One of the most famous historical sites in Gulu is Patiko, a 137-year-old fort built by Sir Samuel Baker in 1872. The fort, built on an imposing rocky hill in Ajulu parish, was the site of Samuel Bakers first major victory against Arab slave traders from the Sudan and it later became the base from which he protected British interests in the region.
The fort became the headquarters of Emin Pasha and Charles Gordon, the governors of the Equatorial Province.
The fort is under the Management of the Ministry of Tourism yet it remains in a dilapidated and sorrow state, it is alleged that money collected from visitors who visit the site is allocated towards its maintenance locally.
However, according to the Chief of Patiko Rwot Jeremia Bongojere, traditionally the fort belongs to the people of Patiko and Acholi at large, disagreeing with the views of those who suggest that the fort belongs to Sir Samuel Baker.
Rwot Bongojere was reacting to a citation I quoted to him during an interview with Acholi Times.
“My son you need to change your views because it will continue on send the wrong message, Fort Patiko was not built by Barker,” he said while patting my back as we sat down.
I told him that the citation was something that we had learnt during our social studies class in primary school.
Rwot Bongojere said that there is need for such mistakes to be corrected and it was the role of the cultural institution in Acholi to spearhead the accurate history of Acholi people and their land.
He said that it was in 1849 that his forefather Rwot Kikwiyakare brought the people of Patiko rom Got Goma to the present day Ajulu. He said that in the same year, Arab traders came to the region and requested to build a store for their cargo which would also act as an administrative point to the Egyptian empire whose equatorial governor was based in Nimule.
He said that by 1864 when Barker visited Patiko, the Arabs who initially came as peaceful traders were already deeply involved in slave trade and Patiko was the holding centre for their human cargo.
He said that organised communities were battling the Arabs to try and end this barbaric vice and some of them sought support from Baker including chief Kikwiyakare who told Barker about the behaviour of the Arab traders.
So when Baker returned to Acholi in 1872, he brought with him guns and an army of Nubians who fought the Arabs and took over the fort after defeating them.
He added that it was the NRM government which restored cultural institutions in Uganda which is allowing them to participate more in upholding cultural heritage in Acholi and Uganda at large.
He urged development partners to fund cultural institutions so that they can start reawakening Acholi culture in children so that they grow up with awareness of their cultural heritage.
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