Yosefu Ocaya and Natalia Adwar

Yosefu Ocaya was one of the founding fathers of Kalongo who became popularly known as Lagwok meaning a person who looks after people well!

He was born and grew up in Omia Pacua, Lomoi Village not far from Palamuku Village, Paimol so he knew Rwot Lakidi, his deputy Ogal and brother Ocok Mukomoi, Okidi Ibrahim who killed Daudi Okelo and Opio Akadamoi who killed Jildo Irwa.

He also knew Rwot Amet, (Jago) Erenayo Angol (Rwodi Kalam Omiya) who were appointed by the British to replace traditional Chief Lakidi (Rwot moo) of Paimol.

His contribution to the founding of Kalongo

Yosefu Ocaya and his wife, Natalia Adwar, accompanied Fr. Gambaretto on his Journey to recover the remains of blessed Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa then helped establish Kalongo Parish.

When they arrived in Palamuku Village, Fr. Gambaretto was received and shown the spot where the two Catechists, Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa, were speared to death and the termite mound (biye) where their remains were dragged and abandoned to rot. Their bones were collected for keep in Kitgum Mission.

A church/mission in memory of Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa could not be built at that time on the site where they were killed which had become known as Wii Polo. This was due to the scarcity of water in the area. Fr. Gambaretto was advised to go to a more suitable site in Kalongo with permanent reliable water source.

Acting on that advice Father Gambarreto together with Yosefu Ocaya (a guide/cook) and his wife Natalia Adwar (who carried Fr. Gambarretto’s belonging especially those items used for Mass) continued their journey to Kalongo where he set up a temporary grass thatched church and a Father’s house at the foot of Kalongo mountain (Oret) where Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital is now situated.

Yosefu Ocaya and his wife built their huts nearby. That was the beginning of establishing Kalongo Mission in memory of the martyrdom of the two Catechists. Kalongo Mission was detached from Kitgum Mission in 1934 and became the spring board for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Kitgum East and Karamoja Region. It was the first fruit of the blood of Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa.

Kalongo Parish soon became the convergence Centre for Catechumate instructions for people in Kitgum East and later become the most successful Deanery for education and health care for people in Agago District and beyond.

At that time all the people who came for Catechumate instructions or migrated to the new Mission for education, to work as builders, teachers etc. were initially sent to Yosefu Ocaya by Parish Priest for their acclimatisation and allocation of areas for them to build their homes. As a result, Yosefu Ocaya became popularly known as Lagwok meaning a person who looks after people well!

His military career and later life

Yosefu Ocaya was later recruited by the British into the King’s African Rifles (KAR). This was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment raised from Britain’s various colonies in East Africa from 1902 until independence in the 1960s. It performed both military and internal security functions within the colonial territories, and served outside these territories during the World Wars.

Yosefu Ocaya fought in World War II and when the War ended he returned and resumed his work in Kalongo Mission.

He was responsible for opening the Church every morning at 5:00am, checking that everything was set ready for mass and ringing the morning church bells at 6:30am to call students and Christians living within Mission area to come for morning Mass. He rendered this services without fail till his death in November, 1991.

Beginning the journey to the beatification of blessed Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa

Before he died he left a message for his son Prof Dr. JJ. Otim to remind Kalongo Parish Priest and the Bishop to follow up on the death of the two Catechists, Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa. He knew documents about the two Catechists of 1952 – 1953 were deposited in the Library in Bishop House in Gulu and other copies sent to Rome.

Accordingly, when Prof. Dr. John. J. Otim returned from exile in 1994 he enquired about the records and found that no follow up had been done. He then took up the matter in 1996 with the Parish Priest of Kalongo Fr. Ottolini and started the journey to the beatification of blessed Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa.