Bad way to end a good trip: Riots in Uganda

We were on our drive back from Bwindi to the the capital. On the way the traffic slowed and I (Cody) stepped out of the car with the camera to see what was happening.

The local village had barricaded the road, not letting traffic through either direction. There is no way around. We found out later they were protesting the land being sold to people within the government system who were taking out all of the sand, a valuable and free resource to the village until this moment.

The police were there and tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas.

 

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The crowd begins to disperse looking for water to wash out their eyes. The traffic stuck in the middle of the town is released and I make my way quickly back to the car. It seems we are on our way through this mess.

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It was surprising to hear all of the Ugandans around me making jokes and giving the police a hard time. For us, this was scary, and unknown. For them, this was a mild occurrence. Our later conversations with our driver shed some light on how people were affected during the multiple regimes that terrorized this country.

We moved on going first into the village as stones were being moved by police. Once we reached the middle of the village, the protesters regained their strength and closed the road behind and in front of us. We were the only car in this area at that moment, surrounded by angry people mostly young men banging large rocks on the hood of the car and yelling at us. Out driver, super calm, talked to them in almost a playful way as we crouched inside the old Land Cruiser.

With the protesters still surrounding our car, the military and police made there way into our area and started firing just above head height around our car. Most were carrying AK47s and firing them within about 5-10 feet from us. Everyone ducked down in the car as they dispersed the protesters around us and chased them into the interior of the village.  Our driver took off driving around the boulders and off road to get us through to the other side. He seemed completely unfazed by the ordeal, and offered us some solace that we were never in danger because they were not shooting at us, and that only the police had guns. Laughing it off, yet apologizing in the hope that this would not change our view of Uganda.

 

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The next day we flew back to Tanzania. Happy to be home.

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