Youth play together, dance together and work together, in Kukulu sub-county, West Nile

Kululu, Uganda 2 December 2019 (F2A) – Since September 2018, Uganda Joint Christian Council and Muslim Centre for Justice and Law have promoted collaboration between youth of different faith, using an interfaith approach in Kululu sub-county. They have reached 5,106 young men and 3,851 young women aged 10 to 24 years directly and 26,871 young people indirectly. Young men and women have engaged in interfaith and intercultural sports, music, drama events and dialogues, allowing appreciating each other’s diverse backgrounds, values, reducing prejudices and stereotypes.

Kululu sub-county is located in West-Nile, a region of Uganda that borders South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. With an estimate population of 37,043 people, tensions have been simmering. High illiteracy and poverty compounded with lack of access to employment and economic opportunities have taken a toll on communities. Indeed, 12.4 % of community members live below the poverty line, with households that have less than two meals a day and most youth are not in school and not engaged in gainful work. The area suffers from a history of wars in Uganda and in neighboring countries. Most recently, it has welcomed millions of people from South Sudan, who seek refuge from a civil war. Without hope for a better future, youth have been easy targets of political and religious manipulation. Prevailing features of community relations are religious prejudice, hate speech coupled with verbal abuse.  Muslims don’t want to be associated with Christians, and Christians do not want to be associated with Muslims. This has hampered peaceful co-existence and development in an area which hosts both communities.

With Uganda Joint Christian Council and Muslim Centre for Justice and Law’s interventions, young people from the two communities have started appreciating and valuing each other’s cultures and faith more. They are very excited to work hand in hand. As a result, many local interfaith actions have been started by young people:

  • Mudathir and 15 youth have formed two small saving groups comprising members from a different faith and cultural background. They engage in goat farming and brick laying,
  • Hafiza and five other youth have formed a group to produce and sell soap. They started by saving and procuring inputs and materials. They are very successful and have already registered their group with the Community District Officer. Equipped with their certificate of incorporation, they have presented their ideas to Norwegian Refugee Council, who supported their enterprise with 3.5 million UGX.
  • Out of 370 young men and 220 young women who were directly reached through interfaith and intercultural sports, four successful local sports teams were created; one player has even been invited to play in the West Nile regional super league.
  • 192 young men and 128 young women have set up four community music, dance and drama groups. Their music and drama is about peaceful community co-existence. They provide entertainment services during community events. They have participated in the district inter-culture music, dance and drama gala and won a goat and 100,000 UGX. The events attracted 4 parishes and 4 wards with organised groups, each group having 15 youth actively participating. Now, they have started of goat rearing.
  • Nicholas Aluma was trained as community own resource person from Yoyo Parish, Koro village. He has formed a cultural group which participated in the district Cultural Gala. The Cultural Gala was organized by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Its purpose was to celebrate unity in diversity. It attracted participants from different ethnic groups in the district, who exhibited their way of life through music, dance and drama. Aluma and his friends performed very well. They received the first prize of 200,000 UGX, a goat and costumes. The group is very diverse. It engages 30 youth within the village including 18 Muslims and 12 Christian youth. 6 young people belong to the Kakwa tribe, 16 to the Aringa and 8 to the Madi tribe.

Visiting Kululu sub-county, the change is palpable – “where there used to be radical actions in silence and cultural and religious intolerance, there is progressive tendency towards collaborative action, through interfaith dialogue, sports, music and entrepreneurship there is relative harmony in the community” District Khadi, Sheik Swaib Alahayi Bamuze says.

Faith to Action Network supports this work through a small grant, technical assistance, and is currently evaluating and documenting the impact. Like many other faith organisations, Uganda Joint Christian Council and Muslim Centre for Justice and Law engage in lots of interfaith initiatives work towards interfaith and intercultural understanding in the region, ranging from mediation of electoral and political disputes, interfaith dialogues and trainings, joint prayers, marches and solidarity events, etc. However, there’s little documentation and analysis of the effectiveness of these initiatives. Faith to Action Network aims at a systematic, analytically grounded and context specific analysis on what is done, what works and what doesn’t. This information is vital to enable learning, strengthening these initiatives and promote their replication and scale up.

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