Alfonse Lolinga Michael, an elder who heads the Acholi community, described how conflicts are traditionally solved by gathering chiefs from conflict areas, who sit together to pin down the causes of fighting. They would then forge a solution to the dispute — ending death and displacement.
In past conflicts between Madi and Acholi, tribal chiefs would summon elders and chiefs and hear from both sides what can be done so that peace prevails,” the 58-year-old from Yambio says.
This technique resolved many conflicts, he remarks, adding that the solution had to be in the interest of both sides. To seal the deal, the two parties always shake hands before going home.
Even if we continue to fight for a hundred years, we are not going to gain anything.”If problems arise after the agreement both sides are asked to prepare food and a local drink (known as Kpate). Then everyone eats together and meets for a traditional dance, including peace songs. People from the two communities hug one another.
If anybody wanted to marry, this would be the right time to choose a woman of your choice,” Lolinga says, a move that tightens links between various groups. The woman chosen at such a time is like an agreement paper, meaning the two sides never break the deal they agreed on.”
He added that traditional mediation could ease the current madness”, referring to the widespread fighting, often between Dinkas and Nuers, that has killed thousands since December 15, 2013.
Even if we continue to fight for a hundred years, we are not going to gain anything,” warns Lolinga, who works as Finance Administrator at the State Ministry of Health.
According to Lolinga the government should act solely as a facilitator, giving the two parties an open space to discuss their conflicts. This approach, he says, should be used to end the ongoing crisis. Let the chiefs get together to share their concerns, let them be the ones to compromise... We can’t continue to kill ourselves.”