Unity Of Opposites - Gulu Town

A spectacular sunrise in Gulu Town Suburb 

I wrote this exactly one year ago today. 

As we drove into Gulu town on the morning of 31st July, 2016, I remember being taken aback by, among other things, the coincidence of what could be opposites. The ease with which mud-grass-thatched huts hung around permanent & semi-permanent bungalows all over the town (apparently there's no cooler place to be when the sun comes out to play in this town, than those beautifully crafted mud huts). The dirt paths that led off the hot concrete black tarmac right in the heart of the town. The little traditional sitting stools that still hung around in circles, remnants of the night that had been, right across from some of the places you'll find life in night-time Gulu.

And the people; let me leave that alone!

The mud huts appearing all over Gulu are meticulously finished. 

Don't let the title fool you; Gulu is a rather 'usual' town. However, when all the history of a place you've ever encountered was within four walls of a classroom with a blackboard, white chalk and naughty mates, you listen to the tour guide at Fort Patiko tell a story of pain, cruelty, bondage, and redemption with a smile on his face and you can't help but sigh at the irony of life. 

Sir Samuel & Lady Florence Baker's Fort Patiko, Gulu District, Uganda

About Fort Patiko

Fort Patiko, also referred to as the Baker's for is located in Ajulu parish, Patiko sub-county, Aswa County, Gulu district in Northern Uganda. Constructed and completed in 1872, the fort stood between the helpless residents of the Patiko plateau and the ruthless slave traders. 

The Prisons

Arab slave traders raided villages, returned to this place and kept the captives in "prisons", that's if 1m gaps underneath rocks can be called that. These can now be seen to be dark, hollow homes of algae and other micro organisms. Slaves stayed there until they made a selection of strong, healthy men and children as well as beautiful women. We laughed at the absurdity of the criteria of selection. If they deemed you ugly, off you went for execution!

On that day, we stood tall, glorious even, on giant rocks, beneath which the people of the Patiko region of Northern Uganda were imprisoned. Some of us even S.L.A.Y (say that in past tense.) We took a moment to snap a pic.

The Lady Florence Baker

The Lady Florence Baker, second wife to explorer Sir Samuel White Baker was apparently so BEAUTIFUL, the people of the Patiko lands named her after the beautiful full moon. How much light does one have to radiate to be named after the full moon? Hmmm...

The history of Fort Patiko; slave trade, exploration

A few years ago, when one spoke of Gulu (Northern Uganda) all we heard was Kony, LRA, the song of gunfire. When I tell you I tell you that this town has grown through the despair and risen through the contempt of its tormentors, you might think it's a big sale. Maybe you need to go see Gulu, Go See Uganda.
*S/O to Watoto Church whose healing power and kindness can be felt from outside those powerful structures. :-) *
And to the people of Gulu who have lived on, kept going even when it was hard.

2 mates from #KoikoiNorth Crew standing by the massive rocks at Fort Patiko

My time in Gulu was well spent, in awesome wonder. In a sauna and later stretching by the poolside in a pretty neat Golden Peace Hotel, tucked away in the leafy skirts of Gulu town. That was one welcome resting place after the day that it had been. That might sound tourist-dramatic until you've read the tale below.

The Road To Gulu

We had been travelling, resting, stopping to ogle at wild animals and people alike for slightly over 48 hours when the car finally stopped. It took a few minutes for me to make sense of the ongoing conversation. They're a pretty crazy bunch to contend with (Koikoi expeditions usually make people that way.)
Andrew: This can't be the right way.
Peter: The last signpost I saw clearly was one of...
Andrew: I'll step out and ask one of these guys.

The crew. You're never truly lost with these ninjas. 

That was the moment we realized that we were just about 4km from Nebbi district, headed for Gulu district in Northern Uganda. Yes, we were on our way to Arua and not Gulu as intended. Pleasantries were exchanged and soon we were back to the grueling 2km stretch of humps that led into Pakwach town, to go where we should have been going, an hour earlier - Gulu. 

The party of 4 shared more than a light moment upon the realization that we, who had led the group of 30 to visit the Great North for 2 days courtesy of Airtel Uganda's kindness, had been going in the wrong direction for about one hour but it was all good, at least we had trusted Shell Fuels & lubricants to rely on and cover extra miles on the road.

A Shell Gas Station as seen in Gulu Town at Sunrise
The 2 hour journey to Gulu through Nwoya, Anaka and countless other districts was mix of laughter, friendly banter, travel mischief and a whole lot of AC, when Edna would let us. I'd do this all over again in a heartbeat, or maybe I wouldn't not unless it was a #KoikoiUG excursion! If not for the good times, the amazing photography, then it'd be for the STORY!
NB: This blog contains the Photography of Kreativ Adikt , Andrew PacuthoEvelyn Tino and yours truly. This and so much more constitutes the awesomeness of Seeing Uganda with this #KoikoiUG crew. Be part of the next adventure. #GoSeeUganda.


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