentions. It's GOD who takes care of kids so if you conceive one, never let the thought cross your mind that you won't be able to care for them. Even if you die, GOD forbid, they can live on.

[MAN SPEAKING:]
Watch out X2
You, who slaughter children for wealth
You, whose hands are dripping with children's blood.
The long arm of the law will soon catch up with you
Soon, your evil deeds will follow you to your grave
Enough is enough, listen!

[LONG CHORUS:]
Eya, children crying in Africa
Mama weh, children crying in Africa [BABY CRYING:]
Children crying in Africa
Eya, orphans crying in Africa
Mama weh, orphans crying in Africa [BABY CRYING:]
Orphans crying in Africa
Eya, mothers weeping in Africa
Walele, mothers weeping in Africa [WOMAN WAILING:]
Mothers weeping in Africa
Eya, kidnapping in Africa
Mama weh, kidnapping in Africa,
Kidnapping in Africa
(Eya, child sacrifice in Africa X2)
Mama weh, child sacrifice in Africa,
Child sacrifice in Africa-aaa.

[BRIDGE:]
Why, why do you kidnap these innocent children? X2
Why, why do you sacrifice these innocent children? X2
Oh no X2 (the Quest for wealth)
Oh why, (for political support)
Oh why, oh why, (to get social status)
Oh why (to appease business gods)

[INSTRUMENTAL: (Jomic Productions)]

[HOOK:]
Political leaders, stop child sacrifice in Africa! X2
Religious leaders, stop child sacrifice in Africa! X2
Witchdoctors, stop child sacrifice in Africa! X2
Everybody, stop child sacrifice in Africa! X2
We pray to YHWH to stop child sacrifice in Africa. X2 aaa

[INSTRUMENTAL till fade:]

"6th of June" by MVARA SECONDARY SCHOOL is a fantastically upbeat reunion song to groove to even if you have never studied in this classy Arua school. Their motto says, "Be Sensible and Responsible" en there is a lot of sense in this song.

[GIRL SPEAKING:]
This is a day of reunion with the Old Students of Mvara S.S
Old Students oyeh, (oyeh eh)
OGs oyeh, (oyeh eh)
OBs oyeh, (oyeh eh)
Ayeeeee, yeeeee

[CHORUS:]
6th of June, 2009. Is a day of, reunion. X2
With the Old Students, of Mvara. X4

[VERSE ONE:]
Mvara Old Students, you're most welcome!
Mvara Old Students, you're welcome home! X2
We look forward to reawakening, the academic excellency of Mvara. X2

[CHORUS en INSTRUMENTAL:]

[VERSE TWO:]
We thank the Chairperson of MOSA,
And the Old Students for this great day. X2
We welcome all the, Good Ideas
We are ready to, Share with you. X2

[CHORUS en INSTRUMENTAL:]

[VERSE THREE:]
Mvara Students are sensible,
Mvara Students are responsible X2
Mvara Teachers are hardworking,
Mvara Teachers are devoted. X2

[CHORUS en INSTRUMENTAL till fade:]

The third collection of lyrics in this Mvara S.S. Bouquet is a song complimenting the Headmaster Iziyo Tata Aggrey's achievements. It's so reverently melodic en simple that you may want to copy the great headteacher.

[GIRL SPEAKING:]
This is a special dedication to the Headmaster, the staff en the students of Mvara S.S.
Long live the headmaster Iziyo Tata Aggrey [CLAPPING en ULULATING:]

[CHORUS:]
The Headmaster of Mvara is a man in a thousand years.
If you think am lying, copy Mvara en get the shock of your life

[VERSE ONE (FEMALE VOICE):]
They brought a brand new bus, an impossible one
You can't measure to his standard
If you think am lying, copy Mvara en get the shock of your life

[CHORUS:]

[VERSE TWO (MALE VOICE):]
We give glory en honour to Almighty GOD, yes
HE's the brain behind all this success
Glory en honour to YOU!

[CHORUS:]

[VERSE THREE (FEMALE VOICE):]
We thank the teachers, board of governors, parents en students
For initiating such a brilliant idea
Glory en honour to GOD!

