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Remembering Edward Athiyo; a politician, businessman in Karamoja

FILE PHOTO: Edward Athiyo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | On Friday, Karamoja lost an elder and renowned leader. Edward Athiyo Lorika, 91, died from sudden cardiac arrest at his home in Kitende along Entebbe road.

Lorika was born on March 29th, 1928 to Lorika Lotukoi and Pulkol Nayor in the village of Moru Arengan in Rupa Sub County, Moroto district. He studied at Lotome Primary School, Present Napak district and later joined Ngora High School where he sat for his Junior School Certificate in 1953.

Athiyo was later accepted at Mwiri College for his ‘A’ level but his father refused him to enrol for further studies. While at home, Athiyo trained as a veterinarian and was posted to Iriiri Sub County as veterinary assistant.

In 1958, Athiyo was appointed General Secretary in Karamoja district council where he persuaded Karimojong to allow the creation of Kidepo National Park, now carved under Karenga district. He was sponsored by Karamoja Local Government to undertake studies in administration in the United Kingdom in 1959.

In 1961, Athiyo and the late Choudhry Lokwang went to Lancaster in the UK to make a case for the independence representing the people of Karamoja. Their move came at a time when the Colonial Government had set an agenda that Karamoja should remain under their rule, something Athiyo strongly opposed.

In 1962, Athiyo and others went to Marlborough House in UK for more independence negotiations and it was this rigorous talks that Kabaka Yekka and Milton Obote led the Uganda People’s Congress, UPC Party agreed to form a coalition government and thereafter independence was granted on October 9th, 1962.

After struggling for independence, he became the District Commissioner in the regions of Bugisu, Bunyoro, Mbale, Tororo and Ankole.

From 1971-1972, Athiyo was appointed an Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC and thereafter recalled to Kampala following the expulsion of the Asians by President Iddi Amin Dadda. Subsequently, he was appointed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and eventually appointed Minister in the same department.

In 1975, Athiyo was appointed chairman of Uganda Chamber of Commerce with the mandate to rebuild Uganda following the departure of the Asians in 1972. He played a key role in the creation of the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board.

Athiyo was then appointed Minister of Trade and Later Information in 1976 before went into exile. When he returned from exile in Kenya, Athiyo contested for a Parliamentary seat in South Karamoja and he won in 1980, a position he held for five years.

In 1984, Athiyo was appointed Minister of Transport and had keen interest in Minerals. He remained an advocate of minerals even after his ministry position where he realized the full potential of exploration of minerals, especially in Karamoja sub-region.

By the time of his death, Athiyo was running Kaban Mining Company and other businesses in Karamoja and Kampala.

Athiyo is survived by wife, Christine Rugasira Athiyo; children.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday at his home in Nakaale Village, Namalu sub-county in Nakapiripirit district.

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