On the 21st September 2015, Gulu district joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 33rd International Peace Day at Pece stadium, as a sign that violence and conflict can be eradicated. The theme for the celebration was “partnership in peace and, dignity for all.” The event was attended by various stakeholders including officials from the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI), UN Human Rights, Gulu district officials, CAP Uganda and the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP).
The celebration started with an opening prayer by Bishop Mark Baker Ochola who prayed for the people of Apaa for the land conflict in their area, and appealed to those in power to exercise their power in a way that promotes peace. This was followed by a march from the district administration offices to Pece stadium accompanied by St Mauritz Primary School’s marching band. Prayers were also held at Gulu’s main roundabout and in front of Mega FM radio station.
Muslim cleric Sheikh Musa Khalil read the Quran and emphasized that people should remember that God created mankind from generation to generation including those who shed blood and that it is important to forgive. Other readings were done by Pastor Orach Julius and Rev Loum Godfrey who read from the Bible. Rt Bishop Onono-Onweng noted that on this day the world needs peace because it there are many injustices including hunger, cruelty and other forms of suffering.
Hon Newton Ojok who represented Gulu district chairperson Ojara Mapenduzi, said that the choice of Pece Stadium as venue for the celebration was deliberate as the stadium was built to commemorate the participation of Acholi in World War II and it is also the place where the first peace negotiations with the LRA took place. Peace, he said, means freedom and living in harmony and without peace, there is no development.
Jimmy Patrick Okema the regional police commander said that the region has witnessed several wars which should never happen again and that it takes both the police and the public to maintain peace. Whereas it is the duty of the police to maintain peace, he said, civilians also have a duty to report any suspicious activity to the police.
Kilama Calvine is a volunteer working with the Justice and Reconciliation Project. He is a holder of a Bachelor of Laws Degree of Gulu University and he lives in Laroo, Gulu District.