2/3 of my purpose of living in Uganda for two years is to be a cultural ambassador. Yes, I’m also here to get sweaty trying to teach kids in crowded classrooms and lead the occasional workshop, and “develop”, and these things I DO get sweaty trying to do, but the real value of my stay is the cross-cultural exchange that my presence facilitates. And yes, I’m a very sweaty cultural ambassador.
Goal 2 and 3 of the Peace Corps mission is to impart knowledge about both countries/cultures/peoples:
· Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served AND
· Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Because it is the Eve of Uganda’s 50th year of Independence, I have decided to focus on Goal 3 especially over the following 2 weeks. What does that mean? It means I want to amp up my blogging and really focus on giving all of you a good idea of Uganda, its people, and culture. I can sit here and tell you stories about epic smuggling adventures that I unwillingly took part it…well, actually that would be pretty funny. But, right now, I’m going to put on my “serious” hat. Tomorrow I’ll be dressing up and going to the sub-county celebration for Independence, in which I shall take hundreds of pictures to share with you. But mostly, for the next few weeks, I want my blog to focus on real written pieces by Ugandans; essays, autobiographies, stories, etc. Today, I am going to share a written history of my sub-county and current home, so that you can see its story arc these past 50 years. This history was written by the priests in the parish.
History of Adumi
Adumi parish is located in NorthWest of Uganda, Arua District, and Arua Diocese. It was established by the Coboni Missionaries in 1965 and handed over to the local clergy in 1974. On the West it is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo. From the town it is 12 km away on Arua-Ariwara road via Onduparaka.From 1979 up to 1990s the region suffered much from wars fought within. Beginning with the liberation wars to overthrow Idi Admin in 1979 which ended in West Nile (the home district of Idi Admin), then the civil wars organized by the remnant soldiers of Admin in 1980s.The battle field was in Odromacaku three kilometers from Adumi Parish. During the wars women were abused, lived and properties were lost, and people were sent to exile in Congo and Sudan. Children were recruited into the army leaving behind elderly people and the young. From the exile people returned in 1990s. Again there was the suffering of LRA war in Acholi Region and West Nile region, children and people were abducted and butchered, and people from West Nile were cut off from the rest of the country, and any attempt to cross to go and bring items from Kampala, they would burn the buses, abduct, and kill them. The wars have effect on the people, the region and economy up to now. Despite all this the people are vibrant. The people living here are the Lugbara people. Their culture is characterized by communal digging using rudimentary tools, communal celebration of funerals, polygamous marriages, extended families, widow inheritance, etc. They relate well among themselves and cross the borders with their tribes mates. The livelihood of the people depends on agriculture mostly. They grow crops like gnuts, cassava, millet, simsim, etc which are affected by bad weather and very few of them keep animals which are kept for bride wealth and very few do petty business. The average annual per capita is equivalent of 240 dollars. Politically, there is relative peace. Other challenges of this region are: Diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, typhoid, hypertities, poverty (80%), illiteracy (60%), and domestic violence, drug abuse, witchcraft, extended families, safe water for drinking, etc. Since the return from the exile in 1990s, the efforts of the government, and NGOS have been towards rehabilitating and building infrastructures like schools, health centers, roads, and a bit of economic empowerment through the northern region reconstruction program. However, these resources have been not properly used by the people.
(as a side note, our internet out in the village has recently been downgraded, probably because the Airtel providers found out we are the only people who use mobile internet within the entire sub-county. I knew it was too good to be true. So, it will be a Christmas miracle if I’m even able to post this)