[CHORUS:]

[VERSE FOUR (MALE VOICE):]
Your ability to purchase a bus is praiseworthy
We are proud of you, our HM, Iziyo Tata Aggrey

[CHORUS:]

[VERSE FIVE (FEMALE VOICE):]
It's always wise to copy something good from a neighbour
You can copy from him, the HM Mvara: Iziyo Tata Aggrey

[CHORUS:]

[VERSE SIX (MALE VOICE):]
Many headteachers have done well but you excel them all
you're the one to start en others follow.
Dream of an aeroplane now!

[HOOK:]
Dream of an aeroplane now! X2

[INSTRUMENTAL till fade:]

Culture can end Wars and make Long-lasting Peace...

According to John Godo, a UPC champion in Arua (His office is about 200 metres beyond Kamure Park on the down town Adumi Road), culture is defined as "a way of life of a given society especially the general customs and beliefs of a people at a time and place. It is the only birthmark that identifies us by tribe as Baganda, Bateso and Banyankole. It describes Ugandan unity. A nation without cultural heritage is not worth a national status. In the past, the economic institution revolved around family, clan and the traditional leader."
Ugandan Senior Citizen Godo revealed that the peace in the Arua District area was actually "brought by Lugbara elders who called the four groups of rebels to lay down arms." These groups included West Nile Bank Front (led by Ali Bamuze who is now a Lieutenant General in the UPDF national Army), FUNA (Former Ugandan Army), Rescue 1 and 2.
Culture preserves oral literature, social norms, traditional knowledge, enhances creativity, disseminates information, cements social cohesion and a means of expression. All its forms of diversity should be encouraged. Culture is better understood through education and helps youth grow in orderly stages with a sound and social moral entity. They stay awake till late in the night listening to old men's tales while drinking hot water. (My dada once informed me that hot water without sugar was named 'ibede' during Amin and Obote's regimes because during functions, hot water would be left in a saucepan for people to fetch and drink with cups. "Ibe di" is a call telling people to fetch or scoop something.) Discipline and respect were emphasised around fires through stories and riddles, proverbs. These were called informal education. Although cultures differ, societies share a common training system to create ideal individuals who would fit in their community and be accepted. This education teaches young boys and girls as expected in society. It wasn't around discipline alone but catered for the mind, cultural taboos, dos and don'ts in society, clans and tribes plus technical skills for instance Okebu were iron workers, Buddu in Buganda were bark cloth makers. Those who mastered their skills well were regarded as High Class. They were elected as legislators to discuss wars, peace and conflicts. This skill produced an expert fighter called Embawu like Museveni (President of Uganda since 26th January 1986, he was born around 15th March 1944).
Culture can be understood through Civilisation. Changed Society can only be explained through Performing Arts (Music, Dance and Drama); Musicians are known as advisers. It's a means of keeping history.
Wars can be overcome through dances and drama like the Acholi and Madi have war dances that reveal history. Peace can be brought through culture for example in 1980, there was a war in the Soroti area. The Teso came up with a means of stopping the war. A Professor wrote a play whose Teso title is translated as "What Do We Do?" acted by Makerere University Kampala students. The rebels and government forces came together to enjoy the play.

Burning Charcoal

In the Western world, people use electricity or gas for cooking but what do the Lugbara use for preparing their delicious delicacies? In the ancient times (and up to today in some traditional homes), firewood was a must. Three stones would serve as container holders and the burning wood would be placed inbetween. Creative constructors built clay stoves attached to their huts. So women and children had the task of searching far and wide for enough firewood in case there weren't enough trees in the neighbourhood. Some risked their lives to search in dangerous forests and areas. As time passed though, other sources of cooking fire were introduced including the durable charcoal. It is like preserved firewood and as black as coal though some break easily. The last time I had seen the method of charcoal burning was way back in the early 90s and it was on TV. Some South Americans were doing something I thought they do not do yet you might find this science probably originated from areas with lots of wood like the Amazon and thereabout. Anyway, the first time I saw it in the real world and even got involved happened in September 2009. Why did it take me so long? You have to make sure that you do not use fuel or oil because the wood may burn up completely. Teak is preferred by some Lugbara. A fire is lit on a metal board, base branches placed around it and wood meant for producing charcoal placed on it. The wood is then covered with soil to make it burn slowly and prevent it from burning up. When the soil creates a depression, more soil should be added to maintain the quality. Then after the soil is turned out after three days (Most recommended though Amayo says it depends on the type of wood burnt). Earth soil may be placed on top of the black blocks to cool them down. When lighting a stove, some Lugbara place groundnut pods below the charcoal to accelerate the firing up of the mass. This is very innovative because, instead of burning the pods as rubbish, they are utilised in the stove.

