Uganda’s Nobel Peace Prize nominee tells life story


A tremendous welcome home: Students dance with joy to welcome Victor OCHEN

“Looking at the background of this school, there were poor facilities with less than 200 students and regarded as the worst performing government school in Lira. Today, we are overwhelmingly proud to see you come back to visit your school as the Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, how did you make it? What inspired you?” asked an inspired female student.

Ochen speaks

Today, I (Victor Ochen) am delighted to be back to Lira Town College after thirteen years.  I studied in Lira Town College for six years, from Senior One- Senior Six.

Where my dreams and inspirations were nurtured. It is true by then, this was the least preferred school because of the poor performance and moral records.

I was not always the best student in the classroom, and most times defaulted on fees. I still have my mattress and my reports card detained here, because I couldn’t afford to pay full tuition. I studied here on the peak of war, I had to burn charcoal to raise my school tuition.

I cobbled my fellow student’s shoes in order to raise money to buy my first pair of shoes, two years after joining this school.

I started my leadership skills from this school, where I went from being the Dormitory captain, class monitor, assistant head prefect, to become the Chairman Uganda National Students Association, Lira District.

I know my stories might represent yours as well, as your parents could be helplessly struggling to send you to school just as mine did. With all the financial difficulties and conflicts, what kept me moving was the school motto, that “No Pains No Gains”

It’s a pride to come back to my roots. The school that raised me to the level I am today. The school that produced the Nobel Peace Prize Nominee 2015. I am happy to be identified for recognition alongside great men like Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Barack Obama, Kofi Annan and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr among others. I have the following messages for you the peace generations;

To the youths – It doesn’t matter what position you are or grades you get in the classroom, but it’s all about discipline and dreams. And for those fortunate to be studying, it’s not about which school you have attended, because no school is too small to produce a credible leader.

To the parents – education for children should not be subject to how rich or how poor you are, but it should be a priority driven by equal opportunities for both boys and girls.

To the schools – as you know, you educate children from all walks of life. It’s your joy to see a child you have taught excel. As you nurture their transition from childhood to responsible citizens, tolerance is key.

To the governments – it’s not right to allow the children grow knowing that life is all about guns, war, poverty, hatred, revenge and desperation.  Citizens must be protected, provided equal opportunities and ensure justice for the victims with focus on nurturing the culture of peace among young generation.

To the United Nations and International Communities, by the time you revert to humanitarian solutions, damage is done, it’s too late. The visionary leadership needed is peacebuilding as opposed to peacekeeping.

Finally, sometimes in life, difficulties and sufferings create opportunities for us to discover our human similarities.

The world around is currently experiencing several conflicts and facing the challenges with the highest number of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons since WW II.

This awakens us to support the people caught up in conflicts.  Collectively, we must work towards building PEACE for all.

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