It’s time to pick up boots and tie laces, put on gloves to save Murchison Falls

Thursday December 5 2019



Henry Owoko

Henry Owoko 

By Henry Owoko

The voices of reason, conservationist and environmentalist have written, spoken and preached on what Murchison Falls is, why it should stay as is, what it means to our future and how the government should preserve it from the snares of development and technological advancements.

We all just seek to preserve a better world and not lose it because history books have told us about “a lost world” where there were dinosaurs and other creatures that are extinct and archaeologists have proved it. However, the question is, “could it have been our forefathers that were part of depriving us of seeing such creatures?” And are we making the same mistakes by destroying what is left of earth for our unborn children?

In the wake of voices of reason to save Murchison Falls from a pending doom of construction of a dam, Cabinet announced that they had abandoned the project of having the dam on the falls.
The announcement brought a fresh breath of air, excitement among the conservationists, environmentalist, potential tourists and the country at large. They believed that once people speak, their voices are heard by their leaders. The whole nation could even hear the thunderous falls at Murchison Falls thunder louder as the water went through the gorge in the midst of celebration of the decision of Cabinet.

As celebration of the victory ensued with merry making and feasts like our fathers had back in the days, for saving the falls and the millet dries to make bread, a bull for slaughter is being identified and invitation cards are sent out to the guests. The government, who is the ‘guest of honour,’ develops cold feet to attend the victory celebration and wants to destroy the sole purpose of the feast.

With junior minister for Tourism promising to put on his boots to fight for the falls, we are left wondering if the “mafias” have silenced him in Cabinet and he has to rally from the populace. “Mafia” in my construction has become a common word in Uganda for reference to politicians in government and powerful figures who get their way.
The dilemma at hand assumes that such a “mafia” exists, which explains why Cabinet would abandon their agreed position in less than three months and have to consider and approve a feasibility study that most likely will be influenced and the end product will be a hydro power dam at the falls.
Feasibility study, according to the Minister for Tourism, is to help find out if there are other ways of generating power without tampering with the falls. Why even carry out a feasibility study?

Energy minister Irene Mulomi says it for Uhuru gals that is 25km from the Murchison Falls what is what? We are left wondering whether to shop for boots with the minister’s specifications that he didn’t have on while address in Cabinet Or should we seek guidance from him on whether to also buy gloves and get ready to lace them for the march of Murchison Falls verse power dam construction.
As the minister puts on his boot, do we appoint a godfather to front our cause to the President where all those who feel they can’t defeat the “mafias” run to for solace, or is Amos Wekesa up to the task ready and our rumbles are baseless.

Or should we borrow a leaf from history books of march beaten great Mabira forest Vs Sugarcane plantation where the gloves where laced tight and the battle end up with Mabira Forest as the victor of the day and sugarcane plantation as an orphan. And the victors and the “fierce cheerleader” as assumed names like “Mama Mabira”.
Or was the “Save Mabira forest” battle of the time, meant to open up the eyes of environmentalist to change the law relating and regard to giving away national nature treasures for investment and technological advancement so that people would directly have a say by way of Referenda.

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A referendum would safeguard us from “mafias” with selfish interest or the powerful “commission agents” even politicians, who care about their ‘cut’ rather than conserving our nature.
What next if such a law is not enacted to allow a referendum, are we going to see the next “#SAVE Lake Victoria” when an attempt to give Lake Victoria is reached by a few powerful political actors against public opinion on the same.

The wounds keep reopening and the need to fight to save our heritage keeps coming, the voices of reason have been ignored and considered empty tins and barking dogs that don’t bite. We should listen closely to nature “it echoes sounds of leave me as you find me because I have to look after your children and unborn children too”.
Is it time to pick up the boots and tie the laces on gloves for Save Murchison Falls vis-avis hydro-power dam, to save our heritage and conserve for future generations.
#SaveMurchisonFalls.
For God and my Country.

Mr Owoko is a lawyer.
henry.owoko999@gmail.com

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