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Ancestral Homecoming This story is about my first cultural experience aged 13 from my heritage, rooted in the Acholi people of Northern Uganda.

Wapwoyo Dwogo Paco

UGANDA | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [123] | Scholarship Entry

Twenty years.

That was the last time my Dad enjoyed the liberties of adolescence in Laliya village, before it was stripped from him. 1986 saw the start of the Northern Uganda civil war. Women: raped. Children: snatched under the crescent moon of darkness, brainwashed to help fight with the rebels.

White flushed through his sweat flustered skin as my family walked down the rocky auburn lane. The intoxicating cloying scent of mangoes stuck to the hairs of my nostrils. The vast patch of green grass speckled with brown tips, swallowed the mud and dust hugged egg shell coloured ancestral home of my Dad. We edged closer to the home, and were immediately halted by screams from the household.

I looked to my sister for any indication of what was going on, but she was just as confused. My Dad began to furiously mutter under his tongue, telling my Mum there was no need for this to happen. My sister and I held a muted chuckle, before our Mum told us to all calm down and respect the tradition.

A puzzled look was painted on my sister and I's faces, and so my Mum quickly began to explain. Whenever someone has left their home for a lengthy period of time, they are seen as spiritually disconnected from their ancestors.

Two lean women wearing plain shirts and tribal imprinted cloths called kitenge around their waist, waddled towards us. An elder women, with wrinkles that accented the struggle of village life followed behind. All three held specific items: an egg, twigs, an Olwedo leaf, and smooth round bowl filled with liquid.

As they slowly crept towards us, a chant slithered from their mouths as they studied my Dad's face. Prayer possessed their faces, and multiple twigs and the egg were placed at his feet by the young woman. She then raised the Olwedo leaf towards the heavens, dipped it into the bowl, and ferociously flicked to water to bless and cleansed him of bad luck. As she spoke my mum translated:

"Thank you for protecting him while he was in exile."

The tongues intensified, and a whisper of wind shot through the compound. That moment the elder pointed to the egg, to then which my Dad stepped on it. The chanting stopped. As the women walked to the home, with us closely following, my Mum whispered that the egg was our Dad's rebirth.

The rest of the day was a blur, but one phrase hooked onto my memory, "Wapwoyo dwogo paco." I asked my Mum what it meant, and she told me this:

Thank you for returning back home.

Tags: 2014 travel writing scholarship - euro roadtrip

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