Who speaks for the dead? The sliced, the mangled, the burned and scorched, the disfigured, the future “Miss Landmine”s, the eye-less, the lip-less, the ear-less, the de-virginated, the butt-less, the father-less, the mother-less, and the damned. These are the voice-less of 22 years of war.
Tonight I just witnessed the most saddening event in my life. An “ekimeeza” or town hall-style meeting was held here 20th UNAA for all in attendance to voice their opinions and damnations of the government. There was a panel consisting of various luminaries of the sitting government, retired generals, stake-holders in various opposition parties and members of parliament and media. The issues presented and discussed varied widely in subjective scope, and political pomp and circumstance of finger pointing and blame-gaming. Tempers ebbed and flowed, while noses flared and chests thumped in righteous indignation.
A specific question caught my attention. The moderator presented this question to the panel:
“It took 6 years for the sitting government of Uganda to bring peace to the people of Uganda in 1986, but 22 year to liberate the North of Joseph Kony’s rebels. Why?”
This is where things went wrong. The opposition pointed fingers and echoed, “yes why?” The government blamed other governments, it’s own people, various political dissidents, corruption, greed, politicking, even the victims of the war themselves (as if they asked for the war in the first place). They stopped short of blaming the weather for the death of millions and the annihilation of entire generations of men and women of “the Pearl of Africa.” I can’t appropriately say that I am proud of my government right now. I feel like I’ve been robed of any possibility of a national awaking in my lifetime that will lead to true peace and transformation in Africa.
The government’s best response as to why it took 22 years for a peace deal to be tabled in Northern Uganda hinged on the fact that the NRM had a single mission in 1986 – peace. That after the war, there were a lot of “challenges” that prevented the war from being brought to closure. Challenges like Universal Primary Education, immunization, blah de blah blah blah. Yeah, that was the best reason why the government took 22 years to end the war in the North.
Immunization was more important than saving the lives of millions of it’s own people in the North. Really? How are you going to immunize millions of amputated, disfigured, and burned men, women, and children. How are you going to provide Universal Primary Education to the very child soldiers you are fighting. The only people that paid attention to them were the rebels who taught them how to pull a trigger and swing a machete. They are fighting because they have nothing left to do when their entire families are hacked to death right in front of them. No wonder the war took 22 years.
Who apologizes for the dead? What say you to the disfigured, the mangled, the burned and scorched, the future “Miss Landmine”s, the eye-less, the lip-less, the earless, the de-virginated, the butt-less, the father-less, the mother-less, and the life-less? When do the excuses stop and when do the apologies begin?
We can not truly expect to have peace and move forward as a nation, without first taking a look in the mirror, firmly pointing an accusatory finger and saying, “I am sorry, it was my fault.”