Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-ssw5r Total loading time: 0.301 Render date: 2022-08-10T20:56:23.549Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Local Intellectuals: Lacito Okech and the Production of Knowledge in Colonial Acholiland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2018


In 1953, Lacito Okech, a precolonial royal messenger, Christian convert, and colonial chief, became the first Acholi to write and publish a history of his people. The book was instantly popular, inspiring many other Acholi to write histories of their respective chiefdoms. However, although these works constitute the bulk of vernacular Acholi histories, scholars have not paid attention to them, partly because of language limitations and partly due to limited scholarly interest in the history of the region. This article uses Okech’s life and book to explore important questions about the production of local history in colonial Acholiland. In particular, it explores Okech’s adroit manipulation of his complex circumstances at the intersection of the roles of messenger, convert, and colonial employee, his dilemmas as a local historian, and the influence of his roles as an intermediary between the Acholi on the one hand and the Church Missionary Society and the colonial regime on the other on his writing of history.


En 1953, Lacito Okech, messager royal avant la colonisation, converti au christianisme et chef pendant la colonisation, devient le premier Acholi à écrire et à publier une histoire de son peuple. Le livre a été immédiatement populaire, inspirant beaucoup d’autres Acholi à écrire les histoires de leurs chefferies respectives. Cependant, bien que ces travaux constituent la plupart des histoires vernaculaires acholi, les chercheurs n’y ont pas prêté attention, en partie à cause de leurs limitations linguistiques mais aussi à cause de leur intérêt limité pour l’histoire de la région. Cet article utilise la vie et le livre d’Okech pour explorer des questions importantes sur la production de l’histoire locale dans l’Acholiland colonial. En particulier, il explore la manipulation habile d’Okech de sa situation complexe à l’intersection des rôles de messager, de converti, et d’employé colonial et analyse ses dilemmes en tant qu’historien local, et l’influence sur son écriture de l’histoire par ses rôles d’intermédiaire entre les Acholi d’une part et la Church Missionary Society et le régime colonial de l’autre.

