Oh Bundibugyo how we love and mourn for you.
The rain pours down weeping and cleansing. Today the market was quiet, the shops boarded up, the atmosphere a bit tense. The cultural king of the Bakonjo tribe wanted to come for a symbolic visit. The Bakonjo are a majority in neighboring Kasese district, but a minority here. Years ago the Baamba/Babwisi and the Bakonjo united to fight against domination by the Batoro, a larger and wealthier tribe based in fort portal whom the British favored and used as sub-rulers. The rebellion was known as the Rwenzululu movement. The Bakonjo got Kasese district and the Baamba/Babwisi got Bundibugyo. In more recent years the government decided to recognize cultural kings so the Bakonjo organized their kingdom, also based in Kasese. In the last year or so the Baamba /Babwisi have also begun to organize. All of this is supposed to preserve culture and language and tradition, not start wars.
However, whenever people feel their land rights could be threatened, their livelihood and home, they react. Today's planned visit was interpreted as a ploy by the Bakonjo to take the district from the Baamba/Babwisi. The government stepped in with police surrounding the Kings palace and stopping him from leaving on his trip. Tear gas was used to quell his angry supporters. Here in bundibugyo people waited to see what would happen. Nothing did.
The tribal tension is usually defrayed by the struggle to survive, the proximity of neighbors, the inermarriages. But it is there. When news of the potential visit leaked last week, some men tried to burn the Alpha primary school started by Melen, wife of the late Dr. Jonah, and also a Mukonjo. We saw the charred wooden wall, a minor blemish and a testament to the miraculous intervention of angels. They found empty bottles of petrol and two minor smoked areas but the fire did not catch and something scared the men away. Another Mukonjo friend told us he lost his job this week, because his employer is a Mubwis. Hard to really know.
Thankfully the day passed without incident in this area.
However just to remind us that the forces of evil will resist change for good, we had a long visit this evening with another friend, a young man in his last week of five years of medical school on the Kule sponsorship fund who was unjustly accused of cheating when another student disturbed an exam. The university decided to dismiss him. He came to us and wept, something I have rarely seen a man do here. Please pray for a miracle to allow this case to be appealed. We believe in this guy, and Bundibugyo needs him. As we have learned with Jonah and Travis, it is painfully dangerously difficult to get a doctor to serve here.
Dinner with six young men whom we have supported and parented and sponsored most of the if lives was a welcome respite. They told of demon possessed classmates being rescued, of football matches and friends and projects and exams, of murders and triumphs. We greeted dozens and dozens of people up and down the road, resurrecting long dormant phrases. And had sweet prayer time with new team mates. The sheer volume of relationship and interaction is sometimes draining but we are glad to be here. Scott will preach tomorrow about the Good Samaritan and tribal relations. Pray for him.