ARLPI Religious Leaders Biographies

Bishop Johnson Gakumba                                                                                                                                                     Chairman, ARLPI Governing Council                                                                                                                   

Bishop Johnson Gakumba is the current Chairman for the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. He lives in Gulu, Uganda with his wife. Since finishing a BA in divinity at Uganda Christian University he worked as a Priest and teacher throughout Uganda until 2009 when he was appointed the Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Northern Uganda. Bishop Gakumba was one of the early initiators in the non-violent peace campaign in northern Uganda when he was involved with mobilizing the community for peace marches and prayers. Currently he is on the ALPHA Uganda board, a ministry of discipleship, and acts as an advisor for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Uganda. In 2010 he completed the summer peacebuilding institute at Eastern Mennonite University. In January 2011 he will be participating in Duke University’s Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute, which will bring together Christian leaders passionate about peace and reconciliation.

Bishop Gakumba believes in beginning reconciliation practices at the smallest level, leading to broad societal change. His commitment to church peace work stretches from promoting reconciliation among families and church members, to acting as mediator and conciliator in other dioceses and at a national church level. His current focus on peacebuilding is on trauma healing, a necessary component in moving northern Uganda through the past to a new future. Through his work Bishop Gakumba has ensured that many pastors have been fully trained in trauma healing. His vision for Uganda is a land healed from trauma caused by the conflict and characterized by ongoing peace and development.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama                                                                                                                                                                       Member, ARLPI Governing Council

ARCHBISHOP JOHN BAPTIST ODAMA is the Catholic Archbishop of Gulu. He became the first Bishop of Nebi diocese in West Nile, Uganda in 1996 by appointment by Pope John Paul II. Two and a half years later he became the first Archbishop of Gulu where he has been faithfully serving Gulu and three suffragan dioceses of Nebi, Arua and Lira. Archbishop Odama also served as the chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) from 2002-2010. ARLPI is an interfaith peacebuilding and conflict transformation organization that has been tirelessly working to end the war in Northern Uganda.  Most recently he was elected to be the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference which in effect has made him the spokesperson for over 20 Catholic dioceses throughout Uganda.

Out of a conviction that working for peace is a calling from God, His Grace has been involved in numerous peacebuilding initiatives aimed at ending the senseless violence in the region. Most notably, he took on the role as a bridge builder between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda with the hope of starting a peace process. Out of such an initiative the Juba Peace Process was born in which he, along with the other religious leaders from ARLPI, acted as an advisor and observer to the talks.

Despite having had his life threatened by the LRA and at times being criticized by high level officials, he continues to press forward advocating for dialogue and non-violence to be used to end the conflict. Recognizing that many in the LRA were forced to join its ranks after being abducted, he has a special concern for the wellbeing of individuals on both sides of the conflict with the hope that all will return to their families and be reconciled to the community.

Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II                                                                                                                                                          Representative for the Retired Religious Leaders, ARLPI governing council

The Rt. Rev. Macleord Baker Ochola II is a retired Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum in Northern Uganda. He was the first Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum, serving from 1995 until his retirement in 2002. He is one of the founding members of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), an interfaith organization that was formed in 1997 and formally inaugurated in February 1998, as a proactive response to the conflict in Northern Uganda.

Bishop Ochola had seven children with his wife, the late Winifred Ochola. Sadly on May 1, 1987, one of their daughters, the late Joyce Adong, committed suicide after being brutally attacked by the LRA, robbing her of her human dignity. Bishop Ochola was at the time on a study leave in Canada. Just over a decade later, he was again bereaved when his dear wife, the late Winifred Ochola, who was killed on May 23, 1997, in a landmine blast. Like their daughter, she became a victim of the senseless war in Northern Uganda.

Instead of harboring bitterness and anger after the loss of his loved ones, Bishop Ochola has dedicated his life for the pursuit of sustainable peace throughout the region. Drawing from his own heartbreaking experience, he promotes forgiveness and reconciliation to others who have endured horrific loses as a result of war. He has also been a strong advocate for the complementarity of different approaches to achieve peace, justice, and reconciliation and has been a staunch supporter for the use of traditional African approaches to justice and reconciliation, including the Acholi reconciliation practice of ‘Mato Oput.’

Bishop Ochola has received the Fraternity Award from the Mundo Negro magazine in Madrid, Spain, in 2002. He also received the Paul Carus Award at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain in 2004. As an interfaith group of Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and Muslim leaders, ARLPI was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize by the Niwano Peace Foundation in Japan in May, 2004.

All Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil                                                                                                                                                                                           Vice Chairman, ARLPI Governing Council

ALL HAJJI SHEIK MUSA KHALIL lives with his family including eleven children in Gulu, Uganda, his birthplace. Since 2003, Sheik Musa Khalil has acted as the Acholi sub-region District Khadi for the Ugandan Supreme Council and is the Chairman for the Acholi Muslim Northern Leaders Association. As the Vice Chairman for the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a peacebuilding and conflict transformation organization, Kahdi has been involved in numerous peacebuilding initiatives including being an advisor and observer to the Juba Peace Talks.

Khadi has received extensive peacebuilding training including a certificate in Peacebuilding from the African Peacebuilding Institute and training from the US Department of State in “Preventative Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.” During the two-year United Religions Initiative he participated in peacebuilding trainings and dialogue in countries such as the Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. Khadi also received Islamic leadership training through the Islamic Institute in Kampala.

Khadi has been a long time advocate and activist for peaceful resolution of the Northern Uganda conflict. He is a leader in interfaith dialogue and in the promotion of co-existence and reconciliation between Ugandan communities. Khadi intentionally works alongside cultural leaders and the larger Acholi community in promoting reconciliation and has conducted many mediations throughout Acholiland. He does so with the hope of promoting a sustainable culture of peace for future generations.

Reverend Father Julius Orach                                                                                                                                                                                Member, ARLPI Governing Council

REVEREND FATHER JULIUS ORACH is the Parish Priest at St. Lavrentios Orthodox Church, as well as the Dean of the Orthodox Church for the Acholi Subregion. He lives in Gulu with his family. Fr. Julius is a member of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative’s Governance Council and has formally acted as the chairman of their Welfare Committee. Among his many activities he is also the Coordinator for the Acholi Orphan Initiative. He completed his Theology, Philosophy and Epistemology diploma from St. Makarios III Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya. Fr. Julius holds a certificate in peacebuilding from African Peacebuilding Institute (API) in Zambia, a Certificate in Trauma Healing and Counseling from Summer Institute of Logistic (SIL) in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as a Certificate in Public Administration and Proposal Development from Makerere University in Kampala.

Father Julius has worked as a religious peacebuilder throughout the two decades of the LRA war in Northern Uganda both at the grassroots level and at a track two diplomacy level. Over the years he has been a key peacebuilding involved in such areas as dialogue with the LRA, as an observer at the Juba Peace Talks, and as a mediator in Sudan-Ugandan border conflicts and within Ugandan clan disputes. His vision for Uganda is a country characterized by peaceful co-existence and prosperity. As such, Fr. Julius consistently seeks ways of promoting reconciliation across all cultures of lives.

Remaining members of the ARLPI Governing Council:

Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng

Bishop Benjamin Ojwang

Bishop Sabino Odoki

Mrs. Karima Lanyero Obina

Mrs. Lucy Larubi Kidaga

Mrs. Simporoza Otim

Mrs. Florence Olango

Mrs. Grace Okeny

Mrs. Gladys Oyat

Mrs. Lilly Okot

Monsignor Mathew Odong

Monsignor Mathew Ojara