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Colonial cemetery under threat as land-grabbing intensifies

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Paul Omer and Deborah Atyang inspect the grave yard. Photo by Simon Peter Emwamu 

By SIMON PETER EMWAMU

Posted  Sunday, March 9  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Historical. The cemetery was established in the 1890s by the colonial government as a burial site for white administrators.

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Soroti.
The cemetery containing remains of British commissioners and clerks in Soroti District is being destroyed by unidentified people said to be interested in the land.

According to the cemetery stone and documents left in custody of Teso local government council by the colonialist, the cemetery was established in the 1890s by the colonial government as a burial site for white administrators killed by clan heads opposed to white rule.

Leaders speak out
Mr Paul Omer, the LC3 chairperson eastern division, said it is unfortunate that the peace of the dead is being disturbed, saying unknown peopled under the cover of the night go exhuming the bodies, with the intention of meriting allocations from the municipal council.
“My council is limping but we managed to put a flower fence, which has still been encroached on,” Mr Omer said.
He added: “I appeal to the British embassy to come to the rescue of its people. We need to preserve their legacy.”

Land surveyed?
Ms Deborah Atyang, the chairperson for Cell I Akisim Ward, said a greater portion has already been surveyed by a one Ms Owagage Biliwale.
Ms Atyang added that the onus is on the relatives of the deceased to come and fence off the cemetery before it’s wholly taken over.

When contacted, Ms Biliwale said she was allocated the plot by the municipal council and that it doesn’t stray into the said cemetery, adding that her plot only borders the flowers that enclose the graveyard.
She said after she acquired her first plot to next the graveyard, she planted oranges behind as it was a no man’s land and that no graves ever laid on it.
Mr Peter Masiko, the Soroti municipal council town clerk, said he has no role in the upkeep of the cemetery.

However, documents obtained from the land board indicate that two plots stretching into the graveyard have been granted a lease of 15 and 49 years respectively under the authorisation of the municipal urban committee.

colonialists buried at the cite include
According to Ms Deborah Atyang, the chairperson for Cell I Akisim Ward, Reginald Talbot Paske Smith, former Soroti district commissioner, who died August 18, 1919, Conrad BrodieHoll, the youngest son of the late William HuetHoll, British Commissioner who died on November 19, 1919, Kenneth James Brace, who died in 1953, Assistant clerk to governor Andrew Cohen, David Abercromby Rothnie, who died on April 14, 1958, and John Kerrin Stephens who died 1st December 1935.