Let's Talk Uganda dialogue in Odek

Summary of the dialogue in Odek on 28 July 2016

2 August 2016 - 16:08

By Benard Okot and Anuarite Flungu

Following a dialogue in Lukodi in June, Let’s Talk, Uganda went to Odek last week to hold a discussion around justice and peace in the aftermath of war.

The purpose of the dialogue was to engage the community, uncover different viewpoints and talk about the best way to change negative perceptions about the community of Odek.

During a discussion about whether there is peace in the community, some people said that while guns are silent in the region that does not guarantee peace in the community. For many, there are pressing issues undermining peace such as land wrangles, poverty, poor education and political corruption.

One person said: ‘‘There is still a spirit of revenge among community members about who holds the responsibility for the abduction of their women and children and the reasons behind why their women and children continued to stay in the bush.’’

Some people felt that the government still needs to do a lot for people. They said this is a factor preventing the restoration of peace. For instance, one person said: ‘‘Those who are entitled to benefit from institutionalised programmes are not actually benefiting from them”.

A local council leader praised the government of Uganda for having ended the war in northern Uganda. However, he said, there are still factors that need to be closely looked into and improved: “We accept that in Acholi, the guns are now silent, but as a leader I see that there is lack of unity among our people”.

Other community members said people need to be educated about land ownership and land rights to fight ignorance among people.

Making the voice of Odek people heard

When the topic about how the voices of the people of Odek could be made heard came up, one person said this could be done through the media, particularly radio, as well dialogues and regular consultations of the community through their leaders. “Government can also create a recreation centre to bring people together in order to engage them in social activities such as drama to express their thoughts and opinions”, said one contributor.

Many people in the community said that truth-telling can bring about change in the community. A member of the community said: “Truth-telling is very important and can restore broken relationships among people in community.”

“There was conflict between [the people of] Acholi and Lango because of the LRA war in northern Uganda, but when governmental and non-governmental organisations unveiled the truth about the war, there was a change”, he said.

A woman added that: ‘‘Even the Bible tells us to speak the truth and the Lord will save us. When you tell the truth to another, it makes you ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven.”

However, some held a different view regarding truth-telling. A community leader said: “As leaders, while performing our duties, we tried to tell the truth to people but it turned against us.”

On the issue of changing negative perceptions about Odek, many people said that it is important that the image of the community be changed. This can be done through continuous dialogues to sensitise both the people of Odek and other communities, they said.

Truth-telling was identified as another tool that could be used to change people’s negative perceptions of Odek because it would make outsiders understand that what happened in Odek also happened in other communities that were affected by the war. 

Related article: Background to the Odek massacres

Lead image: Let's Talk Uganda dialogue in Odek (Photo: Benard Okot/Let's Talk Uganda)

Share your thoughts

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.