23 November 2007

United Kingdom moved said Queen

Queen of England Elizabeth II
The Queen's speech
Your Excellency President Museveni and Mrs Museveni, Right Honourable Speaker, Honourable Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen
Prince Philip and I have many fond memories of our last visit together to Uganda. In the years since, your country has made considerable advances in spite of periods of adversity.

I expect that what has helped sustain modern Uganda is the attribute that was so evident in 1954, and again today, in the generous manner we have been welcomed: the great warmth and friendliness of its people. We are delighted to be here once more.

It gives me great pleasure to address this House today in recognition of the importance of parliamentary democracy to the Commonwealth as a whole. For Uganda, the deliberations and decisions of this House, together with your respect for the rule of law, have had and will continue to have an essential bearing on the country's success in addressing many serious challenges.
The United Kingdom is actively committed to supporting Uganda's efforts to deepen its democracy.

Many in the United Kingdom have been moved by the plight of the people of northern Uganda who have been suffering from the devastating conflict there.
The Ugandan Government's efforts to resolve this conflict peacefully are therefore especially welcome. Uganda's regional role is also widely appreciated.

In particular, the contribution made to peacekeeping operations in Somalia has been a tribute to the courage and professionalism of Uganda's armed forces.

I am also pleased that the educational and cultural ties between our two countries are now stronger than ever before. Through its collaborative school projects, the British Council is bringing together more than one million children across Africa and the United Kingdom.

Indeed, I very much look forward to visiting later this week one of the Ugandan schools participating in the 'Connecting Classrooms' programme which does so much to increase our knowledge and understanding of each other's societies among young people.

In the years since Prince Philip and I were last here, one change in particular has come to scar Uganda and, indeed, much of Africa. The scourge of HIV infection and AIDS has touched the lives of so many of Uganda's people. It is difficult sometimes, when the sorrow associated with this disease is so profound, to avoid a sense of despair.

And yet there are growing numbers of people and organisations whose work gives cause for real hope. Today I visited the Mildmay Centre which sets a remarkable example in the provision of care and relief for those who are ill as well as in educating people about how to protect themselves and their families.

The role of centres such as this, which the Government of Uganda has done so much to encourage, will be central to achieving our common aim of controlling this cruel disease.

The continued and enlightened support of all those in authority, including this House, will play an essential part in supporting these efforts.
One hundred years ago, Sir Winston Churchill, who much later became my first Prime Minister, made a celebrated visit to Uganda which he was moved to describe as 'the Pearl of Africa'.

In common with other visitors to this country over the years, he had been struck by how Uganda has been truly gifted by nature.
Sir Winston had visited Munyonyo, then just 'a jetty and a few sheds', where, most fittingly, the present British Prime Minister will join his fellow Commonwealth Heads of Government this weekend.
Whether the individual links are long-standing or more recent, the United Kingdom remains a committed friend of Uganda.

Prince Philip and I have reason to recall our own associations over the years with the greatest affection and extend to you all our good wishes for the years to come.

14 November 2007

Journey of Healing

Fr. Michael Lapsley, depicting the artificial hands while talking to the Mothers Union. Photo by Rev.Willy Akena 14/11/2007

By Rev.Willy Akena
The Director Institute for Healing of Memories Fr Michael Lapsley is in Gulu to meet with the victims of the LRA War. A victim of the Apartheid himself, Fr Michael lost his hands and eye in a letter bomb in South Africa. Below is his address to the Mothers Union of the Diocese of Northern Uganda who are attending a training on Micro Finance, organized by the Office of the Provincial Mothers Union Worker Rev. Canon Hellen Oneka. Fr Michael is due to meet with those whose limbs were cut or maimed in Northern Uganda and share with them his experience and explore ways of forgiveness and reconciliation. His visit to Northern Uganda has been initiated by the Diocese of Northern Uganda under the department of Peace and Development Headed by Rev. Patrick Lumumba.
Fr. Michael appealed to the people in Northern Uganda to forgive and reconcile in order to travel the journey of healing.

