By Nicole Enns Fehr
On September 21, International Day of Peace, some 400 peace seekers walked, mostly barefoot through the streets of Gulu. The march on the international day of peace was dedicated to solidarity with the LRA affected populations. Many organizations, NGOs, and schools were represented including the Acholi Education Initiative and Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative.
In a Petition to the Government and all Peace Practitioners, presented following the march, Acholi youth cried out for “any warrior and peace lover to help us seek and find peace through love, forgiveness, reconciliation but not through hatred, wars and rebellion.” They concluded by calling on the government of Uganda and the LRA to once again pursue a peaceful means to end the conflict. They also blessed the gathering with a series of songs and poems calling out for peace.
Bishop Gakumba, chairman of ARLPI and the chair walker, echoed their call for a peaceful resolution. He reminded the people of Acholi of the great suffering now experienced by the populations of the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan. His statement “peace is not simply the absence of war,” was of a timely nature for Uganda as it struggles to recover from the two decade war and as it moves towards another set of elections already marred by some violence. He reiterated ARLPI’s call to the government of Uganda to come back to the peace table, to withdraw troops from surrounding countries, to fulfill their commitment to the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) in a timely manner, and to prioritize reconciliation.
Archbishop Odama, during his brief remarks, requested that we all remember that wars and conflict are about one human being fighting another human being. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each one of us to seek an end to the conflict and to live out peaceful existence with those around us. The director of UNDP in Gulu also
Support for the march showed the great desire within Gulu to continue pursuing peace. The willingness of so many to go barefoot on the scorching hot streets of Gulu in solidarity with so many that suffer far worse conditions following abduction into the LRA demonstrates that the people of northern Uganda have not forgotten. They will continue to pursue peace through peaceful means.