Earlier this month, when hundreds of people were gathered in the capital to watch the world cup finals at a large, public venue, multiple bombs went off, taking the lives of many, injuring many more, and leaving an unexpectant country, not know what next to expect.
I wasn't in the vicinity of the blast, not anywhere near it in fact, so I cannot say what the atmosphere of the region was even like. Also, the few newspaper reports I saw were spotty with details, and extracting a sense of the general mood, other than that of grief, proved fruitless. But the next day, hours away from the scene, in the staff room at Ikwera Girls, I was able to listen as Ugandans faced the issue of their own land, their homes, being targeted by the malevolence of faceless people.
To some Ugandans, their country is a developing world. To others, Uganda is a third world. While some, I think, hesitantly view Uganda as a different world entirely. Surely the world they see on the screen, or in the paper, or listen about on the BBC is real, but real as Oxygen is real, magnetic fields, and ocean depths. Words carried by a far away wind from a far away land. This isn't to say that Ugandans don't have hopes and dreams of touching such lands, or exploring such depths, nor does is mean they lack national pride. It's just that, at times, it's hard to imagine what's so rarely seen.
After the blast though, I think for many, they were forced to see that Uganda is a part of this world, just as much as any other land, any other people. With this come the joys of togetherness, solidarity, cohesiveness, of knowing you've not been left behind. But also with this comes the fact that the scruples, the disputes, the wars of the masses, are now also your disputes, your wars. Lives that are lost are sometimes your own. "Terrorists are now in Uganda!" one colleague said. "This Al-Queda has come to Kampala." "They're targeting us!?"
Over the next few days, there would be discussions, comments, even arguments about what Uganda should do. "We should pull away from Somalia." "No, we have a responsibility to the African Union." "Does this responsibility take precedence over having a responsibility to Uganda?" I wonder if all countries don't face these questions as they view themselves, their place in the world. I think many Ugandans are still asking questions, and rightfully so. But whether or not they'll answer them in a way that leads them to be, "A part of this world" (to quote Merry Brandybuck (or was it Pippin Took?)) with all it's joys and hopes as well as confusions, pains, and downfalls, is perhaps on the brink of an answer.
5 weeks ago