I am not going to buy this nursery tale that Walter Ocora was a Dr Jekyl and My Hyde character. The man was evil, pure and simple. If the history of Acholi is written in the next one hundred years, he will be chronicled as one of the few caused total disaster to the Acholi as a nation.
In 1985, I warned him about the coup they were plotting and formentting against a government of their own party. Instead he threatened to shoot me. Their coup succeeded and President Obote gracefully exited without shedding any blood amongst the ranks of his soldiers and Walter and his ilk took over power only to jump from one blunder tor another, so out of depth and incompetent were they that they signed the so-called Nairobi Peace Talks which Museveni used as tollet paper. It was no surprise that six months later, they handed over power to Museveni.
I met Ochora at the time some of them were planning a coup against President Obote’s government and I tried to
reason with him. The meeting took place in the house of General Tito Okello, the person who took me there was a former classmate at Makerere who was related to Tito Okello and an Acholi girl who I later learnt was a girlfriend of General Tito, who was also a student at Mary Stuart.
I spoke with the man and I told him that by agitating against President Obote’s government and trying to overthrow it, he was going to hand over power to Museveni. He got so angry he actually pulled a pistol on me, and said Museveni would never take power in Uganda. The Acholi girl had to stand between me and him because the man could have shot me. That was the last time I met him. Later people like Tom Okello, who is now deceased, but who helped broker that meeting between me and Walter Ochora ended up here in exile in London. The reason they organised that meeting was because they thought I might use my powers of persuasion on this gang that was set on a dangerrous course that would not only change Uganda’s history but their own as well.
Tom Okello was working in the Intelligence services, but was a close friend of mine at Makerere as he also resided at Livingstone Hall. This was a very heated meeting, I went for the meeting in a private capacity and as a member of the youth wing of the UPC to plead with these coup plotters to see the errors of their ways. The point I made to Walter, which turned out to be true, is that if a coup was ever carried out against the UPC government, that would tantamount to handing over power to Museveni. I made three specific points.
1. There would be a wholesale demoralisation in the army and the security services. The army would split up because the Baganda, the Teso and the Langi officers would not accept the coup and would not cooperate in a post-coup dispensation.
2. The coup would be seen as a purely Acholi affair and moreover the people agitating for it were barely literate and held in contempt by the rest of Uganda. I told him any such coup, being seen as an Acholi coup, would unite the southerners and create a fertile ground for Museveni and his NRA terrorists. I told him on the ground, the UNLA was defeating the NRA and there was no need to propagate very parochial and tribal issues. I told him President Obote would never sanction any war between Langi and Acholi or between the Iteso and Acholi.
3. I argued what the country needed at that point in time was to instill discipline in security operations, stop the panda garis, stop robbing civilians at road blocks, rely more on intelligence in security operations and try the best they could to win over the hearts and minds of the civilian population.
I have very little sympathy with Ochora, but I trust he makes peace with his maker. But history will never remember him kindly. He was a brute, uneducated and above all a coward, an opportunist who even abandoned the Bazilio Okello gang as soon as they handed over power to the NRA and joined up with Museveni and till his death was an
enemy of the Acholi people. He is someone who would be the first on the death list if a revolutionary movement took hold in Acholi.He has cheated the wrath of the people’s rage and anger.
One can at least give some sort of respect to Bazilio Okello because he resisted the hand-over of power to Museveni. But what happened to Walter Ochora, he switched sides almost immediately and joined Museveni.
The soldiers that Walter Ochora and others misled embarked on a costly war that was to have huge humanitarian, social and economic consequences for northern and eastern Uganda. Having handed over power to Museveni, they should have put their tails under their butts but they then set on an imbecilic and thoroughly stupid war under Joseph Kony under the banner of what they called Lord’s Resistance Army. President Obote advised them against this war, warned that the population of Uganda was not ready, they did not have the organisation and they risked igniting a civil war between Langi, Acholi and the Iteso who would not support their so-called war. In retrospect, it is only Alice Lakwena’s rag-tag army of millenarian fighters that made any significant impact on Museveni’s NRA because at least they knocked on the doors of Kampala. What they lacked in political and military strategy, they compensated with blind belief.
But the LRA over the years caused such suffering in Acholi of almost biblical proportions. The LRA is not recorded to have fought any major battle with Museveni’s NRA. Instead it concentrated on attacking civilians daily, abducting children, boys and girls. The worst atrocity the LRA committed was the abduction of the Aboke girls most whom have never been seen again. Reportedly, they were distributed to LRA fighters as “wives”.
But what is more of note is that the LRA gave Museveni the perfect excuse to commit genocide against the people in northern and eastern Uganda. He could corral them into concentration camps and destroy the social and economic fabtic of their societies and this went on for twenty years without any body doing anything about it. At one point 1,000 pwere dying per week.
I do not therefore buy this silly tale that Walter Ochora had good sides to him. The man was just evil. People who peddle this nursery tale that he brought peace to Acholi are even more deluded. How can you set fire to your own house killing and maiming your own children and then later on claim credit for putting the fire down. Ochora has lately been the biggest landgrabber in Acholi in partnership with Salim Saleh(Museveni’s brother) and has even been threatening peasants with violence.
The credit some misguided people are giving Walter Ochora has no value and no bank will honour it. That is the simple. Better to brutally be frank about the horrors that have been visited on our people, especially in Acholi than to be hpocritical in praise to a person who was a monster.
George O. Pacu-Otto.
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