PhD student in the School of Applied Human Sciences, Ms Josephine Adibo, has presented the findings of her research into methods of assisting survivors of violent conflict.
The presentation was titled: “Acholi Indigenous Methods for Healing and Re-integrating Survivors of Violent Conflict into the Community: A Case of Gulu and Kitgum, Northern Uganda”.
The Forum of African Psychology (FAP) supported the seminar which was held at the School.
Adibo explained that in Northern Uganda, Acholi Indigenous approaches for the reintegration of survivors of violent conflict into the community have not been systematically studied. She identified that Western theoretical perspectives dominated reintegration efforts.
The study identifies the specific problems that arise with these approaches their processes as well as their therapeutic or healing mechanisms.
She said the findings indicated that the methods identified were performed for various reasons, including to protect survivors and their families from bad (vengeful) spirits, reintegrating a survivor into the family/community, and calming the ancestors.
Spirituality, compensation, reconciliation, community participation, forgiveness and the ritual cleansing of the space where the violence took place, were among the curative elements.
‘Most participants had positive perceptions on how the rituals helped survivors and the community in terms of healing and reintegration. Religion, modernisation and globalisation were associated with the perception that the rituals were not helpful,’ said Adibo.
‘Reconciliation of women survivors with their partners/spouses proved problematic even after the rituals, which points to the gendered dimension surrounding the process.’
The seminar concluded with recommendations for embedding indigenous healing methods into the reintegration process in a context-sensitive manner.