It’s weeks since I returned from Uganda. So much happened since I returned. Learning of Nokhaya’s passing away so suddenly is a shock. The family have been trying to get hold of me, but I got no messages of any kind in Uganda, which is strange because I’ve been in contact with the rest of the world. So there were funeral arrangements to assist with, even minimally. Then there was going to KZN to be present at the funeral and since we were already there, and since we will be soon parted The Lavah and I decided to make a little honeymoon for ourselves. Hence, I have hardly had a thought of Uganda since my return.
I’m haunted, now that I have solitary time to sit and think. I’m haunted by the eyes of the children at the memorial. Such young children with such large, dark, anguish in their eyes. When I look at my kids here who are of similar ages, 5, 7, 9, as the children who haunt me from there I can only thank God that in the eyes of my lovlies I see mischief, playfulness, innocence, love. They lift their arms and demand to be hugged because they know it’s their right. They climb onto your lap as though it is their rightful place, unheeding of the cup of tea you’re holding. They have cute goofy smiles, missing teeth that they are so proud of. They have loose teeth that they delight in insisting you make wobble. If you recoil, they shriek in glee. They’re children.
Those in Northern Uganda, at the monument have been denied the honour of being children. They know too much. What they have not seen with their own eyes, they have seen vicariously through the eyes of their parents, families, friends, neighbours. It is too much. It is not just Northern Uganda, it’s Rwanda, it’s Palestine, it’s Libya, it’s Congo, it’s South Africa, it’s Serbia, it’s Turkey, it’s too much of this world. It’s time spent by most of us not wanting to know, because with knowledge comes too much responsibility; responsibility that we feel a little less deeply with every passing day, until one day we are cured of it. On that day we move on. On that day we will continue to do nothing. We don’t even talk about it.
Perhaps, though, I am wrong about that. What responsibility can a person take for what is not of their doing, circumstance that is not of their making. Perhaps their only responsibility is to tell others, even if it is only a dinner party anecdote accompanied by fine food and excellent wine. What responsibility can I personally take for Northern Uganda? Surely mine is to South Africa. I don’t know. There is so much and there are so many to look after. ……….And then I remember the Starfish story. One cannot take responsibility for all, but one can take responsibility for one individual. One soul. One of God’s people. That, one can do.
It actually doesn’t matter what all the Americans were doing there. I don’t need to understand that. Why was I there? That’s all I need to understand. I don’t. I went along on a trip and even though, yes, it was explained. I didn’t get it. I just wanted to do something different. – Boy oh boy, was that ever different.
It will come to me. I have no profound statement to make about the experience. I know that nothing happens for no reason. I was there for a reason. It will come to me.