Thursday, June 25, 2009

Starting at the very beginning

I was running this morning and had quite a revelation! I usually take the time during my morning runs to solve all the world’s problems…the problem is, I can’t remember the solutions when I return. But, I am sure if I could remember them, they would be quite effective. One constant worry I have had since I returned was what to do with this blog. It seemed weird to just stop writing. After all, the trip has really just begun! I have “created a monster” in Gulu and I just can’t pretend that the “monster” is not living all around me just because I am in Texas and not Gulu. The Hope for Africa Vocational Training Centre has started and it has to go on in spite of me. Or, perhaps it is better said, to spite me! Regardless, I am committed to the school and to the hundreds of people who are anxious to walk through the doors of the classroom and emerge with a trade that will provide support, both monetary and emotional, for the rest of their lives. The most important revelation that I had when running was that I was going to have to keep up this blog. And, as I thought about what the blog’s intention is, I came to another realization that this blog has really been insufficient. It is insufficient in the sense that what I have written has been, in a sense, akin to asking someone to open a book in the middle and have a full understanding of the beginning of the text. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there is a book in the world, save Moby Dick, that a person could open and have a full understanding of what the heck is going on. So, I think it appropriate for us to start at the beginning…in the immortal words of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, “a very good place to start.” Ahem. Many of you may already know that the people of northern Uganda, primarily the Acholi Tribe, have suffered the ravages of a war that began in 1986. The current president, Museveni a southerner, over threw the northern Uganda-led government. Museveni overthrew Obote, a northerner, who had been overthrown by Idi Amin and who returned to overthrow Imin. Confused? I don’t blame you. Stability is not a “staple” of the Ugandan government. Suffice it to say, Museveni really had no love for the Acholi. In fact, he didn’t care if this group lived or died as they were supporters of the northern regime. Because of his disinterest, a group known as the “Holy Spirit Movement” that was led by a woman by the name of Alice Lakwena who combined Christianity and Acholi witchcraft to garner a renegade group of dissatisfied army soldiers to fight against the newly-formed government emerged to become a modern-day “Joan of Arc” in Uganda . Alice Lakwena was an Acholi prophet who claimed she could decipher messages from the spiritual world. She was brazen, at best. She advised tribesmen and women, even though they were completely unarmed, to oppose all governmental intervention in the Acholi territory. Known locally as "Alice," she also advised her followers to protect themselves against bullets by simply smearing tabs of cooking oil on the skin. The spirits told her that the oil would repel the bullets. Also, she told the people that stones or bottles they threw at government troops would turn into hand grenades. Many of her followers were killed in confrontations, and many others found means to get guns to reinforce their so-called, “spiritual armor.” Interestingly, she led her army of nearly 10,000 to within days of the capital city of Kampala before they were defeated and she fled, on bicycle, to Kenya where she was arrest and imprisoned. However, her nephew, Joseph Kony, picked up where she started. Let’s leave our Moby Dick here for now. Tomorrow, I will give some details about her nephew, Joseph Kony, and his rise to fame as the new leader of the “pack,” known as the “Lord’s Resistance Army.”

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