Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The annual Acholi cultural festival has been suspended for the second year in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around this time of the year, the Acholi Cultural institution has been organizing a cultural gala to showcase the beauty of Acholi culture. The event in the past years has attracted thousands of cultural enthusiasts from within and outside the Acholi sub-region.
This year would have been the fifth edition of the Acholi cultural festival.
Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister Ker Kwaro Acholi says that due to the restrictions issued by the government, the cultural institution won’t again organize the festival this year.
“Anything that gathers more than 200 people cannot be held, we are waiting until next year,” Olaa told Uganda Radio Network in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Olaa says the cultural institution is looking at organizing the event early next year when the government lifts restrictions on large gatherings. He however didn’t disclose the exact month.
“We have not yet met over this. We are just going to meet in January over to discuss this,” said Olaa.
He notes that just like the past festivals, many activities have already been lined up including a bicycle race and football tournament among others for next year’s fifth edition of the festival.
Olaa believes the absence of the cultural festival for the second year in a row has had an negative impact on members of the society who have been using it as an opportunity to learn about their culture and appreciate the value of the Acholi culture.
The Acholi Paramount Chief, Rwot David Onen Acana II launched the Acholi Cultural festival in 2017 to bring together the Acholi people to celebrate their culture and identity. At the time, Rwot Acana asked the subjects to emulate the Acholi cultural heritage.
The cultural institution last held the cultural festival in Kitgum public school playgrounds in Kitgum municipality in December 2019.
During the event, the organizers showcased various Acholi traditional dances, Acholi dishes, traditional craftsmanship, poetry, cultural wears, cultural crops, Acholi regalia, and traditional medicines.
Large gatherings in the country have been prohibited by the health ministry since the first outbreak of Covid-19 in the country in March 2020.
Although cases of the contagion have subsided in recent months, there are fears that restrictions on festivals may go on, with the matters being worsened by the recent confirmation of seven cases of the new Omicron variant in the country.
The Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng recently downplayed the severity of the new variant and asked Ugandans to remain calm. But the World Health Organization warned that it would be a mistake to dismiss the COVID-19 strain as mild given the fast rate at which it is spreading.