I didnâ€™t want to expose DP. Different factions in the Party wanted to take that advantage of Publicity office to fight Mao but I stuck to my guns. I defended Mao even in the dark. My love for him has never died, I still love him, for without his talk, I would have either died or remained a vagabond. To me, he is like the best cook, who prepares a great meal, chats, pleases the guest and forgets to serve till it gets bad yet the guest go hungry.
The former DP Spokesperson speaks out on why he left the party headed by his long time mentor Norbert Mao for the “enemy camp.”
In Lutukumoi's own words, with minimal editing...
How I Quit DP: What Happened?
Every story needs a listener, when listened to lives can change!
Every day, everywhere many ask, what happened? I didn't want to talk or comment on why I quit DP. I don’t want to expose DP, a Party that built me up. I will try to edit a lot…..Last Friday, on Radio Rupiny, I was asked again, what happened?
Martin Luther King once remarked “Our lives begin to end the moment we keep silent on things that matter!” He also ably made a statement; “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” This we must take seriously. Who are my friends; even the one you love most and you cherish most might not be the friend you think.
My little poem
I went down the stairs of leadership to find a friend, A mentor who was there but not there, I went down again and again, I went back again, I found him but he had gone!
My background that saw me struggle as a fatherless, motherless and resource-less boy from infancy has built me into a resilient being. From Primary 4 to university I managed to educate myself. I qualify for self made man. In this world, there are people who are nurtured, but there are also those who make themselves.
In 1994, as a senior two drop out, hardly 15 years, I struggled with other village rejects and unfortunate children. We went to attend the campaign rally of Hon. Norbert Mao. He was campaigning for the Parliamentary seat (Constituency Assembly).
As I nonchalantly listened to his audible and eloquent speech, I got inspired. We were drunk of drugs and waragi. But one word inspired me “I am the hope for Acholi, I was Guild President in Makerere University, elect me, I will speak for you in Parliament. I am a long distance runner; I will one day run for President of this country!” This statement went deep in my head…I believe many who listened to Mao that day gained hope. This was at a time where people were living in fear, sleeping in bushes and saw no hope for the future. That’s the day I followed Norbert Mao, campaigned for him and defended him from my village to national levels.
I told my friends that day that I will be like Mao when I grow up! Immediately I got an odd job with Chinese Company-SIETCO, working on Gulu Kitgum Road, determined to be like Mao. This made me to leave drinking, drugs and to go back to school. In 1996, I sat for my O-level, but then I was also an ardent mobilizer of Norbert Mao. I passed well with aggregate 19 from Awere S.S.S. Remember I didn’t study S2 as I had a stint with the war and work. I moved to Kampala during the vacation. As I waited for results, I had no hope of someone paying me to school. I went to Kampala. Spent 3 weeks loading and off loading goods in Arua Park; sleeping on abandoned cars or buses at the bus Park determined to work. Most of the work of loading and off loading were done at night. I then got a house in Kamwokya Kampala and rented with my sisters. After half a year, I made enough money to enroll for A-level.
From Bombo S.S.S (1997-98), I told the headmaster of my sad history and vision to be a leader. My background as a former street boy, an orphan and one who went through the mother of all pain, destroyed myself esteem. I used to have low self esteem and would sweat each time I stood to speak. I would stammer and fail to speak well yet I wanted to be like my Mentor Mao. In Bombo I dared stand for Head Prefect but lost by over 20 votes. After a term, the HP misbehaved and I took over. The school exempted me from paying fees and I studied free in S. 6. At that time, my sister who was in London, Auma Cissy Homewood would send me money that helped clear PTA and other expenses. I did pass well and joined Makerere University in 1999 for Degree in Mass Communication (Political Sciences and PR).
When I stormed my mentor Mao in Parliament; he was surprised I made it to Makerere. He offered me a job as his legislative Assistant. I worked up to 2002. Working with Hon. Mao made me develop my lost self esteem and build my reading and writing skills. He would ask me to read and review books. This built me a lot.
“Bedo inget ye oweko kom pura kwar” or living near an ant hill made the skin of the Antelope brown!
Staying near Mao made me develop concrete ambition and appetite to lead. One trait I learnt from him is that he is one person who hates graft and false promise, and that is me. He believes in gathering knowledge. To him there is no right to speak without research and he says, a decision must be made, bad or good.
