When Two Elephants Fight: Reflections from the Mucwini Community Dialogue

Community members during the Mucwini community dialogue

Community members during the Mucwini community dialogue

It is mid-morning on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, June 6, 2010. Residents of Mucwini, mostly men, are chatting away, seated in small groups at the trading centre. Meanwhile others, mainly women and children, are returning from church, most likely heading to their homes to prepare meals for the family. It is the season for mangoes, and children seem to be more interested in the seasonal fruits than going straight home to eat the meal prepared by their mothers.

Under the famous mango tree shade in the compound of one of the elders in the area, located just about 20 metres from the sub-county headquarters, two large public address system speakers, mounted by the JRP and Mega FM team, are playing loud local music by Acholi artists and attracting curious passer-by. This mango tree shade is a favourite spot in the area for hosting community events. Today’s gathering is part of a series of community dialogues organised by JRP in collaboration with Mega FM, a popular radio station in Northern Uganda. Later the opinions recorded here will be fittingly aired on Mega FM’s ‘Te-yat’ programme, meaning “under the tree,” a reference to Acholi traditions of discussing important issues collectively under the shade of a tree.

The discussions put a lot of emphasis on the need for all stakeholders to build on the Acholi traditional justice principles that involve compensation, truth-telling and symbolic ceremonies for the dead. Community members also urged each other to find ways to forgive one another and go back to start living as one people so that they can set good precedence for their children.

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