A Look at Duke Divinity Programs in Uganda

Printer-friendly version
Friday, August 12, 2011

President Richard H. Brodhead accompanied a group from Duke Divinity School and Duke Global Health Institute in July to see programs in Uganda that partner with Duke University.

Emmanuel Katongole, associate professor of world Christianity and the senior strategist for the Duke Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, hosted the global outreach delegation led by Brodhead and also leaders from the Great Lakes Initiative at Bethany House. The house is a refuge Katongole created on the shores of Lake Victoria to promote reflection and dialogue among leaders from African countries.

The delegation included the Divinity School’s David Toole, associate dean and senior director at Leadership Education; Caroline Hope Griffith, coordinator for African initiatives; and Gann Herman, program coordinator at Center for Reconciliation.

Here’s what some of the Duke delegation and African leaders had to say:

Emmanuel Katongole presided over Mass attended by President Brodhead at Christ the King Catholic Church in Kampala, Uganda. It was the first church that Katongole served as a young priest in 1987. Katongole said, “The Center for Reconciliation’s Great Lakes Initiative lifts up and illuminates signs of hope, of new creation, throughout East Africa, and one of these signs is the overflowing churches in Uganda, the hunger of people for God’s peace.”

In his homily, based on Romans 8 and Matthew 13, Katongole preached, “The pain and lament in our world must not hold us in despair, but rather our groans are giving birth to God’s new creation. We wait in hope for the reconciliation of all God’s people.”

Katongole later welcomed the Duke delegation to Bethany House, in Entebbe, Uganda. There, at the invitation of Katongole, Brodhead planted a pomegranate tree. Brodhead wrote about the experience on his blog: “Father Katongole invited me to plant a pomegranate tree in the garden of Bethany House. Thanks to him, I have had my chance to get my hands dirty and plant something for future growth – a small symbolic echo of the work being done by Duke students and faculty in Uganda, Tanzania, and around the world.”

At Bethany House, the group from Duke met members of the Great Lakes Initiative (GLI) and listened to them describe its impact on their work for peace and reconciliation in Africa.

Angelina Atyam of Lira, Uganda, is the patron and mentor of Concerned Children and Youth Association, which advocates for peace, forgiveness and children’s rights in northern Uganda.

“When the war goes, fire keeps burning below; peace does not come just because the guns go silent,” she said. “Peace comes with the hard work of deep forgiveness and practical faith that transforms lives. GLI is going to the bottom to build peace by quenching the burning coals.”

David Otim, who coordinates peacebuilding programs for Mennonite Central Committee in Uganda, said that the Great Lakes Initiative captures stories of hope that are rarely heard in the region and creates opportunities for young leaders to be mentored by more seasoned leaders from across East Africa. “We do not often find such opportunities. Great Lakes Initiative is a wonderful gift to us,” he said.

David Kasali, president of the Congo Initiative and rector of Bilingual Christian University of the Congo in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, talked about the suffering in his country. He described a camp in Goma, like the biblical leprosy camps, filled with women exiled there because they were so physically wounded by rape. “So we start our work with lament,” he said, “the groans of those who long for new creation.” GLI is bringing together “visible signs of what we hope for, so that we have no choice to run away, we must stay with God and God’s reconciling people in order to see God’s new creation birthed.”

Wilfred Mlay of Tanzania, retired vice president of World Vision Africa, is GLI’s regional ambassador to encourage Christian leaders. Mlay shared his story of his despair at the continuing wars and poverty in Africa, his hunger to see long-term, significant change, and his joy in relationships with GLI leaders, who remind him that it is God’s story and God’s intention to reconcile us all.

Read more about President Brodhead’s trip in “President Brodhead Visits Duke Divinity Programs in Uganda” and “Reflections on Duke in Africa.”