When a child has killed...

by Dr Alan Channer


Bishop Ochola addressed the particular challenge of rehabilitating child soldiers. ‘When a child has killed, traditional ceremonies and rituals need to be used to bring about cleansing, healing and reintegration…. We have these in northern Uganda. For example, a child will be asked to step on an egg; there is the symbolism of ‘breakage’ and then there will be a cleansing process.‘

Bishop Ochola advised that complete healing from trauma is necessarily a deep, spiritual experience. 

Dr Sam Kobia, then chaired a presentation on ‘South Sudan: Experiences with Reconciliation Processes’. He recalled meeting Colonel John Garang, and his remark: ‘All South Sudanese are traumatised, starting with myself.’

Bishop Arkanjelo Wani, Presiding Bishop of the African Inland Church in Sudan and South Sudan shared deeply from his own experience:

‘I am a child of war.  All I knew was war. We are haunted by our bitter memories of war against Khartoum and the South to South conflicts.’

‘One day I received an envelope. It contained bad news.  The letter reported that my father had been killed.  He had been fleeing.  He was elderly. He did not die instantly.  He was just left on the road....

‘I have forgiven the person who killed my father.  As for tribe, I don't think about it.  My father said all people are good.  I grew up with them since childhood and I love them.'

Bishop Wani shared a number of encouraging successes with peacebuilding in South Sudan:  a reconciliation between the Madi and Acholi peoples, led by religious leaders; the work of Bishop Paride Taban’s in Eastern Equatoria, and his own successful shuttle mediation between rebel leader David Yau Yau and President Salva Kir.

Ajing Chol, from Warrap State, then shared the impact which training in trauma tapping therapy had had on him in Juba in 2013.  He emphasised the importance of tackling ‘negative tribal cultural practices and attitudes’, in particular in relation to cattle raids. He said grass-roots reconciliation processes had been overlooked but were vital and that they should include the cattle camp leaders and spear masters.