Practical Reconciliation in northern Uganda
I'm in Gulu. I spent yesterday with community members on the practical aspects of reconciliation. This morning, I went for an amazing 6AM sunrise run with incredibly fresh air the likes of which are never found in Kampala. When I got back, I remembered that a colleague of mine at the
Justice- The rhetoric in Gulu is that everyone is ready to forgive, forget and begin a new life. This certainly expresses the desire for peace. However, in private, many people speak of a desire for retribution and a thirst for justice. The Mato Oput process (traditional reconciliation) does not have a mechanism for dealing with the reality that most people are both victims and perpetrators. However, one must consider the mitigation of guilt caused by the fact that the rank and file LRA were nearly all abducted children. A hybrid between a truth process, together with amnesty and the traditional reconciliation, may be the best approach.
Regional and National Reconciliation- There is certainly consensus that there must be reconciliation in the greater northern
Psycho Social Programs- The conflict has been devastating on so many levels and it is not just abducted children and their victims that are in need of support. The first effort on the community level is to get people out of the camps and back to their communities. This will necessitate a mediation process to handle disputes over land and property. However, there are definitely subgroups that need special counseling. Considering there are only 13 psychiatrists in
Memorials- The most interesting idea I heard about remembrance is the idea of simply cataloging what happened in the local community. The simple fact that peoples stories are stored some where has some restorative aspect.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it hopefully gives you an idea of the main practical issues of reconciliation, and what the opinions are on the ground.