Our first peace media and counterterrorism seminar in Mbale went well (see previous post). As part of the seminar, participants created anti-terrorism radio public service announcements. To listen to the outstanding work done by the local leaders and journalists, click here.
Our project, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy-Kampala and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University, continues next week with two seminars in Kampala.
Northern Uganda mourns a true man of peace
I was sadded to learn of the recent passing of a truly great man, Mr. A.K. Banya, who was the chairman of the peace club in Gulu, Uganda. (He didn't want to be called president; he thought it too pretentious). Every time I met Mr. Banya, I was impressed by his ability to organize, motivate, and inspire his neighbors. He had a kind word for everyone, was quick with a joke, but deadly serious about keeping his region free from any more violence.
I first met Mr. Banya in July, 2010. Then in October, 2010, Mr. Banya invited me to an event to launch the Gulu peace club. It was my honor to attend and to write this story:
GULU, NORTHERN UGANDA—Here in Gulu, they’re very serious about peace. Of course, this is understandable since a bloody, 20-year long civil war centered here in northern Uganda ended just a couple of years ago.
This peace hungry area is indeed fertile ground for anti-violence messages. Capitalizing on this, our peace journalism project planted some seeds last July when we called together community leaders in Gulu to form what we call a peace club. These clubs are meant to complement our effort to train radio announcers and journalists about peace and electoral journalism.
Around election time, the Uganda peace clubs will also monitor radio stations in their area, using a rubric developed by my peace journalism class that met last spring at Park University. Data collected, some of it using SMS messaging, will be used to confront and correct “hate radio” purveyors, those who incite violence in their communities. The info the peace clubs collect will also be used to gauge the efficacy of the peace journalism project.
|The late A.K. Banya of Gulu|
Post script: The 2011 elections were largely peaceful throughout Uganda, but especially so in Northern Uganda, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mr. A.K. Banya. Rest in peace, Mr. Banya.