Okumu Okor: UPC Stalwart And Obote’s Friend Passes On

information pills geneva; font-size: small;”>Okor joined UPC in the early 1960’s and was instrumental in the defection of his brother-in-law James Ocholla from DP to UPC.

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As a reward for crossing to UPC, Ocholla was appointed minister for Regional Administration by then President Milton Obote in 1967.

It’s in that portfolio that Ocholla helped to initiate and expand government services in West Budama in particular and the former Bukedi District in general.

Okumu Okor would later become a successful and generous businessman.

He bought a car service company, Mbale Car Mart, in early 1970, and using smart business connections, he grew Mbale Car Mart into the go-to car maintenance shop in Mbale town. That garage was the sole service center for all government vehicles in Eastern Province throughout the 70’s and early 1980’s.

Meanwhile, Okumu Okor kept his UPC activities barely under radar during the Idi Amin era.

For example, he housed some anti-Amin fighters at Mbale Car Mart, passing them off as mechanics during the car, while at night, they disappeared in their reconnaissance activities. That undercover activity was nearly exposed one July afternoon in 1978 due to a daring bravado by none other than Oyite Ojok.

Ojok, dressed in a Mbale Car Mart mechanics garb, had gone to the adjoining restaurant for a lunch break.

As he went to the counter to pay his bill, he asked the cashier if she knew him. “No, I don’t know you,” she responded.

“I’m Oyite Ojok; wait five minutes after I leave, then tell those soldiers who I am.” There was a group of 7 soldiers eating at a corner table.

The employee followed the directive and went to the soldiers: “Do you know the man who just left…?” she asked the soldiers. The answer was a unanimous “no.”

He said he is Oyite Ojok!” What followed was a 10-hour hysterical emergency being declared over Mbale town: house-to-house search, road blocks and armed soldiers ringing Mbale town.

While this entire desperate search for one soldier was ongoing, Oyite Ojok was back at Mbale Car Mart, pretending to repair vehicles!


Okumu Okor had given me my first job, administrative clerk, during the Easter holiday that year. Filing paperworks was not a bad gig for an O’ Level student at Mbale SS, especially since I only worked 2 hours in the evenings during the week and 8 hours on Saturdays. It was a generous offer that I would pay back about 10 years later.


During the 1980 general elections, Okumu Okor served as UPC campaign chair for Tororo South Central, and managed the successful campaign for Osinde Wang’wor who won the parliamentary seat.

For his devotion and prominence in UPC Okumu Okor nearly paid with his life.

In 1987, he was shot multiple times by some NRA operatives and left for dead by the roadside.

Good Samaritans found him and whisked him to safety. A month later, I ran into Okumu Okor around Nairobi City Hall. His wounds were still fresh and oozing blood in the head and the neck.

Long story short, I hailed a taxi and rushed him to my friend’s hospital, Westland Cottage Hospital, where he remained under treatment for a week. The last time I saw him was in 2004, when I visited him at his rural home by the main Tororo-Nagongera road.

Okumu Okor was a generous, quick-witted man who held no grudges and reached out to whoever sought his help. He was the kind of person that made Uganda great, and enriched UPC.


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