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Elders in Omoro Turn to Rituals to Stop Devastating Hailstorm :: Uganda Radionetwork

Elders in Omoro Turn to Rituals to Stop Devastating Hailstorm

While conducting the exercise, Oyaro made incantation locally known as ‘’Agat’’, picked remains of the large intestine ‘’wee’’ and smeared on Aluma`s bare chest while he pleads with the gods to forgive them and relieve them of further destruction.
The elders slaughtering the he-goat for cleansing ceremony. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

Audio 4

Elders and subjects of the Paijara and Palenga Sub Clans in Omoro district have turned to rituals in a move to appease the ''gods'' and ''ancestors'' following a devastating hailstorm in the area.

On Wednesday a heavy downpour accompanied by a hailstorm destroyed more than 200 acres of garden crops in Lagwee-dola Village, Lujorongole Parish in Lakwana Sub County belonging to over 100 households. 

The garden crops which included maize, rice, soya bean, cassava, millet and sweet potatoes among others that were ready for harvest were destroyed by the hailstorm. 

Two days before the destructive rainfall, a teenage boy Kennedy Kiiza Aluma, a casual worker in the area had buried a corpse of a dog, placed a crucifix on the purported grave and held a mourning ceremony. 

The elders, residents and farmers in the area convened and summoned the leadership of the two clans in the area and demanded that the gods have been appeased and a cleansing ceremony must be done before another destructive and more dangerous uncertainty is witnessed. 

From the morning until the evening hours of Thursday this week, the residents and elders in the area demanded that Aluma provide two black he-goats for the cleansing exercise. 

Led by Okello Oyaro the head of Palenga Clan and Severo Owiny of Paijara Clan, the elders and their subjects numbering over three hundred convened at the site where the dog was buried and slaughtered the goats before the carcass of the dog was exhumed.

While conducting the exercise, Oyaro made an incantation locally known as ‘’Agat’’, picked remains of the large intestine ‘’wee’’ and smeared on Aluma`s bare chest while he pleads with the gods to forgive them and relieve them of further destruction. 

//Cue in: ‘’gina rac ma… 

Cue out: …yot kom keken.’’// 

‘’This bad thing that the children have brought, our ancestors and forefathers and mothers may the sun take it and take it far away, it is the health that we need in this area, your rain, you rain with anger. This was not brought by our kinsmen; the blood of the goat pouring is not for free but to save the people in this area’’

He was joined by several other elders aged over 70-years as they speak in tongues throughout the day until they assured the gathering that the gods had pardoned them. 

Explaining after the exercise, Oyaro said that burying a dog is an abomination in the Acholi culture and may lead to deaths in the area, poor yields or no harvest as well as heavy rain and destructive hailstorm.

//Cue in: ‘’I Acholi ka… 

Cue out: …gi tumo kede.’’// 

‘’In Acholi when a dog is buried, hailstorms, if not then drought, if not drought death befalls a home and it is not allowed. I had witnessed but knew and the only remedy is using a goat to cleanse it.’’ 

The meat of the he-goat was later cooked without salt and the meat was served to everybody who was in attendance but no one was allowed to carry it to their homes. 

Betty Akongo, an elderly woman concurred with Oyaro noting that no one should bury a dog lest death can befall the whole area or fail to get yields from their crops until the ritual is performed. 

//Cue in: ‘’joni dongo onyayo… 

Cue out: …atito ga loki.’’// 

With the cleansing ceremony, Akongo says that the area is now free of any more destruction since the gods are undoubtedly happy now.

Joseph Bongomin, a farmer in the area says he lost 15 acres of garden crops including sim sim, soya beans and cassava, he is however happy that the elders were so quick to respond to the root of the disaster.  

Morris Odong Okot, the Lakwana Sub County Chairperson who witnessed the exercise told URN that together with the security they had no objections since it had been authorized by the Paramount Chief of Acholi, Rwot David Onen Acana II.

//Cue in: ‘’some workers of… 

Cue out: …potatoes among others.’’// 

He added that the intervention did not only seek to avoid further destruction but also save the lives of those who buried the dogs. 

Aluma who had buried the dog said that the dog died after he knocked it riding a motorcycle. 

Asked why he buried it, Aluma said that he was not aware of the implications since he is a Lugbara tribesman from Arua City and had only come in the area as a casual worker in the garden of one Vera Oling who is abroad. 

This is not the first time a hailstorm has destroyed farm crops in Omoro district, something that Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) largely attributes to weather changes. 

Geographically, hailstones are formed when raindrops are carried upward by thunderstorm updrafts into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere and freeze. It then grows by colliding with liquid water drops that freeze onto the hailstones.

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