SPEAKING FORGIVENESS IN NORTHERN UGANDA: FROM ARMED CONFLICTS TO LAND CONFLICTS

Julaina A. Obika

Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, Gulu University, Uganda

Hanne O. Mogensen

Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

 

 

INTRODUCTION

After twenty-two years of war in Northern Uganda, internally displaced people are in the process of moving back to their rural homes. This paper draws on an experimental programme promoting forgiveness in the Sub-county of Awach where our research group has been working for four years. Here, villagers come and listen to anonymised and taped ‘forgiveness accounts’ volunteered by other people. They are encouraged to record their own experiences that become part of a corpus of forgiveness accounts. Selections from the corpus itself have also been broadcasted over local radio, and listeners from a wide area have called in to comment.

Discussions of conflict and forgiveness take place in a context of close social relationships. Rarely are the ‘big’ wrongs of the war directly addressed; instead we see how more intimate conflicts can become a way to articulate the experience – and consequences – of these ‘big’ wrongs. In this paper we draw on cases and observations from our Forgiveness Project to explore how the experience of armed conflict, insecurity and mistrust is carried over into conflicts over land, and also what it may mean not to forgive particular wrongs incurred during land conflicts. >> View Full Text (PDF)