IRCU, in a bid to assess the impact of the recent Busoga GBV prevention media campaign in creating peace and communities in Busoga talked to the campaign’s champions (Sheihk Sinani Muwanika and Rev. Daniel Tokens Wejuli). The GBV programme assistant, Paschal Ericha talked to them. Below is the transcribed interview:
Name of interviewee: Sheikh Sinani Muwanika.
Pascal: How did you become involved with the project and what was your involvement in the project?
Sheikh Sinani Muwanika: Since the formation of IRCU in 2001, the organization has been addressing issues of common concern among Ugandans irrespective of their religious affiliations. Among the issues of common concern was HIV/Aids and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Before the formation of IRCU, each faith institution was addressing matters of common concern separately. As a result, other groups were left without services because individual lobbying was not easy. However, with the formation of IRCU, all religious institutions came together to have a collective voice in advocating for the common problems that are affecting their faith communities. IRCU undertook capacity building sessions for religious leaders for them to adequately address the socio-economic and political challenges affecting the country.
When the IRCU secured funds from Irish Aid to implement GBV interventions in Busoga sub-region in 2011, the Kadhi courts in region were re-energized and their capacity was enhanced. Even the religious leaders in Busoga sub-region elected me as chairman of the Inter-faith Network, Busoga sub-region. As chairman of the Inter-faith Network, as well as regional Kadhi, I have been able to mobilize fellow religious leaders in the region to advocate for peace in the family and the community.
Religious leaders have also integrated GBV in their preaching during worship days as well as other religious and social events wherever they are invited.
Religious leaders particularly the Muslim Sheikhs and Imams committed themselves never to officiate on child marriages.
Pascal: Can you share with us any significant change story that you have witnessed under the Kadhi court program?
Sheikh Sinani Muwanika: The Kadhi court program has been able to handle a number of cases which constitute change stories. There is a particular one involving a Muslim (Hajji Abdulkarim Babi) and non-Muslim (John) that brings so much pride in the way it was handled.
Hajji Abdulkarim Babi and John had come to an understanding that the latter gives the former 60 million shillings in exchange for his house. Initially John paid 18 million shillings and later gave another 8 million shillings. However, later Hajji Abdulkarim Babi changed his mind and informed John that he was no longer interested in selling his house to him and that he was ready to refund the money(26 million shillings) so far paid by John with interest. John accepted Hajji Abdulkarim’s request and went ahead to tell him to refund only the money he had given him (26 million shillings) but with no interest charged. However, after their agreement, Hajji Abdulkarim went into hiding and John could not trace his whereabouts.
Consequently, John took the matter to police and opened a file. Later John was informed about the existence of a district Kadhi court in Iganga. He approached me and registered his complaint against Hajji Abdulkarim. The district Kadhi court arranged for a meeting between the two parties to settle their problem. When appearing before the Kadhi court, Hajji Abdulkarim, who was in the company of his children, accepted that he owed John the money and even requested the Kadhi court to allow him pay the money in installments but through the chairman of the Kadhi court.
Hajji Abdulkarim paid only 850,000/= through the chairman of the Kadhi court and did not remit any more money. The district Kadhi later learnt that Hajji Abdulkarim had secretly reached an understanding with John to pay him directly as opposed to the earlier agreement of paying through me (in his capacity as district Kadhi). Hajji Abdulkarim took advantage of the secret agreement to stop paying John’s money which again prompted John to take the matter back to police, leading to the arrest of Hajji Abdulkarim. After Hajji Abdulkarim’s arrest, John informed me about the matter.
I informed John that he was to blame for causing Abdulkarim’s arrest without first informing me since the matter was before the Kadhi court. Even Hajji Abdulkarim’s children appealed to me to talk to John on their father’s behalf. I talked to John as the children had requested but he said he only wanted his money for Hajji Abdulkarim to be released.
On 05/06/2017, the district Kadhi court summoned John and Hajji Abdulkarim’s children. Appearing before court, John insisted that he only wanted his money back (the money was now amounting to 13 million shillings). Hajji Abdulkarim’s children agreed to pay back all John’s money on 10th/06/2017. The district Sharia court also resolved to forward the matter to the civil courts of law if Hajji Abdulkarim again refused to pay John’s money on the agreed date (10th/06/2017).
Pascal: What do we learn from this story, Sheikh?
Sheikh Sinani Muwanika: Both Muslims and non-Muslims should trust the Kadhi courts because cases are disposed of easily, in a short time, litigants speak freely unlike in the civil courts where one needs to hire the services of a lawyer. Therefore justice in the Kadhi courts is served at no cost.
I thank Irish Aid through IRCU for empowering Kadhi courts with equipment. I extend my sincere appreciation to IRCU for the continuous lobbying and advocacy activities geared towards improving the lives of the most vulnerable in the community.
Name of interviewee: Rev. Daniel Tokens Wejuli, the Diocesan Secretary, Busoga Central Diocese.
Pascal: How did you become involved with the project and what is your involvement in the project?
Rev. Daniel Tokens Wejuli: I got involved with the current project as a regular panelist during the radio talk shows organized by IRCU. Using the radio talk shows, the religious leaders have reached out to the community with messages advocating for peaceful and harmonious living in the families and communities using faith-based justice centers.
Pascal: Has there been any significant change you have witnessed while using media to popularize faith based justice centers?
Rev. Daniel Tokens Wejuli: Today there is feedback from the community during the live talk shows; others even call me on my mobile phone appreciating the messages on GBV prevention and response in the region. The message is good, timely and has created awareness of the existence of Faith Based Justice Centers as the best mechanisms for promoting peace in the family and community. The community has been sensitized about the referral pathways and the role of the (Joint Transition Programme) JTP implementing partners. If funds allow, I recommend for the media campaign to be taken to other radio stations outside Iganga so as to attract a wider coverage of GBV prevention and response messages.
Since religious leaders are people-based, the messages delivered through the radio talk shows give hope to families and communities. It also promotes calm and discipline in families and the community. Therefore if families and communities follow the messages communicated during the radio talk shows, we shall have peaceful families and communities. If peace prevails in families and communities, all male and female children will go to school and such families and communities will have time for development.
The media campaign is unique because it gives religious leaders opportunity to address a large audience from one single point and feedback is got through phone in sessions.
Unlike other functions like funerals, introduction and marriage ceremonies where religious leaders are always given less than 15 minutes to spread GBV prevention and response messages, the radio talk shows run for I hour uninterrupted.