Northern Uganda

This started as the on-line journal of Africa Anonymous while she was an Graduate Fellow researching and working in Northern Uganda. You gotta be good. You gotta be strong. You gotta be 2,000 places at once.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

All's Quiet on the Gulu Front

I have been unusually quiet this last week, I know. I waver between kind of sick and sick. I would prefer to just be violently ill for a few days and be done with it. On Tuesday I was eating my usual rice and beans during my lunch break when a Swedish woman (originally from Gulu) and a German PhD student who had just arrived from Kampala decided to join me. We chatted during our lunch and we were soon making plans to collaborate and link up for the week. Stefan, the PhD student, is staying at my hotel so we have been swapping research and contacts.

We teamed up to try to achieve some mutual objectives, including a visit to an IDP camp (internally displaced persons camp). I visited one when I first arrived to Gulu, but the experience was largely cosmetic and I wish to see the true conditions of the camps. It is estimated that an astounding 90% of the population in Northern Uganda have been displaced by the war. The Ugandan government initiated the camps, called “protected areas”, in its efforts to fight the LRA. While the government claims that they wanted people to leave their land, where they were self-sufficient, and gather in cramped camps without proper sanitation and other provisions so that they could better protect them from abductions and LRA incursions, the IDP camps have had the reverse effect. Thousands of people, mostly women and children, continued to be abducted from the camps during LRA efforts to strengthen their ranks and raid the camps’ food and resources. The camps situate the civilians in between the government army and the LRA rebels, essentially positioning civilians as human shields to both sides. There is also a conspiracy theory among some that the IDP camp campaign was really aimed at the government’s desire to confiscate Acholi lands, perhaps for oil (there is oil in Northern Uganda, but has yet to be fully explored). The bigger conspiracy theory is that the United States is funding the Ugandan government’s war in order to get its hands on more non-OPEC, non-Middle Eastern oil (the reason also given for the US supporting Southern Sudanese rebels, as their lands are oil-rich). While I recognize that the US government of course has its interests, and is indeed providing support to the Ugandan government, I think it is ridiculous to use the US as a scapegoat for the entire 18-year conflict. There is a lot of finger pointing, but nobody seems to want to take responsibility for their own roles.

So Stefan and I went on a wild goose chase on boda bodas from the Camp Commanders to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) and then to the World Food Program (WFP). We were told that we would be allowed to accompany the armed WFP convoy to Opit Camp, east of Gulu town. We wrote our little letters by hand and called up the local army to secure our clearance. It seemed to be too easy, and of course it was, because I got a call about a half hour before we were to depart telling us that the head of the WFP was refusing out request. We later found out that our rejection was primarily attributed to security concerns, as the camp we wanted to visit is in a fairly insecure region (though we would be in an armed convoy of the United Nations and the Ugandan army). Another possible dynamic of this rejection is corruption within the WFP, in which some food is distributed, but portions are taken back to Kampala and re-sold to WFP again. So naturally people wouldn’t want random mzungus to bear witness to this (note: this is just a rumor and I am not sure of its credibility). Another chance to visit a camp landed on my lap Friday afternoon and I went for it. We returned to the camp I first visited in Gulu, though this time it was spontaneous and without the hype of Peace Week. So we wandered through Unyama Camp, north of Gulu, for about an hour. We were told that over 20,000 people reside there, excluding the children (so my guess is about 27,000). The camp, and I am assuming due to its proximity to Gulu town, has not been attacked since 2003. We were well received by the camp’s residents and had the opportunity to get a glimpse of daily life: women brewing the local gin (called gulugulu, which smells of anise), men drinking the gulugulu, a young boy’s hut utilized as a convenient store, a woman spreading the cow dung mixture to make the floor of her hut, children playing and doing their various chores. The children, with the Sally Struthers swollen bellies of malnutrition, were so curious and incredibly photogenic. They shouted monu!, the Acholi version of mzungu, and rubbed my arm to see if the white would rub off onto their fingers.

