At the death of my grandmother, I inherited her house which my father built for her. My inherited house is part of our ancestral homestead. I have deep roots on our ancestral land. Yes, scary for whoever thinks of uprooting me from our ancestral land.
My Alinga Farms is located on about four acres of land that is held under customary tenure. It is my father’s land at Kadoki Village in Pallisa District in Eastern Uganda; land which he inherited from his father. The land that Alinga Farms occupies surrounds my father’s ancestral home, our family home; and it is on this land where my house, which I inherited from my grandmother, is located.
Culturally, as a female member of our family – a powerful one at that, who is continuing the legacy of the matriarch Alinga – I am allowed access to customary land, as long as the leader of our family, my father, gives access to it.
Yes, some might think it a huge risk to invest on land for which you do not have clear ownership. It is indeed a huge risk. I am comforted, however, that as long as my father is still alive, I am safe; I am his daughter and am culturally his mother, after all. I am also hopeful that because of Alinga Farms’ significant social impact, the heir to my father’s land will continue to respect my access to the land – the use-rights that my father has given to me, in accordance with Iteso customary tenure.
Just in case, let me clarify that I am in no way using this event to attempt to influence my father’s last will. I pray for longevity of life for him and for all my family members. I pray that his heirs remain Iteso who are culturally rooted and appreciative of the Iteso philosophy – emuria koliai – and that they will not attempt to uproot me from our family customary land.
This is the text of my TEDx Kiira Talk which I gave in May 2015. Read more here
Well, in November of 2020, my father, Ejakait Engineer George William Obityo Owaraga, rested. The jury is out about how his descendants are respecting his wishes or not. Yes, attempts to disinherit me are in full gear, as I also fight back in full force, with all that I got. Of course, I am baffled at how those who are paid using my taxes to ensure my peaceful enjoyment of my inheritance are siding with the criminals. But still I fight for what is mine.
It is those land-grabbers, those criminals, who are the problem. Get rid of them and all will be well. It is they that we should name and shame. And mark my words, a time shall come when I shall name and shame them all.