Happy Thanksgiving

The olden days, a.k.a. last summer in Kla

Hey everyone, how are you doing? Well, the site I am doing with Emmanuel is almost ready to go up, though our hosting site is being a bit difficult. Thanks for all your encouragement and support as we transition to our new web presence. This project was definitely a labor of love… and it will be live next Monday at http://www.ugandansabroad.org.

There has been all sorts of interesting/disturbing/fascinating stuff going on in Uganda and her neighbors…

-The U.N. released a damning report to some media houses (still haven’t been able to access the real thing) that said two Rwandan rebel groups, including the FDLR (composed largely of the former Interahamwe, which commited the Rwandan genocide), were recruiting in two refugees camps in Uganda– one of which I even visited in 2007, Nakivale, when I was with SIT. It also said that Uganda and Burundi were smuggling $1.2 billion in gold out of the DR Congo, purchasing gold from FDLR-controlled mines, and reselling it in the United Arab Emirates.
As a reporter, as sick it is, my first impulse was– whoa, what a story! I could imagine eight or nine follow-up stories coming from this report, and stories that would come from the follow-up story. Immediately, I began imagining commodity chains (it’s the Joshua Muldavin in me!). And this report had one hell of a commodity chain, from Spanish NGOs giving funds to the FDLR to recruiting in the camps that are repatriating their Rwandan refugees as we speak (I got to cover this for Women’s eNews!).  If you somehow can find a copy of this report, please let me know– I am dying to see it, and I don’t get why the UN leaked it so many press organizations, then didn’t share it with the public.

In eastern Congo, the mineral trade fuels and funds war-- at the expense of millions of people.

Other things that I have been paying attention to…

-If you want a good story, there’s always the General James Kazini murder saga (and see, this actually is a nice segway from the UN report, since Kazini spent a great deal of time looting minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo).  This famous general, who has led troops against all sorts of insurgencies in the Great Lakes region, was allegedly bludgeoned to death by his lover in Namuwongo, in one of the strangest stories I’ve heard in awhile.  Andrew Mwenda had a great take on it. Whether Lydia Draru, his 28-year-old lover, really killed this top general, I have no idea…

-The Land Amendment Bill 2007, which passed last week after what seems like years of agonizing.  Meant to reform land issues in Uganda, it’s gotten a lot of heat and attention since it was first introduced in Parliament.  Land issues are so complex in Uganda that I can barely begin to understand what’s going on sometimes.

Did a lot of writing today, and apparently also a lot of fingernail biting.  Practically chewed off my fingers (just kidding, I’m exxagerating), but it does hurt to type with my left index finger.  I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving went well.  I ate loads and loads of food, then went back to Brooklyn and somehow ate more food (then worked out for two hours the next day! ahhh).  I went to visit my stepfamily with my Dad and stepmom in New Brunswick, and got a copy of the Star Ledger, which I’ve heard so much about.  A bunch of my friends work there, and someone from the Star Ledger came to our entrepreneurial journalism class last fall.  I also visited my best friend Josh on Long Island, and saw my other best friend Steph.  I used a Wii for the first time, which was a lot of fun– I created a “mii” character of myself, and then played virtual tennis with Josh, which actually made my arms really sore! (You put the controller in a tennis racket, then watch your game on TV, hitting ‘the ball,’ which is really just air).

It’s amazing how much things have changed since I first stepped foot into grad school.  I can barely recognize the person who first entered Times Square that fall, and stepped foot into jschool.  Things are really, really different.  I feel as if I am twenty years older, but really it’s only been two years.   Well, wish me  luck in the upcoming week ahead, and send me a lot of prayers! I need them! A lot on my plate that I am really concerned about.

Your nail-biting friend….

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