Acholi Chief Slams Organizers Over Flopped Cultural Festival

The Paramount Chief of Acholi Rwot David Onen Acana II has slammed officials at the cultural institution for failing the sixth edition of the annual Acholi Cultural Festival.

The cultural institution had scheduled to hold the festival that brings in thousands of cultural enthusiasts from 15-17 December last year in Gulu. However, the organizers cancelled the festival at the last minute citing safety concerns about the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease.

But Rwot Acana told journalists at his Palace on Sunday that i didn’t take place due to the recklessness of the festival organizers at the cultural institution. An estimated 30,000 people were expected to attend the festival organised under the theme: Promoting Cultural Values for Economic development.

“Unfortunately, the day has passed, I don’t want to hide anything, it was because of the recklessness of the staff we have, they didn’t prepare well for the day and that’s why it didn’t happen. There is no particular date now for the event, until the end of the year when another festival will be organized,” Says Rwot Acana.

Rwot Acana notes that the although there was a presidential directive issued during the Ebola disease outbreak against large gatherings, the organizers were reckless in the manner they prepared for the event. He says they expect the festival to be held by the end of this year.

Ambrose Olaa, the Acholi Cultural Institution Prime Minister says they had to cancel the festival after most of the sponsors held back their funding citing the guidelines issued on large gatherings due to Ebola. But, he hastens to add that some of the activities that had been lined up prior to the festival including the Okot P’Bitek memorial lecture, the bicycle race and the Odilo Ker football tournament among the 54 clans in Acholi were held.  

“I don’t think there is any other problem that could have happened, it was just that the magnitude of the organization was so big, and bringing in too many people at such a time when the risk was high wasn’t wise. You just need one person to contaminate the environment so we didn’t want to risk,” Says Olaa.

Olaa says they will wait for an appropriate time to organize the festival depending on the season and timing.

Bernard Loum, the Director of Corporate Affairs at the cultural Institution, says his committees on the corporate affairs desk performed all their task until the last day the festival was cancelled. He also notes that some of the sponsors had already fulfilled their support while others held it after the festival was cancelled.

“I can’t tell where the problem was because on our part we did our work, even the committees formed did their respective works,” Loum told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Sunday.

The annual Acholi Cultural Festival was launched by the Paramount Chief in 2017 to celebrate the heritage and identity of the Acholi people. The festival didn’t however take place two times consecutively in 2020 and 2021 following the outbreak of Corona Virus disease (Covid-19).

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