Hello all, I am back from my holiday in Uganda. It was lovely, but I’m also glad to be back in Uvira. This place feels more and more like “home” with each passing day.
Uganda’s story in terms of development and human rights is quite different from the DR Congo’s. Kampala is a thriving metropolis, with supermarkets, several shopping malls, Chinese restaurants, and choking automobile congestion. It is hard to believe that it is only a 17-hour drive from Uvira. In addition, the people of Uganda seem more cheerful and friendlier than the Congolese, possibly because they have not been beaten down by nearly 20 years of war following the reign of Mobutu. Overall, one could say that Uganda is an East African “success” story, especially considering that the country was once home to one of Africa’s most ruthless dictators, Idi Amin Dada.
However, there still remain problems in Uganda, such as continuing widespread poverty, a high (though decreasing) HIV/AIDS rate, the persecution of the LGBT community, and continuing unrest in the north with Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni’s cowboy-hatted visage glares from many billboards, reminding me of how Uganda became entangled in the Congo Wars in the 1990s/2000s.
On more official business, I had the opportunity to visit an AP partner in Kampala, the Kinawataka Women’s Initiative, founded and directed by Mrs. Benedicta Nanyonga. Kinawataka assists children, mostly girls and mostly AIDS orphans. The children and Mrs. Benedicta make bags and other products out of recycled drinking straws. The proceeds from selling the bags go to the children’s education and upbringing. I was amazed at the durability and quality of the purses, shopping bags, and safari bags created by this group of industrious youngsters. Visit Kinawataka at www.kwiuganda.org and see their products at www.strawbags.org
Back in the Congo, SOS FED continues to move forward. Construction on the water well in Mboko was completed on June 10.
Quick update on the Kikoze incident of 3/26/11: I talked to someone at OCHA about the status of judicial action against the perpetrators of the attack. Apparently, a military tribunal has yet to be realized, and still is in the planning stage. There are concerns for the safety and security of a military tribunal, due to the fact that the accused are ex-FRF combatants who were only recently integrated into the FARDC. A trial up in Muranvya or bringing the accused to trial in Uvira might result in some sinister consequences. However, I was assured that MONUSCO and the FARDC are still working on the case. Let’s hope that justice is served eventually.
Also in the news: Burundian FNL rebels are making more incursions across the border in the Rusizi Plain, near Kiliba. Cultivation in the area is under threat, as farmers (most of them women) will flee their fields once they hear of roving armed groups nearby.
Posted By WALTER JAMES
Posted Jun 10th, 2011