Bill Oketch | Institute for War and Peace Reporting

About

Bill Oketch

Bill Oketch
IWPR-trained journalist

I was born on December 25, 1980 in the village of Akuki in the Oyam district of northern Uganda. I'm the first born in a family of four children. Both of my parents are still alive, but two of my brothers were abducted in an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA, in 1998 and my uncle was executed. My village was destroyed by the rebels in the same year.<br /><br /><br /><br /> The day that changed my life forever was August 16, 1998. The LRA, whose leaders claim to live by the Old Testament's Ten Commandments, launched an attack for the sixth time on my village, Akuki - to the northwest of Lira, capital of the northern district of the same name.<br /><br /> On this occasion all our cattle were stolen and my family's few possessions were looted. My brothers Tonny Okello and Geoffrey Odongo, then aged 18 and 16, were abducted and I never saw them again. Nine other boys were abducted and twelve of my villagers were killed.<br /><br /> I joined the media because I never wanted to have blood on my hands, unlike my fellow countrymen who joined the army to fight the LRA for the pain the rebels inflicted against our relatives. I joined the media after finishing my secondary education. That was in 2004 and I've been working for the Vision Group, a government newspaper company as well as for IWPR.<br /><br /> I've been using the knowledge I've gained from IWPR training sessions to write stories for my local newspaper. In 2008, I won an award from the BBC World Service Trust.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My story, War Victim Seeks Justice for Dead Relative, was selected as best newspaper feature produced during the Communicating Justice follow-up training in Gulu from October 20 to 31, 2008. The training was sponsored by the BBC World Service Trust under their Communicating Justice Project. I was among the 20 trainees selected out of 500 applicants.<br /><br /> Of the IWPR stories I’ve produced, I'm most proud of Northern Aid Programme Probed.<br /><br /> The story led to the arrest of top district officials accused of mishandling rebuilding funds for northern Uganda. Part of the money has been recovered and an investigation is ongoing.<br /><br /> Being a journalist, to me, means committing yourself to inform, educate and entertain the public in the hope of creating a healthier world.

Stories by the author

Arthur Okot, Gillian Lamunu, Bill Oketch
28 Sep 11
Several monuments built to commemorate lives lost in the 20-year rebel war in northern Uganda are lacking much needed records of events and those who died.
Vincent Otti, the late deputy leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose weapons continue to circulate in northern Uganda, posing a threat to the local population. (Photo: Euan Denholm/IRIN)
Bill Oketch
21 Oct 10
With many weapons from 20-year civil war still in circulation, police fear wave of killings could continue.
Bill Oketch
6 Oct 10
IWPR articles said to have given impetus to preparations for trial of suspected rebel.
Bill Oketch
6 Oct 10
IWPR articles said to have given impetus to preparations for trial of suspected rebel.
Bill Oketch
4 Aug 10
Fresh bid to stamp out graft in the force, but some suggest low salaries are largely to blame.
Recent adoption of war crimes legislation sets stage for Kampala’s High Court to try an LRA suspect. (Photo: Simisa)
Bill Oketch
14 Jul 10
Ex-LRA commander to be tried in Kampala court for kidnap and intent to murder, in precedent-setting case.
Lira, northern Uganda - a student in the classroom of a newly-built local school. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Awalt, US army)
Bill Oketch, Florence Ogola, Blake Evans-Pritchard
11 May 10
Amid focus on punishing war criminals, victims say they need help to rebuild their lives.
Bill Oketch
24 Dec 09
Kingdom hits out at land reforms it claims undermine traditional rights.
Bill Oketch
30 Nov 09
Opponents say decentralisation could exacerbate tribal tensions.
Bill Oketch
27 Nov 09
Congolese listeners tune in to IWPR Lubanga trial broadcasts, while radio stations in northern Uganda cite IWPR reports on former war zones.

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