30 years later, Madi leaders still keeping their kinsmen in cultural limbo

The interim Lopirigo of Madi Cultural Institution, His Highness, Opi Drani Stephen Izakare. (photo/handout)

Adjumani, (UG):- The restoration of cultural institutions in Uganda under the 1995 constitution after it was banned by then President Milton Obote in 1967 after the 1966 Buganda crisis has helped shape and revivify cultural inheritances and values for tribes who are proud and delighted of their culture. And it seems the leaders of the Madi tribe in the West Nile Region are not bothered keeping the people in the current cultural limbo. 

On July 23, 2023, leaders in Madi subregion converged in a desperate attempt to fix the conflict-infested dilemma surrounding the revival of the Madi Cultural Institution that was on the verge of contaminating the political troposphere in the region.

The meeting was convened on the backdrop of a chain of feuds in the interim administration of the acting Lopirigo Drani Stephen Kongoro of the Planyua clan who has single-handedly and invisibly managed the Institution for over a decade without meaningful transformation.

Chief Drani assumed the seat of the Lopirigo of Madi on November 11, 2012, taking over from Chief Daniel Apiliga Kutulungu of Metuli who served from 2008-2012, in a meeting chaired by the late Mama Angela Kaba that was funded by (DED)) German Development Service was funding cultural institutions that consequently had the capacity to pacify communities in conflict situations.

The emergency discussion was convened by the chairman of the West Nile Development Association (WENDA) who doubles as LC5 Chairman of Moyo district and co-chaired with Mr. Anyama Ben, the LC5 Chairman of Adjumani district, to discuss pure and pertinent issues that were fettering the revitalization of Madi Cultural Intuition.

Leaders highlighted bottlenecks that hampered the progression of the reinstatement of the Lopirigo of Madi which was spearheaded by the Madi Elders Forum then headed by Mama Angela Kaba (RIP)way back in 2006.

The consultation made tangible headways key among others was coming up with a draft constitution for first reading and finalization and also the mobilization of funds for financing the activities leading to the election and installation of the Lopirigo of Madi.

What the leaders agreed as a strategic viewpoint for propelling the move to revitalize the institution is to start identifying the genuine chiefs in the several chiefdoms by the office of the Community Development Officers and then forward them to sub-county councils for approval before they are finally approved by the respective district councils as required by law.

The meeting learnt from records that Adjumani district has 11 chiefdoms, Moyo district has 6 chiefdoms and Obongi has 3 chiefdoms, the chiefdoms are customarily headed by chiefs whose rise to power is hereditary.

The district community development officers of the 3 districts and a 9-member committee 3 from each district were assigned to take the lead in doing all the desired preparations and arrangements to ensure a smooth transition from the interim Lopirigo to a substantive and legally established cultural institution of the Madi tribe.

During a council meeting held in December 2023, Adjumani district council fulfilled its mandate and approved all the chiefs in the 11 chiefdoms and the district speaker pronounced that those chiefdoms with grievances should seek redress before the Chief Magistrates’ court or High courts.

Moyo district local government also approved the names forwarded from the sub-counties aside from Panyanga and Metu Oru where feuding self-styled chiefs could not sort out their differences in the acceptable traditional norms meaning out of the 6 chiefdoms 4 have been cleared.

In Obongi district the 3 chiefdoms have not yet concluded the process as reports and follow-up investigations indicate the political leadership has not paid keen attention, probably because some key leaders have no nearness to chiefdoms and do not see the significance of a cultural institution in Madi relevant to their political aspirations’.

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MACDEF under the stewardship of Mr. Bua Victor has since then been cagey with information dissemination over the future or progress of the constitution which is the driving force behind the success of the Revitalization of the Lopirigo of Madi.

Initially, the meeting decided on a deadline of December 2023, to have the Lopirigo of Madi elected pending the conclusion of the installation processes with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development.

But in a situation, where there are no designated communications personnel to handle information-related issues, the entire Madi population was thrown into a dilemma and scorching rage that was characterized by the usual malicious rumour peddling, vending or huckstering 

The Chairman MACDEF (Madi Cultural Development Foundation) Mr Bua in an interface with our Senior reporter said MACDEF has duly fulfilled its mandate, the draft constitution accordingly has been completed and copies were circulated to the various clan chiefs and their prime ministers for perusal and comments.

“We are ready to conclude with validation of the constitution but this now depends on the readiness and willingness of the responsible leaders to convene a meeting where the first reading of the draft constitution will be done and the process will be determined in the most transparent manner,” Mr Bua explains.

The district chairman Moyo in an instantaneous and all-embracing response over the question of the delayed delivery of the Madi Cultural Institution concurred time is ticking away so fast but said the delay was created by laxity in identifying the rightful cultural chiefs and then approvals by the respective sub-county councils.

“I must congratulate the district council of Adjumani for expediting the process and setting the pace, Moyo, the district council has however fulfilled their mandate but unfortunately Obongi district council has not completed the process”. Mr. Anyama said.

“We can not be held hostage by chiefdoms who are unwilling to cooperate, we shall go ahead and complete the process because out of the 20 chiefdoms in Madi who have been identified and registered 15 have complied, the rest will find us at the gate of the Palace of Lopirigo of Madi {head of Madi Cultural Institution)”.

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He said the process of revitalization of the Cultural Institution of Madi can now be handled in two meetings; one for concluding the constitution-making process and the last one is for the election and blessing of the Lopirigo of Madi which will be handled by the joint council of Madi districts.

Several chiefs who have been approved by the district council of Adjumani believe Moyo district chairman Anyama Ben is reneging on his statements because he has since then gone quiet pointing to a lack of commitment and gusto for the long-awaited cultural Intuition which would create a formidable unity and act as a springboard to development in the sub-region. 

In the advent of the political activities leading to the 2026 general elections, the process of reinstatement of Madi cultural institution will be overtaken by political drives and other closely related political activities.

This thus is a clear manifestation that leaders in Madi sub-region do not view Madi cultural institution as a symbol of unity, identity and solid restoration of social fabric but cherish their selfish agenda, this means the people will have to wait a little bit longer than expected.

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