RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Struggling with memories of torture and murder


It was evidently shot at night – that picture of a woman with the expressionless stare, in a red-blood shirt, alone by the hearth from which hungry fire tongues lick a small pan that is seemingly empty like the plate in front of her.
This is the symbolic cover page of Today You Will Understand – a collection of 16 first-person accounts of women affected by war in northern Uganda.
The title stems from the story of Mildred, a widow who heard those words shouted by rebels in command to her children to get back into the hut before it was set ablaze. She jumped over dead bodies and sustained terrible injuries while extricating her six children from the flames.
The book captures the reality of living under strife. There is weeping for the dead. Widowed mothers struggle to raise their children. Young girls say they were forced to marry rough old commanders.
The race is too hard to win. Those who were desperate to see home again clung to the rope of hope and made it through the valley of the shadow of death and see it as a miracle. They have endured life’s hard knocks; shared caves with cobras and survived the jungle and rumble of gunfire.
Eunice saw a little boy put in a very big mortar and pounded to death. For Hellen, “They [rebels] cut my buttocks and breast.” These women don’t know happiness.
They see this world as a paradox. They are haunted by what they saw and did in the bush; the rape, the starvation, the homicide. And after a narrow escape, instead of liberty, they were confronted by the perils of living in internally displaced people’s camps.
As Mildred starkly puts it, “This business of putting people in one place has brought diseases of different natures but HIV/Aids has finished many…” After distilling their experiences and finding no answer to why the innocent suffer this much, some have pardoned the grotesque misdeeds of Kony but others cannot forget the horror.
“Even at night when I go to bed and try to recall what happened to us, I feel that Kony should not be alive,” says Lily. It has taken Lucy over two decades to accept and compose a song about her plight: “It is called Why Do I Face Problems Yet I’m Still Young. When I sing it, it relieves me of pain.”
Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite) collaborated with Integrated Regional Information Networks (Irin) to document these heartrending stories.
“Through these stories, the women reflect on their true value; they re-identify themselves and reconstruct themselves anew,” writes Femrite coordinator Hilda Twongyeirwe.
As is indispensable for any reader interested in how war has crushed but not silenced the indomitable spirit of the displaced woman of northern Uganda, Today You Will Understand equally shows how they grapple on with finding love and acceptance.