Jesuit Discusses Uganda Situation Featured in Kony 2012 Video
Tags: Jesuit, jesuits, Kony
Recently, a video detailing atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which he heads, caused an Internet sensation. The LRA is a vicious militia group founded in Uganda that has terrorized communities in multiple central and east African countries. The video makes a pointed case for U.S. military intervention to capture Joseph Kony and dismantle the LRA.
While there’s been a great deal of controversy regarding the video, one fact is indisputable: more people now know about the horrors endured by the people of Uganda than ever before.
The Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers in the world, has worked in Uganda for more than 40 years. The Society’s Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has conducted peace-building workshops, run schools and economic development projects and ministered to refugees in Uganda. In 2005, the Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province began planning for a secondary school in northern Uganda, the Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu. The co-educational high school admitted its first students in early 2010 and is already having a tremendously positive impact in a region devastated by over twenty years of civil war. The school will grow to a capacity of 1,200 students and includes agricultural and vocational training as well as rigorous academic formation in the Jesuit tradition, religious formation and peace education.
In November, 2011, Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa, spoke about Uganda and the Obama Administration’s recently announced plan to deploy U.S. military personnel to the region to help fight the LRA. His remarks were delivered at Georgetown University, at the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Father Orobator discussed the progress made in Uganda in recent years and suggested the U.S. government can help Uganda’s people – “by sending teachers, doctors, engineers, experts in agriculture and development – not more soldiers, guns and ammunition.”
The following are excerpts of Father Orobator’s remarks:
“On October 14, 2011, the government of the United States of America announced it will send a contingent of 100 U.S. soldiers to join in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. The LRA has killed, mutilated, abducted and raped thousands of women, men and children in northern Uganda. But things are different today…
On the very spot where the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, and his criminal gang used to barbeque beef of cows that they stole from the people, and on the bush path that the LRA used to mount their deadly attacks, the Jesuits have built a school. It is called Ocer – the local Acholi word for ‘Christ is risen.’ So, where once death and violence decimated the lives of Ugandans, a new dawn is rising and children can learn to build a better future. The children of Ocer and other schools in northern Uganda no longer train for war; they are training for a better, bigger and brighter future – full of hope, full of promise. And this is where the U.S. government and the rest of the world can help Africa – to train African children, not for war, but for peace, prosperity, and progress! The U.S. government can help African children beat swords and guns into pens and pixels; notebooks and textbooks; iPads and TouchPads.
The biggest threat to life in DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and in so many parts of Africa is not the LRA; what destroys life in Africa are diseases, poverty, illiteracy, corruption, child mortality, maternal death, religious intolerance, lack of political freedoms and limited economic opportunities. This is where the U.S. government, policy makers and the international community can help Africa and the children of Africa: by sending teachers, doctors, engineers, experts in agriculture and development – not more soldiers, guns and ammunition. In Africa we want to forge a new path of reconciliation, justice and peace….”
The Africa Faith and Justice Network, a coalition partner with Jesuits in the USA, also urges humanitarian assistance over military escalation as the way to build conditions for a lasting peace.
Fr. Orobator’s comments are in agreement with the position of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, which includes Archbishop Odama of Gulu, and also urges non-violence rather than U.S. military intervention as a solution.
For those interested in taking action and supporting the people of northern Uganda, we encourage support for the Jesuit’s Ocer Campion secondary school. “I spend my time in a community of people who have been through war for more than two decades; a war that has left many traumatized, agonized, sick and poor. Being a Jesuit gives me the opportunity to spend time with these people. Poverty here is not only spiritual but also material; I stay in solidarity with those I serve.” Fr. Innocent Mulili, SJ (Headmaster, Ocer Campion)
For additional information on the Jesuit works in Eastern Africa, you can click here for an interview with Father Orobator.