Parliament pays tribute to Joel Wacha-Olwol
Today Parliament gathered to pay tribute to one of the many senior citizens that have been very important in Uganda’s Political History. Joel Hunter Wacha Olwol is best remembered as a member of the three-man presidential commission, which handed power to Milton Obote in 1980.
He was described by many as “a selfless spirited peace-maker and well-groomed Citizen who lived a low profile,”.
Although not well attended, the House which was presided over by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, listened attentively, as “historical legislators” spoke last of their fallen colleague.
The motion to honor him was moved by Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister who sang his praises as, “one of the distinguished sons of this land who served our country in different roles, rising as a teacher to the position of the Permanent secretary.”
Rugunda however decried the absence of historical records that would properly fit the late Wacha-Olwol at the core of political transitions to be pssed on to the younger generations.
“It is clear that we need to preach our history especially to the young people to ensure that our journeys and milestones are understood and followed by our young generation,” Rugunda said.
Ms Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament challenged the current leadership to think of a peaceful transition as that exhibited by Wacha.
“We are here to celebrate a life well lived, and that he was able to give his survices for the benefit of Ugandans unlike our leaders today who want to hold on to positions,” she said.
She also said that, “the late Olwol belongs to the generation of selfless leaders who lived a life free of corruption, a life free of hatred and sectarianism unlike what we see today.”
Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities narrated his experience during the search for members of the Commission after toppling Binaisa.
“During that time, it was tricky, we searched for a savior after losing trust in Binaisa and with God’s mercy Wacha came into the limelight, he was such a devouted Ugandan towards fostering peace,” Kamuntu.
On his part, Mr Muruli Mukasa, the Minister of Public Service told the House that, “Wacha Olwol’s demise sparks our attention back to the 1980s when nobody knew what quite would happen.”
“We were used to the president being only one in the country and full of authority, so the three-man presidents were a mystery…there were many questions that eluded us; who was supreme among them, did they sit in the same office or were they more powerful thatn the military commission at that time…” said Mukasa.
Before rising to Head the Tripartite Commission, Wacha Olwol had served as a teacher in different schools, administrator and later as the Deputy Chairperson of the Public service Commission and Permanent Secretary.
He was also one of the few people chose to represent the country in the pre-independence Lancaster Conference.
Known as Hunter, Wacha-Olwol was a member and head of the three-man Presidential Commission alongside Justice Saulo Musoke and Polycap Nyamuconco that occupied the transitional vacuum after Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa’s reign between May 22,1980 and December 15, 1980.
It is this Commission that handed over power to Apollo Milton Obote who had controversially won the 1980 election to rule Uganda for the second time.
Obote had just returned from exile where he had been pushed by Idi Amin following the the 1971 coup.
Wacha-Olwol who is survived by 12 children, was born in November 1923 to Erieza Olwol and Cakaya Akulo in Loro Sub-county ( Atura County), present day Oyam district.
He served the Obote government in several positions in the Central Trade Union, Civic service and earlier a teacher.