August 22, 2006

Forgotten Even in Kampala

Forgotten Even in Kampala

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people in the South are indiffferent or unsympathetic to the crisis. But they are a bit ambivalent. It has no direct bearing on their lives.

Alicia Simoni, in an email to Open Source, August 8, 2006.

On the show tonight, you’ll hear two voices with intimate knowledge of the crisis in Northern Uganda. Alicia Simoni can’t give that perspective. She’s working towards an MA in International Peace Studies at an HIV/AIDS organization in Kampala. Like most people living there, she says, she’s hardly ever been to the north. And that parochialism isn’t neglect, it’s self-preservation. On a recent trip to Jinja, Alicia wrote that people were so hungry that some were relieved to get a positive HIV diagnosis since at least they’d finally qualify for food aid.

We’ve been emailing back and forth since we found her through her blog.

As for the war in the North… most noticeable is how little impact the crisis in the North has on the rest of the country. It’s in the headlines – and thats the extent of it. It’s a bit like being in the US and reading about the war in Iraq every day. It concerns people, and yet it doesn’t. For 20 years people in and around Kampala have heard about the atrocities to the North but they have had their own lives to live – struggling to get by in one’s own life has been difficult enough. Unless asked specifically about it no one really talks about the ongoing peace talks. When asked, most people are skeptical that anything significant will come of this process. I can’t tell if this is informed by the fact that it’s gone on for so long without end or by the attitude that people in the North are just like this – that is, prone to violence, more like animals than humans (tribal identities play a big role in Ugandan culture – every kingdom or tribe has its related stereotypes).

Particularly in Kampala people are critical of [President] Museveni – the widespread perception is that he is corrupt and a bit of a power-hungry fool. However this criticism has little to do with the North and everything to do with bad governance in the South – lack of electrivity, mismanaged Global Fund, etc., etc. However there is also the fact that Museveni is better than what came before – the legacy of Amin and Obote is strong. Whatever people think of Museveni, they are always sure to comment that things are better now than they were before.

From what I can tell the general perception of the LRA is that they are brutal and crazy. Barely anyone in the South has traveled North – and when I tell them that I am going they are shocked. They want to know why I am not scared to go.

Alicia Simoni, in an email to Open Source, August 8, 2006.

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  • mugume Kalyegira

    why is Mr. otunu not blaming the LRA and can you ask him of his surport of the LRA and how his own Brother is implicated as the one that edits the LRA’s website?

  • mugume Kalyegira

    this is a very one sided presentation I thing you should have someone other than Otunu since he is one of those fighting the Museveni government and was part of the brutal governments of the past. I have never heard of Mr. Otunu conderm Kony and LRA.