Saturday, October 22, 2005

Uganda: "Jimmy" and Gulu Walk Day

Everybody loves a parade, except perhaps the one I want to write about today. This parade takes place every night on the rural roads of northern Uganda, where literally thousands of children and young adults walk in small groups for miles to a town named Gulu in order to seek shelter and safety from marauding bands of armed militias. These children have a label: Night Commuters.

Many of them make it, but not all. And the fate of the ones who do not reach the town of Gulu or Kitgum is too horrible to describe in any detail. The ones who do not make it many times are kidnapped and forced to fight as child soldiers for one of the most savage and crazed killers on the planet. His name is
Joseph Kony, and his militia is called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This parade of misery and naked fear has been going on all across northern districts of Uganda for more than 19 years, and the time is long overdue to put a stop to it.

So allow me to introduce you to some of those children and to the people around the world who are working very hard on their behalf. It is better that you see and hear and read for yourself about what’s going on in northern Uganda.


First let me introduce you to Jimmy, a young schoolboy who so eloquently and clearly explains what it is like to be a Night Commuter in Uganda. Jimmy is a 14-year old who walks every evening from his home village to the town of Gulu. He is afraid of being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army militias that have roamed, kidnapped, and murdered children in his area of the country since the time of his birth. The link below to a short online video interview with Jimmy is courtesy of independent video journalist
Ruud Elmendorp* of The Netherlands. One of my favorite moments in the video is when the journalist asks Jimmy what he would do if they would meet the (LRA) rebels on the road. Jimmy answers:

“If we meet them I would just give them some advice, I would tell them that they should stop fighting (pause), the government. They should come home so that we can join arm-in-arm to make peace in Uganda.”

Jimmy – Uganda: Any time the rebels can come to abduct children
Date: August 2005 URL:
http://www.ruudelmendorp.dds.nl/jimmy.wmv
Format: Windows Media File (.wmv), Length: 4 min. 15 sec, Size: 8.60 MB
Source: Ruud Elmendorp –
Video Journalist weblog, Ruud’s website

*More info about Ruud Elmendorp’s reports on Uganda can be found at his
Uganda Country page and Reporter’s Log. A selection of Ruud’s video reports on Africa can be found at his online video archives.


GULU WALK DAY

October 22nd, 2005 is the first ever
Gulu Walk Day. Two Canadian men and people around the world have organized several marches on behalf of the children of northern Uganda, the Night Commuters. These marches will be taking place in over 40 cities worldwide and are meant to help raise awareness about the plight of these children and to make A Call to Action. Visit the UgandaCAN site to learn more about Gulu Walk Day and how various organizations are working to help the child victims of this terrible 20-year war all across the northern districts of Uganda and beyond.

Following are additional resources that may help you to learn more:


Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone from Yahoo! News
Blog post October 19th, 2005: Fighting a Phantom

Invisible Children – an exceptional documentary video and project website

International Crisis Group: Resources on conflict in northern Uganda
The conflict in Uganda presented on ABC News “Nightline”
August 2005
John Prendergast op-ed in the Washington Post – April 7, 2005
Building a comprehensive peace strategy for northern Uganda
June 23, 2005

Reuters AlertNet:
Crisis Profile -
What’s going on in northern Uganda – June 7, 2005
Rebels without a Cause” film by Daniel Simpson and Matthew Green

BBC News Online:
Uganda’s Atrocious War – June 12, 2003 (Warning: disturbing images)
Profile of Joseph Kony – October 7, 2005
Uganda rebel warrants confirmed – October 14, 2005

The Christian Science Monitor:
Africa’s Peace Seekers: Betty Bigombe – September 13, 2005

HRW Press Release “
Night Commuters” – August 22, 2005
Human Rights Watch video “
The Night Commuters
HRW online resources:
Uganda

UN IRINnews Web Special on northern Uganda – January 2004
When the sun sets, we start to worry” - Overview

Bloggers writing regularly about Uganda:
Global Voices Online:
Uganda
Uganda Watch by Ingrid Jones
P.Scott Cummins =The Urbane R:
Worldwide focus on the children of Gulu and Northern Uganda

Wikipedia:
Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, Uganda, Gulu, Acholi tribe, Yoweri Museveni

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6 comments:

Imnakoya said...

The plight of the juvenile "night commuters" of Uganda is disheartening, and a big shame to black Africa.

All over Africa, government (both elected and otherwise) have failed woefully in protecting the vulnerable. Is this a case of some ancient African voodoo gone whacky? And what does it take to have a bunch of retards like Joseph Kony eliminated?

Black River Eagle said...

Welcome back to the Blogosphere Imankoya.

The protracted war in northern Uganda is a disgrace and a shame that many nations must face up to, not only African countries that could have helped but chose to do little or nothing.

Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Umar al-Beshir of Sudan, and other players have used the Acholi people and particularly the thousands of innocent children and young adults as pawns in a very dirty and lethal game of politics and power in the region. These men should be made to answer before the law for what has happened there, but that will never happen.

Kony is neither untouchable nor invisible. As a matter of fact(?) a certain foreign government is alleged to have provided Uganda with sattelite and arieal photography this year pinpointing the location of several LRA militia camps around the border of Uganda and Sudan. If true, this kind of data would have been a big help to the UPDF operations against the LRA that have routed Kony's militias and reduced their numbers over the past 6-9 months.

Of course such data should have been provided much, much sooner. Perhaps accurate information on LRA postitions was offered before but was never acted upon in any significant way by the Ugandan government or military despite all of the "We will crush them!" rhetoric from Museveni over the past 20 years. Just a thought.

007 in Africa said...

On a totally unrelated note, thanks for alerting me on the monetary value of my blog. I can always sell it when I am crushed by debts. Though I note that yours is worth about twice that. Congrats!

Black River Eagle said...

You are welcome 007. Remember, at the end of the day it's always about the M-O-N-E-Y.

bubblesphereproductions said...

Things in Uganda seem to be taking a turn, and I am afraid Museveni's latest antics will detract International attention from what is happening in the North. I try to keep up to date with what is happening in Uganda, specifically in the North on my website www.bubblesphereproductions.com Additionally I am co-directing/producing a documentary about the situation in the North. The footage was shot this summer, and the project is currently in post-production. You are all welcome to check out the progress from time to time.

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks Eric and Mindy of Bubblesphere Productions for stopping by and leaving a comment. I checked out your site briefly today as suggested. Your media (video) project for northern Uganda looks very interesting so please let me know when it is ready for release and (hopefully) available for viewing online.

It was also great that you participated in Gulu Walk Day. Those kids and the people in the IDP camps won't be forgotten as long as people like yourselves keep the world's attention focused on their plight. Don't give up on 'em. Remember their faces and their laughter during your trip to Gulu.