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Posts Tagged ‘acholi

Uganda, a brief history

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This is the story of Uganda the way I understand it to be.  If you have things to add, please leave comments and I’ll update it.

The British are coming, the British are coming!

Uganda was colonized by the British in the 1890’s.  The two dominate and largest tribes in the area were the Lugandans (source of the name Uganda) in the south and the Acholi in the north.  The Brits gave governing duties to the Lugandan tribe and set up the Acholi tribe as the military force.

A house divided

As you might imagine, this division has deeply impacted Uganda’s development.  Resources are disproportionately allocated with heavy favoritism to the southern parts of Uganda.  Current President Museveni is of Lugandan heritage and that doesn’t hurt.  Kampala is a bustling city while 66% of the Acholi in the north live on less than USD $1/day.

In the north, a witch who had mysterious visions and believed she could not be killed by gunfire began amassing a rebel following of Acholi in the north.  There are several accounts (from both sides) of her walking calmly through the battle field between opposing gunfire.  She passed power in the rebel army to a man named Joseph Kony.

Unconventional warfare

Kony, a total savage, invented a thing called “child solidiers” whereby he would steal young children from the villages of his own people in northern Uganda and force them into military service.  There are accounts of children being given guns and commanded to kill their parents.  Or, two brothers being forced to kill one or have the rebels kill both of them.  Little girls were abducted and used to carry supplies and raped.  All of the children are subjected to drugs, brainwashed and desenctized into killing machines.  Just horrible.

The villagers requested help from the Ugandan governement.  The government simply lacked the resources to defend the remote villages from Kony’s attacks, so they set up more concentrated camps in northern towns like Gulu.

Villagers had the option to leave their homes and stay in the camps for protection and over 1 million people did just this.  Once Kony’s rebel army was disbanded, they would simply return home.

Yeah, that was 22 years ago.  WTF!?

You now have an entire generation of young people who’ve grown up in what have come to be known as IDP (internally displaced people) camps.  Since land rights were part of an oral tradition shared between neighboring families, many no longer know where family’s land was let alone how to farm it leavning most with no skills whatsoever.  All they know is that rice shows up on a truck everyday.

Going back

The word on the street is that Kony is on the verge of signing a peace treaty with the Ugandan goverment.  Even if this is done, getting back to their villages would take years – assuming they could find their land.

They would need to send back a small group to plant.  Then, another to harvest.  Then, assuming a decent harvest, they could return with their families in the following year

Peace. Psych!

How do I know this process of return to the villages?  Easy.  Many have already attempted it 3 times.  You see over the last 22 years, Kony has signed and broken 3 peace agreements.  Each time it gets more difficult for people to believe the peace is going to last, so fewer people even attempt the move back.  Moving back to the villages is an extremely costly process for these families because many have no resources or savings.

NGOs to the resuce

Uganda’s story, which is lost on much of the main stream population, is known well by the NGOs (non-governmental organizations or non-profits).  In fact, Gulu, a town of only 20,000 residents is home to more than 120 international NGOs.  I’m told this is the most NGOs per capital of any town in the world.

Okay.  Now you’re up to date with everything I know about the situation.  Let’s see what else we can uncover in the coming days.


Written by thetyson

October 15, 2008 at 12:16 am