Article 269 then which was repealed in 2005, banned activities of all political Parties; the Uganda young democrats (UYD) were active, I joined actively and started advocating for Multi-Party democracy. We would advocate in taxis, funerals, wedding functions, assembly halls in schools, class rooms and even in toilets, when you are in any toilet, you would move with a marker and write “We need multi-party Democracy” Many UYDs were arrested for illegal assemblies and we had several court cases. We were determined.
In Makerere I was elected GRC-Guild Representative Council Member for the University hall and I became the University’s Minister for Campus Affairs and Security. I was voted the best leader of the year 2001-2 for improving security at Campus. This is when I resigned as the Assistant of MP Mao.
When he intimated to me that he will not run for Parliament in 2006, I told him “Hon. I want to stand for Parliament” He laughed and assured me to win primaries with Komakech Lyanda. In 2005 I beat Komakech in DP primaries, but the DP- headed by Mzee Uma Kerobino decided to make Komakech DP candidate, they told me that Komakech was Mao’s Choice and therefore I had to shut up! I argued that we were fighting for Democracy in vain.
I saw no truth and justice eluded me, yet DP stands for Truth and Justice! I was confident Hon. Mao would intervene but in vain, he came from Kampala and openly supported Komakech declaring me a deserter and NRM, I didn’t know the motive to date. We campaigned, but lost to FDC who garnered about 7000 votes, Komakech with about 5000 and I with 4900 votes. The DP votes would have taken one of us to Parliament. The votes Komakech got were purely Norbert Mao’s votes, because of the love and respect he enjoys from Acholi.
When I declared in my heart to run in Gulu, I had to start my plans early. I defined politics my way, as “the exercise of power and using that power to transform lives.” In 2001; we mobilized ourselves from Makerere and joined Gulu District in the fights against Ebola; we dared and joined dissemination team. We ended Ebola. My stay again in Gulu during Ebola time made me feel the pain children were going through. Children would come and sleep by the road sides in fear of abduction by LRA.
After campus, I mobilized resources from Japan to buy blankets, mats for children who slept by the road sides and verandas in town. One night as we were having our evening out, a middle aged man picked a basin full of dirty cold water, poured on children sleeping in front of his house, others on verandas. It was about midnight and rainy. The children screamed and scampered. It was this day that I made up my mind to build a night commuters center. When I brought my Japanese friends, they cried. These children were not any different from me who was once like them. They were rejected, most of them fatherless, motherless and tormented by the war. They had no Godfather. I am sure if they were in politics like me, they would face the same pain I went through because of lack of a shoulder to lean on.
It was from this incident that my friends and I decided to put to use the money I gathered from Japan. We built a night commuter center; I called it Teokono; Teokono means under the Pumpkin plantation. We kept over 10,000 children for 4 years. Many centers came in and we were called Bagdad. We lobbied for blankets, soap and started Wang O program in villages to improve their morals. We reintegrated them back to their homes in 2006. I would have bought my first car if I were like many youth, but opted to bring a smile in the face of those with clear signatures of Pain on their faces.
I then lobbied in Japan, got more money and built Teokono Vocational school in Laroo that from 2006 to now has educated over 800 women with tailoring skills, liquid soap making, and candles. Each student would be given tailoring machine after completion. This empowered women and endeared me to them. I used my writing skills, wrote stories on brilliant children who are poor. I secured over 50 scholarships and two are now lecturers. They were really poor of the poorest just total orphans like I was. I then together with my friends registered an NGO-UYAP that now looks after these initiatives. It has given employment to several youth. The NGO got grant From USAID and empowered over 5000 farmers.
After I felt betrayal in 2006; I didn’t quit DP, I continued. I kept on defending DP and even my mentor Norbert Mao in the media. I declared to my mentor my intention to stand for DP National Spokesman. As a member of Uganda Youth Democrats (UYD), I was also Spokesman. 2008, was a transition time for UYD to capture DP as a Party. My mentor laughed loudest. He told me of his support to Kakande Kenneth Paul.
He told me why he will not support me and I felt it was genuine. I dared them and beat Kakande and Mwesigwa hands down in elections. When I became hot in the delegates conference, Kakande was forced to run as a deputy and Mwesigwa was the man to beat whom I beat.
This did not go well with top Party officials. I was fought in the City house (DP headquarters) but as a professional PR; I didn’t let the cat out of the bag and pretended as if there was nothing wrong and took the blame. I didn’t want to expose DP. Different factions in the Party wanted to take that advantage of Publicity office to fight Mao but I stuck to my guns. I defended Mao even in the dark. My love for him has never died, I still love him, for without his talk, I would have either died or remained a vagabond. To me, he is like the best cook, who prepares a great meal, chats, pleases the guest and forgets to serve till it gets bad yet the guest goes hungry.
