By our reporter
A few days ago, this newspaper revealed how a civil war had broken out at Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem’s family. Some family members are accusing Oryem of behaving like the only bull in the kraal to an extent of ignoring their needs. They feel, given that he is the representative of the fallen President Tito Okello Lutwa`s family, he should share the cake with them. A section of family members however, say this has not happened and they continue to live like paupers.
We have now learnt that this is not the first time Oryem is being accused of alienating himself from family members.
A story goes that some few years ago when he was the Chua MP, he narrowly survived being caned by his elders at Namukora over similar reasons. That day, he was reportedly forced to lie on bare ground with his bum ready to receive lashes, but cried tots of tears before elders had mercy on him and converted the lashes into meat, cash and gallons of Waragi.
Traditionally, no Acholi man is above ‘lut’ (kibooko) even if he is escorted by a battalion of Navy Seals. Elders force their victims to the ground, pull their trousers downwards and sprinkle on their boxers cold water from a pot for maximum Impact. A strong farmer with a reputation for clearing the thickest forest is then picked to administer the lashes! We are now told that that day Oryem’s bodyguards were threatened by lynching when they tried to save their boss. They were forced to retreat to the edge of the compound and watched in a state of shock as their boss rolled on a dusty compound while crying for mercy.
WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS SAY
In reality, some family members say Oryem is in total detachment with some of his siblings and relatives, some of whom come home as tourists, let alone him being in the docket to clear their status back home.
“We are not in the UK as exiles but stuck people who have been blocked from coming back home as Ugandan citizens,” Eddie Labule Okello, Hon. Oryem`s nephew intimated to this newspaper. Labule, who has lived in the United Kingdom for close to 30 years said he has failed to get an opportunity of meeting Oryem so that they can sort out family issues amicably as one family.
On the face of it, one would think that this is well-off since they were once in power and even have a relative in a higher position in the current government. Died in 1996 at 82, Gen. Okello Lutwa was survived by seven children, Oryem being the second born. However, the family claims that he is the administrator and hence catching the eye of the President. “He took charge of all the family property and benefits for my grandfather,” cried Eddie.
Eddie says the only people who had tried to fight for other family members` rights were his father Simon Anywa Okello and Untie Jenifer Okello but they both passed on. Charles Okello, Oryem`s elder brother also tried but was reportedly forced to return to the UK after he was thrown out of the family home in Kitgum. Eddie managed to share with this newspaper pictures of the deserted home in Kitgum.
Recently, President Museveni ordered the Government to advance UGX1Bn to each of the seven families of the former presidents of Uganda in appreciation of their contribution towards the development of the Country. Even with this staggering amount, the late General Lutwa`s family of about 20 people prides themselves of nothing.
Sick and tired of seeing family members crying helplessly, Eddie offered to give it a try. He flew into the country and sought to meet his Uncle Hon. Oryem. Indeed, on November 9th 2021, he chanced on him at his Kampala office. “…I went straight to show him( Okello Oryem) photos of the family graveyard which is in a sorry state, but there was no positive outcome of our meeting,” Eddie explains.
Left with no option, Eddie is now seeking to have his family members meet the President but with little or no hope. “I have not been successful anywhere as a family member of the late president of this country in trying to fight for my family. We have written a letter to the President but don`t even know how to deliver it. We want him to intervene into our family matters. We believe he thinks we are okay through his minister but not.”
They last encountered the President on Saturday 21st January 2017 at the fallen family members` memorial and thanksgiving service where he was the chief guest. In his speech, Oryem said; “My father was not like any other father and by all means an unusual father who cared for his family and prepared each member of his family for when he would not be there. Yet at the same time handled his State responsibilities effectively beyond the call of duty.”
His statement was a reassurance to the Head of State that Gen. Lutwa`s family was not lacking in any way. However, when we contacted him via WhatsApp, he responded after one hour thus; “Thanks for contacting me. Every family has issues, including yours. I am just being taken advantage of…” he however changed his mind along the way and deleted the message for all as we were still reading it!