Mount Liru rises above all the hills in Koboko district. It is situated in Lobule Sub County five miles east of Koboko town.

The hill is surrounded by a lush outgrowth of savannah vegetation dissected by snaking footpaths and garden that present an immaculate scenic view from the top of the hill.

Gibbering apes such as baboons and monkeys including white colabus monkeys, red monkeys and black monkeys plus whinny birds are a common site on the slopes of mount Liru. Wild hairs, antelopes and rodents that stay around the hilly area are local hunters’ delicacy.

Idyllic caves believed to have been created by people in the pre-civilisation years atop the hill symbolise the deep sentimental attachment that the people living in the vicinity have developed towards mount Liru.

Muzamil Sabote, 19, who comes from Ngurupi clan says he was told by elders that one of the ancient caves was the dwelling place for his great grandfather Koitagele, a name which means the only one left.

The caves are also said to have served as hideouts for the people during the times when Arab and Turkish slave traders conducted frequent raiding expeditions in the area.

Mount Liru rangesThe mount Liru ranges in Koboko district. It has deep mythical, cultural and historical significance to the people living in Koboko. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Ageless tales of mythical interface between ancestors of supermen status and physical features on this revered hill are told with claims that they yielded magical results such as healing of chronic wounds.

There is a spot on top of Liru hill known as Kulutu where water streams out constantly. The local people call this the basin for their ancestors and it is believed that someone must hold your leg when you drink water from it or else you get drowned.

Mr Yasin Kesia, 65, a resident of Liru village just at the foot of the hill says because of the deep rooted beliefs, the Kakwa who are the predominant native people of Koboko district dedicate all their new born babies to the hill in a ritual usually performed within the first week of their birth.

“They hold the baby facing towards the hill and say repeatedly, Liru, here is a baby for you,” he said. Mr Kesia does not consider himself a Kakwa but he says his Ngurupi clan people perform the same ritual because their ancestors all lived on that hill.

Legendary tales

Mr Kesia says the first people to settle on mount Liru were the Kuludi, a Lugbara speaking group of people. There was a man called Yeki from Sudan who was forced to migrate because of the pain of a chronic wound in search for a healing miracle.

He moved to Adumi in Arua district, proceeded to Arua hill and then to mount Wati and ended at mount Liru.

At the foot of the hill is Ariti stream that separates Mr Kesia’s home from the hill. The local people believe it was in this stream that Yeki dipped his wounded leg to get relieved of the pain. After resting for a while, he climbed to the top of Liru and found Kulutu source of a stream that flows all year round. When he dipped his leg into this water, the wound healed completely.

Yeki spend the night on the hill and when he woke up in the morning he looked round and was amazed by the marvellous serenity of his surrounding including memorable gaze at distant River Nile.

Yeki decided this was going to be his living place but he did not understand the language of the people who were already settled here. They spoke like weaverbirds!

He returned to Sudan and consulted a witchdoctor who gave him a plant that itches the body when you come into contact with it.

Yeki used this plant to chase away the settlers but there was a woman called Likiso who stayed behind because she had just given birth to a baby boy she named Koitagele.

mount Liru cavesThe mount Liru caves where the ancestors of the people living in the vicinity of the hill lived. The cave was also said to be a safe haeven from ruthless Turkish slave raiders. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Mr Kesia says when Yeki and his people finally settled at mount Liru, they took care of the breastfeeding mother and the baby Koitagele whom he now claims as his great grandfather while Yeki’s grandchildren are the Kakwa people.

In the subsequent periods, the Liru hills became a centre for rituals especially when calamity such as draught or unexplained ailments and death struck the area.

It is such intricate tales, rugged terrain, serene outlay of the surrounding and stories of hidden treasure such as gold that attract tourists, adventure lovers and treasure hunters to mount Liru mostly from England, Austria and Canada.

Visits to mount Liru is normally done after seeking permission from the local elders and tourists pay them any amount of money out of will.

Mr Kesia says some recent visitors from Europe promised to support them in constructing a cultural museum near mount Liru to add to its already rich diversity of attractions.

“We want to promote local tourism. The cultural centre will accommodate our cultural regalia, teeth of lion, spears, skin of leopards and so on,” he says.

Mount Liru and Mount WatiA spectacular view of the area between Mount Liru in Koboko and Mount Wati in Arua district from the top of Mount Liru ranges. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU