I apologize for not posting last week. I was on safari in Queen Elizabeth Park in southwestern Uganda and didn’t get back until Monday. We had a great time, a great driver, and a great Toyota Land Cruiser. We were able to get up close and personal with lions, elephants, kob, water buffalo, and warthogs. We also got to see the lions stalking kob and buffalo, but no kills which are a pretty rare thing. I was able to get some pretty good photos which will be posted below and in later posts.
Now on to something more important. Since Thursday there’s been a lot going on. When I sat down in front of my computer on Thursday morning I got a message from one of the interns in Colorado who graduated from Alabama in December. She told me that Tuscaloosa had been hit pretty hard by a storm Wednesday evening and to let her know if I needed her to get in touch with anybody. While in school at Alabama I had witnessed some pretty bad storms (Ivan and Katrina), but there were none where somebody had asked me if they could contact folks for me to see if they were okay. So instantly panic set in and unfortunately the internet at the office was either not working or not fast enough. That hour or so was probably one of the most agonizing moments of my life. Finally when the internet decided to work my homepage, MSN popped up and I saw a pretty gut-wrenching picture of 15th Street and they were reporting over 150 deaths. It gave no detail as to if this was in Tuscaloosa alone or if it was a total for the entire storm. I didn’t feel like wasting my time with national media so I went straight to the Tuscaloosa News’ webpage (tuscaloosanews.com) and what I saw was nasty. If there were no captions on the pictures I wasn’t able to identify where they were taken. The devastation was indescribable. There were cars embedded in piles of rubble, fires blazing out of control, and people standing with their heads hung low. It looked like something you would see in those apocalyptic movies where a nuclear bomb had detonated or something. Thankfully seeing these pictures calmed me down for some reason and I was able to get some work done until about 6 a.m. central time rolled around. It was a relief to get to talk to some folks and see the ones I didn’t get to talk to post something on Facebook. I never thought I would be so happy to see some of my friends post things just so I could know they were okay. I was pretty fortunate that none of my family or friends were injured nor sustained any major property damage. That was definitely a blessing, because I don’t think I could have stayed in Uganda had one of my friends been severely injured.
Also on Thursday a candidate from this past presidential election and leader of protests against high gas and food prices was beaten and taken to jail. He was headed to the bank and police and special government forces surrounded his car. He refused to get out because he was only going to the bank. Some little Museveni henchman came up to car and started busting the glass with the butt of his pistol. They then sprayed the car full of pepper spray. When the opposition leader and his crew could no longer take the spray they would open the doors and were instantly ripped out of the car by policemen and beaten until they were thrown into the beds of police trucks. The opposition leader had already been beaten once when he left his compound earlier in the month leaving him with a broken hand and swollen head. These injuries though did not stop the police from giving him the worst of the beatings. After being released from jail the opposition leader’s crew drove him 12 hours to Nairobi where he would receive proper medical attention. This misbehavior by the police led to riots on Friday. People were throwing things into the street and setting up the flaming barricades. The police took even more rash action than the day before and started shooting live rounds into crowds in addition to tear gas. It looks like things might be getting dicey here in Kampala. Hopefully though we’ll be able to finish our semester and enjoy the rest of our time in Uganda. I think the opposition leader will be out for a while, but if he comes back I think things might get pretty violent. I ask that you pray for Uganda and that this violence cease and desist and that no more people are beaten or shot. I think it would be great if Museveni’s heart gets softened and that he sees how his people are suffering because the prices are so high for so many things. I did not write this so that y’all would worry about me. Don’t do that. God’s taking care of us. I think it’s good for people to know how politics are in Africa and while there may be many Christians here it still needs our prayers. I also ask that you continue to pray for Tuscaloosa and do what you can to help (I can get you in touch with people). It’ll be a while before she’s back on her feet.