So it was a good experience, but continues to raise so many questions in my mind about this war. The more I dig, the more complicated it all becomes. We had dinner with our contact that escorted us to the camp, along with his first wife (he has two), sister and baby boy. This man worked closely with a renowned Swedish anthropologist who paid him a sum of money intended to finance a house – instead he took the money to get himself another wife. We surfed around talk of religion (Born Agains, Catholicism, Agnosticism), polygamy, and even details of the 2002 Ebola outbreak in Gulu town (yikes!).

Tomorrow I will take a few days to go to Kampala for some interviews. I hope the break from Gulu might also have a therapeutic effect on my health. Next week I might go with Lina to Kitgum, which is a district northeast of Gulu. We are investigating the security and I am pulling for ACORD to pay for us to fly, as I am not sure the bus is worth the risk. The districts of Gulu, Kitgum, and most of all Pader, continue to experience insecurity due to LRA and government troop activity. I think the rhetoric of peace is still a bit premature.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Gulu to the West

This picture is at sunset in the west part of Gulu, toward the direction of Congo. It is difficult to get pictures because I have to be in stealth mode, as people don't seem fond of being caught in the view of my camera.

Kelly, Better late than never, I guess! -- DBB

Saturday, October 23, 2004

UN Urges End to Ugandan 'Horror'

UN urges end to Ugandan 'horror'
Northern Uganda is suffering the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world with 20,000 children caught up in a war, the United Nations has warned. The UN's head of humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, urged countries to do more to end what he called a "litany of horrors" stretching back 18 years. The conflict has displaced about 1.6 million people, said Mr Egeland.
However, Uganda's ambassador to the UN said his country was winning the war, adding: "We don't need the UN." Frances Butagira said many commanders of the rebel militia known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has been fighting government forces in the area since 1986, had been captured or killed.

100,000 deaths
20,000 children abducted and used as fighters or sex slaves
1.6m people displaced
40,000 "night commuters" - people who flee their homes by night to avoid raids
Sources: Jan Egeland, news agencies
"We shall win the war and soon," he told BBC News.
He added: "We don't need peacekeepers. We just want assistance as we wind up the [rebel] camps." Mr Egeland was briefing the UN Security Council on the Uganda conflict. He said that peace in neighbouring Sudan might have a positive effect. "There is a peace process in Sudan which can have a positive spill over because the war in Sudan had a negative spill over earlier on the conflict in northern Uganda," Mr Egeland told reporters after the briefing. Driven from homes the LRA has been replenishing its ranks with abducted children and the International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes committed by the rebels, thought to have used bases in Sudan.
Their leader, Joseph Kony, says he is fighting for the rights of local people but observers say he has won little support in a war which has seen mass abduction and rape.
Mr Egeland took heart at the fact that the Security Council had "devoted so much time" to the crisis when he addressed it at a closed hearing on Thursday.
However, the UN's emergency relief coordinator stressed that world governments had to pay greater attention, provide more aid and put more pressure on the parties to end the conflict.
Some 80% of LRA fighters are children and about 90% of the local population have been driven from their homes, he said.
"We hope that... we are now seeing a beginning of an end to this endless litany of horrors where children are the fighters and the victims in northern Uganda," Mr Egeland said.
But Mr Butagira said the timing of Mr Egeland's words was unhelpful given the government successes in the war.
Peace efforts
On Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni described the rebels as a crushed force.
But the attacks on innocent civilians have not ended and each night, tens of thousands of children walk long distances into urban centres to sleep the night to avoid abduction by the LRA.
The BBC's Will Ross in Kampala says that most people living in northern Uganda call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, partly because the military option has failed before.
But they also want their abducted sons and daughters back home alive, whatever crimes they have been forced to commit.
Attempts to hold peace talks have been made before but with so little trust between the two sides, they have broken down.
Our reporter says that with the LRA under military pressure, now is perhaps the best time to try and talk the rebels out of the bush.
But despite Mr Egeland's call, for now the government seems determined to fight on.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, October 22, 2004

