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Residents across Kitgum District on Saturday thronged various streets and roads to cheer on their favourite cyclists in the inaugural MTN Uganda-sponsored Acholi Heritage Bicycle Races in the Acholi chiefdom.

Flagged off at the Kitgum Municipality by Lamwo Woman Member of Parliament, Nancy Achora Odonga at around 9:30 am, the race attracted dozens of cyclists from the district consisting of both males and females.

The MTN Uganda-sponsored Acholi Heritage Bicycle Races are also ongoing in seven other districts within the Ker Kwaro Acholi that include; Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Lamwo, Nwoya, Pader and Omoro.

The top two performers each in the male and female categories will be selected to participate in the overall competitions in Gulu City on Feb.12; with the winners receiving cash prizes and other assorted items courtesy of MTN Uganda.

Thus Moses Abonga and Daniel Okumu who emerged first and second in the male category and Betty Anyango and Jeniffer Acoco who emerged first and second in the female categories, respectively, will represent Kitgum District in the finals.

Chief Guest Rwot Poppy Paul Arop hands over cash prize to Abonga Moses who emerged winner in the bicycle race in the male category during the inaugural MTN Uganda-sponsored bicycle races in Kitgum District on 14 January, 2023.

Held under the theme: “Together we can end teenage pregnancy in Acholi sub-region,” Lamwo District Woman MP Nancy Achora thanked MTN Uganda for supporting the sporting activities in the Ker Kwaro Acholi as it will help improve the overall social-economic status of the population.

“This initiative will go a long way in improving the lives of our people,” she said. Bernard Loum, director corporate affairs at Ker Kwaro Acholi said the theme of the bicycle race is timely owed to the recent spike in incidences of teenage pregnancies in the sub-region during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would like to use these sporting activities to end these teenage pregnancies so that our children can have access to education and have a better life in future,” he said.

Betty Anyango receives her cash prizes for emerging winner in the female category during the inaugural MTN Uganda-sponsored bicycle races in Kitgum District on 14 January, 2023.

MTN Uganda Northern Region Business Manager, Phillip Odoi said the telecom company is proud to associate with the chiefdoms in supporting various initiatives aimed at improving the livelihood of its people.

“We are very proud to be working with cultural institutions in the sporting activities because they are a strong pillar in establishing communities that foster shared beliefs and unity of purpose which resonates with MTN’s believe in doing good,” he said.

“MTN’s partnership with Ker Kwaro Acholi aims to foster the socio-economic wellbeing of its people through supporting health, education, and sports initiatives among others.”

Speaking during the prize awarding ceremony, Rwot Poppy Paul Arop, the Chairperson of East Acholi clan chiefs who also doubles as the Pagen Clan Chief, reaffirmed that all chiefdoms under the Ker Kwaro Acholi are keen on ending the scourge of child marriages and teenage pregnancies in the Acholi sub-region using the race as a platform for sensitizing the masses.

He thanked MTN Uganda for working with the Ker Kwaro Acholi in sensitizing the local people against the danger of early marriage and teenage pregnancies which have become a major cause of poor maternal health in the sub-region.

Lamwo District Woman MP Nancy Achora rides a bicycle during the inaugural MTN Uganda- sponsored bicycle races in Kitgum District on 14 January, 2023.

MTN Uganda’s partnership with the Ker Kwaro Acholi in the bicycle race competition is hinged on an ongoing partnership signed in 2019 but delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

The agreement entails MTN Uganda working together with the Ker Kwaro leadership to support the chiefdom’s efforts to uplift the socio-cultural welfare of the people in the Acholi sub-region through jointly undertaking health, education and sports initiatives.

MTN Uganda has in the past year undertaken initiatives in health and education in the Acholi region such as the refurbishment and kitting of the Cwero Health Center III Maternity ward in 2019 as well as constructing a classroom block Kuc Ki Gen PEAS high school in Lamwo District.

MTN Uganda is also sponsoring a football tournament in the Ker Kwaro Acholi dubbed MTN Odilo Ker Football Tournament that kicks off this Sunday, 15 January 2023, with the various teams playing in their first round.

Gulu City will host Pader District in their opening matches this Sunday, with the female teams playing at 2 PM and the male at 4 PM at Pece Stadium. Ker Kwaro Acholi, Prime Minister, Rt. Hon Ambrose Olaa, is expected to attend the opening matches at the city-based stadium.

In addition, Gulu District will host Omoro District at Awach Primary School in Awach Sub County and Amuru District will host Lamwo District at Pabbo Primary School in Pabbo Sub County.

On other hand, Agago District will host Nwoya District at Olwiyo Primary school, Anaka Town Council on 18th January 2023. The final matches will be played on 12th February 2023, in Gulu City.

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