I am delighted to be here with you.
I greet you in the name of Jesus who is our saviour. May be because you want hear the message twice; I am delighted to have this opportunity with my brother Ntsikelelo Mateta. I am particularly delighted to be here in northern part of Uganda because I know that it is part of Uganda that has known war and pain.
We know that we had war for the last 20 years and we know that there has been a great cost, many people like me have lost limbs, we know that there are not only physical wounds of the body but wounds of the spirit, whenever we experience suffering we ask ourselves were is God?. There is a song that black people in S African sang for many decades, SENZENI NA? The song meaning is what we have done, why are we suffering and in South Africa people say is it because of the colour of our skin. Whenever as human being we suffer we try to make sense, why do we suffer, sometimes there are no easy answers, sometime we say it must be God’s will, but am not sure about that, some time we blame God for the things that we as human beings do to others so for the things we have done to others, like a man who is drank dives a car and hit a child and a child dies, that is not God’s will, but because the man was drank, some people pick a gun and go for war that is not God’s will, in my case it was the last white government in South Africa that sent a letter bomb, so because of the bomb I lost my hands and my eye,
Sometime when I meet people today they say, that was God’s will; its not true God does not sent letter bombs to people. I was sent letter bomb by human beings not by God.
But where is God, God did not tell me that is a letter bomb do not open it. But to me God kept his promise, the great promise in the bible that I am with you always even to the end of the age. So when I was bombed I felt the presence of God with me, Af
I know God is wi
After I was bomb I had a choice, Am I going to have hatred and bitterness all my life or am I going to travel a journey of healing, am I going to spend my life looking for those who sent the letter bomb to me, am looking for a way of revenge, am I going to spend my time looking for those who sent the letter bomb. One of the great men of SA said
“Those who think of themselves as victims eventually becomes the victimizers of others”
If we have poison inside our heart it has to go somewhere.
But in my case many people prayed for me, loved and supported me Christians but also people of other faiths as well, people sent me letters of hope and encouragement from all over the world that is how God helped me to travel the journey of healing.

I realized that if I was full of hatred then I would be a victim for ever, they have failed to kill the body but I would have killed the soul.
I thought if I were to be angry all the time then I will be in pain
I also had to make a choice, will I travel a journey of healing or not, so God has called me to a new journey, I was part of the journey to help free South Africa from Apartheid people who struggle to release our people. Today I am traveling my new journey, what is my new journey, it’s to listen to the pain of others, listen to people and travel the journey of healing.

Sometime as Christians we say I lay my hands on you and you are healed.
There are still many steps to take. Sometime we think healing is like taking tablets and everything will be okay. But people who have been hurt deeply the journey of healing takes sometime, the mothers union have an important role to play, part of the role is to travel your own journey of healing, but offer yourselves to listen to the pain of others not just once but again and again, sometimes as Christians we talk too much and we don not listen enough, we have to learn to preach less and listen more, listen not only with our ears but also with our hearts.
So I must thank you for what you are already doing, healing is part of God’s work; God invites us to work with him in the healing process. Thanks for listening to me. Amen

13 November 2007

Women at risk as they return home

Two will become one: This woman needs the husband to support her in the return process. Photo by Rev.Willy Akena

Now that peace is around the corner, women are more willing to venture into the bushes than men. In Alero IDP camp in Amuru district, women have taken the initiative to return to homesteads as reported by Julius Odokonyero, a primary school teacher in the area. Accordingly, they have cleared homesteads, and are participating actively in digging, collecting firewood and many other domestic chores. Interestingly, many of them have now formed village groups to help them accomplish their tasks collectively.
Their vision is to see that the work they do carries a bigger impact than individual participation. Unlike the women, men are instead busy drinking in the camp, with some starting their drinking sprees from as early as 8:00am!
According to Odokonyero, men should realise that the onus of success in family and community existence lies on them as well as on women. It is therefore important that men help women in accomplishing the return process as things go back to normalcy.

08 November 2007

Excitement as LRA consults in Northern Uganda

Martin Ojul labour to clarify the fate of Otti left is Todwong Richard the President's Advisor on Northern Uganda Photo and story by Rev.Willy Akena

“The temperature in Gulu is cool and comfortable” said Dr. Onek Leo the representative of the Chief mediator. This was in response to a question raised by Dr. Riek Machar to check the security of the cessation of hostility agreement team who are in Uganda together with the LRA delegation for the LRA/M consultation. The one day consultation that was held at St. Monica Tailoring School in Gulu attracted more than 160 people including Religious Leaders, Political, Women, youth, and victims. The delegation was impressed by the level of commitment shown by the people of Gulu which is a clear sign of desire for peace. The ambassadors of the five countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, South Africa, Mozambique and Sudan promised to redouble their efforts to encourage the LRA and government of Uganda to work even harder
The presidential Advisor for Northern Uganda Mr. Richard Todwong said the government of Uganda is committed in the peace talks and that its clearly seen in the meeting with the President of Uganda, discussion of the ICC and the security of the LRA delegation.
Dr. James Obita one of the LRA delegation said they discussed suspension of arrest warrant for the LRA warrant to be suspended for 12 months so that the LRA can sign the peace agreement.

In another related development, the people of Acholi are asking Martin Ojul the head of the LRA delegation to clarify the fate of Oti Vincent the LRA 2nd in command who is widely believed to have been killed by his boss Joseph. Kony. The people think Otti’s death may jeopardize the peace talks.