Some of you may have seen the Irvin Kirshner film "Raid on Entebbe", the story of the rescue of Israeli hostages aboard the Air France flight 139 plane that was hijacked from Athens and taken to Entebbe Airport by the Palestinian liberation organization (PLO), at Idi Amin's invitation.
Or maybe you heard about the expulsion of seventy thousand Asian business owners in 1972 or maybe you only heard about the murders of nearly five hundred thousand others in the country. I know, Uganda sounds like the hell hole of Africa, but it's not really.
You see, when the sensational events in a country cease to attract media attention, everything pertaining to that countries subsequent progress becomes un-interesting. It's not like there's a media blackout or anything, they just moved on to greener pastures. (Actually I got that wrong. They didn't move on to greener pastures, they moved on to bleaker pastures. That is a lot more accurate a description of news reporting, bad news and fear sell.) Unless a country has it's own strong media promoting and reporting on progress, the international community will hear no more about it. That's what happens in most African countries, it certainly happened in Uganda's case.
Idi Amin wasn't elected to power in Uganda, he took it in a military coup in 1972 while the rightful president, president Obote, was away in Singapore on Commonwealth business. This is what he called himself; "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor IdI Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of all the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in general and Uganda in Particular." This man was a madman, well in my estimation anyway, who managed to seize control of the country and in the process caused havoc amongst the true Ugandan people. His actions were in now way a reflection of what greatness Uganda's people can achieve, and were about to after he was ousted from power.
The continent of Africa has a huge problem with HIV and Aids. Uganda is no exception. But Uganda has a very positive story to tell about their efforts to bring the spread of the disease under control.
Their roll out of the ABC program in the 1990's was a resounding success. The HIV prevalence dropped from 18% in the 1980's to 4,6% by the year 2000.
ABC stands for, Abstinence, be Faithful, use Condoms. Uganda is not wealthy country and even today, less then 60% of the people living with HIV receive anti retro viral treatment. To be able to reduce the prevalence by such a huge margin is no small accomplishment. Unfortunately the program has been undermined by certain foreign organizations who have insisted that in order to receive financial aid, the Government efforts must be altered to focus on abstinence and drug treatment only. ( This is according to what is already published on line, I have no way of confirming this statement.) The move away from being faithful and condom use seems to have resulted in a rise in the infection rate. (Once again, there could be other factors involved about which I know nothing. Please decide for yourselves what you think.)
But Uganda is more than just it's people, its about the country that lies on the Equator, it's about the source of the Nile, it's about the wild life and it's about life.
|Uganda within Africa(Source)|
The tropics, hot humid, summer almost all year round Hmm, don't you just love it? No ocean beaches though. There are the beaches on the shores of Lake Victoria in the south of the country, the source of the Nile river, but the lake is sick now. Too many people, too much pollution and too many fish exported, the sick giant, such a pity. But there are other options when it comes to visiting this central African country.
You can enter the forests and go in search of the mighty Gorilla, home to more than half the world population of Mountain Gorillas, this is one of the most popular activities undertaken by foreign visitors. How about catching a Nile perch of over 100KG. (About 200 pounds) or a Tiger Fish, a sport fish that really lives up to it's name when hooked. Or maybe you'd like to go on a game viewing excursion or bird watching.
No Idi, your image of Uganda that you gave the world wasn't right, Uganda and it's people are both amazing, they have done a lot better without you, and I salute them.
May the Lord bless the people of Uganda and grant them, free from outside interference from drug companies, the strength and will to fight the HIV problem the way they know works. With blessings, Geoff.