The Repeated Cry
Author: Catherine Onekalit
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on 10/19/2004
It was around four O clock in the morning; I was in a deep sleep, not having a care in the world of how hard the Okolo (Papyrus Mat) felt on my back. I was trying to recover from the tiresome long day of gardening that plays a mountain on fending for the family. Whilst in my sleep I heard a loud squeak then a silent bang, thinking it was a dream, I whispered to my husband Kom Bede Ku (Not now please). I started hearing some sort of wailing then I thought some kind of mourning, like a life was being taken. I was so knackered, without a thought I strolled to the sitting area with an ooze of confidence, lazily turning around the corner, I then saw them, dreadlocked, young and thirsty for blood. The sight, —- blood dripping from the bayonet , I froze, then screamed and fainted.
In this entire bizarre episode, the reality begun to sink in, that was my son being killed by his own cousin, yes his own cousin, the same blood flowing through their veins. These were not children I thought, these are killing machines indoctrinated to kill without fear. They have no shred of humanity left in them, or do they? While listening to her narrate her story, tears of pain rolled out of my eyes, I recalled what I would rather not talk about. Such experiences are day to day realities of persons living in Northern Uganda. The children, yes the children, looking at their melancholic faces you see pain yet at the same time a mixture of power and powerlessness, the blood that is shed by their hands, willing or unwilling. We indeed groom a generation of thorns. You try to reach out to them, but cannot; their lives are delineated by brutalities. Tales of when they were captured so ingrained in their brains with haunting memories. The horrendous and inhumane atrocities they have committed against their own kith and kin. More saddening is the fact that some of them have began to enjoy it.
Listening to this strong woman s narration, within minutes I felt my vision blur, I was definitely in another world. Hearing her story I could not hold the pain. I thought I was not hearing right. It was like the killers (Children) were right there and I was witnessing what she witnessed. I reached for the next weapon that I could get hands on and threw it ferociously at them. A mass of smoke appeared. Was I doing this, no, no, no, this is a dream .. Writing about the initiation of children into active combat is a reality that was beyond comprehension. When I review the facts on board I ask my self, where were we when all this was happening or is still happening? Enjoying the night life of the capital city Kampala? Conscious, yet still, in pretense of this reality? How can we live with ourselves, while a whole generation is being wiped away? Such are questions that linger in my mind. Yes these questions just linger, that is the painful truth. I ask my self daily when I will start singing another song, getting the vision and means of how to help out. But that s where I stop.
The war zone is a reality that should not be experienced by anyone. I dream of a day when all these children will play football or play with baby dolls like all their counter parts in different parts of the world. The comfort I get is the strong belief and faith that I have. I know that not too long, there will be borne a song of peace right in the heart of my beautiful home land.
Bio: Catherine Onekalit, from Uganda, graduated recently at the University for Peace.