Monday, 4 December 2017
Although there is relative peace, people of northern Uganda are still suffering the effects of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) war—a war that left many in the state of despair. A myriad of factors hinder the victims and survivors to attain healing and forge live beyond what happened: the delayed and/or lack of justice for war crimes, the paucity of reparations, and the lack of government support for victims of rape and those afflicted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Social healing in northern Uganda can be achieved by tackling these issues from all sides. From increasing the opportunity for dialogue on how and when reparations will be provided, providing information on the on-going trials of the perpetrators of the LRA war, supporting the mental well being of person afflicted by trauma, enhancing the economic status of victims and memorializing the past among others.
While there have been concerted efforts to tackle the above mentioned obstacles to healing in communities affected by the LRA war in northern Uganda, memorization as a critical link to the other aspects has been limited. Today in northern Uganda, the concept of memory has been limited to concrete monuments with names of victims which provide somewhat less impact in facilitating social healing. Therefore there is need to explore memory through other lenses. For example, through the creation of physical spaces that preserve and transmit memory.
Why memorization in northern Uganda
Currently implementing a memorial project in Lukodi village in Gulu district, northern Uganda, the Foundation of Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI) spoke to community members on what this project meant to them.
“Many of the children you see today were born in the camps. All they know is the sufferings we went through while in the camps. The photos, body maps, timeline of events and physical maps of how the rebels use to operate will serve as an education avenue for them to know how the sufferings they witnessed in camps came about” said a member of the community reconciliation team
“We were part of the events that happened during the LRA war, it’s important that we tell the young ones of today so they can learn about the dangers of war” another member added
Aware that history shapes the future, the site to be established will help provide a historical account of events as they unfolded during the conflicts. At FJDI, we strongly believe that when spaces to acknowledge accounts and memories of what happened in the past are availed to communities affected by conflict, it facilitates the recovery process making it easy for victims and survivors alike to move forward.