Acoli Cultural Revival Organization Post 3

The journey to Padibe goes through Kitgum on a completely unpaved dirt road usually filled with deep ruts, horrific bumps, water logged sections of pure mud. However, the Chinese have figured out an ingenious way to get paid: build a road, use most of the money to help their own economy by importing Chinese workers, and the Ugandan Government doesn’t seem to care. The chines are building an actually really good road, with many bridges, from Entebbe airport to Kampala to Gulu to Kitgum and finishing at the South Sudan boarder. Uganda pays them a lot of money, the Chinese bring over Chinese skilled workers paying them a good wage, and hire very few locals only as “unskilled” laborers. Horrific in terms of justice, totally not empowering the locals, and not aiding the local economy one iota.

But . . . the road, even under construction is the best I have ever seen in Uganda. It was a great drive to Kitgum with no ruts, mud, or stone bumps. We would have made good time to Padibe if not for TIA (This is Africa!)

The Coordinator of the Acoli Cultural Revival Organization lives in Kitgum and called to insist that we stop just for a moment to meet him on our way. Now you must realize that in the Acoli culture, when anyone “invites” you to meet it almost always mean you must eat. If you do not, you would be very very very rude.

Traditional Dinner Foods

Traditional Dinner Foods

We met George Nyeko, who is one of the best project and people managers I have ever met in addition to being an incredible man of integrity, honesty, and humor. I had already had two breakfasts, but that is another story, and he invited me to have lunch. I knew I would soon be dining with Fr. Charles in Padibe, but like a proper visitor I said I was delighted to have a bite, knowing that we were already two hour behind the time of our expected arrival in Padibe. After lunch, George insisted that we stop just for a moment to meet his wife and small child since it was only on our way. They are a very lovely family and she invited me to have another lunch, and being a proper visitor, I was delighted to have a plate of traditional food. The sauce she had made out of ground nuts and other ingredients was particularly good and went very well with the very tasty brown millet bread. The meal was topped off with a large glass of wine, the first of which I have ever been offered in Uganda.

Banana street in the Kitgum local market

Banana street in the Kitgum local market

George at home, eating with the visitor.

George at home, eating with the visitor.

George and his lovely wife who prepared our delicious meal.

George and his lovely wife who prepared our delicious meal.

Friends sharing bananas and a glass of wine.

Friends sharing bananas and a glass of wine.

We then made our 30 minute drive to Padibe and were met with a wonderful and heartfelt welcome from Fr. Charles, Doris, the chief housekeeper, Hellen her helper, Hellen’s father, the chief catechist Tom, and many other old and new friends. Fr. now has an amazing appliance in his dining room, an actual freezer that cools off beverages in addition to other useful foodstuffs. Since the temperature here is 102 degrees, a cold drink of beverage from the source of the Nile was much appreciated. Of course you never know when or if the electricity from the power grid will be working or not, but there was a cold one about 50% of the time.

A most wonderful welcome from my brother, Fr. Charles.

A most wonderful welcome from my brother, Fr. Charles.

After visiting for awhile, I decided to take a walk after sitting in airplanes and cars for the most of two days. For the next two hours I greeted many people in the town center, most of whom are also parishioners. and recognized me, although I remembered only a few names. They readily forgave me with a bright smile and a very warm welcome back to what they call “my second home.”

It is wonderful rekindling all the old friendships, the discussions and laughter we shared together, and just continuing to build our parish relationships through individuals. After all, isn’t that why we go so far from home anyway: to build friendships in the name of Christ with those who have much less possessions, but often more hospitality and love than we do?

Upon my return, after I had turned down two phone invitations to just stop over to say hi, and being walked home in the dark by Augustine, we sat for awhile and visited some more. Then Fr. asked if I was ready for supper. Of course, I said, and actually I really was hungry now at the end of the day. We always have wonderful meal conversations, and I promised to be ready to go for the 7 am mass. After all it is Sunday and my first full day in Padibe.

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