In Uganda government approval ratings have dropped to 26 per cent barely a year after Mr Museveni’s resounding 2011 68 per cent electoral victory, with as many as eight out of every 10 Ugandans admitting that they have lost confidence in the NRM leader’s handling of the economy.
The family of Joseph Kony has hit back against attempts by an US NGO to force their clan to atone for the crimes the star of Invisible Children campaign.
According to a report in the Acholi Times, Kony’s uncles have demanded answers as to why their family was being forced to undergo a reconciliation ceremony.
“My clan of Palaro and Lamara or Kal shall never participate in this ceremony because there was no war between us, it was between the government of Uganda and LRA rebels who were engaged in rebellion, not us,” said Saverino Odoki, Kony’s uncle and head of the Palaro clan.
According to Acholi Times, the US NGO that has been pressuring the is the Starkey Foundation. If this information is correct then it’s interesting to note that this is the same organisation that Amazing Race producer Jeff Rice, who died in suspicious drug related circumstances in a Ugandan hotel in February, was working with.
“Mato Oput” is one of the many forms indigenous forms of peace building that have been championed in Africa.
This Acholi method of peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation is co-operative and can be indirect and circumstantial, effectively encouraging the accused to admit responsibility (Lanek, 1999).
The “Mato Oput” is so called because it ends in a significant ceremony of “Mato Oput”, the traditional drinking of a bitter herb of the Oput tree (Brock-Utne, 2001).
Many academics and media practitioners alike have embraced this indigenous approach, claiming that the bitter drink “may have the ingredients for peace”.
As Tim Allen writes:
A surprising number of people working with NGOs, the Christian churches and local human rights groups maintained that mato oput would play a key role in any peace deal. Funds had been made available to support mato oput rituals, and a council of ‘traditional chiefs’ or rwodi was created to perform them. The person selected to be the ‘traditional’ Acholi paramount chief was going to lead big mato oput ceremonies, at which even the LRA senior commanders could be accepted back into society.
A host of new supporters entered the arena of Acholi traditional justice, viewing it as more acceptable than the imposition of criminal prosecution based on trials in a faraway country. By mid-2005, mato oput ceremonies were being performed regularly, often attended by a host of aid workers, activists and journalists. The Acholi paramount chief had also started performing large-scale rituals. Remarkable claims were made about the effectiveness of these activities, many of which were interpreted unquestioningly and discussed in the international media.
Allen concludes that the Acholi, who have been caricatured through the post-colonial discourse as violent and primitive, are seen as being best left to their own, uncivilised devices. It’s a cop-out for me to conclude in such a manner after raising so many issues but clearly this is a complex issue which deserves further analysis and attention.
The Daily Mail is the UK newspaper I love to hate. A typical front page story for the paper would be something about immigrants causing the moral decline, welfare benefit cheats bringing down a once great nation or how gays are to blame for all that is bad in the world.
BUT, they are also the paper that did the most to raise public attention on the Stephen Lawrence murder (I think Stephen’s father was Paul Dacre’s decorator, can anyone confirm this).
They’ve gone and confounded my expectations once again by covering the nodding disease that’s affecting thousands of Uganda’s children. Of course it’s done in typically Daily Mail style with the phrase ‘zombies’ used to pull in the readers. But I guess this is just another example of how the Kony 2012 campaign, while deeply problematic to say the least, has opened a window for the discussion of wider issues that are affecting Ugandans.