According to Lotukei, instead of touching a gun, he rather touches a needle for injecting animals, which have changed his life. Lotukei thanked the government of Uganda for removing guns from them, saying they did not know that guns were blocking them from enjoying other development projects.
Mr.Lotukei in blue overall with a friend treating animals in Musasi parish in Moroto district last year in December
30-year-old Paul Lotukei, a resident of Nakambi village in Moroto
district is a reformed cattle rustler. He was arrested and tortured by the army
He was released after surrendering a firearm to
Life became hard for Lotukei after losing the gun. He resorted to
burning charcoal for survival. However, while cutting trees one day, warriors
shot and injured him. This did not end life for Lotukei and his family.
When the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
called for applicants to train as community animal health workers in 2014,
Lotukei seized the opportunity. He told URN that he does not have any
interest in a firearm anymore because of the suffering he went through.
Lotukei leaves his home at 7 am each day to
treat sick animals for a small fee.
According to Lotukei, he works from 8 am until 6 pm because the animals are many and he is the only Community Animal
health worker in Musasi parish in Katikekile Sub County in Moroto
"If I had realized this kind of support
when I was growing up. I would not have picked the gun and destabilized my
brothers the Turkana and Karamojong, “he said. According to Lotukei, the
knowledge that he acquired as a community animal health worker has helped him to
take care of his family.
"I wasted my time with cattle
rustling by now I would be a rich man; I was the second in command of the
Matheniko cattle rustlers. In 1999, I led a group of 15 warriors from
Katikekile Sub County to raid the animals in Turkana, and indeed, we succeed
and raided 400 cattle. We passed through Longirikipi, and found Turkana armed
warriors. We fought them for about 2hrs but we overpowered them. We continued
with the journey, but as we reached Nakonyen in Moroto, we landed in an
ambush organized by Ugandan's army, that was a mother of the fight and I will
not forget it for the rest of my life,” he said.
He said they exchanged fire with the
soldiers for about 3hrs and they managed to kill eight UPDF soldiers
and lost 13 rustlers. He, however, says they managed to overcome the army and
went with all the 400 cattle that they had raided.
"The cattle that we raided even I didn't
keep them, the army collected them and handed them over to Turkana. The army
started looking for me seriously and my relatives encouraged me to meet the
army. I pleaded to be forgiven and the army indeed forgave me till now,"
According to Lotukei, instead of touching a gun, he rather
touches a needle for injecting animals, which have changed his life. Lotukei thanked
the government of Uganda for removing guns from them, saying they did not
know that guns were blocking them from enjoying other development projects.
"For me, I didn't know that there will be
better life after a gun because it’s something that I got my parents doing. I
don't want my children to follow it anymore and suffer the way I suffered out
of ignorance," he said.
He said he has built a permanent house of two
bedrooms in his home village to prove to other warriors who are still handling
guns in the bush that there is better life other than cattle rustling and
Lotukei appeals to his colleagues who are still
hiding in the bushes and his brothers the Turkana who are still armed to hand
over their guns and embark on productive activities that cannot make them die
and miss their families.
Mark Longora, an elder and resident of Musasi
village, whose benefits from Lotukei’s services, hailed him for his work,
saying the knowledge that Lotukei got has saved their livestock in the parish.
you are aware that most of the people working in Moroto and Karamoja at a large
are not natives so they fear to move deep in the villages to treat animals
but Lotukei is doing a good job to save animals because he moves alone and he
has made himself known," he said.
Mary Akorio, a mother of seven whose cows were
treated by Lotukei, says that at first, they did not trust Lotukei because he
was a terrible raider. “When he was beginning to treat animals, we were scared
that he might be marking animals to raid since he's someone who never even
stepped in primary one but he treated our animal. When our sick animals became
well, he became friendly,” he said.
Joseph Lokol, another pastoralists whose
animals are being treated by Lotukei told URN that they have given the former
rustler the title of doctor even if he has never gone to school.
"Lotukei is better than those who went to
study animal medicine because he can tell the disease attacking animals and
give correct drugs and dosage without any mistake," he said.
Mark Musoka Aol, the former Moroto District LC V
chairperson, says the people of Karamoja need practical skills that can help to
transform their daily lives. He calls upon development partners to focus on the project that can promote self-reliance than giving handouts.