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Bishop hailed for his peace efforts in northern Uganda
by Justus Waimiri
CAPA 040402-2
April 2, 2004

[CAPA - Uganda] Retired Anglican Bishop of Kitgum Diocese in northern Uganda, the Rt Revd. Macleord Baker Ochola, has been recognised for his role in peace building in war-torn northern Uganda.

Bishop Ochola is the Vice-Chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an increasingly influential group of Christian and Islamic leaders working for reconciliation between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the government of Uganda, and the local population in northern Uganda.

The Bishop’s efforts were highlighted prominently during a meeting of religious leaders of diverse faiths from the Great Lakes, Eastern and Horn of Africa, at a peace conference in Nairobi over the weekend.

The interfaith meeting brought together more than 40 leaders from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Somali, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was organized by the Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa and the Lutheran World Federation, in conjunction with the All Africa Conference of Churches.

In his keynote address, Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Convener of the Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa, made a passionate appeal to religious leaders to stand in solidarity against the misuse of religion to gain political mileage.

Northern Uganda, in particular, has experienced violence of worrying proportions in the recent past.

Just weeks ago, the Church of Uganda House of Bishops, led by Archbishop Henry Orombi, called for an immediate end to the violence when they visited the conflict areas to assess the situation firsthand.

Bishop Ochola has himself suffered tremendously as a result of the war. A few years ago, his wife and daughter were among many of his followers massacred by the LRA.

Despite this, he is not bitter. He says he took the death of his wife and daughter as a challenge, and decided to dedicate his life to working for peace. According to him, forgiveness is the solution for people who wrong others. “We were all created in God’s image and we can only change people if we do good to them,” he says.