By Santos Mugisa Atwooki, Concerned Citizen
I write this commentary in response to a story published by New Vision on 20th November 2018 titled “Bunyoro Rejects Kingfisher Tilenga names for Oil Fields”. The Bagungu want the Tilenga oil project renamed to Tilenga-Bungungu.
First of all, I appreciate their valid reasons behind their contention; Bunyoro is characterized with the history of injustices.
The Banyoro say ‘Ayanenerweho Enjoka nobwarora omunya airuka’ which is translated to mean ‘the one who was bitten by the snake, when he or she sees a lizard, runs away.’
Bunyoro has experienced injustice that makes it more careful today. The discovery of oil comes with excitements and joys to Uganda and more especially to Bunyoro sub-region that suffered economic, political, social and psychological injustices. That’s understandable and it is time for those concerned to analyze, examine and express their voices so that those injustices should not happen again.
However, I would like to remind and also contribute my opinion to those concerned that the discovery of oil and gas in Bunyoro which comes as God’s blessing should be received with love and a spirit of sharing than divisions and forgetting our roots.
Dear people, Bunyoro-Kitara has history which is very long and unique. Bunyoro has a lot in common with the North (Luo).
History is a tool of reason that paves way for human future development.
Therefore, knowing ourselves more from the historical background is important.
Since today arts subjects like history are seen as less contributing, we are likely to have many social challenges and problems where people fail to know and understand themselves.
Rejecting the name Tilenga may not be taken as nonsense, but let us remember the following;
Tilenga name was coined from two local names of an antelope in Acholi (Til) and in Bunyoro (Engabi). This is what is rejected yet it is a combination of Acholi and Nyoro words. The two communities have a lot to share in history. They are true brothers and sisters in the following reasons.
- Political reason: the Luo kept the two sons of Kyomya when the Chwezi dynasty collapsed; the Luo diviner who was in Bunyoro for the prophetic message to the Chwezi told the two sons of Kyomya that “They should go south and take over the abandoned Nyoro kingdom of their Tembuzi grandfathers.” These children grew in the north at the generosity of the Luo.
- Empako: introduction of the Mpako culture traces its origin from the Luo and became the Luo contribution to Bunyoro and today the Banyoro, Bagungu and Batooro are proud of that unique culture in the world. In the same information published Hon. Mukitale mentioned that “We have empako (Praise names) you can name some of the facilities after empako.”
However, where do empako originate from? They originate from the Luo and the Banyoro fulfilled the reality of give and take culture. The empako came to Bunyoro and got more meaning. The relative of the Banyoro (Luo) contributed this and thanks go to them.
- The Omukama Kabalega had a strong relationship with the northern people. His army-Abarusura, was made up of the Banyoro and the Luo tribes. On the other hand, during the British war, Kabalega and Muwanga took refuge in the north. This fulfilled the Banyoro saying that ‘Amaizi tigebwa wabu wago mbeho’ meaning that ‘water cannot forget its original place in the air.’
- The Biito clan which is ruling in many societies of Uganda traces its origin from the north. It replaced the Chwezi dynasty.
Therefore, the Luo of the north and Banyoro have a strong bond of relationship since history; they have shared that brotherhood in those political, social and economic moments. They are brothers and sisters. Giving the name Tilenga does not cost anything, but keeps the relationship of the two strong.
The discovery of oil should not make people so much exited and due to excitement forget each other and the history that binds them. Oil will end, but people will always remain and they will need each other.
Opinion and suggestion: I would propose the name Tilenga be maintained since it is the combination of the two communities that have a common bond (Til) Luo or Acholi and (Ngabi) which is Nyoro and Rugungu. The Banyoro, Bagungu and the Acholi or Luo are not much different, but one in unity and diversity.