Early Evening at The Compound, Gulu

Early Evening at The Compound, Gulu

I have just read ‘Tall Grass’ by Father Carlos Soto, a Spanish priest who was deeply involved in the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative and the Justice and Peace Commission of Gulu Archdiocese. Both groups were significant members of the peace movement in Northern Uganda trying to find some way out of the conflict. It is a harrowing story although it led, eventually, to peace in 2008. Reading his book on a Saturday night as Sammiz bar hotted up, I came across this paragraph. It seemed very relevant:

“In the Western World, where people have no direct experience of war except by what they watch on TV, in documentaries or in fiction films, armed conflicts are usually associated with noise corresponding to outbursts of gunfire or bomb explosions. It was during those days that I learnt that what defines war at its best is silence. The most absolute and soundless passage of time… The worst silence is the one that pervades at night, leaving you hanging over an abyss…the soundless numbness that fills the air…This despair may account for the fact that music blared in displaced people’s camps and trading centres as though everyone had reached a tacit agreement to chase away the ghosts of silence that haunted, harassed and threatened to destroy the last remnants of humanity left in our shaky lives”
Carlos Rodriguez Soto: ‘Tall Grass’, page 157. Published by Fountain Press, Kampala 2009

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