Primaries in 2011
As an Executive member, elected by the over 1000 Delegates who attended the delegates’ conference, though not written down, I should have enjoyed the same privileges as my colleagues in DP Cabinet then. It was only me who was subjected to unfair primary election. I spent 90% of my time as DP Spokesman moving with the campaign team across the country in 2011. I spent only 10% of my time for my own election. Two weeks to election I was told to compete with Komakech Lyanda, a great pal and a contemporary of Norbert Mao. I beat him in all the three rounds of primaries. Each primary election result that I beat him, the leadership of Kerobino (DP Chair Gulu) would nullify, not until Kampala intervened.
After finally securing the Party ticket.
The DP who called themselves Mao’s team headed by Mzee Uma Kerobino went on a spree to decampaign me, both on radios and villages. DP Gulu offices were closed two weeks to election and I was denied access. I raised the attention of my mentor but nothing was done. On record, I had no office, I had no posters because I over placed my eggs in the Party’s one basket!
To confirm my suspicion; the little money I had I used to mobilize over 100 group of women who came en mass to attend DP last rally in Gulu with My mentor the main guest. The Kaunda grounds were full to capacity. Hell broke loose when my time to speak as a Party MP Candidate and National spokesman came. No sooner had I picked the microphone than my mentor picked and spoke till it was late night! I was denied microphone! Whoever attended DP last rally in Gulu in Feb 2011 in Kaunda ground must prove me wrong if I were given chance to speak… That was eleventh hour! Last day of campaigns, what a betrayal! But Acholi gave me votes, I lost only in Bar Dege Division, I won in Laroo, Pece and Layibi. I was second out of 12 candidates, and Acire beat me by hundreds of votes, thanks to DP intrigue.
I didn’t quit DP; I sat my mentor Mao down in the company of other members of Gulu DP Executives. I asked him to tell me what wrong I did to his team. Is it because I broke or skipped the queue? I petitioned DP delegates after election in Masaka and asked my mentor Mao to assure me if what happened won’t happen again in 2016 but was received by a deaf ear.
I went ahead and we started A4C with Mpuuga, Sula and others from Rubaga Catholic centre. I was one of the first victims of walk to work. I had 4 cases in court. Each time I was arrested and arraigned to court I would stand alone like a chicken thief. In one of scuffles with police, I dislocated my back and had a compound fracture on my left hand and strained the other. I was in plasters and crutches for 3 months. I saw no DP visit me. Thank God Hon. Katuntu (FDC) stood for me in Court.
One day DP had a reunion near Watoto Church. I struggled as a comrade and went there. We partied till late. I was in pain and struggled to walk. After the Party no one would even waste time to help me out. I couldn't drive home. I had to hire a cab. I felt I was caught in a funny game. Imagine, a father of four entangled in unending intrigue!
From this way, the government look at me as an enemy, there other side, my own Party has rejected me, not on ideological grounds but on the grounds of “ who is he?” an orphan, the one without a Godfather. This makes it hard for young people who built up themselves from nowhere to do politics. I found myself in the middle of nowhere! I started defining politics, I started asking questions why I opposed and my people opposed NRM.
I had three options. The first one was to quit politics, the second one was to get to civil society and third join NRM. But if I quit politics, the government will continue following me and my initiatives will be destroyed for being mistaken for being subversive. Then joining NRM. How? I have been in the fore front of opposition. To me I had lost interest in an opposition that even eats itself, that lacks moral and internal democracy. I felt I was chasing the wind.
I knew if I join NRM many will call me names, many will abuse me. My mentor will say, didn’t I tell you? The guy was NRM….That will qualify their deeds or his inaction but the truth wont exonerate them. But God knows. Joining NRM isn’t suicide or death penalty. Why did our people oppose? Because of two things, the war and suppression. But I felt the war was over, suppression was perception. But again, our people deserves better. We need reconciliation and development after 2 decades of war. We need to change lives not regime change. Those who are dying for regime change are those who looted in the regime and now want to protect their wealth. They were in the regime. Our people need more change of status and livelihood, education, health and Agriculture than regime.
It’s not the name people call you, not what they say that matter but your conscience! I am consultant, I have invested, I lecture out once in a while, I ‘am a scholar, an author and can make the country better. But our people first. The sum total is we must come with our agenda that can make our country better. Imagine you were in my shoes.
God bless you.
Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi
Postscript: Lutukumoi has since been appointed by President Yoweri Museveni the Lira Resident District Commissioner.