Saturday, October 25, 2008


We have no power again. And no running water. Except – except for the kitchen sink. Which hasn’t worked in an entire year (according to Oscar, who’s lived here that long). Until now. And which obviously should be using the same water tank as the rest of the faucets (one would assume). But! It’s working. Yup. Kitgum is SO weird.
You know what they call the tour of Evangelical speakers who travel throughout Africa to minister? The Crusades. Yup. Without any sense of irony, either. The Crusades. It makes you shudder!
My friend Sam told me such fantastic stories the other day. Apparently, he was born and raised in a village very near to where Kony “started”. In fact, Sam spent his boyhood playing with his brothers on the rock (which is about the size of a football pitch) from which Kony “gets his powers”. They carved their names on a ledge by the rock (Sam did not; he couldn’t manage to carve the ‘o’ in his Acholi name). They bathed in the crevice of the rock where rainwater gets collected. (Kony says the water is “magical”). Sam’s sister, his sibling who is closest in age to him, was kidnapped in Kony’s first round of mass kidnappings. Luckily, she was let go after only a few days. One of Sam’s nephews was kidnapped when he was only ten years old. That was in 1994. After several years, the family grew resigned to the boy’s death, and mourned him. And then, very recently, they were listening to a broadcast by the LRA, and whom did they hear greeting them, but this boy? He is not a boy, anymore; he must by now be a young man of twenty-four. Sam just wants him to come home, he says. The whole family does. They can help him out, Sam says. Since he left school so early, Sam imagines that he will need some vocational training to get himself on his feet again, and reintegrated into his community.

Listening to the radio that day is not the only time Sam has been surprised by the mass media. A few years ago he was watching the news, when what did he see but a CNN reporter standing on that same rock near his home, reporting about Kony’s “powers”. The reporter motioned his cameraman over and instructed him to zoom in on some names carved into the rock. “And these are the names of Kony’s top commanders!” the reporter announced. The names were, of course, in actuality, Sam’s brother’s names. Sam called his brothers, giggling wildly.

Sam wants to open up a tourist spot near the rock, so tourists can flock to where this evil man claimed his spiritual powers originated. He’s talked to the local communities about this; they’re in favor. And after all, why shouldn’t they benefit, if they can? If he built it, I can sure imagine some idiotic tourists going. Flocking there. Getting spa treatments and facials from the rainwater in the crevice. It’s so gruesome. But why, I guess, shouldn’t the local community earn some money off of it?
I randomly came across a man selling “ice cream” on the streets of Kitgum last week. It was pink. It wasn’t very creamy. But it was cooooooold and perfect.
For the second week in a row, our crazy professor praised my work and ripped apart everyone else’s. I’m worried that deep within their hearts-of-hearts the rest of my team may secretly hate me.
The most convincing explanation I’ve read recently for Joseph Kony – what makes the psycho-man tick – is that Kony sees himself as a modern-day Moses. He’s set out on this weird conquest (can we call it a crusade? Or maybe ‘genocide’ is the more appropriate word…) against the Acholi people (despite the fact that he is one of them) in order to cleanse them. He kidnaps children to train them in his “nouveux-Acholi” ways, and he kidnaps girls to “marry” off by the handful to his top commanders so as to birth a “purified” race of Acholis. Unfortunately, Moses never reached the Promised Land himself – he only led his people towards it. It was thus speculated by this article that Kony believes that he too will never reach the Promised Land. And so, Kony may not (MAY not???) be taking any peace deals or treaties seriously. Backing up this theory is the fact that Kony has been known to remark, when questioned about his actions in the name of Christianity, that “Even Moses had to kill, sometimes”. (All the first-born boys of Egypt may agree).

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Ahh, Crusade Season - that was the highlight of my fieldwork! I know it sounds horrible, but you'll be (slightly) relived to know that there is no physical killing or threat of physical violence going on. Only spiritual warfare. (yeah, i'm sure that makes you much more relieved! :) )
I'm so glad to have your blog to read, sounds like you're having an extraordinary time over there!