Uganda’s spiritual war heats up

BBC, July 22, 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Controversy is brewing in Uganda after a proposal by traditional healers to use killer bees and diseases such as smallpox to help beat the rebels of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

The LRA has been fighting since the late 1980s to replace President Yoweri Museveni’s secular government in a campaign marked by brutality against civilians.

The government has appeared powerless in recent months to halt intensified rebel attacks.

But now a group of traditional healers, whose own alleged spiritual powers afford them both fear and respect among many poor and rural communities, have offered to step in.

The secretary general of the national council for traditional healers and herbalists association (Nacotha), Karim Msasizi, told BBC News Online they had already sent their proposal to the government.

He said it was in response to an appeal by junior Defence Minister Ruth Nankabirwa for spiritual support in the fight against the LRA rebels.

“The entire operation will be under the control of around five highly qualified traditional healers,” said Mr Msasizi.

But Ms Nankabirwa has denied the claim by Nacotha.

In a press statement, she said that what she originally said was that fear of the LRA leader Joseph Kony’s alleged spiritual powers was so deep that people were scared to volunteer information to the government security forces lest Kony spiritually identifies and kill them.

She, however, admitted saying that the government would welcome any contributions to the war against the LRA.

Invincibility

The traditional healers said that they would also empower the army with charms.

The healers say they could use charms to kill Kony

“We will equip the Uganda People’s Defence Force with charms that will make them invincible,” said Mr Msasizi.

Nacotha is not sure whether President Yoweri Museveni’s government will accept the offer.

And if it does there are conditions that will have to be met before the traditional healers can move into the war zone.

All white people, including the United Nations UN and Red Cross staff, must leave the war zone, they say.

“The white people do not respect our culture and their presence would be detrimental to the operation,” says Mr Msasizi.

They also want the government to set up a “traditional cathedral” after Mr Kony is killed.

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