Only in Africa/ The Lords of Arua Streets

In 2003, a New Vision newspaper writer described Arua Town as a place where you are more likely to get knocked by a bicycle or wheelbarrow (because of the many high rise constructions going on) than a car. Of course there are many cars (In fact, from Uganda, Congo, Sudan and other countries) but their speeds are wonderfully moderated in the busy town centre by the innumerable bicycles and pedestrians. The Most Recent Phenomenon on Arua streets though has been the strong and fast Senke motorbikes, many of which are used to ferry goods or passengers. A friend from Soroti, Eastern Uganda was irked one night when an approaching Senke cyclist switched on his left indicator but didn't turn. If my friend had moved to the opposite side of the light instead of standing still, they would have collided. Other times, the riders look behind (probably marvelling at a mullato - light skinned woman - who has just passed them) and if they narrowly dodge an accident with you moments later, they abuse you instead of apologising. Some visitors even wonder if "smashers" (Nickname for "Marijuana Smokers" in Arua) are allowed to ride. Not all bikers smoke bamboo pipes but you might put question marks on the reckless ones. Go to a video hall and you may find almost just about anybody including women and young kids with "mairunji" weed which is a big cash crop in Arua. The MP (Member of Parliament) from Maracha once amused his fellow parliamentarians when he said that Marijuana (Ganja) should not be abolished, "Over 10,000 people in West Nile export it to Congo and Sudan." During one food crisis, they had no money made from crop growing, so they resorted to selling marijuana.

In a different mode though, Senke riders are connected to another interesting spectacle on Arua streets. Have you ever seen petrol stations that run as fast as Usain Bolt and John Akii Bua rolled in one or thereabout like Lugbara Thunder or Ovi (Lightning)? Trust me, one day while walking on the corner of an Arua street, you may get scared when you see a determined youth running towards you with a mineral water bottle containing petrol. If you are really timid, you may turn and also run for your life ahead of him. But he ain't after your life nor purse, beautiful lady. Stand still and you will see him bypass you, woooh, that was close. He will suddenly stop near a waiting Senke motorbike (with the rider's passenger at the back) and pour petrol (like an uptown filling station) into the oil cylinder through a cut bottle as a makeshift sieve. These Arua Boys remind you of the prosperous entrepreneural businessmen in Arua popularly known worldwide as "OPEC Boys". Though regarded as smugglers in the 1980s and 90s, some of them have legitimate businesses today. For more information, try asking the Arua Boys Society (Box 84 Arua, Uganda) located somewhere on Ociba Road after the T-Junction with Hospital Road.

There is another compelling thing about life on Arua streets: as long as you mind your business or trade honest and fair, no right thinking person is expected to blame you. Nevertheless, some may get jealous, so if some envious idler steps up while you are walking on the street and drops a wallet infront of you, don't listen to whoever follows behind you telling you that you should share the money in it. These are tricksters playing out something called "Kiwani" in Luganda, the same conning technique that inspired Bobi Wine's hit with the same title. They may let you have their fake notes and ask you to offer them your legitimate money as change. You can only become their victim if they are lucky in a town where counterfeits are taboo. One evening, an unlucky man got beaten to near death when he tried to con a certain business owner with fake dollars. He was left for dead on Arua Avenue with oozed blood drying near his mouth. Me and some Senke riders had to lift him to the sidewalk amidst flashes from a Red Pepper journalist's camera.

