Ugandan Religious Leaders Set Aside Rivalries in Pursuit of Peace

January 8, 2008

Author: Jason Kane

Source: The Pew Forum for Religion & Public Life

Wire Service: RNS

Sometimes in the evenings, Okech Alem watches the war widows as they sing and pull weeds in the peanut fields near his camp.

He is thankful for the new growth, but still remembers the field's past: Three years ago a band of rebels ripped babies from their mother's arms, tossed them into fires and hacked off the lips, arms and ears of the adults.

Today, these same rebels are returning peacefully to their communities, and Alem and many of his fellow ethnic Acholi have welcomed them home. Forgiveness has been "very hard," he says, forcing the Acholi to seek guidance from the ancestors, as well as religious traditions of every stripe.

"We are accepting a lot of problems," he said. "Some of these returning have evil spirits and they do weird and uncivilized things. But we are trying to reconcile, to move forward."