Know your area: kabedo-opong-the 'most peaceful' in gulu municipality
By Polycarp Kalokwera
During my childhood, hearing the name ‘kabedo-opong created in me a mental picture of an area full of dingy huts in close quarters, with a population dense like a flea- market.
One day, as a grown-up, I decided to visit kabedo-opong, an Acoli word meaning; ‘no more place to settle’. My escapade was not only out of curiosity, but also, because I was already an adult, and felt a bit free to roam.
What I saw, however, was the opposite of the mental picture I had been painting for years. So, this question kept lingering in my mind; why was the area named ‘kabedo-opong’?
According to Ocitti Ochora, former Principal Tutor of Unyama NTC, the name Kabedopong was coined during the World War II period, by the British who were residents of the place; known as ‘Keyi A’ at the time.
Mzee Ochora narrates that the British allegedly evicted locals, who had gone to the area to seek refuge from Tsetse fly invasion in their villages.
“Since the squatters could not go back to their village of origin, they decided to relocate across the road to ‘Keyi A’ kabedo-opong; a place that was formerly occupied by Ja-Luo of Kenya and Nubians. This new location, which was called ‘keyi A’ then became known as Kabedo-opong, neighbored by ‘Keyi B’, the present day Laliya.
Kabedo-opong is located along the dusty road, off the well-known Fort Patiko, two kilometers from Gulu town. In Bardege Division, kabedo-opong is neighbored by villages like Laliya to the South, Iriaga/Bwonagweno to the East, Water to the North and Kasubi Central to the West.
Three and a half decades ago, kabedo-opong had very fertile land. In fact, it was considered the food basket of Gulu town, because varieties of vegetables, maize sweet potatoes, cassava and other food crops yielded well there.
However, Mzee Tebere, 83, said kabedo-opong lost its fertility from 1978-1980 because of the ‘evil’ deeds of a certain man.
Tebere explained that the man, after harvesting his potatoes, decided to use the soil from the garden for making bricks. This action, Tebere believes made the place lose its fertility because many brick layers started using their fertile land to make bricks, rendering the area uncultivable.
“That ‘evil’ action robbed the entire area of its fertility, and shattered its opportunity of becoming greater,” Tebere said.
The LC1, of the area, Mathias Odongkara Opio, is however pleased with the development of Kabedo-opong.
The area, especially in the deeper ends, has many residential, rental and commercial buildings, churches and schools in the area.
This, according to Odongkara, is boosting economic activities like retail business, food joints, locally made drinks, brick laying especially this dry season, and entertainment services.
“Business in this area is booming. It is a place where the unemployed youth can get something to do. Only those who are lazy resort to gambling,” Odongkara said.
The area boasts of schools that produce some of the best candidates in Primary Leaving Examinations, PLE.
Among the prominent schools in the area are; El-Shadai Nursery and Primary School and Mother Ludia Nursery and Primary School. Others are; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Star-Light Junior School, Mamiyo Outreach Preparatory Daycare/Primary School, and Northern City High School.
Despite having many entertainment and drinking joints, Odongkara considers kabedo-opong the most peaceful area within the municipality.
“If there was an award for the most peaceful area in Gulu Municipality, mine [kabedo-opong] would take it the award without any ‘sweat’,” he said.
Odongkara said kabedo-opong is peaceful, because they have an active security committee and crime preventers, who constantly monitor and advocate for punishment of notorious elements in the area.
“When the wrongdoers don’t reform after a penalty, the security committee recommends for their arrest by the police from the Gulu central Police station,” Odongkara said.
Land and housing
Renting a single room in kabdeo-opong costs one from Shs 30,000 to shs 40,000, while double rooms go for Shs 70,000 to Shs 80,000. A self-contained house in a wall fence ranges from Shs 600,000 to Shs 1,000,000.
Whoever has a self-contained house to let in kabedeo-opong is sure to smile all the way to the bank every month, because the place is loved by well-to-do South Sudanese, and Indians doing business in Gulu Town.
According to Odongkara, the cost of land in the area has increased. A plot of land was being hired out at Shs 250 per month from Gulu Town Council, before the 1995 constitution amendment that gave opportunity for people to officially own land from Gulu Town Council.
In late 1990’s, land was ranging from Shs 150,000 to Shs200, 000 per 30x50 meters; but the same piece of land now costs a minimum of shs 15 million.