Uganda: JRS trains 39 cultural leaders in Kitgum
05 June 2009

To help former IDPs live peacefully together, JRS trained local chiefs on peace and reconcilliation in Kitgum, Uganda. (Peter Ballais/JRS)
Through its peace education programme in Kitgum JRS aims at improving the knowledge and skills of cultural leaders in conflict mediation.
Kitgum, 5 June 2009 The peace building and conflict transformation programme of JRS Kitgum recently completed the training of 39 mostly male cultural leaders in Kitgum District. The leaders, Kal-Kwato, were trained in mediation and reconciliation during April and May.

In Acholi culture the Kal-Kwaro are fundamental in executing informal justice, especially in situations of murder. Kal-Kwaros mediate between clans which are at war and they preside over compensation and reconciliation rituals which symbolise the restoration of relationships between two clans.

During the programme, an inconsistency between the Kal-Kwaro was their knowledge of Uganda's constitution. Their knowledge in formal justice needs to improve in order to ensure that when they execute informal justice they do not interfere with Ugandan law. The peace-education programme will provide guidance on this matter in the future.

Social units disturbed by LRA

The institution of cultural leaders has been dormant in the Acholi sub-region in northern Uganda since the onset of the conflict between the rebel Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government that has prevailed in the area for more than two decades. Traditional Acholi ways of coping and healing as well as social values in general have been greatly affected by the conflict which became evident in numerous situations when internally displaced persons (IDP) needed informal justice in order to resolve conflicts among them. Even now, as many of them return to their homes the situation is still critical and social units only begin to re-knit.

Through its peace education programme in Kitgum JRS aims at improving the knowledge and skills of cultural leaders in conflict mediation and reconciliation so they can effectively help members of their communities to resolve conflict among themselves and as a way of improving monitoring, reporting and pro-active managing of conflicts in IDP transit camps and return areas.







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