Home sweet Hotel Roma

Thank you for the comments on my last entry! It makes my day to get your feedback, even if you are laughing at my misfortune. Yes, this week has been quite stressful for me: giardia and an undesirable housing situation. Both have caused significant anxiety and loss of productivity at work. On Monday I paid three months rent to a landlord, not to mention house furnishings, expecting to get an apartment suitable for living. He kept claiming to be “working” on getting things fixed (electricity and what not), but he eventually evaded my calls and left me in the dark all together (literally). This blatant disrespect, in addition to the fact that I feel plain lousy, left me doubting the whole situation and I even decided to spend a night or two back in a hotel to get proper rest. My primary frustration was that this guy had me totally move into this apartment (remember at night without electricity) without it being properly prepared and then seemed bewildered that I was getting so angry that he was leaving me hanging. On Thursday morning I made up my mind that the best thing would be for me to just get out of this situation all together, as I was not comfortable, in addition to the fact that I was then paying for both an apartment AND a hotel. Enter Lina. Remember Lina? She was my savior when I first arrived in Gulu but she has been abroad in Austria for much of the time I have been here. She is so smart and energetic – I have really missed her presence this last month. In fact, she was only in Gulu for a few hours Thursday morning but the woman gets things done! I filled her in on what had happened and I instantly knew that she would not rest until the mess was rectified, as she proclaimed: “The one thing I hate is injustice!” She accompanied me to meet the landlord (since he wasn’t answering my calls, I had to confront him in person) and she dug into him, dropping her status as a former magistrate. Her legal training was apparent, and more importantly, she was pivotal in getting the man to return my money. So we went to the apartment, removed all my belongings, and went back to the good old Hotel Roma, where I was so warmly received (“you are most welcome!” and “you are our sister/daughter”). Why was I so anxious to leave my Roma family? At least when the power is out here, I know the generator will be going for a couple hours in the evening, and when there is no running water, somebody will provide me with an ample supply. And my new discovery is if I leave any clothes aside, they show up washed and pressed!

I am disregarding the expense of my hotel and putting the housing issue on the backburner for now - at least until I feel well again. I am clinging to my toilet more than ever.

So I have been taking my drugs (I do love that you can just walk into a pharmacy and request whatever drug and in whatever quantity you desire – 30 pills for my illness cost 600 shillings or about 35 cents), eating trees of bananas, and resting. Giardia (or the animal, as it was termed in Kigali), if that is in fact what I have, leaves you feeling completely fatigued, heavy headed and without an appetite. I am frustrated because I know that it can take weeks to kick this. I am too lethargic to even lift my arms above my head. Well, at least it is curbing my unquenched cardio cravings. The only positive development is that the nausea has subsided. Boo-hoo, right? This update is a bit self-indulgent but there has got to be better news ahead…

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Dude, where's my toilet?

When one is traveling or living in Africa, or elsewhere for that matter, they come to expect that the old GI track will be a little off from time to time. I had managed to avoid any signs of ill health up to this point, but it appears that something has made its way into my system. Yesterday morning I woke up a bit nauseous and sure enough my head was soon in the toilet. This morning it was the same. I am incredibly fatigued, have no appetite, and feel lousy overall. My work colleagues are encouraging the old malaria test, but the symptoms are more reminiscent of the giardia bug I had in Rwanda last year (which by the way lasted SEVERAL weeks). And besides, aren’t my anti-malarial drugs that I take every morning supposed to PREVENT malaria?

Despite feeling ill, I succeeded in my quest for an apartment; however I think I was perhaps overly anxious. After many delays and annoyances, the landlord hack sawed the lock off the apartment and let me in last night. The electricity was out. There is no furniture, save for my new foam mattress. I had managed to get myself a flashlight just a few hours earlier and was later thankful as it was one long, dark night in my concrete box. Now while I maintain that I am low maintenance, I have never claimed to be a real “roughing it” kind of gal. The only camping I have undertaken is the kind where you drive up to a little square plot, put up your tent and pull out the cooler. So I do have some minimum standards, and one of those being a TOILET. I felt my heart sink as I flashed a light into the bathroom, only to notice the hole in the ground. I didn’t want to admit this, but I got in the habit of planning my day around being able to use my nice Hotel Roma toilet – my horrible knees are my scapegoat. But I suppose when in Africa…So last night I hung out with my flashlight, on my mattress, eating just bananas and a few cookies for dinner.

