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Peace advocate, Archbishop John Baptist Odama

“May each heart not promote violence! May each mouth not promote violence! May each physical effort (energy) not promote violence!”

GULU-UGANDA: Uganda’s celebrated advocate for peaceful resolutions of world conflicts, Archbishop John Baptist Odama of the Catholic’s Archdiocese of Gulu, has made passionate plea to the hearts of those who promote violence throughout the world, to stop the vise; but rather support one another in a peaceful manner.

“May each heart not promote violence! May each mouth not promote violence! May each physical effort (energy) not promote violence!” prays Odama.

Archbishop Odama made the plea while delivering his welcome speech on Monday, 9 January 2017 to over five thousand peace pilgrims from the greater Northern Uganda, including pilgrims from South Sudan at St. Monica Girls’ Tailoring School in Gulu town.

This was during the 12th Gulu Episcopal Provincial Annual Prayer Peace week, which brings together the faithful from Gulu Archdiocese, Nebbi Catholic Diocese, Arua Catholic Diocese and Lira Catholic Diocese (GANAL) held under the theme: “Non Violence: A style of Politics for Peace”, held from Monday, 9 to Friday 13, January 2017. This year’sPrayer Peace Weekalso drew pilgrims from turbulent South Sudan.

“This year’s theme was chosen from Pope Francis’ prayer for peace in the world and I would like to ask every human being to practice non- violence as a way of promoting peace” says Odama.

“We would rather promote supporting one another, by thinking well about each other and by speaking well about each other”, continues Odama, “we are not here in isolation; we are part of humanity”.  

He specifically appealed to the pilgrims to pray for the countries in the world where violent conflict still occur and enumerated them as South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Libya, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, Gambia and Uganda.

Archbishop Odama, who is also the Chairman of Episcopal Conference of Uganda and chairman of Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI) played a key role in ending the over two decade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in northern Uganda and earned himself several peace awards.

The Paramount Chief of the neighboring Madi tribe in West Nile, Chief Stephen Drani, speaking as chief guest, says most of the conflicts being experienced in the world are socio-cultural conflicts.

“Most of the conflicts being experienced and witnessed in the world are socio-cultural conflicts. A typical recent example I can think of is the Kasese incident in western Uganda where over one hundred people died and the cultural leader there arrested and charged with murder”, says Chief Drani.

He appealed to all cultural leaders in Uganda and the world at large to embrace everybody who comes to their kingdom, including refugees and people of diverse views, because culture does not segregate people.

Chief Drani also appealed to cultural leaders to use non-violence approach when dealing with violent situations so as to promote peaceful co-existence.

Acholi Chief, Rwot David Onen-Acana II noted with concern that “violence has taken over and is reigning daily” in some parts of the world.   

He however thanks security operatives in Gulu for bringing peace and security in Gulu recently after waves of insecurity.

“Yesterday I was assured that Gulu is Ok. Don’t fear to venture and see the life in Gulu. Gulu is not as dangerous as it was a few weeks ago”, says Rwot Acana II.

At least four people were killed and scores injured in a wave of night insecurity in and around Gulu town since October last year when iron-bar hit men and men wielding hammers would hit them at night.

The chairman of the Organizing Committee, Rev. Fr. Jino Mwaka, however, appealed to visitors to Gulu to note that insecurity still persists at night perpetuated by drug abusers and street boys.

He appealed to pilgrims to seek the co-operation of colleagues when venturing out at night.

“At night, the temperature can be as low as 17 degree Celsius, but remember there is still insecurity at night in Gulu town caused by drug abusers. You should avoid walking alone but seek the co-operation of colleagues”, says the priest.



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