Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Greening of Kaabong



We continue to hear complaints about the inadequate rainfall and the impending crop failures in Kaabong District. These complaints have perplexed us because since we’ve been here this summer, we’ve had more rain than you can shake a stick at. For several weeks it was raining almost every day. The place greened up so nicely you’d think we were on the shores of Lake Victoria (in fact, before the era of white men and the gun, this area contained large herds of elephants and buffalo that browsed in the forests). So for a while I’ve had the attitude that people here were just making excuses for not getting out in the fields and working. It’s true that some of the complaints are excuses, but I’ve learned something through reading and observation: the primary problem with rainfall in Karamoja is not its quantity, but its inconsistency. For now, the place is lush and green, but it doesn’t take more than about a week or two of rainlessness for the Karamoja sun to begin scorching the earth, slowly turning the grass white and the soil to baked brick. I think, given the opportunity, the people should try to work the ground as an alternative food supply to cattle-herding, but they are the ones who know the fickleness of the Rain-Maker and have had to plant up to five times in one year to get a harvest. It’s another lesson about how premature judgment is na├»ve and misguided.

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