So the place is empty. No toilet (in case you didn’t catch that), no stove, no counters or anything of the sort. A group of demobilized former LRA rebels are actually welding me a bed as we speak (at a price, of course). Catherine, of GWENET, is super generous and will loan me a table and some chairs, as buying furniture in Gulu is impressively expensive and unnecessary given the short period of time I will be residing here. This morning I finally figured out that everybody has electricity but me. I flipped some of the circuit switches, which resulted in a fizzing sound, followed by a flood of smoke and sparks - Oopsies! So I decided to call the landlord and am waiting as we speak for the electrician to show up and do his work (he was supposed to be there at 3 and it is now approaching 5, so it’s a good thing I didn’t leave work). I am not holding my breath and anticipate at least a few more nights in the dark on the ground. Perhaps I should have been a little more patient and remained in the hotel until everything was figured out. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Getting Closer

If I was dying for a place to settle a month ago, imagine the ants in my pants now! While the Roma Hotel right in the heart of Gulu has been good to me (and I must say, it is my Cheers, where nobody knows my name but everybody knows the mzungu), I need my own space. Besides, I don’t want to overstay my welcome and need to get out of my eating rut: rice and beans and plain omelets – of course with African tea (tea brewed with steamed milk – most Africans pour a bucket of sugar in each cup). I need to shake it up. I keep getting close to my goal, but apparently there are a number of hoops a person must pass through to secure a place to stay. The word on the street is that I will meet this landlord for a flat I looked at two weeks ago and be able to move ahead with the process, though I have to devise a way to come up with three months rent from Gulu, where I am not sure if money can be exchanged. I can say that I have zero desire to get back on a bus to Kampala for as long as I can avoid it (I long for the order and timeliness of Rwandan minibuses).

Earlier this week I went to visit a sister at Catholic Relief Services. It was certainly out in the boon docks, but it is always so pleasing to drive, or more accurately 4x4, through different areas of Gulu. It is simply beautiful: lush trees, dirt roads, little huts, women bent at the waist doing the washing and children running. I also saw the government army barracks, enclosed by barbed wire fencing. Anthony, the driver for ACORD, told me that the fence is lined with land mines, so to say the least, I shall not be taking a walk in this area of Gulu, and I wonder if there has been any outreach to let the surrounding communities in on this bit of information. On my way back from my visit, I saw a Mamba (I suppose it is an armored vehicle) and several large trucks with government soldiers excessively armed escorting a World Food Program truck (keep in mind that the rebels are very hungry and could potentially attack for food and sustenance). These are little reminders that I am in fact living in a “war zone”. Not to mention the fact that people in Kampala look at me with “shock and awe” when I tell them where I am living (see, here is an appropriate use of “shock and awe”). This shock seems to stem from a general lack of information that the southerners have about the experiences of the north, which in turn is another manner in which the conflict is perpetuated. My work colleagues also tell me that I don’t fit into the general American stereotype. I ask them what they mean and I am told that most Americans are proud and very security-conscience, generally refusing to work (in Gulu) without armed guards or a secured building. I have personally not met another American in Gulu, but I was amused at the typecasting, as I am content with our little office building on the edge of town where you never know when a goat will pop in.

I am getting people onto my women and peacebuilding bandwagon. We shall see if the rhetoric is met with action, but I am organizing a forum for people and organizations to share information and to collaborate. I paid a visit to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gulu University and it looks like I might indeed have the opportunity to do some teaching, namely on gender and conflict or women’s human rights. It is a great opportunity, and I do love an audience, but admittedly I am a bit nervous about it.