The Pain-bending Ragem Beach

Where can a stressed Lugbara relax his mind? When I first heard about Ragem Beach on River Enyau just over 3 Kms from Arua Town (on the Nebbi Road) sometime at the beginning of the millenium, I thought it was impossible since there was no mapped lake or ocean in the near area. If this beach was really as good as residents claimed, then maybe it was just small but suited for their liking. Definitely, there can't be a distant horizon of water here to let your painful thoughts and agonising experiences sail into oblivion like magic but walking in this mysteriously canopied rivershed can trap them for you. The longest (River Nile) tributary in the West Nile area is River Enyau which you also cross while approaching Ediofe (Name coined because of the many broad leafed and black seeded 'Edio' trees common in the area; 'Fe' means tree). Enyau starts somewhere further south and at Ragem it forms one of the Most Amazing and Unique Sceneries you will ever witness in West Nile. The place is so peacefully hidden that it might not draw attention but when you get there, your mind will take a trip far away from the hustle and bustle of town life characterised by tiresome board meetings, changing car gears, signing papers, photocopying and the noise from generators plus Senke motorbikes. I took a walk to that "beach" on Wednesday 11th November 2009 with a cousin who had just finished his Senior Four UCE exams the previous week and was amazed at how mindbending the river meanders were, things I only read about in Geography textbooks a decade ago. It's not really a sand beach as you might expect but in its own way, it refreshingly brings you close to one of the Elements of Nature, which is Water. When viewed from the north, the Ragem meanders form a shape like the numbers 2 and 5 stretched plus joined together but with rounded bends. This seems like a good place for Christians and others to break bread (you know, like Jesus and the 2 fish plus 5 loaves). There are grass thatched 'payotts' on the banks, big trees, floating roots, several trees forming canopies (that remind you of the beastly River Ruzizi in Burundi or the Amazonic forests in Mel Gibson's exciting movie "Apocalypto") plus three bridges to cross over the meanders though only one seemed to have good side barriers. The sound of water rolling and falling downstream near the most visible starting point of the beach is so refreshing that it reminds you of Adriko's Sunshine Mineral Water or Wavah Water. There is also a dangerous slope on the East End, the deepest as you approach the watershed. On the upper side is a garden where you can relax (like at the Source of the Nile while you watch the Nile in Jinja, the Adventure Capital of East Africa). There is also a building that used to be a bar and restaurant but was unfortunately stripped of its windows. The inspiring artwork on the southern end was also vandalised. You can see that it used to be really wonderful but now is "Not Functioning" until an investor comes and resuscitates the business here. Ragem Beach is a very fine recreation ground that can accommodate picnics, parties and other celebrations. Located about half a kilometre from CEFORD Arua and a few metres after the Ragem Technical Institute signpost, you turn right and cut in about 200 metres. No beer was allowed from outside, refreshment was catered for by the management. From Monday to Thursday, entrance fee used to be 300 UgX, Beer 1,500 UgX and Soda 700 UgX while Friday to Sunday, children would enter for 200 Ugx while adults part with 500 UgX. If this place is redeveloped along with Rhino Camp County banks of the Nile or the resort beach in Chilua or Chilo (Terego), West Nilers can have an alternative for sand beaches they visit elsewhere.

Will the Real Scientists Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up!

Science is the Art of Things, that's my simple understanding of the word as a Graphics Artist. Besides that though, I know that it includes observations and tests in Technology, Medicine plus Agriculture. Many Lugbara are actually involved in these fields from those working for Sugar Companies (in Kakira, Jinja; Lugazi, Mukono plus Kinyara, Masindi); Airlines as Pilots, Telecommunication Companies and Arua Garages to doctors at Mulago Hospital (the Biggest in Uganda) and around the world. The first Ugandan Blood Specialist at Mulago (Died in 2009, Rest In Peace!) was actually from Vurra, Western Arua (Also the Birthplace of Dorcus Inzikuru who must have applied a lot of Science in Athletic Training to achieve unprecedented success for her country).
Sometimes people wonder why there is only one local free-to-air TV station in the Arua area. Is it because of a UCC (Uganda Communications Commission) restriction or inadequate resources? In addition to BTN TV whose transmitter in Anyafio Village (one plot North of the four storeyed Anyafio Model School) is sometimes affected by lightning, there is only WBS (Wavah Broadcasting Service) from Kampala - 530 Kilometres away - whose signals also need an external antenna. Amazingly, the Ombaci Earth Satellite Station, northeast of Arua Town, which WBS uses was the very first in Uganda, set up by homeboy Idi Amin Dada in 1978, a year before he was overthrown. As a consequence, many locals wish that the Government would at least direct the national broadcaster UBC (Uganda Broadcasting Corporation) to be aired in West Nile even though it can be accessed on the Pay per Month DStv (Digital Satellite).

