We are back inEntebbewhen we were meant to be heading to Mbale with a car full of house acquisitions. We at least got fabric for curtains but made very little progress today.
I am not a political fundi and do not try to get too involved but here we are impacted by things daily. I do not have a good grasp of the situation but I will try to explain things as I understand them.
Since we have arrived inUgandathere have been protests by the opposition political parties (against the government of Yoweri Museveni, who has just been re-elected as president: he has now been in power for around 25 years). The protests have been directed at the radical increase in prices: the inflation rate is at around 14%. They have taken the form of “Walk to work” protests, with the main opposition leaders walking on a Monday and Thursday. The police have opposed these riots and violence has become more and more common.
When we drove into Kampala last week Monday we saw places where rioting had taken place just an hour or so before: tyres burned on the roads, signs of glass where car windows had been broken and a few police vans about. Generally people have been planning travels around the days protests are due to occur.
Kizza Besigye, the main opposition leader, has been arrested twice in the last few weeks, and has suffered pains physically. He has been shot in the fingers by rubber bullets and when he was arrested yesterday was doused in teargas which has caused his followers to become very resentful.
As a result the riots have continued onto today – which we were not expecting. We had stopped at a shopping centre betweenEntebbeandKampala, to pick up a few things, intending to stop off inKampalaat the Game shop and then make our way to Mbale.
When we had just left the shops we saw a number of cars parked on a hill and heard that we would not be able to go into Kampala: we looked and saw roads that are usually bustling eerily still and at a closer road there was evidence of protest: there was rubble in the road and people were ducking low, running across the road. We heard the shots of teargas canisters or rubber bullets and saw smoke rising in a number of places from tyres being burned. It is useless to try to drive through all of that, so we waited at the shopping centre in the hopes that it would clear soon.
After waiting at least 3 hours we realised that it would not be possible to make it home today: it is not safe to drive after dark, and there were no guarantees of how long it would take to get out ofKampala, IF we could get out.
So we turned back toEntebbe, seeing that on roads where we were this morning most shops had been closed and locked up (to protect against looting) and a car had been shot at (windows broken, etc). We could have been caught up in that! There was still a strong police presence.
When I informed a friend that we would not be returning home today she said that there had been rioting in Mbale too – which has been totally peaceful up to now.
I am a little worried: the presidential inauguration is due next week, the levels of violence are increasing and being aroundKampalawhen this is happening is making me feel a little uncomfortable. PLEASE pray for peace and God’s perfect will for the leadership of this country.
The upside was that I could watch the royal wedding, which would not have been possible if we were travelling! It was almost surreal, watching Sky TV in a Ugandan bar/ club with one or two other white faces about and knowing that there was chaos taking place about 2 km away. But Katherine looked so pretty, all the pomp was fun and not sitting stuck in a car for hours really was a relief!
Hopefully the next time I post will be from our house!