9.11.2009

Uganda needs our prayers

I received this email from friend of mine working in Uganda at a babies home. Its important that we all take prayerful action at this time and go to our knees for the people of Uganda, especially the children who seem to always get caught in the middle during times like these.

Hi everyone,

I’m just sending this e-mail to inform you about happenings here in Kampala in the last 2 days… Riots started in the streets around the city yesterday, following a political issue which arose related to a visit that one of the traditional kings here is supposed to make tomorrow. My understanding of it is that it’s a tribal disagreement related to land rights in an area north-west of Kampala. The king is from the Baganda tribe (the largest and most dominant tribe in Uganda) and is planning to visit this land which belonged to his kingdom a long time ago – it’s now “owned” by another tribe but there is contention about his visit – he has insisted that he must go there but the tribe who lives there is not happy about it. I think in parliament this week the government strongly discouraged him from making the visit, and as a result the Baganda people started demonstrating in the streets.

People are saying that it may not have become such an issue except that President Museveni decided to send in police and military to “control the situation” with the initial riots – as a result anger has flared further and there were riots all over the city last night. I was out in our Suubi village in the morning and had to come through the outskirts of town with a van load of people before we realised how widespread the situation was… don’t worry, I’m fine!!… but we saw smoke rising from fire blockades across roads, and youths were gathered on the road at certain points asking for “road tolls”. I had to cover myself with a cloth so they couldn’t see the “muzungu” (white person) on board, as they see us as having lots of money, so can increase the pressure for money! Even the colour of your registration plates matters here!… NGOs have red number plates, which are the same colour as government vehicles, so we received some hostile responses at times… but made it through to town okay. I saw enough to keep me firmly at home today (we were told not to come to work) and we’ll be laying low until the trouble is over.

Locals are speculating that it could increase, especially tomorrow which is the day for the king’s scheduled visit. We are hearing that he wants Museveni to apologise for yesterday’s actions, but Museveni will be pushing for him to not make his visit tomorrow.

People are moving around parts of town, but we’ve heard more reports today that riots are escalating again in certain areas. The feeling is that it could escalate into something serious, so we would so appreciate your prayers right now, that God would de-escalate things and help these political leaders to resolve things in a peaceful way.

Where we live is quite close to one of the riot hot-spots, but our road is not one that would normally be targeted. I think our main prayer request would be for God’s protection of us in our homes as we wait out the current unrest. There are a number of us staying together and we have guards on our property so we should be fine.

One challenge at times like this is keeping the babies’ home running, as 24 hour care is needed but many staff have been unable to come to work, or have children at home who they need to stay and protect. It could mean that the current shift needs to just stay there for a couple of days and manage it the best they can. Pray that this will all go smoothly, and especially that we won’t have any medical emergencies or other challenges during this time.

Overall, we feel we are safe being away from the streets, and we hope that things will be resolved within a day or two. We know that in Africa anything can happen, but we believe in the power of prayer and God’s hand to put a stop to further trouble.

I will try to stay in touch by e-mail, but I think that phone lines may be cut at times - this happened last night and is partly done to prevent rioters from communicating with each other.

I hope this hasn’t alarmed you all too much, but I wanted you to know the situation and also know that we’re okay.

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