Recently, members of JRP’s Community Documentation and Mobilization departments attended the 10th anniversary of the “Mucwini Massacre” which was held in the village of Mucwini, Kitgum District.
The sinister events that took place in and around Mucwini date back to the ill-fated evening of the 23th of July, 2002, when a group of LRA rebels surprised the inhabitants that were settling down for their evening meals. What happened in that sad evening, and which unfolded until early hours of the morning, concluded with the massacre of 56 innocent men, women, and children and a whole community wrapped in chaos and despair.
It is widely believed that the attack was carried out as a reprisal-attack undertaken by the LRA as response of the escape of a man called Omara, a member of the same community that had been abducted a couple of days before. It seems that Omara was able to quickly flee from captivity. It appears that the news of the event quickly made their way to the LRA’s top leader Joseph Kony in the Sudan, who is believed to have ordered the local unit commander to attack the village of Mucwini and to “slaughter everything that breaths”.
It seems that before his escape, the abductee was forced to confess the name of his direct relatives, as well as the description of his place of residence in the village. Apparently Omara, a member of the Pubec clan, was so embittered by a long standing land dispute between his clan and the Pajong clan, that when interrogated by the rebels he provided them with the name of an influential elder and leader of the Pajong clan, which he claimed was his father, and described to them the man’s place of residence. After the massacre, accounts of Omara’s role in the attack quickly came to light and because according to Acholi culture, one person’s crime naturally extends to his or her entire clan, the blame quickly fell on the Pubec clan to take responsibility for the apparent behavior of one of its members.
The event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the massacre was led by Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola, an important local religious leader who has been working with this community for several years, and one of the main leaders of a long mediation process that has allowed for the Pubec and Pajong clans to meet face to face and discuss reparations after years of animosity and hostility towards one another.
Significant progress has been made ever since that dreadful July day and the community has overcome many of the challenges that it has faced in the past. Nevertheless, unresolved issues still remain, most notably with regards the payment of reparations and a more comprehensive settling of the land disputed. This commemoration ceremony thus presented the community of Mucwini with a good opportunity to not only honor its dead, but also to openly voice and discuss those issues that remain a cause of tension until this day.
Related: Massacre in Mucwini, Field Note VIII