“Legislators from the Acholi sub-region were blocked from accessing the Apaa township, bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts. The eight MPs from the region were in Apaa on a fact-finding mission following an arson attack, displacement, and reports of gross abuse of human rights over persistent land wrangles. These were instead met by police officers and army men heavily armed with teargas and guns who blocked their access” (NBS Television, 10.06.2022).
This here story goes back in time. So far back that we are now soon two decades since the state gave the land to the investor. Since then the Apaa village has seen the forceful state, evictions and other sorts of tactics of the state to takeover the land. In the Northern Uganda land has been taken and given to “industrial” purposes like the plantations for the Kakira Factory for instance. Therefore, the ideas of taking land for “development” isn’t new. However, the state doesn’t give anything in return to the evicted and only creates more internally displaced persons. Which is another crisis in the making.
The Apaa village and Apaa community deserves better. They have been victims, which shown by this quotation from a report in 2014.
“The case of land in Apaa Village (Amuru District) illustrates the suspicions of local people concerning the acquisition of large tracts of land. In 2005, when people were still living in the camps, land was given to Bruce Martin from South Africa who was investing in game reserves for sports hunting. When resistance from the community intensified, it is claimed that the government changed tactics and asked the neighbouring district of Adjumani to contest ownership and claim that this land actually lies within Adjumani District. The Adjumani District authorities then passed a council resolution giving the land away to the ‘investor’. Some participants in this research argued that the boundaries between the two districts of Adjumani and Acholi are clear, and that some district politicians are manufacturing the boundary conflict. During an interview with the District Chairperson of Adjumani, he showed a map of the area in dispute claiming the area belongs to Adjumani District” (Otim & Mugisha, P: 8, 2014).
What is striking is that this case has been a running case in the 9th and 10th Parliament. Now, it returns to prominence in the 11th Parliament too. That means the Apaa village never been resolved, neither has the rights of the Apaa community really been heard. Secondly, the former MPs and Local Councillors haven’t been able to voice it up. This because it is a stalemate and the land is still up for grabs.
We know in 2018 that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) did some evictions of people in the area. This was done with the support of the army or the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF). That just shows that the District Land Board and Area Land Board wasn’t able to petition or have a say. Therefore, the directives and the promise of land was already settled without considering the implications locally.
That’s maybe why the MPs are trying to investigate it. They are MPs representing the Acholi sub-region, but still not allowed to access the area. That says something about the what is going on and possibly could be furthering escalations. We can be rest assured that the State House has directed it and is silently behind it all. As they have promised the land for the investor.
It is tragic that this is happing to Apaa village. Wonder, if the President would have been so kind to an “investor” if it happened to his farm in Rwaiktura farm in Kiruhura district. As a Namibian “investor” was given land and for “development” purposes in the greater Mbarara area. Because, that would be the same and he would have to idly move without any compensation. That would have been a similar act of land grab, which is what’s happening here in Apaa village in the Acholi sub-region. Peace.
Otim, David & Mugisha, Police Charles – Saferworld: ‘Beyond the reach of the hoe: The struggle for land and minerals in Northern Uganda’ (April 2014)