A 60-year-old priest in Gulu District has taken an estimated 2,000km bicycle ride through 50-districts in a passionate campaign to end corruption in Uganda.
Rev Innocent James Otto of Nwoya Parish under the Northern Uganda Diocese embarked on his countrywide ride on March 5 on a mission to “eliminate the virus of corruption in individual hearts and minds” which he will conclude tomorrow (April 20).
After more than a month of riding through various districts in western, eastern, central and northern regions, Rev Otto told Saturday Monitor in Mbale en route to Soroti District this week that his mission is to spread a message about corruption.
“To regenerate a new Uganda - the Pearl of Africa - that is free from the virus of corruption,” Rev Otto said.
He said his message also seeks to remind Ugandans not to compromise their rights as children of God and to become good neighbours. “For every place I have visited, people have clearly understood the message and mission. People have to know that corruption is spiritual and personal but it’s Jesus Christ who can eliminate it from people’s hearts,” he added.
Rev Otto, a resident of Pece village in Gulu Municipality, also said greed for money is ruining society and merely sending the culprits to jail cannot eliminate corruption but instead worsens the vice. He said it took him three years to plan the anti-corruption bicycle expedition.
“I’ve always had a passion for Ugandans since I was young. Whenever, I hear of people swindling funds, it hurts me. That is why I got interested and said, what’s the biggest expedition I can ever make? And riding for the anti-corruption cause was it,” he said.
“The toughest challenge I’m finding is keeping the momentum going and not get too dismayed in case there are delays. Language barrier also remains the biggest challenge for me especially in those areas so far visited.”
Rev Otto is said to have joined Church as a trainee in 1991 and was ordained in 2001 and later attained priesthood in 2004. He formerly worked as a trainee mechanic with East African Airways from 1971 to 1976.
He joined Uganda Airline as a mechanic in 1977 but in 1979, when Tanzanian forces attacked Uganda, he went to work with Soroti Flying School as a mechanic until 1982.
He retired and joined church work until today.
On average, Rev Otto rides about 40km a day on a sport bicycle with few belongings that include a map of Uganda and a Bible. He is often alone on the road and mostly spends the nights at police stations or churches.