Welcome back to Member Monday! It’s my pleasure to share a few thoughts from my month in Uganda. Special thanks to Larry Watters for watching over the website in my absence. To read more about my time in Uganda, please visit pedalsandpencils.com.
I’ve been home a little over a day now. To get home I passed through five airports and flew on four different airplanes before my hubs drove me the last leg home.
I flashed my passport through countless screenings and talked with several new friends on the planes home. Each time someone discovered that I’d spent the month in Uganda, they’d ask two questions.
“What were you doing there???” I’d tell them about helping 50 or so kids write a book about pivotal moments in their lives. We’d have a brief conversation about the kids and their writing and without fail they’d ask the second question.
“So how is Uganda doing?” This question was often times paired with a gulp and a brow wrinkled with equal parts fear and worry.
I loved this question. It’s one of the reasons I took this journey to begin with. I wanted to see how Uganda and her people were doing. I wanted to hear and help record firsthand stories from her children.
The best way I can answer the question of how Uganda is doing is to tell you a story about two of Uganda’s waterfalls.
This is Murchison Falls. It’s a mere seven meters wide and at one point in time the whole of the Nile had to pass through this narrow gap. It is staggeringly beautiful, but make no mistake, Murchison Falls is a crashing, thundering force to be reckoned with. Living beings who have the misfortune of falling into the crevice of the falls do not resurface again until the water has suffocated all of the life and breath out of them.
In 1962 Uganda was granted freedom from Britain. This may surprise you because even Uganda’s most recent history is marred by dictatorial leaders and bloodthirsty warlords, not to mention the corruption that has taken root and entwined itself around the hearts of most of Uganda’s politicians. But indeed on January 15, 1962 Uganda was declared an independent country.
Another surprising thing happened in Uganda in 1962.
Hear me out, during the wet season, it rains a lot in Uganda. Almost daily rainstorms roll in with the evening and pelt the earth until the morning sunlight glistens in the pools of rain atop the sodden earth.
In 1962 the rains didn’t roll in and out. They rolled in and stayed, pouring themselves into the mighty Nile who rose to the challenge. Her waters ascended like never before, sending creatures to higher ground lest the Nile drink them in. Day and night the rain fell until the unimaginable happened.
Instead of squeezing herself through the oppressive rocks of Murchison Falls, the Nile burst over the land and a completely new waterfall was born. It was like the whole country, from breathing men to teeming rivers, rose up and claimed freedom. The second waterfall was called Gulu Falls. Gulu is a Bagandan name meaning ‘God of the sky’. However most locals call it by another name: Freedom Falls.
Each time I answered the question ‘How is Uganda doing?’ I thought of Gulu Falls and I thought of the students I worked with at Restore Leadership Academy. After living through a time of thundering, crashing oppression, there is a generation of young Ugandans rising up. They’re dedicated to justice over corruption, love instead of vengeance and healing for their scarred land.
How is Uganda doing?
She’s headed for a bright future because when young people have hearts full of love, minds dedicated to justice and a yearning for freedom, well, that’s a force that simply can’t be contained. And when it spills out over the land, Uganda is going to find herself completely sodden with the kind of freedom that once caused the Nile to entwine herself over the land and move in a completely new direction.
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How imaginative of the Ugandans.
Others: Please visit http://www.pedalsandpencils.com/ for more of her experience. And I hope that she posts “Drinking the Nile” sometime on here as well.
Alicia, by reading this I can feel how Uganda and the people you met there has changed you. These words breathe beauty, though your writings have always held beauty. This one has more.
Thank you, Linda. What a lovely thing for you to say. My heart beats for my Ugandan children. I can’t wait for the day when I return to them.