Kanyamunyu chooses to face Acholi Justice

“Matthew Kanyamunyu requested court to halt his murder trial to allow time to complete the traditional justice process and added that he will seek the Judiciary’s Plea Bargain mechanism that provides for a lenient sentence upon confession of guilt… Kanyamunyu wants court to allow him first complete the Acholi traditional reconciliation mechanism locally known as mato oput.”

Daily Monitor

From a cultural anthropological perspective this is a very exciting development, whatever and however the conclusion of the case against Kanyamunyu for the capital offence of murdering Kenneth Watmon Akena.

That Kanyamunyu and his family have accepted to subjugate to the Restorative Justice System of the Acholi First Nation of Uganda, in particular its Mato Oput mechanism, while they themselves are not Acholi is an important development. This is huge.

And more so, in light of the fact that the Kanyamunyu family has close ties with the current President of the Republic of Uganda and with whom they share lineage of being members of the Banyankole First Nation of Uganda, but nevertheless they have subjugated to Mato Oput. This is huge.

It is vindication that pre-colonisation our ancestors were truly civilized and that the natural evolution of our superior African civilisations and knowledge systems were brutishly interrupted and negatively impacted by the colonial project, but sustained nevertheless. This is huge.

I look forward to the day when my fellow Ugandans, in particular, and my fellow Africans, as a whole, decolonize our minds to the extent that it becomes the norm for our journalists and media houses to cease to report about our civilizations through the lens of our colonizers, past and present.

For example, Mato Oput is Mato Oput. It is unnecessary to refer to it as a “mechanism locally known as Mato Oput,” as does the Daily Monitor. Mato Oput, its Acholi name, is its only name, internationally and otherwise.

Yes, I wish for the Daily Monitor to reach an awakening that makes it realise that it should not be its practice to describe the Restorative Justice System of the Acholi First Nation of Uganda nor of any other first nation of Uganda as “traditional.”

The branding: “traditional,” in the context of Uganda, is generally believed encoded with the message “this is inferior to the modern”; and the “modern” often being that of the global-west.

Thus, the reference “traditional justice,” as used by the Daily Monitor, encodes the Acholi Justice System as inferior to the punitive justice system of the nation-state Uganda; the later essentially being a bastardized version of the justice system of the English, they that prior colonized us.

The punitive justice system of the nation-state Uganda, moreover, is characteristically unable to bring true healing to Akena’s family; while, Mato Oput is characteristically designed to do.

May Mato Oput bring true healing to Akena’s family, Kanyamunyu and his family, I pray.

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