Papa rested, a library burnt

Born on 12th August 1934 to the late Ejakait Isirairi Okalebo and Ajakit Amoding, and belonging to the Atekok Icumadeka Clan of the Iteso of Uganda, today, Saturday, 19th February 2022, the remains of Papa Emorimor Osuban, who rested, will be interred at his family’s ancestral burial grounds in Serere.

Papa Emorimor Osuban’s earthly voice has fallen silent, thus holding true the proverb:

“When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”

African Proverb

In addition to the knowledge that he received from being nurtured by his kinsmen and kinswomen, Papa Emorimor Osuban had attained formal global-western education; his highest qualification being Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics, from West Virginia State University, in the United States of America (1963 – 1965).

Prior, he had attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from Edinburgh University in Scotland, United Kingdom (UK) (1959 – 1963); a Scottish Higher Certificate in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry from Dundee Technical College in Scotland, UK (1958 – 1959); and a National Certificate in Agriculture from the School of Agriculture, Durham, UK (1957-1958).

The late Papa Emorimor Osuban got his secondary education from attending St. Peter’s College, Tororo (1951-1953) and Holy Angels Junior Secondary School, Madera (1951-1953). His primary education he attained from attending Madera Boys Primary School (1942-1946).

Add to his formal academic qualifications, his wealth of experience gained through his illustrious career as a civil servant, and as the head of the Iteso Cultural Union, Papa Emorimor Osuban, was a custodian of a wealth of knowledge. But no more shall Papa, here on earth, carry on our African oral tradition of passing on knowledge. We no longer have the privilege of Papa Emorimor Osuban’s presence around the proverbial story telling fire.

And so, I wail. I cry out loud, albeit knowing that the soul and the spirit of Papa Emorimor Osuban are now in good company, welcomed by those of our ancestors gone before him. I take comfort that his spirit is now in a good place, with that of my late father, Ejakait Engineer George William Obityo Owaraga, Chief of the Ikaribwok Clan of the Iteso; and that together, they are watching over me.

When the time for mourning is over, may we find the wisdom to demand and to ensure that our nations spend on libraries, reading rooms, storytelling and listening rooms, equally or more than we spend on funerals. May we emulate the legacy of the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere in establishing libraries within our homes.

“The modest house built for Mwalimu (by the Government of Tanzania) at Mwitongo contains his library with a personal collection of more than 8,000 books on various subjects including history, philosophy, agriculture, botany, literature, politics, and economics, as well as the original manuscripts of some of the books authored by Nyerere.”

The book: “JULIUS NYERERE Asante sana, Thank you, Mwalimu”

May libraries in memory of Papa Emorimor Osuban and of my late father be established in my lifetime, I pray. Fellow Iteso, fellow Ugandans, let libraries become a part of cultural tourism that attracts visitors to our ancestral homes, in order to learn about the lives and the legacies of our great men and women, now rested; and in order to learn about our cultures and our home areas.

2 responses to “Papa rested, a library burnt”

  1. Yoga Norah,
    Iam delighted to come across your blog ; I have been enjoying your work on Radio one’s spectrum and now more than happy to continue loving your wonderful work.
    Eyalama noi,
    ILEMUT L’OKWII EMORUKALET l’omagoro, Ateker ibwongo Ikaribwok etale eswei
    Katakwi district.


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