To write this blog, I restricted myself to the quiet setting of my room, and turned on my Spotify playlist holding my favorites. I’m not sure I’ve done a great job giving myself enough reflection time on this trip, partially because some days have gone from sunrise to sunset.
The last 11 days have certainly held some of the most unique experiences of my life. Despite not all those experiences spawning from good reasons or positive moments, they’re all obviously important. They’ve helped highlight key differences between culture here and what I’m used to.
I was never expecting to meet a man like Rogers O’Can. One of thousands of roadside plots of land, the place where Rogers and his family resides looks no different than any of the others we’ve passed all over the country. Yet, this man was personally displaced from his own home for a few days some years back by Kony. Kony was a menacing and terrorizing figure eventually recognized over much of the world, and I was here standing where he was before. Rogers mentioned it only in passing, as Kony was less of a news figurehead like he was for us, and much more real for the people actually dealing with it in the area.
There was also the killing one of Museveni’s most well-known supporters and war kernel. The news broke late at night as about half of us remained in the main cafe area of the center we were staying at. Ugandans gathered around the TV as the live coverage showed the crime scene and reviewed what details were known. The next morning, nothing more was heard about it. I reviewed newspapers a couple days later at one of our stops, and could hardly find anything on the matter. As Herbert said, “the people will quickly move on as if nothing happened.” It’s business as usual.
I started to consider what these two events would have been like had they happened on US soil. There would be an obvious frantic response to the killing of any political head, news coverage and debate raging on for weeks as the public continued to follow the slow-coming details. Someone like Kony’s trail would’ve likely been well-documented and shared, perhaps with people coming to visit where he had been.
Ultimately, my point is that there’s a large gap between how our society, compared to ones like Uganda, handle events that we would consider shocking. I suppose that’s what happens when the people are forced to deal with them much more often.