Ugandan Reflections

From Lois Pollock's diary, November 2001:

Minutiae of image and memory of the Kampala street are wiped from my mind when I reach London.

Concerted reflection draws me back seven years to my first arrival in Uganda.

Filled with excitement, anticipation and some fear.

I thought I was prepared – from reading books & studying a map; listening to diverse stories told by exiled Ugandans who  fled to the UK as emigrants.

The overnight flight from London arrived into Entebbe, swooping low over Lake Victoria – deep blue and tranquil and, clearly visible on its surface, scattered fishing boats.

I was met with great welcome to a country in recovery from despotic leaders who had ruined the economy and destroyed families.

In 1994, a country attempting to combat the crisis of HIV/AIDS.

Those who met me hailed me as their sister because of my connection to one of their's in London.

A long-horned cow was gifted to me – cared for in a distant rural village.

They wanted me to see the beauty - not the harshest elements of human poverty and loss, expressed by thriving coffin-maker businesses set in a continuous line of workshops on the main highway to Kampala.

On that first flight to Uganda, in the underbelly of the British Airways plane, were the bodies of five young men and women, clients who had died in London of AIDS, being returned to their homeland.

To set their families free of Spirits.