My secret guilt

One of my best friends in the last 10 years comes from the North. In this case, “North” means northern Uganda, where countless people have lived in a war situation for the whole of their lives.

In all that time, I have never been to northern Uganda. I have always explained it away to myself but deep down I know it’s been because I was scared shitless of being within any kind of proximity with the region. Because it would mean being in close proximity with Joseph Kony, the butcher of northern Uganda. According to newspaper reports of the last 20 years, this guy has slashed the throats of his kinsmen without any inkling of remorse.

I always asked myself subconsciously, “why in hell would anyone want to travel north?” It was the same thing as crossing Charles Bronson when he’s had a shitty day. The reports of buses ambushed or villagers cooked in big pots did nothing to strengthen my confidence.

And many around me felt that way. My generation started understanding during the regime of Gen. Yoweri Museveni. All we know is that life is as normal as it can get. We live in the central region going to school and aiming for a great job in Shell Uganda or Bank of Uganda, where one is assured of some of our favourite things.

We don’t want to know. We are embarrassed when the topic comes up. We try to look as Christian as Auntie Cynthia taught us back in nursery school. When the pastor directs the ushers to pass the offertory bags, we are enthusiastic. We drop crisp 5G notes in the red bag knowing that we have have done our part.

I guess I am under attack from the guilt. My friend certainly thinks of things in a completely different way. My friend has lost relatives in the senseless war and the pain, which my other southerner friends and I could have dulled a little, is still fresh.  



About Steven

It wasn't me; arrest the voices. It was the voices in my head. Sike! I am Ugandan first. I care for development in my country. I am a curious observer second and I care to know what you think.
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5 Responses to My secret guilt

  1. tumwijuke says:

    Guilt is good. I hope your guilt will move you to action.

    I also hope you get to travel ‘up north’ soon. It is one of the most beautiful areas in Uganda (at least I think so). One of my most favorite Ugandan towns is Kitgum. Yes, it is isolated and yes, according to some it is very poor, but the sense of history, the rolling hills and beauty of the people never fails to move me.

    Even at the height of the insurgency, amidst all the death and disease and squalor, there was something so moving about the resilience of a community caught up in the middle of a senseless war that made the region even more beautiful.

    Thank you for writing about this.

  2. Well, the uniform reaction of people who go up North is that they find things different from what they expect. As in, not all of the North is a big, ugly camp of sufferers. And that is why people have been steadily going North, even on holiday.

  3. antipop says:

    hey!you just outed me. i am one of those people that would throw in a prayer every once in a while but didnt have enough soul to go there. i know what you mean. and the ironic thing is that i have been there tiwce since the war ended(???) to ‘have fun’. do i need some soul searching or wat?

  4. degstar says:

    i’ve been up down north.
    many times. wanna come along the next tym i sojourn there?

  5. Cheri says:

    Phantom, that’s a myth about danger on traveling up north these days. I have traveled there a record 5 times since 2005 and it’s ok. Nothing much, only that these days speed governors make the journey an hour longer. Otherwise it’s fine.

    U can follow Degstar next time he goes.

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