Monday, October 22, 2012

Uganda @ 50

Hi Everyone!

Hope everyone is well at home and enjoying the fall weather!  We sure do miss this time of year at home!  Crazy to think that next year we will be with you all getting out our mittens out and enjoying the fall together!  Weather in Uganda these days is rainy and “chilly”!  Everyone has gotten out their winter parkas and fur lined hoods to brave the sixties and rain! :-)  Even Ryan and I have complained of the cold - how will we manage the midwest during our Christmas visit?!

Uganda celebrated its fiftieth year of independence this month and I thought that deserved a blog post!  50 years ago this month Uganda transitioned from being a British colony to being its own independent nation.  October 9 is the official day, although celebrations have been ongoing for the last while and will continue on for some time to come I’m sure.  It’s kind of neat timing of our being here, as we will have celebrated 50 years of the Peace Corps (1961 - 2011) and 50 years of independent Uganda (1962 - 2012) during our two years of service! 

The anniversary has sparked a lot of interesting conversations with community members and students.  There have been lots of special editions of the news papers, public events, and radio programs to discuss where Uganda has come from, where it is now, and where it is going.  In the relatively short time I’ve called this country home, it’s been interesting to consider it’s past, see daily reminders of the past’s influence, and consider its future as I talk with students and friends about what they hope to see in Uganda in the years to come.

Many of the students we’ve talked to seem to think that Uganda should have come longer in the fifty years it has been an independent country.  America is often referenced, and Ryan and I try to do our best to remind our students that it’s taken more that 50 years to get where we are, and of course America is not without its problems as a country too.  Many of the students talk about their concerns over Uganda’s leadership, and issues of corruption.  In Uganda’s 50 years of independence, it has only seen three presidents, and has never had a peaceful transition of power.  President Museveni, the current leader of Uganda, has been in office for over half of its independence - 26 years!  Not only that, but it’s dealt with civil wars, violent dictators, and the AIDS pandemic....Not an easy 50 years.  Of course, there are so many great things about Uganda and its independence as a country, but many of our students seem absorbed in how far it still has to go, and what can be done about it.  So, I ask them what they think should happen, and what they will do to be involved in that change.  Their answers - vote, consider running for an office, and pray!

It will be interesting to see how the conversations continue and to keep following the news of Uganda after we leave.  It’s a beautiful place, not without it’s issues, but also not without plenty of hope!

And, while we’re on a patriotic theme - we have officially voted!  We sent in our absentee ballots a couple of weeks ago and are optimistic that the embassy will get them in on time!  The attendant at the post office made sure to give us a call when the ballots arrived, as she didn’t want to miss a potential vote for her beloved Obama!  (Another PCV was even offered money for an Obama vote on her absentee ballot from her Post Office attendant!  She, of course, declined the money!)  We’re planning to have an election party here in Uganda with some of our PCV neighbors to either celebrate or mourn the results on the day after the election. Either way, I’m painting my nails red, white, and blue and making some sort of patriotic baked goods in the dutch oven! :-)  It will be an interesting experience watching the election play out from the other side of the world (or, more realistically, going to bed with little news and waking up the next day with a new president!).  I am thankful for a fair and free electoral system that lets us cast our votes even from so far away!  So, may the best man (specifically the man bubbled on my ballot!) win...and, may that phrase not always apply to the presidential election! :-)

So - there you have it - my thoughts on Uganda at 50 and the American election from Africa. 

Love and miss you all!


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