This week I was reflecting on the fact that I haven’t seen David in awhile. I was hoping this meant that he got himself into one of numerous programs for children here in Gulu where he can get fed, shelter, and some education. As I was eating my dinner out on the veranda Friday night I heard that familiar voice saying, “It’s me, David.” I can barely see him out in the darkness, but notice he has his buddies with him. I ask him how he is and he gives me the reply he always has: “Not fine. I must speak to you.” I relent, leave my table and go out to speak to him, firmly telling him once again that he must join one of these programs. While I believe that David, as a boy (I am guessing 12), should not have to take care of himself alone, I also recognize that there have been cultural changes in the youth due to the war. As so many children have been independent of their parents (if their parents have been killed, if they are commuting to Gulu for protection, if the children have been abducted or if they are combatants, etc.), they no longer respect their elders or authority and may not necessarily want to give up their freedom – especially when children have been so cruelly let down throughout the course of this conflict. Many children in this region have learned that you get what you want through the use of force. So reasoning that perhaps David has not really attempted one of these programs I have mentioned, I tell him that he must take responsibility for himself (though wincing inside as I just wish he had a parent or relative who would take care of him). I once again reiterate that I cannot help him, but that he will be assisted in the manner he needs if he just seeks out a program. I hope the next time I see him it will be under better circumstances but I just don’t know…

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

NY Times Article on N.Uganda

Thank you to Momma Fish and Kerri for letting me know about this article. Please read. It is related to the book I told you all to read, Aboke Girls, which tells about the abduction of numerous girls from their bording school in Northern Uganda.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The mzungu who fell in a hole

I’ve just returned from my Kampala journey – I stayed longer due to Independence Day holiday (didn’t need to risk drunks on the road). I have to say that it feels good to come back to Gulu - I suppose a sign that it is my home now. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 this morning, expecting to get to the bus park early to catch a 7:00am bus. When I was directed to a bus that was empty, I knew that I was in for an extended journey. Buses don’t depart until they are full, and I mean FULL. Of course I ask the driver when we will be departing and he says 8:00. Fine. 8:00 passes, 9:00 passes. The heat is rising, I am packed like a sardine on this bus, sweating and smelling the body odors of my neighbors when, finally, at almost 10:00am (and I have been waiting since 6:30) the bus starts up. That is how a four-hour journey turns to eight in Uganda. I am just thankful that this time I didn’t have to share my foot space with a scary live chicken, as I did on the way to Kampala. We also got to watch a Nigerian film called Before the Wedding, in which three male friends try to con women into sleeping with them. They do so by telling the women that they will marry them, but only if they will sleep with them first – the men justify their requests by stating that they must be sure that these women can conceive. So no wedding before a bun is in the oven and strangely women are so eager to be married that they give in. I am afraid that there won’t be a conclusion until I have the chance to see Before the Wedding II.

I don’t know if it was my strange mindset last week or what, but I was perpetually accident-prone in Kampala. As I was leaving a meeting on Wednesday, I thought I had looked before crossing the road, but nearly got ran over. I was looking the wrong way. I can’t seem to adjust to this whole driving on the left-hand side and opt to take my frustration out on those no good British imperialists and their left-sided ways. Then there are these huge marabou birds that glide over Kampala. One might think, how lovely, but these nasty birds feast on the city trash. So I am on my way to meet somebody for lunch, and I take notice of a bunch of marabous hanging out in the trees. I contemplate getting a picture but decide that I better get onto my meeting. As I am walking I felt a little something on my arm, and sure enough one of those dirty birds let loose on my shirt and arm. Finally, on Friday night I was leaving a shopping center (ok, a mall) as night was setting in and I hurriedly made my way towards my next destination (Indian food – yes I ate it three of the four days). I was trying to walk with confidence (as if this will prevent anybody from messing with me) and I am making my way across a median when, yes, I fall in a hole. Literally. I quickly laugh aloud at myself, brush myself off and stumble on only to fall again onto my knees. I look up and see a bus stop full of people smirking at the idiot mzungu. Terrific.

But overall, Kampala was a good little break. Most of my tentative meetings and work plans fell through, but I managed a few productive activities. My little hotel was apparently located right near a karaoke joint, so I got to hear Ugandans belt out Lionel Richie, Celine Dion and other hits of the 80s and early 90s. While I am myself a big fan of Lionel, I really did appreciate the Boys II Men renditions. The Motown Philly memory is alive and well in Africa – there are Boys II Men Saloons (barbershops) in both Kigali and Gulu.

