Saturday, December 11, 2010

Crawling across the finish line

Our peace journalism seminars are done for 2010. We've taught 20 seminars for radio journalists and announcers throughout Uganda. Our message: that they can, through their reporting, create an atmosphere in their communities that encourages peace and reconciliation. I feel good about what we did, and how we did it. However, it's hard to provide much more analysis at this point without the benefit of some time and some perspective. Besides, I'm much too exhausted to do much analysis or thinking of any kind.

Random musings and indecipherable ramblings from the equatorial zone

WESTERN UGANDA—There is a morning radio announcer in a small town in this region who is quite popular despite a relatively small speech impediment. It seems that this young man is unable to pronounce his L’s, pronouncing them instead as R’s. (So, little would become rittle). This is especially noteworthy around this election time in Uganda. One source says his show has become more popular lately thanks to wiseacre listeners who are tuning in just to hear the announcer mispronounce the word election. I must confess myself to wanting to tune in to hear him discuss election malpractices, free and fair elections, and, of course, rigged elections.

KIBALE, UGANDA—Among our projects’ activities is bringing community leaders together to form Peace Clubs to support journalists practicing peace journalism and to lobby for non-violent elections. An outstanding example is a very active Peace Club in Kabale. They recently held a high profile launch ceremony, featuring 80 civic leaders, political leaders, media, academia, religious leaders and leaders of civil society. The day after the launch event, the Peace Club sponsored an elders' round-table forum aimed at conflict prevention for politicians in Kabale before, during, and after the 2011 elections. Facilitators included representatives from the Ugandan Electoral Commission and Human Rights Commission, Inter-religious council of Uganda, and the police. Impressive. If all Ugandans were this committed to peace, there is no doubt that 2011 will indeed be violence-free.

1 comment:

  1. Prof., glad to know you feel good about the work you have been doing in Uganda. We in Uganda are grateful for your commitment. From what I can observe on the campaign trail, we are slated to have a much more peaceful election than in the past. You are ofcourse too humble to claim credit, but Iam sure the trainings have made a major contribution.
    As you might be aware, Burundi has been at this Peace Journalism thing since 1995 - immediately after the Rwanda genocide. Their recent June-August elections had violence written all-over, but things went quite peaceful - very peaceful in fact. While aware of other factors at play (e.g. pressure from West on dissidents) I would give credit to the work of PJ by e.g. Search for Common Ground! So, let us continue sowing the mustard seed of peaceful sharing of power and resources and the tree will soon be visible.
    NB: So funny about your eLection/eRection presenter. But as you might know, the "R" and "L" mixup is very much a Bantu languages malaise. Most of us Bantu-speakers have that 'impediment'. (William Tayeebwa is a Ugandan journalist and PhD student in Peace Communication in Montreal, Canada)