Will Spence gives us a taste of the real world of Uganda that is being plagued by the Kony image
For all those who have spent the last week or so filling in their time on Facebook rather than finishing, or starting, that essay that’s in for tomorrow lunchtime, a post, link or status related to ‘Kony 2012’ is guaranteed viewing. The somewhat unknown warlord has turned into an overnight celebrity; be it an infamous and brutal one at that. Anyone who watches the videos or reads the stories to do with the horrific atrocities performed by this man will be shown shocking images of the crimes committed. Unfortunately this has left a stain in the mind of many people about the country of Uganda itself, with the natural tendency to see it as a war savaged country, plagued with desolate mud-hut communities and no natural sense of law and order. Without suggesting that it’s a saint-like country full of harmony and timidness, because where would the adventure be in that, Uganda is certainly not the hell whole that the Kony campaign might suggest to you.
Described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, you’ll find more variation in the geographical landscape than in a neapolitan ice cream. Its capital, Kampala, holds all the traits of a typical hustle-and-bustle African city, yet misses out on the horrendous road rage found in Lagos or Nairobi. The jungle to the south and the Saharan climate to the north really offer a climate for all travellers, and while it may not have the tourist infrastructure found in Kenya or even Tanzania, there is certainly more of an authentic edge to Uganda because of this.
Nature lovers will have a field day in Uganda with the flora and wildlife touching on spectacular. Home to the endangered mountain gorilla, trips to see these beautiful creatures are available; albeit at expensive prices with a long booking needed. This isn’t due to corruption or greed, but the Uganda Wildlife Authority understand that too many humans will turn the jungle into a zoo and scare off the gorillas into the mountain. Should you enlist on this trip, which will set you back a healthy $750, know that 80% of the money goes into helping the environment, with the rest paying for the staff who help keep away the poachers from these near-extinct animals.
Getting close and personal with a gorilla is exhilarating enough, but should you need a further fix of adrenaline, rafting on the famous River Nile is also available. From tranquil family rides in a comfortable boat to 5-star rapids in a tiny rubber dingy, there’s something for everyone, though the crocodiles are optional.
You wouldn’t have the true Uganda experience without meeting the locals however. ‘Kony 2012’ would have you believe it’s a tribal place full of brutes and war-savaged people, where a westerner would be in a certain degree of hell. Similar to the Cambodian people under the tyrannous reign of Pol-Pot, it’s true that the people have come under attack throughout history from their own leaders, but they have come out with their smiles intact and friendly inquisitiveness as their language. It’s even been suggested that the capital is one of the safest African cities to walk through alone at night. Exploring through the markets will definitely allow you to experience the exquisite hospitality of the locals, with some even offering bewildered tourists the chance to come back to their houses for tea.
The cause to catch Kony is a fantastic one, and he certainly needs to be stopped. But don’t let the backdrop of the message spoil your view as a whole on this beautiful and exhilarating country. A true cultural gem awaits all who are willing journey to the wonderful country of Uganda.