GULU- Mourners who had gathered to bury the late Mrs. Florence Akongo Ochora, wife to former Gulu Resident District Commissioner, the late Rtd Col Walter Ochora were, on Saturday, July 20 angered by the speech of National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Deputy General Secretary Richard Todwong during a burial ceremony in Gulu.
When Todwong was given the opportunity to speak and recognize high-profile mourners that included the NRM secretariat team and top opposition politicians.
He instead opted to discriminate as people were waiting in anticipation that he would introduce all notable members of opposition including Kyadondo East MP Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) and LOP, Mrs. Aol Betty Ocan and other MPs, he told mourners that he will only introduce DP party president Nobert Mao as the only opposition party president he knows in the congregation.
The burial took place at the deceased’s home in Obiya Highland in Laliya parish Bungatira Sub County a few kilometers northeast of Gulu town along Kitgum road.
She was buried beside the grave of her late husband Rtd Col Ochora.
Mrs Florence died on Saturday, July 13, 2019, from Kampala after having spent 10 days in hospital.
Mr Todwong’s discriminatory action sparked commotion and mourners began hissing, something that prompted the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mrs. Aol Betty Ocan to condemn it strongly as a habit of practicing bad politics of disunity, she later tried to calm the storm by inviting all the MPs in attendance to introduce themselves to the mourners.
“My son Todwong, yesterday we were your family home (recent burial of Todwong’s father Ojok Awany) and tomorrow, if we die, don’t refuse to go and bury us just because we are in opposition parties. In death we are one, in lives we one! So let us focus more on things that unite us.” LOP Aol Betty Ocan emotionally spoke during the event.
Mrs Betty Ocan noted that at the time she lost her husband late Mr Michael Ocan, she was greatly supported by Todwong’s brother Gen Otema Awany who is staunch NRM cadre arguing that people should see beyond politics especially during the time of mourning and celebration.
Mrs. Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, MP Lira district also reacted to Todwong’s incident saying it has become meaningless if Uganda and specifically NRM party leaders talk of embracing multiparty politics without putting it into practice.
“I’m very happy our children from Buganda have come to join us so what, we agreed to embrace multiparty politics, so embrace all of them regardless of their party, opinions, let them come to mourn with us, to see our problem and victory and we celebrate together where there is something to celebrate and tomorrow with us when we are sad. That’s what we want and we must demonstrate that we believe in unity not just talk unity, we must practice it” Mrs Cecilia Ogwal emphasized.
She further reiterated: “Let us put Uganda, our God and our unity more important than the colours which divide us.”
All the MPs when they were given the chance to speak; they also concurred with Mrs.Ogwal and LOP Aol speeches. Amuru’s Kilak South MP, Gilbert Olanya further warned that nobody should promote politics of hatred during such painful moments when everyone is grieving the loss.
Stating that burial is the biggest agenda beforehand.
However, when Bobi Wine was given a chance to speak he said that the late Col. Ochora was his mentor during the time he came to comfort Acholi people through music campaign dapped “So Far Yet So Near” during the peak of LRA insurgency activities. And that his coming was a double opportunity to pay his last respect to former mentor and his late wife Mrs Florence Ochora.
He says such moment of mourning Mrs Florence Ochora should actually remind Ugandans that they are all the same as brothers and sisters instead disuniting.
“You might have different political affiliation, backgrounds and believes but at the end of the day we are human, we are Ugandans and if we want to have a new Uganda then we should be Ugandan that provides a say for each of us,” Bobi Wine said.
Meanwhile, both Omoro woman MP, Catherine Lamwaka and Bishop of Northern Diocese Rev Johnson Gakumba eulogized the deceased for being caring, lovely, hardworking and committed faithful at business and church respectively.
Bishop Gakumba during his homilies advises mourners to emulate the deceased other than moving from church to church like ‘prostitute’ arguing that whenever they die, it brings confusion to their family especially when they want to organize sendoff prayer.
“Don’t be a church prostitute moving from one church to another and in the end of the days, you don’t even know who will bury you” he warned.
Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali was the chief mourner. He was accompanied by Gen Katumba Wamala.
The MPs who attended the funeral include Woman MP Lira district Joy Atimango, Mityana MP Francis Zaake, Kole North MP Bonny Okello, Omoro Woman MP Catherine Lamwaka, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya, Gulu Municipality MP Lyandro Komakech and Northern Youth MP Oscar Omony and the Gulu district leaders.
From the NRM secretariat included Richard Todwong, Minister Sam Engola, and Minister Okello Engola Macodwogo among others.