Members of Parliament have called government to carry on with the former Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah’s efforts to unite Uganda which they said is currently faced with tribalism.
Current and former MPs said Oulanyah put the interests of the people before the tribal inclinations.
“Something that should come out of Oulanyah’s death is the way he wanted a united country. The debate in Parliament could get to the level of western Uganda versus Buganda but Jacob would call out members and say to them ‘the boundary that divides us is not thicker than the blood that unites us’,” said Hon. Anthony Akol (FDC, Kilak North).
Akol narrated how Oulanyah had suffered discrimination in the Makerere University Students’ leadership because of tribal differences.
“By the time I was a student at Makerere University in the 1990s, they told me there was somebody who was speaking to the heart of people in Acholi, but people were saying he was a Langi and didn’t elect him, but later when he proved he was beyond tribes they elected him,” Akol said.
Akol also cited Oulanyah’s efforts in settling of the Apaa land conflicts which were characterized by tribal sentiments, saying the late Speaker left a mark that should not be erased.
Dokolo South Member of Parliament, Hon. Felix Okot Ogong (said, “we should remember Jacob for his love for his country; he wanted the best for this country, he gave himself to this country and could have made one of the best Presidents of this country”.
The President of the Democratic Party and longtime friend of the late Oulanyah, Hon. Norbert Mao hailed the deceased for the passion he had to see the Northern Region get out of poverty. He said to Oulanyah, all people from Northern Uganda were brothers and that he often charged leaders to push for oneness as a way of revamping the war torn region.
Mao told mourners of how Oulanyah pressed Maj. Gen Charles Otema Awany to urgently find a plane to transfer him [Mao] from Gulu Hospital where he had been hospitalized with a nearly fatal health condition.
“Oulanyah threatened Gen Otema that do you know if Mao dies in Gulu you will be ashamed, the general had to intercept one of the UPDF planes and I was taken to Nairobi?” said Mao.
The Chaplain of St. Francis Chapel, Makerere University, Rev Onesimas Asiimwe linked Oulanyah’s zeal for a united Uganda to his deep connection with God.
Rev Asiimwe said that Oulanyah’s ‘sermons’ that have since his death been in the media, cannot be made by a simple believer but one with a deep relationship with the Lord.
“He had a personal relationship with the Lord and we as the church are glad. He made deep theological reflections, the kind that cannot be made by an ordinary person,” said Asiimwe.
Asiimwe just like legislators asserted that the country should also take lessons from Oulanyah’s punctuality saying, “there is no such a thing as African time; Oulanyah understood that our time is our life, he was a great time keeper”.
Oulanyah was described as one of the leaders in Uganda with skills and talents that could not easily be matched and thus a great loss to the nation.
“If you compare Oulanyah’s rare oratory skills, his courage to confront situations such as the Juba peace talks with the rebel leader Kony face to face, his excellence in doing work where he left almost no room for improvement, you can conclude that he was one in 100 speakers of Parliament,” Asiimwe said.