Uganda Deputy Chief Justice, Alfose Owiny-Dollo, on Acholi Traditional Justice Systems
“I see value in our traditional justice systems”
“’Cairo’ is actually the name the Lwos gave to ‘River Nile’. The Lwos called the Nile ‘Kiro’. Their home was the Nile Delta”
“When they came to ‘Khartoum’, they found another branch of the Nile. It was here that they fought a bitter war with another migrating group, the ‘Hermits’. They named that place ‘Ka-tum’, which is a Lwo phrase meaning ‘this is where we shall all die’”
AMURU-UGANDA: The newly appointed Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo Chigamoi, has stated that he sees value in traditional justice systems of the Acholi tribe which should be promoted to supplement formal courts.
“I see value in our traditional justice systems”, says Justice Owiny-Dollo.
He made this comment recently during the sixth anniversary of the coronation of Rwot Richard Santo Apire as the Cultural King of Attiak Kingdom, one of the 54 kingdoms of the Acholi tribe.
Justice Owiny-Dollo says the Juba Peace Talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and Uganda government from 2006 to 2008 presented an opportunity for Uganda to set up the first court in Africa to try International Crimes, something equivalent to a center for International Criminal Court (ICC), but it missed that opportunity.
He was also instrumental in pushing for Transitional Justice law in Uganda during the Juba Peace Talks to try the numerous land related cases before formal courts.
“We recommended the establishment of a transitional justice court system in Uganda. Land conflicts need not go to formal courts”.
According to the former chairman of Acholi Parliamentary Group, Mr. Reagan Okumu, his group sponsored the Transitional justice bill in parliament in 2015 which should have addressed the issue of accountability and reparation for the Lord’s Resistance Army war.
Unfortunately, this bill has been shelved in parliament.
Acholi justice system emphasizes compensation to victims of wrongs, reconciliation between warring parties and harmonious living in society as opposed to the Western Justice system which emphasizes accountability without impunity.
Their ritual of “Mato Oput” (drinking of the Oput shrub) is known internationally as one of the best method of solving complex murder cases.
“The colonial masters found that the Acholi tribe had no prison facilities because our elders knew how to solve conflicts”, says Justice Owiny-Dollo.
Acholi tribe, one of the Lwo ethnic groups, currently occupies part of northern Uganda and South Sudan. They speak similar language with other Lwo/Luo ethnic groups in Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Acholi is also the origin of many traditional institutions in Uganda.
Justice Owiny-Dollo, who has studied the history of migration of the Lwo ethnic group extensively, says the Pharaohs, who were rulers in Egypt during the first civilization, were actually Lwo.
“’Cairo’ is actually the name the Lwos gave to ‘River Nile’. The Lwos called the Nile ‘Kiro’. Their home was the Nile Delta”, asserts Justice Owiny-Dollo.
According to Justice Owiny-Dollo, the Lwos started to trace the source of river Nile by migrating southwards up to its source at Kira in Jinja in eastern Ugandas.
“When they came to ‘Khartoum’, they found another branch of the Nile. It was here that they fought a bitter war with another migrating group, the ‘Hermits’. They named that place ‘Ka-tum’, which is a Lwo phrase meaning ‘this is where we shall all die’”, says Justice Owiny-Dollo.
He says when the Lwo reached the source of the Nile, they gave it the same name ‘Kiro’ which they gave in the Egyptian city, ‘Cairo’, which was corrupted from the word ‘Kiro’; and in Jinja the word ‘Kira’ is actually corrupted from the word ‘Kiro’, the name the Lwo gave to the Nile right from the Delta.