Institutional Life in Uganda
Copyright © African Studies Association 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adimola, Andrew, “The Lamogi Rebellion, 1911–1912,” Uganda Journal 182 (1954).Google Scholar
Adimola, Andrew, The Development of Primary Education (Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1962).Google Scholar
Amone, Charles, “Strangers Everywhere: Exclusion, Identity and the Future of Nubians in Northern Uganda,” Greener Journal of Social Sciences 38 (2013), 391398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anywar, Reuben Stephen, Acholi ki Ker Megi (Kampala: Eagle Press, 1954).Google Scholar
Anywar, Reuben Stephen, “The Life of Rwot Iburaim Awich,” Uganda Journal 121 (1948), 7281.Google Scholar
Apoko, Anna, “At Home in the Village: Growing up in Acholi,” in: , Lorene K.Fox, (ed.), East African Childhood (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1967), 4570.Google Scholar
Atkinson, Ronald. R., “A History of the Western Acholi of Uganda c.1675–1900: A Study in the Utilization and Analysis of Oral Data,” PhD dissertation, Northwestern University (Evanston IL, 1978).Google Scholar
Atkinson, Ronald. R., “The Evolution of Ethnicity among the Acholi of Uganda: The Precolonial Phase,” Ethnohistory 361 (1989), 1943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Atkinson, Ronald. R., The Roots of Ethnicity: The Origins of the Acholi of Uganda before 1800 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994).Google Scholar
Behrend, Heike, Alice Lakwena and the Holy Spirits: War in Northern Uganda, 1985–97 (Oxford: James Currey, 1999).Google Scholar
Bere, Rennie M., “Awich: A Biographical Note and a Chapter of Acholi History,” Uganda Journal 102 (1946), 7678.Google Scholar
Bere, Rennie M., “Land and Chieftainship among the Acholi,” Uganda Journal 191 (1955), 4956.Google Scholar
Branch, Adam, Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cisternino, Mario, Passion for Africa: Missionary and Imperial Papers on the Evangelisations of Uganda and Sudan (Kampala: Fountain, 2004).Google Scholar
Dwyer, John Orr, “The Acholi of Uganda: Adjustment to Imperialism,” PhD dissertation, Colombia University (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
Finnström, Sverker, Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Furley, O.W. and Watson, Tom, A History of Education in East Africa (New York: NOK, 1978).Google Scholar
Girling, Frank Knowles, The Acholi of Uganda (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1960).Google Scholar
Hansen, Holger B., Mission, Church, and State in a Colonial Setting: Uganda, 1890–1925 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984).Google Scholar
Hunt, Nancy Rose, A Colonial Lexicon of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
Kitching, Arthur L., “Work in the Nile Province,” Uganda Notes 61 (1905), 810.Google Scholar
Kresse, Kai, “Kenya: Twendapi? Re-reading Abdilatif Abdalla’s Pamphlet Fifty Years after Independence,” Africa 861 (2016), 132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levine, Roger S., A Living Man from Africa: Jan Tzatzoe, Xhosa Chief and Missionary, and the Making of Nineteenth-Century South Africa (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2010).Google Scholar
Leys, Colin, Politicians and Policies: An Essay on Politics in Acholi, Uganda (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1967).Google Scholar
Lloyd, Arthur Bushnell, Uganda to Khartoum: Life and Adventure on the Upper Nile (New York: Dutton, 1906).Google Scholar
Marchetti, Mario, Too Long in the Dark: The Story of the Two Martyrs of Paimol and Their Relevance to Uganda Today (Gulu: Mission Press, 1999).Google Scholar
Odida, Petero, “Papers of Petero Odida” (Gulu: not institutionally deposited, n.d.).Google Scholar
Odongo, Onyango, “The Luo Philosophy” (Gulu, unpublished manuscript, 1979).Google Scholar
Okech, Lacito, Tekwaro ki Ker Lobo Acholi (Kampala: Eagle Press, 1953).Google Scholar
Onek, Lakana, “Kwo-na Ikare Macon [My life History]” Makerere University (Kampala, unpublished manuscript, 1978).Google Scholar
Otim, Patrick W., “Forgotten Voices of the Transition: Precolonial Intellectuals and the Colonial State in Northern Uganda, 1850–1950,” PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, 2016).Google Scholar
Pirouet, Margaret M.L., “The Expansion of the Church of Uganda from Buganda into Northern and Western Uganda between 1891 and 1914,” PhD dissertation, University of East Africa (Kampala, 1968).Google Scholar
Pirouet, Margaret M.L., Black Evangelists: The Spread of Christianity in Uganda, 1891–1914 (London: Collings, 1978).Google Scholar
Postlethwaite, John R.P., African Roses (London: H.F. & G. Witherby, 1937).Google Scholar
Postlethwaite, John R.P., I Look Back (London: T.V. Boardman, 1947).Google Scholar
Russell, John K., Men without God? A Study of the Impact of the Christian Message in the North of Uganda (London: The Highway Press, 1966).Google Scholar
Russell, John K., “Church Extension to the North,” in: Tom Tuma, A.D. and Mutibwa, Phares Mukasa (eds.), A Century of Christianity in Uganda, 1877–1977: A Historical Appraisal of the Development of the Uganda Church Over the Last One Hundred Years (Nairobi: Uzima Press, 1978), 5767.Google Scholar
Uma, Frank K., “The Acoli-Arab-Nubian Relation in the Nineteenth Century,” Bachelor’s graduating essay, Makerere University (Kampala, 1971).Google Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Local Intellectuals: Lacito Okech and the Production of Knowledge in Colonial Acholiland
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Local Intellectuals: Lacito Okech and the Production of Knowledge in Colonial Acholiland
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Local Intellectuals: Lacito Okech and the Production of Knowledge in Colonial Acholiland
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *