By Henry D Gombya
A recent viral video that has been now viewed by over 100 million people worldwide has been described by the Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda the Rt Rev Johnson Gakumba as talking about things that are no longer taking place in Northern Uganda.
Speaking to The London Evening Post (TLEP) on phone from his Diocese, Bishop Gakumba who is also the Chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), Bishop Gakumba, 53, appealed to the world to help Northern Uganda rebuild after suffering more than 20 years of war. “Our problem today is not Joseph Kony. He left the area more than five or six years ago. What we need is to help us deal with the trauma that those now returning to settle in their family homes feel,” he said.
The Bishop said while other areas of Uganda have been developing, Northern Uganda had been neglected and has seen no development whatsoever since then. Asked to comment further on the Invisible Children video about Kony, Bishop Gakumba wondered why the video had come out at this time. “Most of what it shows is things of the past that are no longer taking place in Northern Uganda,” the Bishop said. He described Northern Uganda as a very peaceful place today where one could fly in to Kitgum or any other towns in the area and find no problem getting in or out.
He said peace had returned to Northern Uganda after peace talks held between the Uganda Government and Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). “At the end of the peace talks that Kony did not sign, he left the area and has since been operating in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, peace has really returned to Northern Uganda,” the Church leader said.
He thanked Invisible Children for the tremendous work they have done in his Diocese and hoped that Kony 2012 would help raise the finances still needed for work in the area. TLEP contacted Bishop Gakumba after reading an open letter written by ARLPI in which religious leaders in the area said Kony 2012 lacked current facts about LRA activities and misrepresented the current situation on the ground. “…it is full of over-simplified justifications,” the open letter says.
The ARLPI letter was signed by Bishop Gakumba as ARLPI Chairman on behalf of Sheikh Altai Musa Khalil, the Khadi of Acholi Muslim District and ARLPI Vice Chairman; Archbishop John Baptist Odama who is Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop of Gulu and ARLPI member; Fr Julius Orach, Dean of Orthodox Church and ARLPI member; the Rt Rev Nelson Onono Onweng the retired Bishop of Northern Uganda and ARLPI member; the Rt Rev MacLeod Baker Ochola II, the retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese and ARLPI member; Lisa David, the SDA resident pastor of Gulu and Patrick Okecha the overseer of Born Faith Federation.