Category Archives: Personal Observations

Why Do Ugandans Hate Trees?

The buzz of chainsaws is ringing in my ears as I write this. I live in Kampala, next door to a large lot that was a school up until about a month ago, lush with big trees and flowering bushes. The trees are frequent hosts to numerous falcons, weavers, turacos, gonaleks and a number of other birds, in addition to countless butterflies and lizards. I have always envied the green shadiness of those school grounds when I compare it to the sparse compound in which I live.

But recently the mzungus who ran the school moved out, and within just a few weeks, the chainsaws have decimated most of what once lived on those beautiful grounds. Continue reading

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What if it was my son?

Hearing their stories was heartbreaking. I have heard and read many similar stories, but it was different hearing it directly from the boys who were involved. Seeing their scars made it all the more real. One young man, who had been in captivity for almost 15 years, showed where he had been shot through the back when he was 9 years old. The scar on his belly from the exit wound was massive. Nine years old.

One thought has been running through my head ever since. What if it was my son? Continue reading

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A Thought for Beauty

It seems callous to talk about the value of beauty in a country where so many are struggling just to survive. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs rules out appreciation of beauty until a person’s more basic needs (food, water, shelter) are satisfied. However, how long can you wait to focus on preserving beauty until it is all gone? Continue reading

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An Eye for an Eye, A Head for a Pig

Vigilante justice is a big thing here in Uganda. There are frequent reports about thieves on the streets of Kampala being killed by a crowd, and it is recommended that if you hit a pedestrian with your car you should keep driving to the nearest police station to report the incident there, as the bystanders might attack you if you stop. I have seen crowds chasing someone down the street with a sinking feeling in my gut, just hoping they will make it to a police station to turn themselves in before the mob gets them.

There are any number of problems with vigilante justice. The response, as in this case of the pilfered pig, is often outlandishly disproportional. It bypasses any type of “due process.” I could potentially point to a random person in a crowd and yell “THIEF!” and the crowd could pounce. It also perpetuates the notion that violence is the best solution.

What I often wonder when I read reports about vigilante justice, is why. Why can a group of people so quickly turn into a mob? Why are people who have no personal stake in a situation so ready to kill someone for an offence that may or may not have even happened? Continue reading

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Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What does it do to one’s psyche to live in a perpetual state of insecurity? To feel like you can’t count on having any future, much less one of your own designing? The phrase that came into my head this morning was “pre-traumatic stress disorder.” This term gained some traction last year in relation to Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who went on a shooting rampage after receiving orders to deploy to Iraq. Continue reading

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Gay Porn in Church

Check out this recent article from Associate Press: Ugandan anti-gay pastor airs gay porn in church The Associated Press http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/feb/21/ugandan-anti-gay-pastor-airs-gay-porn-in-church/ Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 | 12:28 a.m. A Ugandan pastor is showing gay pornography at church to try to garner support … Continue reading

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Crackdown in Kampala

Last week the Uganda Police impounded over 1,400 boda-bodas, and the number is rising. Continue reading

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Tapping Into Twilight Mania

Werewolves are cool. And by extension, now, Quileutes are cool also. But it might be time for them to sharpen their claws a bit. A recent article in the New York Times by Angela Riley exposes the fact that while many people are profiting from Quileute culture right now, the tribe is not. Continue reading

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Avatar – More of the Same

I am always happy to see a movie where “people” who are lovers of nature are the good guys. However, once again, we are told that the only way for “good” to win is to be just as violent and bloody as the “enemy.” Continue reading

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