GULU – The Acholi Paramount Chief, Rwot David Onen Acana II has slammed officials of the cultural institution for failing the sixth edition of the annual traditional festival.
The cultural institution had planned to stage the annual festival that brings together thousands of Acholi royalists from December 15-17 in Gulu. However, the organizers cancelled the event at the last minute – citing safety concerns-particularly the fear of the spread of the Ebola Virus.
But Rwot Acana told journalists at his Palace on Sunday that the festival had flopped due to the recklessness of the organisers.
An estimated 30,000 people were expected to attend the festival organised under the theme: ‘Promoting Cultural Values for Economic Development.’
Rwot Acana noted that although there was a presidential directive issued during the Ebola disease outbreak against large gatherings, the organisers were reckless in the manner they prepared for the event. He said there were expectations that the festival would be staged later this year.
Ambrose Olaa -the Acholi Cultural Institution Prime Minister said the festival had been cancelled because most sponsors were reluctant to release funds for the event citing guidelines issued on large gatherings due to Ebola. But, he hastened 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 amongst 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,” said Olaa – revealing that the event would be organised at an appropriate time.
Bernard Loum -the Director of Corporate Affairs at the Cultural Institution noted the various committees had performed their task well until the last day when the festival was cancelled. He added that some of the sponsors had already fulfilled their support while others had held it back following the cancellation.
“I can’t tell where the problem was because on our part we did our work, even the committees formed did their respective works,” said Loum.
The Paramount Chief launched the Acholi Cultural Festival in 2017 to celebrate the heritage and identity of the people. The festival didn’t, however take place twice – consecutively in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 lockdown.