Music and Conflict Transformation

Since 2006, I’ve been involved with music advocacy in northern Uganda. Through generous funding from the Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame and under the supervision of renowned peacebuilder John Paul Lederah, I have begun a new study on music and conflict transformation in the Acholi sub-region that will run for the next year.

The study, titled “Music and Conflict Transformation: Emergent Themes and Perceptions in Northern Uganda,” aims to better understand how a variety of musical genres emergent during northern Uganda’s periods of violence (namely 1986 to date) have contributed to constructive change in individuals affected by conflict and in dimensions of relational, structural, and cultural change.

It will be divided into two phases. Phase One is an analysis of conflict-related music and will involve collecting, translating, transcribing, coding, and analyzing approximately 20 hours of previously recorded and unrecorded Acholi music. This phase will provide greater insight into the content and context of popular conflict-related music in Acholi-land. Phase Two will take place later in the year and will involve interviews and focus group discussions with local artistes and community members in two sub-counties in Acholi to determine the perceived impact of conflict-related music on conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

The study will form the basis of my Master’s capstone project and a final report will be available in May 2014.

As if it couldn’t get any better, the study will be in partnership with Music for Peace (MfP), an initiative my husband (Jeff Opiyo aka Jeff Korondo) and I founded with another northern artist Jahria Okwera in 2009 to promote music as a forum to generate dialogue and raise awareness on issues affecting war-affected societies. MfP promotes the power of music in peacebuilding and builds solidarity among artistes from conflict and post-conflict areas in Africa. We’re in the process of launching a new website for MfP, but in the meantime, you can learn about our past initiatives at

Stay tuned for updates as we launch Phase One later this month!

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