Access to motorbikes means journeys across other parts of Northern Uganda, for example to the splendidly named Pabbo Pugwang some 45 kilometres up the Juba Road. Pabbo has a beautifully sited vocational college, with views across to mountains a long way away in the west.
Sadly it is one of many institutions with real problems and has not paid it’s staff for four months, I’m not sure what we can do but we will try.
We have also been out on what I believe aficionados call a ‘run’, four of us driving 25 kilometres north one Sunday morning to Patiko and to picnic at Bakers Fort.
Most of the land around here is flat or gently undulating. Bakers Fort is one of a small number of rocky outcrops.
The Baker referred to was Sir Samuel Baker the Nile explorer, he set the fort up in 1872 when trying to establish the Egyptian backed state of Equatoria and to end (Egyptian supported) slavery.
The hill had been used, before Baker took it over, as a place to store and sort slaves, those not needed were thrown from the rocks. Baker led a successful battle against slavers at Patiko, but given the contradictions in his position it is doubtful whether he did much more to suppress the trade.
Nevertheless he is the only explorer who is remembered with any affection here, roads and schools in Gulu are named after him. Perhaps because of his activities at the fort or, perhaps because he married an ex-slave (although she was from Eastern Europe).
In a reminder that man continues to treat man with quite staggering inhumanity, on the way back we stopped at Lukodi, one of the many sites honouring those slaughtered by the LRA. It had recently been the 10th anniversary of a massacre, candles and flowers were still left on the memorial. In this place, near a primary school, next to the road and a small village looking at the long list of names, the recent past seemed very recent indeed.
By the way, ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio 4 has broadcast a piece on a return to Gulu by someone who was here during the Troubles: