Jalobo Walter Omot the high priest and the caretaker of Wang lei.
By Prisca Oroma
Although Wang lei is the point where two brothers separated after a bitter disagreement, it has forever remained a protection for the people of west Nile against armed conflict.
It is believed that after the separation of the two brothers, to cement the relationship they cursed an axe in the water where the present day Wang-Lei is; just a few meters from Pakwach bridge-opposite the former railway quarters and had a reconciliation meal known as “Aroka” before parting ways and this was a symbol of peace and to act as a shield against armed conflict.
Nyipir moved with his family to the present day Greater Nebbi and some parts of Congo, Nyabongo headed to Northern Uganda. Nyipir went on to form the Alur tribe while Nyabongo formed the Acholi.
“Since the split, never in history has anyone from the other side of the river with ill intention successfully crossed this bridge,” Jalobo Walter Omot the high priest and the caretaker of Wang lei.
He explains that when the warrior priestess Alice Lakwena and her troops attempted to cross over it in the Mid-1980s-so as to terrorize the people of greater Nebbi, over 30 of her troops mysteriously fell off the bridge and drowned, never were their bodies recovered.
Similarly, when the Lord’s Resistance Army Rebels who followed suit in late 1990’s, they also lost several of their troops mysteriously, never to be found again.
Hardly has a year ever gone by without someone drowning at the bridge. Though no convincing answer has been found to this question, Omot suspects that these victims were possibly up to mischief when crossing the bridge.
John Jolly Okumu curator of Ker Kwonga said that the power of Wang lie can never be underestimated. Since all the conflict that has ever taken place in Uganda none of them ever reached West Nile and for those who tried to cross the bridge perished without any trace.
“Wang lei is also a source of peace and prosperity for the local fishing community as they catch more fish during the month of Thumo Wang lei rituals than any other times. It is believed that the rituals calm down the water and reduce the number of people drowning in the water” he said.
He said that it is said that during the war that ousted Amin in 1979, the high priest met the incoming generals on the other side of the bridge and advised them not to fire any gun or else they will perish in the river they heeded to the advice and they were cleansed before they could cross.
Isaac Oucha Vona the Jadipu Kaal Puvungu said Wang lei has also been a source of prosperity to the community of Junam and Alur as anybody with misfortunes or is possessed with evil spirits can also visit Wang lei for cleansing and they are delivered.
Located 400m off the Pakwach bridge on the west bank of the River Nile, Wang lei has been there for close to 500 years and due to climate change the site was slowly being lost and that is when the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) with funds from British Council constructed a retainer wall to help protect and preserve the cultural site.