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.