By Christopher Maclay
In May 2012, we began an exciting partnership with the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) to pilot an innovative community theater approach which facilitates processes of problem examination and solving, develops empathy among participants, and encourages reconciliation. Two groups – Anga Konya (meaning ‘Who will help me?’) and Atoo Pi Iya (meaning ‘I will die for my stomach’) – were chosen for the pilot, as they had requested support in community theater activities.
This November, the first phase of this pilot came to close, with Anga Konya and Atoo Pi Iya hosting a fantastic day-long event for their community. The groups had spent several months examining their problems through theater and developing their own solutions to these problems. The final community performances gave the groups the opportunity to present their findings and recommendations to their wider community.
Both groups decided that their final performances should be on land conflict, and it was chosen that the title of the event should be: ‘My Land, My Heritage: land conflict and the need for reconciliation.’ Groups decided to host the event together, at a central location which the most people could reach. As part of the event, the group invited local politicians, as well as local traditional leaders. The chief guest was Otto Matthew, the Land Minister of the Ker Kwaro Acholi (the traditional cultural institution of northern Uganda).
The Local Councillor III presents his thoughts on the theater performances, and land conflict in the region
Each group put on a play that explored how land conflict arose out of the process when people across northern Uganda returned from displaced persons camps to their homes. Many people in northern Uganda lived in camps for up to twenty years during the terrifying Lord’s Resistance Army conflict, and land conflict continues to cause significant unrest in the region. The plays explained how land conflicts can arise, and showed how they can be solved; through mediation, discussion, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
After the performances had been completed, and the speeches made, group members excited the crowd with a follow-up performance of traditional dance and drumming. More pictures to come soon!