Around 2003, during my Senior Six Vacation and First Year on Campus, I spent either one week or about one month reading a Pure Mathematics Book and Technical Drawing Publication in order to understand the Mechanical Physics of a "Parabola", the standard shape for a Satellite Dish that ensures maximum convergence of reflected electromagnetic signals. I jotted down measurements and made my mini-dish (less than 30 cm in diameter) using wires. I shouldn't have used rubber straps to join the wires because they get holes and rapture after some days. The objective of this experiment was to discern any TV signals within Uganda and from neighbouring Congo plus Sudan. Unfortunately, I was not successful maybe because I did not make an amplifier or decoder to make sense of the signals converged. However, I did not end there. I tried the dish on a radio and one night, I was able to recognise unbelievable stations loud and clear from far and wide on the FM Band (from Capital Radio in Nairobi, Kiss 100 Kenya, Star FM (affiliate of UBC), Top Radio (in Kampala and Masindi) to Capital FM Kampala, my favourite then plus others I do not remember. You couldn't hear them in Arua using a normal aerial). I did not believe my ears so I woke myself up from the impossible Dream during the day by dismantling the dish to make a bigger and stronger one but school life had to go on so I forgot about the remake. Maybe someone else has tried this out before, please let me know which stations you heard! Flashback: During Primary Seven (1996), a classmate of mine called Mukalazi (a Muganda) made a helicopter that could carry two passengers over a distance in the air. During my O' Level (1997 - 2000), some schoolmates in HSC (Higher School Certificate) made a machine that spits out Orbit Chewing Gum when you drop in a coin. In A' Level (2001 - 2), some of my Senior Six yearmates studying a Science combination created a radio transmitter and let me listen in on the other side of their classroom. After witnessing those experiments and others, I believed anything is possible in Africa. If your heart is filled with Faith, then you can't fear. Let GOD deal with your designs. BBC Radio in October 2009 reported that some innovators started mass producing small radio stations recently. They are actually only 18 Kilos heavy and each station can be carried as a briefcase. They are now marketing them around the world. Imagine the refreshing Arua One or the world class Radio Pacis in a briefcase, isn't that incredible? Science and Technology is very liberating indeed. A young man from Malawi once made a Windmill after reading a book in an American sponsored Library and got noticed by some foreigners who saw his machine outside the compound where he was staying despite the fact that some locals regarded him as a mad person. He is now studying on Scholarship in America.

Internet Connectivity is the next frontier for inventiveness. Maybe a brain in Bweyale, Mid West Uganda could shockingly come up with a bright idea to change the way we surf. Okay Hajji Ibrahim, that may be a wild thought before Ramathan but we need to keep looking. With Uganda now connected to SEACOM's fibre-optic intercontinental undersea cable, surfing rates are bound to reduce and bring about a "Bypass to Prosperity" because of increased speeds. Mobile phones changed our world, but the internet is a Resource that has the Potential to bypass that. Today in Arua, you can surf the internet in a cafe at 40(or even 20)UgX per minute (Around 2001, it was 500 UgX per Minute). Others use a small modem (about 8 cm long) from MTN, Warid or UTL unlike in the 1990s where you needed a big dish or big antenna. Things keep getting better as Science tests facts, laws and observations. So, if you are doing anything Scientific or even Artistic, then just keep improving and doing your thing! Say no more!