I have officially concluded the Ugandan police are to traffic violations as the Boulder police are to underage drinking. Just prior to my arrival, the city of Kampala converted all the downtown streets to one ways and police are vigilant about parking violations. Seatbelts and helmets for boda boda drivers are also the rage. Every time the bus is stopped by the police (I know I am stating this so nonchalantly, but it happens frequently) everybody goes digging for their seatbelts. In Gulu, the police sit around all day looking for minor violations to pass their time.

And yes, this weekend Uganda celebrated 42 years of independence from the British (and why not show true independence by driving on the RIGHT hand side of the road?). Several articles in the papers have expressed, no matter how politically incorrect, that some Ugandans feel that things were better under colonial administration than they are now. After Idi Amin, Milton Obote, the horrid Joseph Kony and the LRA, I can sympathize with where these folks are coming from.

I am tired from the heat and travel, so I shall close. I anticipate a few weeks of heavy work, and just maybe, I will be moving into a flat...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Glimpse of Gulu

Some of you have asked about Gulu – the geography and other such details. Aside from the fact that Gulu is in the midst of a rainy season, the climate is very hot and dry (which is mzungu for where is the pool?). I am told the rainy season will end come November, when the dry heat is supposed to be accompanied by heavy winds. Tonight was the first clear night I have seen and the stars are simply spectacular. The storms are equally impressive - the vibration of the thunder and the pounding of the rain on the tin roof have awoken me a number of nights. And with the rain comes constant power outages. Actually, I think that there are frequent outages regardless of the weather. And as I experienced this morning, there can be water outages as well. One quickly learns to adapt.

How to describe the landscape? It is flat with trees, many palm. The streets are dusty, the fields green. Now that is an elementary description, eh? But there really is no way to describe without the smells, the sounds, and the feel. The main streets are paved, but packed with boda bodas or motorcycle taxis, occasional herds of cattle, random chickens or goats, bicycle taxis, women with baskets on their heads, children with jerry cans of water, cars, and serious SUV and transport trucks. As far as the town center is concerned, it is just a small grid of straight streets, the size reminiscent of a petite Colorado mountain town with a market stocked with produce and everything else imaginable in the center. The surrounding areas of the town are clusters of African-style round huts and other ad hoc homes – all on near impossible roads. I am still struck by the geography when traveling around my little town: Sudan not too far to the north, Congo to the west, Kenya to the east, and Lake Victoria and Kampala to the south. I need to take more pictures, however the last time I attempted a man who was no where near the view of my camera started screaming at me to not take his picture.

I am accustomed to the near constant attention when walking down the street – Rwanda was good practice. Some people just stare with mouths gaping, some walk by normally and then stop short to do a double take, others (typically children) are eager to ask how I am doing, a few will walk by me without a word and then once I have passed will shout “HOW ARE YOU?” at my backside. I decided that if people are always staring at the mzungu woman walking around town (that would be me), what difference would it make if I were jogging instead of walking? So despite the knee pain, I did manage a short jog. Along the way, a man with a bicycle taxi asks, “Madame, can I please give you a lift,” to which I reply, “No thank you, I am exercising.” He ponders this for a moment and then nods, “Ah, exercise.” And I carry on my way.

I am in the midst of a work identity crisis, as apparently a few organizations had the expectation that I would be working with them. Before my arrival I had networked with a number of individuals, but only formally established an official affiliation with the University of Gulu. When I arrived, Lina instantly got me set up at ACORD, so I reasoned that I would work between the university (which involves teaching and possible curriculum development) and ACORD (the two are already linked). Now I will also attempt to also assist the Gulu Women’s Empowerment Network (GWENET) - this organization is led by two women, Catherine and Francissy, who seem eager to work with me (more to come about them later) - in capacity building and trainings. While it is great that so many people are interested in my skills (or is it my free labor?), I am struggling to establish a way to divide my time between the different interests without stepping on toes (and mind you that organizations are quite competitive over resources). So now I foresee doing my side projects with the University and GWNET in addition to a comprehensive research project with ACORD that would benefit all (local women’s groups, other non-governmental organizations, the government and the international community at large) and serve as a roadmap for future projects aiming to integrate women into peacebuilding (justice, reconciliation, economic reconstruction, HIV/AIDS, governance, etc.). Needless to say, I must get over my guilt and expectation that I can help everybody, and perhaps most of all, I must learn to incorporate the word NO into my everyday vocabulary. Excuse the digression, as this may seem a bunch of gibberish.

