Now We Pain and Groan
Author: Catherine A. Onekalit
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on 02/23/2005
The days so picturesque, the nights even better with the moon always out, a rare occurrence of African nights. Its reflection so stunning and provoking sending shivers to the heart. The morning wind, cold but teasingly erotic, you would hear its whisper and see it flirt with the soils and fallen leaves, so amazing. I remember everyday we awoke to this weather, during the cool hours of dawn. The men and women went to till their fields, children walked to school with exercise books in hand. Indeed, year in year out we brought glory not only to our homeland (Acholiland) but our country, Uganda, raising farmers, winners and future leaders.
Today we pain, and groan. Pierced in the mind, shaken with fear, numb. Our faces straight and eyes blank and devoid of emotion. Living in a world too gruesome for anyone to imagine, yet we must endure. We try to remain human in inhuman circumstances. We hear the rebel commander is cleansing the Acholi so that only pure ones remain. Once captured, a tear tantamount to 50 stokes of cane, which is almost unbearable, and the beatings are done with vehemence. The abductions and their aftermath have spread like wild fire, Lira, Apac, Soroti, Katakwi, Adjumani, Moyo, Arua, children being initiated into active combat, in the most horrific blood thirsty rituals, but still, many say, yes many say, it is a northern war, let them slaughter themselves.
We laugh not from happiness but because such utterances cause excruciating ache. We are always on the look-out for any visible emotions, searching for a human race to identify with that will help end this anguish, so that, as if by an invisible hand, this curtain of pain would be pulled away. Reality stares back at us, in the face. We remember, They said it is our war, we must persevere. For how long is always the question.
We think M7 has forgotten us, he is our president but does he really care? We have never gotten an answer to this question, but many have suspicions. It is no secret that his option is the military way. Why, we wonder, is this a solution? Or is the so cleansing madness being practiced
The pearl of Africa! The country to first introduce Universal Primary Education and to successfully reduce the spread of AIDS! What Glory! And oh, I almost forgot, the country with the fastest growing economy in the 1990s, with an average annual growth rate of 7%! Who would ever imagine that this is the same country it s a hallucination, with children as young as five training to become lethal massacre weapons. The sounds of crying, and groaning of the wounded, the coughing and labored breathing of those who have tuberculosis, and chest infections, the raving of those with fever, now and then the screams from those whose nightmares wake them. Yes, thousands of children plagued with haunting memories, and a lost innocence. Our greatest fear is, will they survive, see tomorrow? It is true now we pain and groan but we have hope, peace will come however long the wait. Tomorrow we will laugh and rejoice.