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African   Histories

The   African   Sickness

Uganda, The Spring of Africa

The recent history of Uganda is marked by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amín, that took the power in 1971 while president Obote was outside the country, in a conference from the Commonwealth. With an enthusiastic support in the beginning on the part of the population, Idi Amín promised the return to a civil power in a period of 5 years, something that as we know well never fulfilled. In 1972 it dissolved the national assembly and it expelled all the Asian population, but of 100,000 people, who were the axis of the commerce and the economy, which caused a chaos in most of the sectors. In 1978, to distract the attention of the internal problems, it sent a massive attack against Tanzania, although its army, undisciplined and devoid of modern war material, suffered a massive defeat, that forced Idi Amín to exiliar itself, first in Libya, and later in Saudi Arabia, where still it resides. The tanzano army remained in Uganda until the celebration of selections in 1980, won by Obote, but the accusations of " election falsification " took to a new period of political instability, although the economy in the last years has had an important recovery, thanks to the return of many Asians to whom their properties obstructed in 1972 have been given back to them.

The geography of Uganda is marked by Ecuador, that crosses and its location in the zone of the Great Lakes, which enormously do a fertile and varied country; mountainous to a large extent of his territory, it is furrowed by rivers, enormous lakes and cataracts, that lodge a very rich and diverse wild life. Stanley defined it as " per it of Africa ", and Winston Churchill said that it was " the lost paradise ". The main ethnic group of the country is the Baganda, with 16% of the total. Uganda obtained independence in 1963, and as usually he is habitual in Africa, after the selections and a period politically convulso, a " rescuer of the mother country " takes the reins, suspends the civil and political liberties, promising that soon the situation was standardized. In this case it was Obote, that in February of 1966 he suspended the constitution, dismissed President Buganda, and one became a absolutista leader until his own destitution in 1971 by Idi Amín. The long years of conflict and the dismantling of the economy have caused that in 1991 the life expectancy outside only 46 years, 15 below its Kenya neighbor, and 5 of the African average; the illiteracy reaches to 50% of the population, but in the last years a concerted effort has been made of escolarización; one of the most habitual images when it is traveled by Uganda is the enormous amount of children adorned with scholastic uniforms of all the colors that cross the highways going or coming from their schools.

Kampala, the capital of Uganda, was constructed like Rome, on seven hills, although their enormous growth has taken it to occupy 23 hills in an area of 200 km square, with more than 1 million inhabitants. Like Nairobi, it grew to the shelter of the railroad, that reached hills of Kampala in 1915, almost 20 years after the beginning of its construction in Mombasa, and was named capital of Uganda in 1962. The beauty of Kampala, with enormous green spaces and infinity of trees scattered in its hills, has undergone serious attacks by the boom of the construction that began in 1986, agravated by the fact that the brick factories are fed by tree wood.

On the following day our way towards Uganda continues after to have crossed of return 2 km of track embarrada with our crossed fingers not to have to repeat the spectacle of afternoon previous. Luckily nothing happens and we returned to the highway with a Uff! of lightening that leaves the throats of people. Our arrival to the border between Kenya and Uganda takes place to mid-morning and although there is practically no people, the bureaucratic proceedings are delayed almost one hour; he is something that also we will learn to support with patience in the several borders that we will cross in the rest of the trip. We retook the way towards Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where still the sequels of the civil war can be observed that knocked down the country during the dictatorship of Idi Amín and that caused a humanitarian disaster and a massive exodus from people to Kenya and other countries, besides to decimate and to cause the almost total disappearance of elephants and other species; of all ways, the only visible tracks are marks and impacts in buildings, since throughout it is appraised a joy to live and a effort to take ahead the country that is admirable. People asked to us that it seemed to us Uganda in front of Kenya and made efforts so that we felt like in house, something that without a doubt obtained in my case because surprising the landscape of Uganda is very similar to the one of my native, green Galicia and with mountains, and maize plantations, that yes of the called variety red sorghum that gives a special tonality him to the fields; also the highways seemed the typical Gallegos, narrow, without border, crossing mountains and closed curves in which our truck approached the precipice dangerously. Once we arrived at Kampala we went to the bank to exchange local, and quickly we followed way until the camping, that is located in a slope from which the city is controlled and that also surprised to us with beers you cold of extreme size (75 CL), in addition to a telephone cabin modernísima from which it is possible to be called automatically to any country of the world. The camping is full of people worldwide, each one with its history of Africa, some have been months this way pululando and others are like us just arrived at which I still suppose has not taken off us the expression of astonishment of the face by everything what we are seeing. The following morning wakes up to us with a splendid Vista of Kampala showing between mists; we put ourselves early in way to reach in the day the border of Zaire, the highway at heart runs between plantations of tea and platanales, sprinkled of valleys by enormous extensions of papyrus plants. The highway is made mountainous more and more and its state is more and more precarious, reason why our faces acquire certain expression of panic by the height to which we are and the definitive thing that would be a confusion; all it in addition worsens by the manifold conductive reckless that they advance to us in curves, change of grazing or where it agrees; enormous tankers of WFP (World Food Program), organism responsible for the feeding of the thousands of refugees who malviven in the border campings between Uganda and Zaire. I suppose that the conductors receive by piece because its conduction is really suicidal, and of course in our route we see several trucks overturned in the roadside ditches. We reached a height near the 2,500 meters and the reduction is equal of dangerous, although we were able to lower without more incidences. Arriving at the border with Zaire we happened in front of a small field of refugees where thousands of people are squeeze. The vision in direct of the enormous human tragedy that has supposed the war of Rwanda leaves dumb and in silence we cross the rest of the route until the border of Zaire

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