The 6 hour bus trip to Gulu was absorbed by discussion with a fantastic British-Ugandan man. This was great as the time flew by nearly as fast as the semi-suicidal-runaway-train-bus. 120km an hour is not ideal when approaching a pothole.
England has been Dave’s home for most of the last 20 years. He works as a teacher there and returns to Uganda twice a year to meet his family and manage his small plot of land both in Gulu, our new home. We quickly moved to politics, and believe it or not he was more concerned about corruption in England, than in Uganda
Me: “What do you mean corruption in England?”
Dave: “Well, my electricity company did not give me a bill for 2 years. Instead they took money automatically from my account every month but I got no record of power use. Then at the end of 2 years I got a large bill for extra electricity I apparently hadn’t paid for. How is this fair, they steal money!”
Me: “Wow that’s terrible, what else?”
Dave: “While I have been in England many politicians have been sacked and even jailed for taking money or favouring people. Sure this may be worse in Uganda but we are not alone”
Fair enough. Dave is back in Gulu this time to complete two contrasting tasks.
1) Re-locate His Mother’s and grandmother’s body. Their graves are being exhumed as a new road will be built over the current burial site. They both died of treatable diseases during the war. He needs to organise a new burial spot. He didn’t seem too perturbed or worried about this.
2) Check his pine plantation – Wood is the new Gold. In Uganda the demand for building materials is going through the roof (so to speak). Uganda’s population is growing at a ludicrous rate, and Dave points out that we can’t drive a few hundred meters without seeing new houses going up. These need wood for scaffolding and framing. Also, now that South Sudan has stabilised there is a building boom and they buy timber from Northern Uganda. Dave can sell to the north and the south! In addition to pine Dave also plans to plant eucalyptus as it has the ridiculous quality of being able to grow again from the same stump after you cut it down. Who knew you could plant a tree once and harvest it many times??? Also trees grow twice as fast as in New Zealand because they grow year round in the neverending summer.