I enjoyed a relaxing weekend but I suppose there is no other type of weekend to be had in Gulu. I continue to be disappointed with housing leads, so I am keeping a low profile on that front (though I just saw an apartment that looks promising). With my trip to Kampala tomorrow it may be a few days until I post again – that is unless I can get a poolside internet connection. AND, I hope you are all as excited as I am that there is finally a visual up on my blog! While I wish I could take the praise for this endeavor, the credit all goes to one techmaster in Denver (DBB).

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Maybe Not Efficient, But Effective

For the time being, it looks like pictures from Kelly are going to have to make their way to the web via the U.S.
"[This] is a picture from the internally displaced persons camp that I visited. These girls were abducted by the LRA but were able to escape. They are now living at the camp. Here they are performing an Acholi traditional dance."
Keep the pictures coming, Kelly --

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Re: Posting comments to my blog

Chante brought it to my attention that people are having to register with blogger to be able to post comments. To eliminate the hassle, I have changed my settings so now you are free to post with ease. Thank you to those who have already commented and I hope that others will be encouraged to follow suit.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Pre-Weekend News

This is just a quick note before the weekend - I can’t seem to stay away.

October 1st always sticks in my brain as it was on this day in 1990 that the Rwandan Patriotic Front launched its invasion into Rwanda from Uganda. Random trivia you may need one day.

The news in Gulu today: Joseph Kony is allegedly about 25 kilometers from the town of Gulu and narrowly escaped a government attack on his group of rebels. He has apparently crossed back into Uganda from Southern Sudan, as Ugandan government forces continue to attack LRA bases in Sudan. You always have to take the local media with more than a grain of salt, but it is strange to be so close to where the conflict continues to be waged (but please, no worries, I am more than secure). This man seems to always narrowly escape death, though numerous top commanders and those closest to Kony have been killed or captured in recent months, including three of his wives, several of his children and his personal doctor, so perhaps his time will come soon. Capturing or killing Kony could really be the key to dismantling the LRA insurgency for good.

The power has been out since Wednesday – Gulu is powered from Jinja, the source of the Nile. I managed to soak up a few hours of electricity last night, but sure enough it went out again. My new hotel powered up the generator for a bit so I was able to catch some BBC in the restaurant – I was dying to see the debate, but the time zones are not conducive (so if anybody wants to email me about it, I welcome it).

No electricity means no hot water. I got to relive my early Rwanda days, bathing from a bucket of water. I still got skill. This morning I went to meet Anthony, the driver for ACORD, in town to catch a lift to the office. I didn’t realize that he was taking his little girl to see a doctor, as the poor darling has malaria. Malaria remains a huge health issue in Africa and continues to kill millions of people. Like AIDS, in addition to ailing or killing millions of Africans, it takes away from the productive labor force of the country. It is difficult if not impossible to develop without a healthy population. As my colleague Jimmy and I went to lunch today we drove by his 92 year-old grandfather and Jimmy reflected on the fact that if you live to be 40 in Africa you are an old man these days. In the old days, without modern medicine, Africans lived so much longer. What changed?

I waited around all afternoon to meet this guy to view a house – my work colleague was an hour late getting me there and the man’s phone was unresponsive, so the search for a home continues. In addition, the computer that I have done all my work on at the office has suddenly stopped functioning, taking my hard work with it! But that is life in Africa. I will be taking it easy this weekend in Gulu. I plan to head to Kampala next week for work and play - ok, really to drink lattes and eat chicken vindaloo with naan.