Sunday night we paused a film we were watching for what sounded like fireworks in the background. “Is that fireworks or gun shots?” Funny question really. But the answer was obvious: gun shots. A shootout in town which endured for about an hour. Our friends updated each other on Facebook, it’s quite incredible how far the sound of a gunshot can really go. The shots sounded quite close, but the fighting was a few kilometres away from our place. It took a while for reports to come out about what happened. It sounds like a rebel group is forming and stormed the central police station in town to try to free one of their comrades. Some sources say that several thousand rounds were fired, but incredibly only a few were killed or seriously injured. Well that’s what official reports are saying. Who really knows? Other rumours say it could be an inside job, the government trying to create instability in the north (again). Meanwhile an apparent press release from the new rebel group claims success over the attack.
The next day life quickly returns to normal in Gulu. Shops open. Farmers in the garden. Workers commuting. Children at school.
Today I visited a local government school in the morning and observed a couple of lessons. I sat with the P3 teacher afterwards and we shared many things. Talking about Sunday night’s activities reminded her of the active rebel activity in the north which clearly marks many people’s lives here. She questions who these rebels are and why they would start something in this area, especially with the bloodshed past the Acholi region has had. She recalls how when she was a toddler (she was too young to remember, but obviously her parents had told her this story many times): and how her family was caught in gunfire between soldiers and rebels. Her family fled and left her sleeping in bed. She crawled outside, and stopped right next to a rebel shooting. He crouched in front of her, continued shooting, but shielded her from any crossfire. Later, her grandfather runs in from the bush and whisks her away to safety. Years later that rebel fighter returned to the home to enquire about that small girl he protected that day, he wanted to see if she was still alive.
These alleged ‘rebels’ want justice. Justice in a clearly unjust country. Justice in the wake of an unjust election.
The community wants peace and justice; but it seems like it is difficult for those two words to go together. Peace tips the balance on justice.
Please pray for northern Uganda. That the miraculous could happen: that peace and justice could come to this land.