Why is President Museveni Changing the LRA/NRA War Narrative?


One of the most powerful predictors of success in politics and public policy  is the strength of political narratives. But do political narratives represent political reality? President Yoweri Museveni while addressing supporters at Pabbo Catholic Mission, Pabbo Sub County in Amuru said, ”Northern Uganda owes him for fighting tooth and nail to chase away the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgents and ushering peace in the area”.

But one needs to reflect, was Northern Uganda engaged in any internal insurgency prior to the arrival of the NRA?

A common narrative as mentioned by most pioneer insurgents is that, the uprising was in response to human rights abuses and revenge by the NRA under the leadership of President Museveni after overthrowing a northern Uganda led government.

In President Norbert Mao’s words, “if you dig a hole and drop me in, and thereafter throw a rope in the hole for me to get out; do you expect me to say thank you?”

My concern is, why is President Museveni changing the LRA/NRA war narrative? On the face of it, it just looks like he is after winning votes but the real danger is transferring responsibility of the perpetuators of this heinous crime; another danger is misleading the public on who are victims and who are perpetuators and from whom do victims cry for justice?

In my opinion, this political narrative may not represent a political reality; changing the narratives will only deny victims a chance to access justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

The concept of narratives has become very popular in academic discourse in various disciplines of humanity and social  sciences(Buthe,2002;Cornog,2004 et al) as the convictions that humans have a natural tendency to think in narrative form .

As a result, narrative patterns are a crucial tool for the study of human thought (Chafe, 1990). Hence, the ways we “story the world” contribute to our understanding of how we make meaning (Mishler, 1995:117).

In an effort to find meaning, identify roles of victors, victims and perpetuators; we need a truth telling commission instead of distorting the narrative to comply with their ideology as revolutionaries.

Narratives are too serious to be to be dismissed with cynicism. Changing the narratives will only help to insinuate a common narrative that Northern Uganda loves to rebel; hence painting us as sinners and the current leadership as saviors and the conflict as ethnic.

It reframes the role of the current government from perpetuators to victors hence denying the chance for victims to realize justice, find meaning and the truth through a truth and reconciliation commission.

Again in my opinion it’s only a truth and reconciliation commissions that can allow us know the truth, identify the different roles played by the different principles and the possibility for reconciliation and unity to take place in northern Uganda.

While the current narrative continuous to breed anger and frustration from victims who can’t make meaning from their experience nor find justice.

Conclusively, the message we expect from President Museveni to the people of northern Uganda is that of instituting a truth and reconciliation commission and not changing the narratives of the conflict in northern Uganda.

By David  Aliker. The writer is a local opinion leader based in Gulu and can be reached on mdaliker@gmail.com