Tuesday, 30 September 2008

moving uphill


In the weeks before I went to Uganda, I was really feeling like my life was an uphill struggle. I had lots of deadlines, lots to do and lots on my mind.

And yes, I know that no deadlines = no work = not enough money = not much else. Maybe I was just tired.

The trip to Uganda really opened my eyes to so many things:

I was reminded how much I love teaching.

I was reminded how fortunate I am.

I was reminded how much joy there is in Africa, in spite of all the issues.



This guy certainly looked like life was a bit of an uphill struggle, but he saw me photographing him as we passed him on the bus, and he flashed the biggest grin!

I was interested to see the different forms of transport, from home made wooden wheelbarrows to bikes to the Buda Buda (scooters with lots of passengers) to minibus taxis to cars. And somehow in the disorder of a city with no urban planning and mostly sand roads, everything seems to work.

But there is a caveat.

Michael Totten's latest post was a timely reminder that no matter how cheerful people may seem, unless the real problems - especially in terms of poverty, urbanisation and health - are solved, the violence and despair that lurks just below the surface could be unleashed at any time.

As he said:

"Senator Barack Obama said something at the presidential debate last week that almost perfectly encapsulates the difference between his foreign policy and his opponent’s: “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates himself acknowledges the war on terrorism started in Afghanistan and it needs to end there.” I don’t know if Obama paraphrased Gates correctly, but if so, they’re both wrong.

If Afghanistan were miraculously transformed into the Switzerland of Central Asia, every last one of the Middle East’s rogues gallery of terrorist groups would still exist. The ideology that spawned them would endure. Their grievances, such as they are, would not be salved. The political culture that produced them, and continues to produce more just like them, would hardly be scathed. Al Qaedism is the most radical wing of an extreme movement which was born in the Middle East and exists now in many parts of the world. Afghanistan is not the root or the source."

There's a link to Michael Totten on the right of my blog page, or go here

1 comment:

Skoorby said...

Totten makes a good point, of course. I think Obama understands it, though. He's spoken extensively about the need to provide more aid, and he's referred to the fact that al Quaeda is sustained by political and social dissatisfaction in Muslim countries. But he's running a campaign to get elected as president of a country half full of people who would have a strong aversion to Totten's interpretation, and would rather focus on fighting and killing the enemy.